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May 17, 2020

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Herring Cove: Doe and Fawn
Sitka Black-tailed deer.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2020
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Ketchikan Historical: The Rustanius sisters; Ketchikan women were early ‘heroines of the horizon’ By DAVE KIFFER - When one thinks of the Southeast Alaska bush pilot, the image of the cowboy often comes to mind. The lone individual - in this case the pilot - struggling against nature to safely navigate the weather and the terrain and tie together the distinct and isolated communities of the Panhandle.
Besides being a cowboy, the bush pilot is also seen as a swashbuckler, a knight riding out to do battle with the elements and come home safely against all odds. But it would be a mistake to see all those "heroes of the horizon" as men.

In the late 1920s, Marvel Crossen was the first female pilot in Alaska and over the next two decades, there were female bush pilots in Southeast Alaska. Among, them were a pair of Ketchikan sisters, Marguerite and Helen Rustanius.

The Rustanius sisters – who are featured in the Tongass Historical Museum’s new “Into the Wind” exhibit -  had a long history in Southern Southeast.

Their grandfather, Harry Hamilton came from Toronto, and their grandmother, Jenny came from Howkan, a Haida village on Long Island, west of Prince of Wales Island, that later was abandoned when the three Haida villages in that area worked together to create Hydaburg.
Their daughter, Margaret, nee Maggie,  was born in 1886 at Shakan, a small settlement on northern Prince of Wales.  The couple, with Jenny’s daughter from a previous marriage, continued on to Juneau where Harry worked at the Treadwell Mine.
Maggie and her little sister, Nellie, were orphaned at the ages of 11 and 3 and the Presbyterian Church conferred with Harry’s sister, who had traveled to Juneau from Canada, and the church recommended they be sent to the orphanage in Sitka.

Maggie attended Sitka Industrial School, attended Sitka High School, briefly taught at the Training School, went to and got her teaching degree from Bellingham Normal School, and then was hired by the Bureau of Education to teach in Howkan.  When the school in Hydaburg was built, she taught there, and then took a position at Loring. There she met Johann Julius Rustanius, who had immigrated from Helsinki, Finland.
They were married in Ketchikan in 1917. Marguerite was born in 1920 in Ketchikan, followed by Augusta in 1922 and Helen in 1923.

In 1917 Julius was working for the San Juan Fishing and Packing Company. The company sent a letter for the Miners and Merchants Bank informing them that a check to Julius Rustanius for $138.23 had been lost, according to company records. In those days, canneries usually paid cash rather than checks to fishermen, so it was likely the money was for some work - possibly tin smithing - he had done for the company.
Rustanius was primarily a halibut fisherman, he owned the boat "Home Rule" which - according to his granddaughter Ann Fiorella - was because he favored Finnish independence from Russian rule. Rustanius was also a tin smither for Henry Hein's business in Ketchikan as well, building chimneys and pipes for local buildings in the winter.
Julius Rustanius shows up in the Ketchikan property survey in 1921, with two adjacent houses at 1427 and 1427A Millar Street. He died in 1934, according to the May 21 edition of the Ketchikan Chronicle.
The paper reported that Margaret Rustanius and her three daughters had returned on the steamer Victoria from Seattle, bringing Julius' body back. The "local fisherman and laborer" had died in Seattle the week before of a heart ailment at 48.
"He had been confined at the Ketchikan General Hospital for a short time before he went south for additional attention about six weeks ago," the Chronicle reported. The next day, the paper reported that Rustanius was also a "metal worker" and that he would be buried at Bayview Cemetery.
The three girls. Marguerite, Augusta, and Helen all made appearances in Kayhi yearbooks between 1938 and 1941. Marguerite and Helen also helped out when a new shelter cabin was built on Deer Mountain, according to a 1943 story in the Chronicle.

Marguerite's daughter, Ann  Fiorella, said that her mother loved to ski and actually met her future husband, Louis Fiorella on Deer Mountain during World War II.
Marguerite graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1938 and spent two years at the University of Washington, studying to become a nurse.
After she graduated from Kayhi in 1941, Helen Rustanius attended the University of Washington for three years.
1941 was the same year that her older sister, Marguerite learned to fly, according to Marguerite's 2011 obituary in the Juneau Empire.

