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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 20, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By FARREL LEWIS

Lady Tresses Orchid
The Lady Tresses Orchid is a bog orchid that grows wild in our area. They have lovely, tiny flowers and a sweet scent.
Front Page Feature Photo By FARREL LEWIS

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Governor Calls 5th Special Session After House Adjourns Without a Fiscal Plan to Protect Alaska Economy By MARY KAUFFMAN - After the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday night closed out the Fourth Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature without making any substantial progress towards creating a balanced and sustainable plan to address the ongoing fiscal crisis in Alaska, Governor Bill Walker followed with an announcement on Sunday that he is calling the Legislature back into a fifth special session. The 5th Special Session will take place in Juneau on July 11, 2016 at 11:00 AM.

Governor Calls 5th Special Session After House Adjourns Without a Fiscal Plan to Protect Alaska Economy

The Governor during Sunday's news conference announcing the 5th Special Session, Photo clip from video,
Office of the Governor.

The House Finance Committee's failure to move SB 128 to a full vote of the Alaska House of Representatives could mean a further downgrade in Alaska's credit rating, as the state could see lost earnings from a draw in savings by not pooling financial assets and continued depletion of Alaska's budget reserves.

The Fourth Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature was called by Governor Walker with a set agenda that included several revenue measures, the FY 2017 budgets, and a handful of important bills that failed to garner legislative approval during the regular session. The House adjourned without passing any of the revenue measures they were called into the Fourth Special Session to consider by the Governor.

Governor Walker issued a prepared statement Saturday regarding adjournment by the House saying, "“I am deeply disappointed that, after more than a year of conversations with Alaskans and more than 400 meetings with legislators about our fiscal problems, SB 128, a critical piece of legislation for Alaska’s future, never made it to the House floor for a vote. With a $4 billion deficit, it is time we pull together as Alaskans to address this fiscal deficit now. Again, I thank members of the Senate for their leadership on this critical issue and their passage of SB 128.”

Regarding questions about can Alaska afford another special session, Governor Walker said, "We can not afford not to have a special session." A Special Session costs about $13 Thousand per day and the deficit is about $11 million a day said the Governor.

The Governor's Executive Special Session Proclamation dated June 19th again lists the subjects to be addressed by the Legislature in the Fifth Special Session:

  1. An act relating to the Alaska Permanent Fund and the earnings reserve account for purposes of a sustainable draw; relating to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, and to the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation;
  2. An act relating to a personal income tax, a sales and use tax, the motor fuel tax, the excise tax on alcoholic beverages, the mining license tax and fees, the mining exploration incentive tax credit, the fisheries business tax, the fishery resource landing tax, the annual base fee for entry or interim-use permits, and relating to refunds to local governments and to taxes on tobacco products;
  3. An act relating to the oil and gas production tax, tax payments, and credits; relating to oil and gas lease expenditures, and production tax credits for municipal entities, and relating to the interest applicable to delinquent taxes.

Members of the Alaska Senate Majority expressed disappointment Friday in ?the House Finance Committee's failure to move SB 128 to a full vote of the Alaska House of Representatives. The Alaska Senate Majority said in a news release SB 128 is a critical measure that would close a portion of the budget shortfall while preserving the Permanent Fund dividend.

"We are facing uncertain times. SB 128 provided some level of certainty to help stabilize our economy and continue the divided program Alaskans have grown to rely on," said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River), co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "The tough decisions have only just begun. We will continue to change the status quo and business as usual. The Senate stands ready to act."

In a news release, the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) said the 13 members of the AIDC remain committed to working on a comprehensive fiscal plan that will protect the Alaska economy and the essential functions of state government.

The Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition was instrumental in the deal in May that allowed for passage of a fully funded budget that prevented a government shutdown on June 1st and protected the important tourism, commercial fishing, and construction industries that are all vital aspects of the overall Alaska economy. - More...
Monday PM - June 20, 2016

NW Herring Week aims to restore herring to its proper place as a commercial fishery for human consumption By LAINE WELCH - There’s much more to Alaska herring than roe and bait.

