Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Pulltab lawsuit hearing delayed

JUNEAU - A hearing scheduled for Thursday to settle a long-running battle between the city and pulltab operators has been postponed for a week at the request of the operators.

Pulltab operators Last Chance Co-op, Multiple Charities Association Co-op and Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 2 Inc. owe the city $300,000, $310,000 and $258,000 in back sales taxes respectively, according to Assistant City Attorney John Hartle. The operators stopped paying sales taxes early in 1998, contesting a 1991 ordinance requiring payment.

The hearing, before retired Justice Jay Rabinowitz, acting as Superior Court judge, was to have dealt with a motion by the operators for a trial that would be conducted without reference to the existing 1,300-page record of administrative appeals. The city wants the appeal decided on that record. Also up for decision is the city's motion for summary judgment on its claim for the money.

The state Tax Division's Gaming Unit last week denied Last Chance a permit to sell pulltabs in 2001, claiming, among other charges, that the operator had repeatedly failed to pay its member nonprofits the minimum 30 percent of pulltab proceeds required by law. Last Chance "will not engage in pulltab gaming activities in any capacity or in conjunction with others during the calendar year 2001," though Last Chance may engage in "raffles or other lawful charitable gaming activities," the state directive said.

Coast Guard helps stranded freighter

KODIAK - The Coast Guard was standing by today, preparing to tow a 595-foot bulk cargo carrier drifting without power in the stormy waters of the Bering Sea. The Coast Guard diverted the Cutter Alex Haley from patrol in the Bering Sea crab fishery to assist the Alam Selaras, a Malaysian-flagged vessel en route from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Japan.

The ship's captain reported the vessel dead in the water after its main engine quit working Tuesday. The ship, loaded with grain, was stranded about 125 miles north of Dutch Harbor.

Winds in the area were blowing at 45 knots and swells were up to 15 feet Tuesday midnight, said Coast Guard Adm. Thomas Barrett of Juneau at a briefing this morning. Barrett said it would take six days to get a tug to the Alam Selaras, and he feared it might hit rocks in the Aleutians in two to three days - and cause an oil spill.

The Haley, a converted Navy tug, was preparing to take the vessel under tow, said Lt. Cmdr. Ray Massey, a Coast Guard spokesman in Juneau.

No one appeared in any immediate danger, but the Coast Guard received reports that there were only three survival suits on board for the vessel's 23-member crew, Massey.

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