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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 05, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY MOODY

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Perfect timing: The Disney Cruise passes under the rainbow heading south for blue skies that are always somewhere over the rainbow.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY MOODY ©2019

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Alaska: PFD Funding Change Proposed in Senate Bill 1002; If passed, Governor Will Veto By MARY KAUFFMAN - On Monday, the Senate Majority introduced Senate Bill 1002, which proposes to use money from the Statutory Budget Reserve (SBR), the Higher Education Fund, and the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) to pay a $1,600 Permanent Fund Dividend.

Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy issued a statement Monday in response to this bill put forth by the Alaska Senate which the governor says disregards the statutory formula of the Permanent Fund Dividend and arbitrarily provides for a $1,600 dividend. 

“This bill kills the Permanent Fund Dividend as we know it. The PFD is your share of Alaska’s mineral wealth, and there should be no change to the dividend without a vote of the people,” said Governor Dunleavy. “That’s what I promised on the campaign and that’s the promise I intend to keep. I cannot and will not support this legislation.”

Quoting a news release from the governor's office, SB 1002 severs the dividend from the Earnings Reserve Account and market activities, and further dismisses the statutory formula of the dividend that has been in place for nearly 40 years. As proposed, the legislation ignores longstanding laws and overwhelming public support for a full PFD. Alaskans have been diligent in providing testimony and urging the legislature to stop using the Permanent Fund as a political piggy bank to support a larger government.  

“Let me be clear, this is a non-starter. If passed, I will veto SB 1002.  I encourage an amendment that would restore a full PFD to the people.  Follow the law - that’s what Alaskans have demanded and deserve,” said Governor Dunleavy.

In January, Governor Dunleavy unveiled PFD Back Pay legislation which would return unpaid dividends, diverted by the legislature for government operations, to Alaskans for 2016-2018. According to the governor's announcement, the Governor's back pay legislation proposal would not expend new dollars, rather return what Alaskans are lawfully owed.

The governor issued a special session proclamation calling the lawmakers back into session in Juneau beginning at 10:00 AM on Thursday May 16, 2019. With only days left in the special session, there is still no operatiing budget.

The governor issued a special session proclamation calling the lawmakers back into session in Juneau beginning at 10:00 AM on Thursday May 16, 2019. With only days left in the special session, there is still no operatiing budget. The Legislature is required by law to pass a budget by June 30th each year. Currently, there is no operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2019.

When he called the special session, among the items the governor asked were:

  • An education appropriation bill to bring a solution to the FY20 education budget
  • HB39 – Operating Budget which includes a full PFD under calculation

The governor has publicly stated he will not veto the K-12 education funds, so long as the legislature will add it to the budget.

Alaska House Minority Leader Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) released the following statement Tuesday in response to the Senate’s action on SB 1002. Pruitt said, “Two months ago, we offered multiple amendments during the budget process that would have ensured that we would avoid costly special sessions. Those amendments were not taken up. Instead, we still stand without an operating budget, a capital budget, a mental health budget, and K-12 education funding."

“The House Majority’s refusal to discuss what’s best for Alaska is doing long-term damage. It is well past time for the 24-member House Majority to pass a dividend, an operating budget, and fund education, as is required by the Constitution,” said Pruitt.

Members of the Alaska Senate Democrats also issued statements Tuesday in response to the Alaska Senate's action on SB 1002.

Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) said, “The Permanent Fund Dividend was established so Alaskans directly benefit from the subsurface resources we all collectively own. Severing the dividend from the Permanent Fund breaks the compact we have had with Alaskans for the last 37 years to share our resource wealth. Draining our state savings account and using funds designated to keep our best and brightest students here in Alaska just compounds this mistake. ”- More...
Wednesday AM - June 05, 2019

jpg Early lives of Alaska sockeye salmon accelerating with climate change

Early lives of Alaska sockeye salmon accelerating with climate change
Adult sockeye salmon returning to spawn in the lakes of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Photo Credit: Jason Ching/University of Washington

Alaska: Early lives of Alaska sockeye salmon accelerating with climate change - An ample buffet of freshwater food, brought on by climate change, is altering the life history of one of the world's most important salmon species.

