"Frank never saw a tree he didn't want to cut, an acre he didn't want to mine or a drop of oil he didn't want to pump." That's what they say about Alaska's outgoing Republican governor Frank Murkowski who leaves office on Monday December 4, 2006. Murkowski who spent 21 years in the US senate before retiring to run for governor four years ago is widely known for his 'development, development at any cost' stance. He has been an avid supporter of any large scale development project almost no matter what or where. Very little else seems as important to him.
So, perhaps it's no coincidence that he carried the second lowest approval rating of any US governor (21% as compared to Robert Taft, Republican of Ohio's 19"). Perhaps it's also no coincidence he finished third in a three-way race for the the Republican nomination for governor for the next term either. Now, he's just an exceedingly lame duck has-been who will leave office having failed across the board as governor. Suspicion is that he had it his way so long as a senator that when he was faced with actually doing something, like running a state, he failed miserably.
Several notable acts Murkowski is noted for: 1): Appointing his own daughter to fill the remainder of his senate term on his retirement, and, 2): Ram thru the purchase of a state owned jet aircraft for his use over the objections of the Department of Homeland Security, Alaska's state legislature, and the opinions of the people of the state, and 3): His support for two infamous 'bridges to nowhere' in Alaska, so-called budgetary 'Earmark" items to be paid for by the taxpayers of the United States. It may also be no coincidence that one of the bridges will exponentially increase the value of 30 acres of land owned by the governor's wife on an island near Ketchikan. In fact, Murkowski is so determined that bridge will be built he has already directed the state to award the contract for 'approach roads' to access the bridge from the island end.
But maybe nothing is so iconic and emblematic of Franks's pigheaded obstinacy as his last minute effort to award a contract to build a road north of Juneau. He admits the main purpose of the $30 million road is to benefit a privately owned gold mine. The mine projects a working life of ten years and will employ 225 persons. The state of Alaska will spend $133,333,33 of taxpayer money for each and everyone one of those private industry jobs, or $13,333,33 per job per year.
In order to bring the cost of the road down to the state's budget it was necessary to omit two bridges and convert the the specifications for the road to a gravel 'pioneer' road 18' wide. Thus the state will end up with three disconnected gravel road segments in the wilderness - over which two lawsuits have already been filed and more sure to come.
Just what part of 'running a state for the benefit of the citizens' doesn't the governor understand?