Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Legislature ensures Southeast will suffer
I try not to get angry with anyone over politics and religion but, I've decided to drop politics from that goal.

Not all bad
Inasmuch as so much of our opinion process is rooted in situational ethics these days, I would never presume to speak for any "silent majorities." Usually it is amusing to me when others feel they do. Nonetheless, I can't help but feel there are a lot of other people who feel as I do about the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" controversy.

Expressing disbelief
After reading about the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner lawsuit, I felt that I must write to express my disbelief at the lack of moral conscience of the Juneau School Board and Ms. Deborah Morse. It should be clear to anyone who has taken even a middle-school civics class that such activity is protected by the First Amendment.

Classic leadership
Alaska State Employees Association Business Manager Spanky O'Connell has announced that he will resign May 25. Sanctimoniously declaring in this statement his own vast experience, Spanky demonstrates his classic leadership style by further insulting the majority of ASEA members who voted in the recent union election, thus: "The newly elected majority of our (?) executive board has demonstrated ... that they want to manage our (?) union from a political perspective based on their own narrow frame of reference."

Remember the weekend
What a spectacular weekend we had in Juneau. The weather provided a perfect setting for all the things we know and love about our piece of the world. I ask each and every one of you to burn your weekend activities and enjoyment of those activities into your memory.

More moderation
In the past couple of weeks we've seen letters to the editor and articles in the Empire in support of the environment and that successfully countered the piece by Anchorage Times Editor Tom Brennan that appeared in the Empire on April 12, titled, "Greens are really bad for the environment and the economy."

Possibly inattentive, tired - but not rude
I disagree with the comments made by Rosalee Walker in her letter of April 19. Her claims of rude behavior by Sen. Dave Donley I believe to be erroneous.

NYC coming back
We here in New York appreciate all the prayers offered by people like Dixie Alms (Empire, April 28) for us after 9-11. New York is coming back, but it will be a long, hard process.

Ego trip?
Why did Andrea Baker in her letter to the editor "Expressing disbelief" state that "As both a parent and a practicing attorney..." have to include her profession (practicing attorney)?

Wellness Court is still an experiment
The recent Empire article on Wellness Court gave a good overview of the pilot program being developed in Juneau. A small amount of funding was awarded to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to lay the groundwork for a Wellness Court program in District 1 Court.

Police and Fire
Reports from Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Mark Farmer leaves Juneau
Bear activist and former candidate for city office Mark Farmer moved to Anchorage last week.

Main breaks: Mud floods S. Franklin
Dannie Lazaro was in the back room of the Filipino Community Hall doing some paperwork after a Bingo game ended late Sunday night when he saw the walls buckle, the back door bow and part of Gastineau Avenue come crashing into the room around his feet.

JDHS students to put car know-how to the test
Two Juneau-Douglas High School seniors will be looking for trouble in Anchorage later this week - under the hood. Chad Thomas and Justin Rasmussen leave Thursday to participate in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Contest, where they will put their auto troubleshooting knowledge to the test against nine other high school teams from across the state.

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

Couple wins asylum - after more than a decade of waiting
Luis and Rosario Aguirre, a married couple who fled from civil war in their native El Salvador more than a decade ago, now have peace of mind. They were among 20 Alaska residents who received approval for their "green cards" in Anchorage last week, granting them the right to live here permanently and seek citizenship.

Medicaid reductions bite into mental health programs
Lower Medicaid payments and Juneau Youth Services' own billing problems have forced the agency to scale back construction plans, dip into savings and reduce employee benefits, officials said.

City crew continues cleanup after mud flood
City crews worked today to complete repairs and the cleanup from a water main break and mudslide that damaged Gastineau Avenue and the Filipino Community Hall on Sunday night.Though some Gastineau residents were without water for most of Monday, their homes were hooked up to a temporary water system by 5 p.m., said Jeffrey Wilson, an engineer on the construction team contracted almost a year ago to install sidewalks, repave and rebuild Gastineau Avenue.

Spring kings
Ramon Isturis displays a 28-pound king salmon he caught Saturday morning off the rocks at False Outer Point.

Assembly grants school district the maximum minimum
The Juneau Assembly voted Monday to fund the Juneau School District at least to the maximum allowed under state-mandated spending caps next fiscal year. District officials will now have to wait to see if their request for supplemental funding is granted. On an 8-1 vote, the Assembly set its minimum funding commitment for the district at $17,731,200. The district's total budget for the next fiscal year is about $38 million.

Douglas deer
Two Sitka black-tailed deer make themselves at home on Robert and Anna Warfield's lawn on Saturday on North Douglas.

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

9 survive after skiff overturns
Nine people ended up in Tongass Narrows after an overloaded skiff capsized Saturday night, the Coast Guard said. Two people were treated for hypothermia and minor injuries, but no one was seriously hurt.

City delays decision on cruise fees
The Norwegian Sky didn't face a tonnage fee when it became the first cruise ship of the season to pull into Juneau today. But it might pay a new passenger fee for port projects.

