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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 13, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By JACY PIERSON ©2016

POW Juvenile Grouse
The fledgling period has ended for this young grouse and it is now a juvenile. This young grouse appears to have just recently left its nest as some soft downy feathers are still visible on its legs. This young grouse was photographed on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.
Front Page Feature Photo By JACY PIERSON

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Gov.Walker Urges Legislators to Act Now on Fiscal Crisis; Alaska GOP says Governor is threatening citizens from his official office - The Walker-Mallott administration today released a six-page report of the dire consequences facing Alaskans as a result of the legislature’s failure to pass a sustainable fiscal plan.

In releasing the report, Governor Bill Walker said, “I thank the 29th Legislature for convening its fifth special legislative session to consider a truly historic Alaskan challenge. I have said many times: our new fiscal reality only constitutes a ‘crisis’ if we fail to act. Unfortunately, after a regular, extended, and special legislative session this year, 90 percent of our fiscal problem remains – with little optimism for reasonable compromise. It’s clear now: We have a serious fiscal crisis."

Walker stated in a press release, "How we deal with this crisis will define us all – with no less than Alaska’s future hanging in the balance. I therefore expect, and all Alaskans should demand, compromise and affirmative action by this Legislature on a comprehensive solution to our massive budget deficit during this special legislative session. I do appreciate the Senate’s good work in passing SB 128 to restructure the permanent fund."

"There are currently three fiscal plans in play, said the Governor. "There’s the Governor’s New Sustainable Alaska Plan, which will continue to force government efficiency while maintaining most current state services. But there are also two alternate plans: The No Action Plan (NAP) and the SB128-Only (Permanent Fund Restructure) Plan."

Under either alternate plan, devastating cuts to state services are required stated the Governor. To view Alaska under either of these scenarios, click here: Alternate Plans.

The Alaska Legislature will choose one of these three plans during this fifth special legislative session. Failure to adopt the New Sustainable Alaska Plan will, by default, mean choosing the No Action Plan (NAP). If the Legislature were to only pass SB128, then the SB128-Only Plan goes forward. One way or another, one of these three plans will go into effect when the Legislature gavels out of the fifth special session.

I will ask every legislator and every candidate for the legislature to choose which of these three plans they support. Failure to choose a plan will constitute support for the No Action Plan (NAP). After Alaskans become familiar with the type of Alaska each of these three plans represents, voters will be much better informed about who should represent them in Juneau.”

Rick Whitbeck, vice chair of the Alaska Republican Party responded to Gov. Bill Walker's press release saying the Governor is using his official office to campaign against citizens running for office if they don’t satisfactorily answer the Governor's questions about his proposed taxes. Whitbeck said, "...He not only threatened sitting legislators, but strongly inferred he would campaign against anyone who doesn’t answer his specific questions about addressing the budget gap.”

Whitbeck said, "He has stepped over the line when it comes to misusing the office. Alaskans have to ask themselves if he’s violated the Executive Branch Ethics Act."

“This governor's ethical boundaries are fuzzy at best. But it looks like his policies are so bad that he has to resort to political threats and strong-arming to try to get his way.” Whitbeck said. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016

Alaska - North Pacific: El Nino patterns contributed to long-lived marine heatwave in North Pacific - El Niño climate patterns contributed to the "warm blob" that began dominating the Gulf of Alaska in late 2013, and later gripped the West Coast of North America in what became the Northeast Pacific's largest marine heatwave, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change today.

While the warm blob started in the Gulf of Alaska in 2013, its persistence and evolution into a much larger pattern of ocean warming in 2014 and 2015 involved long-distance "teleconnections" between the North and tropical Pacific.

"The bottom line is that El Niño had a hand in this even though we're talking about very long-distance influences," said Nate Mantua, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center and a coauthor of the new study. "It's been known for decades that El Niño causes changes in wind, weather, and ocean temperatures across the North Pacific through an 'atmospheric bridge,' where massive shifts in tropical rainfall influence storm tracks over the North Pacific and North America." - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016

Alaska: Orphaned Moose Safety Captured, To Be Relocated to Wildlife Facility - Two orphaned moose calves, left without their mother as a result of an illegal shooting near Denali Post office inside Denali National Park and Preserve in early June, were safely captured Friday afternoon and are to be relocated to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Girdwood, Alaska.

