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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 12, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By JIM LEWIS

Bubble Feeding
A Humpback Whale feeding around the downtown Ketchikan docks recently.
Front Page Feature Photo By JIM LEWIS 2018

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Alaska: State Prepared to Incarcerate Mental Health Patients; Endangement an Issue with Correctional Officers Association By MARY KAUFFMAN - According to the Alaska Correctional Officers Association (ACOA), on October 9, 2018, the State of Alaska Department of Corrections announced that it will begin incarcerating in State prisons the mental health patients who are referred to and currently reside in the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API).

In a notice dated October 9, 2018 and effective immediately, Laura M. Brooks, the Deputy Director of Health and Rehabilitation Services of the Alaska Department of Corrections, wrote that due to staffing and safety concerns, API is shutting down units in the hospital which will drop the bed level capacity to approximately 36, down from their usual capacity of 78. Brooks wrote, per statue, when someone is waiting on commitment to API but there are no open beds, the individual may be held at a local hospital or correctional facility - "this is very similar to the Title 47 alcohol holds we are all familiar with". She explains that the primary difference is that the T47 alcohol holds expire after 12 hours but there is no time limit for a T47 Mental Health hold.

Brooks wrote, " With bed space at API extremely limited, and local hospitals resistant to taking T47 holds, we can expect many of these individuals who are awaiting API commitment to end up in our facilities.

Quoting a news release, the Alaska Correctional Officers Association said that Alaskans who believed their loved ones were getting the care they needed are now being treated as criminals by Governor Walker and Commissioner Dean Williams.  Recently, the Alaska Department of Corrections has publicly acknowledged “prisons aren’t built to be psychiatric centers.”  

ACOA said that against the wishes and safety concerns of Correctional Officers, the State has begun to incarcerate these API patients as Title 47 mental health holds instead of treating them as patients in a hospital, where they can get the help they need.

Most Alaska Correctional facilities do not have 24-hour medical or mental health staff working in the institutions and have far fewer medical staff and resources than API or a hospital stated ACOA. Just like API, the DOC is also severely short staffed. Correctional Officers, who will be tasked with dealing with these patients, are not doctors or mental health clinicians. As these patients are not criminals, they cannot be kept with sentenced inmates. They will then be placed in segregation cells, already full mental health units, or in busy booking areas. 

ACOA stated that Commissioner Williams has admitted keeping individuals in prison under a Title 47 hold is a problem stating, “Placing responsibility on prisons for the safety and wellbeing of medically unstable individuals puts a significant burden on corrections staff, puts the affected individuals at risk, and elevates liability exposure for the prison system.

The Alaska Correctional Officers Association said now the Alaska Department of Corrections is adding non-criminal, mental health patients into this situation. How is the DOC possibly going to be able to keep these vulnerable mental health patients safe in this environment? "How is adding mental health patients to Correctional Officers’ responsibilities going to make an admittedly dysfunctional system any better?" asked Brad Wilson, the ACOA Business Manager. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

Alaska: Ballot measure 1 hearings draw out salmon champions statewide; Final Public Hearing Saturday, Oct. 13th - Energized Alaskans who seek to protect salmon for its cultural, spiritual and economic value showed resounding support for Ballot Measure 1 at seven public hearings that were held across the state throughout the month of September. In Dillingham, Bethel, Fairbanks and Juneau, attendees spoke out in support of the initiative, with 100 percent of testifiers in Sitka urging Alaskans to vote Yes on 1.

“Ballot Measure 1 is widely supported by Alaskans, because it strikes the right balance between responsible development and salmon habitat protection,” said Christopher Tobias, owner of Roe Hard Guiding Service, LLC in Wasilla. “Here in the valley, over the last few years, we have seen diminished salmon returns. With some foresight and thoughtful planning, we can avoid the bleak reality of places like Washington and Oregon, where once thriving salmon runs have been completely devastated.”


“With this ballot measure, we now have the opportunity to be proactive, rather than reactive, to protect our salmon and their habitat, before it’s too late,” added Tobias.