NW Herring Week aims to restore herring to its proper place as a commercial fishery for human consumption

Togiak Herring “Old Bay” Escabeché from Le Petit Cochon for Northwest Herring Week.
Photo courtesy Northwest Herring Week

To prove that point, nearly 40 of Seattle’s finest restaurants and retailers will celebrate Northwest Herring Week as a way to re-introduce the tasty, health fish to the dining scene.

“There’s more herring eaten all over the world than you can imagine. Some years there’s as much as four million tons harvested in the world. You can have a year when the herring fishery is as large as the whole Bering Sea pollock fishery,” said Bruce Schactler of Kodiak, a longtime fisherman and director of the Food Aid Program for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). He is helping to coordinate the weeklong event as part of ASMI’s Alaska Herring Development Project.

Featured in the fine dining showcase will be 5,000 pounds of herring fillets from this year’s Togiak fishery, donated by North Pacific Seafoods at Naknek.

Herring long ago disappeared from American menus, although the fish has a mild flavor, similar to trout, and is loaded with healthy omega-3s. Herring week will showcase recipes ranging from smoked, pickled, pates and fancy fillet entrees.

Schactler said he was “shocked” when he first tried the dishes at the first Herring Week last year, which only included eight restaurants.

“I didn’t know what to expect. You walk into one of these restaurants and they set these beautiful dishes in front of you and by the time you’re done eating, you’re saying I’ll have another,” he said with a laugh.

Each year in Alaska more than 40,000 tons of herring are harvested from Southeast to Norton Sound. Nearly all of it is valued for the roe-bearing females, with most of the male fish getting ground up and discarded. Smaller amounts of Alaska herring are used as bait.

“Having one of our major processors come up with a customer to supply herring in any other way than bait or roe - I think it’s maybe the first time ever herring has been filleted for food for a commercial market in the state of Alaska. I think it’s a big step forward,” Schactler said. - More...
Monday PM - June 20, 2016

jpg Dr. Michael Johnson Named Alaska Education Commissioner

Dr. Michael Johnson
Photo courtesy Alaska Superintendents Association

Alaska: Dr. Michael Johnson Named Alaska Education Commissioner - The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development announced the appointment of Dr. Michael Johnson as Commissioner of Education and Early Development. Governor Bill Walker has approved the appointment, which will officially begin July 1, 2016. The appointment was made by the Board on Thursday, June 16th.

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Michael Johnson as the Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner, and as a new member of my cabinet,” said Governor Walker. “As a longtime educator, administrator, and the President of the Alaska Superintendents Association/Alaska Council of School Administrators, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position.”

“With 53 school districts across the state, Alaska’s education system has unique challenges and opportunities associated with it,” said Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. “Having spent a large portion of his career in rural Alaska, Dr. Michael Johnson brings a perspective to this job that will serve our students well.”

“The State Board of Education and Early Development has unanimously selected Dr. Michael Johnson to be the next Commissioner of Education and Early Development. We look forward to Dr. Johnson’s leadership and the support he will give to Alaska’s dedicated educators as they provide every student the opportunity to succeed,” said Board Chair James Fields.

Dr. Johnson has served in the Copper River School District as superintendent, school principal, district curriculum and staff development director, elementary teacher, and special education program assistant. During his tenure as its principal, Glennallen Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Johnson also is a recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award. - More...
Monday PM - June 20, 2016


Southeast Alaska:
Alaskans press Canada to work with the U.S. to protect key international salmon rivers - The potential of an immense downstream threat to crucial salmon fisheries and Alaskans’ way of life from a combination of mining in the headwaters of key Northwest B.C. watersheds and weak B.C. environmental regulations brought Alaskan Tribes, commercial fishing groups and conservation organizations to Ottawa last week seeking help.

Alaskans press Canada to work with the U.S. to protect key international salmon rivers

Alaskans met last week with Canadian Members of Parliament and ministry officials to elevate the issue of B.C.’s transboundary mining projects in the headwaters of rivers that flow into Southeast Alaska and its multi-billion-dollar fishing and tourism industries. Alaskans also press for use of the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to address the many serious concerns related to the mines. Alaska, as the downstream neighbor, assumes virtually all of the risks associated with the mines.

