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Southeast Alaska News
ANCHORAGE — The conviction of a former Alaska prosecutor on wire fraud charges is no longer valid, a federal appeals court has determined.
A 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the definition of the kind of wire fraud to which Avery pleaded guilty in 2007, according to an opinion issued Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court said the type of “crime” former Security Aviation owner Mark Avery admitted is no longer a crime. Avery is a former Anchorage prosecutor.
Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula of Juneau is praising Senator Lisa Murkowski for her statement on marriage equality.
Murkowski released a statement Wednesday encouraging the government to promote family values by allowing same-sex couples to marry. Murkowski is now the third GOP senator to come out in support of marriage equality.
Kerttula in February introduced to the Legislature a bill to add “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” to the list of traits upon which businesses, unions and landlords cannot discriminate against people under Alaska state law.
Schools that were previously in a funding black hole — including three Southeast districts — are now eligible for support from the State of Alaska for construction projects. On Tuesday Gov. Sean Parnell signed a bill that adjusts the state’s funding formula for school construction.
The signing of SB 62 allows five rural schools to take advantage of a 2011 Alaska Superior Court decision that ensures equitable funding of school construction in rural towns and villages.
A group of Ketchikan Indian Community members is collecting signatures to recall seven of the eight KIC Tribal Council members.
The group alleges that the seven members violated the tribe’s Constitution when they voted in late May to temporarily appoint the Tribal Council President Irene Dundas to act as the KIC administrator. They further allege that Dundas acted improperly when she fired the KIC human resources director, at the direction of the Tribal Council.
Richard Jackson is the main petitioner, and has set up a table at The Plaza mall. There are separate petitions for each of the Tribal Council members that his group seeks to recall. In addition to Dundas, those members are Gloria Burns, Verna Hudson, Donna Frank, Rob Sanderson, Andre LeCornu and Norman Arriola.
Jackson said that when appointing Dundas to act as administrator, the Tribal Council was acting under the 1979 Constitution, but that Constitution was amended earlier this year, and prohibits the president from acting as CEO.
With a February 21 letter to the Anchorage office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the KIC Tribal Council sent the amended Constitution and bylaws. The controversial Tribal Council vote took place on May 31, about 100 days after the information had been sent for review.
Jackson said that the BIA didn’t send a confirmation letter, but the review period deadline has long since passed.
“There’s a 45-day review period, which I believe was satisfied,” he said. “Whether they contact us or not, that means it’s final. The Constitution was approved. That’s the basis of this petition.”
Those seeking the recall will need to gather at least 211 signatures of registered KIC voters who participated in the last election. Jackson said they’ve collected about 10 percent of the needed signatures so far, but they just got started.
He said the process is complex.
“It’s been quite a job getting all this paperwork done correctly,” he said. “I’m dealing with the legal terms that their ordinances say and the Constitution says. I looked at the constitutional vote for the 2012 Constitution, and looked at the paperwork they sent to the BIA. It’s a balance of trying to find out what’s true and what isn’t, and I believe we have a good cause.”
The eighth Tribal Council member, Delores Churchill, was not present for the vote in question, so the group is not seeking to recall her.
A message left at KIC seeking comment from Dundas was not returned by deadline Wednesday.
An engineering-services contract for the city’s water treatment plant is on the Ketchikan City Council agenda Thursday.
The $37,000 contract with CH2M Hill would allow a testing phase to move forward. This follows approval by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for the city to test a second chlorine injection following an ultraviolet light treatment.
The state has yet to approve the city’s planned chloramination treatment process, which was meant to reduce byproducts from chlorine treatment while still meeting strict disinfection guidelines. The state has allowed the city to move forward with the UV treatment, in the meantime.
In a memo to the Council, Water Division Manager John Kleinegger says that using the UV treatment increases disinfection, but it also reduces the amount of chlorine in the water, which makes the levels of chlorine too low by the time the water reaches the farthest points of the system. Adding more chlorine at the beginning of the process will fix that problem, but increases the amount of byproducts, which have been linked to cancer in laboratory animals.
