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April 06, 2023

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Ketchikan Historical: The Future Moved South in the late 1890s; Early Ketchikan was boosted when several prominent Wrangell business people relocated By DAVE KIFFER - For recent generations, Wrangell has been Ketchikan's smaller neighbor to the north, even though "The Gateway to the Stikine" has a much longer history, having been a Russian outpost and a Hudson's Bay Company settlement going back to the 1830s.

It even played a significant role in the founding and growth of Ketchikan when several prominent Wrangellites moved South in the early 1900s because they believed Ketchikan had a better mining future than Wrangell.

One of those intrepid early entrepreneurs was Forest Hunt, who had originally come north from Seattle in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Hunt didn't make it to the Yukon goldfields, instead settling in Wrangell which was the gateway to other gold fields in the "Stickeen" country in northern British Columbia.

Three decades later, Hunt recounted his arrrival in Alaska in a radio address on KGBU, Ketchikan's first radio station, in 1930. A 10-page script of that address is at the Tongass Historical Museum.

Hunt remembered being on the steamship "Rosalie" which stopped in Metlakatla - which impressed him with its development - and Ketchikan - which did not. In 1898, he noted, Ketchikan was "very insignificant" compared to Metlakatla.

"It was simply a frontier trading post or fishing center, without streets or organization," Hunt said about Ketchikan, noting that he preferred to try his luck in Wrangell, which was booming at the time and had a population he estimated at 5,000.

"At this time Wrangell was a congested, busy place, a city of upwards of 5,000 frenzied people housed mostly in tents, but cheap frame structures were going up all around and work being pushed on three different wharves and warehouses," Hunt remembered in 1930. "Hammers were being wielded night and day and the constant tramp, tramp, tramp resounded on the rickety sidewalks constantly."

But there was a cloud on the horizon for Wrangell.

Canada, Great Britain and the United States were locked in a lengthy argument over where the border should be drawn between Alaska and British Columbia. Some of the proposals even had Wrangell and the mouth of the Stikine ending up in Canada. It would be several years before a boundary commission would establish the current boundaries in 1903.

Initially, Hunt did what many people in mining communities do: He mined the miners. He decided he could make more money selling mining gear than looking for gold. His family soon joined him and his wife Harriet opened the Blue Front Cafe. But rumors of new gold strikes to the south were percolating in Wrangell even as some of the bonanzas up the Stikine were starting to peter out.

Two of the more significant prospects in the Ketchikan area were in Helm Bay on the mainland across Behm Canal from the Clover Pass area of Revillagigedo Island and Sealevel which which was in Thorne Arm on Revilla south of Ketchikan. There were also promising areas on Prince of Wales Island, particularly on the east side of the island at Dolomi and Niblack.

"The Sea Level Mine was owned by Seattle parties and interest was aroused to such an extent that the homestead of Mike Martin, which encompassed the townsite of Ketchikan, was sold to Seattle parties who organized the Ketchikan Improvement Company and surveyed the first plat of (in Ketchikan) here in the fall of 1898," Hunt remembered in 1930.

One of Hunt's fellow Wrangell businessmen, H.C. Strong was a member of the Ketchikan Improvement Company and also formed Strong and Johnson, a company that purchased the Martin and Clark store, which was the primary store in early Ketchikan. Strong and Johnson would eventually become Tongass Trading Company.

Strong was also named postmaster of Ketchikan, according to Hunt, and would play a large role in the community efforts to get the federal government to relocate the US Customs Station from Mary Island to Ketchikan in 1902. When Ketchikan obtained the customs office and became the official first stop for vessels coming into Alaska, it gave Ketchikan a leg up on Loring, a slightly larger community 20 miles north of Ketchikan, and Ketchikan went on to become the dominant town in the region.

The next year, 1899, became an important year for Ketchikan, as several other Wrangell business leaders decamped for Ketchikan. Many of them became early community leaders including Charles Ingersoll, Cas Deppe, W. J. Broderick, J. H. Garrett, N.G. Zimmermen and I.G. Pruell. Along with J.R. Heckman who relocated from Loring to Ketchikan, they became the center of most of the business activity in the suddenly burgeoning community, according to Hunt.

