Watching the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer
In the last eight disastrous years income inequality has increased and there has been no responsible government oversight of the stock market. This has allowed our economy to free-fall into an abyss of debt. The Republican solution is still more tax cuts for corporations and the rich. When did that work? Answer: The Gilded Age. Who did it work for? Answer: It made the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Last on AEL&P's customer billing list
Concerned about the size of my electricity bill, I consulted the Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. Web site to discover that my high billing period begins on Feb. 11 and won't end until March 12. I'm last on their list. I phoned AEL&P on Tuesday to try to have this changed because, as I explained the following to the several people I spoke with:

Smoking ban benefits everyone in Juneau
Juneau Assemblyman Merrill Sanford's concerns about downtown litter and nuisances sounds punitive rather then a challenge for change.

Criticism of university views 'appalling'
I was appalled at the criticism leveled by some legislators of university faculty and students for being "anti-development." More shameful is the response by Chancellor Mark Hamilton calling them "conservative" and just needing to "mature over time."

Clearing the way
State road crews were able to reopen Thane Road early Sunday evening, reconnecting about 30 households to the rest of Juneau following a massive slide that blocked the road for more than a day.

Avalanche cuts off Thane Road
A massive avalanche cut off Thane Road and dozens of homes just before 1 p.m. on Saturday. A state transportation official said the road could be reopened by 6 p.m. today.

Around Town
Today, Feb. 8

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

In regards to the story "Ferry union approves state constract" published in Friday's Empire, a tentative state contract with the InlandBoatmens Union of the Pacific calls for a 5 percent pay increase beginning at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1, and then a 4 percent increase the year after that. The contract has been ratified by IBU and is awaiting legislative approval.

Thane neighbors hunker down after snow slide
An avalanche Saturday afternoon cut off Thane from the rest of Juneau mere hours after Larri Spengler had e-mailed the Department of Transportation again to ask about blasting in the area.

State hiring freeze will affect about 200 Juneau jobs
The state hiring freeze announced by Gov. Sarah Palin last month is likely to affect hundreds of jobs in Alaska's capital, totaling millions of dollars in payroll removed from the local economy, according to state officials.

Photo: Sweet string music
Franz Felkl, standing, the 2008 Youth Concerto Competition winner, plays Felix Mendelssohn's "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 64" with the Juneau Symphony at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium during Sunday's afternoon concert.

Senate finds Todd Palin, staffers in contempt
The Alaska Senate confronted Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday over her resistance to Legislative subpoenas in the Troopergate investigation with a mild rebuke for her husband and some of her staff. The resolution was drafted behind the scenes, catching many lawmakers and Palin supporters off guard.

Police & Fire
Alaska police and fire officials and state police reported:

Government buys share in Alaska Pacific Bank
Alaska Pacific Bank completed a deal with the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program Friday in which $4.8 million was invested in the bank.

Local projects vie for funding
Alaska's Congressional delegation staked out positions for and against President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill, while state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities staff tried to position dozens of state projects for funding.

Around Town
Today, Feb. 9

State offers hep B shots for high-risk adults
The Juneau Public Health Center expects it will soon offer free hepatitis B shots to high-risk adults.

Residents appeal WiMAX tower site
A group of Mendenhall Valley residents filed an appeal Tuesday seeking to overturn a Juneau Planning Commission decision to permit a 150-foot communication tower on Mendenhall Loop Road.

Photo: Underwater robotics
Missy and Chip McMillan help their daughter, Adelie, 6, operate an underwater robot Saturday in the Extended Stay Hotel. Chip built the robot, called a SeaPerch, during a workshop Thursday and Friday. SeaPerch, a marine engineering education program, teaches students how to build an underwater robot and propulsion system, how to develop a controller and how to investigate weight and buoyancy.

Downtown Juneau record store plays its final song
Rob Cohen expected his record store, Capital City Records, to die a little sooner than it did. But his going-out-of-business sale instead extended his shop's life expectancy, though for just a few more weeks.

Fiesta de Colores
To support youth literacy in Juneau, the Juneau Community Charter School recently teamed up with The Learning Connection to host their first family fun night, a mini-Fiesta de Colores, held Jan. 28 at TLC's Gruening Park location.