This new plan calls for less chlorine at the initial stage, then the UV light treatment, then a secondary chlorine injection. They believe that will keep chlorine levels at the correct level, and not increase the byproducts.
The CH2M Hill contract will test that hypothesis.
Also Thursday the Council will vote on a second reading of an ordinance that would place a hospital improvement bond proposal on the Oct. 1 municipal ballot.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.
ANCHORAGE — The mayor of Alaska’s largest city announced plans to run for lieutenant governor next year, a day after Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell said he was running for U.S. Senate.
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan joins Republican Sen. Lesil McGuire and Democrat Bob Williams, a Palmer math teacher, as those who are interested in the job.
ANCHORAGE — A man injured when an Anchorage police officer drove through a red light and into his pickup truck has been awarded $375,000 in a civil lawsuit.
The Anchorage jury, however, rejected Melvin Rush’s claim for $2.5 million in punitive damages. Rush’s attorney, Jim Valcarce, told the Anchorage Daily News that the claim was justified because veteran Officer Michael Wisel was distracted as he drove and had a history of poor driving.
WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday said she supports gay marriage, making her the third Senate Republican to do so.
Murkowski’s announcement comes with the Supreme Court days away from issuing a decision on two cases related to gay marriage. The high court is considering both California’s gay marriage ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Coast Guard suspended its search late Tuesday night for a fisherman who went overboard from a boat north of Hoonah.
Alaska State Troopers identified the missing deckhand as 25-year-old Alan Young of Chehalis, Wash.
The Coast Guard and other agencies searched more than 450 square miles on Tuesday. Petty Officer Sara Francis says the search is now in the hands of the Troopers.
“Our thoughts are definitely with the family,” she said. “One of the most difficult decisions our crews have to make is when to suspend a search. Nobody likes leaving someone out there, not having a positive resolution to a case, but unfortunately sometimes that happens. Alaska is a very dynamic environment, and we do our best to help crews conduct their business as safely as possible.”
Francis says Young was not wearing any kind of floatation device when he went into the water. The reasons he went overboard are unknown.
Young was aboard the fishing vessel “Swift.” Coast Guard Sector Juneau received a call for help from another vessel, the Pacific Horizon, which found the Swift at anchor and abandoned.
The Swift’s captain, 47-year-old Tim Lane of Sitka, went after Young in a skiff. He was later picked up on a nearby beach suffering from mild hypothermia. The Coast Guard transported Lane to Juneau, and he was treated at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He was scheduled to be discharged Wednesday.
Search efforts on Tuesday in Icy Strait were concentrated near Porpoise Island, which is south of the entrance to Excursion Inlet, and north of Hoonah. The area is known to locals as “Home Shore.”
State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters says the search continued Wednesday using the vessel “Century” and underwater cameras. Divers also were standing by, and the SEADOGS, a volunteer canine unit, was working an “area of interest” on land nearby.
The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a crewman who went missing near Porpoise Island, 40 miles west of Juneau, Monday.
Tim Lane — vessel master of the 34-foot Swift, based in Sitka — told Alaska State Troopers that Alan Young, 25, of Chehalis, Wa., intentionally jumped overboard without a life vest to swim. Lane said he launched a skiff to rescue Young after he became visibly distressed. Lane was unable to locate Young.
Kathy Glover, a nurse and administrative assistant, and Penny Pederson, Executive Director of the KMC Foundation give details on Rotary House which provides temporary housing for those outside the community who come to Ketchikan with medical needs. RotaryHouse
Aaron Fong, the new Program Director for SAIL (Southeast Alaska Independent Living) introduces himself. Fong is replacing Kevin Gadsey who has been with SAIL for six years. Emily Chapel gives information on ORCA and the upcoming Fools Run. sail061913
Petersburg is asking again to be in a legislative district with Sitka and other smaller Southeast communities. Petersburg’s borough assembly voted Monday to send a letter asking the Alaska Redistricting Board to go back to the electoral map it adopted in May of 2012, instead of the interim plan selected later that month.