In Bethel, where the permitting process for the Donlin Gold Mine did not allow residents to comment or protest potential lost salmon runs, 15 of the 17 testifiers spoke out in support of the initiative -- which would offer new public involvement requirements. Likewise, in Dillingham, more than a dozen residents spoke in favor of the initiative with only one speaking in opposition.

According to Yes for Salmon, outside of the hearings, Ballot Measure 1 has received broad support from a wide range of Alaskans, including nearly 400 endorsements from tribal entities, commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen and local businesses. Additionally, tens of thousands of residents have spoken up over the last few years in favor of putting Alaskans in charge of ensuring that the state’s thriving wild salmon runs are protected for future generations.

“Ballot Measure 1 is a chance for every Alaskan to stand up in support of salmon. As our state grows, more and more projects have the potential to irreparably harm salmon habitat,” said Mark Niver, a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman who also works for the oil industry. “This initiative is our opportunity to define responsible resource development and ensure a diverse, robust economy for all Alaskans for years to come.”

In opposition and encouraging a NO vote is Stand for Alaska Vote NO on 1. Stand for Alaska states on their website that Ballot Measure 1 would replace Alaska's current science-based fish habitat protections with new, unproven regulations that would impact virtually any type of project in Alaska. The measure poses a threat to Alaska’s communities, Alaska jobs and Alaska's economy by adding complicated red tape that will impact private property owners and companies alike. Stand for Alaska states that the Ballot Measure was funded by Outside money and the ballot measure was written in private without public review or comment. There were no public hearings to discuss the potential impacts or provide alternative perspectives. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

Alaska: 2018 Official Election Pamphlets Mailed to Alaskans This Week - This week, an estimated 379,000 registered Alaskan households will receive a paper copy of the 2018 Official Election Pamphlet (OEP) ahead of the November 6, 2018 General Election. The OEP consists of information and photos of candidates appearing on the ballot, judicial retention candidates, information on absentee voting and Ballot Measure 1 along with other various election related information.

“We are thrilled to have engaging artwork from an Alaskan artist incorporated into this important source of compiled information our voters have ahead of the General Election,” said State Elections Director Josie Bahnke. “The pamphlets are a useful tool we use to connect with voters, so we hope they will take the time to read these booklets and go to their polling locations fully informed on Election Day. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

Southeast Alaska: GMU2 Wolf Harvest Quota Set at 45 - Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), announced the Game Management Unit (GMU) 2 wolf harvest quota for regulatory year (RY) 2018 will be set at 45 wolves. 

ADF&G and the USFS currently manage wolves on Prince of Wales and associated islands, collectively known as GMU 2, for an annual harvest not to exceed the Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) in ADF&G regulation: 20 percent of the most recent unit-wide population estimate. Our primary goal for managing wolves in GMU 2 is to ensure a population that provides opportunity for a sustainable harvest. While legal harvest is only one of several factors influencing wolf numbers in GMU 2, it is the one under managers’ control. 

Because dense forest cover makes estimating wolf numbers from aerial surveys impractical, ADF&G, with support from the USFS, estimates wolf abundance in GMU 2 using a DNA mark-recapture technique. In 2017, ADF&G used the same large, northcentral Prince of Wales Island study area as in 2014-2016. ADF&G also collaborated with the Hydaburg Cooperative Association (HCA) to establish an additional study area, monitored by HCA staff, adjacent to the southern boundary of the original study area. This collaboration effectively expanded the study area to approximately 80% of Prince of Wales Island and over 60% of the land area of GMU 2. 

Data collected from October through December 2017 resulted in a GMU 2-wide population estimate of 225 wolves, with high confidence that the actual number of wolves in GMU 2 prior to the autumn 2017 hunting and trapping seasons was within the range, 198 to 264 wolves. This is the most current population estimate.  - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

Southeast Alaska: KCA Receives Funds to Develop A Comprehensive “Community Development Action Plan”  - The Klawock Cooperative Association (KCA) recently received funding from Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Native Americans, Social and Economic Development Strategies (ANA-SEDS).  The funding will support planning to complete a comprehensive “Community Development Action Plan” that is collaboratively developed by key community partner organizations and youth. The planning will include practical steps for addressing prioritized community needs and for building on identified community strengths. 

