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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 27, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By JAMIE EDWARDSON

A Winter's Sunrise
A colorful sunrise with Ketchikan and Deer Mountain on the left.
Front Page Feature Photo By JAMIE EDWARDSON ©2018

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Fish Factor: Commissioners not able to agree on catch allocations for the 8 halibut fishing regions By LAINE WELCH - As expected, catches of Pacific halibut will decrease for this year, and likely into the foreseeable future. 

Following an increase in catches last year for the first time in several decades, the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) on Friday set a “suggested” coastwide catch for 2018 at 28.03 million pounds, a 10.7 percent reduction. Alaska’s share could be 20.52 million pounds, a drop of 2.1 million pounds from 2017.

The numbers could decline further, as for the first time in memory since the IPHC began its oversight of the stocks in 1923, the six commissioners were not able to agree on catch allocations for the eight halibut fishing regions. 

Halibut catch limits are determined by summer surveys at more than 1,200 stations from Oregon to the Aleutians.

“There was agreement that the general halibut stock is in decline, but no consensus on what the catches should be. Due to this impasse, the commissioners made suggestions for 2018 for their own countries,” said Tom Gemmell, executive director of the Juneau-based Halibut Coalition.

“The Canadian's main issue on harvest reduction is that they do not agree with the U.S. on the distribution of the stocks. However, all agreed that stocks are down and that reductions are needed.” Gemmell added in email posts from the Oregon meeting.

“The bottom line is both parties agreed on what we needed to do in terms of reductions, but couldn’t agree on how to get it done,” said IPHC chairman Jim Balsiger. “That’s an awkward place to be, but I don’t believe for a second that any of the commissioners did anything other than what they thought was best and what they were required to do by their own ideals as we try to get to a solution.”

The impasse means that each country will set its own catch guidelines within recommended limits. 

“The need to adopt quotas outside the IPHC process may result in a delay to the March 24 opening date,” cautioned Gemmell. The U.S. halibut fishery will close on November 7.

By all accounts, the five day meeting was “spirited but agreeable.” 

“The U.S. and Canada are good friends and neighbors and we do not consider the result a failure,” said attendee Bruce Gabrys in closing remarks that met with sustained applause. “Principled people sometimes disagree. I do not see our relations changing irrespective of what path the IPCH takes as we move forward. We thank the commissioners for their efforts.”  

The 2018 suggested catches in millions of pounds compared to last year are: - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Man and Woman Indicted on Federal Drug Trafficking Charges; Residence Subject to Forfeiture - U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced yesterday that a Ketchikan man and woman have been indicted on federal drug trafficking charges.  Michael Anthony Welker, 54, and Mandy Elaine Bacus a/k/a Mandy Elaine Peters, 35, both of Ketchikan, were named in the indictment charging them with drug conspiracy. 

Welker and Bacus were arraigned Thursday in Juneau federal court and were ordered detained pending trial, which has been scheduled for April 2, 2018.

According to court records, between June 1, 2017, and Sept. 15, 2017, Welker and Bacus allegedly sold methamphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), cocaine, and heroin on numerous occasions to an undercover informant from their residence located in Ketchikan. 

Welker and Bacus were subsequently arrested by law enforcement officers on Jan. 23, 2018, in Ketchikan. 

According to U.S. Attorney Schroder, their Ketchikan residence is now subject to forfeiture.  - More....
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

Alaska: On the 9th Anniversary of Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Alaska Women Push for Pay Equity and Economic Justice - At a time when a national conversation is taking place about sexual harassment, there are Alaska lawmakers and non-profit leaders who believe it is also time to focus on another workplace problem — pay equity. 

Alaska House Resources Committee Co-Chair Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) and House Minority Leader Rep. Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) will help focus attention on the issue by sponsoring a lunch and learn event in the Alaska State Capitol on Monday, January 29, 2018 to coincide with the 9th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Alaska women earn an average of 68 percent of what men make in Alaska, according to a March 2017 report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. There is some progress, but it's moving slowly, according to the report’s author, Karinne Wiebold. While using different sources changes the size of the gap, they all tell the same story.

“Men earn more in nearly 80 percent of Alaska’s occupations and at every age and educational level, even though men and women participate in the workforce at nearly equal rates,” said Wiebold.