“We wanted to get our request on the radar before Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama meet here in Ottawa later this month as part of a North American summit. It is increasingly clear that it will take our two countries working together to decide how to manage our globally significant shared resources of this iconic region,” said Heather Hardcastle of the Salmon Beyond Borders campaign.

Hardcastle added: “At least ten B.C. large-scale open-pit and underground metal mines are in some phase of proposal, permitting or operation near the headwaters of Northwest B.C./Southeast Alaska transboundary salmon rivers, namely the Taku, Stikine and Unuk.”

Frederick Otilius Olsen Jr., Chairman of the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group that currently represents 15 federally recognized Tribes in Southeast Alaska, stated, “We have been trying for years to get the B.C. government to adequately address our interests and concerns, but other than nice words and vague promises, we seem to be getting nowhere. Facts, reports, and studies keep emerging – the latest from B.C.’s own Auditor General - that indicate the situation is even worse than we had feared. We need federal help and an international solution for this international problem.”

Many First Nations members in B.C. share Alaskan concerns. Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations has been actively engaged in this issue, stating “We stand firm with our Alaskan brothers and sisters, and share their concerns and demands for direct consultation with our federal governments. Long-term protections of our traditional way of life and stewardship of our land and water are essential.” - More...
Monday PM - June 20, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Rick Jensen

RICK JENSEN: Liberals Have the Wrong Response to Gun Violence - The Orlando massacre reignited spokesperson Gwen Patton's passion for gays to protect themselves, inspiring her to reach out to any and every media outlet that would listen to her.

The message is quite clear: arm yourself and train with a professional to deter anyone who threatens your life.

The idea for the group emanated from a 2000 column by Jonathan Rauch, who used the phrase, "pink pistols," playing on the presumption that all gay men are limped-wristed and weak.

Gwen explains that is not always the case.She describes a man in her Philadelphia Pink Pistols chapter as big, muscular and a deadly shot.

She tells the story of another Philadelphian being followed down the street and harassed by a gang of men wielding metal pipes, exhibiting behavior that would not be described as "brotherly love."

The intended victim turned on his would-be attackers, aimed his .38 pistol at them in self-defense and the thugs exited the scene in a cloud of dust.

The gun is the equalizer. - More...
Monday PM - June 20, 2016

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: A Bit of Common Sense on Guns - If the goal is to cause both sides of the political spectrum to quiver, twitch and shake like a raccoon clinging to the outside of a cement mixer speeding through a railroad yard, just casually throw out the term, "gun control," and step back. The left considers all guns the reprehensible tool of warriors, criminals and primitives, while in most of red state America, the definition of gun control is using two hands and hitting the target.

Then some addled-brained, flippo-unit actually uses those techniques to take out a bunch of innocent people, and the blowback starts with a debate about how big our guns should be, further restrictions on who can purchase them and whether we need to know the identity and shoe size of the purchasers.

Yes, we do. For crum's sakes, you need to present identification to apply for a card to take a book out of a library. Admittedly, in the right hands, a book can be more dangerous than a gun, but they hardly ever put holes in people's bodies that the blood leaks out of way too quick. - More...
Monday PM - June 20, 2016


jpg Editorial Cartoon: Giving Away Federal Public Lands

Editorial Cartoon: Giving Away Federal Public Lands
By Monte Wolverton ©2016, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696
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letter Good Sportsmanship! By Mimi Eddy - My grandson is 9 years old and I was at his baseball game this Saturday (11th). His team-the red one (Matt Caskey coach or helping coach) showed excellent sportsmanship. They were encouraging each other - some of the boys are in their first year of batting from a peer pitcher so are nervous. Their teammates are talking and encouraging them in their play. - More...
Thursday AM - June 16, 2016

letter Don't miss this entertainment! By Kerry Watson - Want a good laugh?! Don't miss this weekend's play "The Complete Unabridged Works of William Shakespeare." I know, I know. Shakespeare can be a bit daunting. Hah, fear not! - More...
Thursday AM - June 16, 2016