"Growing up she was one of a group of spirited girls who embraced life in Alaska and fished, hunted, hiked and climbed mountains," the Empire said in 2011. "Her sense of adventure led her to compete for free flight training, and she was the only woman among the contest winners.  She was believed to have been the first woman in Ketchikan to solo when she flew alone to Wrangell and back on September 13, 1941."

Ketchikan woman Margie Nebel had been flying locally earlier in 1940, but the Alaska Flight Hall of Fame believes that Marguerite was the first woman with native heritage to fly in Southeast, Alaska.

Ann Fiorella believes that her mother was chosen, along with several other local hopefuls, to be part of a program that would train pilots for military airplane ferry duty. The US Army was sponsoring an "aviation cadet training program" in 1941 and several local youngsters took part in a series of tests that program offered. Five - including Marguerite Rustanius - were selected. According to a history of Ellis Airlines, future Ellis pilots Rodger Elliot and Jay Snodderly also took part in the program. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Front Page Feature Photo By NATHAN GIBSON

Ketchikan's Thomas Basin
Front Page Feature Photo By NATHAN GIBSON ©2020


Ketchikan: Wastewater Testing Underway in Ketchikan to Determine COVID-19 Presence - According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Covid-19 can be detected in wastewater before someone becomes symptomatic, if they become symptomatic at all.  This is effectively a test on the presence of the virus throughout a large percentage of the community, rather than on a person-by-person basis.  The testing provides a forward-looking glimpse of what the curve is going to be, and, if performed regularly, may enable the community to anticipate and address an outbreak at an earlier stage.  

The wastewater testing is done through the City of Ketchikan Wastewater Treatment Facility.  With the central location of the testing site, the EOC believes that it is capturing a substantial cross-section of the community that covers not only City residents, but the fish processing facilities, and the majority of the businesses and workplaces. The testing is conducted each week by collecting a 24-hour composite sample.  According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC), it is anticipated that this weekly testing will continue for at least 4 weeks. The samples are sent to a commercial laboratory which conducts a comprehensive analysis. Test results are expected to be returned in about seven days. 

The test results can help the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC) policy group make more informed decisions relative to when or when not to lift restrictions.  It can also help the policy group determine if the policy group wants to pursue antibody testing, and if so, the timing of such an endeavor. Finally, it can act as a baseline to track general infection rates. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Ketchikan: 116 Tested During Ketchikan's Free Drive-Up Clinic - The Ketchikan EOC, along with Creekside Family Health and Public Health, hosted a free drive-up COVID-19 testing clinic on May 12, 13, and 14. The clinic was held from 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Berth 3. 

Over the three-day event, health officials conducted 116 tests for anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.  Each person tested will receive notification from a health care provider with the test results - either positive or negative - as soon as the results are received.

Ketchikan Public Health and Creekside Family Healthy Clinic providers administered the tests. City of Ketchikan’s Public Works Streets Division staged and set up the testing site, and the City Ports and Harbors Division donated the space. 

As of Friday - May 15, 2020, 831 test have been conducted for COVID-19 in Ketchikan, with 16 positive results with 685 negative results. There are 130 pending results.

Previously 16 positive COVID-19 cases were reported recovered by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC); however, upon further investigation and a follow up with a previously reported positive case of COVID-19, it has been determined that the individual has not recovered from COVID-19. This individual has been self-isolating and will continue to be monitored by health professionals.  The report of cases recovered has been changed to 15.

Hand Sanitizer Refill Station Update 

Hand sanitizer refill stations have been placed throughout the community by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center.  With assistance from the City of Ketchikan Public Works Department, the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center has procured and developed a quantity of hand sanitizer that is available for the public. - More....
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Ketchikan: Monitoring of Ketchikan Beaches Begins in May 18th - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the start of the 4th bacteria monitoring season at 12 coastal beaches in Ketchikan. 

The Ketchikan Beach Program is part of a statewide program which tests marine water samples weekly to evaluate bacteria levels from May 18 through mid-September. The program evaluates potential health risks as indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, and notifies the public when levels exceed state standards. Past years of bacteria monitoring have shown elevated levels of bacteria along the Ketchikan coastline from several potential sources, including private and public sewer treatment systems, individual septic tanks, wildlife, pet feces, ferries, and private and commercial vessels. 

