Monday, September 8, 2008
I'll Take "Mavericks" for $500, Alex
In October 2005, Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska became the object of strong media criticism when he opposed diverting the Gravina and Knik Arm Bridge funds to help aid recovery from Hurricane Katrina. In his speech on the Senate floor, Stevens threatened to quit Congress if the funds were removed from his state.
In 2005, Congress stripped the specific earmark allocation of federal funds for the two bridges, without changing the amount of money allocated for use by Alaska.
"In September [20th], 2006, Sarah Palin showed up in Ketchikan on her gubernatorial campaign and said the bridge was essential for the town's prosperity." During her campaign for Governor, Sarah Palin visited Ketchikan in September of 2006 to address her support for the Gravina Island Bridge project. At a forum in Ketchikan, Palin was seen holding up a t-shirt designed by a Ketchikan artist, Mary Ida Henrikson with "Nowhere Alaska 99901" on it, referencing the buzzword of Bridge to 'Nowhere', and the primary zip code of Ketchikan, Alaska. At the same forum, she was quoted: "OK, you’ve got Valley trash standing here in the middle of nowhere,” Palin said. “I think we’re going to make a good team as we progress that bridge project."
On October 21, 2006 Alaska gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin was quoted saying she would continue state funding for the bridge. "The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist," she said.
At a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Wasilla on October 27, 2006, Knowles criticized Palin for supporting the Knik Arm Bridge, Ketchikan's Gravina Island Bridge and the road north out of Juneau instead of rebuilding the Parks Highway. Then when Knowles got to Juneau he promised to build the Juneau road, plus a second bridge to Douglas Island. Only Palin is consistent in support all of the projects...
In August 2007, Alaska's Department of Transportation stated that it was "leaning" toward alternative ferry options, citing bridge costs, despite having already received the funds from the federal government.
The project was canceled in 2007 by bridge supporter     Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who changed her view   after national public opinion turned against the bridge for being wasteful spending:
“ Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer. Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.
~ AK Gov. Sarah Palin
Asked why she initially supported the bridge, Palin's communications director Bill McAllister said, "It was never at the top of her priority list, and in fact the project isn't necessarily dead … there's still the potential for improved ferry service or even a bridge of a less costly design... She changed her mind, he said, when "she saw that Alaska was being perceived as taking from the country and not giving ..."
On August 29, 2008, when introduced as Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain's running mate, Palin told the crowd: "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" — a line that garnered big applause but upset political leaders in Ketchikan. Palin's campaign coordinator in the city, Republican Mike Elerding, remarked, "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money." Democratic Mayor Bob Weinstein also criticized Palin for using the very term 'bridge to nowhere' that she had said was insulting when she was in favor of the bridge.
Thanks, but no thanks, Sarah.