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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
September 26, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By KENNON CALIWANAGAN

Knudson Cove Sunset
Front Page Feature Photo By KENNON CALIWANAGAN


October 04, 2016
Ketchikan Borough Election
This is the 14th year, Sitnews has provided FREE web exposure to all local Ketchikan candidates to provide information for consideration by their constituents.
Email Your Statements to editor@sitnews.us
Absentee voting began
September 19, 2016

KTN Borough Assembly
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open
jpg Rodney Dial
Rodney Dial
Filed 08/01/16
Statement Published 08/30/16
jpg Keith Smith

Keith Smith
Filed 08/15/16
Published 09/20/16

jpg Susan PIckrell
Susan Pickrell
Filed 08/24/16
Statement Published 09/14/16
jpg Judith L. McQuerry
Judith L. McQuerry
Filed 08/25/16
Statement Published 09/08/16
jpg Dave Timmerman
David Timmerman
Filed 08/25/16
Published 09/22/16

KTN Borough Mayor
3 Year Term
1 Seat Open
jpg David Landis

David Landis (Unopposed)
Filed 08/01/16

KTN City Council
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open
  Judy Zenge
jpg Julie Isom

Julie Isom
Filed 08/04/16
Published 09/12/16


Spencer S. Strassburg

KTN School Board
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open
jpg Conan Steele

Conan Matthew Steele
Filed 08/25/16
Published 09/21/16


Trevor Shaw

jpg Kim Hodne

Kim Hodne
Filed 08/25/16
Published 09/26/16

jpg Kevin Johnson Kevin Johnson
Published 09/18/16

Alaska: Native Tourism Bill Signed Into Law; New Law Will Help Native Communities Tell Their Own Stories - A bill to enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States, the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, was signed into law Friday by President Obama.

This bipartisan legislation - introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and John Thune (R-S.D.) - will enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.

Senator Schatz said, “This new law gives our native communities a real opportunity to grow their local economy and share their history and culture with the rest of the world.”

Schatz said in a news release, "The NATIVE Act will require federal agencies with tourism assets and responsibilities to include tribes and native organizations in national tourism efforts and strategic planning. It will also provide Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, and American Indian communities with access to resources and technical assistance needed to build sustainable recreational and cultural travel and tourism infrastructure and capacity; spur economic development, and create good jobs."

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) are cosponsors of the NATIVE Act. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) co-sponsored companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“This important piece of legislation will give cultural tourism a much-needed boost,” said Senator Murkowski. “Tourism contributed $3.9 billion to Alaska’s economy last year, and this bill will give Alaska Native communities and small businesses the opportunity to share their traditions and cultures with travelers from all over the world.”

“Working towards diversifying our economy is extremely important and this bill helps in that effort,” said Senator Sullivan. “For rural Alaska, the economic development potential is huge, and it will also help to showcase for the rest of the world rural Alaska’s uniqueness and beauty.”

“Alaska is recognized as a premier travel destination, not only for our state’s abundant beauty but for our welcoming people and rich cultural history,” said Congressman Young. “The NATIVE Act, which I proudly co-sponsored in the House, makes important steps to empower Alaska Native and American Indian communities by increasing collaboration and coordination of federal efforts to promote tourism in these areas. Tourism is a significant source of revenue and employment for Alaskans, and this legislation ensures Alaska’s culture and heritage is supported throughout our federal tourism programs.” - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

Alaska: Nationwide Survey Reports Alaska Biggest Loser In Severance Taxes - Nationwide, state government tax revenue increased 4.8 percent, from $875.0 billion in fiscal year 2014 to $916.5 billion in 2015 - the fifth consecutive increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections.

The survey reported that corporate income taxes rose to $49.1 billion in 2015, from $46.9 billion in 2014, or 4.7 percent, while individual income taxes rose to $338.1 billion, from $313.2 billion, or 7.9 percent.

The 2015 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections provides a comprehensive look at state governments and contains statistics on the tax collections of all state governments, including receipts from compulsory fees. State governments and businesses have been using these statistics since 1951 to make policy and investment decisions.

Revenue statistics are broken down into 25 subcategories, such as motor fuel taxes, amusements taxes and hunting license taxes. Tax revenue statistics also include related penalty and interest receipts of the governments.

Nationwide, severance taxes decreased 29.1 percent, from $17.8 billion to $12.6 billion. Much of this decrease was due to a decline in oil extraction. States that showed the largest revenue decreases in severance taxes were all major oil producers:

• Alaska: Decrease of 95.7 percent, from $2.5 billion to $0.1 billion.

• Texas: Decrease of 33.4 percent, from $6.0 billion to $4.0 billion.