Hunt would join the Wrangell rush to Ketchikan in 1900.

"On March 9th, 1900, I landed in this embryonic city and, finding myself disappointed in securing the location which I expected to occupy, after a diligent effort to secure a proper location for my business of meat market, fruits and vegetables, I made a second determined attack upon Mr. Bryant, manager of J. R. Heckman and Co. for a space on their platform on Dock Street, now occupied by a portion of the hardware store of Heckman, Carrington and Co. which was granted and on which I pitched my 14x20 tent where I did business until the first of July when I rented the building now occupied by McDonald's Confectionary, on Front Street," Hunt remembered in 1930.

Hunt also had his eye on another local townsite that also was being promoted in 1899. The town of Revilla in Ward Cove.

"I will state here that I came to Ketchikan from Wrangell during the previous February to investigate the situation and, at that time ex-Gov. A. P. Swineford and a man by the name of Harper had platted a town site at Ward Cove which was being agitated as the coming city, the better harbor facilities being urged in its favor, and the Pacific Coast Steamship Co. was induced to construct a wharf there during that spring," Hunt remembered three decades later. "I invested $15.00 in a lot there and quite a little activity was manifest during the early part of 1900; a store, sawmill and saloon were established at, what was then called Revilla and strong efforts were made for the removal of the custom house to Revilla, but the influence of Ketchikan overcame it and when the custom house came here the competition ended in favor of Ketchikan."

Although Revilla failed as a new community, Eugene Wacker homesteaded in Ward Cove several years later and the town of "Wacker City" eventually rose up with a small store, a post office and school that existed until the creation of the Ketchikan Pulp Mill in the early 1950s. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023

Whale Pass Timber Sale Plan Released With No Changes

Whale Pass Timber Sale Plan Released With No Significant Changes
A ribbon marks a tree in the Prince of Wales Island town of Whale Pass.
Photo courtesy of Maranda Hamme, SEACC

Southeast Alaska: Whale Pass Timber Sale Plan Released With No Significant Changes - According to the final Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) for the Whale Pass Timber Sale released yesterday, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Forestry and Fire Protection have made no significant changes - no additional buffer zone above houses and no forbearance in terms of logging outside Southeast State Forest lands. This despite overwhelming opposition to this timber sale says the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

Quoting a news release from the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), this means the FLUP was released without consideration of the community of Whale Pass and how those living directly below the sale will be affected despite outcries from residents, Whale Pass Mayor Dawn Waldal-Anderson, and newly formed advocacy groups like Friends of Whale Pass. Currently, there is a tight 100-foot buffer zone between the clearcut sale area and resident property lines. What’s more, this sale - and other recently announced, old-growth sales like it including El Capitan Timber Sale — will affect tourism to the area, subsistence hunting, and quality of life for the residents of Whale Pass and Prince of Wales Island.

“The state's lack of empathy towards Whale Pass residents directly affected by the sale is apparent and disappointing,” says James Greeley, Whale Pass resident, member of Friends of Whale Pass, and The City of Whale Pass Councilmember. “They continue to plan on zero changes to property buffers and the dangerous and destructive use of cable logging directly above residential homes.”

“I am disappointed and frustrated by this decision, especially in terms of the potential to include Southeast State Forest and other state-managed lands in carbon storage programs. These parcels would add huge value to the pilot projects described in the Governor’s carbon bills,” says Katie Rooks, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council’s Policy Analyst. “Additionally, it is clear to me now that the Division of Forestry does not care about the Alaskans it harms with timber sales on public land; it seems obvious that the DOF cares only about extremely minimal and short-term benefits to the timber industry.” - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023

Alaska: 2023 Studded Tire Removal Deadline Extended; Winter Driving Conditions Warrant Extended Studded Tire Use - Yesterday, Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell issued an emergency order extending the statutory deadline to remove studded tires from vehicles operating on Alaska roadways. Due to extended winter weather conditions across much of the state, the order was issued to ease the burden of Alaskans and ensure drivers can safely operate their vehicles during the extended winter season.

