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Monday, February 10, 2003

New fiction arrivals at the library
New fiction for February:

Thank you, governor
Gov. Murkowski's choice of moving the Habitat Division to the Department of Natural Resources is a bold move and I applaud him on it. Time will tell whether this is a progressive move or one that may require some additional changes. In the meantime, I am pleased our new governor is not timid about trying a new approach.

So, why war?
The administration has fired its most credible rhetorical cannon in support of war with Iraq, and now many whose skepticism hinged on the flimsiness of the evidence are understandably somewhat rocked by the blast. While many are now realizing that the evidence is still flimsy, it was immediately apparent that Colin Powell was only able to reaffirm what we already knew about Saddam Hussein's evils. He was not able to make President Bush's intended pre-emptive attack into an unavoidable, and therefore morally or legally justifiable, act of self-defense.

Rogue government
First strike? Preemptive strike? Opposition to the International War Crimes Tribunal? Do these terms refer to the United States of America or a rogue nation?

Experts at work
Gov. Murkowski recently announced his intention to gut fisheries protection by moving ADF&G's Habitat Division over to the Department of Natural Resources. Anyone with any experience knows that the hacks over DNR have zero credibility and will never lift a finger to protect a stream.

Extreme negative view
We disagree with the past five ADF&G commissioners who oppose taking permitting power from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's Habitat Division.

Anti-body politics
Should our constitutional rights suffer the knife in these days of holy war against a plague of terrorists? The current surgical antidote, the Patriot Act, enforced by Dr. Ashcroft and kindred practitioners, is traumatizing the body politic. The cure, a quarantine of privacy rights, of habeas corpus, of due process, of freedom of expression, of freedom from arbitrary arrest, seems to be injuring our nation more than the deadly virus of terrorism.

Ex-commissioners, biologists protected fish and game habitat
I am proud of the five former Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioners who stood up for the department's Habitat Division in their My Turn column in the Feb. 2 Juneau Empire. I hope the ADF&G commissioner Gov. Murkowski appoints will be as strong as his or her predecessors have been in explaining the essential role of the department in protecting Alaska's fish and wildlife.

Protect your rights
Stand up for the U.S. Constitution and your civil rights. At 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 10, the Juneau Citizens for the Defense of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights will present a resolution to the CBJ Assembly.

North Slope hasn't moved
Please, all Alaskans, do not let the politicians get their hands on the Permanent Fund. Representatives of the American people in Congress should have enough sense to know that we must stop relying on foreign countries to supply our oil as well as other goods. We do not need to bribe companies into knowing what we Alaskans have always known.

What are they hiding?
The original intent of our open meeting law is clearly stated in the Alaska statutes: "The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them; the people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know; the people's right to remain informed shall be protected so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

Peace people hate U.S., Israel, free enterprise
As our nation's military prepares to forcefully remove Saddam Hussein, destroy his regime's weapons of mass destruction and liberate the Iraqi people, we will likely see an ramp-up of Juneau's antiwar movement.

Road to nowhere
I would like to comment on the new road being built on Lena Point and actions taken by city officials. The official purpose and need for the road is to provide a new access to the proposed NOAA facility and to mitigate traffic impacts the facility would have on the existing residential road. In the environmental and public process, the city and NOAA never established a purpose and need for a new subdivision or a subdivision road and NOAA has no business participating in its construction if there is no NOAA facility being built to mitigate for.

ADF&G facts vs. UFA fiction
Of all the opinions expressed in the Empire on the role of ADF&G in protecting fish and wildlife habitat, the Feb. 9 My Turn that Bob Thorstenson wrote on behalf of the United Fishermen of Alaska comes as the greatest surprise. His article seems to support the governor's proposal to remove ADF&G's Habitat Division from the department. It is hard to understand how commercial fishermen could support such a removal given how much they have benefited from the work of ADF&G in protecting the habitats that produce the fish that provide the cash that feeds their families. It is hard to imagine how a fisherman could conclude that removing fish habitat regulation from ADF&G would result in as much fish habitat protection as now exists. The following are statements in Bob's article that may have confused his readers on this issue.

