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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 04, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE

Morning Has Broken
The March 1st sunrise over Ketchikan as viewed from Pennock Island.
Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE ©2016

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Ketchikan: Southeast Alaska business owners charged for violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced Thursday that an investigation conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has resulted in the filing of charges against four Southeast Alaska business owners and an employee for violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA).

Southeast Alaska business owners charged for violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act

Alaskan Heritage located in Ketchikan is one of four Southeast Alaska businesses charged with violations of the IACA. Alaskan Heritage is owned by Puerto Rican resident and Ketchikan business owner Gabriel T. Karim, 33, d.b.a. Alaskan Heritage
Photo courtesy Google Maps

The charges were filed as a result of an investigation conducted by United States Fish and Wildlife Service based on complaints by summer tourists who were told that bone carvings that they purchased from Alaska shops in Southeast Alaska were authentic bone carvings made by Alaska Natives or Indians, when they were not. As a result of these complaints, the USFWS started an investigation looking into local Southeast businesses misrepresenting non-native bone carvings as made by Alaska Natives or Indians in May 2014.

The United States filed charges against Puerto Rican resident and Ketchikan business owner Gabriel T. Karim, 33, d.b.a. Alaskan Heritage; Juneau resident and business operator Vinod “Vinny” L. Sippy, 38, d.b.a. Diamond Island, Icy Strait, and Gemstone Heaven; Juneau resident and business operator Norma M. Carandang, 60, d.b.a. Northstar Gift Shop; Skagway resident and business owner Rosemary V. Libert, 56, d.b.a. Lynch and Kennedy Dry Goods, Inc.; and Libert’s seasonal employee, a resident of Huntington Beach, California, Judy M. Gengler, 65, for the illegal misrepresentation of bone art carvings as made by Alaska Natives or Indians, when in fact they were made by local non-native carvers. - More...
Friday PM - March 4, 2016

Alaska: Alaska Legislative Council's Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit Against State Dismissed By MARY KAUFFMAN - Alaska Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner issued a ruling Tuesday in the case brought by the Alaska Legislative Council against Alaska Governor Bill Walker over his decision last year to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. Judge Pfiffner found that the Social Security Act requires Medicaid expansion, and that existing state law required Governor Walker to provide Medicaid to the group of Alaskans eligible for expansion. In his 26-page ruling, Judge Pfiffner granted the Governor’s motion for summary judgement and dismissed the case brought by the Alaska Legislative Council, which is made up of ten members of the Alaska Legislature.

In a prepared statement Governor Bill Walker (I) stated, “I am pleased the Superior Court agrees I have the authority to expand federally funded Medicaid coverage to thousands of Alaskans, which will generate more than $1 billion in just the first six years and save the state more than $100 million. Working Alaskans have been able to get health care coverage since September, thanks to the hard work of Commissioner Val Davidson and her Health and Social Services team. We will continue to work with the legislature on Medicaid redesign and reform efforts.”

Earlier in August 2015, Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner previously denied the Legislative Council’s motion for a preliminary injunction, saying they were unlikely to prevail on the merits of the case.

Senate Majority Leader John Coghill (R-North Pole), who sits on the Legislative Council and whose office drove the lawsuit, told KTUU Wednesday afternoon that the legislature will appeal the decision to the Alaska Supreme Court.

Senate Democratic Leader Berta Gardner said Senator John Coghill (R-North Pole) reported that $180,000 of the $450,000 previously approved by the Legislative Council to be spent on their side of the lawsuit will go toward the continued legal challenge. - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

Fish Factor: Stomachs Could Solve Mystery of Smaller Alaska Halibut By LAINE WELCH - Fish stomachs could help solve the mystery of why Alaska halibut are so small for their age.