Sockeye salmon in Alaska's Bristol Bay region are skipping an entire year in freshwater because climate change has produced more favorable conditions in lakes and streams, which allow the young fish to grow and put on weight much faster. Previously, these fish would spend up to two years in their birth lakes before heading to the ocean, where they feed and reach maturity two to three years later. Now they are more likely to head out to sea after only one year.

These findings were published May 27, 2019 in Nature Ecology & Evolution by University of Washington researchers.

"Climate change is literally speeding up the early part of their lifecycle across the whole region," said senior author Daniel Schindler, a UW professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. "We know climate warming is making rivers more productive for the food juvenile salmon eat, meaning their growth rate is speeding up. That puts the salmon on a growth trajectory that moves them to the ocean faster."

But this "jumpstart" in freshwater doesn't necessarily benefit salmon in the long run. The same fish are now spending an extra year in the ocean, taking longer to grow and mature. This extra year at sea is likely caused by climate stressors, as well as other fish: In the ocean, wild sockeye compete for food with close to 6 billion hatchery-raised salmon released each year throughout the North Pacific Ocean. That number has grown steadily since the 1970s, when only half a billion hatchery salmon were released.

"Hatchery fish have really changed the competitive environment for juvenile salmon in the ocean," said lead author Timothy Cline, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan who completed this work as a doctoral student at the UW. "In Bristol Bay, the habitat is totally intact and fisheries management is excellent, but these fish are living in lakes warming with climate change, then competing with other salmon for food in the ocean." - More....
June 05, 2019


Historical: D-Day succeeded thanks to an ingenious design called the Mulberry Harbours By COLIN FLINT - When Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 – a bold invasion of Nazi-held territory that helped tip the balance of World War II – they were using a remarkable and entirely untested technology: artificial ports.

To stage what was then the largest seaborne assault in history, the American, British and Canadian armies needed to get at least 150,000 soldiers, military personnel and all their equipment ashore on day one of the invasion.

Reclaiming France’s coastline was just the first challenge. After that, Allied troops planned to fight their way across the fields of France to liberate Paris and, finally, onto Berlin, where they would converge with the Soviet army to defeat Hitler.

When Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and his advisers pressed for this ambitious invasion of Nazi-occupied France, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was dubious.

Could it be done?

Such an operation would require more than a million soldiers – all equipped with weapons, ammunition, food and clothing – plus hundreds of thousands of vehicles, tents and medical personnel.

Getting so many people and materials from ship to shore while battling waves, tides and currents presented an enormous logistical challenge.

Churchill, recalling the failed marine campaign to capture Gallipoli during World War I, feared that Allied troops would get trapped on the beaches and be sitting ducks for the German soldiers awaiting atop Normandy’s cliffs.

So Churchill demanded that a team of engineers, scientists and military officers design a marine staging area that could actually support a successful operation.

The team’s solution was ingenious: two easy-to-assemble artificial ports where Allied ships could safely anchor to stage the massive operation.

As I write in my 2016 book on what became known as the “Mulberry Harbours,” each of these artificial ports consisted of artificial breakwaters – barriers against waves made up of sunken ships and huge concrete chambers.

Behind the circular breakwaters was a sophisticated system of floating piers anchored to the seabed.

All of these parts were towed 30 miles across the English Channel on D-Day from southern England, then sunk into place, about a mile off France’s northwest shore, the same day.

German planes doing air reconnaissance did spot the concrete chambers, which had been filled with air to make them float before they were sunk. But, according to my archival research, they had no idea what they were seeing or how these giant containers would be used. - More...
Wednesday AM - June 05, 2019


Alaska: “No More Silence”: Her Kidnapping, Sexual Assault and Murder Stunned a Town, and Started a Movement By Michelle Theriault Boots, ProPublica - Nine months and a long Arctic winter have come and gone since the abduction, sexual assault and murder of 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr in the northwest Alaska hub community of Kotzebue.

Signs of Ashley can be found everywhere in this town of 3,200. At the cemetery, groups of kids gather at the purple-painted wooden cross marking her grave. They leave trinkets, teddy bears, necklaces, even sports medals. People slip bouquets of artificial flowers through the chain link fence at Rainbow Park, where the fifth grader was last seen playing on a Thursday evening in September.

Her death lingers in other ways. The crime stunned Kotzebue and the rest of Alaska, galvanizing calls for everything from more robust public safety protections to action against the state’s high rate of child sexual abuse.

