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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 10, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CYNTHIA HOGGARD

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Alaska Marine Highway Ships at the Ketchikan Shipyard.
Front Page Feature Photo By CYNTHIA HOGGARD ©2019

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Southeast Alaska: 2018 Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award goes to Korean and Vietnam War Veteran - A Korea era, and Vietnam War veteran has been named the 2018 Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award winner.

2018 Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award goes to Korean and Vietnam War Veteran

Solomon (Sol) Atkinson
Photo date 2012 - Courtesy Sol Atkinson's FaceBook

Metlakatla resident Solomon (Sol) Atkinson received the award during a Ceremony Held at the David Leask Memorial Town hall in Metlakatla.

Director of the State Office of Veterans Affairs Verdie Bowen, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Alaska Army National Guard COL Wayne Don, and the Deputy Director of the State Office of Veterans Affairs Forrest Powell, III, presented the award to Atkinson.

“Sol is a humble advocate for all veterans.  He is quietly involved in countless organizations, always serving his fellow veterans. It is often said that “every day is veterans day” in Sol’s eyes, that is certainly the truth,” Bowen said.  “Sol is a plank holder in our Tribal Veterans Program and he was directly involved in the establishment of the Alaska VA/Native Heath Care Sharing agreements allowing veterans to receive quality care in their own communities it was a great honor this year to publicly recognize his continued service to the veteran community”.  

Solomon “Sol” Atkinson has dedicated his life to service to his nation and his community.  He served in the US Navy for 22 years, from 1951 to 1973.  As a young seaman in 1953, Atkinson volunteered for the Navy's legendary Underwater Demolition Team, the precursor to the modern-day Navy SEALs.

When President Kennedy created the first Navy SEAL team in 1962, Atkinson was selected as a member.  He soon became a SEAL team-training instructor, training new Navy SEAL recruits, and he had the honor of training 48 astronauts - including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell - in underwater weightlessness simulations.   As a SEAL, Sol also completed three combat tours in Vietnam. His awards include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.  - More...
Thursday PM - January 10, 2019

Alaska: ACLU Alaska Sues Over Illegal Firing of State Employees - The ACLU of Alaska today announced lawsuits against Governor Mike Dunleavy, his Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock, and the State of Alaska on behalf of three former state workers who were illegally terminated immediately upon the Governor taking office.

The suits stem from the Governor’s demand after his election in Nov. 2018, that non-political, non-policy-making state workers submit their resignations and, if they wanted to keep their jobs, reapply with a pledge of personal political support for Gov. Dunleavy and Babcock’s agenda.

“This kind of political retaliation against non-political state workers is an attack on the very foundations of free speech and good government,” said ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker.

Decker continued, “Party bosses making political allegiance a de facto requirement for government service is the of root of a corrupt spoils system America has worked to eradicate for over a century. We can’t let Mr. Babcock and Gov. Dunleavy bring it back. Alaskans don’t want their doctor, their pharmacist, or their veteran’s affairs worker putting a partisan agenda ahead of them.”

“There is a misperception that because Alaska is an ‘at will’ state and these are ‘exempt’ or partially ‘exempt’ positions that the government can fire our clients for any reason,” said ACLU of Alaska Legal Director Stephen Koteff. - More...
Thursday PM - January 10, 2019


Alaska: Online PFD Applications Now Being Accepted; System relaunched Monday night, applications accepted until March 31 - The Alaska Department of Revenue reopened the online application system for the 2019 Permanent Fund Dividend Monday night after successfully resolving a computer glitch that required the department to take down the application site on January 1, 2019.

“We are pleased to announce the PFD application site is live and ready for Alaskans to apply,” said Commissioner Bruce Tangeman. “I apologize for the delay but am happy to report the website is open and Alaskans will find this year’s application is very easy to use.”

Working as a team with the Department of Administration’s IT staff and outside contractors, Revenue staff were able to work out software kinks in the system and bring it back online yesterday evening following extensive testing to ensure that the system is operating properly. As of this afternoon, several thousand Alaskans have already successfully applied for this year’s dividend. 

