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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

February 17, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By PATRICIA HAUSER

Frog Pond Snowman
Front Page Feature Photo By PATRICIA HAUSER ©2018

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Alaska: The Alaska Recession's Impact on Employment By MARY KAUFFMAN - Alaska is expected to lose jobs again in 2018, although the losses appear to be tapering, according to Karinne Wiebold, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor. The Southeast Alaska region also began to lose jobs along with the rest of the state in 2015.

In a recent edition of Alaska Economic Trends, Wiebold reported that total employment statewide is forecasted to decline by 0.5 percent in 2018 ( a loss of -1,800 jobs) after falling 1.1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2016.

Losses were deepest in 2016, wrote Wiebold, when the state’s economy shed 6,300 jobs, primarily in oil and gas and in state government. Then in 2017, Alaska lost an estimated 3,600 jobs. If it hadn’t been for strong health care growth, the overall job loss would have been deeper, according to Wiebold.

If employment follows the forecasted pattern this year, that would put Alaska’s total loss from 2015 through 2018 at 11,700 jobs (-3.5 percent).

How job losses are panning out

One reason statewide losses are slowing, according to Wiebold, is that oil and gas, state government, professional and business services, and construction have already taken significant hits over the last couple of years and their job counts are stabilizing at lower levels. However, the impact from those losses will reverberate into stores, bars and restaurants, and a variety of other employers that depend on consumer, business, and state government spending, according to Wiebold.

Alaska's Recession’s first wave: State government and oil

Economist Wiebold reported when oil prices plummeted in late 2014, state government was the first to feel the pinch as falling tax revenue from the oil and gas industry decimated state revenues. State government began to cut jobs in early 2015 as pressure mounted to reduce expenses, including its payroll and capital projects.

Oil and gas lost a whopping 2,900 jobs in 2016, followed by state government at 1,200 jobs, professional and business services (such as engineering, geological, and architectural firms) at 1,600, and construction at 1,400. Alaska’s oil and
expected to lose an addi onal 500 jobs in 2018. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

Alaska: Alaska's total wages down 3.6 percent in third quarter 2017 from prior year - Newly released data show Alaska employers statewide paid $4.5 billion in wages in third quarter 2017, a 3.6 percent decline from the same period in 2016. 

Total wages, which are not adjusted for inflation, have been declining since the first quarter of 2016, with the exception of a half-percent increase in first quarter 2017. 

Statewide private sector wages fell by 3.8 percent. Wages dropped 8.8 percent in oil and gas and 12.8 percent in construction. Seafood processing wages increased 4.3 percent after falling 10.4 percent in the second quarter. Leisure and hospitality was up slightly (0.4 percent) due to a 3.1 percent rise in accommodation wages. Health care wages continued to rise, but by just 0.7 percent after increasing 9.2 percent in second quarter.   

Government wages fell by 3.1 percent across the board: state government wages fell 4.0 percent, federal government declined 2.6 percent, and local government, which includes public schools and tribal government, fell 2.7 percent.   

Across the state, total wages decreased in 19 of 29 boroughs and census areas by a combined $196.9 million while wages in the other 10 grew by a combined $25.5 million.

Areas with wage growth had at least one of three dominant industries: local government, fishing or tourism. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

Fish Factor: Federal Budget Cuts Affect Fisheries By LAINE WELCH - The Trump Administration’s $4.4 trillion federal budget for next year takes some mean whacks to programs that affect fisheries. 

Off the top, the spending plan unveiled on February 12 cuts the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by 20 percent to $4.6 billion. Among other things, NOAA manages the nation’s fisheries in waters from three to 200 miles offshore, which produce the bulk of Alaska’s seafood landings.

It’s the cuts within the cuts that reveal the most. 

NOAA Fisheries is facing a $110.4 million drop to $837.3 million, a 14 percent budget cut. That includes a $17.7 million decrease in fisheries science and management, a $5 million cut in data collection needed for stock assessments, a $5.1 million reduction in funding for catch share programs and a $2.9 million cut to cooperative research programs.

The proposals for NOAA law enforcement are even more severe – a decline of $17.8 million is a 25 percent budget reduction.  

“The entire law enforcement reduction is coming from the agency's cooperative enforcement program and will eliminate funding for joint enforcement agreements with law enforcement partners from 28 states and U.S. territories,” reported the Gloucester Times. 

The National Weather Service, also under NOAA’s umbrella, is facing a $75 million slice off its $1 billion budget. It will axe 355 jobs, more than a quarter of the NWS staff, including 248 forecasters. 

Trump also wants to cut $4.8 million from habitat and conservation programs, wiping out funding and grants for NOAA’s fisheries habitat restoration projects. 

The Trump plan proposes gutting $40 million from NOAA climate change programs, which would eliminate competitive grants for research and end studies on global warming in the Arctic, including predictions of sea-ice and fisheries in a changing climate.

The national Sea Grant College Program, which conducts research, training and education at more than 30 U.S. universities, is again on the chopping block. 

