Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chamber executive director to leave post

JUNEAU - Juneau Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Wyatt is leaving her position to be a deputy director in the Legislative Office of the Alaska Department of Administration.

Wyatt, who arrived in Juneau from her home state of Hawaii in 1991, served as the chamber's chief coordinator for the last four years.

During her tenure, the chamber enjoyed new relationships with the Juneau Assembly, the Downtown Business Association and the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, she said.

"I can say now that I loved every minute of it," Wyatt said.

Wyatt's new responsibilities will include working with the Alaska Legislature on crafting bills.

The chamber has grown to 360 members and interest in the business group appears up. Attendance at the chamber's annual dinner increased from 180 people in 2003 to 370 last month.

Wyatt plans to leave the Chamber on Dec. 9. The chamber is looking for a new director, Wyatt said.

DEC leads pollution zone workshop

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is holding an informational workshop on its proposed new mixing zone regulation today at Juneau's Terry Miller Building from 4 to 6 p.m.

Though asked by Mayor Bruce Botelho to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule in Juneau, department officials declined to do so. A Dec. 5 hearing is planned in Anchorage.

The mixing zone rule change would allow companies or municipalities to apply for an exemption to state law to discharge pollution into fish spawning and rearing streams if they meet 12 regulatory conditions.

Today's mixing zone workshop in the Terry Miller Building, at the corner of Fifth and Main streets, is in Suite 111. Public comments about the proposed rule are due Dec. 19.

State: Port authority gas line bid insufficient

FAIRBANKS - The all-Alaska natural gas pipeline proposal does not meet requirements of the Alaska Stranded Gas Development Act, according to the Department of Revenue.

The Alaska Gasline Port Authority has not provided proof it possesses the finances to build the project and the ability to market the gas, Revenue officials said Monday.

Chuck Logsdon, administration spokesman on gas line negotiations, said the port authority could correct those deficiencies under the Stranded Gas Development Act or pursue a "pre-existing protocol" for developing a pipeline proposal.

The port authority is a consortium of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the North Slope Borough and the city of Valdez. Its application is one of three competing to move the state's 35 trillion cubic feet of known natural gas reserves to market.

The authority is pursuing a plan to build a pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, where natural gas would be liquefied and shipped south by tanker to markets on the West Coast and overseas.

Revenue officials accepted the port authority application in May with the stipulation that it provide proof that it possessed the finances to build the project and the ability to market the gas. The port authority had 90 days to meet the requirements.

When the group failed to meet the conditions, its application was disqualified, said Steve Porter, deputy Revenue commissioner.

The dismissal under the Stranded Gas Act came as a surprise to Fairbanks borough Mayor Jim Whitaker, the port authority chairman. Whitaker has criticized the administration for pursuing a contract with the major oil producers, BP, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, at the expense of other proposals.

The authority responded to the Revenue Department conditions in June, maintaining that it had met the intent of the act.

"We answered the questions and received no response back, and now to get this from a third party is unacceptable," Whitaker said.

Board: Assemblyman violated ethics

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Terry Aldridge committed multiple ethics violations while working for the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp., according to a board that investigated complaints.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Ethics released its ruling Monday.

Aldridge made more than $29,000 for consultant work for the development corporation.

"Aldridge's ethical lapses were obvious and egregious," the ethics board concluded. "They justify multiple penalties under the provisions of the Ethics Code."

Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker and former Assemblyman Dan LaSota filed ethics complaints against Aldridge.

Whitaker in August introduced an ordinance that stripped a $450,000 grant from FEDC because of Aldridge's business arrangement with Charlie Walker, the corporation president and chief executive officer.

Aldridge said he would accept fines but would not admit wrongdoing.

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