Commissioner Tangeman says his staff will contact applicants that were in the online system at the time of the glitch.  - More...
Thursday PM - January 10, 2019

Alaska: Bill To Close “Schneider Loopholes” for Sexual Assault Filed - Senate Bill 12 was pre-filed on Monday to eliminate the “Schneider Loopholes” in Alaska’s criminal code. The case of Justin Schneider, the man who served no prison time for brutally strangling a woman to the point of unconsciousness and then ejaculating on her, exposed some serious, long-standing shortcomings in laws dealing with sexual assault in Alaska.   

Senate Bill 12 was pre-filed by Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna). The 31st Alaska Legislature will convene on January 15, 2019.

“Last year, Alaskans were horrified to learn that a guilty violent sexual perpetrator, Justin Schneider, walked without adequate consequences,” said Sen. Micciche. “Serious crimes were ignored and an inappropriate plea deal allowed the perpetrator to serve a portion of the sentence of the single conviction at home with his family. In a state number one in the U.S. for sexual assault, we are making the statement that there will be ‘no more free passes’ for perpetrators of such crimes. SB 12 will clarify for the judicial system that Alaskans stand with victims, expect progress toward a significant reduction of violent sexual assaults in our communities and that violent sexual criminals will be held accountable.” - More...
Thursday PM - January 10, 2019  

Alaska: Legislation to Cut Fiscally Ineffective Per-Barrel Oil Tax Credits Filed - Legislation has been pre-filed ahead of the upcoming legislative session to eliminate Alaska's oil and gas per-barrel tax credit program. The legislation, Senate Bill 14, was pre-filed by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage).

Senate Bill 14 would eliminate the deductible tax credit program, part of Senate Bill 21 which passed under Former-Governor Sean Parnell in 2013 which provides oil and gas producers a discount on their production taxes for every barrel of oil produced based on a sliding scale, depending on the market price of Alaska's oil. The credit ranges from $8 per barrel when the price of oil is less than or equal to $80 per barrel, to $1 per barrel when oil is $140 or more. Former-Gov. Parnell promised that oil production would increase to one million barrels per day through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline within ten years with the passage of his oil tax reform. Instead, oil production is projected to decline to less than half that - to 470,000 barrels per day by 2024, according to a news release from Senate Democrats Alaska.

Quoting the news release, for fiscal year 2019, the Alaska Department of Revenue (DOR) expects the state to generate $815 million in production tax revenue while permitting over $1.2 billion in these deductions. In fiscal year 2020, that tax revenue is forecasted at $479 million, with the credits costing the state another $1.2 billion. Over the next ten years, the credits will cost the state $11 billion.

"These tax breaks were given to oil and gas producers to boost oil through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, but have simply not delivered as promised. And production in Alaska is still projected by the Department of Revenue to drop in the future," said Sen. Wielechowski. - More...
Thursday PM - January 10, 2019

jpg IYS Photo challenge winner

IYS Photo Challenge Winner: Fernando Lessa
This photo, which won the International Year of the Salmon photo challenge for the Pacific, shows a woman releasing Chinook salmon fry in Surrey, British Columbia, south of the Fraser River.
Photo by Fernando Lessa ©


Alaska: The International Year of the Salmon brings people together across the Atlantic and the Pacific By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - 2018 was a mixed year for Alaska salmon. Bristol Bay saw its biggest run on record when 62.3 million sockeye returned to the bay. Other Alaska runs, in contrast - the lowest number of sockeye returned to the Chignik River since statehood - were disastrous.

In 2019, however, salmon in Chignik and Bristol Bay will have something in common not only with each other, but with populations across the Northern Hemisphere: the International Year of the Salmon, for which researchers around the world will be collaborating to help solve shared problems.

