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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 07, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Bath Time
Bathing is an important part of feather maintenance. Dampening the feathers loosens the dirt and makes a bird's feathers easier to preen.This juvenile eagle chose Herring Cove as a perfect bath spot.
Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT ©2019

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Fish Factor: Raw fish tax reprieve, pink funds cut loose; & more... By LAINE WELCH -  One fisheries item that appears to have escaped Governor Mike Dunleavy’s veto pen so far is his desire to divert local fish taxes from coastal communities into state coffers. 

Dunleavy’s initial budget in February aimed to repeal the sharing of fisheries business and landing taxes that towns and boroughs split 50/50 with the state. Instead, all of the tax revenues would go to the state’s general fund – a loss of $28 million in FY 2020 to fishing communities. 

“There is a recognition that these are viewed as shared resources, and they should be shared by Alaskans,” press secretary Matt Shuckerow said at the time. “So that’s kind of what this proposal does. It takes shared resources and shares them with all Alaskans, not just some select communities.”

The tax split remains in place and the dollars are still destined for fishing towns, said Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) who also represents Cordova, Yakutat and several smaller towns.

“It’s general fund revenue and that has been appropriated to the appropriate communities,” Stutes said in a phone interview. “What we can tell right now is it slipped by unscathed because it appears he did not veto that revenue to the communities that generate the dollars. So, it looks like we’re good to go there.”  

What’s not so good is the nearly one million dollar cut to the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game’s commercial fisheries budget.

Stutes and Senator Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) worry that the shortfall could result in lost harvests. 

“It’s always short-sighted when you cut Fish and Game. It’s just really crucial that we have the personnel we need to manage our resources and to make sure they continue to be there when we need them,” Stevens told KMXT in Kodiak.

Rep. Stutes, who chairs the House fisheries committee, said it does not make sense to cut state money makers.  

“In the long run, that creates revenue for the state because it allows all these different fisheries to stay open longer,” she said, adding that lost oversight due to budget cuts will result in more conservative management. 

“If they do not have the personnel to do the appropriate salmon counts, they’re going to manage very conservatively. And that means less openings or they’ll close the season earlier,” Stutes said. “Those are dollars that the state’s not going to get by the governor vetoing those funds to Fish and Game. It just doesn’t make sense to me under any conditions.”

All the amendments that the Alaska legislature added back into the original ADF&G budget were vetoed,  including a $280,000 cut to  special areas management, which include 12 game refuges, 17 critical habitat areas and three wildlife sanctuaries. Two director-level positions and associated funding from the Habitat and Subsistence Research Divisions will be moved to the Office of Management and Budget and no longer be associated with ADF&G related duties. 

Impacts of the budget cuts were not readily available and all questions are referred to a new address. The questions may be directed back to appropriate staff, but “they want everything to be through that address,” said one ADF&G employee.

“Welcome to our world,” said Rep. Stutes.  “As a legislature, we can’t get answers. We can’t speak to department heads. We get no response. We are required to go through the legislative liaison. I have never seen such a lack of communication between any department or between the legislature and the executive branch.” - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019


Ketchikan: DEC Issues 2nd Advisory for Ketchikan Beaches - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced an advisory for four coastal areas in Ketchikan due to elevated levels of bacteria in recent samples of the marine water at these locations.

Water samples were collected on July 2, 2019 at 12 beaches. Four of these beaches showed elevated enterococci and fecal coliform levels. These beaches are:

  • Herring Cove Beach (north end of Herring Cove)
  • Mountain Point Surprise Beach (near Mountain Point boat launch)
  • Rotary Beach, also known as Bugges Beach (south of Saxman)
  • Sunset Beach (south end of Mud Bay)

Until sample results consistently meet water quality standards and DEC lifts this advisory, people should take precautionary measures when visiting these beaches listed above. DEC recommends beach users take normal precautions to avoid exposure, such as avoid swimming in the water, and washing after contact with the water. DEC recommends that when fishing in these areas people should rinse fish/marine foods with clean water and cook seafood to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy pathogens.

Fecal coliform bacteria levels were also above state limits protecting consumption of raw fish and shellfish at seven additional beaches: Rotary Pool, Seaport Beach, Thomas Basin, Refuge Cove Beach, Shull Road Beach, South Point Higgins Beach, and Knudson Cove. A recreational advisory is not in effect for these beaches, but cleaning and cooking fish is highly recommended.