Quoting a news release from Representatives Tarr and Millett, many social scientists believe that pay inequality threatens the lives of Alaska’s women and families.

“When women don’t earn enough money to be financially independent, they are vulnerable,” said Carmen Lowry, Executive Director of the Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, one of four panelists who will speak at a free luncheon event Monday at the State Capitol in Juneau. “The fastest-growing segment of our population living in poverty are children in single-parent households led by women. In the best interests of our children, we need to ensure all women are able to earn the same wages as their male counterparts.” - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

Alaska: Congress Urged to Overturn Last Month’s FCC Decision Ending Net Neutrality - A resolution asking the U.S. Congress to overturn last month’s controversial decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ending the requirement that internet providers practice net neutrality has been presented in the Alaska legislature. The FCC’s decision reversed an earlier decision that prevented internet providers from treating customers differently depending on how they use the internet.

“Millions of Americans spoke out in support of equality and fairness when they participated in the FCC’s public process regarding net neutrality. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration’s version of the FCC gave greater weight to the wishes of the big internet and media conglomerates than individual Americans and Alaskans,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “I am hopeful that Congress can find the will to reverse this ill-advised decision and stand up for regular people. If they don’t, then the big corporations will continue to scheme ways to make money at the expense of individual freedoms and your ability to use the internet how you see fit.”

Net neutrality protects an individual’s ability to access and transmit information on the internet by requiring internet service providers to treat all websites equally. Last month’s FCC decision to end net neutrality allows providers to impose additional charges for access to certain websites or to slow down or even block access to websites.

The public process the FCC used to examine net neutrality has come under scrutiny because of the 2 million public comments that were linked to stolen identities and nearly 500,000 comments that were generated from Russian email addresses.  - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018


Alaska Science: Utqiagvik, where the climate has changed By NED ROZELL - Two things happened on top of the world this week. In Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), on Jan. 22 the sun topped the horizon for the first time since mid-November.

Utqiagvik, where the climate has changed By NED ROZELL

A signpost indicates geographic distances from Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow, where evidence of a warming climate has been dramatic this winter.

The day before that, Jan. 21, was the first time since Halloween the town’s thermometers recorded a below-normal daily average air temperature.

The returning daylight for the continent’s farthest north community is due to a predictable nod of the Earth back toward the sun. Utqiagvik’s second day of direct sunlight, Jan. 23, featured almost an hour’s increase from the day before. The town will have four hours of daylight by the end of January. By May 11, there will be no night.

Just as dramatic are the recent warm autumns and winters in Utqiagvik. While many people worldwide sense their favorite places are changing, residents of Utqiagvik use the past tense.

“The term is no longer ‘climate change’ at Utqiagvik. It is ‘climate changed.’ No doubt about it, based on my 40 years,” said biologist Craig George, who studies bowhead whales and other animals from his home in Utqiagvik.

George remembered back to October 1988, when three gray whales became trapped in Beaufort Sea ice just north of Point Barrow. The whales became a worldwide news story, as local rescuers used chainsaws to cut circular breathing holes in the sea ice, trying to lead the whales to open ocean.

“This year, we had crashing waves onshore and 34 degrees F on winter solstice,” he said. “It’s almost like a different planet.”

In December, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists looking for the latest temperatures from Utqiagvik sensors found computer algorithms had flagged and removed November readings because they seemed so far off.

The average temperature for October through December 2017 was 15.6 degrees F, 12.2 degrees above normal and highest for that span in the last 98 years, according to NOAA climatologist Rick Thoman.

Since 2000, the average October temperature in Utqiagvik has increased 7.8 degrees F. November’s average temperature has increased 6.9 degrees and December’s 4.7.

Utqiagvik residents experienced above-normal average daily temperatures 77 percent of the year 2017, Thoman figured. It seems a different place. - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018


Columns - Commentary

jpg Rick Jensen

RICK JENSEN: Democrats are Masters at Political Posturing - Remember the yelling, screaming and personal attacks on the credibility of Republicans who opposed slapping the Unaffordable Care Act onto the federal spending bill just four years ago?