Atlantic salmon were once just as abundant as Alaskan salmon were during their healthiest periods. Roman soldiers invading Britain wrote home about feeding the army with vast quantities of salmon fighting their way up the Thames River, which flows through modern-day London. On the East Coast of the United States, salmon were once taken for granted as a food source and used to fertilize fields. The plight of salmon in the Lower 48 Pacific Northwest - their historically impressive populations were damaged due to dams blocking fish passage, overharvesting, development and other human-created problems - is another familiar story.

But whether their populations are healthy compared to historic levels or not, Pacific and Atlantic salmon now share many of the same threats and are displaying the same trends, said International Year of the Salmon Director for the North Pacific Region Mark Saunders.

In the 1990s, Saunders said, salmon populations in very different parts of the world began to change “at an almost exponential rate.” Fewer were coming back from the ocean. Those that did were coming back smaller.

A now-retired Canadian scientist, Dr. Dick Beamish, suggested the International Year of the Salmon, or IYS, to promote research on how ocean conditions are contributing to those changes.

IYS has now grown into an effort to ensure the “resilience of both salmon and people” in a changing climate. In one of the first research efforts under IYS, more than a dozen scientists from every country participating in NPAFC, or the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (Japan, Korea, Russia, the United States and Canada) will be on board the ship the Professor Kaganovsky from mid-February to mid-March. They’ll do trawl surveys of surface-level fish at “a checkerboard” of around 40 stations in the Gulf of Alaska, Saunders said. Some fish will be funneled into an aquarium-like tank, allowing all five species of salmon to come on board in good condition to be tagged and released. Special satellite tags will help scientists track the migration routes of salmon while they’re feeding in the open ocean.

Scientists will keep some salmon, collecting otoliths (salmon ear bones, which, like tree rings, carry information about a salmon’s life history.) Otoliths can be used to determine the age of a salmon and where it has been in the ocean during different stages of its life. - More...
Thursday PM - January 10, 2019



DANNY TYREE: Prohibition: The Countdown To 100 Years - It's time to brush up on your knowledge of speakeasies, bathtub gin, demon rum, homebrew, bootlegging and other icons of the Roaring Twenties.

January 16 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, which set in motion the criminalization of the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages a year later.

I hope everyone will spend the coming year studying up on the fascinating controversies surrounding the 13 years of "the Noble Experiment." Visit your library, watch the 2011 Ken Burns documentary or Google "pros and cons of Prohibition."

Sassy Americans think they know all there is to know about Prohibition or the McCarthy era or the Civil War, but most possess only superficial understanding. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019


RICH MANIERI: Guess Who's the Socialist - Let's play a game. I made it up over the holidays.

I like to call it, "Name that Socialist."

Let's begin.

Who said this?

"Capitalism has not always existed in the world, and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started, we were not a capitalist [nation], we did not operate on a capitalist economy."

Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionary, whose wealth and land redistribution policies and nationalizing of banks and industry sent Russia on an eight-decade death march would be a good guess. Incorrect, however. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019


JOHN L. MICEK: The Illegal Immigrant Story Trump Isn't Telling You - If you passed Max Acuna on the street or on your way to work, or any one of those hundreds of places where people cross paths every day, you wouldn't give the smartly dressed 30-year-old a second look.

The married father of three - two boys and a girl - lives in the college town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He goes to work in the morning. He comes home to his family at night. And he pursues the American Dream with the same ardor of any of his neighbors.

But to hear Trump tell it, I'm supposed to be deathly afraid of Acuna or anyone who looks even remotely like him. He's a native Mexican who was brought to the United States as a toddler, and lived, along with most of his family, undocumented, until he got his citizenship last summer. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019


GRAHAM WEST: Trump's Ego is Keeping the Government Shutdown - On Dec. 11, President Trump said he would be "proud to shut down the government."

That's an important boast to remember a month later, as the government shutdown approaches its fourth week. And as sure as the president claimed he'd accept responsibility for the shutdown then, he's avoiding any and all responsibility for it now. Most recently, he stormed out of an Oval Office meeting with legislators after they refused to accept his demands.

