State Asks For Bids Despite Protests
Just days after New Mexico Governor
Bill Richardson was able to order his new Cessna Citation Bravo,
another US governor is in the market for new wings. This time, it's
Alaska's Frank Murkowski.
As with Richardson, Murkowski's bid for a new
aircraft has met with stiff resistance from both citizens and
lawmakers. But just as Richardson was determined to get his wings,
so is Alaska's governor.
"I think it's been clear that we're interested in the
performance a jet can get us," Alaska Public Safety Commissioner
Bill Tandeske told reporters.
Tandeske's DPS is taking bids for the aircraft, hoping to award
a sales contract by July 19th.
Murkowski last year tried to use Homeland Security funds --
about $1.4 million altogether, to purchase a new jet. Earlier this
year, according to the Empire, the Legislature excised a line in
the budget for $1.4 million intended to purchase a new
But Murkowski is undeterred.
"The governor has been pretty clear that this is the right
decision," spokeswoman Becky Hultberg said Thursday.
Turboprop owners are welcome to reply to the request for
proposal -- but the bid specifies it must have been built after
1990. It must also have a flush toilet -- a private flush toilet
(something the state's current fleet of King Airs currently don't
In the case of a jet or turboprop,
the bid calls for an aircraft with a wingspan of 55 feet, total
length of 60 feet and a range of 1,500 nautical miles. Jets to be
considered must have built after 1980.
But some lawmakers, like Rep. Eric Croft (D-Anchorage), say a
jet is an unwieldy luxury in these austere times -- especially
given the number of Alaska runways that are unpaved or too short to
handle a bizjet. Earlier this year, Croft actually tried to write a
line in the budget that would prohibit the state from buying a jet
But the governor is pressing onward and upward. DPS plans to
completely evaluate all proposals by July 7th and announce its
intent to award a contract the next day.