Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't demonize the workers
The recent report that Governor Parnell believes Governor Walker in Wisconsin was courageous in eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees saddens me. Is it courageous that when the public employees indicate a willingness to make concessions, under the cover of darkness you pass a bill to strip employees of the right to participate in such a process? I don’t classify using dishonesty “a budget crisis” to mask your true motives “Union Busting” courageous. In addition, the more recent opinion piece by The Independent Institute takes it over the top. Painting public employees, especially teachers, as highjacking state budgets because they are so powerful rings shallow. The U.S. Military Industrial Complex, insurance, financial and energy corporations have now been granted the ability to use unlimited money to influence the outcomes of elections. The power to appropriate the funds for any agreement rests with the legislature; public employees are in fact not in the driver’s seat. Their actual labor is their only true currency. Elected officials don’t sit across the table in state of Alaska negotiations. Agreements are not presented to the Legislature for funding until bargaining between the represented employees and governor’s representatives is completed. I do not believe there is any agreement out there that does not allow the employer the ability to use agreed-upon methods to deal with revenue shortfalls. It may be a feel-good position to say that you managed not to lay off any employees as you reduce the standard of living for all of those who carry out public policy as dictated by the Legislature. Of course you actually have to show that there is a financial crisis, not a crisis invented by redirecting state revenues to corporations in the form of tax breaks and giveaways in order to implement layoffs. It is extremely disheartening that the brunt of the demonization is being directed at teachers because they are not miracle workers able to solve all the problems of our public education system in overcrowded classrooms with limited resources. They are expected to honor each child’s unique learning needs and also address ever-changing federal and local mandates. It’s time to work together cooperatively and actually craft solutions to complex problems instead of trying to score points through sound bites and doomsday rhetoric. These problems are not going to be solved in one election cycle. I am looking for true leadership.

Assembly member Anderson is moving on
City Assembly member Jonathan Anderson had a surprise in his end-of-meeting report on Monday — he’s leaving.

'It felt like hours, even though it was just a few minutes'
Heather Sincic had been in Tokyo about a week and was using a rare moment of downtime to send an email back home to her teenage daughter in Juneau when she felt the tremor. She typed out, “I think there’s an earthquake right now. Have to go,” made sure the message sent and evacuated the hotel with everyone else.

Gastineau bond issuance, project funds up for Assembly
The City and Borough of Juneau will look at issuing $5.7 million in bonds for Gastineau Elementary School at tonight’s meeting.

Photos: Let the games begin
The 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament began Sunday with opening ceremonies held on Monday at the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium. The tournament runs with three age brackets with all finals next Saturday.

Photos: Barrow Eskimo Dancers wow crowd at JAHC event
Barrow Eskimo Dancers performed Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. The performance was a Juneau Arts & Humanities Council event.

Two indicted in Juneau oxycodone inquest
U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler said two California men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Anchorage for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone in Juneau.

Discovery Day to be held at Eaglecrest
Elementary, middle, and high school age students are invited to an upcoming Discovery Day at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Friday, March 25. The event is hosted by Discovery Southest.

Photo: Clearing the field for practice
Juneau-Douglas High School soccer team members Max Smith, left, Max Lyons and Riley Paul shovel snow off the artificial turf Sunday at JDHS. Soccer Coach Gary Lehnhart said he was hoping to practice outside later this week.

Youth tobacco prevention rally at courthouse
Teens Against Tobacco Use – Juneau will sponsor its fourth-annual memorial wall on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza to commemorate people who have died from tobacco related diseases. Local high school students will display posters and hand out cessation materials. Kids in Alaska will take center stage in the fight against tobacco as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 16th annual Kick Butts Day. Hundreds of events are planned across the nation.

Former Juneau plasterer still on the job after 63 years
OWENSBORO, KY — Herbert Millay was 15 years old when he began studying the art of plastering.

Police & Fire
This report contains information provided to the Empire from law enforcement agencies. This report includes arrest and citation information, not conviction information. Anyone listed in this report is presumed innocent.

SEARHC hosts summer internship program for Natives
SITKA — Applications are available for the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Summer Internship Program, which provides work experience for Alaska Native/American Indian students pursuing careers in health care.

Film explores implications of long-term storage of nuclear waste
The Gold Town Nickelodeon will host a special screening of “Into Eternity” tonight, the last night of the film’s two-day run.

Native Issues Forum open to public
Speakers at the Native Issues Forum Wednesday will be Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, and Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage.

Photo: Rain maker
Artist Roger Nachman of Seattle hangs his fused-glass works in the atrium of Harborview Elementary School Monday as part of the one percent for art program in public buildings. Roger, who calls himself a glass baker, said each piece represents a view of Juneau through the lens of a rain drop.

Southeast Medical Clinic booming in massage therapy
Southeast Medical Clinic’s massage therapy department has boomed since its modest start a few years ago. The clinic’s professionals explain the growing demand for alternative medical therapies goes a long way in Juneau.

Sydney Jane Brannin Dodge
Longtime Alaskan Sydney Jane Brannin Dodge, 88, died Friday, March 11, 2011 from natural causes at the Colony Manor Assisted Living Home in Wasilla.

Outside editorial: NCAA athletes must win in classroom, too
The following editorial first appeared in the Charlotte Observer:

No you're not in control; get over it
Will rushing out to buy bags of table salt, then shoveling handfuls of it down your throat, really protect you from an impending Japanese nuclear meltdown?