Funding for programs under the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that monitor earthquakes and volcanoes would each drop by 21 percent. The USGS water-resources program, which includes the national stream-gauge network, would be reduced 23 percent.  

Trump proposes to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget to $6.1 billion in 2019, its lowest level since the early 1990s and about 25 percent below the current mark.

The EPA budget also eliminates funding for climate-change research while providing $502 million for fossil energy research, an increase of nearly 24 percent. 

Seafood sales also could be badly hurt by proposed deep cuts to food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Instead of shopping at grocery stores, under Trump’s plan recipients would receive boxes of shelf-stable commodity items such as powdered milk, juices, pasta, peanut butter, and canned meats, fruits and vegetables. 

“Seafood is the only major food group that is not considered a USDA commodity. If the new food delivery platform is going to put an emphasis on commodity goods, then that will leave out lean, heart-healthy seafood,” said Linda Cornish, president of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership.

Closer to home, Trump also plans to stop federal funding for the Denali Commission, introduced by Congress in 1998 as an independent agency to provide critical utilities, infrastructure and economic support throughout Alaska.  The plan calls for a $10 million cut out of $17 million, with the difference going to an "orderly closure."

The White House says that any state that can afford to pay its residents an annual dividend doesn't need a "unique and additional federal subsidy" such as the commission, wrote longtime Alaska journalist Dermot Cole. Trump added that “the commissions' effectiveness at improving overall economic conditions remains unproven.” 

The FY19 budget, which goes into effect on October 1, now goes before Congress.  - More...
Friday PM - February 16, 2018


Alaska: Alaska Civil Rights Pioneer
Elizabeth Peratrovich Celebrated
By DAVE KIFFER - Elizabeth Jean Wanamaker Peratrovich is often referred to as the Martin Luther King of Alaska, but the truth is she was fighting for equal rights for Alaska Natives a decade before Martin Luther King gained fame during the Civil Rights movement.

jpg Alaska Civil Rights Pioneer 
Elizabeth Peratrovich Celebrated

Elizabeth Jean Wanamaker Peratrovich
February 16th was designated as the first Elizabeth Peratrovich Day in 1988.

Peratrovich was born on July 4, 1911 in Petersburg. Her Tlingit name was Kaaxgal.aat and she was of the Lukaax.adi clan of the Raven moiety, according to information from the Alaska Native Sisterhood. 

Her parents died when she was very young and she was adopted by Presbyterian missionaries Mary and Andrew Wanamaker.

She attended school in Petersburg and Sitka and eventually graduated from high school in Ketchikan in 1931. One of her classmates was her future husband Roy Peratrovich of Klawock.

Elizabeth's Senior Picture in the 1931 Kayhi yearbook included the following: Entered from Klawock, Alaska '28; Course: General; Kayhi Ko-Ed Club '29; Operetta '29, '30; Glee Club '29, '30, '31; Her senior motto was "By the words of thy mouth will I Judge thee."

Roy's Senior Picture included the following: Entered from Chemawa, Oregon '29. Course: General. Basketball '30, '31; Baseball '30, '31; Captain of the Basketball Team '31; President of the Lettermen's Club '31; SBA Council. His senior motto was "That stood the stays when waves were rough."

In the Senior Class Will, Roy left his basketball shoes to Leif Harris and Elizabeth left her ability to "work one's way through school" to anyone else who needed to do so.

And The Senior Class Prophecy predicted "Elizabeth married Roy and I see they are very happily settled, running a successful cannery."

After graduation, Elizabeth attended the Western College of Education in Bellingham, Washington. Roy attended Bellingham Normal College at the same time.

On December 15, 1931, Roy Peratrovich and Elizabeth Wanamaker were married.

Living in Klawock, Roy initially served as a captain of cannery tenders and a fish buyer from 1931 to 1936 while Elizabeth began raising their family - Roy Jr., Frank and Loretta. From 1936 to 1941, Roy served as policeman, chief clerk, city judge, postmaster and eventually Mayor of Klawock. Beginning in 1941, He also served in several capacities with the territorial government - including head of the revenue collectors in 1944 - and also began his long association with the Alaska Native Brotherhood. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018




MICHAEL REAGAN: It's Still Not Guns - During the intense media coverage of Wednesday's tragic events in Parkland, Fla., I was shocked to hear it was the 18th school shooting so far this year.

18. In 45 days.

That sounds terrible.

That sounds like a huge American crisis that needs to be addressed immediately by our great leaders in Washington.

But that 18 number, which the anti-gun lobby in the media has emphasized without going into the details of the individual incidents, is highly misleading.

None of those previous shootings was anything like the horrible one on Wednesday that left 17 students and teachers dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The year's worst previous shooting, which happened in Kentucky at a high school less than a month ago, left two students dead and 14 wounded by gunfire.

The only other death was a single murder that occurred on a college campus.

Two of the shootings that occurred at one of the country's 120,000 public and private schools this year were suicides. 

Some involved guns firing accidentally. And most of the other incidents were random shootings on public school property that resulted in no one being hurt.