“Much of Alaska is experiencing prolonged winter weather after a heavy snow winter that has extended the ice season well into April,” said Commissioner Jim Cockrell. “This 15-day extension for the studded tire removal deadline will provide additional time to switch to regular tires without compromising safety.”

Alaskans living below the 60 North Latitude line, including Southeast, the Aleutian Chain, Southwest Alaska, Southern Kenai Peninsula, and Kodiak, may use studded tires on Alaska roadways until May 1, 2023.

Alaskans living above the 60 North Latitude line, including all portions of the Sterling Highway, may use studded tires on Alaska roadways until May 15, 2023. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023


Alaska: Willow Project Construction Begins, U.S. District Court Judge Denies Environmentalists’ Initial Efforts to Halt Project Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - A federal judge on Monday ruled in favor of ConocoPhillips by denying a motion for preliminary injunction brought by environmental groups as part of a March 15, 2023  lawsuit challenging the Willow project in Alaska’s Western Arctic. The ruling allows construction activities planned for the remaining three weeks of the construction season, including constructing roads and a gravel mine as a first step toward developing a the oil-extraction operation.

The U.S. District Court Judge denied initial attempts by environmental groups to halt the Willow Project concluding that the balance of the equities and the public interest tip sharply against preliminary injunctive relief for the plaintiffs. Construction activities, including gravel work, were expected to begin on Willow Tuesday.

U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (both R-Alaska), and Representative Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska), on Monday welcomed the federal judge’s decision denying a preliminary injunction requested by Lower 48 environmental groups against Alaska’s Willow Project in the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPR-A). The Willow Project was reapproved by the Biden administration on March 13, 2023 after years of litigation and environmental review, and following a united statewide push from Alaskans. On March 24, the Alaska congressional delegation submitted an amicus brief in the case that was joined by both bodies of the Alaska Legislature. The judge cited the delegation’s amicus, as well as the Alaska Legislature’s unanimous resolution in support of Willow, in Monday’s ruling against the injunction.

“The ruling on the Willow Project [Monday] is a critical win for Alaska’s prosperity and future,” said Sen. Sullivan. “It was heartening to see how much weight the court gave to both the congressional amicus brief, which I was honored to lead and which the Alaska Legislature joined, and the Alaska Legislature’s unanimous resolution in support of Willow, which I handed to President Biden recently in the Oval Office. The court said that this demonstration of unanimous support from Alaska’s elected officials ‘tips strongly against’ efforts by Lower 48 radical NGOs to halt the Willow Project. Today’s ruling will likely face further frivolous legal challenges by these same Lower 48 radical groups who want to impoverish our state and our citizens. But we are prepared to defend the court’s most recent decision, including before the Ninth Circuit, and the future prosperity of Alaska for as long as it takes. When Alaskans are united, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. I want to thank the thousands of Alaskans from all backgrounds and corners of the state, as well as members of the Alaska Legislature, who spoke up with one voice in support of this project. This made a consequential difference. In particular, this is a win for Alaskans who live on the North Slope, whose ancestors have inhabited the lands closest to this project for thousands of years, and who bravely spoke out in support of the Willow Project.”

“This is good news as ConocoPhillips is moving forward, putting Alaskans to work on Willow,” said Sen. Murkowski, “While it is unfortunate that a responsible development project is being forced to fight through litigation every step of the way, I appreciate the court’s quick ruling to deny a preliminary injunction and let the project continue.”

“I am grateful that the court has recognized the fact that Willow is a well-planned and beneficial project for Alaska and the nation, and that this most recent lawsuit should not be allowed to overrule the wishes of Alaskans and the President while it is being litigated,” said Rep. Peltola.

Peitola said, “With this decision, the court acknowledges the years that the Willow Project has already spent under extensive litigation and environmental review, the approval of multiple levels of government, and the strong support for the project from the majority of affected Alaska Native groups. It’s finally time for Alaskans to get to work, and I look forward to seeing construction begin as we await the final resolution of this case.”

“This Court order validates Alaska’s high standards for the environment when it comes to oil production. It is also responsive to the unifying bilateral support demonstrated in our Alaska Legislature and from our Congressional Delegation, said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. "Alaskans understand that Willow will reinvigorate the Alaska economy with jobs, billions in State and local taxes and grants to North Slope communities.”

