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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 15, 2015

Front Page Photograph By KEN ARRIOLA

Where the Wild Things Roam
Ptarmigan in winter dress, masters of camouflage.
Front Page Photograph By KEN ARRIOLA

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Alaska: Governor's 2017 Budget Legislation: Taxes income, fisheries, alcohol, mining, tobacco & more... - Governor Bill Walker released the FY2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) appropriation and revenue bills today as part of the Walker-Mallott Administration’s New Sustainable Alaska Plan. Rolled out last week in Anchorage, the plan addresses the state’s $3.5 billion budget deficit using a combination of spending cuts, new revenue, wealth management and investment.

Governor Walker also released the Alaska Permanent Fund Protection Act (APFPA) today, which re-plumbs funding for state services to stabilize the state’s budget. The Governor’s fiscal plan calls for continued cuts, implementing the APFPA, and adopting broad-based taxes and fees.

This year’s state operating budget is $4.8 billion, down from $6.1 billion when Governor Walker took office one year ago. Additionally, proposed FY2017 state funding for agencies is $140 million less than FY2016 and $544 million less than FY2015—a cut of 11 percent from state operating costs since FY2015. The budget also includes investments of $38.3 million for continued progress on the gasline project and $1.3 million for the Rural National Guard enhancement; leaving the administration with a net cut in agency operations of $100 million since last year and $500 million since FY2015. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

Alaska: Cost-saving Alternative Proposed to Overpriced Anchorage LIO; Modest office spaces in districts proposed - Billion dollar deficits and drastic proposals to shift the burden of paying for state government onto the backs of working Alaskans and their families demand innovative ideas to save the state money say two Alaska Senate Democrats. The multi-million dollar renovation and expense of remaining in the Legislative Information Offices (LIO) on 4th Avenue in Anchorage flies in the face of the legislature’s demand for fiscal conservancy.

Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) and Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) have sent a letter to the members of the Alaska Legislative Council asking them to consider additional options as they deliberate on the fate of the extravagant LIO in downtown Anchorage. Sen. Wielechowski and Rep. Tuck are suggesting allowing lawmakers to have modest office space in the districts they represent in lieu of the current LIO rental. Under this proposal, district-based office space and related expenses would be limited to $1,500 per month.

“This is a commonsense, fiscally conservative measure that will save us millions and put legislators closer to their constituents,” said Sen. Wielechowski.

The new option proposed by Sen. Wielechowski and Rep. Tuck would save $3.6 million per year from the current 4th Avenue building leases and would be $286,776 lower per year than the proposal to place legislative offices in the Atwood Building. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Residents Guilty Of Scheme To Illegally Fish And Sell Halibut - Michael Anthony Welker, 52, Shane Christopher Widmyer, 34, David Alan Vest, 39, all of Ketchikan, pled guilty in federal court in Juneau on December 8th to violating the Lacey Act by illegally transporting halibut that was caught for subsistence and sport purposes.

Each defendant pled guilty to a single count of a Lacey Act violation before United States Magistrate Judge Leslie Longenbaugh.

According to the information presented to the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack S. Schmidt, who prosecuted the case, Donald Ray Thornlow, 66, the former owner and operator of the former Narrows Inn and Restaurant in Ketchikan, Alaska, took part in a continuing scheme of knowingly purchasing subsistence and sport caught halibut for resale in his restaurant, a violation of federal regulations. Defendants Welker, Widmyer, and Vest illegally harvested halibut for a commercial purpose using sport fishing licenses and subsistence halibut permits. The defendants subsequently transported the illegally caught halibut and sold it to Thornlow who then sold the fish in his restaurant. The defendants were not allowed to catch halibut for a commercial purpose because none of the defendants possessed a valid Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) permit. The defendants each admitted to transporting a portion of the 997 pounds of illegally-caught halibut sold by Thornlow in his restaurant from January 2012 to December 2013. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

Southeast Alaska: Wolf Hunting and Trapping Seasons to Close in Unit 2 - The Thorne Bay and Craig Districts Ranger, Matt Anderson, under authority delegated by the Federal Subsistence Board, will close the Federal public lands of Unit 2 to the harvest of wolf from 11:59 p.m., Sunday, December 20, through the remainder of the Federal seasons. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) will close the state wolf hunting and trapping seasons in Unit 2 at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 20, 2015, through the remainder of the State seasons.