The calves had been regularly monitored since they were orphaned in June. They had been observed with other moose and were feeding in the area. While smaller than other calves born in the park this May, they were considered healthy and active.

Early consultation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had determined that allowing the calves to remain in the area and not intervene in natural processes was the best course of action.

The situation changed when interactions between the calves and people in the entrance area became more frequent. Park staff had received reports of visitors being close enough to the calves to feed them. Motorists were observed walking in highway travel lanes, crossing the road in front of fast-moving traffic, parking erratically in unsafe locations, and leaving vehicle doors open in order to view or photograph moose calves feeding. The calves had also been observed crossing the Parks Highway, sometimes multiple times a day, causing extremely unsafe driving conditions.

Park management and wildlife staff responded to this change and made the decision this week to capture and relocate the calves.

Superintendent Don Striker said, “This was another fine example of the strong partnership we enjoy with the State of Alaska and our many neighbors. I’m pleased to add the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to our growing list of partners in conservation.” - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016

Alaska: Refinancing Reduces State of Alaska Lease Payments by $6.2 Million - The Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Mat-Su) has issued $57,985,000 of State of Alaska Lease Revenue Refunding Bonds. On July 7, 2016, the Mat-Su, in conjunction with the State of Alaska, accessed the capital markets through The Royal Bank of Canada’s Capital Market’s team for the refinancing of Mat-Su’s 2008 State of Alaska Lease Revenue Bonds. The bonds were originally sold to finance the Goose Creek Correctional Facility Project. The 2020 through 2025 maturities were refinanced from an average coupon rate of 5.737107% to a true interest cost rate of 1.644117%.

The State will benefit through lowered lease payments on the facility. By lowering the interest rate by over 4.09% the State will save $6,672,317 over the next 10 years with a present value of $6,172,590, a total savings of over 10%. Savings each fiscal year range from approximately $531,000 to $738,000 through fiscal year 2026.

This transaction is the second sale of State of Alaska lease revenue refunding bonds, picking up the remaining maturities not captured with the previous refinancing on April 2, 2015. The present value savings combined from all Goose Creek refinancing activity is $14,889,718. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016


Alaska's shorebirds exposed to mercury - Shorebirds breeding in Alaska are being exposed to mercury at levels that could put their populations at risk, according to new research from The Condor: Ornithological Applications.

Alaska's shorebirds exposed to mercury

Pectoral Sandpipers and other shorebirds are being exposed to high levels of mercury in Alaska according to new research.
Photo By B. Lagasse, courtesy The Condor: Ornithological Applications

Thanks to atmospheric circulation and other factors, the mercury that we deposit into the environment tends to accumulate in the Arctic. Mercury exposure can reduce birds' reproductive success and sometimes even be lethal. Shorebirds may be particularly vulnerable because they forage in aquatic environments where mercury is converted into methylmercury, its most dangerous form. Marie Perkins of the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) and her colleagues investigated the level of mercury in Alaska's shorebirds and found that some birds breeding near Barrow, at the state's northern end, have mercury concentrations upwards of two micrograms per gram of blood.

"These species already face a lot of tough new challenges, from climate change to disappearing stop-over habitat, so throwing a neurotoxin in the mix that can reduce reproductive success is likely to harm their populations," according to Dan Cristol of the College of William & Mary, an expert on mercury in birds who was not involved with the new study. "The mercury concentrations reported in this paper are likely to reduce reproduction, but not catastrophically, based on what we know from other species. What may be even worse, though, is that these mercury levels probably spike when they leave the breeding grounds and start burning their reserve fuel, making their already arduous continent-jumping trips even harder." - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016

Alaska: Public input sought on preserving Alaska's cultural heritage - The Alaska Office of History and Archaeology has launched a statewide historic preservation planning effort by inviting Alaskans to identify historic places throughout the state that are important to them.

Alaska’s current Historic Preservation Plan expires next year. “The new plan will set the path for historic preservation in Alaska through 2023. We are interested in hearing from all Alaskans on what matters to them,” said State Historic Preservation Officer Judy Bittner.

