New books at Juneau public libraries
You probably aren't surprised to hear that one out of five Italians owns a cell phone, but did you know that in Botswana, it is one out of eight?

Funding rural schools
Per Con Bunde's statement that the Republican Party isn't out to hurt Alaska Native students, I again state that the revised funding formula for rural, predominantly Alaska Native students is at 65 percent of the former 100 percent funding, while at the same time urban, predominantly white schools are at 100 percent of the former 100 percent funding.

Consider habitat, not pizza
I was dismayed to see Gov. Murkowski's rejection of the plea from the five past Fish and Game commissioners to leave the Habitat Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game intact and with permitting authority.

Motives and actions
Forget about the fact Jim Duncan would now be on the management side of the negotiations table trying to reduce GGU workers salaries and benefits if Fran Ulmer had been elected governor last November.

Meet the challenge
It appears our state subsistence law vs. the Native way of life issue is up for another round of public scrutiny and debate. It's a difficult but sensitive issue that continues to appear in the Juneau Empire without too much interest and attention.

No reason to fear
The 1997 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) provides enormous protections for fish, wildlife, recreation, tourism and subsistence. Implementation of that plan will allow harvest of up to 4 percent of the Tongass over the next 100 years. The plan also maintains all 6 million acres of wilderness (35 percent of the Tongass) and maintains another seven million acres of roadless areas (43 percent of the Tongass).

Acknowledging six
As the Empire reported on Wednesday, more than half of our local liquor stores were willing to sell to young people without ID in a recent survey conducted by Youth In Action, a group sponsored by MADD.

A state of laws - or not
Gov. Murkowski was elected by a majority of Alaskans and should be given reasonable latitude to implement his policy goals. However, there are limits - such as those imposed by law - on the governor's power.

High cost, uncertain benefit
In the Feb. 6 Empire, Lew Williams again claims roads are the solution to our economic troubles. In the fashion typical of road building promoters he provides no specific information about the costs versus the benefits nor does he recognize some basic reasons why the Bradfield Road proposal has gone nowhere for 20 years.

No to Bush's war
Saddam Hussein should go, but George Bush's war is unacceptable. Nearly all world leaders agree Saddam is a brutal dictator and a menace to his neighbors. Iraq needs a new government that is more just and less dangerous.

Reversal in order
The governor's decision to move the Habitat Division from the Department of Fish and Game to Department of Natural Resources is not in the best interest of the people of Alaska who use the resources.

Job well done
From everything we observed, the new Treadwell Ice Skating Arena is a success. Thanks to the Douglas 4th of July Committee and everyone who pitched in to make it a reality.

Sign of the times
I have a charter boat out of Ketchikan. It's just the wife and myself and we run multiple day scenic, kayak mother ship and some fishing trips. The fishing trips are low key with the emphasis on eating the catch rather than volume.

Safer, richer
Joyce Levine, in her Feb. 13 commentary, expresses her concern for the safety of everyone using Douglas Bridge, particularly bicyclists and pedestrians. The bicycle-pedestrian path is six inches narrower than she deems adequate.

Of concern to everyone
Monday's Empire was a study in irony. The right side of the front page carried a story about several American flags having been stolen and ruined. I could not help wondering what sort of idiot thinks it is acceptable to come in the night, when he thinks no one is watching, to appropriate something that belongs to other people and destroy it. Mr. Ripley and his neighbors have my empathy for suffering such a mindless violation.

Globetrotters plug salmon - 1950
The Harlem Globetrotters are shown at an exhibition game in the Juneau High School gym in 1950. According to, the Globetrotters were the first professional basketball team to tour the Territory of Alaska.

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

Wearable wonders
Seasonal Affective Disorder had no chance of rearing its ugly head Friday night during the Wild Mind third annual Wearable Art Extravaganza benefit for the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council. Artist Joanie Waller made sure of that. "A girl can't just rely on the weather, no, no, she has to emanate from within," said emcee Collette Costa as Waller modeled her "Anti-SAD Dress" in the first act of the show.

