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December 06, 2019

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Southeast Alaska: AMHS Notifies M/V Aurora Employees of Long-term Layup  – Today, the Alaska Marine Highway System announced they notified employees of the M/V Aurora Thursday that they will be relieved of service effective Jan. 14, 2020.

Approximately 24 employees will be impacted and AMHS is following procedures outlined in the union contracts.

AMHS Notifies M/V Aurora Employees of Long-term Layup

M/V Aurora leaving Auke Bay
Courtesy Gillfoto Creative Commons Wikipedia

According to the Alaska Dept. of Transportation, in November, after thorough inspections of the 45-year-old M/V LeConte and the 43-year-old Aurora, the Alaska Marine Highway System decided to move forward with repairs for the LeConte. It was determined that significantly more repair work was required than originally budgeted and the Alaska Marine Highway System does not have the funds to repair both vessels.

The Alaska Marine Highway System plans for the LeConte to return to service May 15, 2020 after the steel repairs are completed. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019

Alaska: Supreme Court Vacates 9th Circuit Court's Ruling on Alaska's $500 Limit for Campaign Contributions By MARY KAUFFMAN - The U.S. Supreme Court vacated a Ninth Circuit Court decision that upheld Alaska's limitation on the amount an individual can contribute to a candidate for political office, or to an election-oriented group other than a political party.

The case, Thompson v. Hebdon, was a First Amendment challenge to Alaska’s campaign finance law, including its contribution limits for state legislative candidates and its limit on contributions from out-of-state donors.

As the Court described it, “Alaska law limits the amount an individual can contribute to a candidate for political office, or to an election-oriented group other than a political party, to $500 per year.” Some Alaska residents filed suit claiming that this limit violated the First Amendment.

The Plaintiffs in the case contributed the maximum amounts permitted but wanted to contribute more and challenged the limits under the First Amendment. Previously, the district court and Ninth Circuit Court upheld the Alaska statute as furthering a “sufficiently important state interest” and “closely drawn” to that end.

Although the Alaska District Court and Ninth Circuit Court upheld the limit, on November 25, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court found in the process, the Ninth Circuit Court “declined to apply” the Supreme Court’s 2006 campaign-finance decision in Randall v. Sorrell, on the ground that in Randall “no opinion commanded a majority of the Court”.

The Supreme Court vacated and remanded Thompson v. Hebdon, citing its precedent in Randall v. Sorrell (2006), which invalidated a Vermont law that limited individual contributions on a per-election basis to $400 to a candidate for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or other statewide office, $300 to a candidate for state senator, and $200 to a candidate for state representative.

In  Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230 (2006), the Supreme Court invalidated a Vermont law that limited individual contributions. In that case, the Supreme Court identified several “danger signs” about Vermont’s law that warranted closer review. Alaska’s limit on campaign contributions were found to share some of those characteristics, specifically the relatively low amounts of the limits and their failure to adjust for inflation.

The Supreme Court ruled that a contribution limit that is too low can “prove an obstacle to the very electoral fairness it seeks to promote.” Alaska’s $500 individual-to-candidate contribution limit is substantially lower than limits that have previously been upheld; the individual-to-candidate contribution limit is substantially lower than comparable limits in other states. Alaska’s $500 contribution limit applies uniformly to all offices while other states have limits above $500 for candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019

Governor Announces 2019 Christmas Open House; Ketchikan Area Tree Chosen As "2019 Together Tree"

Governor Announces 2019 Christmas Open House; Ketchikan Area Tree Chosen As "2019 Together Tree"
Alaska Marine Lines crew members in Ketchikan load the Together Tree, an 18ft Sitka Spruce, into a container for shipping to Juneau on November 26, 2019.
Photo courtesy USFS


Ketchikan: Governor Announces 2019 Christmas Open House; Ketchikan Area Tree Chosen As "2019 Together Tree" Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The 2019 Together Tree, an 18 foot Sitka Spruce harvested from Revillagigedo Island in Ketchikan, was delivered to Juneau on Monday. Thw tree will be displayed during the Governor’s open house on December 10th and through the holiday season. The tree’s arrival continues a three-year tradition of highlighting the special relationships between the USDA Forest Service, Alaska Native peoples, the State of Alaska and rural communities in southeast Alaska. The Sitka Spruce has been the official state tree since 1962.

Irene Dundas from Ketchikan Indian Community blessed the tree before it was taken last week, and children from Holy Name Catholic School and Houghtaling Elementary crafted ornaments in their classrooms to be displayed on its branches. Alaska Marine Lines provided transportation for the tree from Ketchikan to Juneau. 

