Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Longevity bonus
Clifford Berg's letter in Friday's Empire hit the nail right on the head. The governor's decision to drop the bonus program is a bad idea and turns it into nothing more than another welfare program. I wonder if thought was given to the cost of auditing everyone who is not qualified to receive the bonus.

Innovative thinking invited
The state of public transportation within our capital city has improved in recent years with the addition of new buses, new routes and more frequent service. We are slowly coming to par with other similar-sized cities in the U.S. in terms of accessibility, convenience and energy efficiency of the bus system. Of course, more progress needs to be made.

Sixteen and unlicensed
I am a 16-year-old unlicensed girl and let me tell you a thing or two about how I feel about the graduated driving license. I would not feel very comfortable driving around with some 25-year-old. Not only would I be worried about statutory rape, but also it would be a lot easier to get away with buying kids alcohol because they wouldn't be suspicious of having older people with some teenager. The adult could also provide a place to party or other illegal substances.

Nonsense near and far
The Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, has decided to rethink the pros and especially so, the cons, of its current exhibit on ANWR, while our always-issues-sensitive senior U.S. Sen. Stevens remarked it wasn't due to any pressure from him. Hmmmm.

Not a bad idea
I believe the graduated license proposal introduced by Bruce Weyhrauch will benefit young teen drivers and make our roads safer. It will give them more time to become familiar with driving without distractions.

Sales tax will help schools
The push for the statewide sales tax is growing hotter. Gov. Murkowski is touting the 2 to 4 percent tax. The House is looking to pass something, if they can. Unfortunately, it looks suspiciously for show.

Too young to be safe
At first I was against the graduated license, then I learned more about the statistics. I know what most teens are probably thinking. They are probably trying to come up with reasons why they shouldn't pass this law. What if we have to do this or have to do that? Teens are probably asking questions, wondering and making statements against it.

Revise Longevity Bonus
The politically possible time to lop off the Longevity Bonus has passed. Butchering should have been done when it, along with the original dividend program, was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court for basing payments on durational residency.

Vicious, loathsome
I am puzzled by your choice of Outside editorial in Friday's (9 May) Empire. I hope it was only meant to demonstrate just how low a political attack can get. When the editor of the Augusta Chronicle imagines he can see inside Sen. Robert Byrd's and Rep. Henry Waxman's heads and find there a desire for "something to go terribly wrong in America - a collapsed economy or another terrorist attack," he is engaging in not only character assassination but the depths of irresponsibility.

Statewide sales tax will widen rural-urban divide
A few years ago when they were pinching funding for Bush schools and opposing a state subsistence priority for rural Alaskans, urban Republican legislators scoffed at the notion of a growing "rural-urban divide."

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

Photo: Ice rink transformed
Dean Williams returns a forehand to Brian Lupro while taking advantage Monday of the new tennis court at the Treadwell Arena. The arena has been converted from an ice rink for the summer and is open for tennis, basketball, inline skating and inline hockey.

Steamship Wharf work nears completion
The Steamship Wharf-Marine Park construction project should be complete by July 3, and 58 new boat slips will be installed in the Douglas Harbor by next summer, city officials said. As the city works with a planning firm to develop a vision of waterfront projects for the next 20 years, some public and private projects permitted by the city are continuing as planned.

Correction
Due to an editor's error, a Tuesday Empire photo mistakenly identified a walk organized by the Southeast Alaska Cancer and Wellness Foundation on Saturday. The walk was held to honor survivors of cancer in Juneau.

This Day in History
In 1962, the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center opened.

School District, teachers at impasse in negotiations
The Juneau School District turned down the teacher union's final contract offer Tuesday afternoon, and the parties are at an impasse. The district and teachers have agreed to mediation, although no date has been set, Superintendent Peggy Cowan said. The executive committee of the Juneau Education Association will meet Thursday to decide whether to ask the full membership later this month to authorize a strike if a settlement can't be reached after mediation and arbitration, said union President Tom Gill.

