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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 22, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By LAURA CASTETTER

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Alaska: U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Alaska Moose Hunter in Land Management Case - Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Attorney General Craig Richards praised the United States Supreme Court today for its decision in the Surgeon v. Frost case. At a press conference with members of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau, Governor Walker stressed the importance of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and the issue of protecting state rights.

“The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Sturgeon v. Frost. All the U.S. Supreme Court justices, conservative and liberal, recognized Alaska’s unique circumstances and ANILCA’s role in safeguarding Alaska’s sovereignty,” said Governor Walker.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion on Sturgeon v. Frost, remanding the case back to the lower courts. In an 8-0 opinion, the court overturned the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that the National Park Service could ban the use of hovercraft in eastern Alaska's Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. The court found the 9th Circuit’s decision “surprising” and “topsy-turvy.”

While not a decisive victory for John Sturgeon, the Alaska moose hunter who brought the case forward, and who will now have to continue fighting his case in court, it does represent a significant win for Alaska’s sovereignty. The vacated 9th Circuit ruling has been used, and would have continued to be used, by the federal government as a springboard for extensive federal regulation which would have harmed hunters and stymied development on state and Native Corporation lands.

At issue in the case is who, under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA), controls state and Native property located within the outer boundaries of ANILCA Conservation System Units. In November, Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young submitted an amicus curiae brief, arguing that only the State of Alaska and Alaska Native Corporations, and not the federal government, are empowered to make land use decisions on non-federal land in Alaska.

The court did not resolve the question of whether the Park Service could regulate vessel traffic on the Nation River, or if it could regulate other state and Native Corporation lands in Alaska. However, Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion, found that the 9th Circuit’s decision didn’t take into account that ANILCA envisioned that public lands in Alaska would not be managed like other public lands across the country.

In the Court’s own words, “ANILCA repeatedly recognizes that Alaska is different” and ANILCA’s “Alaska-specific provisions reflect the simple truth that Alaska is often the exception, not the rule” when it comes to the Park Service’s general land management authority. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

Southeast Alaska: International coalition calls on BC to include Mount Polley investigation recommendations in mining code - In the midst of deliberations over the British Columbia Mining Code, an international coalition today released, Post-Mount Polley: Tailings Dam Safety in British Columbia, a new analysis revealing that four major BC mine projects in the Alaska/British Columbia transboundary region fail to implement the recommendations of the Mount Polley expert panel, risking similar mine waste containment disasters. The Mount Polley mine disaster, considered the worst mine disaster in Canadian history, occurred in August 2014, releasing over 25 million cubic meters of mine waste into the Fraser River watershed.

The KSM, Galore Creek, Red Chris, and Schaft Creek mines would require mine waste dams 2 to 6 times higher than the failed Mount Polley dam, and would contain 7 to 27 times the waste volume. The waste from these four mines would be more toxic than the Mount Polley mine. The expert panel that investigated the cause of the Mount Polley disaster determined that “wet” mine waste disposal, where mine waste is stored with water, should not be used after mine closure to prevent a catastrophic failure. These mines all use wet disposal, and a riskier type of tailings dam construction style.

“Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results,” said Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders. He continued, “but it shouldn’t take an Einstein to figure out that mines using Mount Polley’s mine waste disposal methods risk future Mount Polley-scale mine waste disasters.”

If these mines were to fail, the Unuk, Stikine, and Nass watersheds would be polluted by mine waste, jeopardizing the billion dollar fishing industry that Alaskans and Canadians alike rely on for their livelihood. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

Preliminary Spring 2016 Forecast Adjusts Revenue to Reflect Lower Oil Prices – Alaska Department of Revenue (DOR) Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck released a preliminary Spring 2016 revenue forecast update yesterday.

“A preliminary version of the Spring 2016 revenue forecast is being released to aid in the budget discussions,” said Commissioner Hoffbeck. Hoffbeck continued, “Ordinarily, we release the spring forecast a week after the annual oil production returns, but because of potential budget implications of sustained low oil prices, we wanted everyone to know the effects on the current revenue outlook as soon as possible.”

