Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

02/26/2009 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 49 Out of Committee
Moved SB 29 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        SB  29-NAMING THOMAS B. STEWART LEG. OFFICE BLDG                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of SB 29.                                                                              
9:01:15 AM                                                                                                                    
KIM  ELTON, Senator,  Alaska State  Legislature, said  he is  the                                                               
prime sponsor of  SB 29, which names the capitol  annex after Tom                                                               
Stewart and  recognizes his  contributions to  Alaska. Tom  was a                                                               
life-long  Alaskan. Before  Senator  Elton votes  on anything  he                                                               
thinks about what  Bishop Kennedy and Judge Tom  Stewart would do                                                               
and how  he would explain  his actions to  them. It has  kept him                                                               
out of  trouble. Judge  Stewart was a  decorated war  veteran. He                                                               
was  an  army captain  in  World  War II.  He  was  in the  Tenth                                                               
Mountain Division  ski troops, using expertise  that he developed                                                               
in Alaska.  Judge Stewart  earned both  bronze and  silver stars,                                                               
which  are  uncommon  medals. He  served  as  assistant  attorney                                                               
general and in the territorial  House of Representatives. That is                                                               
where he "put  together the recipe for how we  were going to move                                                               
forward  on statehood  and  get a  good  state constitution."  He                                                               
traveled around the country on  his own dime working with experts                                                               
from other states  to learn what would make  a good constitution.                                                               
He served  as a state legislator  and a superior court  judge. He                                                               
was  known   and  respected  for   his  character,   wisdom,  and                                                               
leadership. The  governor supports  the bill. Senator  Elton read                                                               
the email that he received from former governor Steve Cowper:                                                                   
     Tom Stewart  was sui generis,  a legal term  that means                                                                    
     one-of-a-kind. Born in  Juneau and coming of  age as he                                                                    
     did,  he personified  the history  of  Alaska from  the                                                                    
     1920s  until his  death last  year. He  participated in                                                                    
     most of  that history  and influenced  events in  a way                                                                    
     that called up our  better nature. Fortunately the rest                                                                    
     of  us got  to  benefit from  his  wisdom and  decency.                                                                    
     We'll not see his like again.                                                                                              
9:05:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KOOKESH asked if other names have been submitted.                                                                       
SENATOR ELTON  said this  is the  only name that  he is  aware of                                                               
[for the building].  He struggled with this because  there are so                                                               
many Alaskans,  but for him, he  can't think of a  better person.                                                               
Committee  rooms in  the  legislature are  named  for people.  He                                                               
doesn't want to denigrate the contributions of others.                                                                          
SENATOR KOOKESH said he is supportive.                                                                                          
9:06:55 AM                                                                                                                    
A five-minute video  of Tom Stewart was shown, but  the audio was                                                               
9:13:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON said the video showed  images of the people who got                                                               
the  state going.  In a  very  large way  it was  because of  the                                                               
preparatory work of  Judge Stewart and a few  others that created                                                               
Alaska's constitution that is still guiding Alaskan lives.                                                                      
VIC  FISCHER, Alaska  Constitutional Convention  delegate, former                                                               
Alaska state  senator, Anchorage,  said he strongly  supports the                                                               
bill. Yesterday,  he spoke  to a  university class  on leadership                                                               
and the constitution where he  emphasized the phenomenal job that                                                               
Tom  Stewart  did.  He  laid the  basis  for  the  constitutional                                                               
convention. Mr.  Fischer wrote a  book about it. Mr.  Stewart was                                                               
dedicated  to  making the  state  and  the world  better  places.                                                               
Anyone who has  any question about Tom  Stewart's contribution to                                                               
Alaska  should  look  at  his memorial  service  last  April.  It                                                               
provided a wonderful overview of his life.                                                                                      
9:17:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD said she is aware  of the phenomenal job Mr. Fischer                                                               
did in the constitutional convention as well.                                                                                   
9:18:00 AM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE  BOTELHO,  Mayor,  City  and Borough  of  Juneau,  said  he                                                               
supports SB  29 as mayor  and as  a private citizen.  Mr. Stewart                                                               
was a war hero serving in  the Aleutian and Italian campaigns. He                                                               
is even  unique in Alaska's history  because he is one  of a very                                                               
few  individuals  who  served  with   distinction  in  all  three                                                               
branches of  the government.  He began  as an  assistant attorney                                                               
general; he  served in the  1955 territorial house and  the first                                                               
state  senate; he  was a  superior court  judge; and  he was  the                                                               
first state  court administrator before  he was appointed  to the                                                               
judgeship in Juneau and became  the presiding judge for the first                                                               
judicial district. But his role  in the constitutional convention                                                               
is  the  most  significant.  A  predominant  theme  of  the  1954                                                               
elections  was  statehood,  and candidates  supporting  statehood                                                               
were  elected. When  the majority  caucus  gathered they  decided                                                               
that  a constitutional  convention would  be their  top priority.                                                               
They turned to Tom Stewart as  a freshman legislator to carry the                                                               
ball. He resigned his position  as assistant attorney general and                                                               
travelled  for the  next seven  weeks to  visit other  states and                                                               
learn how to organize a constitutional convention.                                                                              
9:21:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MAYOR BOTELHO  said when  the legislature  convened in  1955, Mr.                                                               
Stewart  was  named to  chair  the  House Statehood  and  Federal                                                               
Affairs committee. Bill  Egan was his counterpart  in the Senate.                                                               
They met  as a joint  committee, and  Mr. Stewart was  the chair.                                                               
House Bill  1 passed  which became the  session laws  that called                                                               
for  the  convention  and  a   nonpartisan  special  election  of                                                               
delegates. It  was to represent  large and small areas,  and that                                                               