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

This Day in History
In 1961, the Hood Bay salmon cannery, owned by the community of Angoon, was destroyed by fire.

Remaking the mystery
For more than a decade, Sitka author John Straley has taken murder mystery fans on a tour of a place "where the salmon flash like slices of silver." His Cecil Younger detective novels have shown tens of thousands of readers an only-in-Southeast-Alaska world where rain "falls in percolated drops, breaking the tension of the (ocean's) shiny black surface." They've followed the alcoholic, lost-at-love, financially challenged anti-hero through streets where he can't turn a corner without running into a raven "hunched on an abandoned truck waiting for the garbage cans to blow over."

My Turn: The only risk is not taking one
There seems to be a growing belief within the media, and a concurrent sense of alarm by the public, that Gov. Murkowski's recommendations on the future of the Permanent Fund in his State of the State address will put the fund at risk. Rather than listen to the spin created by the media, maybe we should revisit what the governor actually said.

My Turn: City's Lena Point course is prudent
Lars Gregovich's Feb. 10 letter distorts the record and confuses the actions of two decision-making bodies. If he is frustrated by the progress of the NOAA facility, I share that sentiment. The inaction of NOAA is beyond the control of the CBJ.

My Turn: We've got low snow but high stakes at Eaglecrest
Eaglecrest Ski Area has provided 27 years of winter recreation to Juneau citizens. The ski area is owned and operated by the City and Borough of Juneau as a special revenue fund, which requires the ski area generate revenues and remain as fiscally self-sufficient as possible. A board of directors, appointed by the CBJ Assembly, provides ski area oversight. Over the years, we have had great support from the community of winter sport enthusiasts and we plan to continue to provide winter recreation opportunities for Juneau citizens well into the future.

What do you think?
The Permanent Fund should be managed to yield the greatest annual percentage return on the investment. This is our money and not the governor's to pursue his political agenda at a potential cost to us as shareholders.

Life in a small community
In my previous column I wrote about how there was overwhelming support for a popular Yakutat principal, and just as much lack of support for the superintendent. At a School Board meeting on Jan. 20, the board offered the superintendent a two-year contract and a $3,000 raise. Prior to this hiring, the board listened to comments from teachers and members of the public who said in their experiences with the superintendent, she wasn't satisfactorily performing her job.

Toe Cartoon

Empire editorial: Is the Assembly the place to decide the community's conscience on patriotism?
At last Monday's CBJ Assembly meeting a group called Juneau Citizens for the Defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights presented a draft of a resolution objecting to aspects of the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act and recent executive orders. A large group of boosters filled the Assembly chambers and time was allowed for a few to speak in support of their resolution.

Scientists look for clues to rise in bird deformities
KENAI - Avid bird watchers in Southcentral Alaska may be familiar with black-capped chickadees with deformed bills, and those that aren't soon may be because the number of birds affected appears to be on the rise. "The deformed birds were first observed in 1991, but since then more than 1,300 affected chickadees have been reported in Alaska, representing more than 1,000 individual birds," said Colleen Handel, a research wildlife biologist with the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage.

Out and About
Feb. 16: 20th Annual Sweethearts' Relay Race, 1 p.m., Douglas Fire Hall. Southeast Roadrunners Club event. Details: John and Jamie Bursell, 789-5997. Feb. 16-17: "We Love Snow Weekend," 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

A new book for Alaska bird watchers
Alaska has become a prime destination for birders. From the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean to the far-flung islands of the Bering Sea, from Attu Island at the westernmost end of the Aleutian Islands to Hyder, the most easterly town in Southeast, birders can be found scouring the state looking for new birds to add to their lists.

High-altitude hobby
Most guys get together to watch football, play poker, go fishing or hunt - activities that keep them relatively close to the ground. Such terrestrial hobbies just don't appeal to other guys, though. They get together to fly. "I used to have three boats, and now I enjoy looking where the boats used to be," said Ron Swanson, who now owns three planes. He's one of a number of local pilots who enjoy flying small planes around Southeast Alaska.

