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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 10, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By FARREL LEWIS

Sitka Black-tailed Deer
Buck relaxing in the Cambria area of Ketchikan. The Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) is native to the wet coastal rainforests of Southeast Alaska and north-coastal British Columbia.
Front Page Feature Photo By FARREL LEWIS ©2019

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Alaska: Lawmakers meeting in Juneau fall short of budget veto override, another vote planned; Dunleavy Signs Narrow Capital Budget, Urges Legislature to Complete Unfinished Business and Find Adequate Funding Sources By MARY KAUFFMAN - (SitNews) Alaska - Rather than attending the special session in Wasilla as called by Governor Michael Dunleavy, 38 legislators chose to meet in Juneau and today held a joint floor session of the House and Senate. With a 37-to-1 vote, these Alaska legislators voted to reject the governor's "damaging, poorly vetted budget vetoes".

However with 22 legislative members in Wasilla where the Special Session was called to meet on Monday, the Juneau legislators' vote today failed to meet the constitutional 45-vote threshold required to override the governor's vetoes.

Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) in a prepared statement said on Monday, “We do not work for the Governor. We represent the people of Alaska. It is unfortunate and disappointing that some lawmakers did not show up for work today. The Governor has created an unnecessary crisis when we should be focused on the future of this state and overriding these unnecessary vetoes. We must work together across caucus and party lines to do what is best for Alaska. Those of us who have come to Juneau, agree that the vetoes should be overridden. Our Capitol has the ability to conduct and conclude business cost-efficiently and is accessible to the statewide public. "

Begich called upon every lawmaker to come to Juneau and put politics aside. “There are three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary. The leadership of our branch has issued a call to meet in Juneau, and we should respect the call of our leaders. Juneau is the location we are constitutionally obligated to have this special session.” Although the leadership acknowledged they were one vote short of the forty vote threshold required to call themselves into their own special session agenda.

Representative David Eastman (R-Wasilla) blogged on July 8th, "When a majority of legislators voted against distribution of this year’s PFD, and then followed up by voting to pay retroactive per diem to legislators, Governor Dunleavy responded by exercising his authority under state law to call them back into session in a location where most legislators are legally prevented from collecting per diem."

Eastman continued, "This same group of legislators immediately tried to gather the number of votes necessary to change the location of the legislative session back to a place where they would be authorized to continue to collect per diem ($302 per day). However, after falling short on multiple attempts, they eventually gave up trying to convince their fellow legislators to vote to change the location."

Governor Dunleavy called the legislature into a second special session on July 8th in Wasilla to pay a full statutory Permanent Fund Dividend and expanded the call to include a capital budget once the Legislature can resolve where it will conduct business.

Following legislative gridlock on the Permanent Fund Dividend throughout a 121-day regular session and month-long special session, Governor Michael J. Dunleavy on June 13, 2019 issued a proclamation calling the Alaska Legislature into special session to provide for a full PFD as outlined in Alaska statute. The special session proclamation called lawmakers into session in Wasilla beginning July 8, 2019.

 “While the legislature has avoided a no budget scenario, their work is not finished until they provide Alaskans with a full PFD outlined by statute. Today [June 13, 2019] I am calling a second special session in Wasilla so lawmakers can complete their work and follow the law,” said Governor Dunleavy. “At this point, a change in venue is necessary to refocus the conversation and remind lawmakers about the people and their PFD. Once the issue of the PFD is solved, these other budgetary issues will fall into place quickly.”

jpg Wasilla protesters chained in front of door to Wasilla Middle School

Wasilla Special Session protesters chained
in front of entrance door to Wasilla Middle School
Photo courtesy Defend the Sacred AK, Alaska Rising Tide, Fireweed Collective, Alaskans Take a Stand, Native Movement, and the Poor People’s Campaign


In June, Governor Dunleavy said, “Our focus has been on bringing the people and legislature together on the PFD. But instead of convening in Wasilla, legislative leadership is attempting to retreat back to Juneau. This move to negate the special session in Wasilla has no legal basis. A governor is clearly empowered to call a special session in a location of their choosing (AS 24.05.100).” Dunleavy said,  “The Senate President and Speaker of the House admit they lack the votes to change the venue or call a special session of their own, yet they are committed to thwarting the law and the voice of the Alaskan people. This is all part of why Alaskans have lost trust in their lawmakers. How can we with a straight face expect people to follow the law when the legislative leadership ignores, breaks, and skirts the law at every turn?”