The $5.7 billion chunk of funding the president demands for his border wall is the reason for the shutdown. Much like any other Trump product, the wall is expensive, ineffective, and primarily meant to gratify its champion's ego. It's also not worth the pain that the shutdown is causing federal workers and contractors across the country. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Immoral Walls

Political Cartoon: Immoral Walls
By Rick McKee ©2019, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

Systemic betrayal of public trust By Mark O’Brien - Concerning the Edwards abuse case, there appears to have been a systemic betrayal of public trust within the Ketchikan Gateway School District. During this past Wednesday’s meeting School Board member Diane Gubatayao was the only board member to step up and vote to not accept Robert Boyle’s letter of resignation. His resignation letter should have been rejected and the school board should have fired him instead. That collective vote would have been the first step in restoring faith in this body’s decisions regarding student safety and public trust.

There will be passionate arguments supporting the decision to accept the resignation from our recent superintendent. These arguments will undoubtably contain assurances concerning what is best for moving forward, protect the children, possible litigations, and financial costs to the district. The implication is that we should all trust that a collective few know what is best for all involved.

But that mindset is what got the KGBSD in this mess in the first place. A few KGBSD administrators used the same justifications to protect someone that they preferred to remember as “a good man.” Guidelines for Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in Alaska were ignored. The private process used by the building administrators and superintendent seemed to protect and cover-up. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

“MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL” By David G Hanger - “Thus, by the acts of a dismissed emissary, a disappointed president, and a divided Senate, the United States acquired California and the Southwest. This gigantic step in the growth of the American republic was not taken with enthusiasm by either president or Congress, but resulted from the fact that the elements in opposition could find no viable alternative and no basis on which they could combine. It was an ironic triumph for ‘Manifest Destiny,’ an ominous fulfillment for the impulses of American nationalism. It reflected a sinister dual quality in this nationalism, for at the same time when national forces, in the fullness of a very genuine vigor, were achieving an external triumph, the very triumph itself was subjecting their nationalism to internal stresses which, within thirteen years, would bring the nation to a supreme crisis.” (The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War 1848-1861 by Professor David M. Potter, 1910-1971, page 6.)

Nicholas P. Trist is not a name well-known to Americans today, but were Mount Rushmore a monument to those responsible for establishing the geographical boundaries of the United States the faces on that sculpture would be Washington, Jefferson, Trist, and Gadsden (and Seward, of course, if Alaska is taken into consideration). A career bureaucrat, chief clerk at the State department, a lifetime non-entity distinguished only by his marriage to Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter, he was sent to Mexico by President Polk to negotiate a conclusion to the Mexican War (now also termed the Mexican-American War), was summarily recalled (fired) for getting too chummy with Polk’s political opposition, in this instance General Winfield Scott; refused and ignored his recall, acting, therefore, as “private citizen” then negotiated and dumped into Polk’s lap the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. “Altogether twenty-six of the fifty-eight senators had at various times voted against basic features of the treaty, but it was nevertheless ratified by a vote of 38 to 14. It was then hastily returned to Mexico, and there approved by both houses of the Congress, so that ratifications could be exchanged on May 30,” 1848. (Ibid., page 6.) - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

Trump's First Two Years By Donald Moskowitz - As an Independent I provide the following evaluation of Trump's first two years in office.

Positive accomplishments during the two years include: revised tax policy benefiting many Americans, elimination of some unnecessary or restrictive regulations, low unemployment, and funding the DOD to $700-$750 billion.

 During the first two years of Trump's Presidency the following negative events transpired:

Russia has made significant in-roads into Syria in the past two years. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

RE: A Progressive Scam By Wiley Brooks - According to Stephan Eldridge, he’s a retired authority on our federal income tax system. Whatever he is, he’s a gadfly who evidently has nothing else to do except spend his days trolling for information published on the FairTax. Obviously, he’s a big fan of our complex, unfair, burdensome and corrupt income tax system.

Real tax experts have evaluated some of Mr. Eldridge’s diatribes and pronounced much of what he says is bogus. - More...
Friday AM - January 11, 2019

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