Quoting a news release from the US Forest Service, the important relationships highlighted through this harvested tree effort enables cooperative management of forest resources for maximum benefit to the diverse needs of the public, communities, and industries. Collaboration also provides opportunities for scientific research, workforce training and jobs to the communities of Southeast Alaska.

Today, Governor Mike Dunleavy and First Lady Rose Dunleavy invited Alaskans to the Governor’s Annual Christmas and Holiday Open House at the Governor’s House, to be held Tuesday, December 10, from 3:00-6:00 p.m.

“We are thankful to all of those in Ketchikan and the officials with the USDA Forest Service that worked with the State to provide Alaskans with a great example of how we can all work together. Rose and I are proud to display this beautiful Sitka Spruce at the Governor’s Christmas and Holiday Open House and throughout the Holiday season,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy.

"Rose and I have been looking forward to inviting our Juneau friends and neighbors to come celebrate Christmas and the Holidays in the People’s House,” Governor Dunleavy said. “As we enjoy the holiday season with our neighbors and loved ones, we should take a moment and remember all of our first responders, veterans, and military members that are spending time away from their loved ones this season.” - More..
Friday AM - December 06, 2019


Ketchikan: Interim Chief Admin Officer for Ketchikan Medical Center Named - PeaceHealth has named Joe Mark, MHA, as interim chief administrative officer for PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center to serve until a permanent replacement for Ed Freysinger is identified. Mark will begin the interim role on Dec. 9, 2018. 

Interim Chief Admin Officer for Ketchikan Medical Center Named

Joe Mark, MHA
Photo courtesy Joe Mark,
LinkedIn- WolfCreek Group

“Joe is a seasoned healthcare executive, with more than 35 years of integrated leadership experience as a hospital chief executive officer, chief operating officer and vice president in addition to 10 years of strategy and operations improvement consulting,” said Charles Prosper, chief executive for PeaceHealth’s Northwest network, including its facilities in SE Alaska.

Prosper said, “Joe has experience at PeaceHealth as well; he served in an interim capacity as chief executive in Oregon prior to a permanent executive hire there in 2018. We are looking forward to welcoming Joe to Ketchikan and know his expertise and proven leadership experience will be of great value to the community during this transition.” - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019

Financial: How to pick the 'right' amount to spend on holiday gifts – according to an economist By JAY L. ZAGORSKY - Gift giving is a big deal this time of year.

To find the “perfect” gift, Americans will spend about 15 hours shopping. Women will do about twice as much as men. And they’ll shell out about US$1 trillion on gifts.

While retailers relish the holiday shopping season as a time when consumers open their purses or wallets, for many consumers – especially those who do not like shopping – these days are filled with dread. They mark moments when shoppers clog malls, websites become overloaded and delivery trucks block streets. The entire process generates untold amounts of stress and anxiety.

One source of stress is just how much to spend on gifts. Spending too much can put you in financial distress. Spending too little may make you look cheap.

How do you decide what’s the “right” amount to spend on gifts?

As an economist, I study holidays and gift giving because a large fraction of retail shopping is driven by seasonal events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Super Saturday – also and more appropriately known as Panic Saturday – which is the last Saturday before Christmas.

‘Dead weight loss’

Gift giving is stressful because nobody wants to buy what they think is a perfect gift only to discover it is a dud.

The long lines of people returning items after the holidays seem evidence enough for that.

This has led some economists to argue there’s a “dead weight loss” to Christmas presents that “destroys” as much as a third of their actual value. A 2018 study estimated Americans spend $13 billion a year on unwanted gifts.

Other economists, however, have resisted this Scrooge-like view of gift giving and point to evidence that a present can actually have more value to the recipient than the price the giver paid. In other words, a gift, even when technically unwanted, could have more value simply because someone else bought it for you. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019

 Redoubt’s big impact 30 years ago

Redoubt’s big impact 30 years ago

Mount Redoubt west of Kenai erupts an ash cloud on April 21, 1990, during the same unrest that launched the fledgling Alaska Volcano Observatory.
Photo by Robert Clucas ©

Alaska: Redoubt’s big impact 30 years ago By NED ROZELL - On Dec. 15, 1989, a pilot who had flown a 747 passenger jet all the way from Amsterdam was looking forward to landing in Anchorage. There, he would take a short break before continuing to Tokyo.

