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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 09, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Orca Breaching
Sunday, a family of Orcas were seen in the Tongass Narrows south of Ketchikan. The photographer captured this young whale as it breached.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

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Judge issues stern message to federal government in submerged lands dispute - A federal district court last week found the United States acted in bad faith in a lawsuit over Alaska’s ownership of a navigable river.

According to Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards, “this decision sends a strong message to the federal government that they need to come to the table and work with the State. Ignoring existing law and delaying decisions to the last moment simply increases tensions. It does nothing to work towards a resolution.”

Late last Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that the U.S. Department of Justice advanced frivolous legal arguments in litigation over the ownership of lands beneath the Mosquito Fork, a tributary of the Fortymile River. On that basis, Gleason granted the State of Alaska’s motion for attorney’s fees.

“We anticipate that the federal government will follow the court’s ruling and work with the State to expeditiously resolve other disputes concerning the ownership of submerged lands in the future,” said Brent Goodrum, director of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Mining, Land & Water.

Friday, Alaska Senate Special Committee on Federal Overreach Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole) praised the federal district court's decision which found that the federal government acted in bad faith in a lawsuit over the State of Alaska's ownership of a navigable river.

"We have known for decades that the federal government has acted in bad faith when it comes to federal overreach," said Sen. Coghill. "Now a federal court has partnered with us in telling the federal government to follow the law."

When the public seeks to use submerged lands for recreation, hunting and fishing, or economic development, they need to know who owns the land in order to know what laws they have to follow.

Until last summer, the federal government had claimed it owned the land beneath the Mosquito Fork and not the State. For many years the dispute created confusion and hardship for Alaskans seeking to use and navigate the river. The mining community was particularly concerned because miners that had been granted state mining claims were questioning the validity of their claims. At the urging of many Alaskans, the State sued the federal government in 2012 to resolve the longstanding dispute.

After years of preparation and shortly before the case was to go to trial, the federal government in July 2015 finally abandoned any legal claim to the Mosquito Fork. In asking the court for attorney’s fees, the State’s attorneys argued that the federal government had run up the State’s costs in bad faith and made legal arguments that had already been rejected by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court as far back as 1931.

In her 22-page ruling, Judge Gleason stated that the federal government’s “refusal to follow Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent greatly increased the length of this case and its burden to the State.” The Alaska Department of Law estimates that its attorney’s fees in preparing for trial are more than $750,000. The Court will determine the amount of attorney’s fees owed to the State after additional briefing from both parties. - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016

Saxman: Child sustains extensive injuries from mortar-type firework - A 12-year old boy was transported to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center for evaluation, then transported by Guardian Flight to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for extensive injuries after a mortar-type firework exploded in his hand.

The Alaska State Troopers, the Saxman Village Public Safety Officer, and the South Tongass Fire Department responded to the report of an injured child in Saxman, last Thursday at approximately 7:12 PM.

Investigation revealed that a 12 year old boy was in a rock pit shooting off fireworks. According to information provided by the AST, the juvenile lit a mortar-type firework that is meant to be placed in a tube with an extended fuse prior to lighting, he was not using the tube but holding the firework in his hand prior to throwing it.

The mortar-type firework was lit and thrown by the boy, hitting a rock wall and bouncing back toward him. The boy caught the firework in his right hand but before he could throw it again, it exploded. The juvenile sustained extensive injuries to his right hand according to an AST press release. - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016


Fish Factor: Pinger rebates for AK salmon fishermen; prevent whales from getting tangled in gear By LAINE WELCH - Alaska salmon fishermen can get rebates on pingers aimed at keeping baleen whales away from their gear. The six inch, battery operated tubes are tied into fishing nets and transmit animal-specific signals every five seconds to alert the animals to keep their distance.

Future Oceans' 3kHz Whale Pinger
Photo courtesy futureoceans.com

“Pingers can be really helpful to alert the whales to something in front of them so you have less entanglements,” said Kathy Hansen, director of the Southeast Alaska Fisheries Alliance.

SEAFA received a $25,000 Hollings Grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to fund the pinger program, which offers a $25 rebate for up to five pingers per permit per vessel on units purchased after May 1.