Maybe it's because I stopped watching Maddow, Ed Schultz has vanished and Mika & Joe have cured their sexual tension by dumping their spouses and moving in together, but it seems there are fewer tantrums since the Democrats themselves obviously shut down the government for a few days recently.

In fact, left-wing sites like Alternet and the Huffington Post have been reporting on the recent Democratic government shutdown by gleefully recalling the shutdown of 2013, for which they blame Ted Cruz.

Ah, memories.

Problem is, it was the Democrats who shut down the government in 2013, not Ted Cruz, whose old-school, Jimmy Stewart-style filibuster included the reading of Dr. Suess' "Green Eggs and Ham."

During this historic filibuster, Cruz said, "We should not shut down the government. We should fund every bit of the government, every aspect of the government, 100 percent of the government except for Obamacare. That is what the House of Representatives did. The House of Representatives - 232 Members of the House, including 2 Democrats - voted to fund every bit of the Federal Government, 100 percent of it, except for Obamacare." - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018


JOE GUZZARDI: Baseball Says 'No' to Cheaters - Since the advent of sabermetrics, the already insufferable annual argument about who should get into the dysfunctional Baseball Hall of Fame has become more tedious.

Sabermetricians, who have significant influence within major league baseball and on the Baseball Writers' Association of America, constantly advocate for very good but not great players' induction. They argue that, according to some obscure metric, failure to vote for one of their favorites is a grave injustice. Sabermetricians represent Hall expansionists, the large Hall guys.

Large Hall proponents cast aspersions on small Hall guys. The logical support of a smaller, more elite Hall is rudely dismissed as embarrassingly uninformed. Tune into any baseball talk show, and the panelists want to vote for more than the ten players the current process allows. Limiting the vote to a mere ten is, one writer opined, "deranged."

Consider the following small Hall argument. Identify which player is out of place in this sentence: "Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Jim Thome are in Cooperstown." The obvious answer: Mays and Williams are legendary baseball superstars about whom there's no debate as to their worthiness. Thome, on the other hand, is a valuable, but one-tool player - home runs - who cannot by any stretch be placed in the same skill category as Mays or Williams. - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Numbed

Political Cartoon: Numbed
By John Cole ©2018, The Scranton Times-Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Airport Ferry Service By Ken Leland - Several years ago, I posted a link to the real story on "The Bridge To Nowhere". It showed that it was tied to the environmental lobby and their plans for the Tongass.

I had to deal with the ferry several times a day. You know about the aggravation of having to watch the ferry leave without you, knowing that it would be another half-hour until you could finally complete your journey. Imagine having to deal with a van full of passengers and their frustration. - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Sealaska: Four Decades of a False Promise! By Dominic Salvato - Over a decade ago the rules of elections governing Sealaska's election were suspended in order to pass the new shareholder resolution.

The resolution was modified to allow 50% plus 1 of VOTING shareholders to approve the resolution. Sealaska's management budgeted 1.5 million dollars on the campaign to assure the passing of the resolution. It passed guaranteeing the need for management into the future. - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Dear Somebody: Why Not Us? By A. M. Johnson - Out of the gate I allow as I am not close to the literary level Dave Kiffer proffers in his humorous article titled Dear Amazon: Why Not Us? published in your fine publication.

The intent is not to rebut Dave, rather be supportive of the local Very Strong Proponent of Ketchikan through Dave's humorous article. - More...
Saturday PM - January 27, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Inconsiderate and irresponsible dumping By Jerry Cegelske - I recently went to the dog park area off of Revilla Road to see what additional trash and solid waste had been dumped there.  This has been a dumping area for many years despite the fact that homeowners in the Borough has already paid a monthly landfill fee so there is no charge for residential trash.

Construction debris is charged a nominal fee.

I was glad to see that the largest area of the dog park had been fenced in and that the group has been working on their dream of a safe place to let their dogs run loose.  To those who have worked so hard and continue to do so “Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and continuing efforts”. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 24, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gravina Access By Dave Kiffer - Chris Herby's recent letter about Gravina Access touches on some very important points. Most notably that, after all the years and all the millions of dollars of federal money that was appropriated and spent, access to the airport, on the most basic level, will not appreciably improve.