Enterococci and fecal coliform bacteria can come from any warm blooded animal, including birds, seals, and dogs, as well as humans. Potential sources of this bacteria on Ketchikan beaches may include wildlife and pet feces, human waste from private and municipal treatment systems, sewer line leakage, and/or boats in harbor areas. - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

Alaska: Largest “Mail Dumping” Case in Alaska History; Former Postal Carrier Sentenced for Deserting Approximately 49 Plastic Tubs of Mail - In the largest “mail dumping” case in Alaska history, a former U.S. Postal Service employee has been sentenced to federal prison for deserting more than 49 plastic tubs of mail that he was responsible for delivering. 

Thomas Gerald Hilty, 48, of Wasilla, was sentenced July 1, 2019 by Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah M. Smith to serve three years of probation, to complete 300 hours of community service, and to pay a $1,000 fine.  In April 2019, Hilty pleaded guilty to one count of desertion of mail.

According to court documents, over the course of two years, Hilty abandoned some of the mail along the route in unused mail receptacles, kept some of it in and around his home, and even destroyed mail by burning it. The deserted mail included a passport, insurance correspondence, PFD letters, college acceptance letters, child support payments, among other unknown types of mail that Hilty burned.  

The investigation revealed that Hilty simply tired of delivering the mail he was entrusted with delivering, and did not want to complete his assigned rounds.  This was the largest “mail dumping” case in Alaska history, as measured by the mail volume and number of victims – there were 467 identifiable victims in this case.  - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

jpg Flowing 355 miles from its headwaters in British Columbia, the Stikine River empties into southeast Alaska. The transboundary river supports all five species of Pacific salmon, important to people on both sides of the border.

The Salmon Way’: Author shares Alaska’s salmon stories and ways of life
Flowing 355 miles from its headwaters in British Columbia, the Stikine River empties into southeast Alaska. The transboundary river supports all five species of Pacific salmon, important to people on both sides of the border.
Photo By Amy Gulick ©2019


Alaska: The Salmon Way’: Author shares Alaska’s salmon stories and ways of life By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - From the fish camps of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, to the gillnets of Bristol Bay, to the bear and angler-packed banks of Juneau’s Sweetheart Creek, salmon connect people to the land, the water, the seasons, and each other. Those connections create a culture that inspired author Amy Gulick’s most recent book, “The Salmon Way: An Alaska State of Mind,” released on May 1.

“Salmon create a generosity of spirit, and generosity creates relationships,” Gulick said. “Relationships create community. When you step back you think ‘Wow, how can a mere fish do that?’ It’s the gift of salmon — not just to people, but to the land, the plants, the fish, the trees. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.”

“The Salmon Way” chronicles Alaskans’ relationship with salmon through six main sections, each one delving into a different theme: salmon as a gift, salmon as seen through the lens of commercial, sport or subsistence fishing, salmon in Bristol Bay, and the future of salmon. It weaves in profiles of salmon people, Gulick’s evolution as a salmon lover and stories of her journeys to fish camps, fishing boats, setnets, smokehouses and salmon-loving homes around Alaska.

Gulick’s first book, “Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest,” published in 2010, delved into the relationship between salmon and the Tongass’ trees.

For “The Salmon Way,” she asked almost everyone she spoke with the same question: What do salmon mean to you?

One woman told her salmon are “like breathing,” Gulick said. People to whom salmon provide different things — subsistence, sport, a paycheck — still answered similarly and in ways that went deep. - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019



TOM PURCELL: Buy a Home! You'll Benefit - But Be Miserable - Why do I want more Americans to buy homes? Because misery loves company.

The Wall Street Journal reports most American renters believe homeownership is financially out of their reach - only 24 percent say it's "extremely likely that they would ever own a home, 11 percentage points lower than four years ago," according to a Freddie Mac survey - and that isn't good for our country.

Look, homeownership brings many benefits. 

For starters, homeowners' net worth is higher than renters' - for the simple reason that mortgage payments, unlike rent payments, eventually build thousands of dollars in equity., 

Homeownership is good for the economy - because many homeowners are always looking to improve their abodes with new furnishings, landscaping materials, construction supplies and so on.   - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019


DANNY TYREE: Slow Drivers: Are They Driving You Insane? -Some people never break the posted speed limit, they gingerly seal it in bubble wrap.