Beach goers can stay informed on the Ketchikan Beach Program website, where they will find answers to questions like: Which beaches have elevated bacteria levels? When was the last sample? What precautions can I take to keep my family more safe at the beach? How can I stay informed?

The DEC website now has an at-a-glance interactive map showing the beaches as red or green, and the most recent test results. Check out monitoring reports and press releases, and sign up to get beach updates emailed directly to you.  - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Connecting people to salmon in Alaska, the East Coast and the Midwest during COVID-19

Connecting people to salmon in Alaska, the East Coast and the Midwest during COVID-19

The Kyle Family, Sitka Salmon Shares fisherman-owners from Sitka.
(Courtesy of Sitka Salmon Shares)

Alaska: Connecting people to salmon in Alaska, the East Coast and the Midwest during COVID-19 By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - Some fast food restaurants in the Lower 48 have stopped serving hamburgers. Meatpacking plants have shut down. Grocery stores are frequently sold out of flour and rice. But Americans can buy Alaskan seafood directly from the fishermen who caught it — and, in increasing numbers, that’s what they’re doing.

We spoke with direct marketers and Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) who focus on three different areas: Alaska, the Midwest, and the East Coast. In the time of COVID-19, the first priority for all three was ensuring the health of their staff and their customers. Next, they’re working to adapt creatively to the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has, almost overnight, changed the marketplace. For direct marketers, those changes have meant an increase in some kinds of sales.

Sitka Salmon Shares started out as a fish-box-selling fundraiser for the Sitka Conservation Society, a Sitka nonprofit, 11 years ago. Now it has 10,000 members and is “by the number of members one of the largest Community Supported Fisheries in the U.S.,” said Kelly Harrell, Chief Fisheries Officer for the organization.

Harrell said one of the first things Sitka Salmon Shares did as the pandemic took hold was establish baseline prices for its 23 fishermen owners, 19 of whom are out of Sitka and 4 of whom are out of Kodiak, in order to give them peace of mind.

During COVID-19, direct sales have become by far their strongest sector.

“Like a lot of direct marketing businesses, we’ve seen an uptick in sales that we’re really happy about,” said Harrell. “But we’re not planning long-term for that kind of increase, based on the economic uncertainty that we face.”

Since the pandemic, Sitka Salmon Shares has also launched a “Fishermen’s Fund” - being seeded, right now, with t-shirt sales - that will essentially become checks divided across the fleet: a “fishermen’s stimulus package” not tied to harvest.
“We’re trying to do things to create value for fishermen that are not directly tied to their harvest,” Harrell said. “This year and in future years, that harvest is increasingly uncertain.” - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Front Page Feature Photo By CHERYL WHITE

Carlanna Lake
Front Page Feature Photo By CHERYL WHITE ©2020


Alaska: State of Alaska to Focus on Ballot Access for August Primary - Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer, along with the Alaska Division of Elections, on Friday announced the State of Alaska will conduct the August primary election in the traditional manner, utilizing all existing options for Alaskans to vote including absentee voting, early voting up to two weeks prior to Election Day, and in person Election Day voting.

“Balancing the interest in public health with the constitutional right to vote means the 2020 election will be unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. We take very seriously the concerns surrounding voting in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been hard at work to form a solution that lowers Alaskans risk of exposure,” said Lt. Governor Meyer.

Meyer said,  “Alaskan voters are welcome, as they have always been, to utilize absentee voting to vote by mail, early voting up to two weeks prior to Election Day, or traditional in person voting on Election Day. Luckily, we have the time to enhance our outreach efforts to ensure all Alaskans have the greatest access to vote in the 2020 primary election.”

“We are rethinking the entire process of voting to allow for proper social distancing. We will do everything we can to protect Alaska’s poll workers and voters at every stage of the process,” said Director Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections

Alaskan voters will have three options to vote:  - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Alaska: Public Safety's South Operations Center Project Relocated to Palmer - The Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the City of Palmer have entered into an agreement to consolidate emergency communication services to improve law enforcement services to all Alaskans.

The agreement means that the build out of an Anchorage Emergency Communication Center project will cease and instead be moved to the existing dispatch center in Palmer to be built out. Through working with a partner agency, the planning and implementation of the project continues to evolve to meet the needs of the DPS to better our services to all Alaskans and cost savings will be realized for both parties. 

