Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Appeals court says Exxon should pay only $25 million
A federal appeals court has again ordered a court in Alaska to reconsider a multibillion dollar punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil Corp. for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said Friday it should pay no more than $25 million in damages - a fraction of the original $5 billion award.

Techies are from Mars, teachies are from Venus
You've probably heard of John Gray's Mars-Venus theory: Men have no feelings and wouldn't know what to do with them if they did, while women have too many feelings and don't know what to do with the ones they have. Or something like that. Anyway, the result is both try to change each other (impossible) while trying to communicate (often hilarious, especially in sitcoms), while trying to live happily ever after (a Disney movie that rarely plays out in real life). Together, men and women form an interplanetary melting pot whose citizens are lucky if they can execute simple exchanges like "Please pass the salt, too." (Did you say, "Please pass SALT II?")

A bridge too narrow
I am somewhat concerned with the Assembly's plans to make a third traffic lane on the Douglas Bridge. The bridge, though wider than the old Douglas Bridge, is still not very wide to begin with, and to try and squeeze a third lane in, at the expense of the bikers, in my opinion, does not make sense.

Ideological paranoids
On a good weekend I'll club three or four baby seals; but I still think they should have let Greenpeace tie up their boat. The ideological paranoids down in Ketchikan evidently have a few brethren here in town. This is good because it makes my paper more interesting.

Aerial video
I have been contracted to produce a 10-minute public information video about Phase I of the second crossing EIS. The helicopter flight necessary to get aerial video may cause some concern, so I was asked by Bob Engelbrecht of Northstar Trekking to publicly announce the nature of this project. I alerted the city manager. Engelbrecht has contacted the FAA and the flight tower. For more information, please contact me at 175 S. Franklin, 586-1166, fax 586-1811.

Indigestion
The restaurants in Juneau are a big disappointment. If one orders shrimp, one usually gets previously frozen farmed shrimp. Anyone can get a better meal for half the price in the Lower 48. I'm tired of being ripped off at restaurants here. It is insulting to tourists and locals alike!

Lifetime of problems
Before attacking people that are obese, and making jokes about taxing food to stop obesity, you need to remember that not everyone who is obese is that way because they over-eat. There are many health reasons why people are, or become obese. Keep in mind people who are obese do not pollute the air you breathe.

Height of arrogance
In July, the Empire reported that Planned Parenthood had opened a Juneau office. The group's director said its goal was to "visit middle school and high school classes in Juneau to present age-appropriate and medically accurate information on sexual development, healthy relationships, methods of birth control, sexually transmitted infections and teaching strategies for sexual health curricula."

Conflict of interest?
Many people have wondered how we came from a waterfront planning process that showed wide support for the goals of improving waterfront access; providing for a balance of uses and activities; alleviating downtown congestion; and making the waterfront more interesting year-round (Harbor Board press release, "What Have We Found") to the recent survey, laden with large dock alternatives.

Photo: End of the derby
Part of the Golden North Salmon Derby fleet ghosts along in silhouette as it enters Auke Bay Harbor Sunday at the end of the Derby. Fishermen report the weather and water were near perfect for most of the derby this year. And the fishing was good.

School Board may decide on charter application Sept. 2
The Juneau School Board may decide Sept. 2 whether to invest further district staff time on a charter school application by Alyeska Central School, the state-run correspondence school. The Legislature has said this is the last school year the state will operate Alyeska, which is based in Juneau and employs 26 people.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Cigarette tax, school repairs make ballot
Voters will choose whether to double city taxes on tobacco and allocate more money for school repairs in the next city election, the Juneau Assembly decided Monday night. The seven Assembly members at the meeting voted unanimously to place a measure on the Oct. 7 city ballot increasing the tax on cigarettes to 30 cents per pack. If passed by voters, the measure also would double the existing 6 percent excise tax on cigars, chewing tobacco and other tobacco products.

Photo: A fair community harvest
Abigail Taylor-Roth, 6, examines some of the winning crops Saturday in Division 'A,' Class 'A' Vegetables during the Community Harvest Fair for the Juneau Community Garden at Montana Creek. Abigail's class planted its own plot at the community garden last spring. Local gardeners can till plots at the community garden for an annual fee of $20 and 5 hours of community service.

Perry wins it with a 35.2-pounder
Juneau's Vickie Perry spent two days listening to the radio until finally, at 6 p.m. Sunday, it was time for high fives and a group hug with her husband, John, and their friend William Bloodworth. The 35.2-pound king salmon she caught Friday evening in 90 feet of water next to Favorite Reef near South Shelter Island held up more than two days and unofficially won the 57th Golden North Salmon Derby by two pounds Sunday night.

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

Photo: Checking the tide
Michael Orelove, far left, watches Monday as Juneau Docks and Harbors employees Doug Unruh, center, and Larry McGhee mount a tide-indicator arrow on top of the Marine Park ramp. The Juneau Community Tide Gauge will point to the tide marker, letting observers know how high or low the tide is. The arrow was too wide and was promptly removed to be trimmed so it will fit when it is installed in the near future.

Defendant in Kmart heist accused of beating man
Awaiting trial next month on charges he staged a blackout and stole nearly $100,000 from Kmart, the store's former security chief has been sued by a customer who claims he was beaten outside the now-closed retail outlet.

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

New park becomes outdoor lab
No construction was done on the Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School building this summer. But when students return to the school Wednesday, they'll find a new laboratory to help them study wetland ecosystems. Dzantik'i Heeni teachers and students worked this summer with the nonprofit organization Trail Mix, city engineers and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to turn what once was a gravel pit behind the Juneau Police Department station in Lemon Creek into an outdoor laboratory for students.

