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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 19, 2008

Front Page Photo by Mary Kauffman

With her hand over Congressman Young's heart, Lu Young poses with her husband of almost 45 years, demonstrating that marriage is a life-long commitment.
Front Page Photo by Mary Kauffman

Ketchikan: Congressman Young comments on a variety of issues while in Ketchikan By MARY KAUFFMAN - During a visit to Ketchikan over Presidents' Day weekend, Congressman Don Young spoke with a group of local media on Monday responding to questions and sharing his opinions on a wide range of topics including his thoughts on the presidential candidates, the Economic Stimulus Package, energy, earmarks, Social Security, health insurance, and his upcoming 19th run for the office he currently holds.

Sharing a personal moment prior to discussing various topics with local media, Congressman Young said that he and Mrs. Young will be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary on February 22nd.

Of their marriage, the Congressman said, "[I've been] very fortunate. I'm one of those that has been very lucky in finding somebody who can be your friend." Together they have raised two daughters, Joni and Dawn, and have 14 grandchildren.

Cruise Ship Rule Relating to Foreign Flag Vessels

Because of a proposed change in federal rules, cities in Alaska banking on cruise ships and their passengers to pump big dollars into their local economies are wondering how this new rule might eventually affect their tourism seasons if the issue isn't resolved.

This new U.S. Customs and Border Protection proposal requires foreign-flagged cruise ships that depart from a U.S. port to spend 48 hours in a foreign port. The proposal also requires them to spend more than 24 hours in a foreign port for every two days in a U.S. port -- meaning more time in a foreign port equals less time in a U.S. port.


The original intent of the rule was aimed at helping U.S. flagged cruise ships based in Hawaii to compete against foreign cruise ships sailing from California by reducing the foreign ships' time in Hawaii. The rule intent was to close a loophole that allowed foreign-flagged ships to sail from U.S. ports to Hawaii by stopping briefly in Mexico on the way. However, the original intent of the rule was lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

Young said, "This is an issue that we thought we'd taken care of with Norm Dicks [D-WA] in Seattle because it affects Seattle more-so than it does Southeast." This will happen because the ships that come out of Seattle will transfer over to Prince Rupert or Vancouver and come into Alaska which is a big loss to Seattle. Young said Dicks thought he had it taken care of and after reviewing the bill, Young showed Dicks that it wasn't taken care of. "The rule is specifically for Hawaii and the Norwegian Cruise Lines," said Young. What Holland American and a few other companies were doing was stopping in one small port and then going into Hawaii and Norwegian objected to that said Young.

The Cruise Ship Rule relating to foreign flag vessels affects Seattle more than anyone else and Seattle is well aware of that, said Young.

"What we're doing now is going to Chertoff and seeing if we can't get them to say no that's not the intent. It's very clear, the intent was to affect Hawaii. " Michael Chertoff is the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

If this isn't taken care of by Chertoff, Young predicted, that legislation, probably on a rider of a bill, will make sure it's clear and that the Cruise Ship Rule relating to foreign flag vessels doesn't affect Southeast Alaska's tour ship traffic. "I'm pretty optimistic that we'll be okay," said Young. He said if Chertoff doesn't clarify the issue, that there is still enough time to put it on another bill and resolve the issue.

If a legislative fix is needed, said Young, it will pass because the clarification of the intent of the rule will be put on a bill that has to pass. Young said the time frame will be made to work.

Health Insurance Plan for Fishermen

Fishermen are self-employed and it's very difficult for them to get insurance said Young. "There're reasons for this. It's a very dangerous occupation, next to farming it's probably the most dangerous occupation we have," he said.

Young said he and Sen. Ted Stevens think there is a good chance of getting the Health Insurance Plan for Fishermen passed which would provide low-cost health coverage to fishermen and their families in Alaska and other coastal states.

While national in scope, the legislation would allow fishermen in Alaska to first research the specific needs of the Alaskan fishing industry and then provide funds to implement a state-wide program for providing better access to health insurance and health care.

If passed, the Commercial Fishing Industry Health Care Coverage Act of 2008 would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund healthcare planning and implementation grants for commercial fishing states or organizations. The funding authorized in this bill would also be used to help establish health care coverage programs. The legislation would allow states or organizations to set up programs or add to existing health care programs for commercial fishermen and their families who have no health insurance or who are underinsured.

Passage of the Commercial Fishing Industry Health Care Coverage Act would specifically authorize a series of grant programs. To qualify for these funds, states or organizations must provide matching funds of $1 for every $2 in federal funding. The bill would authorize $50 million over a five year period.