Descending over Southcentral Alaska, he and his co-pilot saw what looked like an inky storm cloud ahead. Flying into it, the pilot powered up the four engines in an attempt to climb to clear sky. What happened next changed how we monitor volcanoes all over the world and made the Alaska Volcano Observatory what it is today.

On that December morning 30 years ago, volcanic ash from Mount Redoubt melted inside all four jet engines of that 747. The ash cooled, coating the engines with glass and restricting air flow. The engines responded by shutting down.

Powerless, the plane dropped more than two miles, heading for the Talkeetna Mountains. Their visibility restricted by the ash-scoured windscreen, the pilot and co-pilot tried restarting the engines six or seven times.

After eight minutes, two engines coughed to life at 17,500 feet, allowing the pilots to level the aircraft. At, 13,300 feet, as the mountains got closer, the glassy engine coating cooled and shattered into crystals, falling away. The other two engines started. The pilots turned the reborn aircraft and landed in Anchorage.

All 231 passengers aboard reported no injuries. But some vowed never to fly again, after the next available set of planes carried them home.

Tilly Barella was a passenger on the 747 that flew through the Mount Redoubt ash cloud in 1989. She lived in Holland and was on her way to a vacation in Japan. Anchorage Times reporter Todd Bensman interviewed her at the airport the next morning. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019


jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: Behind The Glare of Impeachment, Secretary Devos Shines - Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!

Removing Donald Trump from office before he can get re-elected is the only thing in Washington that Democrats and the national media really care about.

But while Thelma Pelosi and Louise Nadler speed down their constitutionally crooked backroad to impeachment, the Trump administration has been quietly tackling issues like education that are actually important for Americans.

Covered by the constant media glare of impeachment, for instance,Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is doing a great job of fixing our broken public education system.

DeVos hasn’t just been delivering the usual canned speeches lamenting our sorry public schools or extolling the blessings of school choice.

She’s doing her best to get the federal government out of public education, where it never belonged. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019


DICK POLMAN: Snarky Mockery of Joe Biden is Sheer Malarkey - I know it’s very uncool – at least in the precincts of snarky lefty Twitter – to defend Joe Biden, but I’ll give it a try.

The Democratic front-runner is currently touring Iowa on a bus that’s newly emblazoned with his favorite Irish-American slang – “No Malarkey!” – which, for those unfamiliar with the word, roughly means “No BS,” a not-so-implicit swipe at Donald Trump’s serial lying. Biden has virtually branded the word as his own. During his first presidential bid in 1988, he assailed Republican rhetoric: “Don’t buy all this malarkey!” As the veep in 2012, he mocked Paul Ryan for spouting “a bunch of malarkey.” In 2016, he said that Trump’s promises were “a bunch of malarkey.”

Young snarky lefties on social media think it’s hysterically funny that Biden loves the adjective enough to put it on his bus. Over the weekend, they tweeted a flood of malarkey mockery: “Omg, your bus says malarkey?!? What is this the ’50s?” and “Man I can’t even troll this. Could someone from Biden 2020 please start explaining these things to him.”

On cable TV, Trevor Noah said that nobody knows what malarkey means “unless you’re over the age of 80.” New York magazine weighed in as well, because it’s important to be edgy. Its headline: 77-Year-Old Candidate Hopes ‘No Malarkey’ Will Excite Voters. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: First Things First

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


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jpg Opinion

Move to Lease Out Ketchikan's Berths By Charlie Freeman - There is a move being made to lease out berths 1, 2 ,3, & 4 to private concerns for operation. This seems to have moved forward quietly and quickly without much fanfare and even less detail available to the public. A consultant has been hired, an RFP has been sent out, and, as far as I know, responded to.

The plan, as I understand it, is for a select group, consisting of the Mayor, some council members, some staff and the consultant to review the responses, agree on a choice, then present their recommendation to the full council and, at that time, the general public. It also seems that most of this process was determined in executive secession, out of public view.

If this is indeed how it’s going to be done, I think it’s flawed in that there is a large lack of public and full council oversight. But, this is small compared with my primary objection which is the idea of leasing the docks in the first place. - More...
Friday AM - December 06, 2019

jpg Opinion

Newly Elected Officials Training and Alaska Municipal League Conference By Austin Otos - I recently had the opportunity to attend the Newly Elected Officials Training (NEO) and Alaska Municipal League (AML) in Anchorage. For those who’re unaware of or haven’t attended the conference, it’s basically a congregation of local government nerds discussing issues that impact our communities. The NEO training is a crash course in avoiding getting recalled and how to conduct yourself as a representative. The highlights for this training included a look at the opening meetings act, which bars elected officials from gathering outside of public meetings to conspire, proper forms of communication with constituents, and a mock meeting showcasing a proper meeting. Without this invaluable training, our newly elected officials would be handicapped at doing their job and would fall into public traps that might get them into trouble or even worse, recalled!

