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[Wednesday, May 22, 2013 13TH
EDITION 4:00 A. M.]
UPDATE: Parnell signs oil tax and gas line bills
(AP & KINY) - Gov. Sean Parnell has signed into law several bills,
including an overhaul of Alaska's oil tax structure.
Parnell championed the overhaul as a way to increase oil production and
referred to the bill Tuesday as the "More Alaska Production Act."
Critics fear the plan gives away too much to oil companies with no
guarantee about what Alaska might see in return. Protesters gathered
outside the venue where Parnell spoke and signed the bill in Anchorage.
The passage of the bill during the last legislative session led those
who oppose it to start a petition aiming to get a referendum on the
ballot next fall to repeal the tax overhaul.
Juneau and Southeast Alaska Representative Beth Kerttula offered
reaction, saying the bill is a terrible thing and contains nothing that
guarantees that Alaskans will see a return on their resources wealth,
which is supposed to be guaranteed in the state constitution.
Kerttula's hopeful that people will sign the petition to get the
referendum on the ballot and then vote for it.
She says it's hard to be so critical, but if she's ever going to be
critical of the Governor this is going to be the day.
Kerttula thinks it's a bad bill and a bad
thing for Alaska and Alaskans should not stand for it.
It's got to be repealed, according to Kerttula, otherwise the
fundamental things we depend on in Alaska like schools roads and
hospitals won't be available in the future.
Juneau Valley Representative Cathy Munoz is more optimistic, saying
she's hopeful that the production levels will go up as we're facing a
sharp decline in oil production.
They're encouraged that companies are starting to look at Alaska again
for investments, Munoz says, and she's hopeful that the changes put
forth in the oil tax overhaul will continue us on that path.
Parnell also signed bills involving permitting and a gas line project.
Parnell says taken together, the bills are part of an historic package
aimed at moving Alaska forward.
Republicans took over the Senate after last year's elections, putting
the GOP in control of the House, Senate and governor's office for the
first time in years.
Governor signs budget bills, Juneau's
capital budget approved in its entirety
(AP & KINY) — Gov. Sean Parnell has signed state budgets totaling $13.2
The operating and capital budgets constitute about $1.1 billion less in
unrestricted general fund spending compared with the current year.
Unrestricted general funds refer to money that isn't restricted in its
use by the law, constitution or something else.
Parnell vetoed $2.5 million, much of which was attributed to a
calculation error. He called his reductions "modest."
Juneau's capital budget of over $83 million was spared any reductions or
vetoes from the governor.
Juneau Representative Cathy Munoz indicated that all of Juneau's
projects were approved by the governor and she's very appreciative to
Parnell and his administration for their support of our community.
Projects that were funded under the capital budget for Juneau include
the State Library Archives and Museum building, which Munoz says
received $20 million.
The Juneau Access Project also received $10 million in the budget.
Munoz says there is a wide variety of projects funded in the capital
budget for the Capital City and it will bring a lot of benefit to the
Parnell, who earlier in his term vetoed a record $400 million in
spending, says lawmakers this year stuck to the spending limit that all
sides had agreed to.
Juneau's other State House Representative, Beth Kerttula, expressed some
concern with the state budget, saying it was very reduced this year.
If you consider that the state's dipping into some of its savings,
Kerttula says we're all ready in deficit spending.
Kerttula says the budget, again, has not kept up with inflation for
There were areas that were all ready not keeping up with inflation or
maintaining what the base line funding should have been, she says, and
they didn't see those increases this year either.
Egan calls new oil tax law bad policy but is
thankful for SLAM funding in budget
There's reaction from the remaining member of Juneau's legislative
delegation to news that Governor Sean Parnell signed into law the
overhaul of Alaska's oil tax structure on Tuesday along with the budgets
for the state.
Juneau and Southeast Alaska Senator Dennis Egan offered his thoughts on
the changes to Alaska's oil tax laws, saying he thinks it's a bad
The oil tax bill gives tremendous tax breaks to companies, he says, and
doesn't provide us anything in return.