Health Care

"The whole issue of health is going to be one of the major issues in the coming year," said Young. "I don't think we'll be able to solve all the problems. Unfortunately, we've never addressed the problem of health, health insurance, cost of insurance, liability of insurance as a total package."

"We've introduced legislation so that if you carry insurance it's totally tax deductible," said Young.

Congressman Young said, "I'd like to see a whole revamping of the health care system. Go into the problems. Why is it expensive for drugs? Fix that. Who's not insured, can they be insured? Fix that."

"I'm listening to all this rhetoric out of the presidential campaign and everybody has this glorious idea that everybody's going to be insured," said Young. "That doesn't solve the problem." There are other problems such as the shortage of doctors and nurses.

"We have not analyzed the total package and that's very very important we do that," he said. "And I do believe that eventually that will happen." He noted that there are less than 54 legislative days left in this session and he doesn't see anything of importance occurring in that short timeframe.

Young said, "The most immediate problem we have is the Medicare issue." He said, "The inability for doctors to receive Medicare patients because [doctors] are not being reimbursed the full costs of seeing that patient. So in turn, [the doctors] don't accept [Medicare patients]." Young said, "This is worse in Alaska than it is anywhere else." As a result, Medicare patients go to the emergency room and that clogs that system up and health care costs more said Young.

"Because other states are having a problem now," said Young, "we may be able to get that part fixed. It's time we do it."


Tongass Land Management Plan

Responding to what his thoughts on the recently released new Tongass Land Management Plan are, Young said he hasn't analyzed the plan to the point where he can say whether it's good or bad - other than that it concerns him. "I don't see the ability to offer a sustainable yield of timber. I'm a little disturbed. I've learned that the Forest Service now is taking up existing roads, taking them out of production, which makes it harder to have sales." He noted the Forest Service says they don't have the money to maintain the roads and they are liable if the roads are used.

Regarding taking up existing roads, Young said, That's bad business. "Because if we are to have ever a timber industry in southeast Alaska there has to be a steady yield of timber or you're not going to get the investment into the area."

Young said he is working with the Forest Service to some extent and the mental health programs to exchange some of the mental health lands' old growth timber for the cut timber - or new growth as it's also known. "I've advocated to the Forest Service to start looking at possibly, additionally to the mental health timber that we have a steady program of fiber through leasing long-term again."

Presidential Candidates

When Congressman Young was asked if he would support Sen. John McCain as the Republican candidate for President, Young said, "I will support the Republican candidate. I am not happy." Young said McCain is better than the Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Obama is not saying a whole lot said Young. "We are one, I've yet to figure out who that one is," said Young. He said Obama sounds good but he does not have the program noting that Clinton has a better program than Obama. Young said both Clinton and Obama are both socialist and believe in socialism. "They say they believe in democracy but if you listen to what they say they believe in the government running everything, taking from those that have achieved and giving to those who haven't achieved and that's socialism," said Young. "That's up to the decision of the American public."

"My candidate has done better than he expected and [Mike] Huckabee has been my candidate from the very beginning," said Young. "He's still in the race, he's not going to leave. It takes 1,147 votes to get the nomination locked-up and McCain doesn't have it," said Young. If McCain does get the Republican nomination, "He's still better than the other two, but he's not who I would have chosen for president," said Young.

Young said his relationship with John McCain is not good in the sense that Young doesn't relate with McCain. "It's not just the bridges. I've know this man for a long time. He's behaved himself somewhat but he's not been totally good as far as one of my main issues and that's the Second Amendment," said Young. "But he's better than Obama or Hillary because they are adamantly for gun control." Young added, "I'm against gun control."

Young said he thinks Clinton will get the Democratic nomination and that the Republicans will win the race. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 19, 2008