Photo: Tapping out territory
A red-breasted sapsucker taps away at a parking sign Saturday in the University of Alaska Southeast parking lot. Woodpeckers sometimes tap on metal signs to announce their territory.

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

Photo: Walking for cancer
Cancer survivors Trish Satre and Rep. Carl Gatto, a Palmer Republican, lead the National Cancer Survivor's Day Walk on Saturday morning in downtown Juneau.

Home Depot eyes Kmart building
The Home Depot, an Atlanta-based home improvement retailer, is looking closely at opening stores in the former Kmart buildings in Juneau and Kenai, a company spokesman said Tuesday. "It's not a done deal, but we're interested in the sites," said spokesman John Simley.

Amended street obstruction ordinance passes
On a 7-2 vote after hours of public testimony and debate, the Juneau Assembly approved a city ordinance Monday night that addresses tourist season congestion downtown by prohibiting some sidewalk obstructions. The ordinance prohibits downtown businesses from placing obstructions such as trash cans, vending machines, sandwich board signs or large stuffed animals on sidewalks.

Mines want a speedy decision
Greens Creek Mining Co. and Kensington Mine Project representatives want the Juneau Assembly to make an expedient decision on the fate of a proposed mining ordinance. If the Assembly adopts the ordinance, Greens Creek wouldn't have to apply for a new permit for its tailings facility expansion and Kensington could skip a permitting step in plans to open the mine.

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

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

Assembly hears public testimony on mining ordinance
Representatives from the Greens Creek Mining Co. and the Kensington Mine Project asked the Juneau Assembly Monday night to make an expedient decision on the fate of the proposed mining ordinance. If the Assembly adopts the ordinance, both projects would be spared the process of applying for a city permit.

Photo: Catching the bus
A construction worker ties rebar together on the Steamship Wharf-Marine Park project as tourists off the cruise ship Veendam load onto a bus along Marine Way on Tuesday.

This Day in History
In 1939, noted musher Charles "Slim"" Williams began his trip from Fairbanks to the World's Fair in New York, traveling by motorcycle along the proposed route of the International American-Canadian Highway.

City attorney finds Wanamaker's ties to mining a conflict of interest
Juneau Assembly member Randy Wanamaker's ties to the mining industry constitute a conflict of interest, according to City Attorney John Corso, who recommended Tuesday that Wanamaker be excused from voting on a proposed mining ordinance he helped draft. The proposed ordinance would distinguish between rural mines and urban mines, making the former "allowable uses," which carry fewer conditions than the "conditional use" permits all mines in Juneau must obtain now.

Neighbors Briefs
Potlatch for Cecilia Kunz; Thane neighborhood meeting; Glory Hole dinner shifts

Friends and family of JDHS Class of 1993 asked to help in search
We are still looking to contact classmates for our summer reunion. If you are in touch with or have contact information for any of the following, please contact Betty Carlson Nelson at 364-3414 or carlsonb@gci.net.

Photo: April landscape
A view of the Mendenhall Glacier seen on April 30 from an outlook on the East Glacier Trail.

Pets of the week
Penny is an aristocratic beauty, a purebred Persian with a long, shaded silver coat. Jackel has a happy-go-lucky disposition and a beautiful, silky black coat.

Motorcyclist to go 'on the road to a cure'
Before March 2002, Teresa Gilbert didn't know how to ride a motorcycle. Now, she's planning to ride more than 1,200 miles to raise money to help eradicate breast cancer. Gilbert will take part in the Pony Express Relay, a fund-raising ride hosted by the Women's Motorcyclist Foundation, this summer. She hopes to raise at least $1,000 to contribute to the Komen Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.

Perkins, Hall announce engagement
Carl and Debby Perkins are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Shannon Lea, of Juneau, to Jeffrey Robert Hall of Springville, Utah.