The ability to call 9-1-1 from a wireless (cellular) telephone and have a reliable call back number as well as location provided to the emergency services dispatcher is an essential component in providing public safety services. If the call drops, having a call back number is essential in gathering the nature of the emergency as well as staying in contact with the caller for up to date information exchange. Having a caller’s location, especially for callers off the road system, is crucial in finding an incident location and appropriately directing law enforcement, fire, rescue or emergency medical responders.  

“This agreement is a win for all of Alaskans because Alaskans traverse all corners of our state and emergencies can happen anywhere.  This service has been available to our urban areas for decades.  Right now, 80% of our geography isn’t covered by enhanced 911 services,” said Commissioner Amanda Price, Department of Public Safety. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Alaska: International and Interstate Travel, Order for Self-Quarantine in Alaska, extended - Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on Friday issued updates to the State of Alaska’s 10th and 17th COVID-19 Health Mandates.

COVID-19 Health Mandate 010 on International and Interstate Travel, Order for Self-Quarantine, has been extended from May 19, 2020, to June 2, 2020. Additional guidance was issued on Enhanced Protective Measures for Seafood Processing Workers.

Additional guidance regarding Commercial Fishing has been issued for COVID-19 Health Mandate 017 on Protective Measures for Independent Commercial Fishing Vessels.

Health Mandate 010 was first issued on March 23, 2020 and was updated on May 15, 2020 to extend the mandate. All people arriving in Alaska, whether resident, worker, or visitor, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for illness. Arriving residents and workers in self-quarantine, should work from home, unless you support critical infrastructure as outlined in the Alaska Essential Services and Critical Workforce Infrastructure Order. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020


Alaska: Federal, state and Tribal health partners travel to rural communities to learn about sanitation concerns and preparations for the fishing season - A small group of federal, state and Tribal health officials traveled to several communities across Alaska last week to listen to community concerns and determine what additional resources are needed to help prevent COVID-19 from impacting Alaska's state’s fishing communities and the fishing industry. 

The group included Dr. Alexander Eastman, the senior medical officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Jeff Birks, his chief of staff. Alaska Department of Health and Social Services representatives included Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, and Heidi Hedberg, director of Public Health. Also traveling with the group was Ben Stevens, the governor’s chief of staff, and Dr. Robert Onders, medical director of Community and Health Systems Improvement with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).

Division of Public Health Director Heidi Hedberg said of the trip they were looking forward to showing our federal partners the ongoing planning efforts with our coastal communities and continuing to work together with our local, state, federal and Tribal partners to mitigate any identified gaps to prepare for a safe fishing season. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Alaska: Positive case of COVID-19 confirmed in seasonal fisheries worker - A positive case of COVID-19 was announced yesterday in an out-of-state individual who had recently arrived in Dillingham to work seasonally for Trident Seafoods. 

The case was discovered Saturday when several workers quarantining in the same location were tested for COVID-19 at the end of their 14-day quarantine. Before workers can be released from quarantine, they need to meet all requirements outlined in the City of Dillingham ordinance including testing requirements. 

Only one worker in the group tested positive; that person was immediately isolated from the others. Trident Seafoods was arranging transportation for the worker to leave Dillingham yesterday. Although the individual is doing well and does not require hospitalization, Trident determined it would be best to transport the individual out of the community out of an abundance of caution to help protect Bristol Bay communities.  

“They haven’t exposed the community because they haven’t been out in the community,” Carpenter said. “This shows the benefit of these rules. These workers did everything right and followed the quarantine and testing requirements laid out in Trident’s industry plan.” - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Borough and City Facility Updates - According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Ketchikan City and Borough staff are closely following the Governor’s mandates and applying protocol for social distancing and safety precautions prior to opening facilities. Staff is working on obtaining necessary supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to be able to open to the public.  Many services continue to be offered via telephone, internet, and mail. Plans are being implemented for opening the facilities through a phased-in approach following the current safety guidelines. 

City of Ketchikan Facilities:

City Hall: Front Street entrance use only. Customer service on the first floor is limited to 2 people in the lobby area at a time with waiting outside and 1 visitor/common household group able to visit each City Hall department at a time. All building access will be monitored and escorted. A drop box is located at the back alley entrance behind the Police Station for City and KPU payments. 