• Oklahoma: Decrease of 18.1 percent, from $679.4 million to $556.5 million.

• Louisiana: Decrease of 15.2 percent, from $862.2 million to $731.3 million.

• North Dakota: Decrease of 13.5 percent, from $3.3 billion to $2.8 billion. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

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Fish Factor: Gov. Walker requests pink salmon disaster relief for 4 Alaska regions By LAINE WELCH - Governor Bill Walker has officially requested that the federal government declare a disaster for four Alaska regions hurt by one of the poorest pink salmon returns in decades.

In a September 19 letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Walker said fishery failures that occurred this summer at the Kodiak, Prince William Sound, Lower Cook Inlet and Chignik management areas are having a “significant impact on those who depend on the fishery for their livelihood” and asks for the “soonest possible review” due to the economic importance of these fisheries.

How bad were the humpy hauls?

At Kodiak, fishing remained closed during 70 percent of the pink salmon run and the catch of just 3.2 million was 28 percent of the expected harvest. The estimated value to fishermen, Walker wrote in his letter, is $2.21 million, compared to a five year average of $14.64 million.

At Prince William Sound the total pink catch of 12 million was more than 46 percent below the preseason forecast. The dockside value of $6.6 million compares to an average of nearly $44 million over the past five years.

The pink salmon catch of 97,000 at Lower Cook Inlet was 13 percent of the 759,000 forecast. That means a pay day of $78,000 for Inlet fishermen, who have averaged $501,000 in recent years.

Fishermen at Chignik did not even get any directed openers for pink salmon this summer. The 140,000 humpies taken during the region’s sockeye fishery were valued at $110,000, down from a five-year average of $740,000.

The pink salmon disaster declaration, should it occur, won’t set a precedent. Alaska received $20.8 million in federal money for fishery failures due to three years of low king salmon returns on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers and in the Cook Inlet region.

The money was paid out in two installments over two years with an initial grant of $7.8 million divided among commercial fishermen. A second grant of $13 million was distributed as $4.5 million to the sport fishing sector, $7.5 million for research and restoration, and $700,000 was paid directly to Cook Inlet processors and salmon buyers who proved losses in income due to the fisheries failure.

“This is not going to be a blanket money grab for anybody who fished pinks. If you’re in the disaster area and the large portion of your income was based on pink salmon, then I believe you will be eligible,” said Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), who spearheaded the push for the pink disaster declaration.

Stutes said her office is now compiling the details of “time frames and the who’s and how’s” for people to apply for monetary payouts, should the move get a green light from the federal government.

Affected fishermen also can apply for a waiver of state loan payments for this year, to be tacked on to the end of the loan term.

A memo from Governor Walker directs the state Department of Economic Development to “commit as many resources as possible to assisting pink salmon fishery permit holders, and that review of individual loan payment waivers be expedited.”

Cameras count fish

To get better data on what’s coming over the rails, three years ago fishery managers expanded onboard observer coverage for the first time to include halibut longline vessels less than 50 feet in length.

That’s prompted a push to replace those extra bodies aboard with electronic monitoring systems (EMS) already in use in other U.S. and Canadian fisheries.

“Those of us who live here know that some of these boats are too small to carry an extra person. There are bunk space issues, the wheel house is too small for them to spread all their stuff out and still be able to eat at the galley table and sometimes there’s just nowhere to put them on deck safely,” said Dan Falvey, program director for the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016


Alaska: Gulls in Alaska Found to Carry Antibiotic Resistant E. coli - Some gulls in southcentral Alaska are carriers of antibiotic resistant strains of E. coli, according to a new study co-authored by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Gulls in Alaska Found to Carry Antibiotic Resistant E. coli

John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016.
By Lee Tibbitts, USGS

Gulls commonly carry E. coli and often show no signs of illness. However, this is the first report of antibiotic resistant E. coli in birds in the southcentral Alaska region. While it is still unclear how gulls are picking up antibiotic resistant strains of E. coli, possible sources include landfills and wastewater discharge.

USGS and collaborators sampled gulls on the urban Kenai Peninsula and on the remote Middleton Island, a location far offshore in the Gulf of Alaska. The samples were tested, and results show more antibiotic resistant bacteria in birds in areas with higher levels of human use. Areas tested on the Kenai Peninsula’s Soldotna Landfill and the mouth of the Kenai River were chosen because of earlier water quality sampling performed by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation near these areas.

“More than half of the E. coli collected from gulls on the Kenai Peninsula were resistant to at least one antibiotic compound, and a large number of multi-resistant E. coli strains were detected,” said Andy Ramey, a USGS Alaska Science Center scientist and co-author of the report. “This is higher than the number of resistant strains identified at more remote gull colonies on Middleton Island.”