The public can participate in the early stages of plan development in several ways – through an online survey and through an online photo sharing campaign, at ThisPlaceMatters Alaska. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: Who Will Win the Hillary Clinton Veepstakes? - A Vice Presidential pick is a defining moment in a campaign, motivating nominees to utilize unique strategies. Some try to accentuate their heavyweight status by partnering up with less vibrant versions of themselves in what might be called the "Bad Xerox Without Any Toner" maneuver. Think... Dan Quayle.

Some candidates pick opponents who put up distinguished fights on the primary trail, even though the two get along like hot fudge sundaes and gravel rakes in the "One Plus One Equals Three" scenario. Lyndon Johnson and Al Gore fit this template.

Others look for anything semi-vertical and warm blooded, in the "Please, Somebody, Anybody, Say Yes" approach which led George McGovern to pick Sargent Shriver after his first choice was revealed to suffer from depression (before being picked, as opposed to Shriver who was afflicted afterwards).

You have the "Game Changer" blueprint that gave us Sarah Palin and Admiral Stockdale. Who? Exactly. Then there's the ever popular "Toughen the Kid Up by Giving Him a Taste of Satan" move, leading to Dick Cheney.

Looking presidential is not a problem for Hillary Clinton, as she has been involved in enough high profile intrigue, chicanery and deceit to give three or four late 19th Century administrations a run for their money. After eight years as first lady and four as secretary of state, she could plot her way to the Oval Office from the Lincoln Bedroom blindfolded. Of course, so could some of Bill's dates.

Hillary's requirements are more esoteric, so let's check out the short list of possible candidates designed to provide the former New York Senator with an edge this November.

Bernie Sanders, because otherwise his legion of supporters will evaporate like pixie dust in a hard rain.

Elizabeth Warren, although having two people of the same sex on a single ticket would be unprecedented. Oh wait, no, it wouldn't. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 13, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: GOP Convention

Editorial Cartoon: GOP Convention
By Steve Sack ©2016, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter An Open Letter to Our Community By Ken Tonjes - We all know that living in a small town is wonderful, but it comes with its own set of perils. Sometimes it is nice that news travels fast, but on the flip side, so does misinformation. Just a few well-meant but not entirely accurate conversations around the campfire and before we know it, misinformation is being spread around town. Most recently, the grapevine is saying that Ketchikan Medical Center is no longer performing elective surgeries because we don’t have anesthesiologists. - More...
Thursday PM - July 07, 2016

letter Part 13: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - On the editorial page of the June 25 weekend edition of the KETCHIKAN DAILY NEWS in an unattributed editorial blurb the DAILY NEWS harshly criticized numerous members of the state house of representatives for resisting “Oil Company” Walker’s effort to take Alaskans’ Permanent Fund Dividend. This cavalier willingness to deprive so many others of so much displays fundamentally the willful ignorance the DAILY NEWS and its staff has about the financial crisis, i.e. the “Coghill Abomination,” that faces this state today; and it also gives us a very clear idea of the type of decisions Bob Sivertsen would make, i.e. to sell us all down the river at the earliest possible opportunity. - More...
Thursday PM - July 07, 2016

letter AST K9 Lutri By A.M. Johnson - Did not the local enforcement dispose of the drug dog on reason that having marijuana legal the dog was not worth the cost? Seems logical that a dog such as the one in this story would be a deterrent IF used daily at the ferry terminal, airport, and incoming mail (Postal office). FedEx, and UPS. - More...
Monday AM - July 04, 2016

letter No Aircraft for Iran By Donald Moskowitz - Boeing Co. recently cut a deal with Iran Air to sell it 100 Boeing 737s and 777s worth about $25 billion, which is a nice contract for Boeing and its employees. - More...
Monday AM - July 04, 2016