Egan says he doesn't have any problem with giving companies tax breaks,
pointing out that the Alaska Senate passed a bill that would have done
so in the 2012 legislative session.
That bill failed in the House.
Egan says if they give an incentive to the oil companies we should get
something in return, like promises to provide new exploration, drilling
and oil so we all benefit.
This way the oil companies benefit, he says, but he hopes he's wrong.
As for the state operating and capital budgets, Egan says all of the
communities in his district got money in addition to several Juneau
They got $3 million for Petersburg's airport runway and some major
funding street projects, he says, along with $2.5 million for the jail
There was also money for a dock and some abatement issues in Skagway,
according to Egan.
The budget saw severe decline this year, he says, as opposed to previous
Egan says he thinks District P as a whole did very well.
Of course, Egan points out, the main line item for Juneau is the $20
million for the State Library Archives and Museum building and he thanks
the governor for keeping that in the budget and not vetoing it.
Egan says the only thing that upsets him are the changes that were made
to the Northern Lynn Canal ferry service and new ferry designs.
He says he's also disappointed with the amount of funding for schools.
Assembly Finance to hear presentations from
Eaglecrest and Airport Boards
Budget work continues at tonight's meeting (Wednesday) of the Assembly
City Manager Kim Kiefer says they've got a couple presentations lined up
from the Eaglecrest and Airport boards of directors on their respective
Then, she says, they will be going through the "pending" list as there
are a number of items the Assembly's has added to that document.
The local government will review that list of items one at a time at the
end of their budget review period and deciding that they want to keep
them in the budget, or decide they'd like to fund it but need to find
the money to do so.
Kiefer says they also need to determine the Mill Rate.
They need to decide if they want to keep it where it is, increase or
decrease it and Kiefer says if they decide to lower it they need to
provide her with direction on how to handle those decreases in funding
Kiefer says they've had a little bit of good news since they started the
budget process in April as they've found out they'll be receiving some
Payment In Lieu of Taxes funding that's about $500,000 more than what
they had anticipated.
That's going the direction they want it to, she says, and that's good
The downside, according to Kiefer, is they don't think that money will
be there in future years.
But, she says, at least for now it gives them a one-time hit that's on
the positive side for a change.
The Assembly Finance Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. in Assembly Chambers at City Hall.
Housing subcommittee to compare notes and get
The Assembly's Ad Hoc Housing Committee meets Thursday afternoon with a
couple of matters on the agenda.
Members Randy Wanamaker, Mary Becker, Carlton Smith and Jesse Kiehl
divvied up the list of open permit holders for housing and contacted
them to find out how their work is going and asked if they're
experiencing any problems, do they anticipate any road blocks in the
future, or do they have suggestions for helping them resolve their
Wanamaker says both he and Becker talked to people who are not
experiencing any problems. Wanamaker says he doesn't know about the
feedback Smith and Kiehl received.
He's going to suggest that they contact people who are still in the
permit process to see what they might learn from them.
The subcommittee will also receive updates on tasks assigned to staff.
One is to work on the tax deferral ordinance to comply with the state law
that provides for deferral of taxes on new housing proprieties.
Another is redefining the work on large and small subdivisions to
increase the size of small ones so that it's easier for companies to
And the panel will be looking for an update on what's been done to
improve the "permitting culture" so that people feel regulators are
there to assist them.
The meeting convenes at 1:30 p.m. in City Hall Conference Room 224.
Murkowski compares dealing with Forest Service
to Groundhog Day movie
Alaska U. S. Senator Lisa Murkowski compared dealing with the Forest
Service to the movie "Groundhog Day" during a hearing of the Senate
Appropriations Committee Wednesday.
She said the federal government is going
back on its obligations again with the Forest Service recently calling
on Southeast Alaska timber communities to return 5.1 percent of the
funding granted previously under the Secure Rural Schools and Community
The agency wants the funds back because of sequestration.
States failing to do so would be subject to penalties, interest payments
and administrative costs under the directive.