The Alaska Municipal League conference has been gathering for 69 years. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering local Alaskan governments to influence state and federal decision-making that impacts our communities. This year’s conference slogan was “working together, making a difference” which I assume was in reaction to last year’s tumultuous state legislative session. As attendees, we had the opportunity to choose various sessions and listen to specific topics that are prevalent throughout Alaskan communities. I attended sessions on: ground water contamination, housing and homelessness, funding the Alaska Marine Highway System, and promoting public safety. The groundwater contamination session gave an in-depth look at two contaminates (PFOA’s and PFO’s) which are commonly found in spray foam for firefighting. These substances were recently designated as toxic chemicals and banned from being made within the US. However, many airport fire departments still use this spray foam, which has contaminated whole water systems in certain Alaskan communities. Luckily, our airport is isolated on a separate island away from our drinking water source. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 03, 2019

jpg Opinion

Plan to Relocate Ketchikan Trooper Dispatch Employees to Anchorage By Ken Bylund - State Plans to Relocate Ketchikan Trooper Dispatch Employees to Anchorage - Alaska DPS (SB 142) Deputy Commissioner and Mayor Rodney Dial open discussions on “unifying regional emergency dispatch services to enhance 911 services across the state for cost savings of $3.5 million combining with Soldotna and Wasilla from center in Anchorage... why not move Wasilla and Soldotna 911 services to Ketchikan? 

State Senators Ortiz and Stedman to seek alternatives to ensure services will not be diminished? I trust Mayor Dial will do the right thing but my first reaction is how comfortable would Juneau or Anchorage be depending on a dispatcher for an emergency call from Ketchikan who has little knowledge of your streets, logging roads, waterways and more remote non-city located citizens.- More...
Tuesday PM - December 03, 2019

jpg Opinion

Commander Of White House Chaos By Donald Moskowitz - As a former Navy enlisted and officer I am highly concerned with the Commander-In-Charge Of  White House Chaos interference in Navy matters. 

The Commander-In-Charge Of White House Chaos overruled the Navy's decision to demote Chief Petty Officer and Navy Seal Edward Gallagher. Gallagher was convicted of posing with a dead detainee. Trump's rationale was that he was standing up for our military. Trump also overruled the peer review ordered by RADM Collin Green, head of the Navy Seals, and by doing this he is undermining the Navy's chain of command and adversely impacting discipline within the Navy. The peer review would have been conducted by senior Navy enlisted personnel. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 03, 2019

jpg Opinion

Second Amendment By A.M. (Al) Johnson - Often in the public square various opinions regarding the Second Amendment is the topic of discussion. Pro or con, the language used by either side reflects opinion often given without any real knowledge, history, or fact. 

To this discussion I would offer the following interpretation to which I have a profound belief reflects the true purpose of the Second Amendment as it relates to the intent. - More...
Friday PM - November 29, 2019

jpg Opinion

Response to Public Records Request By Mike Holman - The City of Ketchikan responded to my October 18 Public Records Act request on November 19.

One of the more interesting documents produced by the City is the response of Market Sensing Survey Respondent A. Pages 3-4 of Respondent A’s survey response are attached. I invite you to read them. If you read them, I’m sure you will conclude that the City should hasten to hand over the keys to our docks to Respondent A on January 21. LOL - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Opinion

Emergency Declarations are for Things That Can Be Changed By John Harrington - Terri Robbins is “appalled” by DEC Commissioner Jason Brune’s statement at the AFN. Apparently the commissioner said, “that climate change is not an emergency in Alaska.” She even accuses him of potential “malfeasance of the most egregious kind.” Terri suggested that he consult with scientists.

Terri’s letter is political propaganda. It is like much of the discussion on ‘Global Warming’ that is reported routinely. It is heavy on half-truths and biased reporting. Like Teri’s attempt to silence the Commissioner, other attempts to silence dissent, and destroy dissenters is happening regularly. The lack of civility, and unwillingness to acknowledge differing data sets and opinions is typical of the anti-science approach to Global Warming theories promoted by the extremists. It is akin to those religious leaders of the past who relied on dogma and tried to silence scientific discussion. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Opinion

Impressive Work Ethic By A.M. Johnson - Within the past days, a work order on the hook with KPU to install a power pole to provide access to our breaker box in compliance of electrical code, was completed.

