Ever since the establishment of the City Council there have been many heated debates regarding city services and how to pay for them. Just like today, newspapers were a powerful tool for garnering public support for new public services or upgrades to existing ones. Sometimes these public debates lead to some rather interesting alternative fiscal solutions. The following Letter to the Editor is an illuminating example of one of these debates that resulted in a “bright idea”.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner- October 16, 1931
Letter to the Editor
It was with no small degree of satisfaction that I last night read the report of the action of the City Council in regard to your persistent and unwarranted nagging on the street lighting question. The Council is absolutely right, and I am delighted to see you so adequately squelched. To properly light the city streets would cost money, and, as the Mayor remarked, they have plenty of other uses for the money, so why waste it in service to the taxpayers?
It is the taxpayers’ business to furnish the money and the Council’s business to spend it. The tax-payer has no right to butt into the Council’s end of it, and it is a cinch that the Council will not attempt to usurp the taxpayers’ privilege of furnishing the money. It is true that the tax rate is higher than in the best days of the camp and a great deal of property is assessed out of all proportion to the value, but that, again, is the Council’s business and nothing for the tax-payer to worry about.
Now, the solution of the lighting question is so simple that a child could work it out, which is another reason why the heavy artillery of council manic intellect should not be wasted on it. In the business district, there should be an ordinance requiring all stores and business houses to carry a full battery of lights up to midnight. This would take care of the lighting of the down-town section. In the residence district, every householder should be required to keep a light burning in every room until midnight, and to leave all the curtain shades up. This would result in a brilliant illumination of the residential district, and would greatly stimulate night pedestrianism, and improve the health of the community, as many good citizens now leading sedentary lives would immediately feel an urge for the light and agreeable exercise, and interesting observations, to be found in the evening strolls throughout the brilliantly lighted residence district with its unobstructed views.
After midnight, well…. all respectable citizens are supposed to be home and in bed before the “witching hour.” Anybody who may be coming home at such a late hour will be presumed to be sufficiently “lit-up” as not to require any further illumination.
Yours very truly,
Note: We do not know the true identity of the person who wrote this letter, but we do know his brilliant proposal did not come to fruition. It is safe to say that eventually he had to come out of the darkness, and pay up for proper street lights. This enlightening history nugget has been brought to you by Fairbanks Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.