State and Local Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Seat belt helps woman survive crash

JUNEAU - A young Juneau woman escaped serious injury despite her vehicle rolling over a small spruce tree and landing upside down on several boulders.

Tara Greenwood, 18, sustained only a minor abrasion to her left arm as a result of a single-vehicle accident at 6:36 p.m. Monday near Glacier Highway and Eagle Beach, according to a police press release.

Police said Greenwood was speeding as she drove a 1992 green Honda Civic on outbound Glacier Highway near the beach. As her car approached a curve in the road, she lost control of it, police said. The car left the road, landing in the ditch.

The car then struck a small spruce tree sideways, said Juneau police Sgt. David Campbell, and continued to roll over the top of the tree. It landed upside down on a group of boulders, one of which pierced the vehicle's windshield, Campbell said. The steering column stopped the boulder from striking Greenwood.

"If she had not been wearing her seat belt, I don't think she would have made it through that accident," he said. "It doesn't appear alcohol was a factor either."

Passing motorists helped Greenwood from her vehicle, the release said. Capital City Fire and Rescue workers treated the abrasion on Greenwood's arm and took her to Bartlett Regional Hospital, where she later was released.

Greenwood's vehicle was totaled, sustaining about $9,000 in damage.

Police cited Greenwood for careless driving. Greenwood did not return calls from the Empire.

State sues over WorldCom losses

JUNEAU - The state has filed suit against a number of financial institutions, seeking to recover $26 million lost in bonds from WorldCom, a telecommunications company that went bankrupt last summer.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court, claims the defendants did not ensure the bond documents contained accurate information.

"These defendants failed to meet their obligation to fully inform potential bond holders about WorldCom's true financial condition," said state Attorney General Gregg Renkes.

The Alaska Department of Revenue and the Alaska State Pension Fund Investment Board paid about $84.5 million for the bonds between August 1998 and May 2001, and sold them at 69 percent of their purchase price.

The lawsuit targets 18 financial institutions: Citigroup, Salomon Smith Barney, J.P. Morgan Securities, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, Banc of America Securities, ABN AMRO, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, Lehman Brothers Holdings, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse Group, Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., Goldman Sachs Group, Goldman Sachs & Co., UBS Warburg, Nationsbanc Montgomery Securities, and Arthur Anderson.

The suit is similar to lawsuits filed by at least eight other states. Assistant Attorney General Mike Barnhill said pension funds in Washington state, California, Montana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia have filed suits.

A class action suit pending in New York includes everyone - individuals, municipalities and states - who bought stocks or bonds unless they opt out to pursue their own litigation, such as the aforementioned eight states and Alaska.

Residents invited to give input on waterfront

JUNEAU - The engineering and consulting firm Bermello, Ajamil & Partners is holding forums this month for Juneau residents to share their ideas about future development of the downtown waterfront area.

The meetings will be held at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. today at the Aspen Hotel, and at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall.

"We are hoping for broad participation from different members of the community," said Susan Bell of the McDowell Group, which is assisting with the forums. "The goal of the meeting is to identify community priorities, sort of a vision for what we want for the waterfront."

The Juneau waterfront stretches from the Thane Road rock dump to the Douglas Bridge, Bell said. Bermello, Ajamil & Partners, hired by the city, is in the process of developing a comprehensive waterfront plan with the help of other Alaska consulting firms.

Pillars series starts today

JUNEAU - The first speaker in the Pillars of America Freedom series addresses a luncheon that begins at 11:30 a.m. today at Centennial Hall.

Capt. Brian Udell is the first of three speakers in the 12th annual lecture series, hosted by the Glacier Valley Rotary Club. Udell is an F-15E pilot who survived one of the fastest-known ejections in history - at 780 mph - while bailing out of his F-15E at 3,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean in 1995.

Jerry Taylor, an athlete with cerebral palsy, will speak April 30. Diana Nyad, a TV sports correspondent and record-breaking swimmer, will appear May 7.

Recount of Anchorage mayoral ballots begins

ANCHORAGE - Election workers in Anchorage have started recounting more than 63,000 ballots cast for mayor April 1.

The process began Monday on the request of losing incumbent George Wuerch.

Complicating the matter is the so-called "Mickey Mouse ballot."

At issue is the question of whether to count ballots cast for a candidate not qualified to be mayor - for example, a protest vote for Mickey Mouse. The total vote number affects the percentage each candidate gets.

Lawyers for former Anchorage Assemblyman Mark Begich, who was only 18 votes past the 45 percent threshold needed to win the mayor's office, said any Mickey Mouse ballots should be disqualified. Fewer total votes would likely increase Begich's percentage of the whole.

Lawyers for Wuerch, who hopes to force Begich to a runoff election May 6, said all ballots should stay in, possibly dropping Begich's proportion below the 45 percent threshold.

The race for Anchorage mayor has been in limbo since the election. For two weeks, Begich was just below the 45 percent mark. Wuerch got 37.5 percent of the votes, second in a field of several candidates, including former Mayor Rick Mystrom.

A count of 4,367 absentee and questioned ballots April 14 gave Begich 45.03 percent. That put him 4,989 votes ahead of Wuerch and just 18 votes past 45 percent.

Klawock women charged in pull-tab scam

ANCHORAGE - A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging two Klawock women with mail fraud and conspiracy.

Janine Harmon, 36, and Delores Peratrovich, 53, were managers of pull-tab operations until September 2001, said the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.

According to the indictment, the women exchanged inside information concerning the games played in the Klawock Liquor Store and the Klawock Cooperative Association.

Prosecutors said the shared information gave each an unfair advantage when playing at the other's place of employment.

Peratrovich won more than $66,000, while Harmon won nearly $28,000, prosecutors said.

Boy's autopsy mirrors drowned brother's

ANCHORAGE - Drowning was the cause of death of a 5-year-old Anchorage boy who had been missing with his brother last month, according to an autopsy report.

The report for Isaiah Johnson was released to his family Monday. An earlier autopsy found Isaiah's 8-year-old brother Malcolm also drowned.

The brothers disappeared March 10 outside their home. Two weeks later, they were found dead in a partially frozen pond about a half mile from their house.

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