As of Tuesday, December 15, 2015 five wolves have been harvested in Unit 2. Trappers remain active and have 14 days to report harvest, so this closure is necessary to ensure the harvest does not exceed the combined Federal/State harvest quota set at nine wolves.

Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the Forest Service continue to refine population estimation techniques used to establish Guideline Harvest Levels for Unit 2 wolves. As a result of a recent Alaska Board of Game action, the allowable harvest of Unit 2 wolves was reduced from 30 percent to 20 percent of the unit’s most recent estimated wolf population. Reduced harvest levels and recent regulatory changes are intended to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Unit 2 wolf population. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

Fish Factor: Alaska Community Seafood Hub Shines By LAINE WELCH - Caught by Alaskans for Alaskans is a business concept that bested 170 others in a global fisheries business competition last month at Stanford University in California.

The contest, sponsored by Fish 2.0, awards creative approaches that build demand for sustainable seafood, reduce waste and support fishing towns. The Alaska Community Seafood Hub model, presented by Kelly Harrell of Anchorage, won $5,000 in cash and is in the running for more money to be awarded this month.
Fish 2.0 builds the knowledge and connections needed to increase investment in the sustainable seafood sector, according to its website.

"We noticed that investors were having a hard time finding fisheries deals, and fishery business owners were frustrated that investors had no interest. We created Fish 2.0 to build connections between the groups,” said Monica Jain, Fish 2.0 Founder. “Our goal is to create the business growth needed to drive social and environmental change in the seafood supply chain.”

Harrell, who is executive director of the non-profit Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) said: “We told the story of the really unique assets we have in Alaska, which include thousands of small boat fishing families. We have a giant seafood economy that provides one of the largest and most sustainable seafood supplies in the world. But the way our seafood supply chain is structured, it is very difficult to get the seafood harvested locally to our communities here in Alaska, because we are set up to export such large volumes.” - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015


Alaska Science: Mystery of the dancing wires revealed By NED ROZELL - In this quiet, peaceful time of year, with all the noisy birds flown south and all the scary bears in hillside dens, little things catch our attention. Like wires that move as if by magic.

Aurora scientist and interested-in-all-things guy Neal Brown contacted me to see if I had written about why power wires sometimes dance to their own beat when there seems to be no wind or other force pushing them. He notices it seems to happen when the temperature is rising. I pulled out Neil Davis's Alaska Science Nuggets and found the answer.

First, though, a refresher on that book — a compilation of 400 of these columns — and why you are reading this right now.

Neil Davis was a do-all scientist at UAF's Geophysical Institute from the 1960s to the 1980s. He started this column in 1976 at the urging of a newspaper editor. Davis wrote hundreds of the columns, which the Geophysical Institute has distributed free to newspapers. Other writers took over the column from Davis. I am the latest in that line, having started in fall of 1994. The directors of the Geophysical Institute have supported the column since its beginning. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

Health Care: Senate's Obamacare repeal bill sends clear message to the next president; Senator Hatch: The law 'has been a disaster. The American people deserve better.' - American workers will have shorter hours in the coming decade if the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is correct in its study of a new-found effect of Obamacare. But it won't mean more leisure time; it will have them scrambling to find ways to make ends meet because shorter work days and unemployment will put less money in their pockets.

The CBO conducted an analysis of the healthcare law and concluded that: "Some people would choose to work fewer hours; others would leave the labor force entirely or remain unemployed for longer than they otherwise would."

According to this latest installment of the Congressional Budget Office's Working Paper Series analysis "The labor force is projected to be about 2 million full-time-equivalent workers smaller in 2025 under the ACA [Affordable Care Act] than it would have been otherwise."

Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, described the updated government report as proof the president's signature legislation is "the unwanted gift that keeps on giving-watered-down health coverage, super-high deductibles, higher taxes and premiums, a no-choice caretaker procedure and a failure to do what it was supposed to do, insure the uninsured."

Last week the Senate passed legislation that would repeal Obamacare and open the way for what its sponsors say would be a "bipartisan reevaluation of health care in America." And, although President Obama is sure to veto the bill, the repeal measure sends a clear message for a new president in 2017. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Open Season on Healthcare Consumers - Open enrollment is making me miserable.

Like millions of self-employed Americans who have been buying their own health insurance for years, my policy, which I had liked and wanted to keep, has nearly doubled in cost since Obamacare became law.

What a fine policy mine was. I purchased it in 2005 when I moved back to Pittsburgh. It gave me broad access to lots of doctors and my maximum out-of-pocket cost could not exceed $1,500 a year.

But Obamacare mucked it all up.

First, I got a letter telling me my policy was canceled for failure to meet Obamacare guidelines. ("If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance" my eye!) A few weeks later, though, the policy was reinstated for reasons neither I nor my insurer could ever figure out.

For the moment I was happy. Sure, the premium had gone up 35 percent, but at least I got to keep the policy. But for 2016, the premium jumped another $100 per month. (Obamacare will "cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year," said the President. Yeah, and I am the King of England.)

So, for the past two weeks, I've been logging many hours searching for lower-cost alternatives. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2015 - Be still your beating hearts, because the agonizing wait is over. Wake the kids. Rake the leaves. Fake speaking in tongues. Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year, when the eagerly awaited list of Top Ten Comedic News Stories of 2015 is finally, mercifully released. Yoke an ox. Toke some skunk. Poke Uncle Bud to make sure he's still ambulatory.

Under no circumstances is this list to be confused with the Top Ten Legitimate News Stories of 2015. No. No. No. No. No. They are as different as back and forth. Like fireworks and 14-inch aluminum pipe wrenches. Yellow grape-tomatoes and marble Corinthian columns. Flaming hula-hoops dropped from CIA drones and the plastic to-go cups used by drive-through Margarita stands off highway 10 outside New Orleans. Feet and sleet.

These contents purposefully ignore the death, destruction and dastardly deeds of this past annum horribilis to focus on the delightfully diverting and droll. Herein, you will find no mention of Syrian refugees or Paris or San Bernardino or ISIS or FIFA or Boko Haram or Bill Cosby or Paris or even horrors of horrors, Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.

Rest assured the 16th year of this new millennium garnered quite a few wacky and zany antics lending themselves to the tickling amusement of we, the American masses, and it's time to take a fine-tooth comb to sift for the amusing bits so that we can mock and scoff and taunt and form a sort of mental scab. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 15, 2015

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Real Americans

Editorial Cartoon: Real Americans
By Pat Bagley ©2015, Salt Lake Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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Questions, please contact the editor at editor@sitnews.us or call 617-9696
Sitnews reserves the right to edit.