If Willow proceeds and produces according to projections, up to $4 billion is estimated to go into a development impact mitigation fund for grants for Alaska residents living near the development.

Up to 2,500 construction jobs and some 300 permanent jobs are projected to be created from Willow.

“It is heartening to hear that the Willow project can move forward, while we have to continue fighting this lawsuit. This will mean progress and jobs for Alaskans,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor.

The Willow Project is an oil development, estimated to produce more than 600 million barrels over 30 years and is described as the largest project in size and scale to be developed on the North Slope in more than 20 years. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023

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Alaska Budget: Alaska House budget debates stall over plan to use savings for one-time school funding boost... Click here to read this ADN Article By Sean Maguire, Iris Samuels
Anchorage Daily News 04/06/23

Alaska: Legislation Introduced Creating the Alaska Energy Independence Fund - Yesterday morning, Governor Mike Dunleavy introduced legislation creating the Alaska Energy Independence Fund to increase Alaska’s energy independence and security.

Senate Bill 125 and House Bill 154 will allow the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) to create a nonprofit subsidiary that will provide financing for sustainable energy development projects in Alaska. Examples of sustainable energy development projects include renewable energy generation, energy storage, energy efficiency improvements for commercial and residential buildings, electrical infrastructure projects, clean transportation, and other greenhouse gas emissions reduction, energy efficiency, and zero-emission technology projects.

It also permits AHFC to create a non-profit subsidiary to provide direct or indirect financing and technical assistance for sustainable energy development projects in the state. Direct financing would include loans or capital provided to individuals or companies for specific sustainable energy development projects. The AHFC non-profit subsidiary would also indirectly invest by providing financial and technical assistance to new or existing public, quasi-public, or non-profit entities that finance sustainable energy development in the state. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023

Alaska: Resolution Filed To Impose Term Limits for Congress - The Alaska State House has filed House Joint Resolution (HJR1), for term limits on Congress. This puts Congress on notice that Alaska intends to participate in an amendment proposal convention. The single-issue convention specifies limiting the terms a member of Congress may hold office.

Alaska House Joint Resolution (HJR1) requeststhe United States Congress to call a convention of the states to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to set a limit on the number of terms that a person may be elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives and as a member of the United States Senate; and urging the legislatures of the other 49 states to request the United States Congress to call a convention of the states.

Alaska House Joint Resolution (HJR1) is spearheaded by U.S. Term Limits (U.S.T.L.), the only national nonprofit focused solely on term limits. HJR13 is being sponsored by Reps. Tom McKay (R-Anchorage) and Frank Tomaszewski (R-Fairbanks).  According to, there are four Alaska state lawmakers in the current legislature who have committed their support to this resolution by signing the term limits pledge.

Philip Blumel, the president of U.S.T.L [U.S. Term Limits] commended Reps. McKay and Tomaszewski for working on this important electoral reform. Blumel said, “The people of Alaska are lucky to have public servants who see what is going on in D.C. and are willing to take action to fix it. By using Article V to term limit Congress, the states can restore citizen representation on Capitol Hill.” - More..
Thursday - April 06, 2023


Alaska: Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections for 2023 Alaska Salmon Fisheries and Review of the 2022 Season Published - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announces publication of the annual statewide salmon run forecast and commercial harvest projection report: Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections for 2023 Alaska Salmon Fisheries and Review of the 2022 Season. 

The Alaska all-species salmon harvest for 2022 totaled over 163.2 million fish. Almost half of this harvest was composed of sockeye salmon (75.5 million fish), followed by pink salmon (69.5 million fish). Most of the 2022 pink salmon harvest occurred in the Central and Westward regions, and Bristol Bay continued to be the largest sockeye salmon producing region in Alaska.

The 2023 commercial salmon harvest forecast is for 122 million pink salmon, 48 million sockeye salmon, 16 million chum salmon, and 3 million coho salmon. If realized, the forecasted 2023 total Alaska commercial salmon harvest will be approximately 189 million fish. More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023

Washington: Legislation to Improve Senior Economic Security and End Age Discrimination in the Workplace Introduced - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, in introducing the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA), legislation to support senior economic security across the Nation, including protections from workplace age discrimination. 

