Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sealaska bill could run into opposition
Sen. Lisa Murkowski has proposed legislation, which Sen. Mark Begich also might sponsor, that springs from a legitimate cause: The finalization of Sealaska's land entitlements under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. But the bill contains elements that could counter a long history of negotiations between the U.S. Forest Service and the conservation community of Southeast Alaska.

There's no excuse for lack of bus records
I am writing in response to the article "School district fails to keep busing records," published in the Empire on April 5.

Palin confusing her will with democracy
Gov. Sarah Palin again seems to be confusing her will with that of democracy. While she was running for vice president, she had state Attorney General Talis Colberg inform her staff members that they didn't need to answer subpoenas from the Legislature in regard to an investigation into the firing of the former head of the state troopers. Her staff then failed to honor the subpoenas from our elected representatives.

Education goals mischaracterized
I am writing in response to the article "One building could hold multiple schools," published April 2 in the Empire. It was disappointing to see the statement, "though the Montessori approach tends to attract parents trying to get their kids a leg up." This is a subjective opinion with which I disagree.

Palin doesn't seem to care about Juneau
I am writing this letter in disbelief of the most recent proposal for the Juneau Senate seat.

Maybe election should be held for governor
I would like to voice my strong support for our newly elected Sen. Mark Begich. Begich is doing a fine job. There is no need for a new election. The idea is simply ludicrous. Begich was elected fair and square.

Begich was clearly the better candidate
I am writing in support of Sen. Mark Begich. I am encouraged by the job that the former Anchorage mayor is doing and believe he was and is clearly the better candidate to represent our state.

Charter school is a public school
We appreciate the Empire covering local education issues, but we'd like to make an important correction to how our school was described in Thursday's article about our proposed move to Marie Drake.

Legislature not bound by open meetings act
In 1963, after Elton Engstrom Sr.'s death, the four remaining Senate Republicans recorded their votes on Gov. William Egan's various nominees five times on the Senate floor. Even though that precedent's generally been ignored since that time, the Senate Democrats would still be prudent to honor it here.

Palin tries second pick for Juneau Senate seat
Gov. Sarah Palin has appointed Joe Nelson, an administrator at the University of Alaska Southeast, to Juneau's open Senate seat.

Joe Nelson vies for Senate confirmation
Seeking to represent Juneau in the Alaska Senate, Joe Nelson is now in the middle of what's become a battle of wills between Gov. Sarah Palin and Democrats in Juneau and the Senate.

School district to require bus documentation
The Juneau School District plans to resume requiring written reports of school bus-related complaints and route logs from its bus contractor, First Student, after an Empire inquiry revealed contractual obligations weren't being followed.

School Board prods Palin to accept education stimulus money
The Juneau School Board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday urging Gov. Sarah Palin and the state Legislature to accept federal stimulus funding for education, money that could offset job cuts and bring an extra $1.6 million to the district over 30 months.

Juneau Native groups oppose confirmation of attorney general
Alaska Native groups in Juneau voiced opposition to the nomination of Attorney General Anthony Wayne Ross and called on other Native groups to speak out against Gov. Sarah Palin's selection to head the Department of Law.

Officer tells parents to be vigilant of drug use
While drugs and alcohol aren't currently a big problem in Juneau's middle schools, officer Blain Hatch said parents should be aware of the dangers and pressures students may be exposed to in coming years.

Juneau Assembly: Clean water bill opposed in 5-4 vote
In a 5-4 vote, the Juneau Assembly approved a resolution Monday that frames federal legislation attempting to curb the practice of mountaintop removal for coal mining as an unwanted detriment to the viability of Coeur Alaska Inc.'s Kensington gold mine, located 45 miles northwest of Juneau.

Photo: Snack time
Kellen Dumaup throws pieces of bread out the window to some ravens with his mother, Latecia, Tuesday in the Alaskan and Proud parking lot. Dumaup said they had a bunch of bread at home and didn't know what to do with it so they went to look for some ducks. Finding no ducks, they picked a group of ravens. "Ravens have to eat too," he said.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

Fuel spill closes Goldbelt Building
More than 200 employees were unable to go to work Monday after a weekend fuel spill at the Goldbelt Building.

