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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 14, 2017

jpg Front Page Feature Photo By ALANNAH BERNIER FARLOW

Golden Sunset
Front Page Feature Photo By ALANNAH BERNIER FARLOW

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PFD: Online filing for the 2017 PFD began at 9:00 am on January 1, 2017 and ends March 31,2017.

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Ketchikan: Search for 2 missing men near Ketchikan suspended - Monday, the Coast Guard suspended the search for two men reported overdue from a boating trip near Ketchikan. The two missing men have been identified by the Alaska State Troopers as Troy Smart, age 45, and Timothy Staples, age 38, both of Metlakatla.

"We search for every person as if we are searching for one of our own," said Capt. Shannan Greene, commander, Sector Juneau. Greene said several assets executed an exhaustive search effort in the face of adverse weather conditions over two days. "Regrettably, we were unable to locate the missing men despite our steadfast efforts; our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those missing," said Capt. Greene.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Juneau received the overdue report from the fiancé of one of the two boaters at approximately 4:00 AM Sunday. The missing men departed from Mountain Point aboard a 16-foot skiff at approximately 1:00 AM Sunday and were expected to arrive to Cowboy's Camp on Annette Island within 30 minutes.

Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk crews and Coast Guard Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat - Medium crews conducted search patterns Sunday on the southern end of Gravina Island.

An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk crew located the 16-foot skiff belonging to the missing men capsized north of their intended route in Blank Inlet on Gravina Island at approximately 9:45 AM Sunday. The crew of the good Samaritan fishing vessel Storm Rage righted the skiff and towed it back to Ketchikan.

Alaska State Troopers activated Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad to assist the Coast Guard crews with searches along the shorelines of Blank Inlet and Annette Bay. Members of the Metlakatla Indian Community also searched using their emergency boat as well as ground crews around Cowboys Camp. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

Alaska: Shipment of Unknown Liquid Prompts Recent Marijuana Enforcement Action - A tip from the U.S. Post Office led investigators from the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) to confiscate unapproved marijuana oils from several licensed retail marijuana stores across the state. Post office staff contacted AMCO regarding leaking packages containing over 1,000 vials of CBD (cannabidiol) oil. AMCO investigators inspected the packages and found 20 unmarked vials. The presence of an unknown substance in a package with products intended for human consumption - including syringe-style dispensers, chocolate bars, chewing gum, and caramel-flavored agave sticks—posed a potential public health and safety risk.

AMCO chose to inventory and take possession of the products at retail establishments rather than request a voluntary removal because of public health and safety concerns a particular violation of AS 17.38, which governs the testing, packaging, and labeling of marijuana products such as CBD oil.

Alcohol and Marijuana Control officers visited seven stores in the Anchorage area, one in Kenai, one in Houston, and two in Wasilla. Officers met with business representatives, described why the products were in violation of the law, and explained that the retailers would be notified of the next steps of the process in writing.

“When we spoke with retailers, a few were not aware that CBD oil was a regulated product. However, two admitted that they knew it wasn’t legal and were selling it anyway,” says AMCO Chief Investigator James Hoelscher. “If there is a question about whether a product is legal to sell, all licensees need to do is pick up the phone.” - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

State Revenue Restructuring Act Proposes Progressive Income Tax & Draw from PFD Earnings - Friday, the Alaska House Finance committee introduced House Bill 115, the State Revenue Restructuring Act, which combines revenue from the earnings of the Permanent Fund and a progressive income tax to establish a stable and balanced revenue stream fair to all Alaskans.

“Combined with the House Resources Committees efforts to rationalize Alaska’s oil and gas subsidies and ongoing efforts by the finance committee to find smart spending cuts without eliminating core services, this represents what we believe to be the most fair approach to fulfilling the government’s constitutional obligations and sustaining the kind of Alaska our constituents want to live in,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Neal Foster (D-Nome).

HB 115 will create an annual draw from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) of 4.75 percent of the market value of the entire fund, known as a POMV draw. One third of this draw will go directly to the dividend fund to pay Alaskans’ Permanent Fund Dividends (PFDs). The remaining two thirds would go to the state’s general fund to support state operations. Under this calculation dividends are expected to start around $1,100 and grow sustainably over time. This POMV draw will generate approximately $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually for the general fund.

“We are proud to introduce legislation to put Alaska on a stable long-term path towards the future Alaskans have told us they want,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair Paul Seaton (R-Homer). “Time and again we have heard that our constituents want more than the bare minimum of government that can be sustained on our drastically depleted oil revenue. Instead, they charged us with providing for quality education, essential infrastructure, and safe and healthy communities. This is what business leaders and economists have told us is crucial for job creation and a thriving economy; and it is what Alaskans who want to raise families and grow old here tell us is crucial to making the most of the state they love.”