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (POWADA) would level the playing field for older workers and restore safeguards against age-based discrimination. POWADA would restore critical protections in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and make it easier for employees to prove when they are a victim of age discrimination in the workplace. Older workers are currently required to meet a significantly higher burden of proof when alleging age discrimination than is required of workers alleging other forms of workplace discrimination.

“Older Americans are important members of our communities, and they deserve to age knowing their rights are supported in the workplace,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski“This bipartisan effort will ensure that older Americans have critically needed protections to ensure they aren’t victims of age discrimination. Too many older Alaskans have faced uncertainty and wrongful discrimination due to their age—so I’m proud to be part of this effort that supports those who do so much for our workplaces and communities.” - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023

Southwest Alaska Tribes Sue in Federal Court to Halt the Donlin Gold Mine

Southwest Alaska Tribes Sue in Federal Court to Halt the Donlin Gold Mine
The Donlin open pit gold mine being develop in Alaska.
Photo courtesy Novagold


Alaska: Southwest Alaska Tribes Sue in Federal Court to Halt the Donlin Gold Mine - Three Tribes in the Kuskokwim River region of Southwest Alaska, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, April 5, 2023,  challenging the Donlin Gold Mine, a project that would be the largest pure gold mine in the world.  

Donlin Gold LLC, owned by the mining giants NovaGold and Barrick Gold Corporation, plans to build the massive open pit mine 10 miles north of the Kuskokwim River and the village of Crooked Creek next to a salmon spawning stream that flows into the Kuskokwim River.  

As in the fight over the proposed Pebble Mine in the nearby Bristol Bay watershed that was vetoed in January by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta residents are concerned the Donlin mine would harm their ecosystem, along with salmon and other fish and wildlife they depend on for food and their traditional ways of life. The Tribes suing to halt the proposed project are Orutsararmiut Native Council, Tuluksak Native Council and the Organized Village of Kwethluk.  

Citing three fundamental flaws in the environmental and subsistence analyses and authorizations for the project, the lawsuit challenges key authorizations of the massive open pit mine including a federal permit allowing thousands of acres of wetlands to be filled and a federal authorization granting access across federal lands for a 316-mile pipeline from Cook Inlet to the mine site. The project as approved should be halted, the Tribes argue, because it is too risky and does not protect human health and subsistence uses. 

The Tribes are requesting that the court invalidate these federal authorizations.  Should Donlin wish to proceed, federal agencies would need to look more carefully at the project’s anticipated harms. The Corps would also need to impose requirements that prevent predicted adverse impacts to Kuskokwim River rainbow smelt.  

Those who live downstream and are opposed to the mine view it as a looming threat to the health, culture, traditional ways of life and food security in the region. Tribes are concerned about the risk of a tailings dam failure, the potential loss of rainbow smelt in the Kuskokwim River, human health impacts, mercury contamination in surrounding waters, dewatering of salmon streams, and more. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023




Columns - Commentary


PETER ROFF: ARE THE REGULATORY BURDENS WE PUT ON BUSINESSES WORTH IT? - It’s budget time again – and the one President Joe Biden proposed is a beaut!

Biden’s budget proposal is the kind of thing only a progressive could get enthused about it. It grows the executive branch’s regulatory power, takes total yearly spending to nearly $10 trillion by 2033 (up from just over $6 trillion now, post-Covid), and depends on increased regulatory enforcement actions to bring additional revenue in.

That last idea is especially bad. Biden ran for the nomination as the moderate alternative to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but he’s governing as Sanders would have. The federal government’s capacity to print and borrow money is just about infinite, so there’s little to stop his planned growth in government from happening.

You can blame the politicians all you want. What they’re doing, Democrats and Republicans alike, reflects what they believe are the wishes of the people who put them in office. And they, just in case it’s not clear, are us.

