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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan says he will seek the job of lieutenant governor.
The mayor in a statement early Wednesday morning says he’s running because of his love for Alaska and desire to serve the state during a challenging time in history.
Sullivan says that in four years as mayor, his administration has restored the fiscal health of the city while keeping a lid on property taxes.
The Republican says Anchorage is one of the few cities that has seen its bond rating upgraded.
The United States House passed a restrictive abortion measure last night that has no chance in the Senate.
As APRN’s Peter Granitz reports, it fell along party lines.
Representative Don Young joined nearly all of his Republican colleagues in voting to ban abortion after 20 weeks.
Six Democrats voted for the measure, and exactly six Republicans voted against it.
It’s the most stringent restriction on abortion to pass the House in years. Many House conservatives who pushed the bill contend that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.
The House passed the bill despite a White House veto threat. The president said the bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade – the 1973 Supreme Court case easing access to the procedure.
But the White House threat means little, because the bill will not get any action in the Senate.
The equipment from Adak’s fish processing plant was auctioned off in one piece Tuesday morning. The City of Adak and the Adak Community Development Corporation jointly submitted the winning bid of $1.8 million.
Rhode Island-based Independence Bank was selling the equipment in the wake of Icicle Seafoods’ departure from Adak earlier this year. They offered it up wholesale first, and the Adak partnership outbid two other potential buyers — one unidentified, and Anchorage-based Rotating Services, LLC.
The $1.8 million bid bought all of the equipment inside the plant – from the cod processing lines to the forklifts. It didn’t, however, come with a lease on the facility, which is owned by Aleut Enterprise. President Rudy Tsukada says while there’s no agreement in place right now, he’s “look[ing] forward to working with the city of Adak to solidify fisheries [sic] role in the economy of Adak.”
The city says it’s not planning to operate the plant, but will be looking for someone who can. Neither the city nor ACDC would comment further on the arrangement until the details are sorted out.
The Coast Guard is searching the waters near Hoonah for a crewman who went overboard from the fishing vessel “Swift” late Monday night. The 34-foot boat is reportedly based in Juneau, but state records show it registered to a Sitka captain.
The Coast Guard received a call for help shortly after midnight Tuesday morning. The 57-foot Pacific Horizon discovered the Swift in Icy Strait. Crew members found no one aboard, and notified Coast Guard Sector Juneau. The Coast Guard reported the Swift’s position at about 40 miles west of Juneau.
KTOO in Juneau reports that the vessel’s deckhand went overboard and the skipper pursued him in a dinghy.
A helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka found the boat’s captain suffering from mild hypothermia on a beach near his overturned skiff. The vessel is registered to Tim Lane, of Sitka, who was listed in stable condition Tuesday at Bartlett Regional Hospital.
The deckhand remains missing.
A Sitka Coast Guard helicopter, as well as a response boat from Juneau and the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty, are aiding in the search. The Civil Air Patrol joined search and rescue efforts Tuesday morning. The search is concentrated one mile south of Porpoise Island, which is near the mouth of Excursion Inlet.
The missing crewman, whose name was not released, was reportedly wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and black rain pants.
National Weather Service meteorologist Geri Swanson says at the time the Coast Guard received the call for help, Icy Strait was experiencing 15-to-20-knot winds under cloudy skies. But earlier in the evening, the region experienced a series of moderate thunderstorms, including winds up to 37 knots. The National Weather Service issued storm warnings to mariners throughout the evening, urging them to find safe harbor.
By Shannon Kuhn
The question was simple: why is gardening (in Alaska of all places!) important to you?
The responses were thoughtful, witty, and it quickly became clear to me that a garden represents something different to each person. It is a small, yet powerful act of self-sufficiency, localism, and in some cases rebellion. It is a way to plant something real in defiance of our industrial food system that seeks to isolate us from our food, and each other. It is science, math, art, and economics. It is beauty, peace, tradition, and taste. It is community, family, home.
I was originally planning on writing a “Top 10 Reasons to Garden this Summer” article, but the responses to my question blew me away. I decided instead to let them speak for themselves. Here are quotes from people in our community. I hope they inspire you as much as they did me.Why is having a garden important to you?
- I like knowing where my food has come from.
- It’s great being able to pick lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, and vegetables and eat them 2 minutes later!
- Home-grown food tastes better and fresher!
- I live in a town house and we are not allowed to change the outside of our homes with paint or fixtures or adornments — except lights in winter, and plants in summer. So, It’s wonderful to be able to personalize my home by planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers, that I also get to eat!
