What's up with that?

The Empire ponders Juneau's puzzles, unravels its mysteries and contemplates its conundrums.

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2002

Q: Why aren't there any topless and/or bottomless dancing bars in Juneau? In fact, why aren't there any in Southeast (now that the one in Ketchikan has been closed for three years)? Is it because of a city ordinance, or were the bars unprofitable? Every now and then there will be a special "one night only" event where imported male and female strippers will perform at Marlintini's or the Rendezvous, but not on a daily basis.

A: Ironically, as your What's Up columnist is typing up the answer to this question, a local radio station is playing an ad for one of the aforementioned "import" shows. To strip away the mystery of this question, we thought it best to ask the City Attorney's Office for insight into this area of state law.

"I believe the Alaska Supreme Court case of Mickens v. City of Kodiak, 640 P.2d 818 (Alaska 1982) answers your inquiry," assistant city attorney John Leque said. "In Mickens, the court found unconstitutional a Kodiak ordinance which prohibited nude dancing in establishments serving alcoholic beverages to the public. Based upon the facts in that case, the court recognized that such forms of expression were entitled to freedom of speech protection under Article I, section 5 of the Alaska Constitution."

So, it appears that the only reason there is no permanent strip club establishment in Juneau must be that no business person wants to invest in one - even though the Alaska Supreme Court has stated that it is legal.

Q: Is the nasty garlic mustard plant the same thing we call "pigweed"? I used to pull it out of my flower garden in the valley and pull the seeds out of my dog's fur on the road we now live on.

A: Garlic mustard and pigweed are both found around Juneau, but they are not the same plant.

Among many differences, garlic mustard sports short, triangular-shaped leaves with ridged edges, as seen in the accompanying photo. Pigweed - which is actually an entire family of plants - tends to have longer, oval- to triangular-shaped leaves with smoother edges when mature.

Another key difference is that garlic mustard emits a distinctive garlic-like odor when the stems or leaves are crushed.

Jim Douglas, with the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension, said the pigweed that is most likely the source of your annoyance is redroot pigweed (amaranthus retroflexus), and a good description with photos can be found on the Internet at www.ppws.vt.edu/scott/weed_id/amare.htm. That Web site is part of a larger, searchable weed guide created by Virginia Tech University.

Douglas said the anti-garlic mustard forces assembled over the summer are on winter hiatus, with hopes that the winter cold and snow will wreak havoc on the nasty, noxious invader.

"We're really not going to be doing anything with it until sometime next spring," Douglas said.

At that time, he said, "we're going to do some experiments - some with chemicals, some with physical removal" to see how Juneau's garlic mustard infestation can be best controlled.

While the summer's weed-pulling event was helpful, garlic mustard is a hardy, prolific, hard-to-eliminate weed. Douglas said that after seven hours of pulling the stuff, "you sat there thinking, 'how many years are we going to have to do that?' "

Q: Why doesn't AEL&P bury our powerlines, especially the critical ones that are affected ever so often by avalanche?

A: According to David Stone at Alaska Electric Light & Power, the company does not bury the individual main lines that feed power into a particular area, such as the one going into Lemon Creek. The reason is that if the line were to go down, the repair would take considerably longer because the damaged part of the line would have to be located and dug up.

AEL&P will bury a line when it can, if there is a second, redundant line overhead.

The company is in the process of burying a line south of downtown on Thane Road, in the avalanche zone. The company will leave the above-ground line, too, so that if one goes out, the other will still be able to deliver power into town.

Send your What's Up With That questions and comments to whatsup@juneauempire.com.



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