However, on June 24th Alaska House and Senate leadership announced their intention to return to the isolation of Juneau for a second special session beginning July 8th. In a memo issued by the House Speaker and Senate President, legislative leaders stated that they planned to ignore the location on the governor’s call and instead convene away from the Mat-Su Valley although one vote short of the forty vote threshold required to call themselves into their own special session agenda.

Regardless, House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (D to I-Dillingham) and Senate President Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) stated in a joint news release dated June 24th, “Although we are one vote short of the forty vote threshold to call ourselves into our own special session agenda, the majority of legislators in both bodies considers it our right to determine the location and venue best equipped to conduct business on the Governor’s special session call, while providing the most access to as many Alaskans possible."

After the announcement House Minority Leader  Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage) said, “The fact that legislative leadership plans to run away from the Mat-Su Valley back to their hiding places in Juneau is extremely illuminating.” Pruitt said, “The legislative leadership has already tried to have these conversations on the budget, PFD, and education in the dark back rooms of far-away Alaska; they haven’t found answers. Now, we should be having these conversations in full view of the public.”

Quoting an Alaska House Majority Coalition news release whose members chose to meet in Juneau rather than Wasilla, "Alaska is on the brink of a self-inflicted economic recession as a result of the $444 million in vetoes. Among the many impacts of the 182 vetoes, the University of Alaska could lose accreditation and be forced to close a campus. Payments that amount to more than 25 percent of income for hundreds of our most financially vulnerable elders have been suspended. Grants that pay service organizations to help dying people bathe, cook, and get to medical appointments have been suspended. All of those decisions could be reversed by the Legislature."

“The Legislature can still act to restore essential services, and we are committed to fighting until this is resolved,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) said today. “These are not partisan decisions: Democrats, Republicans, and Independents from the House and Senate voted together today. We must stand together for Alaska.”

According to the Alaska House Majority Coalition, legislators who were not in attendance in Juneau today for the vote to override the governor's vetoes will, however, have another opportunity to represent their districts by voting on this issue during a joint floor session that is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Apparently in Juneau.

Defend the Sacred AK, Alaska Rising Tide, Fireweed Collective, Alaskans Take a Stand, Native Movement, and the Poor People’s Campaign supported the Wasilla protesters. Quoting a news release, "Deeply concerned with Governor Dunleavy’s budget vetoes, Alaskans gathered today at Wasilla Middle School to protest the legislators' refusal to participate in a productive dialogue with their colleagues. Wasilla is an illegitimate, inadequate, and expensive meeting location for legislative activities, creating a political impasse instead of doing their job, representing Alaskans. Legislators need to return to Juneau to vote to override the vetoes."  - More...
Wednesday PM - July 10, 2019


Ketchikan: Man injured in motorcycle accident - Tuesday at about 4:11 PM, the Alaska State Troopers received multiple reports of a Motor Vehicle Collision involving a Motorcycle at Mile 3 of the South Tongass Highway. 

Investigation revealed that Robert Young, age 30 of Ketchikan was operating a blue 2007 Yamaha Motorcycle northbound on the South Tongass Highway when he lost control of the motorcycle, drove off the roadway striking a mailbox and then ultimately hitting a parked vehicle.  Young was trapped underneath the parked vehicle. 

South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department responded and was able to free Young from underneath the vehicle.  Young was transported to Peace Health Ketchikan Medical Center and later medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.  Young was reported in stable condition but suffered serious injuries.  - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019

Analysis: Roberts rules: The 2 most important Supreme Court decisions this year were about fair elections and the chief justice By MORGAN MARIETTA - The week before Independence Day, Chief Justice John Roberts gave the United States two extraordinary rulings on the nature of American democracy. Both cases are about fair elections, and both outcomes are all about John Roberts.

The first enshrines the partisan manipulation of voting districts, what’s called “gerrymandering,” as a practice beyond the control of the courts.

The second ruling challenged the Trump administration to speak openly about its views on citizenship and representation. The administration declined and departed the field abruptly on July 2. However, President Trump tweeted the next day that he is “absolutely moving forward” with the census citizenship question, so the controversy will continue.

A right to fair elections?

The text of the Constitution protects many rights, but voting in an election with fair rules is not one of them.

The two cases this year – on the census in Department of Commerce v. New York and on gerrymandering in Rucho v. Common Cause – challenged the Supreme Court to change this.

