Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2001

Health consortium named in lawsuit

SITKA -- The Southeast Alaska Native Health Consortium has been added as a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit against a consortium executive, according to court records.

Former health consortium employee Kim Perkins filed a lawsuit in March against SEARHC President Ken Brewer, saying she had been sexually harassed and wrongfully fired from her job in 1999 when Brewer was a senior vice president. She sought $50,000 in back pay and $100,000 in punitive damages.

In April, Brewer filed a countersuit, charging that Perkins made false and defamatory statements with the intent of damaging his reputation. He asked for attorney fees, compensatory and punitive damages and other relief.

In June, Perkins amended her suit to add SEARHC as a defendant and increase her claim to $500,000 in compensatory damages for wrongful termination, $500,000 for pain and suffering and $1 million in punitive damages.

Superior Court Judge Larry Zervos has set trial for June of 2002.

Panel restores Denali Commission funds

WASHINGTON -- Appropriations for the Denali Commission to aid rural Alaska, cut in a House spending bill last month, reappeared bigger than ever when the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its version last week.

The Senate committee suggested spending $40 million on the commission, which Sen. Ted Stevens created in 1998 to pay for development work in Alaska's rural communities.

President Bush has asked for $30 million.

The Senate added language in its report on the bill asking that $5 million of the total go toward improving "basic infrastructure and community facilities for community residents without running water or sewer systems."

To date, the commission has focused on replacing fuel storage tanks and building health clinics, leaving other agencies to deal with the water and sewer work.

Stevens, speaking Friday in Washington with reporters, said he thought he could defend his number in a conference committee with the House. The subcommittee chairman in the House is new and doesn't yet understand the need in Alaska, Stevens said.

The money will "accelerate infrastructure" development in rural Alaska, Stevens said. The commission is an effective tool to do that, he said, because it is required by law to spend no more than 5 percent of its budget on administrative expenses. That compares with up to 40 percent taken when work is routed through federal agencies, he said.

Commission co-chairmen are former Stevens aide Jeffrey Staser and Gov. Tony Knowles.

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