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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 22, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By RACHELLE SPEIGHTS

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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: Only two sitting presidents have visited Southeast Alaska A feature story By DAVE KIFFER - Since the advent of intercontinental air travel, just about every President of the United States has visited Alaska, at least briefly, with Anchorage and Elmendorf Air Force Base serving as hosts for several carefully choreographed speeches in hangers and elsewhere.

One of the most famous of those “hangar” events was when President Richard Nixon met with Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1971, the first time that a Japanese emperor had traveled outside of Japan.

Some of the presidential visits have extended beyond the airport, as when President Gerald Ford visited a Trans-Alaska pipeline construction site near Fairbanks in 1975.

Most recently, President Barak Obama spent several days in Alaska and was the first president to travel north of the Arctic Circle and spend time in northern Alaskan villages.

But have Presidents ever made southward it to Southeast Alaska?

The answer is yes.

Both Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt passed through Southeast while they were in office.

Harding visited several places in Southeast, including Ketchikan, Metlakatla and Sitka during a lengthy visit in 1923. Harding arrived on the USS Henderson in July with a large entourage that also included future President Herbert Hoover. He visited both Ketchikan and Metlakatla (see “Ketchikan’s only presidential visitor back in the news” SITNEWS, Aug 16, 2015) before heading north where he also spent time in Seward and the tent city that was becoming Anchorage.

On his way back south, Harding stopped in Sitka for a feast that later became controversial.

Harding was not a well man when he decided to make his 15,000 mile trip from Washington D.C. to Alaska and back. White House medical staff recommended against it. But Harding’s administration was just beginning to be involved in a significant corruption scandal and he apparently wanted to generate some good news with the trip.

Harding would die in San Francisco just a week after returning from Alaska. Even today, there are those who suspect his death was not natural for a variety of reasons. But one of the more interesting speculations is that the death did have a natural cause, bad seafood in Sitka. The official cause of death was a heart attack, although he reportedly took ill even before leaving Alaska.

The second sitting President to visit Southeast Alaska was Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt visited Southeast and Southwest Alaska during World War II.

In August of 1944, Roosevelt made an inspection tour of military facilities in Hawaii and Alaska that took nearly three weeks. Like Harding, Roosevelt was not well at the time of his trip and had hoped that the ocean voyage, which he always loved, would revitalize him.

But when he met with Gen. Douglas MacAthur in Hawaii, MacArthur famously wrote to his wife that the “frail” President would not live another six months. As it was, Roosevelt would die just a little over eight months later.

When he visited Adak, Roosevelt had lunch with more than 150 enlisted troops in a large quonset hut mess hall. He gave a speech to the soldiers expressing pride in how they had built a large military base in less than two years. Even though the Japanese had been driven out of the Aleutians by that time, the US was still using bases in the chain as staging points for bombing runs to the northern Japanese islands.

Roosevelt also spent some time fishing, a hobby that he also enjoyed at his other stops In Alaska. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017

Immediate Action on Office of Childrens Services' Injustices Demanded - Representative Tammie Wilson is calling on Governor Bill Walker to take action on what Wilson says is the broken system at the Alaska Office of Children Services.

Rep. Wilson (R-North Pole) said she has done everything within her powers to draw attention to the major issues going on within the Office of Childrens' Services which include children taken from homes without good reason. This fall Wilson called for a grand jury investigation of the office of Children’s services.

On January 18, 2017, the Presiding Judge of the Third Judicial District unsealed the recommendations of the grand jury relating to the request to investigate OCS. The documents unsealed by Presiding Judge Morse showed that the Department of Law presented the request to the grand jury on December 22, 2016. The grand jury issued two separate recommendations signed by the grand jury foreman. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017

Alaska: Alaska Senate Joins Fight to Overturn Federal Takeover of Fish & Wildlife Management - The Alaska State Senate approved a resolution today supporting an effort by U.S. Rep. Don Young to return management of fish and wildlife to the State of Alaska. The resolution passed by a vote of 15 to 4.

Senate Resolution 4, sponsored by Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), backs House Joint Resolution 69, a measure to overturn a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule which seized authority away from the state to manage fish and wildlife for both recreational and subsistence uses on 77-million acres of federal lands in Alaska. H.J.Res.69 passed the U.S. House of Representatives last Thursday and is on its way to the U.S. Senate.