Mandy Hill, who has worked with kids in Kotzebue for 16 years, said some parents who’d allowed their children to roam the town are hesitant now.

“You hold your kids closer. You watch more. You kind of hold back on letting them play out,” she said. - More...
Wednesday AM - June 05, 2019

Arts & Culture: How 'America's Got Talent' contestant Kodi Lee shattered stereotypes about disability By STAN LINK - If you haven’t seen Kodi Lee’s May 28 performance on “America’s Got Talent,” it’s worth a watch.

The 22-year-old Lee is blind and has autism. His rendition of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” brought the crowd to its feet – and thrilled viewers at home.

“Loved this moment so much! Stood up and cheered in my living room!” Oprah tweeted.

Much of the media coverage portrayed Lee as someone who, in developing his musical ability to such a high level, overcame all odds – a common though sometimes troublesome trope used to describe people with disabilities who achieve any measure of success.

Lee is certainly an exciting talent. But as someone who teaches a course on the intersection of disability and music, I was moved by other aspects of Lee’s performance as well.

One challenge for people with disabilities can be that others tend to conflate their disability with their personality and identity. Their disability becomes the defining aspect of who they are, which can prevent people from realizing that those with disabilities can have rich interior lives. - More...
Wednesday AM - June 06, 2019


TOM PURCELL: Hey, America! We Need Another Baby Boom! - America's declining birthrate has given me pause. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of babies born in the United States in 2018 was the lowest in 32 years, continuing what NBC News calls "a decades-long trend toward fewer and fewer babies being born each year."

That means fewer young people to support an increasingly aging population. Hey, young people! We need you to have kids who'll pick up our Social Security and Medicare bills 15 or 20 years from now!

But it also means today's children won't know what growing up was like as part of America's baby boom - in families packed with kids, filling neighborhoods with unending liveliness. 

The post-World-War-II economic boom fueled Americans' optimism and hope. The future looked brighter than ever. 

Adults married younger and started families sooner. Like my parents, many wanted big families - even with all the craziness and conflicts that happen when you pack many siblings into a modest-sized home. And with a little scrimping and saving, parents were able to afford a big family on a single income back then.

I was born in 1962, at the baby boom's tail end. My childhood was a blast. 

Unlike today's kids, I was free to roam, play and discover on my own with my siblings and friends. Parents didn't micromanage our every moment. They weren't terrified when we weren't in their sight. They MADE US go play outside - but woe to the kid who was late for dinner! - More...
Wednesday AM - June 05, 2019


PETER ROFF: Thinking About the Cost of Defending America - War is an obscenity. Even when necessary, it is a waste of lives, of property and sometimes the principles of human decency far too many of us take for granted.

We tend to think of things like this now, as we mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France. But there are other obscenities, like the wanton waste of taxpayer dollars by government. While hardly the moral or functional equivalent of war, the disregard of some government officials for the slog and sweat of the citizenry that fills the country's coffers is, to say the least, highly objectionable.

The waste of the taxpayers' effort and the rewards of their productivity on weapons of war that don't function as promised and, in the end, are probably too expensive to be used in combat is an outrage. Yet it's going on right now, under our noses, all throughout the Pentagon.

"Defense spending was substantially higher during the Cold War before the Soviet collapse allowed late 1990s-lawmakers to slash defense to $3,900 per household. After the War on Terror pushed it back to $6,800 per household by 2010, deep cuts followed by recent increases have left the defense budget at $5,300 per household," says The Manhattan Institute's Brian Riedl. Yet for all talk of the war on waste in the U.S. military, little was done.

Consider the program to develop, procure and operate the F-35, the U.S. military's next-generation multi-purpose fighter jet. The program is currently expected to cost in total about $1.5 trillion over its expected 55-year lifetime. To put that in perspective, according to a post on the Norwich University website, it only cost the United States just over $4 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars) to win the Second World War.