 The goal of the project is to develop a Comprehensive Action Plan through a process of community engagement. KCA began seeking partners by hosting a meeting in July 2016. Key community stakeholders include SEARHC, City of Klawock, Klawock City School District, Klawock Heenya, Prince of Wales Vocational and Technical Education Board of Directors, Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, and Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority. The 2016 meeting resulted in stakeholders encouraging KCA to apply for ANA community development funds. 

 The community of Klawock will acquire current and relevant data, including youth input, compiled in a “Community Needs Assessment Summary” that identifies unmet needs and opportunities for the community. Base-line data will be collected in the key areas of housing, behavioral and physical health, education and vocational training, land use, economic stability and development, Tlingit language and cultural programs, youth-related issues, and drug and alcohol abuse. To support this work KCA has secured $166,347 in funding with $133,027 from ANA and $33,320 in contributions from project partners. Project partners will begin working with KCA in planning efforts within the next year. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

Alaska: Smokefree Alaska Law Goes Into Effect - The Smokefree Alaska law went into effect Monday, October 1, the culmination of decades of efforts to ensure workplaces and public places across the state are free from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The Alaska Legislature passed Senate Bill 63 last session and Governor Walker signed it into law this summer. More than 1,000 Alaska businesses offered resolutions in support of SB 63 on its way to passage.

Quoting a news release from Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at work are more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer. The Smokefree Alaska Law protects employees and the public from the dangerous health effects associated with secondhand smoke. Smokefree workplace laws have been proven to reduce the incidence of heart attacks and improve pulmonary function, encourage quitting and preventing kids from starting.

“Smokefree workplace laws aren’t about smokers, they’re about the smoke,” said Tammi Meissner, SEARHC Health Educator.  “Smokefree workplace laws simply require that smokers smoke in a way that doesn’t harm others, by taking it outside.” - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018


jpg Peter Funt

PETER FUNT: It's News To Me -These are the best of times, and the worst of times, for being well informed. 

We have a vast landscape of news sources, yet we tend to view them through a peephole rather than a porthole. 

If you believe, as I do, that it is a civic responsibility to stay abreast of current events, consider taking a few steps to be a better news consumer. 

- Don't be screen-centric. TV, computers and phones bring us most of our news, in forms that are fast and convenient. But if you're among those who never, ever, come in contact with a physical newspaper or magazine, fix that. 

More research is needed, but it appears that people absorb content better when read on a printed page, especially with longer articles. Regardless, holding a paper or magazine and scanning each page is distinctly different, and often more enlightening, than scrolling through the same material on a screen. 

- Listen to NPR. I got my start in radio at a time when national hourly newscasts were detailed, reliable and easily available across the dial. They are still produced by several networks, but on many affiliated stations they have been truncated or eliminated. The shining exception is National Public Radio. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: The Party of Evil - The Democrats and their parrots and lapdogs in the liberal media never stop accusing people on the right of being racists, sexists and homophobes.

But if you pay even the slightest attention to what the left says and does, you know that they are the real bigots.

They're the ones who thought it was real funny - and perfectly OK - when a "Saturday Night Live" skit on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings last weekend used the word "queen" and other gay-world references to imply that Republican Senator Lindsay Graham was secretly gay.

The left are also the ones who didn't complain the other night when Don Lemon laughed along with his panel of CNN nobodies as they mocked Kanye West for being President Trump's "token Negro."

If any Republican or Fox News host ever referred to someone like Lemon "queen" or called him CNN's "token Negro," they'd be branded a racist homophobe by the liberal media and forced off the air forever.