Stomachs Could Solve Mystery of Smaller Alaska Halibut

Top: Arrowtooth Flounder's mouth extends past eye, numerous large teeth, large scales. Bottom: Pacific Halibut's mouth extends to eye, smaller teeth, smooth skin.
Photo courtesy Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game

Halibut weights are about one-third of what they were 30 years ago, meaning a halibut weighing 120 pounds in the late 1980s is closer to 40 pounds nowadays.

One culprit could be arrowtooth flounders, whose numbers have increased 500 percent over the same time to outnumber the most abundant species in the Gulf: pollock. Fishermen for decades have claimed the toothy flounders, which grow to about three feet in length, are blanketing the bottom of the Gulf and many believe they are out-competing halibut for food.

A study being done by researchers in Southeast Alaska aims to find out.

“People think that potentially arrowtooth is competing with halibut for space and/or prey which is limiting the growth of Pacific halibut,” said Cheryl Barnes, a PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who is working out of NOAA’s Auke Bay lab in Juneau. - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

Southeast Alaska: State and Tribe Sign Tribal Title IV-E Maintenance Agreement; Additional Funding to Expand Tribal Child Welfare - For the first time in its history, the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska will accept transfer of jurisdiction of cases from the State of Alaska.

Under an agreement between the State and Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, the Tribe will receive federal Title IV-E funds to provide an array of services through its Child Welfare program and Tribal Court, including extensive case management, foster home licensing, and financial support to tribal foster homes.

This agreement between the State of Alaska and the Tribe supports and recognizes the ability of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska to provide services to its tribal citizens, increasing the likelihood that tribal foster children will be able to stay in their communities with relatives, their culture, and traditions.

“This is a positive example of what can be done when states and tribes work together to improve the child welfare system,” said Paula Bentz, a Region X child welfare specialist with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This partnership is a historic moment for tribal child welfare in Alaska.” - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

Alaska Unemployment Rate
Alaska Unemployment Rate, How Alaska Ranks
Alaska Unemployment Rate, How Alaska Ranks
Click on the graphic for a larger view
Chart courtesy Alaska Department of Labor
Alaska Economic Trends March 2016

Alaska: Creation of the State Bank of Alaska Proposed - Legislation was announced this week to create a state bank as a public corporation of the State of Alaska. According to Representatives Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) who filed the legislation, the Bank of Alaska would create new avenues for long-term economic growth by granting loans to Alaskan-owned businesses and emerging industries.

“A state bank would offer Alaskans new opportunities to invest in themselves,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “Too many Alaskans who have the dream, desire and drive are denied bank loans and cannot access credit. This bank can help Alaskans build their own local business.”

Profit from Bank of Alaska loans would be deposited into the general fund annually and would be available to be reinvested in the bank with a vote from the Alaska Legislature. The Bank of Alaska would be able to raise revenue while helping Alaskans develop and improve their small businesses. - More...
Friday PM - March 4, 2016

Alaska: U.S. Marshals Warn of Scam - The U.S. Marshals Service is warning the public of a telephone scam involving a fraudulent caller contacting members of the public and alleging they or their family members have an active federal arrest warrant and demanding payment of fines.

On March 1, 2016, there were three reported attempts of a fraudulent caller who identified himself as a Deputy United States Marshal. This phony law enforcement officer informed the potential victims that warrants were being issued for them or their family member due to being absent from a federal grand jury they were previously summoned to appear before. The potential victims were then informed they could avoid arrest by paying a fine by electronic fund transfer or cashier’s check. The Marshals Service became aware of the scam after receiving information from the Anchorage Police Department and several calls from alert citizens in the South-Central Alaska area. - More...
Friday PM - March 4, 2016


New Studies Raise Questions About Crabs Adaptability - Sixty percent of U.S. seafood comes from Alaska. A profitable portion of this comes from the famed crab fisheries. New studies on the effects of ocean acidification due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels support a growing body of evidence that the future for Tanner and blue king crab stocks in Alaska waters is, at best, uncertain.