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Basic Rules

letterSetting the Record Straight on Earmarks By Senator Ted Stevens - On January 4, a fire broke out at a residence in Salcha. Thanks to specialized "Project Code Red" equipment and training, first responders extinguished the fire, saved the home, and prevented injuries. Salcha Fire Chief Rob Weathers recently wrote me about the fire and said, "Without Project Code Red a family would have lost their home and business that night." - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterThe Borough & City Lobbing trip to Juneau By Samuel Bergeron - Last week, Mayor Weinstein and I had the pleasure of representing the City of Ketchikan, along with other area representatives including: the Borough (Mayor Williams, Assemblymen John Harrington and David Landis, Deputy Clerk Kacie Paxton and Attorney Scott Brandt Erickson), Saxman Mayor Charles Denny, Ketchikan General Hospital administrators Patrick Branco and Joan Nugent; and Oceans Alaska Director John Tighe and Terry Gardiner in the annual lobbing trip to Juneau. Leading the delegation was City and Borough Lobbyist Ray Matiashowski. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterProperty Taxes By Wayne Phillips - I am quite perplexed at the annual property assessment increases that the Ketchikan Borough has imposed. I too, disagreed with the borough s assessment last year and had a representative walk through my home in order to reassess their initial findings. The gentleman that walked around and through my home was certainly professional. However, I disapprove of the idea that any government entity should have the ability to intrude in on my privacy. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterPaving Paradise? By Chris Ruecker - The City is taking new steps to develop the downtown docks. Hot on the heels of the nearly finished berth three development, the city has contracted PND Engineering of Seattle for preliminary plans for a complete redesign of the current berths 1 & 2. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter Property Value Assessments By Jennifer Brewer - If I lived at the level to which the Ketchikan Gateway Borough has assessed my property value at; I'd be in a really nice home with a paved road and a half acre lot around me. Instead, I live in an two bedroom logging camp trailer on a quarter acre lot at the end of a (unmaintained) gravel road. Yet somehow; the value has been assessed at almost 200k! I would REALLY like to know the criteria that is used to assess our property values because I'm at a loss to fathom how my property can be assessed at such a phenomenal amount. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter An open invitation to Mayor Scudero By Carrie Beckham - I'm sure that I am not the only constituent in Ketchikan that would like to invite Mayor Scudero to our town. Although I have only lived here for about two years, I have noticed that perhaps a certain financial department may benefit from an independant audit as well. Like others, I gasped in shock when I received my house assesment, get fired up every time I have to write a check for the sludge "fee", and speculate on a constant basis as to where my (highly inflated) taxes may be going. Ketchikan is a nice small town with nice people Mayor Scudero, and I'm sure if you consider this invitation - your vehicle will be safe with us. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter Speaking of Change. By Virginia E. Atkinson - Everyone talks about change, but when someone tries to change anything they get crucified for it. So much for change, huh? All the Presidential candidates have been talking about change, nothing new, I've been hearing talk of change since back in high school days, and the only change I ever see is inflation going out of control and it's always a select few that benefit from it. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterWaste Facility By Ginny Clay - There is talk of a regional waste facility. Ketchikan could be the place for it. I am not sure where they are in the procces, but I belive last I heard the "authority" needed to be formed. Anyway, very interesting! - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter Alaska Ferry Summer OP Plan By Jennifer Peterson - Below is the letter I wrote to Alaska Governor Palin: - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter1/2 Ferry System By Jerilyn Lester - WELL!!! Now that the state has taken none of the opinions of the people that use the system, we are now stuck with only one ferry going to Bellingham which means that we are now relegated to going on vacation at the state's discretion. Since the Lynn Canal "old boys club" is more important to the government of the State of Alaska and the Palin bunch, those of us who actually use the Alaska Marine Highway System and live south of Juneau are not even considered to be part of the state, although if we attempted to stop being part of the state they would holler. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterFerry Service: Sold out in Feb??? By Ron Opheim - Here is a new AMHS report to add to the comments about one ferry service this summer from Bellingham. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterRIF Program By Rebecca Widmyer - The RIF Program (Reading Is Fundamental) is being shut down due to the government's decision to stop funding the program.- More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterThank you City crews! By Jennifer Hayter - I would like to say THANK YOU to the crews at the City of Ketchikan Public Works Department. They have done a tremendous job on keeping the upper side roads passable, during our winter days and nights. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterThank you By Marie Jeanne Cadle - I just want to say a heartfelt thanks to all the people who have worked so hard keeping the roads clear during the snowfalls this winter. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letterDrinking water By Michele Kupers - I would like to know the same thing. I didn't think much of it at first since I didn't drink much water but I have been drinking the water now for a while. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter Catch 22 By Olney Webb - KPU has been running ads for half-off if you sign up for TV, DSL and phone. Sounds good to me. I get faster DSL, Seattle and Alaska TV and half-off for six months. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

letter Fire safety By Marie Jeanne Cadle - In response to several letters recently about the importance of smoke detectors, I would like to make several additional suggestions for fire safety. These are easy and inexpensive and once you've got them, you don't even have to change the batteries - ever. - More...
Monday AM - February 18, 2008

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