New nonfiction awaits at the library
There's plenty of new nonfiction for readers to choose from at the Juneau Public Libraries. Here's just a small sample.

Echo Ranch sports camps
Echo Ranch has sports camps. We offer both soccer and basketball camps designed for a variety of age groups and experience. Whether a player is just starting the game or is looking to take their game to the next level, Echo Ranch is a great place to learn the basics and optimize potential. Players will learn the importance of teamwork and sportsman-like conduct with an emphasis on having fun and enjoying the game.

Thanks for help in fighting pertussis
Due to the unusually high number of whooping cough cases diagnosed in the Juneau area since July, Juneau Public Health Nursing, the state of Alaska Section of Epidemiology and the Juneau School District combined their efforts and on Dec. 16 and 17 offered free Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) immunizations at Floyd Dryden and Dzantil'i Heeni middle schools. More than 800 immunizations were given over those two days.

Let Ashe's passing be a call for kindness
I learned with great sadness of the death of Don Ashe. I played softball against Donnie two decades ago and since that time have run into him two or three times a year. Each of these brief encounters left me better off. He'd greet me in his gravelly, friendly voice, "Hey, Timmy, how are you doing? Are you and the family well?" and we'd chat for a few minutes before moving on.

Holland America Line now acception grant applications
Applications are now being accepted by the Holland America Line Inc. Community Advisory Board for grants to local service and nonprofit groups in Juneau.

Discovery Days at Eaglecrest are back
Join Discovery Southeast at Eaglecrest Ski Area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 16 for the Discovery Days and get to know the mountain environment from a whole new perspective.

Basic info on TLC and the charter school

Free citizenship preparation class at The Learning Connection
The Learning Connection is offering a free citizenship preparation class, designed to help people prepare to take the U.S. citizenship test, every Monday from Feb. 9 to March 16 at the Learning Connection at Gruening Park, 1800 Northwood Drive, room G49.

Harris to chair United Way Board of Directors
University of Alaska Southeast Dean Larry Harris took over as chairman of United Way of Southeast Alaska Board on Feb. 1.

Floyd Dryden Middle School recently announced it Honor Roll students for the second quarter.

Marriage licenses

Play It Again Sports achieves gold standard
Play It Again Sports of Juneau has gone gold. The local sporting goods provider of new and quality used sports and fitness equipment was recognized for achieving a Gold Standard measurement.

Senior menu for the week of Feb. 9-13
Monday, Feb. 9

Douglas Fourth of July raffle changed
The Douglas Fourth of July Committee would like to inform all raffle-ticket holders that the raffle drawing date has been changed from Feb. 14 to April 11.

KTOO brown bag travel show series planned for Februrary
Because their January brown bag travel slideshow series was so popular, KTOO has decided to extend the event into the month of February. On Wednesdays in February, local residents will share their images of their travels near and far.

World Affairs Council to host talk on "The United States and Iran"
The Juneau World Affairs Council will host Dr. Nosratollah Rassekh to speak on "The United States and Iran" at 5:30 p.m. Monday at KTOO, on Whittier and Egan.

SEARHC offers WISE At Every Size classes
SITKA - Are you tired of weight-loss diets that don't work? Are you a woman who wants to learn about a fun, effective way to improve your health and wellness, without being a slave to the scale? Then the WISE At Every Size program may be for you.

Supercharged Science Workshop
This week, Aurora Lipper and her Supercharged Science team will bring more than 400 pounds of rockets, robots and lasers to Fairbanks, Wasilla, Soldotna, Anchorage and Juneau for kids, ages 7-18, to experiment with during Alaska's first-ever Supercharged Science Workshop.

SEARHC to offer wilderness first responder course
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Emergency Medical Services department is offering a Wilderness First Responder course on Wednesday nights and all day Saturdays, with occasional Monday nights, from Feb. 11 to March 21 at the SEARHC Community Health Services building in Sitka.

Living at the foot of a mountain
I am not a mountain climber, but I am a mountain observer and participant. The need to look up to experience awe and insight has impacted my life journey.

Nusbaums celebrate 50 years
Marty and Sandy Nusbaum were married Feb. 14, 1959. Their children, Jeff Nusbaum and Christie Nusbaum Young, want to wish their parents a Happy Valentine's Day and 50th anniversary.