The justices did not.

From my perspective as a student of constitutional politics – and co-editor of an annual series on the Supreme Court’s major decisions – the cases are intimately connected.

The Constitution commands a count of the population every 10 years so that we can know how many representatives in Congress and votes in the Electoral College each state receives for the following decade.

Then those same data are used by each state to establish the new boundaries of its legislative districts. The data are also used to determine how much money the federal government sends states for a variety of mandated programs.

In 2021 the redistricting will happen again, there may be lawsuits in response, and so on. Count, redistrict, sue, vote, repeat.

This process of counting people and then dividing them into districts is the heart of how we turn the democratic ideal – representation of the people – into the selection of leaders through elections. But what that process should look like is anything but clear, because it raises problematic questions about who is represented and how. - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019



CHRISTINE FLOWERS: About Men, Women, Interruptors and the Post-Woke Age - When a woman keeps talking over a man who refuses to listen and is trying to interrupt her, that is at most an annoyance and a breach of courtesy. If the woman and the man happen to be in a romantic or familial relationship, it is also grounds for some flowers and a nice dinner. It does not qualify the woman for a Bronze Star, the Nobel Prize in Physics (figuring out how to avoid a nuclear explosion,) or the Oprah Winfrey Seal of Approval.

Unfortunately, in the wake of "woke," we are to believe that a female who continues to yap in the face of a man she wants to slap is heroic. We saw this with Elizabeth Warren a few years ago, when she "persisted" in the face of Mitch McConnell's invocation of a little-used Senate rule cutting off her tirade against Jeff Sessions. The whole, "Nevertheless, she persisted" slogan became a battle cry for feminists who believed that far too much "shushing" had been going on when it came to the gentler sex. I remember thinking at the time that what Warren was doing was not particularly exceptional. In my family, we called that "being Italian."

But as #Metoo heated up and women became outraged at the perceived disregard for their opinions and stature, the whole idea that interrupting a gal (but not a guy) was harassment of a sexual nature. We in this evolved era incorrectly believe we are the only ones who have taken a stand against this cruel and humiliating treatment. One of the most famous examples of a woman pointing out to her significant male other that he needed to pay attention was our second First Lady, Abigail Adams, who famously instructed her husband John to "remember the ladies" when corresponding with him during the Continental Congress.

Many women today can't measure up to the strength and grit of Abigail and her class. They whine, they cry, they use the tools of victimization to advance their causes and agendas. Not all, of course. Some of them are quite capable of holding their own in a so-called "man's world," but we generally don't hear about them because instead of complaining about how they're being disrespected, they do the things that garner respect, like serving in the military, or in Congress, or in the ministry, or in science, or in business, or in the home. To paraphrase the old saying, "Those who can, do, those who can't become critics." Or in the case of these women, complainers. - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019


TOM PURCELL: Humor the Cure for What Ails America - It's never too late for a good belly laugh.

July 1 was, unofficially, International Joke Day. The origins of the day are unclear, but whoever started it was on to something - because our country sure could use a good belly laugh about now.

Which reminds me of the man who walked into a dentist's office one evening.

"I think I'm a moth," said the man.

"I'm sorry," said the dentist. "But I can't help you. You need to see a psychiatrist."

"I am seeing a psychiatrist," said the man.

"Then why did you come to my office?" said the dentist.

"Your light was on," said the man.

I'm not sure where or when social media started making us more strident. But as we share ever-more-angry news posts that demonize those with whom we disagree, we are sacrificing our sense of humor.

"Then why did you come to my office?" said the dentist.

"Your light was on," said the man.

I'm not sure where or when social media started making us more strident. But as we share ever-more-angry news posts that demonize those with whom we disagree, we are sacrificing our sense of humor.

The political jokes of many late-night comedians appeal to half of the country as their snarky nature polarizes the other half - which means those jokes are sarcasm, not humor. - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Census Question

Political Cartoon: Census Question
By Rick McKee ©2019, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Transboundary Mining: Alaska’s senators are working hard. Now let’s lock it in. By Frances Leach - United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) is grateful to Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan, as well as the senators of Idaho, Washington and Montana, for coming together across party lines to urge British Columbia Premier John Horgan to clean up B.C.’s mining sector and to work towards alleviating the threat B.C.’s large scale open-pit mines pose to the province’s downstream U.S. neighbors. All eight senators representing B.C.’s four U.S. border states wrote Premier Horgan on June 13, informing him on what they have been doing to monitor and sustain rivers that flow from B.C. into their states and requesting he increase the province’s efforts to do the same.