“We sent a clear message today to the unelected bureaucrats in Washington D.C.: Congress writes laws, not you,” said Sen. Cathy Giessel. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017

Alaska: Alaska Legislature Encourages Congress to Open the Coastal Plain of ANWR to Oil and Gas Exploration - Today, the Alaska State Senate joined the Alaska House of Representatives in approving House Joint Resolution 5, urging the United States Congress to pass legislation to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development. The resolution, sponsored by Representative Dean Westlake (D-Kotzebue), underwent minor changes in the Senate and will be taken up again by the Alaska House on Friday. After concurrence, HJR 5 will be forwarded to Congress and President Donald Trump for consideration when developing policy regarding increased oil and gas exploration and development on federal lands in Alaska.

“ANWR holds tremendous untapped oil and gas resources that can be safely developed to the benefit of Alaska, the nation, and the world,” said Rep. Westlake. “This resolution expresses the will of the people of Alaska and the Alaska Legislature that it’s time to end the partisan gridlock in Washington D.C. by putting aside politics and listening to what the people want.”

A United States Geological Survey (USGS) study of the 1002 area of ANWR conducted in 1998 estimated the oil reserves at over 10 billion barrels. That same study estimated that the central North Slope and the 1002 area could contain up to 46 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017

Alaska: 296 Marijuana Plants Seized in Tok - The Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit (SDEU) in Fairbanks received a tip on February 14th regarding an alleged illegal marijuana grow operation at a residence near milepost 1316 of the Alaska Highway. The following day, investigators with Fairbanks SDEU traveled to Tok to begin working the case with the assistance of the local Alaska State Troopers Post.

Troopers arrived on the property and contacted a man at the residence. According to a press release, troopers noticed a strong odor of marijuana while they were on the property. The resident was cooperative with troopers on scene and gave consent for the property to be searched and illegal marijuana plants to be seized.

Investigators located 296 marijuana plants in different stages of growth in a large shop adjacent to the residence. Also located was 10 pounds of processed marijuana packaged into quarter ounce bags. The plants and the processed marijuana were seized. The total street value of the marijuana (product and plants) is estimated at about $604,000. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017


Alaska: Arctic killer whales alter narwhal distribution and activity By SONNARY CAMPBELL - Narwhals stay active and close to shore to avoid killer whales that have begun to enter areas with declining sea ice cover in Canada’s eastern Arctic, according to a study led by a University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist.

Arctic killer whales alter narwhal distribution and activity

A tagged killer whale swims in Tremblay Sound on the north coast of Baffin Island, Canada.
Photo by Gretchen Freund

Assistant Professor Greg Breed of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, along with Cory Matthews of the University of Manitoba and Steven Ferguson of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, discovered the narwhal behavior. For several weeks in summer 2009, they tracked a family group of killer whales simultaneously with seven narwhals in Baffin Island’s Admiralty Inlet.

When killer whales were anywhere within approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers), narwhals avoided them by staying close to shore in shallower water. The narwhals also tended to make longer, faster movements. As soon as killer whales left the area, the narwhals moved offshore to deeper water and decreased their movement.

“The mere presence of killer whales in a system can cause relatively large and persistent changes in behavior and space use in prey species,” Breed wrote. These changes persisted for the entire time killer whales were present in the inlet, not just when they were close to or attacking the narwhals.

Narwhals live deep in the Arctic pack ice. Until recently, this kept them safe from killer whales for most of the year. Killer whales prey on narwhals and many other marine mammals. They have become increasingly common in the Arctic where they were previously largely blocked by sea ice.

Degraded sea ice now allows killer whales earlier access to the Arctic in areas where they historically ranged and new access to many areas where they had never been present before, such as Canada’s Hudson Bay.

The study was the first time scientists had simultaneously tracked both predator and prey marine mammals to understand their interaction. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017

Miss Alaska USA 2017,
Alyssa London
Photo by Brian Wallace

Alaska: MISS ALASKA USA 2017 NAMED CULTURAL AMBASSADOR - The new Miss Alaska USA 2017, Alyssa London, has been named as a cultural ambassador by the Sealaska Heritage Institute in an effort to further its mission to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures and to promote cross-cultural understanding.

London (Yáx? Ádi Yádi), a Tlingit Eagle of the Killerwhale Clan, won the title on Feb. 4 and will now contend in the Miss USA Competition. If she becomes Miss USA, she will vie for the title of Miss Universe.