Fredenberg, Martin to wed
Elsa Fredenberg, of Juneau, and Conrad Martin, of Cheney, Wash., are engaged to be married in a mid-May ceremony in Cheney.

Pets of the week: Dusty and Louise
Dusty is the gentle kitty king of the cats at the Gastineau Humane Society. He is a 6-year-old orange tiger with an audacious demeanor who primarily wants to play and hunt. He entertains the kittens during playtime, keeps the peace between the older cats and makes every room he enters his own. Dusty needs a home where he will receive an abundance of attention and love.

Winter damage can be minimized by prompt action
Winter weather in our home area can be rough. It is hard on us, our homes, our cars, our pets and our tempers, and it is also hard on our landscapes. Last winter killed off hundreds of small trees and shrubs; the combination of the abrupt warming in January and the sudden return to the sub-freezing temperatures of February brought many otherwise hardy plants out of dormancy and then shocked them into fatal temperature traumas. Japanese maples, flowering cherries and crabapples, even early flowering Japanese quinces that had been planted in yards 40 years before were killed all over town.

Cats, like dogs, need identification
A heartbreaking percentage of cats accidentally separated from their people don't make it back home.

Kenneth Peterson
Lifelong Juneau resident Kenneth Paul Peterson died Jan. 26, 2009, in Juneau. He was 56.

MaryGrace Needham
Juneau resident MaryGrace Tupaz Needham died Jan. 31, 2009, in Juneau. She was 31.

Earl Wischmeier
Former longtime Juneau resident Earl Wischmeier died Jan. 26, 2009. He was 88 years old.

Bailouts, stimulus are all bad ideas
As this is written, a reported 75 percent of Americans want the federal government to pass some kind of stimulus package, but only 38 percent approve of the existing package the Obama administration has presented.

My turn: When is an earmark not really an earmark?
From time to time a word gets overused and loses its real meaning. Some words even become meaningless because they have so many meanings. I'm afraid that "earmark" has become one such word.

Alaska editorial: Panning for fuel subsidy ideas for rural Alaskans
Bethel Sen. Lyman Hoffman thinks the state should open its checkbook so Alaskans don't have to pay more than $3 a gallon for heating fuel during the heart of winter. This is a spectacularly bad idea.

Committed leadership needed for Alaskans
Alaska would be in a world of hurt without competent and committed career state employees. It's a blasphemous thing to praise government workers, but it is something that needs to be said.

America's new rescuer: Japan
Here's a disillusioning thought: Solving the financial crisis may be beyond the capacity of government finances. The likely $3 trillion price tag, give or take, of both saving the banks and stimulating the economy is causing interest rates to inch up. U.S. Treasury long-term rates have already risen from 2.1 percent just before Christmas to nearly 3 percent.

Universities should not be viewed as 'hired guns'
The comments of Rep.'s Anna Fairclough, Mike Hawker and Mike Kelly, of the House Finance Committee, to University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton, reported in the Feb. 5 story, "University faces hostile Legislators," would seem to suggest that university faculty, staff and students should, without question, support oil and mining industry development because revenues from these industries are a key source of revenue for the state and the university.

Toe Toon
This week's Toe Toon.

Alaska's Mount Redoubt still restless
ANCHORAGE - Unrest continues at Alaska's Mount Redoubt.

Scientists catalog Cook Inlet belugas
ANCHORAGE - Researchers are individually cataloguing Cook Inlet's endangered beluga whales through photographs that show the animals' distinctive marks.

Anchorage man gets 57 months for firearms crime
ANCHORAGE - A 22-year-old Anchorage man received a 57-month sentence in federal court for his conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Man with Hells Angels ties gets 15 years
FAIRBANKS - A 43-year-old Chitina man with a 20-year criminal history and ties to the Hell's Angels received a 15-year prison sentence for the fatal stabbing for a North Pole man.

Troopers in Wasilla shooting named
ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers have released the names of two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 38-year-old woman who was wielding a gun at a Wasilla clinic.

Wasilla man gets 8 years on stolen weapons charge
ANCHORAGE - A 36-year-old Wasilla man will serve eight years in a federal prison after being convicted of being in possession of a stolen firearm.