Ports & Harbors: Main entrance use only. Customer service is limited to 3 people at a time in the lobby area with waiting outside. 

Public Works Administration Building: Main entrance use only. Building to remain locked; the public is encouraged to schedule an appointment or call the phone numbers posted on the door upon approaching the building. A drop box is located at the main entrance for documents. 

KPU Customer Service in the Plaza: Main entrance use only. Customer service is limited to 2 people at a time at the front counters with 2 waiting inside and 4 receiving service at customer service desk stations. Operating hours will be Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm with in-store visiting hours 9:30 am to 4:00 pm; closed Saturday and Sunday. The courtesy phone outside the store will remain in place for public use as will the drop boxes for payments near the Wells Fargo Plaza ATM and at A&P Grocery.  

Ketchikan Fire Stations No. 1 and No. 2: Main entrances only. Buildings to remain locked; access by appointment and staff escort only.   - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020



Fish Factor: Seafood industry relief funds; Copper River salmon slumps; UFA letter to the fleets By LAINE WELCH - Giving COVID relief funds to the seafood industry and stepping on the gas for offshore fish farming are two big takeaways from the executive orders and congressional packages coming out of the nation’s capital. 

Recent news that Alaska would receive $50 million from the $300 million fisheries relief funds in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was well received by industry stakeholders and it’s likely to be followed by more. 

A May 15 hearing called “COVID 19 impacts to American Fisheries and the Seafood Supply Chain” was scheduled by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee   to focus on the lack of assistance for harvesters and processors. 

A bipartisan group of 49 House members also has pushed for at least $2 billion for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to purchase domestically caught and processed seafood and to distribute it through food assistance programs, as the agency does for agricultural products. 

Likewise, a group of 25 Senators is trying to get an additional $3 billion for the seafood industry from the next relief package.  A new bill called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) would add another $3 trillion to overall relief assistance.  

While it builds on the CARES Act, critics claim it does little for the seafood industry except to give NOAA another $100 million to aid fishery participants.

 Undercurrent News reported that President Trump called the HEROES bill ‘dead on arrival’ saying it contains too many unrelated priorities, such as expanding access to mail-in ballots.

Somewhat lost in the particulars about relief payouts is the federal government’s renewed push and strict guidelines for expanding U.S. aquaculture. 

The May 7 executive order by Trump that cut loose the first batch of fishing funds also calls for an update to the 2017 National Aquaculture Development Plan in order to “strengthen domestic aquaculture production and improve the efficiency and predictability of permitting.”  

It states that “more than 85 percent of the seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported” and outlines rigorous ways and timelines to turn that around. 

It also designates NOAA as the lead agency for aquaculture projects from three to 200 miles offshore. 

Among other things, the order calls for a “guidance document” within eight months that describes regulatory requirements for aquaculture operations and identifies grant programs.

It also removes barriers to permitting and calls for a proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “nationwide permit authorizing finfish aquaculture activities” within 90 days.   

Within one year, federal agencies, fishery management councils and states are required to identify at least two “Aquaculture Opportunity Areas” suitable for commercial operations. And within two years of identifying those areas, agencies must complete an Environmental Impact Statement, and come up with two additional opportunities to be developed in the following four years.    

Finally, Trump’s order calls for the establishment of a new Seafood Trade Task Force that will, within 30 days, create a new agency to promote American seafood internationally, resolve technical barriers to U.S. seafood exports, and support fair market access for US products. 

(Suggestion: start with the seafood trade imbalance with Russia. Russia has not purchased a single pound of U.S. seafood since 2014, yet the value of Russian imports to the U.S. has grown 70 percent since 2014. The amount has tripled to nearly $670 million since 2016.) 

Tim Bristol, director of SalmonState, agreed with the need to maximize the value of our country’s seafood industry, but called Trump’s order “the wrong approach.”

“It ignores the fact that America already has healthy wild fisheries generating billions of dollars in revenue and providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. We should be investing our resources in what we already have and better maximizing the value of our fisheries to American communities rather than displacing hard-working fishing families with open-water feedlots and fooling ourselves into believing that farmed fish will solve all of our problems,” he said in a statement.

