Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2004

Assembly appoints 6 to planning, hospital board

JUNEAU - The Assembly appointed new members to the Planning Commission and Bartlett Regional Hospital Board of Directors.

Six people vied for three seats on the Planning Commission.

The Assembly appointed Nancy Waterman to the Planning Commission and reappointed two incumbents, Marshal Kendziorek and Peggy Ann McConnochie. Kendziorek has served on the commission since December of 1998. McConnochie has served since December, 2002.

Seven people competed for three seats on the hospital board.

Although two incumbents, Stacy Toner and Robert Breffeilh, applied for reappointment, the Assembly appointed Reed Reynolds and Loren Jones to replace them. Both Toner and Breffeilh have served on the hospital board for more than 10 years.

Lennie Gorsuch will take the seat previously held by Donna Herberts. Herberts resigned this fall.

Members of both boards serve a three-year term.

Greenpeace to answer charges next year

KETCHIKAN - Greenpeace and the captain of one of its ships will go on trial next spring for allegedly operating in state waters without an oil spill prevention plan.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, with 27 activists on board, was touring Southeast Alaska to protest logging in the Tongass National Forest. Arne Sorensen was captain of the Arctic Sunrise at the time, and Willem Beekman was the ship's agent.

Greenpeace, Sorensen and Beekman will go on trial on misdemeanor environmental charges on March 29, 2005, in Ketchikan, according to court documents.

In August, the three parties pleaded innocent to charges of operating in state waters without oil spill prevention plans and without proof of financial responsibility for oil spill damages.

The alleged offenses occurred during the Arctic Sunrise's visit to Ketchikan in July. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Crimes Unit says that the Arctic Sunrise anchored in Ketchikan after entering Alaska waters on July 12 from British Columbia, Canada, without the spill prevention or financial responsibility plans.

Report recommends cutting fishing fleet

ANCHORAGE - A new Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission report recommends cutting the number of Bristol Bay fishing permits from the current 1,857 to as few as 800.

The study by the agency that issues commercial fishing permits says so many fishing boats can no longer make a profit in the fishery.

The value of the Bristol Bay fishery, which boasts the world's largest sockeye salmon run, has plummeted in recent years with the rise of fish farming.

Fewer boats would mean more sockeye and more dollars to go around for fishermen who remain, the "optimum number" study says.

The report concludes the optimum number of permits is 800 to 1,200. That's a reasonable and constitutionally defensible range to ensure the economic and biological health of the Bristol Bay fishery, the report says.

One way of shrinking the fleet, but one which could take years to implement, would be a buyout program in which salmon catches by fishermen would be taxed to generate money to buy out some fishermen.

Kachemak Bay clam farm proposal withdrawn

HOMER - A proposal to allow private clam farming on Kachemak Bay beaches will be withdrawn by the state after heavy opposition by Kenai Peninsula residents and local governments.

The plan was proposed as a way to create new economic opportunities to offset a decline in commercial fishing.

But Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Kevin Duffy said Wednesday that "a very substantial majority" of comments made at public meetings and in writing had opposed the regulatory change. Local municipalities and Native organizations had also passed resolutions in opposition.

"The fish and wildlife resources belong to Alaskans, and as stewards of those public resources ADF&G is accountable to the people," Duffy said in a statement.

Nepotism back in Senate campaign ads

FAIRBANKS - When the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aired a TV ad in August mocking Sen. Lisa Murkowski's appointment, former Gov. Tony Knowles had a message for the national party: "Get this ad down - now."

This week, however, it is Knowles himself who is airing ads mocking the appointment.

The radio ad starts with a clip of the senator's voice from an Oct. 14 debate. A person can't choose family but can choose friends, Murkowski says.

"Well, that's not necessarily true when your father is Governor Frank Murkowski," Knowles' radio ad states. "After all, he chose Lisa to be your senator, and you didn't have any choice at all. I'm Tony Knowles, candidate for U.S. Senate, and I approved this message."

Knowles in March said he would not bring up Sen. Murkowski's appointment as an issue in the campaign. He said he didn't think it was relevant.

In August, he backed up that assertion when he demanded that the senatorial campaign committee take down its ad.

Ad envisions death of Stevens, mocks his son

ANCHORAGE - A satiric radio ad that mocks U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and his son drew the fury of Alaska's senior senator as he campaigned for Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Stevens threatened to go on the attack in the final few days of the campaign against Murkowski's Senate opponent, Democrat Tony Knowles, if the ad continued.

After Knowles also objected to the ad, the creator and star of the spot said Wednesday he planned to pull it.

Stevens made the threat during an appearance Wednesday with Murkowski and U.S. Rep. Don Young as the leading candidates in the U.S. Senate race worked feverishly to bolster their message. Knowles tried to shore up support with veterans, while the congressional delegation rallied to Murkowski's side at an Anchorage hotel.

Stevens said he heard the radio advertisement once, and it "goes beyond the pale of decency."

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