Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Assembly considers Kensington resolution

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly will vote on a resolution proposing mediation to resolve the lawsuit brought by three conservation groups against the Kensington Mine's water pollution permit.

"The future of the Coeur Alaska Kensington gold project is a matter of great concern to the city and borough of Juneau because of the economic and employment benefits it will bring to the community," said Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho, who made the proposal.

Botelho said it is in the city's best interest to resolve the issue without protracted litigation. To encourage mediation, the Assembly would offer the city's resources to find a mediator or coordinate meetings.

The Assembly will vote on the ordinance on Monday.

In September, Lynn Canal Conservation, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and the Sierra Club sued in federal district court against the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service, challenging their decisions to permit the Kensington Mine.

The groups are trying to prevent Coeur Alaska from dumping rock waste from the gold mine into a lake north of Juneau.

Governor names admin commissioner

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed Scott Nordstrand as commissioner of the Department of Administration, replacing Ray Matiashowski, who resigned to return to the private sector in Ketchikan.

Nordstrand, 46, is an attorney currently serving as deputy attorney general for the civil division in the state Department of Law. In that position, he worked on several bills, including the public retirement system and workers' compensation legislation that passed last session.

Before his state service, Nordstrand served for 15 years as an attorney in a private practice in Anchorage, primarily focusing on employment and commercial litigation issues.

His appointment becomes effective immediately.

Pedestrian killed crossing highway

ANCHORAGE - A man trying to hitchhike along the Seward Highway died after he dashed into traffic and was struck by a pickup.

Robert Chieslak, 58, was hit about 5:45 p.m. Sunday just north of the Dowling Road onramp after he apparently decided to cross the highway and hitchhike in the other direction, said Sgt. Glen Daily, head the department's traffic unit.

The driver of the pickup, identified by police as Anchorage resident Frank Tambornino, 49, had just crested an overpass and told police he had no time to react, Daily said.

"So far, there's no indication that he did anything wrong," Daily said. "Preliminary information says no sign of intoxication or improper driving."

As Tambornino's truck skidded into the median, it carried Chieslak's body on the hood, Daily said. The man fell into the grass after the truck stopped, leaving a big dent in the pickup's grill. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The preliminary investigation and comments by a man who was with Chieslak suggested that Chieslak was intoxicated when he ran into the road, Daily said.

Police believe Chieslak was living in Anchorage. A database of state records identified him as a Cook Inlet commercial fisherman from Kasilof.

Chieslak is the 10th person to die in a traffic accident in Anchorage this year, and the third pedestrian. By this time in 2004, 25 people had died.

Increased traffic enforcement since last fall may help explain the decrease in fatalities, Daily said.

Killer loses appeal

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Court of Appeals has ruled a man who took a nap between accusing a Coast Guard commander of having an affair with his estranged wife and killing him did not prove his actions were done during the heat of the moment.

Carl Merculief Jr. was convicted in 2003 of first-degree murder in the slaying of Timothy Harris on St. Paul Island and sentenced to 99 years in prison. A successful heat of passion defense would have mitigated that to manslaughter.

The state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals in the Department of Law declined to comment Monday on the appeals court ruling issued Friday. Sharon Barr, an attorney with the Alaska Public Defender Agency, also declined comment.

Harris, a 14-year veteran of the Coast Guard, had been on St. Paul Island for just three weeks when he was shot on July 24, 2001. He moved to St. Paul to oversee the Loran station.

In his appeal, Merculief argued that Harris provoked him when he talked with him on the phone. Witnesses said Merculief sounded angry and asked Harris, "What are you doing at my house with my wife?"

The court noted that there was approximately an eight-hour lapse between the time the phone call was made and the murder.

Seattle OKs stricter strip-club rules

SEATTLE - The City Council on Monday approved some of the strictest adult-entertainment regulations of any major city in the country.

The council voted 5-to-4 to ban lap dances and restrict patrons from placing dollar bills in a dancer's G-string. Clubs also must have bright lighting, or what one council member likened to "Fred Meyer" lighting, a reference to the brightly lighted grocery and multi-department chain.

Council members feared a rash of new cabarets after a federal judge struck down the city's 17-year moratorium on new strip clubs.

Between 1986 and 1988, the number of cabarets in Seattle jumped from two to seven. Concerned residents persuaded the city to impose a 180-day moratorium, to keep the number where it was while officials studied the social effects of the clubs and whether zoning regulations were needed.

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