But these details of the earlier shootings didn't matter to religious anti-gun nuts in the media like Don Lemon of CNN and liberal politicians like Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018


BLAIR BESS: Time To Politicize Gun Violence - In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, how can we not politicize gun violence ? 

It's tiresome to hear Republican lawmakers say it's inappropriate to politicize this tragedy. Their responses are numbingly repetitive and rote. 

These lawmakers loathe the suggestion that assault weapons like AR-15's be banned outright or that gun control legislation be enacted. They hate hearing how concealed carry reciprocity laws are a bad idea, not to mention an encroachment on state's rights. They believe guns should be readily available to anyone.

Yet, there is no legitimate need for civilians to own semi-automatic assault weapons that, with minor modifications, can be transformed into fully-automatic killing machines. The kind used in Parkland, Aurora, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and God knows how many other mass shootings to come. And don't kid yourself - many more of these atrocities are on the horizon. They've become part of the American landscape.

It was infuriating to listen to pundit Laura Ingraham on Fox News, telling her audience hours after the Parkland shooting that AR-15s are actually "popular and overwhelmingly safe."

Tell that to Broward County Sheriff Bob Israel, whose officers responded to the panic and carnage that claimed 17 lives. Israel made it clear that weapons like the AR-15 have no place in the hands of the American public.

Ingraham criticized Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) when he took to the floor of the Senate and "politicized" the shootings by saying "enough is enough." That the epidemic of mass slaughter must stop. He stated emphatically that our lawmakers are the ones ultimately responsible for these atrocities through their inaction.  - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Pot vs Opioids

Political Cartoon: Pot vs Opioids
By Steve Sack ©2018, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

A Strong Ferry System is Part of a Stronger Alaska By Gov. Bill Walker & Lt. Gov. Bryon Mallott - For more than 50 years, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has served as a critical transportation link among Alaska’s coastal communities to Anchorage and to the Lower 48 and Canada. The marine highway system is a socio-economic lifeline for many of the 33 Alaska communities it serves, the majority of which are not connected to Alaska’s road system.

The impacts of the AMHS ripple throughout the state. According to a 2014 study, every dollar spent on the AMHS yields an economic impact return of over $2 dollars - a 2:1 investment for the state. AMHS employees hail from 44 communities in Alaska. And do you know where the top Alaska destination is for travelers on the ferry? Anchorage. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE FOUR Ps OF GOOD LOCAL GOVERNANCE By David G. Hanger - The four Ps of good local governance are power, plumbing, parking, and potholes. The first three are desirable in relative abundance; the fourth, potholes, none at all is optimal. Historically, with power and plumbing the City’s rep is so-so; plenty of power but plenty of power outages, too; with plumbing both in and out problems of potable water and problems with pollution that cause periodic health problems. But parking and potholes are our main concerns today.

Potholes. There are more than 25 people working for local government who are earning well over $100,000 a year. In a community where wages are $20,000 to $80,000 per year on average our pompous, yet otherwise incompetent, feather merchants have assumed an overlordship over us that apparently is based on doing nothing at all. Two of my clients have already relayed to me stories of $800 plus per event in damage done by local potholes. I am sure there are many more. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Abortion By Robert B. Holston Jr. - Robert K. Rice claims to be a “realist” and then spouts sophomoric platitudes about a great grandpa choosing NOT to have an abortion.  How “realistic”.  

The facts of abortion are clear.  It is taking of innocent human life.  It is one human being choosing whether another human being lives or dies.  Those are the facts.  I’m being realistic here.  Those are the facts. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Infrastructure Package Must Include Permitting Reform By U. S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Terry O’Sullivan - While pundits debate the merits of various infrastructure proposals, the very real problem of permitting reform has been overlooked. Almost four in 10 of our country’s bridges are at least 50 years old. More than 50,000 of those bridges were structurally deficient in 2016. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States—and in some places, like in Alaska, there are entire communities that don’t even have access to tap water and a flushed toilet. Much of our energy grid is at full capacity, one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition, our ports need to be modernized and deepened, and many of our schools are crumbling. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Abortion Rights By Robert K. Rice - A M Johnson: if you're against abortion, don't have one. Let women decide if a fatal or life threatening back alley abortion is best for her, or if a safe professional abortion is better. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

K-12 Education Early Funding By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Funding for Alaska’s schools is one of the most important pieces of our state budget. Yet, each year, school funding gets caught in the cross fire of budget debates and ends up being one of the last measures passed by the Alaska Legislature. - More...
Saturday AM - February 10, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Alaska Military Youth Academy: Celebrating 25 years of changed lives By Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummel - The high school counselor lowered his head, peered over his reading glasses, and looked straight into the eyes of the young man before him.  “You’re not going to graduate this year.”  - More...
Wednesday AM - February 07, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Rebuild Our Depleted Military By Donald Moskowitz - The Budget Control Act of 2011 necessitated budget cuts for the Defense Department which had a huge negative effect on the readiness of our military. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 07, 2018

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