New Studies Raise Questions About Crabs Adaptability

An adult Tanner crab.
Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

“A lot has to do with the stage in life that a crab is exposed to more acidic conditions (lower pH levels) than normal,” said Chris Long, NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “For instance, the ocean environment that larval Tanner crabs live in is highly dynamic, with variable levels of acidity. At this age, tanner crabs seem able to tolerate shifts in pH. But if these animals are exposed to more acidic conditions at the embryo stage, they may be less able to tolerate changes in ocean acidification as larvae.”

Another issue is that young crabs exposed to low pH levels do not accumulate calcium as well, so their shells are softer, making them more vulnerable to predation. The combined effects of lower pH means that fewer crabs will be able to make it to adulthood. Lower crab populations mean fewer crabs for fishermen to catch.

In a separate study on blue king crabs, scientists also saw slower growth rates and higher mortality in juveniles exposed to more acidic conditions. Blue king crabs have supported an important fishery in the Bering Sea. However, their populations around the Pribilof Islands and St. Matthew Island regions have fluctuated dramatically. This suggests that environmental conditions play a big role in the number of young crabs that actually grow to maturity and can be caught by the commercial fishery. Changes in ocean acidification may make it even more difficult for these populations to recover from recent low levels.

These two studies on Tanner and blue king crabs add to a growing volume of work by NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fisheries Science Center and the University of Washington. - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

38,000 donated from KMC Gift Shop proceeds

$38,000 donated from KMC Gift Shop proceeds
Gift Shop Committee Volunteers
Photo courtesy PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center

Ketchikan: $38,000 donated from KMC Gift Shop proceeds - The Gift Shop in the Ketchikan Medical Center lobby may look little but it is responsible for big things. Since 2000, proceeds from the shop have funded almost a half million dollars in projects at the Medical Center and PeaceHealth Medical clinics in Ketchikan and on Prince of Wales Island.

Last Saturday, the volunteers who staff the Shop met to decide this year’s projects. They had $38,000 to divvy between the $80,000 in requests from department managers.

After presentations and explanations of the various requests, the Gift Shop Committee awarded: - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

Ketchikan: Foundation endowment fund reaches $1 million - In 2007, the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors established an endowment fund with a goal of raising $1 million that would be set aside as a lasting legacy for Ketchikan and the health care community in southern Southeast Alaska. After nearly a decade, through generous annual donations from a number of donors and investment earnings, the KMC Foundation is pleased to announce that this goal has been reached.

“The endowment fund is a great way to pay it forward,” said Foundation Board President Patti Mackey, “Through their support, our donors have established a means to give the gift of health to future generations of patients and families in Ketchikan and beyond who count on KMC services.”

Since setting up the endowment in 2007, First Bank has been the fund’s most committed donor. In 2007 they made their first 5-year, $100,000 pledge, which they renewed in 2012. January 2016 marked First Bank’s tenth $20,000 donation to the fund, bringing their total endowment fund giving to $200,000. - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016


Ballot Measure 2 Proponents Urge Legislators to Oppose Measure That Would Amount to a Ban on Marijuana Businesses in Rural Alaska - Backers of the 2014 initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Alaska are urging legislators to oppose a measure that would severely limit marijuana business locations and access to marijuana for adults in rural Alaska. Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said the amendment was recently snuck into HB 75, an otherwise non-controversial bill intended to clarify marijuana rules following the passage of Ballot Measure 2.

According to Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol , HB 75 was originally intended to establish the maximum number of marijuana plants that can be cultivated per household and define key terms in the law. It was recently expanded to allow the state government to request background checks on marijuana business applicants, at which time Sen. Lyman F. Hoffman (D - Dist. S) introduced an amendment that would make it very difficult to establish marijuana businesses in any unincorporated area of the state.