Anchorage man faces 64 felony sex abuse charges
ANCHORAGE - A 46-year-old Anchorage man faces 64 felony counts of sexual abuse charges.

Alaska company recalls 872 pounds of sausage
ANCHORAGE - The federal government saids an Anchorage company is recalling about 872 pounds of sausage products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Palin names Tok woman to Board of Game
FAIRBANKS - The newest member of the Alaska Board of Game has strong ties to sport hunters.

Anchorage man gets 25 years for kidnapping
ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the kidnapping and assault of two women.

JDHS hockey falls to top-seeded Lathrop
The Juneau-Douglas High School hockey team's impressive first season in the 4A Mid-Alaska Conference came to a grinding halt Friday night, as top-seeded Lathrop knocked the fourth-seeded Crimson Bears from the MAC Championships Tournament with a 7-0 shutout at North Pole.

Bears give Wolves the broom-broom
It took all of three seconds for the Crimson Bears to flip their planned David and Goliath series on it's head this weekend.

Juneau-Douglas girls split tail end of road trip
The Crimson Bears pushed the defending state champs to the very end, but Colony dropped their visitors' road trip record to 3-1 on the week.

Photo: Sailing high "C"s
Members of the Juneau-Douglas High School Dance Team do "C" jumps in a jazz routine during Juneau's game versus Eagle River on Friday at the JDHS gym.

Photo: Dangerous dodgeball
A player prepares for a tag attempt during a dodgeball tournament on Friday at JRC The Alaska Club.

State tells families deceased Alaskans not eligible for PFD
When Kasilof resident Carole Okamoto contacted the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend division with questions concerning the PFD application process on behalf of her late husband, she was asked a series of questions one would expect:

Troopergate lawsuit funds tallied in disclosures
Six Republican legislators who tried to quash an abuse of power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin received $185,000 in gifts of legal services in support of their lawsuit.

As recession mounts, raffle fever hits state
Raffle madness is coming to Alaska. At least five major raffles could take place in the state in the coming year, with jackpots ranging from $50,000 to $500,000.

Former Alaska grappler makes wrestling history
KENAI - Talk about perfect timing.

Alaska considers utility corporation in Railbelt
Gov. Sarah Palin plans to introduce a bill calling for creating a joint corporation of the six Railbelt electric utilities. Palin said such an entity could unite a "fragmented group of rival utilities" and could save rate payers $40 million annually.

Two names offered for high court vacancy
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Judicial council has put forth the names of two Southcentral Alaska judges to fill a state Supreme Court vacancy.

Gas escape at Prudhoe Bay under investigation
ANCHORAGE - A massive release of Prudhoe Bay natural gas that filtered into a trans-Alaska pipeline pump station could have destroyed the building and caused an extended shutdown of Alaska's North Slope oil fields, pipeline operators and investigators said.

Steam plume again visible on volcano
ANCHORAGE - Geologists flew to Mount Redoubt to collect gas samples and look for signs of an eruption.

Anchorage stadium shooter gets 15 years
ANCHORAGE - One of the shooters at the Anchorage Football Stadium will serve 15 years in prison.

Anchorage to see job losses in 2009
There will be minor jobs losses this year, but Anchorage's economy overall is on a steady footing compared to the rest of the nation. Local business leaders are cautiously optimistic, too.

Ketchikan man charged in stabbing
KETCHIKAN - A 47-year-old Ketchikan man accused of stabbing a woman is being held for violating his probation. Police say other charges are pending.

State officials expect to see labor increase through 2016
State labor officials, responding to industry and occupational employment forecasts, are projecting Alaska's job base will rise nearly 14 percent, or 44,000 jobs, for the decade ending in 2016.

Rasmuson Foundation cuts major grants in '09
ANCHORAGE - The shaky economy has slashed the assets of a philanthropic Alaska foundation and that will mean fewer dollars going to nonprofit organizations.

University museum unveils northern marine reptile fossil
FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Museum of the North has unveiled what officials call one of the largest, oldest and northernmost marine reptile fossils ever found.

Photo: Revving up
Gov. Sarah Palin,center, hugs her husband, Todd, while their daughter, Piper, left, watches as Todd and his partner, Scott Davis, get ready for the race. The snowmobile race across Alaska goes from Big Lake to Nome before finishing in Fairbanks on Saturday.

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