Thank you
...for help with the musical; ...Thanks for the doggy help; ...Thanks for helping swimmers

Fields, McDonald to marry
Margaret McDonald of Seattle and David Fields of Juneau will be married in a ceremony planned for 4 p.m., July 26, at St. Peter and Paul Church in Grangeville, Idaho. A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. at the McDonald ranch in Fenn, Idaho.

Ward, Cadiente marry
Danielle Dawn Cadiente of Juneau and Matthew Lamont Ward of Seattle were married at 12:30 p.m. on April 11, 2003, at the Seattle Justice Center.

James Edward Myrick
Former longtime Juneau resident James Edward Myrick died Thursday, May 8, 2003, at Providence Hospital in Everett, Wash.

My Turn: Beware of the war machine
K en Dunker, in his recent My Turn, said that the troops are "overall educated, well-trained and squared away individuals." Surely he knows the disproportionate number of minority individuals and those from low socio-economic backgrounds (with no other real option) who are recruited to serve in the military. And, let's just grant Mr. Dunker his premise that they are "squared away" individuals when they enter. Are they when (if) they return to us?

My Turn: Della Brown was a victim of racism
In Anchorage, Native activist and former Juneau resident Desa Jacobsson is subjecting herself to a crucible of deprivation so that murder victim Della Brown is not forgotten. Jacobsson went on a hunger strike to protest the recent acquittal of Joshua Wade, who was charged with killing Brown.

Bears clinch state berth
Even though the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team was missing half its roster, the defending state champion Crimson Bears clinched a return trip to the state tournament with a 10-1 victory over Prince of Wales on Monday night in Craig. Juneau, which has yet to play a home game this season, had five key players return home after the Crimson Bears swept three games from Ketchikan over the weekend. Juneau coach Dave Massey said the players wanted to keep up with their academic work, not because they're struggling but because they want to stay on the honor roll. The Crimson Bears will have missed seven of the last 10 school days when this road trip is over.

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

Spring King Salmon Derby Standings
Here are the standings in the Seventh Annual Spring King Salmon Derby, as reported at 3:19 p.m. on Saturday, May 10. The rankings include the angler's name, weight of the fish (in 10ths of a pound), date turned in and what station the fish was turned into. Ties are broken by the earliest fish turned in.

Musarra, Ritter lead Tornado wrestlers
Sungie Musarra and Jake Ritter each won two titles to lead the Juneau Tornadoes Wrestling Club at the Alaska State Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling tournaments in Eagle River earlier this month. Musarra (112 pounds) and Ritter (215 pounds) each won their weight class in the cadet division at both tournaments on May 2-3. Both compete for the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team in the winter.

Source: Cavaliers ask Knicks for permission to speak with Van Gundy
CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Cavaliers asked the New York Knicks for permission to talk to Jeff Van Gundy about being their next coach, a source said Monday. Van Gundy, who abruptly resigned last season as coach of the Knicks and remains under contract with the club until July 31, is at the top of the Cavs' wish list, the NBA source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Spring King Salmon Derby Standings
Here are the standings in the Seventh Annual Spring King Salmon Derby, as reported at 5:25 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13. The rankings include the angler's name, weight of the fish (in 10ths of a pound), date turned in and what station the fish was turned into. Ties are broken by the earliest fish turned in.

Juneau softball squad wins 12th straight
Neither rain nor wind nor squall can stop the surging Juneau-Douglas High School softball squad. Lacking a full squad, but with plenty of hot bats, Juneau defeated Prince of Wales 11-3 on Tuesday in Craig to complete its road trip through southern Southeast with a 5-0 record - two wins over Prince of Wales and three over Ketchikan. Juneau (12-2 overall, 6-2 Region V) has won 12 games in a row.

Three former champs in 2003 Great Alaska Shootout field
ANCHORAGE - Former champions Duke, Purdue and Seton Hall will play in the 2003 Great Alaska Shootout.

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

Dean savors national championship
Three years ago, Josh Dean had never played an organized game of rugby in his life. On May 4, the Air Force Academy junior from Juneau became a national champion.