"Alaskans spoke loud and clear when they adopted Ballot Measure 2, and this amendment would defy the will of the voters,” said Tim Hinterberger, an official proponent of Ballot Measure 2 who served as chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “It is disappointing that some senators would use the state's need for background checks as an opportunity to ban marijuana businesses in rural Alaska. We strongly urge members of the House to oppose this offensive proposal and either amend HB 75 or oppose it and address background checks in a separate bill." - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Why We Want Our Politicians to Lie - Three studies provide insight into something we all know to be true: Politicians lie.

The Daily News reports that politicians are good at yarn spinning "because they convince themselves they are telling the truth." That was the finding of a lying study at the University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy.

A second study, conducted by Millikin University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, finds that the more long-winded the point a politician is making — both off-the-cuff and in prepared statements — the more likely he or she is spewing a mistruth.

I know what you're thinking: Of course politicians lie. When negotiating with thugs around the world we want our politicians to outwit them, and that usually requires deception. When waging war, we want to hear the good news, not the gory details. And during elections, we never vote for the candidate who tells the truth. We want the candidate who tells the most colorful yarns.

The truth is lying is one of the great cottage industries in America. We all do it.

When a lady asks you if you like her new haircut — one that gives her the look of the Chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercials — do you tell her the truth (as I made the mistake of doing only once) or do you smile and say she is more gorgeous than ever? - More...
Friday PM - March 04, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Trump

Editorial Cartoon: Trump
By Daryl Cagle ©2016,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Ketchikan School District's Budget Slush Fund By Agnes Moran - In 2009, in a show of good faith towards the Ketchikan School Board and District, the Borough Assembly increased the amount of unreserved, undedicated funds the School District could carryover each year to 5% of that year’s total school district budget. The change was made to give the District an additional budget management tool. - More...
Saturday PM - March 05, 2016

letter Volkswagen vs US emission charges By Jim Dornblaser - I find it strange, no make that ludicrous, that OUR EPA stands on % of emissions per volume while TOTALLY ignoring total emissions per mile. - More...
Saturday PM - March 05, 2016

letter Proposed Budget Cuts to Community-based Support Services By Janalee Minnich Gage - I was born and raised in Ketchikan Alaska, and I am part of the Ketchikan City Council. In this life of mine so far I have had the pleasure to living in several places including two other Alaska communities Kotzebue and Kenai. I will state that these are my feelings and I do not speak for the Ketchikan City Council or anyone else. - More...
Saturday AM - March 05, 2016

letter RE: City of Ketchikan Mismanagement By Mike Schmit - Doug Thompson is a friend of mine. I used to see Doug down in the harbor when he would be tinkering on his boat. I also would be tinkering on my boat. I feel so fortunate to be able to go down on the docks and have a boat to hang out on. - More...
Saturday AM - March 05, 2016

letter An Alaska State Income Tax is Not the Answer By Wiley Brooks - The unpopular “T” word has been placed on the legislative table by the governor. With a projected fiscal crisis ahead, the governor and legislature would be neglectful of their oaths if they did not act to head off a financial meltdown. But, should an income tax be included in the list of responses? - More...
Saturday AM - March 05, 2016

letter Ketchikan Town Meeting Monday, Feb. 29th By Rep. Dan Ortiz - You may have heard that Governor Walker is coming to town on Monday. It is an honor for me to join Governor Walker for this trip that will allow him and members of his administration to learn first-hand about the issues affecting our island. I will co-host a town meeting with Governor Walker on Monday, February 29th at 5pm at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. - More...
Thursday PM - February 25, 2016

letter Ketchikan Ports & Harbors By Steve Corporon - The following information is provided in response to the letter Mr. Douglas Thompson sent to the Editor of Sitnews which was published on February 25, 2016. - More...
Friday PM - February 25, 2016