While lead-footed daredevils announce, "Put the pedal to the metal," the contrasting lost-in-their-own-little-world "helium-footed" motorists chant the mantra "Do not violate the pedal's personal space."

Honestly, I don't hate anyone in the whole world, but I can empathize with frustrated motorists who post essays declaring "I Hate Slow Drivers."

Most of the writers are kvetching about slowpokes who take up permanent residency in the passing lane of an interstate highway, but I have encountered more than enough sightseers impeding commuters along country roads.

I know some people like to show up "fashionably late," but if you're so slow that you arrive wearing fashions from the previous decade... 

Perhaps timid drivers stay well below the speeds recommended by safety engineers because they think it's a trap. They envision the engineers sadistically waiting for vehicles traveling 55 miles per hour in a 55 zone to vibrate to pieces. ("Look! They're burning up on reentry into Podunk. Sweet.") - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

RICH MANIERI: The Dismantling of Joe Biden - I don't know Joe Biden personally. I do know a lot of people who move in the same circles as the former vice president and by all accounts, Biden is a decent person; genuine, affable, earnest.

I disagree with Biden on most political issues and I wouldn't vote for him at gunpoint,but I don't believe he is a lech, a racist or a homophobe.

Yes, he does have a gaffe habit that is killing is presidential candidacy, one misspoken phrase at a time, but he deserves better from his own party and from a media that have decided he's no longer a horse worth backing.

Biden is the closest thing that passes for a moderate among a phalanx of Democrats who want to turn the U.S. into Sweden, Finland, Cuba or any place where the words "personal liberty" are about as elusive as the Loch Ness monster.

Biden has stepped in it twice recently. Actually, he's stepped in it more than that but let's look at a couple of examples.

At Pride fundraiser last weekend, Biden was trying to tout progress on gay rights when he said how, just five years ago, "it was acceptable to make fun of a gay waiter." - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Dem Air Now Boarding

Political Cartoon: Dem Air Now Boarding
By Jeff Koterba ©2019, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

Assembly and School Board Need Immediate Fiscal Plans By Dan Bockhorst - A Borough Assembly member (writing as a private citizen) recently expressed legitimate concerns about practices of State officials that have caused acute fiscal troubles throughout Alaska. The concerns expressed boil down to four points:
(1) excessive spending growth; (2) deficit spending which masks true spending; (3) depletion of financial reserves; and (4) the likelihood of new or higher taxes.
Have our Assembly and School Board engaged in similar unsound fiscal practices but at an even larger scale? Consider the following:

(1) Regarding spending growth, in response to requests from the School Board, the Assembly appropriated $2.3 million (66%) more in discretionary funding for our schools this year compared to just two years ago.

(2) Regarding deficit spending, our Assembly made an illusionary cut in a recent mid-year supplemental funding request from the School Board. The Assembly halved the request knowing that the action would only increase the District’s employee health insurance fund deficit by a like amount. There was no spending cut.

(3) Regarding depletion of financial reserves, current spending levels for schools will exhaust the Borough’s Local Education Fund in less than three years.

(4) Regarding the prospect of higher taxes to support schools, tucked away in the Borough’s 230-page budget is the following 20-word warning: “. . . in order to maintain current funding levels, some additional revenue source must be identified within the next year or so." That “additional revenue source” might be a 50-60% increase in areawide property taxes over the next three years. - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

RE: Governor's Vetos By Rep. Dan Ortiz - I would like to thank Rodney Dial for the letter he submitted to SitNews published on June 30, 2019. Even more I would like to thank Assemblyman Dial for his commitment to public service by serving on the Ketchikan Borough Assembly. I offer the following facts that counter many of the points raised by Mr. Dial but I do so in the spirit of open communication and with respect for the arguments being made by him. The following facts & figures come from the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division and are viewable by the general public.

Starting with Mr. Dial’s characterization of the past cuts that he says have not “really” been made by the Legislature and/or our previous Governor Walker. He talks about the comparison vs. FY15 as the High, believing that the FY15 budget included the $3 billion retirement payment. That’s flat-out incorrect. The $3 billion Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund (CBRF) appropriation was direct from the CBRF to the retirement system. It never passed through the General Fund and was not part of any budget comparison.