The act funds emergency services, roads and schools in those
Murkowski says it's time for the agency to find a different path
She said this decision is just the latest in a long line of misguided
Forest Service actions that have had a crippling impact on timber
Murkowski stressed that rural communities should not be penalized for
the agency's failure to plan for the impact of sequestration on these
No injuries reported in apartment fire
Capital City Fire Rescue responded to an apartment fire on Great Western
Street on Douglas Island Tuesday morning.
Fire dispatch initially said it was at a
Lawson Creek Road address.
The alarm came in at about 8:15, according to Fire Chief Rich Etheridge.
He told us at about 8:45 that the fire was knocked down.
Everyone in the building was evacuated. No injuries were reported.
Fire Marshal Dan Jager said one resident was sleeping at the time and
alerted by a smoke detector.
The fire was contained to a bedroom on the
first floor of the two story units, although the Fire Marshal says there
is heat and smoke damage throughout. He did not have a damage estimate, but described
it as extensive.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Jager says
interviews will be done with the tenants in the attempt to pinpoint the
Fire officials in Anchorage seek help solving
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Fire investigators in Anchorage are asking for
help in solving a suspicious restaurant fire.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the Sunrise Grill and Pancake House
suffered about $1 million in damage on May 11. Whether it's a total loss
will be determined by the insurance carrier and business owner.
Anchorage Fire Dept. spokesman Al Tamagni says in a statement that
evidence found at the scene leads investigators to believe there was a
burglary at the restaurant before the fire.
They are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at
561-7867 or the arson hotline at 267-5060. Crime Stoppers is offering a
reward up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest on felony
(Anchorage Daily News)
UPDATE: Yup'ik fishermen found guilty of illegal
BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — Two dozen fishermen on trial this week for illegal
fishing have been found guilty by a judge in Bethel.
The fishermen's attorney, James J. Davis Jr., says he will appeal the
convictions issued by Monday through Wednesday by Magistrate Bruce Ward.
Davis says one of the 25 fishermen is in Hawaii and his case will be
The fishermen were cited last year during a poor king salmon run. They
argued they have a spiritual right to fish for king salmon when
restrictions are in place.
KYUK Radio says Ward found the state's need to restrict kings supersedes
the fishermen's religious rights.
Ward imposed $250 fines for all but one fisherman, who was fined $500.
The trials began in April with specialists on Yup'ik culture testifying
for the fishermen.
Canadian guide sentenced for illegal sheep hunts
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Canadian guide has been sentenced after
admitting he guided two hunts in Alaska in which undersized Dall sheep
Sixty-seven-year-old Patrick Downey of Turner Valley, Alberta, was
sentenced in federal court in Fairbanks. Federal prosecutors say Downey
was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and placed on five years' probation.
During that time, he will not be allowed to hunt or guide in the United
Downey for 20 years has guided hunters in the Brooks Range. In 2008 and
in 2009, he guided hunts in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in which
Dall sheep killed had less than a minimum full curl. Both times
prosecutors say he pounded the tips with rocks to try and conceal their
Lawmaker plans bill on conflict of interest
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage lawmaker plans to introduce a bill in
the next legislative session that would overhaul Alaska's conflict of
Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski's proposal would require a majority
vote to allow a House or Senate member with a stated conflict to abstain
from voting. Wielechowski's office says currently a single lawmaker can
force another legislator to vote, even if there's a significant
Besides requiring a recorded vote, Wielechowski's office says the bill
also would better define what constitutes a conflict. Legislators would
have a conflict if a bill they are asked to vote on would substantially
benefit their employer, someone they're trying to work for or someone
from whom they have gotten at least $10,000 in income in the preceding
Angoon man arrested on outstanding warrants
An Angoon man was arrested Tuesday on three outstanding arrest warrants.
A dispatch from Alaska State Troopers says the warrants for 27 year old
Nathan Johnson were issued for failing to appear for violating
conditions of release, criminal trespass, and assault in the fourth
The dispatch says Johnson was arrested at an Angoon residence without
incident and transported to Juneau where he was jailed at the Lemon
Creek Correctional Center.
Bail was set at $1,100.
Former Anchorage police officer charged
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former Anchorage police officer is accused of
misusing his authority when he was on the force and improperly accessed
Mark J. Moeller is charged with criminal use of a computer, misuse of
confidential information and official misconduct. Moeller was served
with a summons on Tuesday.