“Our findings suggest an increased level of antibiotic resistant bacteria in birds associated with urban environments,” said Dr. Jonas Bonnedahl, an infectious disease physician at Kalmar County Hospital in Sweden and senior author of the study. “Based on our findings, additional research may be warranted to understand the risk for re-transmission of antibiotic resistant E. coli to humans in locations where people and gulls interact.”

For the past several years, ADEC, the City of Kenai, and the Kenai Watershed Forum have monitored water quality on the Kenai River. Elevated levels of bacteria have been reported in recent years, and based on other studies it was concluded that gull feces were a significant source of bacteria in the Kenai River. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016


Thousands of Native American Remains Left in Bureaucratic Limbo - A vast trove of Native American human remains and artifacts dug up in federal irrigation projects sit in boxes in violation of a law requiring they be inventoried and repatriated, according to a finding by the U.S. Special Counsel in a whistleblower disclosure filed through Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Nor have any remains been returned to the Indian tribes and descendants to whom they rightfully belong, which is the purpose of the law.

The law is the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The agency is the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which possesses one of the West’s largest accumulations of Native American remains and funerary objects. In a disclosure filed with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) in August 2013, Patrick Williams, a former Museum Specialist at the Bureau’s Sacramento Regional Office, detailed NAGPRA violations by its systematic failure to catalog new remains and death rite relics, track loans of collections, or notify tribes of ancestral recoveries.

The OSC found that Williams’ disclosure had a “substantial likelihood of validity” and transmitted it in July 2014 to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell who, in turn, tasked the Bureau to respond. Over the ensuing months, the Bureau submitted mounds of paper in its attempt to refute the charges. Ultimately, in a September 22nd letter to the President and both houses of Congress, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner wrote that while some progress had been made: “Mr. Williams is correct that full NAGPRA compliance remains ‘a goal’ and is not yet reality.” She also called for a future review of the Bureau’s compliance in 2017.

“Frankly, the Bureau spent all its efforts trying to deny that there was a problem rather than fixing it,” said Mr. Williams. “In the course of its lengthy investigation, it did not open a single box, audit records, or consult outside experts – it simply conducted self-exonerating interviews of its own staff.” - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Susan Stamper Brown

SUSAN STAMPER BROWN:Hillary's Deplorables Mass Media - The fix is in. Even if she doesn't show up for the upcoming presidential debates, Hillary Clinton will be declared the winner.

Hillary will be declared the winner by the same media who covered for her when she disparaged millions of hardworking Americans, saying half of Trump supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables," consisting of "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic" individuals.

People haven't heard much about Hillary's "deplorables" comment because that kind of behavior doesn't fit the narrative. So her media friends changed the subject, reporting about "important" things like how cow farts contribute to global warming, rather than all the hot air rising from the Clinton campaign trail that could paint her in a negative light.

They have so much invested. Politico reports that many big media organizations like NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting, Thomas Reuters, Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom made donations ranging from the low-thousands to the millions to the Clinton Foundation. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

jgp Will Durst

WILL DURST: October Surprises - Something craven infects political candidates as the days dwindle down to a precious few, especially when prospects for victory appear slimmer than an emaciated giraffe in a fun house mirror. It may be darkest before the dawn, but for those scheduled to be executed at first light, the darkness triggers a kind of dastardly creativity that those made of lesser stuff might characterize as desperation.

The late hour slandering of an opponent has come to be called the October Surprise, and considering the volatile history of this year's campaign, we should be prepared for copious disclosures of gargantuan proportions. Not mere October Surprises, but October Lightning Bolts Tossed by Odin Himself, October 80 Megaton Hydrogen Bombshells and October Exposes That Will Make Your Mouth Hang Open Long Enough To Attract Bottle Flies.

And with one week of November in the mix this time around, even more delicious salacious wickedness awaits. Here's a sample of the expected and unexpected we can expect in the final five weeks of this - the most important election of your lifetime. Yes. Again. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Clinton and Trump Debate