Assembly to review high school design funding
The Juneau Assembly tonight will consider whether to appropriate funding for the continued design of a new high school in the Mendenhall Valley. The ordinance would appropriate $837,000 to continue design work through mid-May. At its last meeting, the Assembly decided to ask voters to approve bond funding for a $60.8 million school, cutting the school district's budget for the project by 2 percent.

Photo: Homecoming clamor
Juneau-Douglas High School students wearing the school colors of red and black, left to right, Mike Ward, Charlie Moline and Kyle Thibodeau, cheer on the girls basketball team Friday at the JDHS gym.

This Day in History
In 1901, a press dispatch dated November 6, 1900, wired from New York to Fort Egbert, and then mailed on Nov. 8, finally reached Nome, informing residents that William McKinley had been elected president.

Photo: Rain forest

Photo: Scandinavian craft
Doug Quammen from Longview, Wash., demonstrates card weaving Saturday as Elfrida Nord looks on at the Juneau Yacht Club. The demonstration was part of the Sons of Norway Nordic Fest.

Police & Fire
Reports by Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Battle of the books
Books can take you places, said students who competed in the Juneau School District's Battle of the Books on Saturday at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School. "They kind of take you someplace else," said Brittany Page, an eighth-grader on the Dzantik'i Heeni team that won the competition at the seventh- and eighth-grade level. "Instead of sitting in your living room reading, you're on a dog sled somewhere. It gives you a new perspective."

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

Measure would streamline permit applications
Obtaining permits for projects as big as drilling for oil on the North Slope or as small as adding a deck onto a house could become easier under a bill authored by a Juneau lawmaker.

University's program educates students about state government
As the halls of the Capitol bustle with the energy of a new legislative session, university students from around the state learning about government firsthand through the Alaska Universities Legislative Internship Program. Seven students from the University of Alaska Southeast, Alaska Pacific University and other schools are participating in the program, which provides 12 hours of university credits, a stipend and the experience of working on a daily basis with an elected official.

Library to add exhibit case for the public
Last year's dispute over a gay pride display and a subsequent debate about free speech will lead to a new exhibit case at the downtown city library. The new case, with room for two displays, will be installed next to the library's small conference room and will be open to nonprofit groups without library sponsorship or censorship. Existing display cases at the entrance to the downtown library and at the Douglas library will be reserved for city use.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Kodiak senator named fisheries advisor
Gov. Frank Murkowski today appointed Kodiak Republican Sen. Alan Austerman to serve as his fisheries policy advisor.

Judge clears Huna Totem board in suit
A Superior Court judge has ruled the Huna Totem Corp. board of directors did not breach its duty to inform shareholders during a 1999 fight over who would control the board. Two shareholders had sued the Huna Totem board, seeking punitive damages. Gregory Brown and Karl Greenewald Jr. claimed the board had failed in its duty to shareholders to disclose fully and fairly all important information before it sought shareholder action on two key votes.

Blue Sky gets one more year in prison
Another year of prison time has been assessed to a Sitka man already sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing a child. Dick Blue Sky, 49, was sentenced to two years in prison with one year suspended today in Juneau Superior Court on a felony weapons charge.

Robert Giersdorf
Robert "Bob" Giersdorf, a travel and tourism leader and the youngest member of the first Alaska Legislature, died Feb. 5, 2003, in Seattle after a brief illness. He was 67.

My Turn: Habitat preserves wild salmon runs
I am extremely concerned about the governor's desire to disable the Habitat division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. To give habitat permitting to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) undermines the authority of Habitat, a division that is imperative to the health of our fish runs. I am confused as to how the governor thinks that this will "streamline the permitting process." If you look into it, you will find that the DNR is a backlogged department bogged down in permit applications dating back to the mid 1990s.