letter WISH Situation is Dire By Diane Gubatayao - By now it is well known that since September 2015, Women In Safe Homes (WISH) has been on probation with the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA), the State agency responsible for funding and administrative oversight of 18 shelters throughout Alaska. The original probation document cited nine systemic issues involving staff, participants and community partners. I do not believe it is productive at this time to debate the merits of the probation. I trust that a State agency comprised of a Commissioner and assistant State Attorney General, among others, has done due diligence before imposing such a serious sanction. To their credit, many associated with WISH have made the effort to meet the requirements outlined by CDVSA. However, we have learned recently that the situation is dire with the exit of five Board members and some staff, and continued problems with WISH management and leadership highlighted by CDVSA. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter GOVERNOR, THE NEXT CUP OF COFFEE IS ON ME By Richard Peterson - Earlier this month, I wrote a commentary on whether or not the 2014 “Unity Team” would keep its promise to steer away from litigation against Alaska tribes and instead work towards improving tribal relations. Today’s commentary is a follow-up to express my gratitude to the Walker Administration for not appealing the recent Alaska Supreme Court decision in State of Alaska v. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. This important court ruling affirms that Alaska tribal courts, some of whom already handle custody, adoption, and paternity for tribal children, can also decide child support. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter PART 12: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Voting for Bob Sivertsen for state representative in the upcoming election is the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire that is already out of control. I have nothing personal against Bob Sivertsen. I hear he is a moderate conservative “who hasn’t run into a local social program he hasn’t enthusiastically supported.” But what Bob calls ‘leadership’ I call sheepishness, and that limitation is a disaster in the making because these folks up north who call themselves Republicans are anything but, yet Bob Sivertsen will still follow that bunch wherever they go. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter Local radio dropping RUSH By A.M.Johnson - The following is written as a public service. Recently KTKN radio station announced that effective July 1st, the station with locations in Ketchikan, Sitka, and Juneau have or are dropping the Rush Limbaugh program from their schedule. Inquiry as to the reason was given the fiscal disappointment of revenue. When asked if there was a political venue related to the action, I was assured that there was and is no such pressure. When the question of what is anticipated to replace the Rush programming that will result in equal or additional revenue during the three hour period, there was no response other than Drop by the station sometime by the general manager. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 29, 2016

letter RE: Public restrooms on docks closed too early By Douglas J. Thompson - Regarding the letter from Mr. Phil Borngraeber published recently in Sitnews: We have ten harbor employees and probably more with their 'summer help'. They are costing Ketchikan's taxpayer between ninety and one hundred forty thousand dollars per year each. We pay for a multitude of vehicles for them and all expenses. The department is supposedly run by Corporan under Amylon. Somewhere along the way as I have pointed out before they have decided they no longer need to work to collect their salary. Case in point is Mr. Borngraeber letter showing they once again "contract out" the most simple menial tasks that they themselves should be doing. It is ridiculous that cleaning Harbor Department bathrooms is approved for contracting out. With the overstaffing it should easily be handled and could even be done with 1/3 of the employees currently employed to no discernible benefit in that bloated department. - More...
Monday AM - June 27, 2016

letter Gov Walker's 5th Special Session By Marvin Seibert - We are now in the grips of Governor Walker's calling for a 5th special session. Special sessions were not instituted till the governor of a state gets his way. Taxes being considered will have a devastating effect on the people who can afford it the least. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

letter Public restrooms on docks closed too early By Phil L. Borngraeber - Just in the last two weeks I have been among the many local folks riding, walking, taking the kids or dogs out for relaxation and exercise. But wait, no matter how great the weather is, don't plan on using the restrooms at dock 4 or 2 after the ships have left. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

letter Please abide by leash laws By Mishele Rhein - In light of summer and the added outdoor activities at the local beaches, I would like to encourage the locals and our numerous summer guests to abide by the leash laws. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy watching my dogs run, play and dig with abandon on the sandy beaches as well, but doing so on a leash. Being a dog owner, I understand the need to get out and exercise man’s best friend, but to be honest, I am growing weary of being assaulted by “friendly” dogs when the owner is truly no where to be seen. I am not sure what’s worse, missing dog owners or oblivious dog owners. The latter being the friendly passers by greeting you a wonderful afternoon while their dog is running circles around you and your now distracted leashed dog. Everyone tends to think their dog is “amiable enough” and “its no problem.” Even though my exuberant animals feel the need to greet everyone, everyone does not feel the need to greet them. Just tonight I went for a walk and was greeted (whether I wanted to be or not) by no less than three dogs before I even got to the beach. One of which had a leash trailing but no person holding the other end and the fourth dog came to investigate upon exit and felt the need to walk us part way home. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

letter The 1967 Fairbanks' Flood By John Calhoun - I was living in the Northward building at the time of the 1967 Fairbanks' flood. We were able to get power from a building across the street by a long cord hooked up to an electrical panel to provide emergency lighting in the halls and stairwells. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 22, 2016

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