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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 13, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

This little Kingfisher made several dives and then flew up to this perch.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2019

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Alaska: Senators Introduce Bill to Create New Twelfth Circuit Court - A bill that would split the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest of the regional courts, has been introduced by U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Steve Daines (R-MT), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The the Judicial Efficiency Improvement Act of 2019, would codify the Judicial Conference’s most recent recommendations as well as other important measures to enhance the effectiveness of the federal judiciary. The legislation would authorize 56 permanent district court judgeships, convert eight temporary district court judgeships into permanent posts, and authorize five appellate court judgeships for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and create a new Twelfth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The Judicial Conference of the United States is the national policy-making body for the federal courts. It is comprised of the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the chief judge from each judicial circuit, the chief judge of the Court of International Trade, and a district judge from each regional circuit. Every two years, the Judicial Conference makes recommendations on judgeships.

“There are currently about sixty-five million Americans under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit – some thirty million more than the next largest circuit,” said Senator Sullivan. “Due to this enormous and enduring disparity, Americans in the West are losing faith in their access to justice, having to wait thirty percent longer to have their appeals resolved. This is unacceptable and all the more confounding, because Congress has a remedy for this problem that has been used numerous times throughout our history. It is time for members of Congress to end the delays and short-cuts that deny justice for millions of Americans, and finally approve these critical new judgeships and a new circuit court.” 

“For the sake of so many individuals seeking justice, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals needs to be split. As the largest of the regional courts, the Ninth Circuit Court faces a higher number of cases than any other in the country—so many that it is experiencing serious administrative difficulties, causing significant delays and often rendering it unable to properly serve those in need,” said Senator Murkowski. “This legislation would split the Ninth Circuit Court and create a Twelfth Circuit Court, allowing Alaska and other Western states to be served fairly and efficiently.” - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

Alaska: Landmark Public Lands Package Signed into Law By MARY KAUFFMAN - President Donald J. Trump signed a landmark public lands legislation into law Tuesday securing important wins for Alaska including provisions championed by Alaska's Delegation who were in attendance at the White House for the signing ceremony.

S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act, is bipartisan legislation containing more than 120 public lands, resources, sportsmen, conservation, and water management bills. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 92 to 8 on February 12, and the House passed it on February 26 by a vote of 363 to 62.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “I thank President Trump for signing our lands package into law. His effort to achieve energy dominance for our nation while simultaneously working with us to create a conservation legacy with this lands package exceeds the accomplishments of his recent predecessors.”

Murkowski said, “This law will benefit every state and clear the deck of issues that we’ve been working to resolve for years. From providing access for sportsmen to creating new economic opportunities for local communities, this is a good, balanced measure. We built it through a team effort that drew strong support from both parties in both chambers. Today is a triumph for good process and good policy, and this bill is a win for Alaskans and all Americans.”

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) also thanked President Donald J. Trump for signing the legislation which includes a version of Senator Sullivan’s Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act. This provision will allow several thousand Alaska Natives who served during the Vietnam era (or their heirs) to apply for their congressionally-promised Native allotment after they missed their initial opportunity to do so because of their service to the country.

Congressman Don Young, Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, joined his Alaska Delegation colleagues and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office at the White House for the signing ceremony. 

“Unlike most other states, the Federal Government largely owns and controls a majority of Alaska’s land. Since I arrived in Congress, I have been fighting to return control of our land to those who know and treasure it best: Alaskans,” said Congressman Don Young (R-AK). “I am pleased that this bill includes provisions that will allow Alaskans to develop energy on their lands and allows for greater exportation of Alaska timber. This bill also makes good on Congress’ promise of land allotments to our Alaska Native Vietnam Veterans. I applaud my friends on both sides of the aisle for making this legislation a reality, and I am grateful to President Trump for signing it into law.”

