Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
The 2014 Iditarod will easily go down in the books as one of the most memorable. From snow-starved trails to lightning-fast runs, conditions were treacherous for this years field, nearly a third of which have been forced to scratch. Mike Santos is among the many who called it quits in Rohn after a particularly rough stretch after Rainy Pass.
But, for Santos, it’s not about the race, it’s all about the dogs.
Special thanks to Frontier Scientists.
Part 3 of 3.
UPDATE: Dallas Seavey overtakes Aliy Zirkle for the lead, checking out of Safety at 1:16 a.m.
Denali musher Jeff King scratched near Safety at 11:50 Monday evening as he closed in on front-runner Aliy Zirkle – who remains in the checkpoint.
King told race officials he was having difficulty navigating the trail due to severe wind in the area.
2012 Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey has closed the distance, arriving in Safety at approximately 1:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Last year’s champion, Mitch Seavey currently stands in third place.
The leaders of the 2014 Iditarod set out from White Mountain Monday afternoon bound for their last stop -- and a well deserved rest -- in Nome.March 10, 2014
Only two years after a humbling defeat near the shores of the Bering Sea, grizzled Jeff King from the community of Denali Park in the heart of Alaska is poised to claim the crown as one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champions of all time.
March 10, 2014
The State Assessment Review Board has a vague and unassuming name. But it has a very specific and very important job – assessing the value of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
The board has come under scrutiny after its chair was dismissed, and now Democrats in the Alaska Senate want Sean Parnell to withdraw the name of one of his board appointees because of residency issues. But APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports that the governor is backing his nominee.
The governor chose Dennis Mandell of Salinas, California, to serve on the State Assessment Review Board earlier this year. The board gets the final say on the value of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline for tax purposes, and appointees require legislative approval because it is a quasi-judicial body.
During a floor speech on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Hollis French said he would not give that approval because he thinks Mandell’s appointment violates Alaska statute.
“It says that a person appointed to a board or commission of state government shall be and have been before the last general election a registered voter in the state,” said French. “Boom! I mean it’s clear.”
The Senate Minority Caucus also sent a letter to the governor calling for Mandell’s withdrawal on Monday, and it comes on the heels of an Anchorage Daily News story highlighting his California residency.
While Mandell could not be reached for comment, his board application notes that he worked for the now-defunct oil company Arco for nearly two decades. He last lived in Alaska 15 years ago, and he is registered as a California voter.
French was emphatic that Mandell’s residency was grounds for withdrawal, acting out what he would do if he were in Parnell’s situation.
FRENCH: ‘Whoops! I appointed a Californian to a board. I’ve got to fix that. I’m going to withdraw the nomination.’”
Sharon Leighow, a spokesperson for the governor, says that Parnell has no intention of pulling Mandell from consideration. In an e-mailed statement, she wrote that the governor is complying with the constitutional requirements for boards and appointments, but she did not address the statutory requirements.
Parnell’s choices for the State Assessment Review Board have also been criticized because his appointees have a background in the oil industry, and they come after the firing of Marty McGee. McGee was a long-time member of the assessment board who consistently advocated for a higher valuation of the pipeline, and he’s accused the Parnell administration of “stacking” the board with oil industry veterans.
In addition to Mandell, the governor appointed Bernard Washington, of Anchorage, to the board. Washington has served as the chief financial officer of Alaska Public Media, the parent company of KSKA, KAKM and the Alaska Public Radio Network, since 2010. Prior to that, he worked for ConocoPhillips.
For his part, Washington doesn’t think that residency should be a factor if a person is otherwise qualified. He believes the State Assessment Review Board should have a diverse makeup, with members who have had experience with the oil industry and members who have worked outside it.
“You get a better discussion because you have different points of view,” said Washington in an interview.
Washington thinks that in the past, the State Assessment Review Board has been influenced by “politics, which shouldn’t enter into it.” He says he would bring a more quantitative approach.
“What I’d like to see is have a methodology that’s reproducible, that anybody – any rational person – can follow and understand, ‘Oh, that’s how they got to that number.’ And it makes sense,” said Washington. “Which means the method has longevity — not the value, because the value’s going to change every year depending on the economic circumstances.”
Washington also says he’s still studying the Alaska Supreme Court decision that was issued last month on pipeline valuation, and that he still has some questions on how the pipeline’s maximum capacity factored into its assessment. The Supreme Court ruled that the pipeline was worth $10 billion during the 2006 tax year, rejecting the argument from oil companies that it was worth just $850 million. For every billion dollars the pipeline is worth, municipalities along its route collect about $20 million in property taxes.
In 2013, the State Assessment Review Board determined the pipeline was worth $12 billion, while the Alaska Department of Revenue put the number at $7 billion.
The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to interview both board appointees on Thursday. The Legislature will vote on board appointments on April 11.
Superlatives were seldom in short supply during this Iditarod, a race that will be remembered for its lack of snow as much as a pace that may see more than a half-dozen mushers break the record time of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes.March 10, 2014
A bill providing funding and support for some Village Public Safety Officers to carry firearms passed unanimously in the house this morning.
Alaska State Troopers say a man has been shot and killed in an incident in Wasilla.
Shortly past 9 p.m. on Sunday, a Trooper and a Wasilla police officer were involved in a shooting on the Seward Meridian Parkway. Trooper reports indicated that Troopers were alerted to an impaired driver, and that the driver of the vehicle failed to stop at the direction of a police officer. The driver of the vehicle was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the vehicle was also shot and sustained non life-threatening injuries. The Trooper and police officer were not injured in the incident.
There are few details available at this time, according to Trooper spokesperson Beth Ipsen.
Investigators from the Alaska Bureau of Investigations and Wasilla Police Department are investigating the incident. The Alaska Bureau of Investigations has assumed the responsibility of lead investigating agency.