B.C. is rushing through more than a dozen large-scale open-pit mines along the major salmon rivers the province shares with Alaska. Meanwhile, a number of its existing mines are already contaminating U.S. waters — like the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine in the Taku watershed, and the Kootenai River in Montana and Idaho, where fish and bird deformities and deaths are ongoing. In the case of the AK-B.C. transboundary Unuk River, 59 percent of the total land draining water to the Unuk (around 80 percent on the B.C. side of the border) is covered with B.C. mining claims or leases — and yet B.C. regulators give little consideration to the mines’ cumulative effects on downstream fishing communities. In contrast to how things are done in Alaska, B.C. also does not require mine owners to post the full amount of money required to clean up after production  — in the worst cases, allowing a mining company to declare bankruptcy and walk away, leaving the province and its taxpayers with the responsibility to cover the costs. As the more than 60 years of acid mine drainage from B.C.’s abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine into the Taku River system clearly shows, that doesn’t work out well for anyone except the mining company. In B.C., the polluter does not pay. (Taku River fishermen have been fighting this battle for decades, and they are not backing down.) - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

Argument Proved: State Spending Increasing By Rodney Dial - I was going to keep the debate going and write a long response to Rep. Ortiz; then I realized that he essentially proved my argument…. that state spending is increasing. He previously proved it was unsustainable when he advocated for additional taxes on top of increased use of the PFD earnings.

The rest is semantics, minimization and a difference of opinion.

Per Rep. Ortiz’s response, the Capital budget has been cut from 2 billon to 100 million and Oil and tax credits owed are $740 million.

The difference between our statements is that I said “about 1 billion” in oil tax credits and Rep. Ortiz said it is closer to $740 million. In the end when they finally pay off this debt it will be close to 1 billion… wait and see, especially if they bond. Regardless, $1.9 billion annual capital reduction plus $740 million (at least) in oil tax credits is a significant amount of what they claim as cuts over the last few years. Since spending for both were just shifted to future years I don’t consider it a cut, however he does.

For the other areas we disagree on, Rep. Ortiz will concede that I have a “valid point” but will minimize by saying it is a “Tiny” percentage of “Total” Government spending. Total includes PFD spending, so yes, while it may be a tiny percentage, it is still a lot of money. Last fall the supplemental request (amount needed above what the legislature approved) was $178 million and exceeds $100 million per year. - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

Protect our Seniors and Students By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As the Alaska Legislature debates how to resolve the amount and sustainability of the PFD, and what services should be funded and at what level, I pledge to continue caring for our children and our seniors. Legislators may disagree on many of the ‘hows’, but we should stand together in protecting our most vulnerable.

Earlier this week, it was announced that scholarship programs for post-secondary students are suspended. Governor Dunleavy did an expansive sweep of our funding sources, including the Higher Education Investment Fund, which leaves the Alaska Performance Scholarship, the Alaska Education Grant, and the WWAMI (Medical) program unfunded. Students received notice that they will not be receiving their scholarship awards at this time. This is a travesty, not only for these individual students and their families, but for the future of Alaska’s education and economy. - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

CHLORINE STILL IN KETCHIKAN? By Florian Sever - Does the City of Ketchikan filter the drinking water it provides to the public?

In years past, the Ketchikan Pulp Company brought tremendous amounts of chlorine into Ketchikan to bleach their pulp. Where did it all go? 

Alaska Pulp Corporation did the very same thing in Sitka. APC imported 4,000 metric tons of liquid Chlorine into Sitka every month.  Every bit of the chlorine the APC mill ever used, STAYED in Sitka. It all stayed in Sitka in the form of dioxin-contaminated "boiler fly ash", a by-product burning wastewater treatment plant sludge in the mill's Power Boilers. 

ALL  fly ash produced by APC went, either into the  AIR , the  MILL OUTFALL into Silver Bay , the  ALASKA PULP MILL landfill , or the  City of Sitka Municipal landfill.  No fly ash ever left  the airshed .of Alaska Pulp's mill. - More...
Thursday AM - July 11, 2019

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: - 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. - 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. .- 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. - 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. - 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. - More...
Saturday AM - June 29, 2019

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