London is the first Tlingit to hold the Miss Alaska USA title, and she was an impressive representative of her Tlingit culture during the competition, said SHI President Rosita Worl. With her victory, she is now positioned to help spread awareness about Native cultures on a very public platform, said Worl, adding that she is expected to be interviewed on several national television programs.

“We are in a race against time to revitalize our Native languages and we are working to raise world awareness about Northwest Coast arts and to rightfully establish the art form as a national treasure,” Worl said. “Alyssa has already proven herself as a leader and cultural ambassador, and she is now in a unique position to put a big spotlight on our goals and issues.”

“She was a participant in SHI’s annual Latseen Leadership Academy, and she is a great role model for our youth.”

“I’m honored and humbled to officially accept the role of cultural ambassador to Sealaska Heritage,” London said. “Our goals are aligned, and I’m excited to represent my Native culture on the next public stage and with the support of SHI.”

London, an entrepreneur, radio host, motivational speaker and Stanford University graduate, entered the competition because she saw it as a platform to publicize her efforts to boost economic development in Alaska through Native art—a goal shared by SHI, which in recent years has taught skin-sewing to create a cottage industry, especially in rural areas where unemployment is high. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017




KYLE JOHANSEN: Juneau Stalemate! - As the volume is turned up to eleven on the debate over the State of Alaska fiscal situation I am reminded of a sage saying by an old friend who still walks the halls of the State Capital building “There is profit in the chaos!”

For some the profit is literal, legal and monetary. However, there are many currencies being exchanged in Juneau. In this particularly chaotic situation one constituency trading currency stands out in my mind as the major barrier to a solution for the next two years, those trading on aspirations for higher office.

This scenario plays out every two years with more intensity every four years during campaigns for Governor. Although this year, during the run-up to a gubernatorial election with open nominations for both the Republican and Democrat parties (assuming Governor Bill Walker again runs as an Independent) the scenario is especially active. Three sitting Republican Senators have expressed interest in running for Governor, and nobody is ruling out a run by the Senate President either. That is one fifth of the entire body possibly running for Governor while serving and legislating.

Every one of these Senators will vote with winning that Republican primary in mind, it is the human nature of politics.

Each year in Juneau requires a different operating procedure than the last, even if the people stay the same. Situations such as which legislation is in play, what chair has which bill, which project or issue has momentum, the temperature of the constituency, and most importantly who is running for which office next will dictate the general success of any given session. Again, even if all the people remain the same, external and internal forces change the dynamics each session.

During each of these unique sessions the Judicial branch is rarely on the minds of most legislators when tackling the policy issues of the day. Therefore, the session dynamics are and always will be three independent bodies sparring with each other in the constantly shifting situation of State politics. The Governor, the House and the Senate are these three bodies and do they love to spar! - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017


JOHN L.MICEK: Seriously and Literally Listening to Trump - During last year's presidential campaign, my old friend and colleague Salena Zito, writing in The Atlantic, made national headlines when she observed that the reporters covering then-candidate Donald Trump "[took] him literally, but not seriously," while supporters took him "seriously, but not literally."

Now that President Trump has called the news media "the enemy of the American people," is it time to take the former reality TV star both seriously and literally?

Trump's words - delivered last week via his favored medium, Twitter, were not the words of a duly elected leader of the world's strongest and most enduring democracy.

They were those of a strongman with little regard, or even knowledge, of the norms of a liberal democracy. And they came on the heels of Trump's frankly surreal, 77-minute, tongue-lashing of the press last Thursday.

It was a performance that staggered the imagination. For more than an hour and fifteen minutes, Trump scolded reporters he didn't like and heaped praise on those he did. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Trump Rides the Stock Market Up

Editorial Cartoon: Trump Rides the Stock Market Up
By Daryl Cagle ©2017,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Chaffetz and Murkowski By Ghert Abbott - Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The President's ongoing refusal to divest himself of the Trump Organization, along with the massive potential for corruption which has resulted from this decision, thus falls right within Chaffetz' purview. The Oversight Chairman has however steadfastly refused to hold any hearings on this issue, despite it often being front page news for the past three months. Instead, Chaffetz has decided that the best use of the Oversight Committee's time and resources is threatening to investigate the Office of Government Ethics for the office's public criticisms of the President. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

letter Roe v Wade By Mike Sallee - In the spirit of the recent women’s marches around the world I offer a couple of citations. In one simple quote, Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. sums up the hypocrisy of many in the 'pro-life' movement: - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

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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