What do you think?
Habitat is the foundation of our economy. The governor's adolescent insistence to use the state to carry out his personal vendettas will erode our economy.

My Turn: Making Outside investments in Alaska's permanent fund work
Gov. Murkowski has taken, unfairly I think, a small amount of heat for his recent suggestion that companies which Alaskans partly own - through investment in the Permanent Fund - examine how they might benefit through greater involvement in this state and its people.

My Turn: Habitat concerns fishermen, governor
No issue is of greater importance to the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) than the vitality and reproductive capacity of Alaska's habitat and environment. UFA has a long history at the national, state, and local government levels of pursuing legislation and policies to achieve a healthy environment for fish and wildlife.

Toe Cartoon

Empire editorial: The plight of Silver Bay Logging: A saga of politics posing as law
As if Southeast Alaska hasn't weathered enough bad news on the economic front over the past few months with the closing of Wards Cove, trouble at Gateway Forest Products, and the depressed commercial fishing industry, one of the last remaining active logging companies in Southeast Alaska is in trouble.

Sixth annual Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday
The sixth annual Great Backyard Bird Count is scheduled for Presidents Day Weekend, Feb. 14-17. A joint project of National Audubon Society and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, it offers a winter snapshot of the status of birds across North America.

Out and About
Feb. 9: Eaglecrest Ski Area Platter Pull lift open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., tickets needed but no charge. $15 lessons at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Other lifts and trails closed due to shortage of snow. Details: 586-5330 or www.skijuneau.com.

McNeil River bear-viewing applications available
Applications to view wild brown bears at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary are available until March 1 through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The sanctuary is 250 miles southwest of Anchorage and 100 air miles west of Homer and borders Katmai National Park. The roadless sanctuary protects about 200 square miles of wildlife habitat.

Winter Web links
Local Web sites of seasonal interest.

The Depths of Southeast
Every year during the dead of winter hundreds of Juneau residents do what most people would consider crazy. They submerge themselves in the frigid ocean waters around the area - for fun. Scuba diving has grown increasingly popular in Juneau and around Southeast Alaska recently, especially during the winter months. Numerous divers take to the water for recreation, subsistence, education and work.

Juneau's park system has three classifications
On July 15, 1996, the Juneau Assembly adopted an ordinance establishing a Juneau Park System made up of natural area parks, recreation service parks, and conservation areas.

Bear boys cool down the Wolves
Quick starts and tenacious defense keyed two weekend homecoming wins for the Juneau-Douglas boy's varsity basketball team over the visiting Sitka Wolves.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Janowiec is state's top volleyball player
It didn't take Callan Janowiec long to make an impression on Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball co-coach Sandi Wagner. Janowiec was a freshman setter when she earned some playing time with the Crimson Bears varsity squad. She was playing for the Crimson Bears during a tournament at East Anchorage High School, when one of her teammates sent a bad pass her way.

Juneau duo falls short in state finals
The Ketchikan Kings gave their hometown fans something to cheer about as all three of their wrestlers in the championship finals of the Class 4A state wrestling tournament won state championships Sunday night at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears sent two wrestlers to the finals, but both fell short as Juneau's three-year streak with state champions came to an end.

Wrestlers hit the state meet mats at Kayhi
KETCHIKAN - After a one-day delay due to fog, the focus of the Class 4A state wrestling tournament Saturday finally was where it belonged - on the wrestlers, not the weather. Teams had been scattered from Anchorage to Seattle, with small groups in Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell and Ketchikan on Thursday as fog kept several planes from landing in Ketchikan in time for Friday's scheduled start of the meet. The stranded teams were able to get into Ketchikan on Friday - with the last group arriving about 11:30 p.m. in a chartered plane carrying about 80 wrestlers, plus coaches and supporters, from the Anchorage School District.

Mushers get e-mail with changes in Iditarod route
Mushers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race have been notified by e-mail that the race restart will be moved north to Fairbanks or Nenana, due to rapidly deteriorating trail conditions in Southcentral Alaska.