The State Revenue Restructuring Act would also tax income for both residents and non-residents at 15 percent of federal income tax due or $25, whichever is greater. This is a lower rate than the previous income tax in the 1980s, which rose as high as 16 percent of federal liability. Additionally, capital gains will be taxed at 10 percent to bring tax rates on different forms of income into alignment. Residents can choose to apply some or all of their PFD to their income tax due, receiving any overpayment as a refund. The income tax would raise an estimated $655 million annually once fully implemented. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017


HB 115 State Revenue
Restructuring Act

Commentary: Arming You with Facts: Time to Fix the Budget, Protect the Economy By Rep. Les Gara - The following is an opinion piece aimed at giving you information so you can have facts to use as you share your views on the budget and how to move out of our current recession as quickly as possible. As always, call if you have any questions!

Political soundbites that propose easy fixes to Alaska’s massive budget deficit get votes. They’ll also get you one of the worst recessions in Alaska history, and a state where your children can’t find a job. You deserve real information instead of soundbites, so you can tell your legislators the path you prefer. Politicians who seek to get votes while the economy sinks are tempting to listen to, but they are doing you a disservice. We lost 9,000 jobs last year. Letting that continue isn’t a future.

I don’t have the perfect solution and am still listening to you. And I’m proud to be part of a new House majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who, even with different views and proposals, know we have to get Alaskans out of this economic mess now. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

Commentary: Building a sustainable future By Rep. Paul Seaton - On Friday the House Finance committee introduced HB 115 State Revenue Restructuring Act, which aims to fill the deficit in a way that is fair and balanced to Alaskans. This bill addresses three of the four pillars of the House Majority Coalition Plan to build a sustainable future for our state; a structured draw from the permanent fund earnings reserve, new revenue from a broad-based tax, and a sustainable dividend amount. The fourth pillar constrains state spending by making smart budget cuts and reducing the state’s oil and gas tax credit subsidies.

For the past 30 years the state has been tied to highly volatile oil revenues, but oil can no longer sustain 90% of our budget. By relying so heavily on an unpredictable revenue source, Alaska has been subjected to fluctuating periods of growth and contraction. That kind of variability is not just bad for the state budget, it is bad for the economy.

Cuts alone are not the answer. We are already seeing the effect of cuts on public safety and the courts, and in the time it takes to get roads plowed. Continued large cuts would guarantee we would never have the budget to maintain our education system, infrastructure or maintenance to keep it from crumbling. That is not the Alaska most people want to live in. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017



jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TRYEE: 30 Valentine's Days: Where Did The Time Go - While brainstorming angles for this Valentine's Day column, it suddenly occurred to me that this February 14 will be the 30th my wife and I have celebrated as a couple (combining courtship and married life).

I'm glad I can share this milestone with you. Melissa grows more beautiful every day, but she was initially self-conscious about my trumpeting the three decades aspect. She relented only when she was able to pull some strings in Washington and get me listed on the Federal Cradle Robber Registry.

Perhaps I exaggerate when I say we've "celebrated" 30 Valentine's Days, since we shun ostentatious gestures and keep the holiday rather low-key. We never fully forget the occasion; but some years - what with jobs, parenthood, health issues and such -- we need our memories jogged. ("Valentine's Day - that's the one that comes every fourth year, right? No, wait...there's something about a groundhog having 5 o'clock shadow...") - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Too good not to be true! - Like the gift that keeps on giving, our former Governor's name has popped back into the public consciousness, primarily because she remains at least peripherally part of the new president's peripatetic posse.

You remember how we all giggled a couple of months ago when her name very-very-very briefly surfaced in discussions about a potential Secretary of State? Yeah, that was a stretch, even for someone who was "Gumby-ied" about as far as humanly possible to be made into a potential Vice President.

All this for "Vice President," a job former VP John Nance Garner once called, "not worth a bucket of warm spit." - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

jpg Susan Stamper Brown

SUSAN STAMPER BROWN: Has This Good Girl Gone Bad? - Apparently, fighting for the soul of America is an unacceptable occupation for believers. I'm also hearing that it is exceptionally inappropriate for former good girls like me, a widowed pastor's wife, who is supposedly nosediving toward Hades because she speaks out against the darkness of these days using her writing.

Of course, those who believe that kind of nonsense are ridiculously deceived. Jesus' command to love our neighbors means many things including getting involved when we see corrupting moral influences affecting families, marriages, and children. When we speak out, we help shape and sometimes lead public policy.

