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The conversation was wide-ranging. Stevens was 83 years old, and absolutely fluent in the major issues of concern in Southeast at the time, from the possibility of federal offshore aquaculture to the Tongass Land Management Plan.
Not long before Stevens’ visit, then-Governor Sarah Palin had vetoed virtually all capital spending passed by the legislature for Sitka that year. Stevens was unwilling to comment on the governor’s actions directly, but near the end of the interview he did remark on the role of local governments in shaping their own futures, and the changes he had observed in Sitka since the opening of a new seafood plant:
“The philosophy of government is once again saying to the people ‘We have to have a showing of local support before you get federal money or state money to enter in and help.’ I think that’s a reasonable thing – It’s the Lincoln Philosophy, in fact. Don’t do for people through government what they can and should do for themselves. KCAW – Senator, I know you have a schedule… Stevens – Yes, I’m off to Petersburg now, Wrangell tonight, and Craig tomorrow and Sunday. It’s nice to be down. I’ve enjoyed being here very much. There’s a lot of renewal here. As a matter of fact, I went into the plant… KCAW – Silver Bay Seafoods? Stevens – Silver Bay. Those people have designed a state of the art processing facility to take that fish through and pack it and freeze it in record time under the most sanitary conditions I’ve seen. And I think that is real progress. And there’s a different attitude now than when I was here a little over a year ago, and a lot of people were saying ‘What can you do to help us?’ And now they’re saying ‘Look at what we’ve done for ourselves.’ It’s a real nice attitude I’ve found here.”
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