Fish farming is banned in Alaska although growing shellfish and seaweeds is permtitted. At a U.S. Dept. of Commerce hearing in 2018, Sam Rabung, director of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game’s commercial fisheries division, said: “I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to fight pretty hard to maintain the state’s opt-out option and maintain the ability to prohibit finfish farming off of Alaska.” - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020



JASE GRAVES: COOKING MY WAY THROUGH QUARANTINE - Ever since our local mayor issued a COVID-19 shelter-in-place-and-go-completely-cocoa bananas order, my family and I have found ourselves cooking more than we have for our entire lives. We’ve even been following recipes and using the actual stove/oven thingy, much to the relief of our exhaustipated microwave. And considering the Mad Max-wasteland conditions in the “cooking-stuff-from-scratch” aisle at Walmart, we aren’t the only ones.

It all started on the first night of quarantine when we all got tired of sitting around and staring at our iPhones while drooling into our belly buttons. We decided it was time to lift our spirits and get some exercise by making a batch of homemade Nestlé Tollhouse cookies – minus the nuts, since my three daughters didn’t want to ruin the experience by including something natural and healthy.

Because these were the first cookies we had made in a while that didn’t start out in a refrigerated tube, we had to locate the ingredients. After rifling through the bowels of our pantry, we found some prehistoric flour, Crisco, baking soda and vanilla extract – the remnants of a sad attempt at making Christmas cookies a few months ago. I’m not sure whether any of it was expired, but it didn’t stink or fight back, so I assumed it was ok.

We had plenty of chocolate morsels­ – thanks to my middle daughter regularly adding them to the grocery list so she can hide in a closet with a bag of morsels larger than her head, a serving spoon, and a jar of creamy Jif to binge on her own twisted version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. (Ok, that’s me, but I’m pretty sure she does it, too.)

The cookies were delicious, including the ones that we actually baked. And we’re hoping to get all of the flour out of our clothes and hair before school starts next fall. The cookies were so addictive, in fact, that we’ve had to resist making them too often and have managed to cut it down to a couple of batches per day. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

jpg Political Cartoon: Pandemic Relief Fantasia

Political Cartoon: Pandemic Relief Fantasia
By R.J. Matson ©2020, CQ Roll Call
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

After a Supreme Court win, Alaskans have the right and responsibility to recall By Joe Usibelli Sr. and Vic Fischer - On May 8, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the right of Alaskans to hold a recall election. As co-chairs of the Alaskan effort to remove Governor Michael J. Dunleavy from office, we write with an urgent message: our state’s future is in our collective hands. If you have not already signed a recall petition in 2020, now is the time to request a household booklet online and sign again.

After months of stall tactics by the governor, the Alaska Supreme Court has put to rest all legal challenges to the recall. Its ruling confirmed what we knew all along: Governor Dunleavy acted incompetently, demonstrated lack of fitness, and violated Alaska law and the Alaska Constitution. No amount of foot-dragging, even by state leaders, can change those facts. We won. The recall is moving forward with speed.

In the shadow of COVID-19, many Alaskans are spending every waking hour homeschooling children and scrambling to pay household bills. While you’ve been sheltering in place, away from jobs, friends, and group gatherings in an effort to keep your fellow Alaskans safe, Governor Dunleavy has been busy—doubling down on the same extreme vetoes to higher education, healthcare, public radio, school bond debt reimbursement, and coastal infrastructure he made last year.

The difference? This time he cut crucial services in the midst of a global pandemic, injecting economic risk and additional instability during a time when we can least afford it. The governor’s new vetoes this spring send a fresh wave of harm to rural Alaskans, to businesses in coastal communities, and to hospitals preparing for a second surge of COVID-19 cases as we begin to ease distancing restrictions. Despite deafening outcry from every corner of the state, our governor has not listened to Alaskans over the past year, nor has he learned. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

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Destroying a Fishery Will Not Save Southern Resident Killer Whales By Wally Pereyra, Ph.D. - Soon, a Seattle-based federal judge will decide the fate of some 1,600 Southeast Alaska salmon trollers—fishermen who are already looking at the lowest allotment of Chinook in 20 years, largely due to the past three Pacific Salmon Treaty agreements that have cut by two-thirds their allocation of these high-value, sought-after fish.