-Anne Gore, Girl Scouts of Alaska
“I grew up in Queens, a borough of the city of New York. My parents were social workers, not farmers. I moved to Alaska in 1969, when many people my age were ”getting back to the land.” In Fairbanks during the 70′s, we all had gardens. To me, its always been a big part of living in Alaska. We hunt, we fish, we grow big gardens.
I also work with Alaska farmers every day, using USDA programs to help them be financially successful. To do my job well, I have to literally get my hands dirty to really understand the challenges of growing food in Alaska.”
-Danny Consenstein, USDA
“It is a great way for kids to learn where food comes from. My son’s friends were over when I was harvesting carrots and potatoes. They had no idea that they grew in the ground. They had a blast helping me harvest.”
-Lisa Wedin, UAF Cooperative Extension
- Weeding is more fun than mowing.
- For the food, duh.
- For the moose to eat. Doh!
- To make my anticipation of summer even greater.
- To raise the property value. (ha)
-Kim Wetzel, URS Corporation
“When I garden I feel reconnected to the earth. I feel fortunate to be a property owner and feel a responsibility to use our land wisely, even if it means building above ground beds in downtown Anchorage!”
-Cindy Shake, Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation
“FRESH HERBS! Anyone can have an herb garden!! You don’t even need a green thumb. Basil in pasta dishes, cilantro in mexican dishes….SO much cheaper and easier. And SO satisfying to go out to your windowsill or deck and snip snip some herbs
You can avoid the grocery stores. Who wants to be stuck in Costco on a gorgeous sunny evening when you can mosey on back to your own garden and harvest your dinner right there?
It’s important to me that I am doing my part to provide for myself and not consume products that are supported by unfair labor practices and immigration policies. Even if it’s just picking my kale and lettuce for my salad, I know I am doing my small little part.”
-Kate Powers, Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
- Another way to one-up your neighbor.
- Mandatory skill for zombie apocalypse.
- Chicks dig guys with gardens.
-Nick Moe, Alaska Center for the Environment
“Meet your neighbors! An interesting yard is a great conversation starter.”
-Nick Treinen, Black Dog Gardens
- Low cost, high nutrient food right in my backyard.
- It’s a meditative and artful way to spend time that is so different than my workday or my exercise or the other pieces of my life
- What else would I do with my backyard?
- We can grow Colombian vegetables (papas criollas, chuguas, and acelga) that we can’t get in the U.S.
- I know it doesn’t have pesticides on it.
- I want to teach these skills to my future kids, so I have to hone them myself.
- Low carbon footprint food
-Laura Avellaneda-Cruz, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
“I love urban gardening! I love to sit out on the edge of my raised beds in the morning, drinking coffee and watching my bees busily fly in and out of the hive and buzz about the ever changing landscape of my backyard.
I love the seasonality of urban farming, ordering my seeds from Alaska companies in March, starting my seeds in April and planting the garden in May. The summer is filled with anticipation and appreciation for the sweetnesses and crunch of fresh picked veggies and the excitement of harvesting and experimenting with the ever growing pile of new found canning recipes that have accumulated throughout the year. The winter of course isn’t too bad either, the hardest part is to determine which tasty good to eat when and making sure I don’t use up all of the rhubarb and raspberry preserves too quickly, a goal I never seem to achieve. ”
-Melissa Heuer, Renewable Resources Foundation
“Reason #10 – you’ve got to do something productive with all that chicken poop! ”
-Matt Rafferty, Alaska Conservation Foundation
“Reason #7 – turn that park everyone is afraid to go near in to the vibrant community space it is supposed to be! We have what 243 parks? Not all of them are going to be top-notch. The way I think of it is from an urban development/redevelopment standpoint and the opportunity to transition troubled or vacant land (blight) to productive use. Turning something back in to a community asset – that’s the real story of the Gardens at Bragaw. We’re amazed by how many people are mobilized around that space already (neighbors, schools, business, nonprofits) and they are all thankful to have that space back to take their kids and dogs and see lively activity that makes our neighborhood more livable.”
-Kirk Rose, Anchorage Community Land Trust
“Connection- with nature, increased observation skills, fostering curiosity with natural world, taste, texture, less need to spend time in store, learning about varietals, understanding the process and work involved in food production, beauty, and community.”