was  in   contrast  to  how   the  major  cities   dominated  the                                                               
territorial  legislature. The  convention  was  held in  College,                                                               
Alaska, and  was limited to  75 days. There was  an appropriation                                                               
of $300,000  for the convention,  which was  a large sum  at that                                                               
time.  Mr.  Stewart assumed  the  executive  directorship of  the                                                               
statehood   committee   and   was   responsible   for   all   the                                                               
preconvention  studies  and  expenditures.   He  spent  the  next                                                               
several months informing Alaskans  about how conventions operated                                                               
and getting a sense of what  the people wanted. He wrote numerous                                                               
articles that were published around  the state. He dealt with the                                                               
convention logistics.                                                                                                           
MAYOR  BOTELHO said  it  was  no surprise  that  Mr. Stewart  was                                                               
elected as  convention secretary.  He was responsible  for record                                                               
keeping  and  journals;  tracking   all  of  the  proposals;  and                                                               
managing the  consultants. Delegates  got their  job done  in the                                                               
allotted  time,  and the  constitution  was  ratified two  months                                                               
later  in  April  of  1956.  It  took  two  more  years  to  gain                                                               
congressional   approval.  There   are   other   heroes  of   the                                                               
convention, but Mr. Stewart's painstaking  efforts made sure that                                                               
Alaska  would  be poised  to  have  the  kind of  convention  and                                                               
constitution that continues to be  a model of modern governments.                                                               
Alaska owes  that to his  background efforts and  brilliant mind.                                                               
Naming the capitol annex after Tom Stewart is very appropriate.                                                                 
9:25:59 AM                                                                                                                    
MARIE DARLIN, Juneau,  said she supports the  bill. Judge Stewart                                                               
was just  "Tom" to  all of  us who grew  up in  Juneau. He  was a                                                               
friend that  everyone valued. The historical  society always knew                                                               
they could call  Tom for help with almost anything  or anyone. He                                                               
always  had the  latest address  for  people because  he kept  in                                                               
touch with  everyone. The Pioneer  Book committee  considered him                                                               
their historical  consultant. "My  call for help  or confirmation                                                               
of a fact  or date always ended up with  a wonderful conversation                                                               
describing  everything I  needed to  know or  that I  should have                                                               
remembered plus  a few  humorous comments."  The state  of Alaska                                                               
and Juneau  have benefitted from his  lifetime contributions. "We                                                               
miss him and his smile and  will always remember him." It will be                                                               
nice that  Judge Diamond [Diamond  Courthouse] and  Judge Stewart                                                               
[Capitol Annex] will be across the street from each other.                                                                      
9:28:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CALEB STEWART,  son of Tom  Stewart, Juneau, said he  is speaking                                                               
for himself and his family. He  said a Private in Judge Stewart's                                                               
company sent  him a letter  after reuniting  with him at  a Tenth                                                               
Mountain  reunion.  The man  said  he  hated officers,  but  they                                                               
became good  friends. He sent a  letter to Judge Stewart  about a                                                               
planned memorial for  veterans. "I fail to see what  all the fuss                                                               
is about," the letter said.  "These people have been memorialized                                                               
along with all  the rest of our fatalities in  plaster and bronze                                                               
and  print and  word of  mouth ...  Let us  understand ...  these                                                               
memorials, as  with funerals, have  nothing to do with  the dead.                                                               
Alas, they cannot  be reached. We employ them to  make the living                                                               
more comfy. Enough already, Tom."                                                                                               
MR. STEWART said  that is important. "Dad  isn't here, obviously,                                                               
but we are, and  a lot of what we do with these  things is for us                                                               
and future generations."  Today he heard a young  staffer ask who                                                               
Thomas B. Stewart  was. Naming a building after  someone may give                                                               
a person  a chance to reflect  on what that person  did. He would                                                               
hope that  people won't  just walk by  a building  with someone's                                                               
name on it.  We are losing the generation of  people who made the                                                               
state,  and these  efforts can  help future  generations remember                                                               
who people were and what they did.                                                                                              
9:31:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MENARD  said  when  a  building is  named  after  a  great                                                               
Alaskan, it  is a history  lesson. Schools are often  named after                                                               
people  and she  likes having  that kind  of history  lesson. She                                                               
hopes to honor Judge Stewart in this way.                                                                                       
NANCY DECHERNEY,  Director, Juneau  Arts and  Humanities Council,                                                               
said she supports  SB 29 for all that Tom  Stewart and his family                                                               
did to support the arts and statehood.                                                                                          
MICHELLE  SIDEMAN, Juneau,  said she  is a  long-time admirer  of                                                               
Judge Stewart. There  are some people who are simply  an honor to                                                               
know. He  set the gold  standard for goodness and  human decency.                                                               
He was a  public servant in the deepest sense  of the word. Judge                                                               
Stewart  devoted   his  life  to  serving   his  country,  state,                                                               
community,  family,  and  his  extraordinarily  large  circle  of                                                               
friends. She  doubts there is a  complete list of the  boards and                                                               
organizations  he served  on  or  contributed to,  or  a list  of                                                               
individuals to whom he personally lent  a hand. He was a generous                                                               
and highly  principled person and  a consummate gentleman.  It is                                                               
fitting to name the capitol annex  after a founding father of the                                                               
state. It will  be a small and daily reminder  of Judge Stewart's                                                               
great contributions to a state he truly loved.                                                                                  
9:34:23 AM                                                                                                                    
JENNY DAWSON, Juneau,  said she had the privilege  of living next                                                               
door  to Tom  Stewart for  the  last 15  years. He  was the  most                                                               
decent human being she has ever known.                                                                                          
SENATOR  MEYER  moved  to  report   SB  29  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, SB 29 moved out of committee.                                                                               

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