If you haven’t been following the trade press or Alaska media in the past few weeks, you may not know that this group of largely rural Alaska fishermen are today facing the unthinkable: being put out of business—collateral damage as the result of a lawsuit filed by a Washington state-based NGO, the Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC), against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

In the lawsuit, WFC seeks a Preliminary Injunction to stop the Southeast Alaska summer troll fishery, alleging that NMFS has failed to allow enough king (Chinook) salmon to return to Puget Sound to feed endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). If the Court grants the injunction and closes the Chinook salmon trolling fishery in Southeast Alaska (effective July 1, 2020), disastrous consequences would result not just to the fishermen but to Alaska’s rural economy, already hard-hit by COVID-19, and the loss of tourism and oil revenues. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

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Former Educator Hurts Student Opportunity By Derek Reed - I want Alaska to thrive. That’s why I teach high school. I am a lucky individual who gets to work with the next wave of entrepreneurs, chefs, carpenters, and fishermen, just to name a few. I dedicate my waking hours to ensure Alaskan students have the skills needed to live happy, healthy, productive lives. Investing in students helps Alaska long term; student success equals Alaska’s success. However, due to the constant cuts and politicking from a former educator, Alaska’s success is in jeopardy.

Shockingly, Governor Dunleavy was a classroom teacher, principal, superintendent, and school board member. I’m baffled by his actions, which systematically work against student success, and by extension, the success of our state. Governor Dunleavy promised to reform education, stating ?“it is at the top of his ‘to do.’”? Evidently to him, that means ?cutting K-12 public education? and ?outsourcing teacher’s jobs to Florida? in the midst of a pandemic.

Despite Alaskans’ overwhelming opposition to these drastic measures, he plowed forward with cuts. Cutting education funding - which always results in disruptive staff layoffs - isn’t a recipe for student success. Outsourcing to Florida isn’t how we build a thriving Alaska.

The data is clear: class size matters. Class sizes across Alaska are out of control. Teachers like me are expected to teach 30-35 high school students in one class. High school teachers usually teach five class periods... we can do the math. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

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Fascism and the Alaska Native By Dominic Salvato - Sealaska and the State of Alaska are linked it what could only be called a fascist arrangement.

When the power of the state and the corporation are combined it is the definition of fascism.

Sealaska Natives have lived under this system for five decades.

We as native people have the poverty to show for it.

We had a chairman of the board and state senator mired in a ethics scandal. Where does he retreat to lick his wounds? The Sealaska Corporation.

We have a current chairman cut back on his regular job, where does he go? Within the Sealaska Corporation. Suddenly shareholders have a full time chairman at a quarter of a million a year.

We have elections, with a cash voting incentive where endorsed candidates expenses are paid by the corporation. Elections with no term limits for boardmembers. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

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Big and small, UA campuses need our support in the recall of Governor Dunleavy By Therese Lewandowski - During my 25 years as an administrative assistant at the University of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer, I witnessed a profound truth: Alaskans are hungry for in-state higher education. Sadly, with programs all over the state being shuttered, students are now leaving Alaska and taking their bright futures with them.

I spent my entire career watching students walk through the doors of a University of Alaska campus and understand the incredible opportunities that even a small school offers. I invite you to see the journey of my Kachemak Bay Campus as your own—because, truly, it is. Watch through the lens of your own community how my campus flourished in decades past, watch how it fed livelihoods and grew an economy similar to yours.

In the 1980s, Kachemak Bay Campus students earned general education requirements and took courses in the new Apple computer, accounting/bookkeeping, and creative writing. By the 1990s, class offerings included small business management, a boon to Homer’s entrepreneurial populace. The Kenai Peninsula Writer’s Conference in the early 2000s brought in UAA faculty, published writers, agents, and editors. 

Around 2005, the sciences took off with an RN degree, an AA in nursing, and a CNA certificate that equipped Homer and other Alaskans communities with dozens of healthcare professionals each year. We also gained a lab with the upper level field biology program “Semester by the Bay” that taught local and Lower 48 students about our coastline. In 2010, the campus built a new learning center and testing lab for GED and ESL programs. Last year, we gained an additional healthcare degree—a BA in nursing. And let’s not forget the Jump Start program, which allowed high school juniors and seniors to take college classes for dual credit. - More...
Sunday PM - May 17, 2020

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