It's not immediately clear if the 25-year-old man has an attorney.
Police say Moeller used the Alaska Public Information Safety Information
Network to run queries on his sister-in-law, as well as a 23-year-old
woman he arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in
December. Police say he also ran queries on the woman's former boyfriend
and obtained information about the man from Alaska State Troopers.
Moeller was hired by the police department in October 2011 and resigned
Ex-state worker charged with workers' comp fraud
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former Alaska state employee and his supposed
masseuse are accused of worker's compensation fraud.
Scott A. Groom and Laurayne K. Fischer are charged with 93 counts
including perjury, theft and falsification of business records.
The Anchorage Daily News says the two are currently living in Wisconsin.
Prosecutors say Groom and Fischer defrauded the State of Alaska out of
more than $20,000 of worker's comp benefits.
According to prosecutors, Groom was an operator at a state Department of
Transportation weigh station when he was injured on the job in 1999.
Years later, Groom settled a worker's compensation claim with the state
Prosecutors say Groom never got massage treatment from Fischer as
claimed and that the two submitted fraudulent workers' compensation
reimbursement and later lied about it.
(Anchorage Daily News)
UPDATE: Rig manager testifies in Shell barge
DAN JOLING,Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The rig manager aboard a Royal Dutch Shell PLC
drilling barge says a second tug could have prevented it from running
aground in December off a remote Alaska island.
Todd Case was the offshore installation manager employed by Noble
Drilling when the Kulluk (KUL'-uk) ran aground off a small island near
Kodiak Island on a tow across the Gulf of Alaska toward Seattle.
Case in the third day of testimony before a Coast Guard investigation
panel recounted how weather got progressively worse after the Kulluk
departed Dec. 21 from Dutch Harbor.
The line between the towing vessel Aiviq (EYE-vik) and the Kulluk parted
Dec. 27. Multiple attempts failed to maintain replacement lines.
Case says looking back, multiple tugs as part of the original towing
plan could have prevented the grounding.
Bail denied for defendant in Coast Guard
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A federal judge has denied bail for a
61-year-old man accused of killing two men at the Coast Guard station on
James Wells wanted to be released to detention and electronic monitoring
to third-party custodians as he awaited trial for the fatal shootings of
Coast Guardsmen Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins and retired Chief
Petty Officer Richard Belisle in April 2012. Wells is charged with
murder and is set to go on trial in February 2014.
KTUU says Wells appeared before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge
John D. Roberts in Anchorage Monday.
Roberts said he was not "at all convinced" that bail was appropriate in
Wells' arrest in February came after an investigation led by the FBI and
the Coast Guard Investigative Service.
Washington man convicted in Juneau woman's death
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A Washington state man is scheduled to be
sentenced next week in the death of a Juneau woman last year.
The Juneau Empire reports Jacob Andrew Mommer was convicted earlier this
month of first-degree murder and second-degree assault in the January
2012 death of Ashton Ericka-Marie Reyes.
Mommer is scheduled to be sentenced May 31.
Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County prosecutor's office, says
Mommer could face up to about 36 years in prison.
Prosecutors said a Seattle Police investigation found that Reyes and her
boyfriend had arranged to sell the suspects marijuana, but were robbed
and shot during the drug deal. The boyfriend survived.
Alaska man disappears while on Florida
Keys boating trip
KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Authorities in the Florida Keys are searching for
a man who disappeared during a boating trip.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office reports that the U.S. Coast Guard
detected 40-year-old Jay Wesley Rydberg's emergency beacon May 14 at
4:13 a.m. During a 78-hour search, Rydberg's beacon was found 33 miles
north of Key West, but there were no signs of Rydberg or his 39-foot
At the time the beacon went off, there were no reported storms in the
Rydberg had been living on his boat at a Key West marina for the past
year. His sister told authorities that he had moved from Alaska to
Florida to be near his 11-year-old son, who lives in southwest Florida.
He was sailing from Fort Myers back to Key West when he disappeared.