As an elected official who was involved in many of these debates and discussions, I find the final State decision of how to proceed as disappointing as Chris does. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Airport Access By Vera Plumb - Just a comment regarding Chris Herby's letter about airport access: It was Governor Sarah Pallin who coined the phrase "bridge to nowhere." Governor Pallin was responsible for killing the bridge. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Exploitation of ancient tradition By Rosita Worl - It has come to our attention that the group, Dance of the Deer Foundation, is planning a shamanism retreat in Juneau, the ancient homeland of the Auk people of Aak’w K?wáan, and that you are charging a substantial fee for this experience.

This is another form of appropriation from Native cultures and societies that began with the taking of our lands and our ceremonial and sacred objects, and now our spiritual practices. Shamans played an important role in our societies in caring for the welfare of the tribe. Shamanism was not a commercial enterprise. This is a violation of a most sacred tradition of Native peoples. We support the people who have called your practices an exploitation of their people’s ancient traditions and we request that you not come into Aak’w K?wáan. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Women's March By A. M. Johnson - Observing the 2nd annual women's march across the nation, one has to have a quandary of thoughts. One that seems to provide conflict.

The congressional Liberal's legislative goal claims that DACA Illegal Aliens should be granted Amnesty because they had no choice in being brought to the USA was apparent in the numerous signs .... but that Innocent babies should be murdered by way of abortion, even though they had no choice in being conceived in the USA. - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Tax Supported Racism By Robert B. Holston, Jr. - Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, believed in eugenics and promoted "good" breeding and aimed to prevent "poor" breeding. The idea was that the human race could be improved through encouraging people with traits like intelligence, hard work, cleanliness (thought to be genetic) to reproduce and those populations lacking such traits should have reproduction controlled.  Eugenics was taken to its horrifying extreme during the Holocaust, through forced sterilizations and breeding experiments.  

Margaret Sanger wrote in a 1921 article , “As an advocate of Birth Control, I wish to take advantage of the present opportunity to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the "unfit" and the "fit", admittedly is the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes.”  - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The hypocrisy of political correctness By John Grimaldi - A professor at NYU was shunned by his colleagues because of "the content and structure of his thinking."   That's right, the "thought police" were after him.  They didn't like the fact that he was using social media to expose the hypocrisy of political correctness on campus.
Because he exercised his right to free speech, Professor Michael Rectenwald claims he was the target of defamation and harassment by his colleagues.  And so, Rectenwald recently filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court.  The New York Post reported that "the politically incorrect NYU professor accused of 'incivility' by liberal colleagues and put on leave is now suing the college and four fellow profs for calling him everything from a drug addict to Satan."  - More...
Monday PM - January 22, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan Airport & Access By Chris J. Herby - As a community we all had no choice but to watch our long anticipated bridge to Gravina Island die a slow and miserable death. After our congressional delegation worked hard to get funding for our bridge, it was taken away from us due to negative coverage in the national fake news media. However, we were still left with roughly 90 million dollars to improve access to Gravina. Of course that isn’t enough to build a bridge but nevertheless it’s a large amount of money that should surly be able to improve access to our airport. Or maybe not. From what I have read, it appears that we are going to burn through that money and actually not improve our airport access at all. It is my understanding that after we spend all of that money, we are still only going to have access by a ferry every 30 minutes. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Open Letter to Alaska Delegation By Laura Plenert - Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Young, please encourage your Democrat counterparts to show up the State of the Union address.  This is a time honored tradition.  It is about respect for the Office of President, not the current occupant.  

I cannot imagine how harsh the cries would have been if a group of Republicans did not attend President Obama’s State of the Union address. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Jones Act By Timothy J Droke - In response to Mr. Art Johnson I would like to put forward some thoughts regarding the Jones Act, which is simply a form of protectionism. With protectionism you see the protected group benefit and those outside the protected group see a negative impact. In this day and age when ships fly a flag of convenience (think Panama or Liberia) the Jones act is ripe for repeal or some modifications. Residents outside the contiguous states such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam all pay out of their pocket higher costs than they should due to this act due to the higher costs associated with operating these US built ships, why should Alaskans pay more for the food on their table to protect a small class of jobs? - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

SENATOR “BOUGHT & PAID FOR” JUST ANOTHER DAMNED LIAR By David G Hanger - The first problem with being owned, Senator Dan “Bought & Paid For” Sullivan is that ‘ere long you cannot see the forest, let alone the trees, because of the self-deception born of your own filthy lies. Be aware that assuming the position of lapdog licking fundamentally distorts reality.