Around Town
Today

Photo: Meeting over art
Patty Fiorella works on a border Monday for a Ravenstail pattern weave during the Ravenstail Weavers' Open Weave at the Douglas Library. The group meets on most first Mondays of the month from 5 to 9 p.m. to work on various art projects. All are welcome.

Correction
A Tuesday story incorrectly reported when former Senate appointee Tim Grussendorf sent a letter to Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, asking her to withdraw from consideration for Juneau's empty Senate seat. That letter was not sent Friday, as was reported, but was actually sent and delivered Saturday.

Photo: Monkey skier
Jaden White, 5, post-runs the Eaglecrest Challenge Cup slalom ski race in a plush monkey costume. The Juneau Ski Club hosted the annual dress-up slalom Sunday at Eaglecrest Ski Area. The event drew 39 participants despite wet and windy conditions.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

Around Town
Today

Outside editorial: In Ted Stevens' case, prosecutors forgot about justice
Faced with clear signs of government misconduct, Attorney General Eric Holder made the right call by moving to dismiss the Justice Department's case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. This is a disappointing end to the Stevens saga, but prosecutors botched this case so badly that the attorney general had no choice but to bring it to a merciful close.

Outside editorial: Missile was a crisis that failed to launch
Regardless of how the missile technology performed, or did not, North Korea's long-range test launch failed to ignite the international crisis that Pyongyang apparently sought.

My turn: Shale gas could be a bridge to a gas pipeline in Alaska
A number of Alaska legislators recently attended energy council meetings in Washington, D.C., and came away with the mistaken impression that the emergence of shale gas would damage (if not end) Alaska's chances of building a gas pipeline to the Lower 48.

Outside editorial: Obama's missile crisis
Hours after North Korea dared to launch a long-range rocket in defiance of world pressure, President Obama issued a warning. "Rules must be binding," he said, a reference to the North's violation of a 2006 U.N. resolution that imposed sanctions on Pyongyang. "Violations must be punished. Words must mean something."

My turn: Predator management benefits all
Whether you are a hunter, photographer, sightseer or ardent preservationist, healthy wildlife populations are a benefit to you. Depletion of game populations due to weather, over-hunting or predation not only reduces the health and number of predators and prey; it also reduces the opportunity for viewing and consumptive use. Managing for moderately high game populations is comparable to having a good paying job and money in the bank.

My Turn: State looks out for rural villages
It's been a challenging winter for rural Alaska villages. High fuel prices, reduced income from fishing and a particularly cold winter have left many residents struggling to heat their homes and feed their families. But the state has taken action and work continues.

DOT reminds drivers to remove studded tires
JUNEAU - Studded tire season is about to end, and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is reminding Juneau motorists to remove the studded tires on their vehicles by April 15.

Sen. Begich again refuses call to resign
ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is again refusing calls to step down now that the Justice Department is asking that the conviction against Ted Stevens be dropped.

Troopers charge three in Bethel drug bust
BETHEL - Three people have been charged with drug counts connected to the sale of oxycodone in Bethel and Alaska State Troopers said charges are pending against three others.

Lawmakers call for minimum wage hike
JUNEAU - A group of Democratic legislators on Tuesday called for a hike in Alaska's minimum wage before the end of session.

Tok man sentenced in assault case
FAIRBANKS - A 26-year-old Tok man was sentenced to two years in prison for an alcohol-fueled beating of another man.

Interior secretary plans Dillingham visit
DILLINGHAM - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will conduct a town hall meeting in Dillingham.

Shallow earthquake rattles Alaska
ANCHORAGE - A shallow earthquake strongly shook a large swath of Alaska.