Around Town
Listings of local nonprofit events

My Turn: Alcohol industry is in decline
It's time for truth in advertising when the supporters of the alcohol tax talk about the proposed tax. They would try and make us believe that any increase in taxation would be used to fight alcohol abuse. Under Article IX Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution, "the proceeds of any state tax or license shall not be dedicated to any special purpose, except as provided in Section 15 of this article or when required by the federal government for state participation in federal programs."

Alaskans united on saving permanent fund dividend
Recently, a group of well intended, life-long Alaskans reunited hopefully to save the Alaska permanent fund dividend from the Alaska Legislature's deceptive fiscal plan. We call ourselves the "83 Percent Coalition."

My Turn: Who does the Assembly majority represent?
There they go again! Five-to-four. Why is this CBJ Assembly so intent on proving to the cruise ship industry that the city is indeed friendly to the industry? Why does the Assembly choose to roll over and wait for the North West Cruiseship Association to let us know how much they would prefer to pay and for which projects?

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Strategy wins in Native Youth Olympics
Leroy Shangin had a strategy for the Alaskan high kick at this year's Native Youth Olympics. While other athletes competed barefoot or wore basketball footwear, the 18-year-old high school senior donned his wrestling shoes.

Sports In Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Private prison amendments fail
An attempt to scale back the size of a private prison in Whittier and expand state prisons elsewhere failed Friday.

Bill's critics: Elders to lose housing, many to lose welfare
A proposal that temporarily could throw thousands of the state's poor off of welfare drew heated and emotional testimony at a House State Affairs Committee on Saturday.

Fiscal plan at risk due to tax breaks for gas?
Fairbanks Rep. Jim Whitaker says the powerful co-chairman of the House Finance Committee threatened to kill a state fiscal plan and punish Fairbanks because of Whitaker's push to transform a bill that offers tax breaks for a natural gas pipeline.

House passes private prison measure
A bill clearing the way for a 1,000-bed private prison in Whittier passed the House on Monday.Representatives voted 24-14 for the measure, which calls for the state to contract with the city of Whittier, which would contract with Cornell Companies Inc. to build and operate the prison. Whittier is on Prince William Sound, southeast of Anchorage.

Teen arrested in baby's death
A 16-year-old boy from Ketchikan was held without bail Sunday after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 6-week-old baby.

Hold harmless bill dies in House State Affairs Committee
JUNEAU - A proposal that would consider permanent fund dividends a source of income for those receiving certain state financial assistance was voted down in the House State Affairs Committee today.

Military drills
USS Abraham Lincoln crew members direct an F-14D Tomcat into position Thursday on one of the nuclear-powered carrier's four steam catapults. The flight operations in the Gulf of Alaska were part of annual Northern Edge military exercises.

Joe Green announces his departure from Legislature
JUNEAU - Rep. Joe Green, an Anchorage Republican, announced Monday he will not seek re-election to the Legislature. Green, 68, is completing his tenth year representing District 10 in South Anchorage.

Financial proposals make no headway
House lawmakers and Gov. Tony Knowles were unable to break the impasse over tax proposals aimed at the state's deficit during a weekend meeting.

House panel reverts to gas tax 'holiday'
A proposed tax break for a natural gas pipeline is again a "holiday," rather than a deferral, with a reversal Monday by the state House Finance Committee.The bill, passed by the committee 9-2, again guarantees a state and local property tax exemption during pipeline construction and for the first two years of operation, worth an estimated $760 million.

Anchorage woman dies in car crash
An Anchorage woman died after her car rolled on a busy west side street Saturday night. Anchorage police said the woman, Lisa J. Taylor, was ejected from the car after she apparently lost control and the car rolled several times.

Elton's is lone vote against flag resolution
It was a tough vote in an election year, but Kim Elton had done it before.Juneau's Democratic senator was the lone dissenter Monday in Senate approval of a resolution urging Congress to pass a constitutional amendment against "physical desecration" of the American flag.

Evidence may have been destroyed in fighting hotel fire
ANCHORAGE - The cause of the fire that destroyed a hotel nearing completion in downtown Anchorage remains a mystery. And the Anchorage Fire Department is looking into whether firefighters may have disturbed the scene so much that investigators may never be able to determine what happened.

Russians come to Alaska to learn about free-market health care
Ten health care professionals from the Russian Far East are coming to Anchorage next month to learn more about how to provide health care in a market economy.

'Fair tax' wins support from both parties
A sales tax/income tax hybrid anchors a proposed $500 million-plus revenue package agreed to Monday night by Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles and a bipartisan House negotiating team.An alcohol excise tax increase of $22 million and the use of $250 million in permanent fund earnings round out the package, which would cut the projected $1 billion annual budget gap in half by fiscal year 2004.

State Briefs
Candle causes fire in home; Child slasher Jason Pritchard sentenced to 99-year terms; Boyfriend admits to abuse of baby that died; Russian bombers probe American airspace

Official pledges help for vets
The man in charge of federal veterans programs wants to give Alaska veterans access to federal or state veterans homes.

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