We only need to look at the significant cuts that have been made to the AMHS, (vessel operations line item in 2015 was 111 million its now down to 30 million in the FY 20 operating budget) and the cuts that have been made to the Dept. of Fish and Game. In FY 15 UGF funding was at 79 million and is down to 52 million in FY 20. The residents living in coastal Alaska know that the cuts that have been made by the Legislature have been real and have resulted in significant local negative impacts to our economy. Those employed by state government in Alaska numbered 26,500 in May of 2015, by May of 2019 the number employed by the state dropped by 4000 people, to 22,500. The removal of these family incomes from circulation in the state’s economy are a direct result of the painful cuts made by the Legislature to the state operating budget and funding to state agencies. - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

Open Letter: RE: Boondoggle By Al Johnson - Good to hear from you Rep. Ortiz during you busy break (I agree with the Senate President as to the Governor calling the location, I disagree that it has to be. I would if asked, suggest that you attend where the Governor has indicated while the lawsuit proceeds (Deal with the determination). That too, disturbs me that the separated powers are in this fix.

As to the boat title issue. I thank you for common sense. I understand the issue from the Harbor Master's position, however if you think about it this action serves little in the way of improving abandon boat ownership in terms of handling disposition. One would believe the same legal steps have to be taken in any instance of attempting to locate ownership. It is assumed that the hull will have AK numbers, the registration for those numbers will confirm the last owner.- More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

RE: Boondoggle Looking For A Place To Happen By Rep. Dan Ortiz - In response to the letter submitted by A.M. “AL” Johnson entitled “Boodoggle Looking For A Place To Happen”, I agree with the sentiments/concerns expressed by Mr. Johnson. His concerns centered around SB 92, the “Derelict Vessels” bill, sponsored by Senator Peter Micciche. The bill was submitted at the request of Harbor Masters across the state because of the problems encountered statewide with vessels being abandoned with no or little way law enforcement personnel could trace who were the owners of the boat. - More...
Sunday PM - July 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

Boondoggle looking for a place to happen By A. M. Johnson - Regarding the upcoming LIO Ortiz Ketchikan meeting, I will not be attending, however were the chance to give Representative Ortiz a piece of my mind on a particular matter it would be:   Title registration of boats over 24 feet.  This legislation is a SNAFU big time. What a mess this will be.

Having to register in person at the DMV office, not on line, required paperwork on boats owned for years without any formal information on the transaction or worst, lost paper work never thinking of this worthless goal legislation would be approved. The worthless intent alone should have told legislators that it will be a nightmare effort to police. More it appears to be a avenue for revenue over the stated intent of its being. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 03, 2019

jpg Opinion

RE: Governor's Vetoes By Elaine Taylor - I read with great interest the letter to the editor from Rodney Dial.   In high school we were taught that when you have a complaint, valid or not, you also offer a remedy.  Dial did not offer any real suggestions.

I am offering one.  

Alaska is a Red State as we all know.  I was born and raised in Washington State, having also lived in California for long periods.

Every year, 2-3 times a year Washington State was having Bond Levy's for the school system and most times the Levy's failed.  People were upset at the state for wanting all people to pay for the schools when their own children were raised and gone from the school system.  Understandable. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 03, 2019

jpg Opinion

Governor's Vetos By Rodney Dial - So the Governor has announced his vetoes, cutting $444 million from the budget. Assuming these cuts stand, just about everyone will feel some pain, and it will have an impact on local taxes.

Let’s consider for a moment why these cuts were made. First, if you want someone to blame for this you should start with the legislators who have had nearly 6 YEARS to address this problem and failed to do so.

If you are one of the few that believe that TOTAL State spending has been reduced by any REAL amount then they have successfully mislead you. I worked in the legislature for a decade and I have watched them pull the following tricks over the last several years. - More...
Saturday AM - June 29, 2019

jpg Opinion

Cuts Could Have Been Avoided By Ray Metcalfe - The University could have avoided all these cuts had it recognized years ago that we Alaskans, unlike any other state, have a collective responsibility to manage a cornucopia of valuable resources that were given to the people of Alaska to develop and sell on the world market as a means of supporting our schools and other governmental needs.

Not one course has been developed to educate Alaskans on how to determine fair market value for the resources industries around the world are taking from us. If ten thousand Alaskans were able to calculate market value for Prudhoe Bay's oil, we would be getting billions more for our oil, and the university would be funded. That said, today would be a good day to start such a course. - More...
Saturday AM - June 29, 2019

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