Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2003

Anchorage police skip fender-bender response

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police say they'll no longer respond to certain minor vehicle accidents.

The new policy is intended to give officers time to answer more serious calls. It goes into effect Wednesday.

The change, announced Friday, applies only to what the police term "no suspect," non-injury collisions - those in which no one is hurt and where one or more of the drivers involved have left the scene. One example would be when drivers find their parked cars dented but no one around.

"This (type of crash), of course, is very low in our priority of calls to respond to," police spokesman Ron McGee said.

Instead of officers asking questions of witnesses, taking photographs and writing reports, motorists will file a crash report with their insurance companies on an easily available form, police said.

"This is a way that still fulfills (the insurance companies') needs," McGee told the Anchorage Daily News. "They still get the form they need to document an accident has occurred."

A police-department study found that motorists involved in minor accidents waited on average an hour and 37 minutes before an officer arrived. Fifteen percent of the callers do not wait; they cancel and leave, police said.

This calendar year, police were expected to respond to more than 2,800 "no-suspect" crashes, most of them minor fender benders, the agency said.

Car dealers push tax loophole for heavy autos

ANCHORAGE - Some Anchorage auto dealers are among those across the nation cashing in on a tax loophole that allows small-business owners and the self-employed to write off the entire cost of vehicles that weigh 6,000 pounds or more.

Dealers are touting the write-off in fliers and newspaper ads.

The break comes in a federal economic stimulus package signed into law by President Bush in late May.

The $330 billion tax-cut package raised the deduction for business equipment from $25,000 to $100,000. It was originally intended to help farmers and ranchers buy pickup trucks. But the evolution of sport utility vehicles, considered light trucks, opened the way for other business owners to claim the deduction.

Mercedes-Benz of Anchorage has run newspaper ads showing the luxury automaker's gigantic SUV. The ads read, "Attn: Business Owners. This Year's New Tax laws allow you to WRITE OFF 100%." The ad encourages buyers to "act now" before the law changes.

Men plead guilty in Fairbanks porn case

FAIRBANKS - Two San Francisco men accused of producing a pornographic video involving a 15-year-old Fairbanks girl have pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Aaron Paul DeGlanville and Theodore Zwang Finucane entered their pleas Friday as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

DeGlanville, 30, will receive 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of production of child pornography and one count each of conspiracy to produce child pornography, travel with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor, possession of child pornography and attempted transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Prosecutors said DeGlanville and fellow San Francisco resident Theodore Finucane, 28, met over the Internet in November 2002 and started making plans to produce a video with the girl, whom DeGlanville had met online a year earlier through live chats and e-mail.

After DeGlanville arranged to meet the girl in Fairbanks, Finucane bought a digital 8mm camcorder and several tapes for DeGlanville to take to Alaska, prosecutors said.

DeGlanville then met the girl at a Fairbanks motel and had sex with the girl several times while filming the acts, according to prosecutors.

Nenana man sentenced in sexual abuse case

FAIRBANKS - A Nenana man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in a sexual abuse case involving his two daughters.

Jonathan Kukes, 50, received the maximum sentence Friday under the terms of a plea agreement reached earlier.

Kukes originally was charged with eight felony crimes that accused him of multiple incidents of sexual abuse in the family's Nenana home throughout the 1990s.

Kukes' attorney and a prosecutor reached a plea deal just moments before a trial was scheduled to begin in April. The deal required Kukes to plead no contest to two sexual abuse charges.

Kukes later wanted the plea withdrawn, but that request was denied.

Alaska's jobless rate falls slightly in August

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's jobless rate fell slightly in August, according to the state Labor Department.

Unemployment fell to 6.7 percent, down two-tenths of a percentage point from July's levels, state labor officials said.

Alaska has recorded a decline in unemployment from July to August for more than 25 years, state labor economist Dan Robinson said.

The comparable national unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 6 percent, the Labor Department report said.

Preliminary wage and salary estimates show Alaska has added about 1,800 jobs over the past 12 months, the department said.

Protesters mark year opposing Bush, Iraq war

FAIRBANKS - Peace demonstrators noted an anniversary over the weekend - a year of calling into question the war in Iraq and Bush administration policies.

About 50 protesters converged Saturday at the Geist Road-University Avenue intersection on Fairbanks' west side. The anniversary coincided with demonstrations in cities around the world, including London, Athens and Paris, where protesters were calling for an end to the occupation in Iraq.

Kristin Summerlin, coordinator for the Fairbanks Coalition for Peace and Justice, said the Fairbanks peace activists started the demonstrations last year in hopes of averting the war. No one had planned for the gatherings to go on so long, she said. Plans are to continue them indefinitely.

"Our main goal is to exercise our freedom of speech, to continue to voice dissent in times when dissent is being quashed, to show that dissent is patriotic and maybe just get people to stop and think," Summerlin said.

"There are a lot of people who don't agree with us, but we hope that our being here might cause them to question what's going on."

Officials dedicate Kenai youth corrections facility

KENAI - The Kenai Peninsula's first youth corrections facility has been officially dedicated and is expected to open next month.

About 90 government officials, state and local law enforcement and representatives from the Kenai Courthouse were on hand for the dedication Friday of the $4.3 million Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility in Kenai.

The facility will open "as soon as possible," said Barbara Henjum, superintendent of the McLaughlin Youth Facility in Anchorage. Juvenile offenders currently are taken to McLaughlin.

"I just toured the back and as beautiful as this facility is, it's a reminder of why you wouldn't want to live here," said Lt. Gov. Loren Leman.

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