That's a lot for one airplane. That's a lot for just about anything. It may be the most expensive government program ever and, as Popular Mechanics put it in July 2018, the program is a mess. - More...
Wednesday AM - June 05, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: D-Day June 6, 1944

Political Cartoon: D-Day June 6, 1944
By Pat Bagley ©2019, The Salt Lake Tribune, UT
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Crime Bill Passes the Legislature By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Earlier this month, the House passed House Bill 49, which is a collaborative bill between the House, the Senate, and the Governor's administration to improve public safety. After the Conference Committee process last week, the Senate passed the bill on Tuesday, May 28th. The bill now heads to the Governor’s Office to be signed. The bill has most generally been referred to as the “SB91 Repeal” and contains the following provisions:

• Keeps in place the pretrial services program and the pretrial risk assessment tool, while making them subject to judges' discretion.

• Gives offenders up to one year of credit for time spent in treatment, which is part of a larger effort to promote treatment and rehabilitation for offenders.

• Reduces credits for "good behavior" that a person on parole or probation can receive. The bill also removes caps on the amount of time a person can serve for probation or parole violations and gives discretion back to judges.

• For simple drug possession, the first conviction for possession of a controlled substance will result in a class A misdemeanor. The second conviction within ten years will result in a class C felony. The Department of Law testified that this change will give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to address substance abuse-related crime. The bill also adds a 10-year look back requirement for drug offenses.  - More...
Saturday AM - June 01, 2019

jpg Opinion

Local Tourism Growth By Austin Otos - Welcome to the beginning of the 2019 tourist season! This year our community is expected to reach 1.2 million visitors. I was excited to see entrepreneurs start up new local businesses ranging from delicious eateries to adventurous sightseeing tours. These important businesses make up the backbone of our tourist economy and provide excellent service to eager visitors willing to come see our awesome town! Many people see tourism as a healthier and more stable economy than past resource extraction. However, I sense a growing division within the community between “restrictionist” and “expansionist”. The common themes I hear from restrictionists are capping visitors and playing hardball with the cruise ship industry over dock improvements. On the other side, I find expansionists looking to take visitors beyond Ketchikan, working around zoning laws. These two forces have brought up issues over infrastructure such as road and sidewalk improvements, growing the outlying Clam and Herring Cove areas, and the private-public dock partnership.

As someone that works in the tourist industry, specifically hospitality, I see the benefits and downfalls of centering our local economy on tourism. My employment isn’t affected by cruise ship tourists and is focused more on the long-term visitors looking to stay in our unique town a few days. Economically, these types of visitors tend to spend more money at our local shops, restaurants, and bars, which benefits the community more. When it comes to the tourist issue I tend to stick in the middle, avoiding hardline economic barriers like capping visitors or advocating for untamed growth without any management. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike seeing our torn up roads and get irritated dodging the hordes of crowded bodies in the downtown area. However, entrenching oneself in these reactive positions is not beneficial for business owners or helpful for local government planning. A proactive approach would be to form task forces or town hall meetings through our local governments to help manage tourism growth. More importantly, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough plays a vital role in improving our Transportation and Planning Departments by dispersing tourists from the congested downtown area and organizes areas for future development. - More...
Saturday AM - June 01, 2019

jpg Opinion

Refusing to release education funds is harming our schools and children By Sarah Sledge; Dr. Lisa Skiles Parady; Norm Wooten - We’re perplexed. And disappointed. Gov. Mike Dunleavy was an educator and claims to serve all Alaskans but has decided that education funding will not be released to school districts on July 15 this year. Talk about a harsh disconnect!

It’s not a surprise, however. Gov. Dunleavy is still withholding $20 million from our schools this year. The money was appropriated last year and signed into law by then- Gov. Bill Walker. Gov. Dunleavy is refusing to faithfully execute that law.

His explanation - that he proposed legislation to repeal these funds and is waiting for the Legislature to act on his proposal — is nonsense. Gov. Dunleavy knows the Legislature is not going to agree to repeal these funds.

The conference committee adopted a joint statement of intent that DEED immediately release the FY 2019 $20 million in education funding. To continue to act as though the Legislature may move to repeal this funding is a charade. It does not show good faith and is causing harm to our schools and most importantly our children.

On top of that, Gov. Dunleavy is now challenging the FY 2020 education funding passed into law last year, saying it is unconstitutional. There is a bevy of lawyers who disagree with this claim, including the Legislature’s lawyers and last year’s state lawyers. The governor’s stance is, “Do it my way or I will withhold funding for schools,” which would throw our education system into chaos or worse. - More...
Saturday AM - June 01, 2019

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