The pingers can retail for up to $100 each and the cost can deter fishermen from buying them.

“A Southeast gillnet that is 200 fathoms long needs at least five,” Hansen said, adding that the rebates apply to any Alaska salmon fishery.

The pinger signal in this case signal is aimed primarily at preventing entanglements of baleen whales.

“Baleen whales don’t have sonar like people think all marine mammals have. They actually just hear,” Hansen said. “So the pinger emits a noise at a frequency that is not harmful and doesn’t scare the whales – it just lets them know something is there.”

Baleen whales are the largest animals on earth, yet they feed on the smallest creatures in the ocean. They are named for the long plates of baleen which hang like flexible teeth of a comb from their upper jaws, which strain huge volumes of ocean water through their plates to capture tons of zooplankton, crustaceans, and small fish. The whales also have blowholes; both features distinguish them from toothed whales.

Hansen said she has used pingers in her salmon driftnet gear for over six years and swears by them.

“You must be sure they are not spaced too far apart or the whales think there is an opening between them,” she advised.

She added that the pingers do not act like a “dinner bell” for whales, nor do they scare away the salmon.

Gear encounters by whales are rare in Alaska, with 130 large whale entanglement reports on the books since 1998. According to NOAA’s Protected Resources Division.

Find rebate forms from the SEAFA website and wherever pingers are purchased. Hansen said it’s “first come, first served until the money runs out.” - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016


House Republican Leadership Appeals Lawsuit to Stop Medicaid Expansion in Alaska - The Republican-controlled leadership in the Alaska House of Representatives has filed an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court of a lawsuit challenging Medicaid expansion in Alaska without approval of the full Alaska Legislature as required by law. The ill-advised lawsuit was dismissed in March by a Superior Court Judge after finding that the Social Security Act allowed the Governor to initiate Medicaid expansion and that existing state law required Governor Walker to provide Medicaid to the group of Alaskans eligible for expansion.

The notice was filed Thursday by House leadership without the mandatory vote of both bodies, and minutes before the 30 day deadline to appeal the ruling. The appeal was filed by The House of Representatives rather than The Legislative Council, the plaintiff in the case.

“The law is clear - any court action undertaken on behalf of the Alaska Legislature while in session must be authorized by a vote of the Legislature. No such vote was taken despite the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition putting the question before the Legislature. The Republican-controlled leadership is violating the law by arbitrarily filing this appeal,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “The notice of appeal lists the Alaska House of Representatives as an appellant. The members of my Coalition oppose this lawsuit and were never given the chance to vote on this matter. Plain and simple, this is an abuse of power by the Majority leadership in the House.”

According to the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition, the decision to appeal the Medicaid expansion lawsuit will cost the state another $150,000, on top of the $300,000 already spent. The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition are opposed continuing a legally unwinnable lawsuit that wastes valuable state money during a fiscal crisis.

“Medicaid expansion is working by saving us money while simultaneously improving the healthcare options for thousands of Alaskans,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage). “Continuing this lawsuit essentially results in the Republican leadership of the House Majority Caucus spending money to not save money. They are breaking the law, attempting to bypass hundreds of millions in federal money, and gambling with the future health of the Alaska people.”

Senator Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak), head of the Legislative Council, obtained an opinion from Legislative Legal Services in March of this year, inquiring about necessary steps to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court. The opinion from the Director of Legal Services, dated March 3, 2016, stated: “...once the legislature convenes in session, the interim authority of the Legislative Council ends, and the decision whether to institute an appeal with the Alaska Supreme Court requires a decision by a majority vote in both the house and the senate. This conclusion is supported by the legislative history under AS 24.20.060(4)(F), and past precedent of the legislature.” - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Mary Lynne Dahl

MONEY MATTERS: IMPORTANT NEW RULES THAT WILL AFFECT YOUR IRA AND 401-K By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - The US Federal government has changed some rules that have a very important impact on your IRA or 401-k retirement plan. The new rule, mandated by the US Department of Labor, changes the way you can get advice about your investments in your retirement plan and what you will pay for that advice and those investments.