After attending the signing ceremony Tuesday, Senator Sullivan visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to deliver a message to Alaskans about this historic achievement for Alaska’s Native Vietnam veterans. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019


Alaska: Alaska Honors Five Tlingit Code Talkers for their Heroic Contributions in World War II; Alaska state flags flying at half-staff this week in their memory - Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer is leading the State of Alaska’s effort to honor the memory of five Alaska Natives for their heroic contributions to American victories in World War II. The five men, Robert “Jeff” David Sr., Richard Bean Sr., George Lewis Jr., Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs Jr. served as Tlingit Code Talkers, using their native language to communicate information during combat that the Japanese military was never able to decode.

“These men never discussed their top-secret role, even decades after the war ended, in liberating millions of people and saving the lives of countless American soldiers,” said Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer. “Alaska state flags will fly at half-staff for five days starting Monday, one day for each of these five outstanding American heroes.” - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

Alaska: Alaska First State to Finalize On-site Marijuana Consumption Rules By MARY KAUFFMAN - Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) signed new regulations into law on Tuesday, making Alaska the first state to authorize on-site consumption for adults 21 and over who buy regulated and taxed cannabis from licensed Alaska storefront dispensaries.

Lt. Gov. Meyer's signature was simply a formality following the Alaska Marijuana Control Board's approval in December. A memo from the Alaska Department of Law said no legal problems were found with the rules approved by marijuana regulators of where and how onsite consumption could take place.

Under the new rules, which take effect April 11, licensed cannabis retailers may apply with state regulators for an additional “on-site consumption endorsement.” Local governments can challenge the applications in certain instances, or initiate a municipal vote to limit onsite activities.

“When these rules go into effect, Alaska will be the first state to finalize and approve statewide rules for on-site consumption. We expect more to follow suit in the not too distant future,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Allowing social consumption is sensible from a business perspective, particularly for states with large amounts of tourists who otherwise have no place to legally consume, but it also has an important social justice component.” - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

Southeast Alaska: 2019 TRADITIONAL GAMES TO KICK OFF THIS WEEK; Event marks first time region to hold statewide indigenous sports event - Nearly a hundred athletes from Alaska and Canada are expected to compete in the 2019 Traditional Games in Juneau this week, marking the first time Southeast Alaska has hosted a statewide indigenous sports event.

Local athletes will vie to qualify for Team Juneau to compete in the statewide Native Youth Olympics Games Alaska (NYO), scheduled April 25-27 in Anchorage. The games are based on ancient hunting and survival skills that allowed Indigenous people to survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of Alaska and across the Arctic.

Athletes from Hoonah, Ketchikan, Metlakatla, Yakutat, Bethel, Utqiagvik, Whitehorse and Northern Arizona University also will compete in Juneau.

The 2019 Traditional Games are scheduled from 9 AM - 4 PM, March 16-17, at Thunder Mountain High School, and the competition is open to everyone - Native and non Native - age 11 and older. Spectators are invited and appreciated. The event will include an art market.

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and other sponsors first helped to organize a team in Juneau in 2017, and in 2018, the city was represented at the NYO Games Alaska for the first time in almost 30 years. Since then, the number of Juneau students participating in the NYO has nearly doubled. An estimated 100 athletes are expected to compete in Juneau’s traditional games - 60 from Juneau and 40 from outside the city - compared to 54 athletes last year. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019


Analysis: College cheating scandal shows why elite colleges should use a lottery to admit students By NATASHA WARIKOO - Many Americans are outraged by the college admission scandal revealed by the FBI on March 12. The scandal involves celebrities and wealthy investors who allegedly bought their children’s way onto college sports teams and cheated to improve their children’s SAT and ACT scores. Of course, the regular college admissions system also favors the children of wealthy families when it comes to elite colleges.

As an expert on college admissions, I’d like to suggest a simple solution that would make the process more fair: an admissions lottery.

The lottery I envision would involve applicants who meet a certain academic threshold and help universities admit students in a more equitable way. An admissions lottery would accomplish two important goals.

1. Acknowledge the advantage for the wealthy

The most fair thing elite colleges can do is to acknowledge that selection inevitably favors those with resources. Indeed, the more selective colleges are, the more privileged the students admitted are.