The latest example of the left's devious wordplay is its new definition of the word "mob." - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Uncivil Democrats

Political Cartoon: Uncivil Democrats
By Nate Beeler ©2018, The Columbus Dispatch, OH
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Alaska's Independent Spirit By Gavin Hudson  - I have read many times over the years that Alaskans are notoriously difficult to poll and that we do not neatly fit into one category. I believe this stems from a fiercely independent spirit held by each and every Alaskan. We are a strange and interesting mix of urban and rural. Corporate and Tribal. Inland and Coastal. Progressive and Conservative. There are so many competing interests that ebb and flow throughout our state. But in our hearts, we are all hard working Americans who want good clean air to breathe and water to drink. We want a strong economy that provides good jobs. We all want good schools, roads, marine highways, and a functioning government that works as hard as we do to ensure we all get a fair shake. But still, we are difficult to categorize. 

There are about 577,000 voters registered in Alaska. 13% of those are registered Democrats. 25% are registered Republicans. All the rest, some 62% of Alaskan voters, are registered as No Party, Undeclared, or Other. If you combine all the Democrats and all the Republicans into one political party, the independents would outnumber them by almost double!  - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ballot Measure 1 Could Affect Your Home Too By Neil MacKinnon - There's a good chance you've heard of Ballot Measure 1, but if you're like most Alaskans, you're probably still wondering, "What does it do?" The ballot measure language itself is lengthy and extremely technical. Let me explain in simpler terms what it does, and why First Things First Alaska Foundation firmly believes you can stand for salmon and stand for Alaska without Ballot Measure 1.
Ballot Measure 1 seeks to change how the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reviews permits for projects near permanent or seasonal surface water bodies connected to anadromous fish habitat. An anadromous fish is one that spends a portion of it's life in fresh water, goes out to sea, and comes back to freshwater to spawn. Alaska has more than twenty-five species of anadromous fish. Take a look at how this fish habitat is defined and the broader application of those definitions. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion
Yes on Ballot Measure 1
By Tim Bristol - The Alaska Policy Forum is part of a nation-wide network of Koch brothers-funded extreme right-wingers advocating for the privatization of public education, “right-to-work” laws and elimination of most safeguards for our air, land and water, and its recent claims that those who are advocating for updates to Alaska’s existing salmon habitat permitting laws are “outsiders” is a classic deflection. The fact is, large-scale industrial development poses real risk to Alaska’s wild salmon runs, and now is the time to modernize salmon habitat laws.

Development projects can and should happen. The question for the moment is: Will we take the steps to do these projects right? A “yes” on Ballot Measure 1 is the answer Alaska’s salmon, and the people who rely on them, need. A “no” leads us down the same path trod by every other region that once enjoyed salmon runs like those we still love and depend on. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Dunleavy is the one who is untrustworthy By Barbara McDaniel - In Mike Dunleavy’s recent column, “A Deficit of Trust,” the former, partial-term state senator blames others for his own failures as a legislator, a very common but deceitful defense tactic. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

False personal attacks on Mark Begich By Deborah Bonito - Given the current lack of public trust in our political system and the dangerous lack of honesty and accountability in the current national political discourse, it is important that our campaign set the record straight on the Lt. Governor’s disappointing decision to knowingly launch false personal attacks on Mark Begich - someone he has known personally for decades.  - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Our Progessive Senator By Rex Barber - Hence forth the name Lisa Murkowski will be synonymous with Obama. Clinton and traitor. She voted present on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. This is the very act which defines a cowered. If she didn't want to vote for the man at least she should of had the [courage] to say NO!!! (I guess no dosn't mean no) - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Vote Yes on Prop 1 By Robert K. Rice - In response to “Tracking the outside money by Larry Barsukoff. The facts on the money raised are as follows: Supporting Prop 1 $475,000; Opposing Prop 1 $8,670,000. Follow the money. - More...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Political Winds of Change By Austin Otos - The 2018 Ketchikan Gateway Borough municipal election has come to a close. With 6 candidates running for office, our community had the opportunity to vote for a wide array of individuals. Thankfully, Ketchikan chose 2 candidates that represent the future of our community. Voters were clear that newer and younger voices take precedent over experience and past ideals. - More...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Murkowski By Rob Holston - Lisa Murkowski may be a fine woman but she’s just not the right Senator for Alaska right now. - End of letter...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Roadless Rule Public Comment Period By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The US Forest Service is seeking public comment on exempting the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. The comment period ends on October 15th. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 03, 2018

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