Overall, the change is very good for the public. It requires that any financial advisor for an IRA or 401-k account will now have to be a “fiduciary”. A fiduciary is held to the highest standards when giving financial advice and must always act in the best interest of the client. This is good, of course, but not all advisors do this. Some give “advice” that is more in their own interests than in the interest of the client. Usually, this advice involves the advisor getting a fat commission on the sale of the investment produce that he or she recommends. Under the new law, however, commissions, fees and costs will have to be disclosed in writing and will require proof as to why they are in the best interest of the client. If the fees and commissions are reasonable (not high or above market rates), this will not be a problem, but if not, this will be hard to justify, since there are plenty of low fee, low cost, no commission investments available.

The issue that prompted this new rule is that Congress, the Department of Labor and administrators of ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) believed that the American public was paying too much in fees for their retirement accounts and were not being given unbiased advice about how to invest their retirement money. In many cases, they were correct in this belief. - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: The Ugly, Ugly Presidential Campaign - Oh dear. Not pretty. The upcoming presidential campaign is ugly now and destined to ratchet up to epic uglier as soon as Bernie Sanders decides to bow out. Which is imminent. Not soon enough for Hillary Clinton, but not long.

The Vermont Senator has turned into that drunken cousin who hasn't noticed he's been the last guest for over an hour, cracking open another beer while threatening to put his cigarette out in the kids' wading pool. Starting to channel Hotel California. "You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave."

How ugly will the race get? Think randomly-shaved, rat-terrier with a fourth premolar infection, mange and a lazy eye... ugly. Naked Sumo mud-wrestling ugly. If this campaign were a baby, you'd have to tie pork chops to its ears to get the dog to play with it. Even the rat-terrier of which earlier we spoke.

The hard part is the timing on both sides. Has the public had its fill of Hillary bashing? She's been taking the hits and shaking them off since first becoming a mote in the national public eye back in 1991. - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016

jgp John L. Micek

John L. Micek: Hillary's Lingering Email Problem - A federal investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton's... unusual email habits while she was President Barack Obama's secretary of state appeared to be finally reaching its end this week.

Cue the trumpets and choirs of angels along the Hutchinson River Parkway leading to the once (and perhaps future) First Couple's compound in suburban Chappaqua, N.Y.

But that doesn't mean the scandal over Clinton's home-made email server has lost any of its political potency.

For many, the scandal, coupled with Clinton's repeated claims she did nothing wrong, remains a symbol of how out-of-touch she is with average voters.

Late last week, The Washington Post reported that "prosecutors and FBI agents investigating [Clinton's] use of a personal email server have so far found scant evidence," that she intended to break classification rules.

The Post also reported that "U.S. officials also dismissed claims by a Romanian hacker now facing federal charges in Virginia that he was able to breach Clinton's personal email server." - More...
Monday PM - May 09, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: High On Trump

Editorial Cartoon: High On Trump
By Pat Bagley ©2016, Salt Lake Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Outrageous Spending of Local Tax Dollars By Douglas Thompson - Let me start this letter by thanking you for providing a needed forum so that citizens may address abuses by the power structure. It is Ketchikan's only avenue for open discussion. - More...
Thursday PM - May 05, 2016

letter Part 7: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - As the crow flies the distance from Ketchikan to Anchorage is about the same as that from Denver to San Francisco; from Alaska’s First City to the oilfields of the North Slope is the distance from D.C. to Los Angeles. Throughout the 1980s, ‘90s, on into the twenty-first century Ketchikan has had its issues, economic and otherwise, upon which the locals have legitimately been focused, so paying much attention to what is happening in an oil patch almost a continent’s distance away has not really been on anyone’s agenda around here. - More...
Thursday PM - May 05, 2016

letter IS KPU A SERVICE TO CUSTOMERS OR A PLAIN AND SIMPLE DISSERVICE? By Joey Garcia - Sorry readers I have been absent for awhile as I was inside the heat wave in my vacation in the Philippines. But I noticed a lot of changes lately with KPU although I am identified as KPU Public, Customer, enemy No. 1. Much to my regret, my honeymoon with the entire KPU is history. Never can a public utility company survive without the so called bailout, "gratuity et amore" from customers who do not feel comfortable with KPU's customer service people, or the way it is run by the incumbent managerial level lineup. - More...
Thursday PM - May 05, 2016