General fund unrestricted revenue (GFUR) is now forecast to be $1.3 billion in fiscal year FY2016 and $1.2 billion in FY2017. The revenue forecast is driven by an expectation of oil production of at least 500 thousand barrels per day and an average price of oil remaining between $30 and $40 per barrel for the next 15 months. The FY2016 forecast represents a decrease in expected GFUR of nearly $300 million, or about a 17% decrease, compared to the projection in the Fall 2015 forecast. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

Alaska: PFD filing deadline is March 31st - The March 31st deadline to apply for the 2016 Permanent Fund Dividend is just around the corner. Offices will be closed in observation of Seward’s Day, on Monday of that week, March 28th. Because the final days of filing are historically extremely busy days, people are highly encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible. Online submission is best according to the Alaska Department of Revenue.

If you are an Alaskan resident who has not yet filed a 2016 PFD application, go to www.pfd.alaska.gov to submit your online application or search for a paper application distribution site near you. Online applications must be completed before midnight, March 31st, 2016, Alaska Time. Paper applications must be received or postmarked by March 31st.

The PFD Division’s online system will take care of most PFD filing needs. All Alaskans who have internet access are encouraged to utilize www.pfd.alaska.gov to file. The online submission process is faster than a paper application, gives you a digital record of your submission, and can be tracked easily. This year, the average time to online file is 7 minutes. The Division of Revenue would like to remind you that signature pages (e-signatures or by paper) do not have to be submitted by the March 31st application deadline. At this time, if you are submitting a paper signature, the Division recommends that you submit those immediately after April 1st to avoid long lines at the office locations. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

Ketchikan: DISTRICT 36 REPUBLICANS HOLD 2016 CONVENTION - On Saturday, March 19, the Alaska District 36 Republican Party held it's 2016 District Convention, with more than 20 delegates in attendance.

The primary purpose of the convention was to: elect District Officer, elect State Delegates, propose Resolutions, and recommend revisions to the Alaska Republican Party Platform and Rules.

At the convention, District Chairman Trevor Shaw was unanimously reelected for a full two-year term. Shaw had previously assumed the Chairmanship in 2014 when Patti Mackey resigned to run for the Alaska State House. Trevor Shaw is currently serving as an elected member of the Ketchikan School Board, and at 20-years old, is the youngest Republican District Chair in the State of Alaska.

Also elected as District Officers were Ketchikan Borough Assembly Member Glen Thompson as Vice-Chair, Allison Brown as Secretary, and Ketchikan City Councilman Dick Coose as District Bonus Vote. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016


Alaska Science:
Coyotes are everywhere, even in Alaska By NED ROZELL - Recently, an email popped up in all the mailboxes of people with the Geophysical Institute: Someone saw what might have been a wolf on the trails north of the UAF campus. "Please be cautious if skiing in the area."

Coyotes are everywhere, even in Alaska

Fairbanks teacher Jim Lokken snapped this image of a coyote he has seen several times near University of Alaska Fairbanks ski trails.
Photo by Jim Lokken

A few people responded, saying they had seen one or two coyotes roaming the 1,000-plus acres of trails and frozen wetlands just north of campus buildings and roads.

UAF ski trail groomer Jason Garron has had several encounters, saying he believes the animal is a coyote that is "large and healthy looking." Kate Millburg saw a wolf or coyote while she was skiing that looked about "80 pounds, nicely furred and healthy." Rebecca Rolph has seen what she believes is a coyote in the same area while she was running and driving to work.

Biologists said coyotes were more likely what people saw on the university trails. Coyotes have been in Alaska since at least the early 1900s.

"People are always surprised to hear about coyotes, but they are certainly around," said Mike Taras, an expert tracker and outreach specialist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks.

Department biologists do not keep track of coyote numbers, but Fairbanks-area trapper Randy Zarnke said coyotes began showing up on his trapline trails three or four years ago.

"Now, all I have left is coyotes," he said. "Not sure if they ate all the other furbearers or just chased them away." - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: Plump Grumps Humping to Dump Trump - The "Stop Donald Trump" movement began as a gentle trickle within the Republican party. Now the number of GOP groups intent on preventing the New York real estate developer from becoming their presidential nominee is about to exceed broken March Madness brackets. Thanks, Michigan State.

