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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Why the name-calling?
As President Bush prepares his nonconstitutional first strike against Iraq, Empire readers have seen several letters dismissing people in the antiwar movement as communist dupes at best and traitors to the homeland at worst. In any event, people who question the war automatically hate the United States, Israel and free enterprise.

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.

Scary developments
It scares me when I think of the future of Alaska. What with our Gov. Frank Murkowski ripping apart the Habitat Division of ADF&G, permit streamlining, and appointing the new hunter and predator control-biased Board of Game. If that's not enough to keep one up at night there's more.

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.

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.

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.

Don't be silent
I was horrified to read recently what the Pentagon has planned, should the U.S. go to war with Iraq - violence on an horrendous scale for the first 48 hours of the initial attack. A recent e-mail I received stated: "The Pentagon has disclosed its plan to maintain peace by carrying out an opening blitzkrieg on Iraq of more than 3,000 bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours.

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.

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."

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

This Day in History
In 1939, A "Bone-Dry" bill was introduced in the Alaska Territorial House, prohibiting the manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquor in Alaska.

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.

Juneau Assembly approves high school design funds
The Juneau Assembly approved $837,000 in design funding for a Mendenhall Valley high school Monday, despite concerns about an alternate concept that might be used if voters reject more funding for the project. The Assembly last month decided to forward a $60.8 million design for a new Mendenhall Valley school to voters, after turning down a city proposal for a smaller, $50 million school. Under current plans, voters would be asked to issue $12.6 million in general obligation bonds for the new high school at a special election June 3.

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

Assembly committee to review anti-terrorism laws
Juneau's views on the USA Patriot Act and other federal anti-terrorism legislation will get an airing before a Juneau Assembly committee later this month. The Assembly on Monday referred a draft resolution objecting to elements of the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act and recent executive orders to its Human Resources Committee for more discussion. The resolution was drafted by a group called Juneau Citizens for the Defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Many of the group's members filled Assembly chambers Monday night.

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."

Photo: Rain forest

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

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.

Victim: Flag vandals are 'un-American'
Rudy Ripley stared at the sick and tattered remnants of his patriotic pride hanging limply Sunday morning from the roof of his Park Place home. He was one of about 10 people whose flags were thrown "like javelins" into dirty, late-winter snow, cavalierly ripped from roofs or stolen. "Whoever did this is a real slime bag and, in this case I'd say, un-American," said Ripley, 68 and a retired printer. "I'm not the kind of person that goes around beating his chest with patriotism, but I have every right in the world to fly my flag. I just want to know what lowlife would do something like this."

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.

My Turn: Salmon supplies and processors
As the salmon conference convenes at the ANB Hall, a major question is what is to become of the Southeast seine fleet. With the loss of Ward's Cove, an estimated 70 seiners are facing the prospect of not having a buyer for their fish. As the summer progresses, the economic loss will snowball and be felt in small communities throughout Southeast that have counted these seiners as some of their best customers, in terms of fuel and other supplies.

My Turn: Golf course - another final review
The golf course project proposed by Totem Creek has been mentioned frequently of late in relation to controversies surrounding the state permitting process. We have had our share of difficulties, but rather than revisit the issues now behind us, we wish to update the community on the progress made with our project, and to describe where we are in our efforts to receive the required permits.

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.

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.

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.

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.

ASAA state events could use a little more travel
Once it finally got going, the Alaska School Activities Association's Class 4A state wrestling championship moved smoothly this past weekend at Ketchikan High School's Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Sure, there were a few things that could have been improved - such as cutting down on some of the lengthy pre-match introductions that made it so the championship finals didn't end until well after 11 p.m. But most of the tournament's real problems had to do with uncontrollable events, namely Thursday's fog and the out-of-order navigational aid at Ketchikan's airport that delayed the tournament a day.

Juneau Gun Club Trap League Standings
Standings after the fourth week of shooting in the 12-week Juneau Gun Club Trap League.

Massicotte leads mushers out of Pelly Crossing
A relatively unknown musher from Quebec was the first musher to lead his team out of the Pelly Crossing, Yukon Territory, checkpoint today during the 20th annual Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

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

Poll shows shift in Alaskans' attitudes about smoking
ANCHORAGE - A new poll suggests anti-tobacco advertisements are meeting with success in changing Alaskans' attitudes about smoking and tobacco.

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.

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.

Legislators look again at incentives for gas line
Alaska Lawmakers have started work on legislation to provide the "fiscal certainty" major oil and gas companies operating in Alaska say they need to pursue a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope. Rep. Hugh Fate, Republican of North Pole, is pushing a bill that would revive, with changes, the so-called Stranded Gas Act the Legislature passed in 1998.

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.

Fishermen, SE leaders meet to discuss salmon industry woes
Angoon used to have 27 seiners, but today has just one. In Pelican, a community with an entirely fish-based economy, the population has shrunk by one-third in the last few years. The biggest employer in Hoonah, which used to boast a robust fishing and logging economy, is the school. These woes are a result of the problems plaguing Southeast's salmon economy, said area mayors who spoke Monday on the first day of a three-day salmon conference being held in Juneau. The mayors said Southeast fishing communities need better transportation and new, innovative products and production techniques if they are to continue making a living.

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

Congressional riders would expand logging
Alaska's congressional delegation is battling to keep riders in a massive national spending bill that would allow more logging in the Tongass National Forest and move toward oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A rider from Republican Sen. Ted Stevens would prohibit appeals of a pending Forest Service decision on whether to set aside new wilderness areas in the 16.8 million-acre Tongass forest.

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

Fishermen: Processors kept them guessing
ANCHORAGE - A permit holder in the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery said Monday that processors often kept fishermen guessing about what price their catch would net until well after the end of the season. "You never know what the price is going to be until the season is over, and sometimes before the next season is about to start," said Jerry Hatton, the first of dozens of witnesses expected to testify in Superior Court in a $1 billion class-action lawsuit.

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

New state fisheries adviser Austerman faces challenges
An oversupply of inexpensive farmed salmon and a shortage of processors are among the challenges facing Gov. Frank Murkowski's new fisheries adviser. Former state Sen. Alan Austerman cited Wards Cove Packing Co.'s plan to close processing plants and the availability of processors around the state could affect whether foreign-flagged fish processing vessels are allowed in Alaska waters.

ASEA will try to block habitat permitting shift
ANCHORAGE - Officials with a union that represents state workers said Gov. Frank Murkowski will have a fight on his hands if he follows through with plans to streamline habitat permitting. Meanwhile, a former fisheries official is trying to work out a compromise to the conflict. Mike Robbins, business agent for Alaska State Employees Association AFSCME Local 52, said union officials met with staffers from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Habitat Division on Friday to discuss the governor's plan to transfer project permitting authority to the Department of Natural Resources. The plan could include to lay off up to 50 biologists and other workers.

State Briefs
Senator falls ill during committee hearing; Man pleads guilty to molesting two teens; Mat-Su wants ferry to sail until Knik Bridge is built; Hundreds gather in Barrow for celebration; Volunteers continue search for kayaker

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.

Measure would hold Alaska clergy responsible for abuse
Priests, ministers, rabbis and other religious leaders would be held accountable for failing to report incidents of abuse or neglect of a minor under a bill filed Monday by an Anchorage lawmaker. Mandatory reporting laws already exist for school teachers and staff, doctors, child-care providers and police officers. But Republican Rep. Bob Lynn said the law should extend to clergy to protect children as well as religious institutions.

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