US test-launches intercontinental missile
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force has launched
an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from a California base, a
month after the test flight was postponed because of tensions with North
Vandenberg Air Force Base says the Minuteman 3 lifted off at 6:27 a.m.
PDT Wednesday. It later splashed down thousands of miles away in the
It's the first Minuteman test-launch of the year. Several Minutemans are
launched each year at from Vandenberg to determine the weapon system's
accuracy and reliability.
Officials say the original mid-April flight plan was delayed to avoid it
being misconstrued by North Korea during a time of heightened tensions.
It was rescheduled for Tuesday morning but was pushed back a day due to
a problem with range safety instruments.
Ice jam breaks on Yukon River
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A gap in an ice jam is slowly draining a
massive backup of water upriver from the community of Fort Yukon.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says part of the ice jam on the Yukon
River broke early Wednesday morning.
Forecasters have been watching a large amount of water behind the ice
jam 12 miles upriver from the community 145 miles northeast of
Fairbanks. Fort Yukon police Sgt. Peter Hawbaker says that other than
some ice Tuesday night and early Wednesday, water levels have not
changed since dropping after minor flooding Monday.
Some low-lying areas of the town with more than 580 residents flooded
including a road to the airport.
State emergency managers are working with Fort Yukon and other
communities threatened or affected by flooding, including Circle and
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
13 appointed to Subsistence Advisory Council for
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, with the concurrence of Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack, has made appointments to the ten Federal
Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils.
The councils are charged with advising the Federal Subsistence Board on
management regulations and policies and serve as a forum for public
involvement in subsistence management in Alaska.
Those appointed to the council for Southeast Alaska include Timothy C.
Ackerman of Haines; Frank G. Wright, Jr. of Hoonah; Patricia A Phillips
of Pelican; Michael A. Douville of Craig; Harvey Kitka of Sitka;
Bertrand J. Adams, Sr. of Yakutat; Floyd M. Kookesh of Angoon; Donald C.
Hernandez of Pt. Baker; and Kenneth L. Jackson of Kake.
Knife in purse gashes woman; thought she was
SEATTLE (AP) — The woman who limped into a downtown Seattle coffee shop
said she'd been shot in the leg — a statement that brought police cars
and fire trucks rushing to the scene.
Traffic was shut down on a nearby street Tuesday afternoon as police
searched for a shooter, although no one in the coffee shop had heard a
As Seattle police later reported on their website, that's because there
was no gunshot. As medics treated the woman, police determined that she
had been carrying a kitchen knife in her purse. Although sheathed, the
knife had managed to puncture both the purse and the woman's leg.
As the Seattle police blotter noted: "Sometimes Crimes Solve
The woman was taken to a Seattle hospital for treatment.
Alaskan Pale will no longer be brewed on a year
Alaskan Brewing says it will cease production of Alaskan Pale as a year
Blamed is the dwindling availability of the key hops required to capture
its unique Golden Ale taste, according to the company.
Quality Assurance Manager David Wilson is quoted in a release as saying
so few farmers are growing this hop they've hard a hard time coming up
with the consistency they need.
There's only a month's supply of Pale left, so the company recommends
stocking up now.
No direct replacement for the Pale is planned in the product line, but
the release says they continue to experiment with all types of beer,
including Golden Ales.
Coaches best-paid state employees in Washington
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Football and basketball coaches are the top-paid
state employees in Washington.
University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian earned $2.7 million last
year, followed by Washington State University coach Mike Leach at $2.3
The Office of Financial Management recently released the state employee
Third on the list is UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar at $1.35 million,
and fourth is WSU coach Ken Bone at $855,000.
The Olympian reports coaches are paid from athletic department revenue,
such as ticket sales and television rights, not taxpayer funds.
Someone other than a coach is fifth — Washington State University
President Elson Floyd at $625,000, and sixth is UW president Michael
Young at $563,000.
A total of 68 state employees earned more than $300,000. Most of them
are in higher education.
News of the North' content copyright of Alaska Broadcast Communications
Inc. and Juneau Alaska Communications LLC. Any unauthorized use will be
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.