Boozer gets head into game as rookies lose
ATLANTA - Jason Richardson's bounce pass off Carlos Boozer's forehead was the highlight of the afternoon. His final throw-down in the dunk contest was the perfect ending to the night. Richardson had the most dynamic day of any of the participants in All-Star Saturday - even if one of his opponents in the Rookie Challenge wasn't all that happy about it.

ASAA Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament
Results from Saturday's opening day of the Alaska School Activities Association's Class 4A State Wrestling Championships at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Wrestling continues today, with the championship finals at 7:30 p.m. Results listed include all of the championship semifinal matches, plus the early round results for all Southeast wrestlers

Lack of sponsors blocking girls hoops broadcasts
A lack of sponsors has been blocking radio broadcasts of the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball games this season. KJNO-AM 630 has traditionally carried girls games, but station manager Steve Rhyner said the station has not had luck finding the sponsors it needs to bring the games to Juneau listeners this season.

Crimson Bear girls depose Kings
It was something old, something new on offense for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team in its homecoming sweep of Ketchikan this weekend. On Friday night, Crimson Bear senior stalwarts Danielle Larson and Amy Neussl combined for 40 points as Juneau beat Kayhi, 57-34. When the Kings held Neussl in check on Saturday, Crimson Bear supporting players Alida Bus (10 points), Kendri Cesar (7 points) and Letasha McKoy (7 points) stepped up to help give Juneau a 50-37 victory.

No big changes to Quest
WHITEHORSE, Yukon - The Yukon Quest trail will mostly follow its traditional route on the Canadian side of the border. "We had looked at another route out of Whitehorse, but fortunately, God must be a musher there," said Sgt. John Mitchell of the Canadian Rangers in Dawson City.

Glacier Swim Club wins Southeast championship meet
Led by five individual titles from Kelsey Potdevin and four individual titles apiece from Auri Clark, Kyle O'Brien and Paul Hughes, Juneau's Glacier Swim Club claimed the team title at last weekend's Southeast Regional Championship meet, held Friday through Sunday at Sitka's Mike Smithers Community Pool.

Photo: Dance divas
Members of the Juneau-Douglas High School dance team entertain spectators at one of the weekend's high school basketball games. The team debuted a new hip-hop routine, featuring folding chairs as props, for the homecoming weekend.

Quest quandary
Rough trail conditions today forced a mid-race revision to the 2003 Yukon Quest, which started Sunday in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. The 20th annual Quest, with a field of 23 mushers, started at noon AST Sunday under clear skies in downtown Whitehorse. Juneau's Deborah Bicknell was 15th out of the gate, at 12:28 p.m. AST, based on a pre-race drawing.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Iditarod restart may be moved up to Fairbanks
ANCHORAGE - Iditarod race organizers met Saturday morning to explore the feasibility of holding the March 2 restart in Fairbanks because of dismal trail conditions to the south, mushers said. "It's sure looking like the weather calls for it," veteran musher DeeDee Jonrowe said. "I think it's a really good alternative. If it's between that and not having the race, this is great."

Camp Collie: Town pulls together to take care of 170 Alaska dogs seized at border
The collie in Pen 71 carefully nudges her gleaming steel food bowl, just enough to tip some of the kibbles to the ground. She noses the nuggets into a small hole in the dirt floor and pushes wood chips over them. "A lot of the dogs bury their food as soon as we feed them," Barb Mercer shouts over the cacophony of 170 dogs from Alaska celebrating the arrival of breakfast in the cavernous 4-H building. "They hadn't been fed in so long, they want to save it."

Gov. Murkowski still has large Senate war chest
FAIRBANKS - Gov. Frank Murkowski still has $230,000 in campaign money he collected to run for the U.S. Senate before entering and winning the 2002 race for governor of Alaska. Murkowski reported the total in an end-of-year statement filed with the secretary of the U.S. Senate this week.