Protection sought for leatherback turtles
Portland, Ore. - The leatherback turtle - at 1,200 pounds the world's heaviest reptile - is in such severe decline that it could become extinct in the Pacific Ocean within a few decades, according to Oceana, a global environmental group seeking emergency protection for it and the other five species of sea turtles.

Kindergarten info sessions slated
JUNEAU - The Juneau School District, the Association for the Education of Young Children and Tlingit & Haida Head Start will host three informational sessions, "Get Ready for Kindergarten and Learn About School Choices," for parents curious about kindergarten or who have children entering kindergarten this fall.

Man pleads guilty in VA fraud case
SPOKANE, Wash. - A former Idaho sheriff's deputy who falsely claimed he was paraplegic has pleaded guilty in a $1.5 million disability fraud case that a U.S. attorney said is the largest in Veterans Affairs Department history.

House to consider forming energy dept.
JUNEAU - A special House committee on energy is proposing legislation that would consolidate the state's energy programs under one department.

6 of 13 moose in state study die
ANCHORAGE - The state game department said six moose have died, likely from problems with a drug used to reverse tranquilizers.

Airman set for second trial
FAIRBANKS - The second trial of a 32-year-old airman accused of trying to kill his wife is set to begin Tuesday in Fairbanks.

Beaver Creek makes endangered river list
ANCHORAGE - An interior Alaska waterway has made a conservation group's annual list of America's top 10 most endangered rivers.

Locals top 'dress-up slalom'
Despite deep snow and high winds, 24 racers turned out for the Eaglecrest Challenge alpine ski races Saturday and Sunday at Eaglecrest Ski Area. The series, hosted by the Juneau Ski Club, marked the end of the competitive alpine ski season for local racers. As always, participation in this year's race came with one unique stipulation: racers donned not only Lycra racing suits, but also costumes.

Green flattens Les Schwab
Elise Auguston lifted Green to a 3-0 lead with a pair of second-period goals Monday and helped her team hang on for a 4-0 opening win over Les Schwab in the Juneau Adult Hockey Association's double-elimination Women's Tier playoffs.

Sitka track and field meet cancelled
The upcoming April 10-11 track and field meet hosted by Sitka High School was cancelled due to wet and overall poor track conditions this week.

Eaglecrest Challenge
April 4

Sports in Juneau
UPCOMING EVENTS

Begich defends stimulus spending
All told, as much as $1.5 billion could come to Alaska from the federal economic stimulus package, including money directed at the state, military bases, federal agencies, communities, tribes and non-profits, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich told reporters on Tuesday.

Stevens dismissal will erase verdict but not the facts
WASHINGTON - If, as expected today, a federal judge agrees to dismiss corruption charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens, it will wipe away the Alaska Republican's conviction and complete an embarrassing unraveling of the Justice Department's case.

Abusive MySpace page draws principal's lawsuit
WASILLA - Colony High School principal Cyd Duffin doesn't do MySpace.

Judge demands criminal probe of Stevens prosecutors
A seething federal judge dismissed the corruption conviction of former Sen. Ted Stevens on Tuesday and took the rare and serious step of ordering a criminal investigation into prosecutors who poisoned the case.

Young: Embrace federal education money
KETCHIKAN - U.S. Rep. Don Young voted against the federal economic stimulus package and vowed not to comment when Gov. Sarah Palin announced she would not accept all of the money available to Alaska.

House approves bill to name state dog
About 50 students at the Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage were in their principal's office Monday morning listening via speaker phone to the debate in the Alaska House on naming the Alaskan Malamute the state dog.

Cook Inlet production stopped
ANCHORAGE - Chevron has halted its oil production in Cook Inlet because of continuing threats from Mount Redoubt eruptions at the Drift River terminal, where the company stores its oil.

Fishery panel votes for salmon bycatch limit
ANCHORAGE - The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has voted to place an unprecedented limit on the number of king salmon accidentally killed each year during the commercial Bering Sea pollock catch.

Bailout rules could dampen business travel
Proposed federal legislation placing restrictions on companies that have received bailout money could diminish business and convention travel to Alaska.

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