letter "Oilcan" By A.M. Johnson - Reading the author of the series "Oilcan", the thought comes to mind that we may have the wrong guys in Juneau representing District 1. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

letter The Fireside By Ken Leland - Oh yes, I definitely remember the Fireside. Loved their Prime Rib. I was the Broadcast Engineer at KTKN and lunch time was a snap, hardly even got wet ducking next door from the Station. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

letter Part 6: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, & OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G. Hanger - Alaska’s Future(.org) is a classic example of an entity that should never be granted non-profit status. It is the dictatorial fiefdom of one Ron Duncan, co-founder and CEO of GCI, and no dissent or questions are tolerated. When our own Mary Kauffman asked as a reporter a routine question (x2), rather than responding the question was simply deleted. Agree with Duncan or else is what this operation is all about. [The question weeks ago: Why are so many opposing comments deleted from Alaska’s Future's FaceBook page?] - More...
Friday AM - April 29, 2016

letter Europe Under Attack By Donald Moskowitz - Since WWII Europe has welcomed tens of millions of Muslims from Africa and the Middle East who replaced the murdered Jews of Europe. - More...
Friday AM - April 29, 2016

letter State Sponsored Enabling: Welfare for Life By Rodney Dial - I began researching the information for this letter months ago. The portions of this letter dealing with the State’s Public Assistance/Welfare Program, also called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) were difficult to come by. First, this information is not publicly available and to get it required months of work, contacting various elected officials up to the Governor’s office, filing of Freedom of Information Act Requests and even the threat of a civil suit. As you will see in this letter, I was initially given false and misleading data by the State and only after continued efforts was I able to obtain the following information all Alaskans should be aware of. Most of this letter was written weeks ago when it appeared that the state was refusing to assist me with this research project. I have updated the letter with the new information I received from the state (4/26). - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter Remember The Fireside? By June Allen By Debbie Gorzycki - I remember the Fireside. I was stationed at USCG Base Ketchikan in 1983-4. Many of us would walk over to the Fireside to listen & dance to the band on Friday & Saturday nights. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter Boca De Qurada H2O By A. M. Johnson - In reading the recent Ketchikan Daily News article on anticipated shipping of a natural resource, water, from Boca De Quara followed by a second article focusing on the opposition to the endeavor; typically the usual case of anti-anything resource development, leap out in vocal opposition without any details of the concept, none, just a knee jerk reaction to a perceived capitalist project. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter Incarceration Conditions By Vicky Foley - As a community, I believe we need to get a better understanding of addiction. I am not saying I know the answers, but I do think that the way we punish those people that get arrested for drug charges needs to be reassessed. Here in Ketchikan, our facilities are not suitable for retaining a person for very long. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter An Open Letter to the Members of the Alaska House and Senate By Jerry Cegelske - Recently I heard one of you on the radio talk about dealing with the Alaska Permanent Fund in solving the State budget crisis. What was said was "I don't think the Alaskan people are going to accept us using the Permanent Fund to fix this." - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

letter Oil Tax Credits By Dan Ortiz - Aaskans are the beneficiaries of the state’s investment. Our constitution requires the State of Alaska to manage our resources to the maximum benefit of the people. Government’s fiduciary duty to its citizens is to make prudent investments and establish a sustainable budget. The State of Alaska must make responsible and wise business decisions, as we are an owner state. The current oil and gas tax credit system, with its many layered and net operating loss credits, does not do that. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter Part 5: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - At this moment all Alaskans are being victimized by a massive propaganda blitz designed to deceive you in to believing two out-and-out lies: 1) That low oil prices are causing the State of Alaska’s financial disaster, and the massive depression that is in process of developing; and 2) That the only solution to our dilemma is to spend down the Permanent Fund as quickly as possible. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter Guns on UA campus By Pat Bethel - John Suter and others opposed to guns on U of A campus need to change the Alaska constitution. Article 1; section 1.19 "...The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed by the state or political subdivision of the state...". article 7; section 7.2 "The U of A is hereby established...". - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

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