It’s often said Americans want more government than they’ll pay for. That’s not quite true. What we want is the illusion of safety and security and to be protected from the adverse consequences of bad choices without having to consider the costs. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023


TOM PURCELL: HEY, MEDICARE, I’M COUNTING ON YOU -  will qualify for Medicare coverage in five years and, much to my surprise, I can’t wait to get government health coverage — because my current coverage is pricey.

I recently finished a consulting assignment, which provided me full health benefits. To maintain my health insurance policy through Cobra, I must pay $750 a month.

I also have to cover the first $3,300 of costs before full coverage kicks in.

That means that if I go to the hospital with a bad flu — which I did for the first time in my life recently — I’ll receive a giant bill to pay for my deductible.

My total health care costs for the year, give or take, would be $13,000 — almost $1,100 per month.

Considering my current costs, Medicare coverage is a bargain.

Medicare became law in 1965 and is now offered in four parts to Americans over the age of 65:

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care and some home health care. Most people do not pay a premium for Part A, as they paid into the program for years as taxpayers. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Financial tips for blended families Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - Becoming part of a blended family can certainly be rewarding. Of course, as is the case in all families, there will be challenges, one of which is financial. A blended family must deal with some specific financial issues, so it’s a good idea to become familiar with them.

In particular, consider these areas:

• Separate or joint accounts? – Should your two family units combine all your finances or maintain separate accounts? There’s no one correct answer for everyone, because this issue has emotional and psychological components to it, as well as financial considerations. But the nature of your new, blended family might guide you to a choice that makes sense for your situation.

So, for example, if you are remarrying at a later stage in life, and you and your new spouse have adult children, you might think the best move is to keep separate accounts. But if you are joining households with a spouse or partner with younger children, you may want to merge accounts to pay for household expenses and work toward your new, shared financial objectives. And it doesn’t have to be an “either-or” approach — you might decide to blend some accounts and keep others separate. - More...
Thursday - April 06, 2023


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Student-centered funding could fix Alaska’s education outcomes By Sarah Montalbano - Total spending per Alaska K-12 student was more than $18,000 in 2020 — 35% more than the national average, and that doesn’t count millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief and some other related funds.

That might be alright if the state was seeing dramatic improvement in educational outcomes; after all, a decent education doesn’t necessarily come cheap. But we’re not getting the outcomes we’re paying for: Our state is at the bottom of the nation in reading and math. Increasing education spending without demanding improvements in outcomes would be a mistake.

Alaska’s fourth graders were 49th nationwide in reading on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. Fourth graders are 15 months behind the national average in reading and only one in four are reading at grade level. Mathematics is a similar story: Alaskan fourth graders have lost six months of learning since the 2019 NAEP and are a year behind the national average.

It’s tempting to blame this situation on pandemic school closures, and while those certainly didn’t help, the situation has been dismal for a long time. Alaska has ranked within the bottom 10 states on fourth-grade reading since 2003.

Increased spending is being treated as a cure-all for Alaska’s education system. The Alaska Association of School Boards, or AASB, is pressing the Legislature to raise the base student allocation, aka BSA, by at least $860 per student. The Senate Education Committee has introduced a bill to increase the BSA from $5,960 to $6,960. This $1,000 increase would be multiplied by a district’s average daily membership and weighted for students with special needs and students in rural areas. The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee estimates a total increase of $257 million in state funding in 2024 if the BSA were raised by $1,000.

Throwing more money at Alaska’s dismal educational outcomes sounds nice until one considers that increases in funding are often funneled into administrative and support staff, not teachers. Alaska’s expenditures on education rose by almost one-third between 2002 and 2020 after adjusting for inflation. Revenues from federal sources increased by 7% and local sources increased by 12% — while state revenues increased by 50%.

Where did that money go? It wasn’t to teachers in the classroom: Per-pupil spending on instructional salaries increased by a minuscule 1% between 2002 and 2020. The number of teaching staff declined by about 7% from 2002 to 2019. At the same time, per-pupil spending on school and general administrator salaries increased by 42% and 18%, respectively. In line with this increase, the number of non-teachers increased by 5% statewide from 2002 to 2019. - More...
Monday - March 27, 2023

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Environmental Emperors With No Clothes.  By Ray Metcalfe - Just before President Biden approved the Willow Project, a couple of environmentalists and an oil industry representative debated the pros and cons of the project on KSKA Public Radio.