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Petersburg was unsuccessful in its court challenge of the board’s plan putting Petersburg in a house district with Juneau for the 2012 election. However, the state’s Supreme Court ordered the board to come up with a new plan based on the state constitution in time for the 2014 election. In response hearings are scheduled late this month and early next month on a new permanent plan. Petersburg elected officials are hoping the latest change will put the community back in a district with Sitka, Wrangell and some other small panhandle communities.
During a radio call in show Monday Assembly member Cindy Lagoudakis supported the change.
“I do think that we would benefit by being included with smaller communities,” Lagoudakis said. “I think we have some similar interests and characteristics that make it more aligned with other small communities rather than being included with Juneau, although I can’t say that we’ve had any major problems in that regard thus far.”
Petersburg’s attorney Tom Klinkner this month drafted a letter to the board asking them to adopt “Option A” for Southeast Alaska. That option joins Petersburg with Sitka and Wrangell. The board adopted that plan in May of 2012, however the Supreme court tossed out that month it following objections from Haines and Southeast Native organizations. The split court was concerned with federal approval in time for last year’s elections and ordered the board to put an interim plan in place and later revisit the Southeast districts.
Mayor pro tem Sue Flint read from the Klinkner’s draft letter at a borough assembly meeting this month. “Option A remains the districting plan for Southeast that best meets the requirements of Article VI, section six of the Alaska Constitution, the Voting Rights Act still provides no justification for deviating from Alaska constitutional requirements in Southeast Alaska and there is ample time to obtain Department of Justice preclearance of a redistricting plan that includes Option A before the 2014 elections.”
On the same radio call in show Monday, assembly member John Hoag said he was pleased with Petersburg’s representation in the Juneau district last session and did not think there was a perfect solution for Southeast. “When you look at option A, Prince of Wales gets cut in half with two districts,” he noted, adding, “I’m sure those residents don’t think that makes a lot of sense. They’re gonna end up doing what they do. Option A is better for Petersburg but it would be better if the district would include all of Prince of Wales I would think.”
The vote was unanimous to send the Option A letter to the board. That group is holding work sessions this week to come up with new plans based on state constitutional requirements. Public hearings and plan presentations will be in Anchorage June 28th, in Fairbanks July 1st and in Juneau July 2nd with option for people to listen in and testify over the telephone.
ANCHORAGE — A heat wave hitting Alaska may not rival the blazing heat of Phoenix or Las Vegas, but to residents of the 49th state, the days of hot weather feel like a stifling oven — or a tropical paradise.
With temperatures topping 80 degrees in Anchorage, and higher in other parts of the state, people have been sweltering in a place where few homes have air conditioning.
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Sitka Fine Arts Camp director Roger Schmidt says campus programs are growing in their numbers and diversity. The transformation of Sheldon Jackson College that seemed a leap of faith in 2011 continues to move forward.
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Search continues for fishing boat crewman lost in Icy Strait. ‘Master Bander’ tracks Alaska’s long-range hummingbirds. Third season of ferry service brings change to Gustavus. Sealaska Lands legislation passes Senate committee, could move to floor.
ANCHORAGE — Residents of Alaska’s largest city are making a run on products to keep the high number of mosquitoes in the area at bay.
Hardware and discount stores across Anchorage have run low on — or out of — bug zappers, citronella candles, yard torches and other products designed to keep mosquitoes away, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“I had 12 running feet (of shelving) with mosquito products. It’s all bare,” said Tim Craig, owner of Anchorage True Value Hardware in the Sand Lake and Jewel Lake neighborhood.
JUNEAU — Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell on Tuesday announced plans to seek the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Mark Begich, saying Alaska would be better served with Republicans in charge.
JUNEAU — A U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would provide $50 million to clean up abandoned federal wells on current or former National Petroleum Reserve lands.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee also passed out a bill that would change the name of Mount McKinley to Denali sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.