America is suffocating under the weight of former President Obama's eight-year fundamental transformation of the country. Evangelicals, in particular, have been hit hard. There is a reason why most evangelicals voted for President Trump, beginning with the Little Sisters of the Poor and ending with Supreme Court appointments and a thousand other issues sandwiched in between. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Flynn Resigns

Editorial Cartoon: Flynn Resigns
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter JUST CURIOUS: IS THERE A SOLUTION BESIDES MOVING OUT OF KETCHIKAN? By David G Hanger - I have recommended Rodney Dial's recent Sitnews commentary to a number of individuals as more or less required reading. I am a little bothered by the fact Rodney that put this stuff out there and have a disconnected telephone. So tell me, Rodney, you got a solution to this mess, or is it time to just get the hell out of here? - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

letter Strong and effective schools By Rep. Dan Ortiz - This session, I am honored to be serving as Chair of the House Finance Department of Education and Early Learning Budget Subcommittee, which reviews Alaska’s education budget. In this capacity I will closely examine Alaska’s school funding, and the unique programs and services that support effective learning. - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Meeting Alaska’s Education Challenge By Dr. Michael Johnson - The most pressing issue for Alaska’s public education system is the lack of a fiscal plan. Our state savings accounts are almost depleted due to the lack of agreement on a sustainable fiscal plan that will address the new economic normal for Alaska. Oil will not provide the income we have enjoyed in the past. We have to make some difficult choices. - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Don’t ‘tear up’ the Iran deal. Let it fail on its own. By U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan - As a candidate, Donald Trump said he would “tear up” the Iran nuclear deal once elected. Many of us in the Senate strongly opposed this deal on substance — it provides the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism a pathway toward to nuclear weapons inside of a decade — and also on process. The Obama administration sought the approval of the U.N. Security Council, but essentially ignored the constitutional role of the Senate in seeking to finalize the deal as an executive agreement, not a treaty. As a result, President Trump would be within his rights and authority to undo the deal through executive action, particularly as Iran continued to show that it has no intention of abiding by the deal by launching yet another ballistic missile on Sunday (January 29th). - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Statue of Liberty By Terence Erbele - Ellis Island is one of our national treasures. It is a place to reflect on the history of our country and to capture a sense of what many of our ancestors experienced upon entering this country. It was not a warm welcome. On several walls are old posters, dating back to the 1800's, demanding that we keep immigrants out. Certain countries are named. Yet most of the detested immigrants and their descendants became integral to every part of our society. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter RE: Hold the line on spending By Clay Bezenek - Just a short comment to say thanks to Rodney for doing his job well as a new Ketchikan assemblyman!!! - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter COMING SOON: THE FIRST INDIAN WAR SINCE 1890 By David G Hanger - As the flim-flam man tries to figure out how to build our version of the Berlin Wall without undocumented labor, his obsession with self-aggrandizement continues unabated even to the point of setting the stage for the first Indian War since 1890. Wounded Knee, of course, was far more a U.S. Army massacre than it was a war, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after extended analysis in the past month or so decided they had no interest in pressing that button again. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Don't be manipulated By Thomas Scott - As I was walking out of Walmart Thursday, in the area that you would kick the snow off your boots and grab a shopping cart, there was this young lady in a very animated conversation with an older lady. As I got closer, I could hear that she had been involved with the Woman's March down in Homer, and I thought, "good for her, she's obviously very passionate about this and she's expressing herself" A few more steps and I'm around her and heading out the door when I hear her say," I'm so mad about this, if I was 18, I would have denounced my citizenship at the end of that walk". - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Immigration By A. M. Johnson - In anticipation of local empathy for the current social issue of immigration and the issuance of the Presidential decree to cease the acceptance of foreign nationals into America being tabbed with so many negative titles, the thought of recalling recent history on the matter would be appropriate. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Wild Ketchikan Times By Frances Vlahos-Rohm - I spent a very soggy year in Ketchikan in 1973. I worked at the Frontier Saloon for Roger Hoff and had quite an exciting time of it. Men outnumbered women about 12:1 and I maintain to this day, I never had to buy my own drink. We were highly entertained by the Friday performances of "Fish Pirates Daughter", and I can still quote a few lines after hearing it all summer long. I made life long friends from my short time in town and had so many adventures. Roger hired some great bands, including a rock band from LA and a great country/blue grass group from Canada. The fiddler had been a Canadian fiddling champion at 17, and was still too young to drink in the bar! - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Hold the line on spending By Rodney Dial - I’ve been on the Ketchikan Borough Assembly for four months now. The following is my opinion of the state of the borough for your consideration. My views do not necessarily reflect the views of the other assembly members. - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

letter The Governor’s Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Governor Walker submitted a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes three primary items: cuts in government spending, increased revenue, and the use of some Permanent Fund earnings, which is a separate fund from where we collect our dividend. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 24, 2017

letter RE: SEVENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS By Douglas Thompson - I agree with David Hanger's recent letter concerning cost overruns. We pay in total close to three hundred thousand dollars per year to Amylon as an administrator. the question is for what? Since he has been here I can not recall one project that has come in on budget and many that have had to be redone at cost to the city. The argument certainly can not be made that we are paying for expertise! The waste of tax dollars is appalling. The lack of concern by the council is disgusting. Their continued response as the funds drain away that should have upgraded sewer, water, streets and other vital services is to threaten to increase taxes. Why do we need such a costly incompetent manager with several assistants to shovel away the tax dollars? - More...
Tuesday AM - January 24, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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