Palin's inauguration transferred to Fairbanks

We all hate it, but its forced upon us. Any local political issues we should know about ??

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Palin's inauguration transferred to Fairbanks

#1 Post by john » Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:00 pm

GOVERNOR-ELECT: Palin wants to honor constitution anniversary, but others are sore.

Anchorage Daily News

Published: November 18, 2006
Last Modified: November 18, 2006 at 02:45 AM

Sarah Palin already has a couple of Alaska firsts under her belt: first woman elected governor and youngest governor-elect ever.

She will also be the first governor from somewhere other than Anchorage or Fairbanks since Jay Hammond in 1974.

On Dec. 4, the 42-year-old former Wasilla mayor will add another first to her list: She'll be the first governor in state history to take the oath of office outside the state capital.

Palin announced Wednesday that she plans to be sworn in at the Carlson Center, a sports arena in Fairbanks, rather than at Centennial Hall, the convention center in Juneau.

The break with tradition has gotten mixed reactions with some saying it smells like payback for a region that voted heavily against Palin in the Nov. 7 election. One of Juneau's two election districts cast 71 percent of its votes for her opponent, Tony Knowles, and only 18 percent for her.

Palin, for her part, says she wants the inauguration to be in Fairbanks to honor the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Alaska Constitution, her "Bible" in political life, said her spokesman, Curtis Smith.

Smith said there is absolutely no truth to accusations that Palin is trying to get revenge on Juneau for not supporting her.

"This is not about pitting one city over another," he said. Palin just sees getting inaugurated in Fairbanks as "an excellent opportunity to tie a special and personal occasion with an anniversary that every Alaskan can and should be proud of."

The Alaska Constitution specifies when a governor must be sworn in but doesn't say where. Check old newspaper clippings, or sift through the inaugural napkins, invitations and programs kept in the Alaska State Library's Historical Collection: Every governor since statehood has taken the oath in Juneau.

The swearing in at Centennial Hall typically draws hundreds of people. Convention center managers seemed pretty sure things would be the same this year. As of Thursday, they still had the inauguration listed on their calendar. It was scheduled for the Hickel, Sheffield and Hammond ballrooms.

Folks in Fairbanks seemed equally surprised by the news.

"Wow," said Fairbanks city Mayor Steve Thompson, reached earlier in the week on his cell phone in Soldotna where he was attending a conference and had not heard about Palin's move north.

Thompson said he thought locals would be touched and honored by the gesture. "It shows that she's going to reach out all over the state," he said. "I think there will be a huge turnout for it."

The 50th anniversary of the Alaska Constitution celebrates a historic effort by 55 delegates, who met at the University of Alaska campus in Fairbanks in 1955 to draft the constitution. Voters approved the document in April 1956. Alaska became a state in 1959.

Jake Metcalfe, head of the Alaska Democratic Party, said he could see some significance to Palin's desire to be inaugurated in Fairbanks but could also understand if it ruffled feathers in Juneau.

"I think the fact that it's never been done before probably has people in Juneau miffed," said Metcalfe, who grew up in Juneau but now lives in Anchorage. Even Alaska's first governor, Bill Egan -- who headed the constitutional convention back in 1955 -- took the oath in Juneau, Metcalfe said.

The break with tradition, combined with Palin's past support for moving the legislature out of Juneau to the Valley, her home territory, probably has some people in Southeast worried, Metcalfe said.

"Personally, I don't think it's that big a deal where she gets sworn into office," he said.

In Juneau, Mayor Bruce Botelho said he takes Palin's comments about wanting to honor the anniversary of the state constitution at face value. As of Thursday, he hadn't heard a lot of gripes about her decision from locals. "It's been pretty quiet overall," he said.

As for his personal feelings about it, Botelho said it's not his place to be happy or sad. "Juneau remains the capital," he said.

"We're very, very pleased," said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker. "I think it's very symbolic that she would come to Fairbanks and be sworn in. It's the center of the state, people can get here and be a part of it. ... And if I can put in a plug, we invite anybody from the state to come and join in."

Advice to potential attendees: Dress warmly. The high in Fairbanks last Dec. 4 was 28 below zero, according to National Weather Service records.

It was 27 above in Juneau.

Palin's inauguration plans are still in the works. One idea the Palin camp is tossing around is having an "inauguration train" to take guests to Fairbanks for the ceremony. "That's nothing more than a pipe dream at the moment," said Palin campaign volunteer Mary Sims. "With the cold weather, who knows if the passenger cars can even stay warm? It may not even be a possibility."

The decision to move the inauguration has fueled Alaska's ever-active political rumor mill, including one that says Palin isn't planning to live in the governor's mansion. The governor-elect's spokesman said that's just crazy talk.

"Would you pass up the opportunity to live in a mansion?" Smith said, incredulous. Palin's destination after she takes office "is Juneau."

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#2 Post by paulneva » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:11 pm

Very interesting. Thanks.

Paul S. Renschen

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