An admission lottery would send a clear message that admission is significantly based on chance, not just merit. Even the extensive analyses by top economists both for and against Harvard in an affirmative action lawsuit against the school could not predict the admissions outcomes of one in four applicants. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

Analysis: College admission scandal grew out of a system that was ripe for corruption By RICK ECKSTEIN - As part of the “Operation Varsity Blues” case that federal prosecutors announced March 12, dozens of people – including Hollywood actresses and wealthy businessmen – stand accused of having bought their children’s way into elite colleges and universities.

As a researcher who has studied how young athletes get admitted to college, I don’t see a major difference between this admission fraud case and how many wealthy families can buy their children’s way into elite colleges through “back” and “side” doors.

In my research, I show how most intercollegiate sports are fed by wildly expensive “pay to play” youth sports pipelines. These pipelines systematically exclude lower income families. It takes money to attend so-called “showcase tournaments” to get in front of recruiters.

In many ways, then, those ensnared in the current criminal case – which alleges that they paid for their children to get spots on the sports teams of big name schools – couldn’t have succeeded if the college admissions process wasn’t already biased toward wealthier families.

Bypassing the front door

Even if college sports is taken out of the equation, the college admissions process already favors wealthy families in a variety of ways.

It has long been known that higher family income usually correlates with higher standardized test scores. There are many test prep companies, including some that guarantee higher scores for approximately US$1,000. Taking advantage of test prep may not be “fraud.” But it certainly provides advantages to the wealthy that have little to do with academic merit. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019



DANNY TYREE: Are You Ready for A Cashless Society? - Cash is king - but here comes the guillotine!

I've heard numerous stories about pennies and nickels costing more to mint than they're worth. But I didn't realize the extent to which debit cards, apps and other technological innovations have made paper money an endangered commodity.

It's so bad that the city of Philadelphia recently passed a law forcing stores (with a few arbitrary exceptions) to accept cash. A similar bill in New Jersey is awaiting the governor's signature.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that cash is fighting for its life. Now that I think about it, a couple of years ago, I did hear some social justice warrior on TV bellowing, "Hey, didn't the Confederates have paper money? Let's pour mint juleps on all the presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and set them on fire!"

Ironically, merchant disdain for paper currency accelerates just as we're on the verge of having Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill. Someone will have to scramble to get around this subtle racism. ("Insert card, tap, sign...then sing three spirituals...") - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019


RICH MANIERI: College Cheating Scandal Reveals Bad Parenting at its Worst - Bribing your way into college. Who would have thought?

It would have been a way around my rather pedestrian exam scores. My old man did threaten to put a horse's head in the beds of several admissions officers but, fortunately, the good folks at Villanova University saw their way clear to let me in before my father went all Vito Corleone.

I do wonder what would have become of me had I attended, say Harvard or Stanford. I dream. I dream. Perhaps I would have been secretary of state, or the president of a big company, or a college professor with a column. 

I realize I wouldn't make it farther than the parking lot of either institution in today's hyper-competitive climate in which parents are willing to do just about anything to make sure their children have a meaningful college experience.

Earlier this week, we learned what "anything" might entail.

An FBI investigation revealed a massive college admissions scam in which parents paid a consultant millions to get their kids into some of the country's most prestigious universities by any means necessary - bribing entrance exam administrators, paying off people to take tests for their students, phony resumes, doctored exam scores, bribing coaches to say kids were athletes when they weren't and more. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Boeing 737 Grounded

Political Cartoon: Boeing 737 Grounded
By Gary McCoy ©2019, Shiloh, IL
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

Open Letter: Live Within Means By Byron Whitesides - We have known this time was coming for years, but our legislative leadership has failed to prepare for it, bringing us to this disaster, with no rational, SUSTAINABLE, way out but to cut the size of government, and live within our means.