letter Focus on Men’s Health and Safety in June By Susan Johnson - In June, we celebrate Father’s Day, Men’s Health Month, and National Safety Month. These separate observances have a common theme — we can use them as an opportunity to focus on the health of the men in our lives. - More...
Thursday AM - June 16, 2016

letter Path to a fiscally sustainable budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - In the current budget that was approved by the majority of Alaskan Legislators, 430 million dollars is allocated for direct cash payouts to oil companies in the form of credits. The state’s obligation for this year’s credits is 750 million dollars. Thus, even if the State of Alaska pays out the allocated 430 million dollars, it will continue to be responsible for 320 million dollars additionally in future obligations. That 750 million dollars is the third biggest spending item in our state’s budget. Under SB 21, the state is obligated to pay 750 million dollars in oil tax credits in one year alone, while we are spending 221 million for our Department of Transportation, which runs and maintains our ferries, roads, and airports; the infrastructure that facilitates our economy. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter GOVERNOR, CAN WE HAVE THAT CUP OF COFFEE? By Richard J. Peterson - Are campaign promises empty promises that no one expects candidates to keep? Have we become that cynical? Running as the ‘Unity Team’ in 2014, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott promised to improve the State of Alaska’s tribal relations. Mr. Walker said he would rather work on communication and steer away from litigation on tribal issues. In fact, when Mr. Walker made his campaign pitch to a Western Alaska tribal group and when he spoke to members of his new Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council more recently, he said the State and Alaska tribes should stop suing each other and offered a better solution, “Let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk things over.” - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Part 11: OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Roundabout 227 years ago this group of guys we call the “Founding Fathers” got together and argued out a Constitution to establish something completely different than anything before. In the first instance a “nation,” the first in fact in the history of the world. Well may it be said that the Dutch can be credited as the first to truly advance the concepts of capitalism and free enterprise; that the Brits improved upon them; and only then did we establish mastery, but the beginning of “nation-“hood as opposed to empires and kingdoms and such, that belongs to us. All that came before is pretense compared to what this group of guys did. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Democrats misuse racism against Trump By Rob Holston - Trump referred to an American judge of Mexican heritage as a “Mexican” and sited the judge’s rulings against Trump as being biased because he’s “Mexican.” Trump has used harsh and prudent language against illegal Mexican immigration and proposes a wall at the US - Mexican border. Now even some Republicans are jumping on the bandwagon of Democratic hate language calling his remarks racist. This is a prime example of a liberal press and stewards of political correctness over-reacting so as to nail Trump to the RACIST cross and hopefully cause an agonizing death to his bid for the White House. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Don’t Let the Need for Health Insurance Stop You from Leaving By Susan Johnson - Domestic violence is found across all socioeconomic groups - in fact, more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. However, women are often economically dependent on their abusers and are less able to leave and more likely to return to abusive partners. Many women are dependent on their spouses for insurance coverage. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Socialist Sanders Abandoning Israel By Donald Moskowitz - Socialist Sanders appointed two anti-Israel people to his platform drafting committee. Cornel West espouses anti-Israel views, and James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, has denounced Israel. Sanders also appointed Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, an anti-Israel Muslim, to his platform committee. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Little Wee One By Robert B. Holston Jr. - The second a person is born they have FULL rights of citizenship and protection under the law. What about the time before that PERSON was born. I have written a poem that describes this reality in America today. Please consider it. - More..
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Drive careful By Bill Hollywood - I have had to come to a stop twice so far this year for deer on the road and have seen four other groups of deer by the roads. Mostly two deer but up to five. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

letter Congratulations Graduates By Dan Ortiz - Congratulations to our 2016 high school and university graduates. You truly deserve to be proud of your achievement.

Alaska is an exciting location for ambitious graduates in the beginning chapters of their lives. It is the frontier of our country’s future. Jobs never before dreamed are being created right here. There are opportunities for new industry in Alaska, from the Arctic passage to rainforest ecotourism. Our tried and true fishing industry and its elements are oft-debated, but it is lively and reliable due to our excellent public management. - More...
Thursday PM - June 09, 2016

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