The environmentalists complained that the production and combustion of all that oil would release about 239 million metric tons of climate pollution over 30 years. While true, here is the thing: According to a Greenpeace Canada publication, published 17 May, 2021, "The amount of climate-polluting greenhouse gases emitted per barrel of Canada’s Tar Sands oil can be 30% higher than conventional oil." (310 million metric tons for the same amount over time.) Willow is low sulfur light conventional oil. Bottom line: -- Oil remaining in the Canadian tar sands will never run out. Canadian tar sand oil will fill any market demand we don’t fill with lighter oil. Weaning ourselves off of our fossil fuel addiction is going to take a while. Until then, we are going to burn oil from somewhere. Far better we burn more Willow light and less Canadian Tar. The environmentalists know that part, but they didn’t bother to mention it. - More...
Monday - March 27, 2023

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Alaska Municipal League Legislative Report By Grant Echohawk and Austin Otos - Each year the Ketchikan Borough Lobbyist schedules meetings for the Ketchikan Delegation during the Legislative Session at the Capitol in Juneau. In recent years, the advocacy meetings have been scheduled to coincide during the week of the Alaska Municipal League (AML) Legislative Meeting. This yearly event is reserved for municipal governments to advocate to our state legislature for projects and issue that impact our local community. Ketchikan’s delegation consisted of: KGB Mayor Rodney Dial, City of Ketchikan Mayor Dave Kiffer, City Council Member Lallette Kistler, KGB Assembly Member Grant Echohawk, KGB Assembly Member Austin Otos, City Manager Delilah Walsh, and KGB Manager Ruben Duran. The delegation spent a considerable amount of time meeting with elected officials from around the state advocating for Ketchikan’s priority issues that were adopted by our three governing bodies. These issues included: increasing the state education formula for school districts known as the Base Student Allocation (BSA), meeting with Alaska Department of Transportation (AKDOT) officials on major infrastructure projects at the Airport and revamping of the Tongass highway in the downtown corridor, and transfer of green space land owned by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough for housing developments. Additionally, we listened to presentations on upgrading ports to allow for cruise ships to use shore power, municipal and school district access to the state health care system, and the Alaska Department of Public Safety replacing a large vessel for the Alaska State Troopers. If this project goes through, it is our intent to advocate for the public safety boat to be built in Ketchikan at the Vigor Shipyard. - More...
Monday - March 27, 2023

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An accurate portrayal of parental rights isn’t controversial By Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy - When presented accurately, the rights of parents to be involved and informed about what their children are being taught in school should not be controversial.

For mothers and fathers, the question is simple: Should you be the ones who decide what is best for your child and your family’s values? Or should decisions about what is best for your child be left to others?

Affirming and defining parental rights is a matter of respect for the relationship between parent and child that is unlike any other; it’s the relationship that makes up the essence of family.

This relationship shouldn’t be infringed upon, and protecting this relationship shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

Unfortunately, some critics and media sources are attempting to mislead the public about the parental rights legislation I introduced on March 8.

Much of the criticism of this legislation hasn’t just been wrong; it’s been deliberately inflammatory to create responses based on emotions rather than facts and to prevent a fair hearing of the substance in the Legislature.

Among these claims are that the bill will enable child abuse and sexual abuse, that it is targeting certain people, or that it limits their rights.

None of these claims about this bill are accurate.

To be clear, this legislation does not repeal any portion of our laws regarding duty to report suspicions of physical or sexual abuse; nor does it repeal our statutes requiring age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention curriculum for students from kindergarten through graduation.

Not only does it preserve these protections for our most vulnerable, but it also provides for a school employee to withhold information from a parent if there is a reasonable belief that disclosure would result in abuse or neglect.

These provisions of the bill recognize that not every parent lives up to their responsibilities, and each one of those instances is tragic. The solution, however, is not to deny parents their rights by arguing that every parent is a potential abuser who can’t be trusted with information about their child’s health and education. - More...
Monday - March 27, 2023

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