-GeorgeAnne Sprinkle, Alaska Community Action on Toxics
“Gardens are beautiful! It makes our neighborhood feel so much nicer, just to walk down the street past the garden.
Survivor skills! You know, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m still going to want to eat and Carrs might not be open.
Gardens teach us where food comes from. So many people have never been to a farm! Kids are growing up not knowing that vegetables can even be grown in Alaska. Gardening is a great educational tool, even if it’s not feeding your whole family, to show us what is possible with some dirt, water, sun and seeds!”
-Megan McBride, Alaska Youth for Environmental Action
Share your reasons with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This program follows the charismatic Dr. Kenny Broad as he dives into blue holes — underwater caves that formed during the last ice age when sea level was nearly 400 feet below what it is today. The holes are Earth’s least explored and perhaps most dangerous frontiers. With an interdisciplinary team of climatologists, paleontologists and anthropologists, Broad investigates the hidden history of Earth’s climate as revealed by finds in this spectacularly beautiful “alternate universe.”
- TV: Wednesday, 6/19 at 8:00pm
You might call Frank and Debbie Kassik's brewery on the Kenai Peninsula a "Mom and Pop" operation, but there's nothing small time about their booming beer business.June 18, 2013
Alaska's largest city produces 58 million gallons of sewage a day, and much of it is pumped into Cook Inlet after less treatment than is usually required by federal standards. Will the exemption be renewed?June 18, 2013
Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell announced early this morning he’s running for Senate. He said he’s entering the race, instead of running for reelection, because he knows he can win.
His announcement named neither Begich nor the GOP primary. If he wants to face Begich, he’ll need to survive what’s expected to be a rough nominating contest.
Treadwell took a swipe at fellow Republican candidate Joe Miller without naming him.
“I think Republicans know we need a credible conservative candidate to take on Mark Begich,” he said in an early phone interview. “We know we need unity to win.”
That unity was lacking in the 2010 race. Miller, then a political neophyte, stormed onto the scene and upset incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski in the primary. She went on to win the general election in a write-in campaign.
Murkowski urged Treadwell to run but out of principle will remain neutral during the primary.
“The best thing to do is steer clear of it,” she said Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol. “I learned that from my father, who didn’t endorse me for my very first race for the Alaska state legislature because I was in a contested primary. It was good advice.”
She called Treadwell the front runner.
Miller said he welcomes Treadwell’s announcement; that competition is good for the party. He said he sees himself as the anti-establishment candidate, and Alaskans will have a clear distinction in the primary.
He would not highlight those differences, but said they’ll be apparent as the race develops.
“I would consider all of the candidates that are at least contemplating getting into this race as establishment type candidates,” he said.
Many observers in Washington see Treadwell as the establishment candidate, too. He’ll be here next week meeting with party leaders – including the National Republican Senatorial Committee. That group – officially tasked with regaining control of the Senate – refuses to discuss Miller’s candidacy.
It would like to avoid another nasty primary, which doesn’t take place until August 2014. The group has said Begich’s seat is crucial to winning control of the upper chamber.
“If you can put the Republicans back in the leadership you’d make Lisa Murkowski the head of the Senate Energy Committee. That’s going to help with ANWR. That’s going to help us with access to our lands. That’s the defining issue,” Treadwell said.
It’s hard to see a difference between Begich and Treadwell on the major issue in the state: Both support expanded oil and gas drilling.
Treadwell promised to campaign on three causes: Fighting for liberty, fighting for fiscal sanity, and fighting for Alaska.
He invokes a sacred name when he talks of his campaign: former Senator Ted Stevens. He said he’ll follow in the Stevens tradition of bringing power back to Alaska – letting Alaskans make decisions about the state, not the federal government.
“That part of his legacy, of trying to bring the decision making home is the legacy I want to work on,” he said. “We have a federal system now of spending too much, borrowing too much, taxing too much. Asking the federal government for earmarks is probably not the right way to go.”
Of course, Stevens is most remembered as the chair of the Appropriations Committee who doled out government money and projects all over Alaska.
Jennifer Duffy, senior editor with the Cook Political Report,said even though it’s early, this does not look like it will be as monumental a primary as 2010.
“You don’t see the Tea Party groups rallying around Miller like they did in 2010. The other thing is: I have not heard any of these groups having a real problem with Treadwell,” Duffy said.
Those groups don’t have any issues with Governor Sean Parnell either, and Duffy said that helps Treadwell.
And this far off, other candidates have plenty of time to enter the race.