First, I adamantly oppose ANY use of the permanent fund, without first having a vote of the PEOPLE who own this fund, to approve ANY proposed changes, or USES, to it.  I also favor a constitutional amendment to PROTECT this fund from the greedy lawmakers who got us into this current mess,  by continuing the unsustainable GOVERNMENT spending and policies and not cutting back quickly when the oil revenues dropped! These lawmakers have always wanted to get their fingers in this fund, and it must not be allowed unless the PEOPLE of the state approve by a BALLOT!  I remember probably 20 years or so back, one of the representatives from southeast Alaska telling the legislature to "pay off the citizens $25,000 lump sum, and do away with the perm fund", when they wanted to raid it then instead of cutting back!

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF TO GIVE THE PEOPLE THEIR VOICE BY A VOTE?  If you already know your proposals to use this fund will be voted down, then you are not REPRESENTING the people, as you swore  to do, but  instead representiing the SPECIAL  INTERESTS! I feel that if our legislature is allowed to tap into the permanent fund, it will shortly disappear, just as all those oil royalties have disappeared! - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Open Letter to the Ketchikan School Board By John Harrington - I am here to talk about the Edwards' Mess. With the plea agreement, Mr. Edwards part in the mess has reached a conclusion.

Now it is time to shift attention back to the school district. When I first wrote a letter to Sitnews, I was hoping others would write and continue the public discussion. Thankfully, Gigi wrote a letter; she was a lot blunter than I was.

When I wrote my letter to Sitnews, I did so with the assumption that there was no notification to authorities on any of the situations you had investigated. If I am wrong, please correct me.The regulations were and are clear about notification. Notification to legal authorities was deemed unneeded. Back to the letter.
The response to my letter was not what I expected. Several conversations took place. Some with former School District employees. And another from another outside professional who has contact with District employees. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Budget and education By A. M. Johnson - Resolutions aside, the proposed Dunlevy budget pertaining to education, two points.

First point: Where was the university system prior t othe oil bonanza? Size it to that level. Re-institute local community colleges where fiscally possible. The current university system even with good days and dollars, has by some accounts been funded beyond the boundaries of fair and equable.

Second point: Seems no elected body recognizes the anticipated employment loss with unemployed wage earning families exiting the state seeking employment who will pull their children from their local schools.

Water seeks its own level. The individual school district student count will generate the same State formula funding andthe organized borough funding will retain their state mandated participation of local 100% property tax funding-plus. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Sealaska shareholders need Congressional Intervention By Dominic Salvato - 75 million dollars paid to a handful of people collecting it year in and year out over a ten year period. Paid by thousands of shareholders barely surviving. 

With no end in sight!

The majority of the board is appointed.Their loyalty is to each other, not the shareholders. That fact alone is corrupt. 

It sickens me at 71 years old, to think our young native people will only take the place of their parents for another 50 years. With they're noses pressed against the glass, outside looking in at the wealth meant for them. As a corrupt corporations executives rob our people of our natural resources and dignity.  - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Ketchikan has been hornswoggled By Mark O'Brien - My brothers and I used to get a kick out of watching Saturday morning Looney Tunes cartoons and always looked forward to seeing Yosemite Sam. Hearing him say, “Dagnabbit! Ah been, I say, Ah been hornswoggled” after Bugs Bunny slipped away always brought a laugh. Now, watching the Edwards’ case play out in our school district, I have new-found empathy for Yosemite Sam’s predicament; and it is not laughable. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

jpg Opinion

Funding & the Future of AMHS By A.M.Johnson
- The following has been submitted to Representative Ortiz regarding the funding and future of our Alaska Marine Highway. I'd recommend that those who hold strong feelings or suggestions, be they contrary or debatable, be submitted to Representative Ortiz. He will accept all forms of input. He has asked for our assistance on this budget item, accommodate him. - More...
Sunday PM - March 10, 2019

jpg Opinion

Alaskans deserve a fair chance to weigh in on Pebble Mine By Rep. Andrew Josephson - Twenty members of the Alaska House of Representatives signed a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting an extension of the deadline for Alaskans to weigh in on the Pebble Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 05, 2019

jpg Opinion

Conserving Electricity By Judith Green - Would it help our present Lack of Precipitation if all neon signs were turned off during daylight hours? - End...
Tuesday PM - March 05, 2019

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