There's the Never Trump Movement, the Anybody But Trump Group, Death Before Trump, Plump Grumps Humping to Dump Trump, the I'd Rather Chew Leeches Crew, People for Responsible Hair and a group opposed to anybody with "UMP" in their name.

Rumor has it a group of Hollywood conservatives tried to recruit Tom Hanks to team with Sally Field and create a Super Pac called Forrest Trump, whose motto would be "Don't run, Donald, don't run."

As excited as Trump's supporters are over his unorthodox candidacy, his detractors are equally passionate about its necessary demise. And with incumbent Senators, other down-ticket candidates and people who just enjoy a party, the Anti-Trump Express has gotten as crowded as the last free beer bus to the game.

Chances are folks would flock onboard faster if the welcoming committee wasn't hosted by Ted Cruz. To many Republicans, Trump versus Cruz is way beyond rock and a hard place. It's closer to rampaging rhinoceros and train wreck on fire.

Each rival group has separate concerns. The establishment elites are naturally wary of any candidate not beholden to their help and influence. Especially since when discussing their raison d'etre- tax cuts, Trump has been all over the map. All over a lot of maps. Not necessarily English-speaking maps.

Some worry he could permanently damage the party brand. Others disparage him as a bloated, bigoted, misogynistic, narcissistic oaf, but emphasize they are not opposed to other bloated, bigoted, misogynistic, narcissistic oafs from holding public office. It's mostly a one-time thing. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Brussels Attack

Editorial Cartoon: Brussels Attack
By Nate Beeler ©2016, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Alaska: Governor Lowers Flags in Honor of the Victims of the Brussels Attack - Governor Bill Walker today ordered all Alaska state flags to be lowered in honor of the victims of the attacks in Brussels, Belgium. This action follows a proclamation by President Barack Obama to lower all United States flags.

“There are no words to express how devastating the events in Brussels are today,” said Governor Walker. “Our hearts go out to all the people of Belgium. Alaska stands with you in solidarity at this dark time.” - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016


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letter RE: Donald Trump By Marvin Seibert - After reading some of the facts that Mary Lynne Dahl stated in her anti-Trump letter of March 19th I must point out some overlooked facts. - More..
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letterOIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM PART 1 By David G Hanger - By 1981 when the revenue agent stopped by he was pushing 80 strong, but still every year summer came around and off he and the wife were once again to the Yukon or the Klondike, where the nights are short and the legends long. And every year he would spend $50,000 to $80,000 on his mining operation, and every year he reported to the IRS -0- income, generating a massive loss that offset his wife’s and his other income sources, and got him a $10,000 to $15,000 a year refund. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter The Ortiz Citizen budget poll By A. M. Johnson - An open letter to Representative Dan Ortiz regarding his survey inquiry in today's mail on how to address the budget shortfall. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter The Ketchikan School District Needs to Stop Spending By Megan Heaton - There have been some comments made at the Ketchikan Borough Assembly meetings recently about how great the schools in Ketchikan use to be. Mainly there was the hot lunch program and a school nurse. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter ROADSIDE DAFFODILS By Jerry Cegelske - North end residents were treated to some roadside daffodils on Sunday and Monday morning as the Dixon Entrance Chapter of the Society of American Foresters did their regular cleanup of mile 6 of the North Tongass Highway Sunday morning. The Chapter regularly cleans their section of road every three months or so, collecting the accumulated trash and keeping their mile clean. Thank them for their dedication when you have the chance. They do a fantastic job keeping this area clean. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 22, 2016

letter Donald Trump By Mary Lynne Dahl - I have recently become concerned about some statements being made by Donald Trump in his bid for the US Presidential ticket. He has built a campaign on repeatedly claiming that “the US doesn’t win anymore”, “China and Japan are killing us on trade” and “Illegal immigrants are pouring over the border”. He has also said that he “cannot release his federal income tax return because it is being audited by the IRS”. Although I do not generally offer political comments during an election, I challenge the accuracy of these statements and feel compelled to comment on them as untrue. - More...
Saturday AM - March 19, 2016