Winter Web links
Local Web sites of seasonal interest.

Weasels in the woods
Q: A little white weasel with a black-tipped tail jumped in front of me when I was hiking up Perseverance Trail recently. What is this?

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

Gatt first musher to reach Alaska
EAGLE - Defending champion Hans Gatt led mushers into Eagle on Saturday, reaching the first Alaska checkpoint in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race at 5:54 p.m. AST. Gatt, of Atlin, British Columbia, was holding a lead of more than two hours Saturday as the mushers left the Fortymile River stop. Gatt covered 50 miles of smooth trail from Dawson City to Fortymile River, then left at 12:57 a.m. with 10 dogs.

Juneau girls sweep Sitka
Everything wound up the way it was meant to be Saturday for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team. On a night dedicated to seniors Danielle Larson and Amy Neussl, with a large, raucous crowd cheering them on for their last home game, the duo led the way on offense as the Crimson Bears beat the Sitka Wolves, 49-26, to complete a weekend sweep.

Letter: Thanks for your kids
I am writing to say thank you for sharing your kids with us. Ketchikan hosted the State Wrestling Championship and after a foggy beginning, kids started showing up on Friday (Feb. 7).

Juneau swimmers set records at SE Championships
JUNEAU - Several members of Juneau's Glacier Swim Club set meet records at the Mike Smithers Southeast Regional Championships, held Feb. 7-9 at Sitka's Blatchley Pool.

Crimson Bear boys hold off Mustangs, fall to Warriors
The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team stayed with the top-ranked Wasilla Warriors for the first half of their game Saturday night in Wasilla. But in the second half, the Crimson Bears could find no way to contain the hot shooting of Buddy Bailey, who made four of his eight 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Warriors ran away with a 66-41 victory.

State weighs Russian fish processor's application
An application by a Seattle company to allow Russian fish processors into state waters is pending as the state wildlife agency surveys Alaska processors to determine how many pink salmon they will process this season. Global Seafoods North America has submitted an application to buy up to 250 million pounds of pink salmon for processing by Russian vessels and distribution in Russia and Europe. The governor has the power to grant a permit, but first the state must determine whether the salmon run can be handled by Alaska processors.

Anti-war marchers shake up U.S., Brits
UNITED NATIONS - Rattled by an outpouring of anti-war sentiment, the United States and Britain began reworking a draft resolution Saturday to authorize force against Saddam Hussein. Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the final product may be a softer text that does not explicitly call for war.

State Briefs
Prisoner dies in apparent suicide; Police boost anti-terror patrols; Trial begins in killing of CG officer;

Legislators want $3.1 million for ANWR lobbying effort
The state's ongoing campaign to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling would get a $3.1 million boost under a bill introduced Friday. The powerful House Finance Committee is sponsoring the bill, which means it is likely to pass easily. Similar measures have passed the Legislature quickly in past years.

Oil industry wants into NPR-A
ANCHORAGE - Oil industry officials are calling for full access to a giant new chunk of North Slope land the federal government might offer for oil and gas development. Environmental activists and others, however, said the land has valuable animal and fish habitat that should be protected.

Prison expansion plan leaves out Southeast
A plan to allow construction of a 1,200-bed public prison in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and expand existing facilities in Bethel, Anchorage and Fairbanks has been introduced by Sen. Lyda Green, a Wasilla Republican. Senate Bill 65 would provide up to 1,600 new beds, easing overcrowding in Alaska prisons and providing space for 626 Alaska prisoners being held in a private prison in Arizona.

Habitat-employees union protests change
The union representing workers in the state's Habitat Division says Gov. Frank Murkowski's plan to eliminate jobs there could be a contract violation. The union may file a grievance if Murkowski goes ahead with plans to move permitting responsibilities from the Habitat Division of the Department of Fish and Game, according to officials of the Alaska State Employees Association AFSCME Local 52.

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