Sales tax gaining steam
The state could begin implementing its first year-round statewide sales tax under a bill that passed the House Ways and Means Committee Monday. The proposal would implement a 3 percent year-round sales tax that would phase in over the next six years. The tax would go into effect next January. The state Department of Revenue said the tax will raise at least $300 million a year.

State Briefs
Assembly passes truancy ordinance; Assembly hears mining ordinance testimony; Wellness challenge registration begins; House eliminates funds for community schools; Bill to end adverse possession passes Senate; Murder trial begins;

Bill reroutes some permanent fund money to state operations
In future years, eligible Alaskans are likely to see smaller Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks - but no more than a $20 reduction - under a bill set to pass the Legislature. Dividends will decrease by less than $1 in 2005 and about $20 by 2012 under House Bill 11, which received preliminary approval by the Senate on Monday. The proposal, authored by Anchorage Republican Rep. Norm Rokeberg, takes 25 percent of mineral lease royalties paid into the permanent fund and sends it to the general fund, which pays for state government.

Rep. Young wants changes in Patriot Act
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to start making amends for a vote he cast in a moment of anger 18 months ago. He is looking to dismantle parts of the USA Patriot Act, which he and most other members of Congress approved in the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Alaska Republican said he probably would co-sponsor a bill that would make it harder once again for federal law enforcement agencies to see library and bookstore patron records.

Gov. Murkowski pans latest predator-control legislation
Gov. Frank Murkowski opposes the latest version of a bill aimed at allowing wolf killing to save moose. The latest draft of Sen. Ralph Seekins' predator control bill is "unacceptable" because it would cut the governor and administration out of much of the process of designing and implementing such a program, the governor said.

Seniors throw support to Longevity Bonus phase-out
Senior citizens groups have agreed to a five-year phase-out of the Longevity Bonus Program. The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Tuesday incorporating the change. Marie Darlin of AARP in Juneau says the senior citizens group and the Pioneers of Alaska came up with the proposal as an alternative to losing the bonuses entirely this year or having the program become based on need.

Photo: Capitol rap session
Reps. Ethan Berkowitz, an Anchorage Democrat, left, and Beth Kerttula, a Juneau Democrat, discuss one of the bills the House was to vote on Monday at the Capitol.

State Briefs
Murkowski travels to Seattle for heart tests; Assembly raises bus fares; City to perform noise tests with floatplanes; Bike to Work Day is Friday; Murkowski backing oil tax break; Senate approves timber as No. 1 use of forests

DNA data bill aims to help cops
Legislation to expand the state's DNA database to include genetic material from all convicted felons would put Alaska in line with national trends, but civil libertarians worry the information could be misused in the future. The database, in operation since 1996, includes information on convicted felons who have committed burglary or crimes against a person, such as assault or sexual assault. Under House Bill 49, people convicted of crimes such as felony shoplifting or felony driving while intoxicated also would be included.

Senate axes recreation and sports liability bill
The Senate narrowly rejected a bill Tuesday that would have shielded Alaska sports and recreational companies and operators from liability lawsuits. The measure could be reconsidered. The bill sponsored by Sen. Ralph Seekins, a Fairbanks Republican, failed by one vote. It would have set out in state law that people engaging in sports or recreational activities should be responsible for the inherent risk associated with those activities.

Funds cut for substance-abuse programs
Drug- and alcohol-abuse programs will have to pay more to keep their doors open under a bill passed Tuesday in the House of Representatives. The proposal was introduced at the request of Gov. Frank Murkowski and increases the match that drug and alcohol programs pay to receive state grants. Treatment programs would have to match 25 percent of the cost of the grants instead of the 10 percent they pay now.

Regulators inspect ship that dumped 40 tons of sewage
SEATTLE - State regulators have examined the sewage system of a cruise ship that earlier this month dumped more than 40 tons of human waste into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Department of Ecology is reviewing samples taken from the Norwegian Sun to determine whether penalties should be imposed, agency spokesman Larry Altose said Monday. The investigation is expected to take several weeks.

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