letter State Budget By Lance Clark - Maybe I'm doing the math wrong, I hope, but there's approximately 750 thousand people in Alaska and our state budget is around $11 billion a year. That turns out to be $14,667 per person. I have no idea how we can even pretend we can afford that. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Alaska is Cold By John Suter - President Obama is going to send Alaska its share of refugees. Now is not the time to increase cost in the state budget that will incur by bringing in these refugees to the state when the state must do all that it can do to cut cost to balance the budget. A way the state can cut cost is to offer these refugees a free one way airplane ticket with a hand full of cash to fly to another state like California where they have hot dry deserts that is a similar type of country to where they came from and they will feel more at home. They need to know that Alaska is cold by their standards year around and they would not be happy here when they could live in sunny California that welcomes them with open arms of welfare, health care and everything else that they may need. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Dave Kiffer Truckin' By Melissa Muller - Dave Kiffer hit all the high points with his recent column "Ktown Economy just keeps on Truckin'. With the state's economy going up in smoke, it's time to do more than straight thinking. There is a new high tide mark being set and Ketchikan needs to roll with it. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Hillary Clinton Plans a Corporate "Exit Tax" By Wiley Brooks - This is Mrs. Clintons answer to stop American Companies from re-incorporating overseas. For too many politicians the answer is always the same - “we’ll punish those “expletives” for making a profit. An “exit tax” will just be added to the cost of the products we buy and make it more difficult for American companies to compete in the global market. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Revenue options: Thanks for participating By Dan Ortiz - To me, government by the people and for the people is more than just a theoretical concept. I believe this famous phrase from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address must be put into practice for government to work. That’s why I’ve been going door to door, mailing out surveys and holding meetings in the communities I represent. At our town meeting on December 1st, I shared my revenue survey results and asked attendees to fill out a questionnaire on Governor Walker’s proposed endowment fund model. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter Open Letter: ADF&G Commissioner Cotten By Rick Steiner - You may have seen the Fall update released last week by NPS on the Denali wolf population, which showed a slight increase in numbers, but a continued decrease in viewing success. This year, only 5% of the park visitors were able to see wolves, thus some 500,000 paying visitors were deprived this opportunity. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter REDDI report followup By Shawn Kimberley - Almost immediately after posting my letter, I was contacted by the Captain of the Alaska State Troopers. The gentleman I spoke with was the commander of the entire southeast region. After a fairly long conversation, I would honestly say that I believe that he is a good man and a good leader. After our conversation I feel like he is here to help improve all aspects of our community. We discussed the situation thoroughly. What came out of that conversation was a complete surprise to me. Not only was the outcome something positive, But it restored my faith in the Alaska State troopers organization. He did not try to make excuses, He did not try to dance around the subject. Instead he owned up the actions, or in my opinion the lack of action. And was very polite and thankful to me for my part in trying to help correct a dangerous situation. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter Open Letter to Councilman Bob Sivertsen: Future hopeful House Representative By Amanda Mitchell - According to a quote by KRBD, you said: “You wonder why somebody would run when we have such a budget issue with the State of Alaska. I think that might be an opportunity for us to restructure and do some good things. But it’s going to take a lot of work, and I believe my experience and ability to work with people and gain consensus will help our district and our communities.” - More...
Wednesday AM - December 09, 2015

letter No timely response to REDDI report By Shawn Kimberley - On the evening of December 7th 2015, A friend of mine and I were leaving A&P market heading north. It wasn't long at all before I realized that traffic was moving very slow, yes slower than normal even for Ketchikan. There were probably 12-15 cars in front of us and before long there was 20 plus cars behind us all forced to drive 25-30 miles per hour. By the time that we hit the Ward Cove area, the line of cars behind us was so long that you couldn't even see the end of it. As we passed the old pulp mill area, many of the cars in front of us had pulled off leaving me a view of the actual cause of the hold up. We saw an obvious drunk driver leading the pack. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 09, 2015

letter Local Vessel Horizon Pearl Harbor Oil Supply Ship By Bob Young - Vessel Horizon, moored in Ward Cove, is ex-navy vessel YO-43. Constructed and operating as a small oil supply vessel in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. Probably one of the very last surviving Navy ships from that day in Pearl Harbor. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 09, 2015

letter Radical Islamic Terrorism By Donald Moskowitz - The greatest threat to world peace is radical Islamic terrorism. Radical Islamic terrorists killed 14 Americans in San Bernardino, CA; 130 people in Paris; five military personnel in Chatanooga, TN and 13 soldiers in Fort Hood, TX; a soldier in Canada; beheaded journalists and aid workers in the Middle East; killed non-Muslims in Copenhagen, Paris and Tunisia; attacked the Jewish Museum in Brussels, a mall in Kenya, Iraqi Christians, Syrian Christians, 40 churches in Egypt, our embassy in Benghazi, and the Boston Marathon. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 09, 2015

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