Outside editorial: Japan's horrors make us rethink the unthinkable
The following editorial first appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

Public employee unions vs. the public
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker created a firestorm recently by proposing legislation that weakens the collective bargaining power of public employee unions. Some of the news coverage made the governor’s actions seem arbitrary, even capricious. But they were anything but.

Japan's disaster serves as a reminder to the West Coast to be prepared
The images of destruction coming from Japan have caused those who dwell on America’s West Coast to wonder: Could a devastating tsunami hit here? The answer is a resounding yes. Our coast is under threat from two types of tsunamis.

Bright future ahead in Willoughby area
Last week the City & Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Assembly heard from CBJ staff about the exciting possibilities the future holds for the area of downtown Juneau designated by planners as the Willoughby Land Use District. This parcel stretches from Gold Creek on the west and runs along West Willoughby Avenue before turning south at a 90-degree angle into Willoughby Avenue at the east end. Occupied by an eclectic mixture of parking lots and mostly older buildings with a variety of uses, these boundaries do not technically encompass the residential areas to the north of West Willoughby or the space formerly occupied by the Subport Building across Egan Drive, but a solid plan for the area must consider what will happen in these zones as well.

State: Monitors show normal radiation levels
ANCHORAGE — Alaska officials say radiation monitors show no cause for alarm from the damaged Japanese nuclear reactors.

Snowmobile crash kills 2
ANCHORAGE — Alaska State Troopers say two Wasilla residents have died in a snowmobile crash in Trapper Creek.

SEARHC hosts 'Nolan the Colon' for Southeast tour
Nolan the Colon is coming to Southeast Alaska for the first time this spring. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium will host “Nolan the Colon” for a tour of Juneau, Haines, Prince of Wales Island and Sitka during March, April and May.

Last Iditarod musher reaches finish line
NOME — The last musher in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has crossed the finish line in Nome on Alaska’s western coast.

Eielson gets radiation-detecting jet
FAIRBANKS — Military officials say an Air Force jet used to track radiation has been temporarily assigned to Eielson Air Force Base in response to the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Sitka hosts Behavioral Health Academy on April 4-8
SITKA — Alaska has a shortage of health care workers and some of the biggest needs are in behavioral health. In 2007, University of Alaska Associate Vice President of Health Karen Perdue, the former Alaska Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner, said Alaska had 1,033 behavioral health job openings, with a vacancy rate of 13.9 percent and a mean longest vacancy of 17.1 months. In rural Alaska, the vacancy rates and unmet service needs are higher.

Southeast EMS board to meet
Southeast Region Emergency Medical Services Council’s board of directors will meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 17 and April 18 at the Sitka Fire Department, 209 Lake Street. For questions call executive director Bobbi Leichty, 747-8005.

Skier's body found after avalanche at Hatcher Pass
WASILLA — Alaska State Troopers say searchers have recovered the body of a skier who went missing after an avalanche at Hatcher Pass.

The Gold Standard
It might be a new year for the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament, but there’s nothing new about the outcome when Kake hits the floor.

Fighting under a supermoon
Roughhouse boxing at Marlintini’s Lounge Friday night occurred while the supermoon was rising, possibly influencing the large number of TKO’s.

Gold Medal Roundup
Klukwan and Metlakatla kicked off M Bracket action in the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament on Monday, and it was Klukwan that showed little rust with a 93-60 win at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Boozer returns for rout of Kings
CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls are enjoying their best season in more than a decade, and they’re trying not to get too fixated on where all this success might lead.

Falcon's Dunn ready for start of season
April 21 marks the first game of the season for the Thunder Mountain baseball team as it travels to Petersburg to take on the Vikings in its second season as a program. Senior Xavier Dunn, who expects to split time between first base and center field while also logging some innings on the mound, said he’s excited for the season to get underway and impressed with the improved turnout this year.

Angoon outmuscles Yakutat
Yakutat tested the physical limits of the defending B Bracket champion on Monday night, but Angoon’s scoring depth was too much in the end.

Legislators fear 'wild lands'
Alaska legislators are preparing to raise concerns about a new federal “wild lands” designation that is raising concerns across the state, and across party lines.

Session length bill passes key committee
Alaska’s legislative sessions would be longer in some years, but not until 2014, under a bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee Monday.

Kenai borough mayor advocates donations to Japan
KENAI — In the midst of the crisis in Japan and a natural disaster not foreign to Alaska, Kenai Peninsula Borough officials are collecting donations to send to emergency responders in its sister city of Akita.

Palin visits Israel
JERUSALEM — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin visited a Jewish holy site in Jerusalem soon after arriving in Israel Sunday on a trip that has raised speculation she is honing her foreign policy credentials before a run for the U.S. presidency next year.

Skier recounts avalanche survival
ANCHORAGE — Two longtime friends set out Saturday on a blue-sky afternoon for what they figured would be another unforgettable day of hard skiing in Alaska’s backcountry.

Fairbanks group: City should stop putting fluoride in water
FAIRBANKS — A task force recommended that Fairbanks stop adding fluoride to its public water supply, which the city has been doing for a half-century to prevent tooth decay.

Judge: Soldier can show he reported Afghan plot
SEATTLE — A military judge has ruled that a U.S. soldier charged in a conspiracy to murder Afghan civilians for sport can present evidence at his court martial that he tried to blow the whistle on the plot.

Prison finances bedevil Alaska lawmakers
JUNEAU — Alaska’s new medium-security Goose Creek Correctional Center, initially billed as a way to save the state money compared to shipping prisoners out of state, is in danger of being mothballed more than a year before it is scheduled to open.

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