Was advised about 20 minutes to their arrival of their coming. The crew of three linemen, all young well fit lads, discharged from the trucks, made a ground inspection, speaking quietly among them selves. Shortly they spread out to their respective positions and actions directed by obvious many such activities with power pole placement.

My view of these lads was made impressive by the work ethic, the safety roles each demonstrated again, as by force of having worked as a team where safety on the site was second nature. Upon completion of the pole placement, the area was cleaned and left in perfect condition. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 26, 2019

jpg Opinion

Open Letter To DEC Commissioner Jason Brune By Terri Robbins - I was appalled to learn of your recent statement at the AFN conference. To say that climate change is not an emergency in Alaska is incorrect, at best, and malfeasance of the most egregious kind, at worst.

We just experienced the hottest summer on record. Sea levels have risen, forcing coastal villages to relocate. Habitat for polar bears and other arctic mammals is disappearing at an alarming rate. The interior experienced devastating wildfires, as did south central and the Kenai Peninsula. The water levels in key salmon streams was dangerously low. Southern southeast communities were forced to rely on diesel power to supply electricity due to low levels of water in lakes supplying hydropower. An extreme drought was declared. In our oceans, whales were dying in large numbers due to starvation, arguably caused by warmer ocean temperatures which killed off plankton and krill. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 20, 2019

jpg Opinion

State Legislature Year in Review By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As the House Representative for District 36, I’m writing to update you on some of the issues currently before the Alaska State Legislature. The 2019 legislative sessions were challenging – we continued to grapple with creating the budget, implementing a long term sustainable fiscal plan, and address declining revenue.

While we were able to hold fast on funding for departments like Fish & Game and Education, the Marine Highway System faced unprecedented cuts. During the interim, I have been focused on re-establishing the AMHS link to Prince Rupert. I will continue to push this issue until we see a long-term commitment by the Alaska Department of Transportation to keep Southeast connected.

New sources of revenue were not addressed, and funding for the budget continues to come predominately from our oil resources and a portion of the Permanent Fund Earnings. I am an advocate for policies that will promote as large of a dividend as possible while maintaining funding for essential government services and allowing for growth in the overall value of the Permanent Fund itself. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Save Our Seas 2.0 tackles global marine debris crisis By Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Sen. Bob Menendez - We may have plenty of political differences, but we come from coastal states. That means we have a front-row seat to the peril of plastic waste and marine debris flowing into our oceans at the rate of around 8 million metric tons per year. We understand what it will mean for our fishing and tourism industries when the weight of plastic in our oceans equals the weight of fish in the sea — something projected to happen by mid-century. We don’t have a moment to lose in confronting this problem.

That’s why we built a coalition in Congress and gathered input from environmental and industry stakeholders alike. Despite a divided Washington, that work resulted in a bill that won broad, bipartisan support. When the Save Our Seas Act became law last October, it was a moment of bipartisan progress on a vital issue — one to be celebrated.

Before the president’s ink on Save Our Seas was dry, our bipartisan trio of senators began developing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act. We sought to harness the momentum behind the first bill to up the ante on combatting the global marine debris crisis. Marine debris requires multifaceted, multisector solutions with a global reach, and the United States ought to be driving these solutions.

In developing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, we collected hundreds of comments and ideas from researchers, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and industry. We reviewed the latest science on marine debris and plastics pollution. We identified areas ripe for legislative action and others where investments in research are needed. We looked inward at the United States’ own waste management systems and how we could better position the country as an international leader — not hindrance. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Impeachable Offenses By Donald Moskowitz - Article Two of the U.S. Constitution states "The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The current impeachment inquiry by the U.S. House of Representatives against President Trump is focusing on the allegation he tried to bribe and/or extort President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in the runup to the 2020 election in exchange for $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine. The investigation of the Bidens did not occur and the $400 million in aid was subsequently given to Ukraine.Therefore no bribery or extortion occurred.

But did President Trump's actions meet the test of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors"?

A recent president to be impeached was Bill Clinton.. He was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice relative to the Monice Lewinsky affair. Richard Nixon was charged, but not impeached as an outgrowth of the Watergate coverup. He was charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power and defying subpoenas during the impeachment investigation. The House Judiciary Committee stated that "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" goes beyond crimes to include "behaving in a manner grossly incompatible with the proper function of the office and employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or personal gain." 

Going back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 the founding fathers decided the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" provided "flexibility and guidance" in deciding on impeachable offenses, which references 400 years of practice in Great Britain. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 19, 2019

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