letter Happy 6th Anniversary to the Affordable Care Act! By Susan Johnson - In terms of significance, the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 is often compared to the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The ACA grew out of advances in coverage provided by Medicare and Medicaid—in fact, President Teddy Roosevelt first proposed a national health insurance program in 1912! We celebrate over 100 years of healthcare progress in 2016. - More...
Saturday AM - March 19, 2016

letter Alaska PFD By Norma Lankerd - First of all, I do not like the idea of Governor Walker wanting to dig into the Permanent Fund to help bail out Alaska. He is acting like Mr. Obama, thinking money grows on trees, so spend, spend, spend. I myself say NO DO NOT TOUCH THE PERMANENT FUND, already pay out of it to run different parts of Alaska and the administration. - More...
Saturday AM - March 19, 2016

letter Ketchikan's Safe Home Service in Jeopardy By Gigi Pilcher - Never, in the 40 year history of WISH, has it been placed on probation. This is an extremely serious action taken by the State of Alaska and the membership is questioning how this happened and what is being done about it. Ketchikan's safe shelter and services that WISH has accepted public funds to provide are essential to helping victims of domestic violence become survivors. The continuation of these services are now in jeopardy. -More...
Tuesday AM - March 15, 2016

letter YOUR ALASKA DRIVER’S LICENSE AND THE REAL ID By Pamela Goode - My research began trying to determine if the DMV was actually using facial recognition software for the new Driver License (DL) photograph and if so, why? To me, this would be a violation of privacy rights if confirmed. Apparently, DMV chooses to call it “image verification” but it’s the same thing. Most people are not aware of this because DMV is deliberately not telling you, unless you ask. So what happens to the people who refuse to give them their facial biometric data? As of now, right or wrong, you don’t get a license. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 15, 2016

letter KGBSD Slush Fund? By Chris Elliott - Hate to be a nitpicker, but if Ms. O'Brien's letter is strictly her opinion and doesn't represent the opinion of the School Board, why does she identify herself as the President of the School Board? - More...
Tuesday AM - March 15, 2016

letter RE: Ketchikan School District's Budget Slush Fund By Michelle O'Brien - In regards to Ms. Moran’s latest letter to the Editor as it pertains to education funding in our community, I cannot let her latest diatribe go without comment. It can only be seen as her latest red herring swimming in a sea of others she has produced over the last several years. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 08, 2016

letter SAY NO TO ALL TAX INCREASES AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL By David G Hanger - “We’re going to fight one battle at a time,” Dan Ortiz and Governor Walker told us in unison at this meeting held last Monday night, and this statement was the biggest news item that came out of that meeting despite the fact that every media outlet missed it. The battle our Governor and State Representative have chosen to fight is to turn your wallet, my wallet, and everybody else’s wallet inside out; that is everybody’s wallet except the oil companies. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 08, 2016

letter Alaska should not look to a sector that’s drowning in red ink to solve its fiscal gap By Marc Langland and Jim Jansen - It was just 18 months ago that Alaskans voted for more oil production when they soundly rejected Ballot Measure 1, which sought to repeal SB 21, the More Alaska Production Act. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 08, 2016

letter Ketchikan Assembly's vote on sin tax By Laura Plenert - Regardless of Monday night’s vote on the additional cigarette taxes, I have one question. Will this publically elected group hear the words of the people (NO more sin taxes) and will they abide by it when we the people vote against it?? Or will they plow ahead like the Ketchikan City Council and declare those of us who vote – ignorant of what we want and think????? I’m pretty sure that if this gets to a vote of the people that the populace will again give the powers that be a resounding – STOP IT, get out of our lives. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 08, 2016

letter Reality recognized By A. M. Johnson - As it regards the current under consideration Ketchikan School District Budget, this presentation is offered with encouragement to the obvious diligence the school board has dedicated to the operating budget for 2016/17 year. The Board's diligence to complete their presentation for budget funding to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly in a very early manner indicates that the pain of prioritizing has been made and the education plan that requires funding has been accomplished. This in the face of the reported discord between the two bodies. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 08, 2016

letter KGBSD Slush Fund? By Chris Elliott - I'm waiting breathlessly for a response from someone on the Ketchikan School Board to Agnes Moran's letter. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 8, 2016

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

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