Supporters of various initiatives are out in full force collecting signatures with the purpose of getting on next year’s ballot. Those signatures become part of the public record, and anyone can access these lists. A Republican senator from Fairbanks wants that to change, but some activists are worried his proposal could have unintended consequences. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.
The legislative session is months away. But already, Sen. Pete Kelly’s office is drafting a bill that would make the signatures collected during the initiative process confidential. He sees it as a matter of urgency.
“We’re just kind of living in an odd environment right now where I believe people are pretty nervous about what happens to their names or how they get on lists. I don’t think the state should be able to sell those names, and those lists should be fairly private.”
Right now, there are a lot of petitions floating about. There’s one to legalize marijuana, and another to recall Anchorage Republican Lindsey Holmes from the legislature for switching parties. There are also propositions that would repeal a tax cut for oil companies, and make it harder to develop Pebble Mine, both issues where Kelly has taken a pro-development stance.
His office is now warning Alaskans that they should be “very concerned about giving their names to strangers with clip boards.” Kelly thinks his announcement is timely because of the number of petitions currently circulating and because discussion about data-sharing is now happening at a national level. The motivation came:
“Mostly just from conversations about the NSA thing, and then somebody mentioned to me that the initiative [signers'] names are sold. And those two events just kind of crossed in my mind, and I thought, ‘Well, that isn’t a very good idea.’”
But some are wondering if there might be other reasons for bringing up this proposal now, so far ahead of the legislative session. Pat Lavin is one of the organizers of the referendum to repeal the oil tax cut. He describes the announcement as a sort of “black helicopter” message that could make it harder to gather the 30,000-signatures needed to get on the ballot.
“I hear a message designed to make people think twice about signing a petition.”
Kelly’s office says that’s not their intent. According to his staff, they’re not trying to discourage anyone from signing any petition — they just want people to know that their names are available upon request.
Meanwhile, government transparency advocates have some reservations about the actual substance of the proposal.
“We think this legislation is not a great idea,” says Joshua Decker with the ACLU of Alaska.
Decker gets why people might bristle at the idea of political operatives or even telemarketers buying their names and addresses. But he says the consequences of making these signatures confidential would be even more serious: If there isn’t open access to these lists, there’s no way for the public to verify if a petition got the necessary signatures to appear on the ballot. Decker also says that the concern that some people aren’t having their voice heard because they’re worried about privacy is overblown.
“We as an organization are not aware of anyone who has said, ‘But for the fact that my signature would be confidential, I am not going to sign on this particular ballot initiative.’”
Kelly’s staff say they’re open to hearing about any concerns about transparency or how their legislation would affect signature gatherers as they’re drafting the bill. They have six months until they introduce it formally in January.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s version of the Sealaska lands bill has passed out of its only committee of referral.
That’s a major step toward a Senate floor vote.
But there’s no guarantee it will move any further in Congress. Its best chance is as part of a package of lands legislation. Read details of the bill.
Murkowski told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today that it’s the result of years of negotiations.
“And I recognize it has created tensions within our communities. But we have worked aggressively and tirelessly with all of the stakeholders, not just Sealaska and their shareholders,” she says.
The bill is co-sponsored by Alaska Senator Mark Begich. A similar measure by Alaska Representative Don Young passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this month.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council has endorsed the legislation as a reasonable compromise.
But other critics – including environmental, sportsmen’s and small-community groups – continue to oppose the bill. They say Sealaska wants to trade marginal acreage it can already claim for the most valuable timberlands in the Tongass National Forest.
Andi Burgess is rainforest program director for the Alaska Wilderness League. Her group is particularly concerned about an area on the south end of Prince of Wales Island.
“One of the most productive salmon streams in the Tongass is in Keete Inlet. It’s an area identified by Audubon and Trout Unlimited scientists as being one of the most high-value watersheds,” Burgess says.
The bill would allow the regional Native corporation to choose about 68,000 acres of timberlands from within the Tongass.
Around another 1,600 acres would be transferred for renewable energy and ecotourism development or preservation as cemetery and historic sites.
The total, a little more than 70,000 acres, is less than the 85,000 Sealaska has said it’s entitled to.
Murkowski points to acreage that would gain new protections under the bill.
“It will help the Sealaska region’s timber industry grow, while at the same time we’re working to protect more than 150,000 acres of habitat for fisheries and wildlife,” she says.
Juneau-based Sealaska has about 22,000 shareholders. More than half live outside Southeast, but have family ties to the area.