Photo: On the waterfront
Passengers walk to their floatplanes Monday at the Wings of Alaska dock in front of Merchants Wharf. The roughly 10,000 cruise ship visitors expected in Juneau Monday experienced sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

From your pocket to Exxon's
This year, the Alaska government transferred $70 million from the people of the state to large multinational corporations. Did you miss it? Most Alaskans did. As in any good shell game, the trick is to distract the eye, in this case the public eye, from what is really happening. The distraction this year was that perennial bogeyman, the fiscal gap. Let's play the tape of this legislative session back on super slow-motion to see how we lost our money.

My Turn: The nature of the forest
As one who grew up and worked in remote logging camp locations, I would like to offer the public some facts contrary to Greenpeace's claims that the Tongass National Forest has been devastated. My father logged in Thomas, Big and Little Saltery, Crab, Kadashan, Corner, Freshwater, Saook and Saginaw Bays. His company also logged Mendenhall Valley and Lemon Creek Valley, and built logging roads on Kruzof and Catherine islands. In Kadashan Bay (late 1950s), our logging camp fed flapjacks to a herd of 28 starving deer until my grandfather, A. W. Boddy (who was head of the Alaska Sportsmen's Association) was notified, and the association helped us by sending out bags of oats for the herd.

My Turn: Narrow the bridge lanes?
I just replaced a deck on my house. The new deck is a substantial improvement as the existing structure did not meet current code and was obviously a hazard. If I had built the new structure 25 percent below code, it would have cost much less, yet I would be placing my family under extreme risk.

Bears stay at No. 2
Maybe it's a good thing the Juneau-Douglas High School football team didn't move up a spot this week in the Anchorage Daily News-Alaska State Football Coaches Poll released Monday. Juneau remained second in the poll, as the West Anchorage Eagles leapfrogged over the Crimson Bears to take the No. 1 spot in voting among the state's large-school coaches.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Gibb makes first swim at Universiade
While he didn't win a medal, Petersburg High graduate Derek Gibb saw some unexpected action during the World University Games, or Universiade, in Daegu, South Korea. Gibb, who will be a senior for defending NCAA champion Auburn University, was a member of the U.S. men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay team in Monday's swimming events at the Duryu Swimming Pool.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Group seeks salvage rights to shipwrecked steamer
A group of Alaska divers filed papers in federal court seeking salvage rights to the SS Aleutian, a steamer shipwrecked off Kodiak in 1929. The Aleutian was owned by the Alaska Steamship Co. and sank in seven minutes on May 26, 1929, after hitting a submerged rock in Uyak Bay near the town of Larsen Bay on Kodiak Island. Papers seeking salvage rights were filed Friday.

Young pushes to exclude airports from privatization
A bill seeking to block privatization of two air traffic control towers in Alaska has given the National Air Traffic Controllers Association ammunition in its campaign to have the bill rewritten. The bill would allow continued privatization nationally, but Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, secured language to exempt the Juneau airport and another at Merrill Field in Anchorage.

Scientists enlist elders in Beluga research
Federal researchers working with Tlingit elders have concluded that beluga whales spotted near Yakutat are likely permanent residents - 600 miles from the nearest confirmed population. Elders and other old-timers told researchers the whales are seen in the area more regularly than has been documented in scientific journals.

Three chains take stand for roadless rule
Building companies KB Home and Hayward Lumber, as well as office supply chain Staples Inc. - all major consumers of wood products - have lined up with environmental groups trying to protect Alaska forests. The three companies have sent letters to the U.S. Forest Service opposing a proposal that would exempt Alaska's Tongass and Chugach national forests from a nationwide prohibition against road building in national forests.

This Day in History
In Alaska; In the nation; In the world.

Haines pipeline area to be tested for Agent Orange
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to test for the carcinogen dioxin next month along a pipeline corridor that once carried fuel from Haines to Fairbanks. The chemical is a byproduct of herbicides found in the defoliant known as Agent Orange.

AlaskaDigest
Stories from around the state.

Stevens says Iraq administrator needs more money, sooner
The U.S. administrator for Iraq needs more money before the end of the year to finance rebuilding efforts there, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens said Saturday.

This Day in History
In Alaska; In the nation; In the world.

Gov. Murkowski says progress being made on Ketchikan veneer mill
State officials have identified adequate timber supply and sufficient funding to encourage an Oregon lumber company to operate the defunct veneer mill in Ketchikan, Gov. Frank Murkowski said Friday. Timber Products Corp., a Springfield, Ore.-based lumber company, has agreed to resume negotiations with the state over operating the mill, Murkowski said.

Legal review could keep campaign limits off ballot
Backers of an initiative to tighten Alaska's limits on campaign contributions and lobbyists say a lengthy legal review could keep the question off next year's ballot. Rep. Les Gara, an attorney and Anchorage Democrat who is pushing the initiative, sent a letter to the attorney general asking that the petition be approved immediately so signatures can be gathered at the Alaska State Fair.

After a dismal assessment, Lower Yukon school district makes changes
Every school district in the United States had its shortcomings aired this summer under the new No Child Left Behind Act, but few fared as poorly as the Lower Yukon's in Western Alaska. All 11 of its schools failed to make "adequate yearly progress."

AlaskaDigest
Headlines from around the state.

Funding threatens fish commission
The Pacific Salmon Commission, which manages fishing of endangered salmon in the United States and Canada, is running out of money and could close by the end of the year. The commission, which is funded equally by the two countries under a 1985 treaty, brokered a major agreement in 1999 that sharply reduced the catch of Pacific Northwest salmon off the coast of Canada. Salmon runs in the Northwest have reached record levels in recent years, in part because of the agreement.

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