State Briefs

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2003

City attorney to step down

JUNEAU - City Attorney John Corso is resigning in June.

In a letter to the Juneau Assembly, Corso said he is eligible for retirement this summer and has an opportunity to take a job with the law firm Robertson, Monagle, and Eastaugh in Juneau. His resignation is effective June 9.

"Although I am looking forward to life in the private sector, nothing can replace the experience of working with my friends and colleagues in the Law Department, the manager's office and throughout the city and borough," he wrote.

Corso, 55, came to Juneau with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1971 and joined the city as an assistant attorney in 1979. He was appointed city attorney in 1992. The Juneau Assembly will be in charge of appointing a replacement.

Police nab alleged vehicle burglar

JUNEAU - Police arrested a man suspected of breaking into a vehicle in the Mendenhall Valley today.

Ghoshua Winten Hoy, 29, was arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor criminal trespass.

According to a police press release, a woman phoned them around 1:52 a.m. today saying she saw a man breaking into her vehicle. The woman stayed on the phone with police as she watched the suspect. She told police he was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt and carrying a flashlight.

When police arrived, they said they saw Hoy, who matched the description given by the resident. The resident also positively identified Hoy as the man she saw break into her vehicle, police said.

Hoy was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center and is being held on $1,000 bail.

Driving into the drink

JUNEAU - An early morning vehicle accident turned into a midnight swim for one man and his passengers, according to police.

Police received a call around 12:36 a.m. today from a man, 21, who said he and two 18-year-old passengers had been in an accident, a police press release said. No one was injured, the man said, but his truck was in the ocean.

The 2001 Chevy pickup truck slid on ice on outbound Egan Drive near Gold Creek. The truck left the road, went over the sidewalk, down an embankment and into the channel, the man told police when they arrived. Police found the truck stuck in about 3 feet of water.

The truck sustained $27,000 in damage and the man was cited for negligent driving, according to the release. Police believe speed was a factor in this accident.

Bill would give state a share of damage awards

JUNEAU - A bill introduced in the House on Wednesday would, in effect, tax judgments commercial fishermen win in unfair trade practice lawsuits against seafood processors.

The bill specifies 15 percent of an award or $40 million, whichever is less, shall be deposited in the state's general fund. The intent of the bill is that the Legislature would use the money to market wild salmon.

If the measure became law, it would be retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.

The sponsors are Republican Reps. Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau and John Harris of Valdez.

Some 4,500 Bristol Bay salmon fishermen are part of a class-action lawsuit alleging processors conspired to take a higher cut of profits as their markets shrank in the late 1980s.

The figure cited in the bill, $40 million, is the same amount lawyers for fishermen in the Bristol Bay case already have collected in settlements from processors and importers.

The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing yet.

Lawmaker proposes measure legalizing roadside memorials

FAIRBANKS - A bill to let Alaskans continue to erect roadside memorials for those killed on particular stretches of the state's highways was introduced in the House.

Rep. Jim Whitaker, a Fairbanks Republican, said he wanted to put to an end the controversy over roadside memorials. He is sponsoring House Bill 127.

The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities had a plan to replace the white crosses or homemade memorials with standardized signs. Transportation officials see roadside memorials posted on the state's right of way as safety hazards that need to be removed.

The department began last summer offering alternative signs free of charge for people interested. One sign says "Don't Drink and Drive" or "Drive Safely" and another smaller sign includes the victim's name.

"We looked at (the DOT idea) and saw that it was potentially overbearing; we saw no reason for it," Whitaker said.

Rick Kauzlarich, state right-of-way chief, said despite a state law forbidding signs posted in the right of way, no memorials have been removed.

"What we've been trying to do is talk to the people and offer them an alternative to putting up the homemade memorials," Kauzlarich said.

Whitaker's bill would change state statute to allow memorials that do not contain reflective material or otherwise distract drivers. They also cannot interfere with highway construction, maintenance or safety and can't contain commercial or political messages.

Concert benefits Afghan women

JUNEAU - Musicians Mary Watson, Sally Schlichting, Julia Bastuscheck and Daniel Wallen-Gruenberg will perform at a concert to benefit Women for Women International, a group that provides job training to women in Afghanistan. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Northern Light United Church. Admission is by donation.

Watson will play Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata and Chopin's "Bacarolle" on piano. Schlichting will play "Winter Spirits," by Katherine Hoover, on the flute and "Moments," by Richard Muczynski, on the piano. Bastuscheck will play "Passacaglia," by Rebecca Clarke, for viola and piano. Pianist Wallen-Gruenberg will play Chopin's "Nocturne in E Flat."

"I feel such pity for (Afghan women) who were not allowed to be educated and work yet were being widowed by all the warring and the violence," Watson said. "It seems fitting to me that I would try to raise donations with music, something that was banned by the Taliban."

For more information call 789-2601.

Fish Board makes no changes in Chignik salmon co-op

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Board of Fisheries made no significant changes to the commercial salmon cooperative in Chignik at a three-day meeting.

The cooperative was formed by salmon fishermen to save expenses and share profits by designating some members to fish for the entire group. The aim is to have fewer boats going after the fish, with all co-op members sharing in reduced expenses and higher profits.

However, the co-op angered those fishermen who decided not to join. They complained the board allocated too much of the catch to co-op members.

Last summer, 77 of about 100 Chignik seiners stopped fishing, allowing the rest to catch the fish. Every co-op member received at least $20,000, regardless of whether they fished.

In a lawsuit lodged against the co-op, a Superior Court judge ruled that the co-op does not violate the constitution. Judge Patricia Collins found each Chignik fishermen has the same chance to join the co-op or remain independent.

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