letter City of Ketchikan Mismanagement By Douglas Thompson - I wonder if the reality of the Ketchikan municipal budget has sunk in to local taxpayers? Most of us have received this year's tax bill recently and it is not pleasant. Right now you could be paying zero in property tax. Zero. A sum that would not impact any perceivable services to the citizenry. All that is required is a little maturity and fiscal discipline. Qualities which are totally absent at present. This is due to the unrestrained rule of "King" (called that by the Ketchikan City Council) Karl Amylon. The council in their sycophantic frenzy to curry favor with Amylon costs local taxpayers millions of dollars. Not only is he paid an absurd salary for a town of 7,000 people but the council then 'gifts' him with additional tax dollars. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

letter Be the Change By Christine Furey - In the last few weeks a dark cloud has been painted over our beautiful little town. It happens every year, sometimes more. Drugs, drugs and more drugs! Is it not yet completely obvious that we are dealing with what some may call an epidemic and yet we seem to be doing very little to combat it on a large scale level. I am not in any way trying to discredit those agencies that are working very hard to do what they can and this includes the Ketchikan Police Department, among many others and their efforts don't go unnoticed. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Missing Men in Ketchikan By Irene Anderson - I am a family member of one of Ketchikan's Missing Men, his name is Roy V Banhart and he has been missing since 12/30/14. I am very concerned about the Ketchikan community due to all the missing men that have not been accounted for. In addition to Roy (he would be 40 years old in April), there is Gary Hamilton, 69 years of age, almost blind. Mr. Hamilton was last seen on 11/13/15 at a bank (prev known to be beaten and robbed), Justin Nathan a 20 year old young man that did not make it down from Deer Mountain he ws last seen on 11/11/15. I found a post from a former family member (Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad) from Nov 2015 asking why the Alaska State Troopers would not answer their phone/return calls as that former family member had contacted the Juneau Coast Guard from what I read, it appeared that they were ready and willing to assist in the search for Mr. Nathan (helicopters,etc). Also missing is Thomas Booth, a 30 year old father of 2 children (4 months old and 10 yrs old. Mr. Booth was last seen on 1/2/16 at Safeway buying diapers. And, Angeline Dundas was found in the water in July 2015. She was a young mother. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Marijuana advisory board By Kenneth G. Reese - On February 10, 2016, I provided the following testimony to members of the Alaska House. The purpose of my testimony was to to persuade the reconsideration of the current legislation the State is trying to pass in regards to A.S 17.38. The first priority is to pass an amendment to allow more time to work on current legislation. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Tired! By A. M. Johnson - The following piece by a Robert Hall, whom I have no information on his validity, I fully agree with. I have adjusted Mr. Hall's piece to reflect my age and work history and an opinon which I believe is shared by many in my age group. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Gas Prices in Alaska By Rep. Dan Ortiz - A daily goal of mine, as your House District 36 representative, is to create avenues for constituent communication. A belief in “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, motivates me to make constituent communication easy and inviting. - More...
Monday PM - February 16, 2016

letter IF THE TOILET IS OVERFLOWING AND YOU REPAIR THE SINK, THE TOILET IS STILL OVERFLOWING By David G Hanger - The very first thing everyone needs to get a handle on in this Alaska financial crisis is that the price of a barrel of oil is not the primary cause of this disaster. Nor have production levels on the North Slope in the past two years declined significantly. 200 million barrels went through that pipeline in 2013, and somewhere between 380 million and 390 million barrels of oil have gone through that pipeline in 2014 and 2015. For the last six months of 2015 the oil companies produced 20,000 more barrels per day. In 2015 oil industry employment in the state of Alaska actually increased marginally throughout the year. And the state of Alaska did not collect a dime in oil taxes from those rats, their buddies, in 2014 and 2015. - More...
Monday PM - February 15, 2016

letter Proposed legislature pay cuts By Charlie Freeman - The proposal to cut legislative pay, while sounding noble, is a really bad idea and here's why. Most people have to work for a living and cannot take 120 days off to go to Juneau for free. We already pretty much limit the legislative gene pool to lawyers and the retired, and that does not make for a representative government. What it does do is get you a government with a limited idea of what it takes to live here. - More...
Monday PM - February 15, 2015

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