Explain to your audience, Owned One, how opening up ANWR is going to make us all so wealthy? Under the provisions of SB21 the state treasury is currently being raided by the oil industry to the extent of $900 million to $1.2 billion a year in payouts to the oil companies to cover their exploration costs. The state of Alaska collects no tax revenue of any consequence from the oil industry until the price of a barrel of oil exceeds $110 a barrel, so what is very obvious is no matter what is or is not discovered in the way of new oil reserves in ANWR and elsewhere will cost the state treasury and ordinary Alaskans billions of dollars more in these goddamned tax credits. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Why Protect the Jones Act? By Art Johnson - I believe the Jones Act is necessary for several reasons and if it is repealed, it will be detrimental, not only to the maritime industry and those who work in it, but it will harm the country's ability to build ships, both Merchant Marine and Navy and to carry cargo to our forces overseas in time of national emergency. Ship building requires many skills and it is foolish to think we can have foreign yards building our ships and then if necessary find enough skilled workers to build them in the USA. It would be beyond foolish to build out military vessels in foreign yards. The same goes for having foreign ships and foreign crews carrying our country's cargoes. Where will we find trained seamen in time of need? Senator John McCain is frequently mentioned, because he is in favor of repealing the Jones Act, but it should be noted that he flew airplanes in the Navy and that is a whole lot different than being part of operating ships and all that goes with it. It should also be noted that our politicians have little to say about maintaining a healthy U.S. Merchant Marine, because only a small number of our citizens even know what the Merchant Marine is and very likely, even some of our politicians have only a slight knowledge of this vital industry. They can't get many votes promoting something that people know little about, let alone understanding the importance of the maritime industry. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Governor’s Tax Proposal: A Free Ride for the Rich By Ghert Abbott - If one has any doubts as to the power that the rich currently exercise over our state government, then one has only to consider Governor Walker’s recent tax proposal, designed with the aim of appeasing the Republican state senate. The governor’s proposal combines a 1.5% payroll tax, capped at the first $150,000 of income, with a $1,100 cap on every Alaskan PFD (which amounts to a roughly 50% tax of the PFD’s current value). It only takes a few numbers to reveal the extreme inequity of this plan. According to the Census Bureau, in 2016 the average household income in the city of Ketchikan was $53,937 a year. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, only roughly 7% to 10% of Alaskans have a yearly household income of over $150,000. The richest 1% of Alaskan households, those who earn $532,590 a year or higher, have an average income of $1,282,900 a year. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Never Trump By Robert B. Holston, Jr. - I have a brother in Montana who is a “never Trumper”. I wrote him months ago saying I would not defend Trump on a daily basis for things this president says because I didn’t need a full time job, but his recent “DACA/Defecation” remark prompts me to defend Trump, just a bit, and warn the “never Tumpers” just a bit. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Optimism for Alaska in 2018 By Senator Dan Sullivan - As Alaskans, there’s no doubt we face significant challenges, including high crime rates, domestic violence and sexual assault, thousands of Alaskans struggling with addiction, and a continuing recession that has left too many without jobs. These are issues that I’ll continue to focus on in the coming year. But when I look out at 2018, I am struck by one overriding feeling for our state: optimism. There are numerous reasons for this.

First, the cornerstone of Alaska’s economy - responsible resource development - is making a dramatic comeback. Congress’s recent action to open the 1002 area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is a key part of this. For decades, thousands of Alaskans - Democrats, Republicans and Alaska Natives - have advocated for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And despite millions of dollars spent by opponents of this Alaska dream, reinforced by the stale and truth-challenged talking points of their allies like Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a national media that was consistently hostile to opening ANWR, we did it. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

On rescinding Obama-era marijuana enforcement guidelines By Wiley Brooks - Marijuana by U.S law is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. I extracted the below from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEC) official site.

“The abuse rate is a determinate factor in the scheduling of the drug; for example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

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