APOC dismisses school campaigning complaint

Pebble Mine advocates were not on school grounds

The Alaska Public Offices Commission has dismissed a complaint regarding alleged political activity at Nondalton School in the Lake and Peninsula Borough.

Alaskans for Bristol Bay, on behalf of the Save Our Salmon ballot initiative, alleged that three advocates against the ballot vote were distributing flyers to students at the school this week. The representing lawyer, Tim McKeever of Holmes Weddle Barcott PC in Anchorage, sent a letter to the Department of Education and Early Child Development asking for an investigation of the event. McKeever stated earlier that the plaintiffs believed the accused people were at the school during school hours and this would violate a state statute and the Alaska Administrative Code.

The complainant accused Lake and Peninsula Borough Mayor Glen Alsworth, Matthew Nicolai and Native actor Wes Studi of distributing political flyers to students. The flyers were allegedly tied to promoting a “no” vote to have Save Our Salmon on the October election ballot.

The school principal and superintendant state that this never happened and APOC quickly dismissed the complaint.

The order dated Sept. 15, 2011 states the commission found that the respondent, Pebble Limited Partnership, did not commit any violations.

Alaskans for Bristol Bay has 30 days to appeal the order to the Superior Court.

Lake and Peninsula Superintendant Ty Mase issued a release stating there was no evidence that the three were ever in the school. He cites the law firm’s letter as stating that the accused action was only believed to be the case but the accusation was false. His letter states that it is his understanding that the individuals were not around until around a few hours after school let out.

Nondalton Principal Ed Cox also said he confirmed with the staff that the three were not on school grounds while school was in session.

Mase’s statement says the flyers in question were determined to have been posted on a public bulletin board by students without approval. He states they were removed and the district will determine if the students violated any regulations.

Lake and Peninsula School District Chief Operating Officer Rick Luthi said it’s amazing that this attention came about at Nondalton. He said the district strives to protect its students from any wrongdoings.

“What has been purported at the school is just wrong,” he said.

McKeever did not return comment on APOC’s decision by press time but spoke to the Empire previously about the initial letter.

The Alaska Supreme Court just recently ruled to have the Save Our Salmon initiative go before voters. If voted on, it would give the borough authority to bar large-scale mining activities — including Pebble Mine — that could significantly impact salmon streams.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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