Editorial Cartoon: Clinton and Trump Debate
By RJ Matson ©2016, Roll Call
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter PFD Cuts Hurt But Changes Will Avoid Economic Disaster By Gov. Bill Walker - Alaskans will soon receive our annual dividend checks. This year's $1,022 check for every qualified resident will help Alaska families with things like winter fuel, food and clothes, holiday gifts and saving for college. These checks will boost local businesses and increase local tax revenues. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

letter Open Letter to Governor Walker: Transboundary mining concerns By Chris Chris Zimmer - The Statement of Cooperation (SOC) between the State of Alaska and Province of British Columbia is clearly not a comprehensive solution to transboundary mining concerns, nor was it intended to be. It must go hand in hand with federal engagement that can bring in the authority of the Boundary Waters Treaty, funds and expertise. The SOC is narrowly focused on notification and information sharing, is non-binding and unfunded, and therefore insufficient to address the issue comprehensively. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

letter Rodney Dial for Borough Assembly By Robert Luse - I have known Rodney Dial for several years. You couldn't ask for a more honest and caring person. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

letter Permanent Fund By Lance Clark - The Governor is keeping a little more than half our permanent fund! It's quite telling that he decided that he could spend our money better than we can, after all, we're merely servants and should be thankful for anything we get. - More...
Monday PM - September 26, 2016

letter Things are not “fine” as some would have you believe By Rodney Dial - So I thought I would give an update on how my attempt to become your next borough assembly member is going. - More...
Friday AM - September 23, 2016

letter Why I believe in Sheila Finkenbinder By Paula Spreter - After working for four governors and two legislators with the State of Alaska, I was privileged to retire and enjoy the life of travel in a truck and 5th wheel trailer. - More...
Friday AM - September 23, 2016

letter Rodney Dial for Assembly By Michelle Sanchez - I've lived in Ketchikan over 25 years. I've seen the bad and the good in our community, but I have to say the increasing costs of water, sewage, city taxes, and property taxes are UNACCEPTABLE. - More...
Friday AM - September 23, 2016

letter Open Letter to Joe Miller By A.M. Johnson - Thumbs up and thank you Mr. Miller. You will not recognize my name and that is expected. I and a recently passed friend, Bob Pickrell, visited with you and your entourage at a gathering at the Point a couple of years ago regarding your desire to test the waters for another entry to the political landscape. Both of us urged you drop the issue as in our opinion, you had tainted your reputation with personal issues, real or imagined. Not any personal slant there, just our position. - More...
Friday AM - September 23, 2016

letter Write-In School Board Candidate By Kevin Johnson - I do apologize for just recently adding my name to the list of current school board candidates. I had every intention of filing my candidacy earlier this year but do to unforeseen circumstances I was not 100% sure that I could commit the necessary time. Serving the public in this capacity I strongly feel requires nothing less that 100% commitment. However the great gift of life is that circumstances often change and I was afforded the opportunity to take on a new challenge. I am committed! - More...
Wednesday AM - September 21, 2016

letter Support Johnson/Weld By Donald Moskowitz - The Libertarian ticket of Johnson for President and Weld for Vice President provides a huge amount of executive experience acquired when they were governors. I believe governors are the most qualified politicians to ascend to the Presidency. With this ticket we have a former governor available to assume the Presidency. - More...
Wednesday AM - September 21, 2016

letter RE: Americans must get solidly behind Clinton By Joe O'Hara - The September 14th letter "Americans must get solidly behind Clinton" is essentially my letter "Americans must get solidly behind Trump" that appeared in SitNews on August 29th. - More...
Wednesday AM - September 21, 2016

letter Open Letter to Alaskans By Senator Bill Wielechowski - I’m writing this letter to speak directly to you, without the filter of the media or hearsay. Today [Friday], former Senators Clem Tillion, Rick Halford and I filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the Permanent Fund Corporation to transfer the amount necessary to pay all Alaskans a full PFD. We don’t take the decision to file a lawsuit to protect the PFD lightly, but after weeks of serious consideration and feedback from Alaskans, I feel that we must. I hope you take a few minutes to read this letter so you understand what led to my decision to file this lawsuit. - More...
Saturday AM - September 17, 2016

letter 2016 Pink Salmon Run By Rep. Dan Ortiz - I currently serve on the House Fisheries Committee. My colleague, the chair of that committee, Representative Louise Stutes of Kodiak, has requested the Walker-Mallott administration declare the 2016 pink salmon run a disaster, and has requested that Division of Investments temporarily suspend state boat loan payment requirements. I support these actions as well and am pleased to report that both measures will likely be taken. - More...
Saturday AM - September 17, 2016

letter Open Letter to Sen. Murkowski By Michael McNally - Dear Senator Murkowski, Do you remember 2010? As an independent Alaskan voter you can bet I do.

To refresh your memory, 2010 was the year that the far right wing of the Republican Party denied you the party nomination, preferring to run Joe Miller as their candidate. You were re-elected only with the support of Alaska's moderate centrist voters -- I was one -- and we hoped that when you returned to Washington you would remember that it was the people, not the party, who sent you back to represent our interests. - More..
Wednesday PM - September 14, 2016

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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