Bishop says priest admitted abuse
ANCHORAGE - Former Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley said Friday he should have offered counseling to a teenager who was sexually abused by a priest more than 20 years ago. "Life went on and that's where I made a big mistake," Hurley told reporters during a news conference. "I failed to follow up with the victim."

Report suggests changes in utility regulation
A telecommunications consultant has recommended changes in the policies and procedures of the state agency that regulates utilities.

Fishing groups split over Murkowski permitting plan
ANCHORAGE - Some members of the United Fishermen of Alaska are objecting to letter from the group's president that Gov. Frank Murkowski displayed as an endorsement of his plan to take permit power from the state's Habitat Division. The UFA leadership sent the letter before checking with all the member organizations.

Katz agrees to stay on in Washington
John Katz, director of the governor's Washington office, remains on the job despite his announcement in November that he would retire once Gov. Frank Murkowski took office.

Wasilla man killed in Hatcher Pass snowslide
A Wasilla man is dead after an avalanche Sunday afternoon in Hatcher Pass. Anthony Watters, 24, and an 18-year-old friend had just completed a snowboarding run off Hatch Peak, above the pass to Willow, when a slide let loose at about 1 p.m., according to Alaska State Troopers and the state park ranger who handled the rescue.

Mammoth ivory stolen from mine
Three pieces of woolly mammoth ivory tusk were reported stolen from the Fort Knox Gold mine last week.

State files appeal on oil-pipeline charges
ANCHORAGE - The state is appealing a regulatory decision that cut rates for oil shipped through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to in-state customers. The state is vitally interested in pipeline tariffs because state royalties and severance taxes are based on the price of the oil after transport charges have been subtracted. Higher pipeline charges mean lower revenues for Alaska.

Aniak man seeks body of cousin lost beneath icy river
Almost every day for two months now, Nick Sakar has drilled holes into the ice over Aniak Slough, looking for his second cousin. Most people have stopped searching for 16-year-old Dean Kelila, who is believed to have fallen through the ice Dec. 6 while crossing the slough on his four-wheeler. Sakar keeps looking.

Guv to feds: Ban reviews of wilderness
Is there enough wilderness in Alaska? The governor thinks so, but environmental groups aren't so sure. Both are watching as the state awaits the U.S. Interior Department's response to a request to prohibit wilderness reviews in Alaska. Development generally is prohibited in wilderness areas.

This Day in History
In Alaska; in the nation; in the world.

Hung jury in trial on animal cruelty
SHELBY, Mont. - Faced with conflicting testimony on the treatment of nearly 200 dogs and cats, a jury here was unable to reach a verdict on whether their owners were guilty of animal cruelty. Six days of testimony and lawyers' arguments late last month persuaded only one of the six jurors that Athena Lethcoe-Harman and her husband, Johnathan Harman, were guilty. No date has been set for their retrial.

Ketchikan officials say state out of line over airport report
Ketchikan Gateway Borough officials say undocumented claims, unprofessional behavior and hidden agendas are behind state criticism of how the Ketchikan airport is run. Borough Manager Roy Eckert wrote Bob Doll, the Department of Transportation Southeast director, last week responding to an inspector's report the state said "revealed sufficient deficiencies to threaten continued operation." Michael Binkie, a state airport safety and compliance officer, in November outlined deficiencies he detected in maintenance, training, documentation, staffing, organization and safety.

State Briefs
Judge orders Mateu trial to Juneau; Third trial in double homicide concludes; House approves Greely rail extension; Palmer man flees police, shoots himself;

Yukon seeing increased film exposure
More so than ever, production companies are heading to the Great White North in search of the "reel" Yukon. A favorable Canadian exchange rate, a growing good reputation within the industry and, of course, stunningly beautiful scenery are leading to busy times for the Yukon Film Commission and those Yukoners who cater to the small-but-thriving film industry.

Chilkat Pass gets creamed
White stuff was everywhere north of Haines last month during the filming of a Twinkies commercial near Chilkat Pass. Oh, and there was plenty of snow, too.

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