Wednesday, March 23, 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.

Israeli consul general describes uncertainty surrounding events in Egypt
An Israeli expert spoke in Juneau about what the effects of politically tectonic shifts in the Middle East could mean to the country. Akiva Tor, consul general to the Pacific Northwest Region, has spoken on Israeli issues here before, and a very attentive and inquisitive audience reaching beyond Juneau’s Jewish community gathered in Centennial Hall to hear what he had to say.

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.

Bartlett to partner with Hospice
Bartlett Regional Hospital will partner with Catholic Community Service through Hospice and Home Care in an effort to keep home care services available in Juneau despite health care reforms.

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.

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.

From the street to death row in 97 days
Former death row inmate Randy Steidl will be meeting with legislators in Juneau on Thursday and Friday as part of the Witness To Innocence project, a group made up and run by exonerated inmates.

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.

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.

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.

Petco, Staples looked at Nugget Mall, but no location plans yet
Two national chains have investigated possibilities of opening stores in Juneau, but there are no plans as of yet.

Walk for Autism in Juneau April 2
April is Autism Awareness month.

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.

Pearson's awarded AAA rating
Pearson’s Pond Luxury Inn & Adventure Spa has been awarded a AAA Four Diamond Rating today. The award will be presented today. AAA spokeswoman Tara Hanley said the Four and Five Diamond awards are for lodging establishments that represent the peak of the industry.

Coeur announces VP of Business Development
Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. has announced the appointment of Michael J. Harrison as the company’s Vice President of Business Development.

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.

Photo: Rooftop crews at work
Work crews from Trucano Construction and Silverbow Construction lift materials to the top of the Court Plaza Building on Tuesday to replace the heating and ventilation system.

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.

Police & Fire for Wednesday, March 23
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.

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.

Begich to hold Juneau town hall
Sen. Mark Begich is inviting Juneau residents to a town hall meeting tonight.

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.

Kashi recalls chicken products
Kashi is recalling approximately 2,790 pounds of Kashi Southwest Style Chicken products because the packages may instead contain Kashi Chicken Pasta Pomodoro, a product that contains eggs, that is not declared on the label.

Constance Helen Paddock
Constance Helen Paddock died March 17, 2011, at the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka.

Empire editorial: Oil tax: A slippery slope
There is a great deal of discussion taking place regarding the prospect of modifying the state’s formula (ACES) of taxing oil companies for producing Alaska’s oil. This discussion, however, appears to be all talk and little action. There’s the usual finger-pointing in the Legislature among and between the parties. Big surprise.

Two sides of political correctness
It’s a rare event when a controversial issue sparks nearly unanimous agreement of a legislative body. But that’s exactly what happened this month when our state legislators passed House Concurrent Resolution 8 which asks Congress to put an end to TSA’s invasive security screening procedures. It was a small step toward restoring the privacy rights of airline travelers. The bigger hurdle we still face is heeding the politically incorrect call to understand the roots of terrorism.

Libya: An end game enveloped by deception
If, as Sun Tzu wrote, “all warfare is based upon deception,” then the war now unfolding in the Libyan desert is one towering with deception. And it appears that the Obama administration is skillfully wielding at least this one deadly principle of conflict.

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.

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

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hydaburg heats up
It was a closer game than Hydaburg would have liked on Tuesday night in B Bracket play of the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament.

Klukwan Masters edge Huna Masters
The Klukwan Masters took it to a fill-in Metlakatla team on Monday afternoon, but it was a different story Tuesday against Huna in M Bracket action.

Angoon staves off elimination
Angoon sprinted to a 12-3 lead Tuesday to open its C Bracket contest in a loser-out game before cruising to a 94-61 win to eliminate Hydaburg from the 65th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament 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.

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.

Klukwan rallies to oust Klawock
Klukwan came out firing but Klawock didn’t fold.

Klukwan completes comeback win
Klukwan seemed to be in an up-hill battle all game against Shee Atika on Tuesday afternoon at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Alaska group hopes to raise money for Japan
ANCHORAGE — Members of the Japanese Society of Alaska are hoping to raise money to help victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

State officials promote emergency preparedness after Japanese disaster
While Japan’s nuclear disaster doesn’t appear likely to affect Alaska, the state’s top emergency officials are saying the earthquake that triggered a tsunami and the nuclear emergency highlight the need for ongoing emergency preparedness.

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.

Begich: Time might be ripe to drill
JUNEAU — High energy prices and political turmoil overseas have led to a “much more aggressive” attitude in Washington, D.C., toward developing oil and gas resources at home, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said Tuesday.

Icy Strait Point gets new logo, activities to match
Icy Strait Point is going into the new cruise season with some new activities and a new logo to represent the destination’s Native heritage.

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.

Promoters push Alaska attraction in Las Vegas
ANCHORAGE — State lawmakers are weighing whether to spend millions of dollars to create an Alaska tourist attraction on the Las Vegas strip.

Denali road opens to Savage River campground
DENALI NATIONAL PARK — Denali Park Road is now open to the Savage River campground.

Experts tell Alaskans not to worry
American radiation experts told a state Senate panel yesterday that radiation from Japan’s devastating nuclear power plant meltdown is not expected to pose a threat to the United States, including Alaska, the state closest to the emissions

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.

Man charged with obtaining false documents
ANCHORAGE — A 41-year-old Anchorage man has been indicted on federal charges of falsely claiming American citizenship and falsely applying for a Social Security card.

2 die as Fairbanks car slides on ice, hits pickup
FAIRBANKS — Alaska State Troopers say a Fairbanks woman and one of her passengers died when their Honda Civic slid on an icy curve and collided head-on with a pickup truck.

At least 32 musk oxen freeze to death after storm
ANCHORAGE — At least 32 musk oxen were found frozen in the ice on the northern coast of Alaska’s Seward Peninsula, killed in the aftermath of a tidal surge and flooding from a winter storm blowing in off the Chukchi Sea, the National Park Service said Tuesday.

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