Update: Tribal assistance, job programs lose funds

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Federal Government | Southeast | SyndicatedUpdate: Tribal assistance, job programs lose fundsAugust 22, 2016 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Southeast Alaska’s regional tribal government is temporarily ending programs that help clients find jobs and pay for living expenses.The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska says Bureau of Indian Affairs budget cuts are to blame.William Martin directs the council’s 477 programs, which are named after the federal law that funds them.He says they provide back-to-school clothing vouchers, on-the-job training and vocational-school and college scholarships.“The people we’ve been working with are generally low-income, low-resource families. And our job is to assist them in becoming self-sufficient or getting to a place where they don’t need us anymore,” he said.He says the BIA cut funding to the council by 20 percent, or about $650,000, for this calendar year.Chief Operating Officer Corrine Garza says the council only learned about it eight months into the year.“If we knew about it at the beginning of the year, of course, we could make cuts throughout the year, rather than trying to do it all in a period of four months,” she said.Garza says the council received no formal notice of the reduction. She found the information in a grant document and confirmed it with the BIA. The federal agency did not immediately respond to emails about the cuts.Tlingit-Haida Central Council runs the programs in Craig, Klawock, Kasaan, Saxman, Wrangell, Juneau and Haines. It’s run by local tribal governments in some other communities.Council officials say they’re referring clients to other resources, when possible. It’s not clear whether the cuts will extend into next year.Note: This report has been updated to include additional information about 477 programs. We’ve also corrected an error saying food, housing and other emergency assistance was being cut. That program continues to operate.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska’s Don Young strikes Trump-like note reflecting on 2016

first_imgFederal Government | Nation & World | Politics | State GovernmentAlaska’s Don Young strikes Trump-like note reflecting on 2016December 29, 2016 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, speaks to the National Congress of American Indians in March 2014. (Photo courtesy Office of Rep. Don Young)U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, showed no enthusiasm for Donald Trump during the presidential campaign.But with President-elect Trump three weeks from his swearing-in, and a new Democratic minority leader in the Senate, Young is looking at the big picture and seeing the bright side.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2016/ann-20161228-04.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Young struck a Trumpian note while speaking in his Washington office before Congress took its Christmas break. The congressman said the country doesn’t produce anymore.“We’ve just become a nation of really nothing,” Young said. “It’s the old Roman collapse. Same thing happened to the Roman Empire. Everybody sat around and ate grapes and read and went to plays and played games and all kinds of silly things.”Young said Americans were aware of it, and that their leaders weren’t addressing, which he said is the message of the 2016 election.Young turned to specifics when asked if he was satisfied Trump would set a new course for the country.“I think he’s done well with his appointees right now. Of course, the liberal media is screaming bloody murder,” Young said, echoing Trump in his media critique.Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke, differs with Young over federal land policy.Young wants to give more away.But he praised the Montana congressman’s dedication to streamlining development on public lands. Anyway, Young said, the more important decision is who will run the agencies within Interior.“He has to appoint the appropriate undersecretaries,” Young said. “BLM, Fish and Wildlife, Parks Service. People that will follow the lead of the president and the Congress.”Looking back at 2016, Young said he’s pleased with the defense bills Congress passed.“We re-established again, I think, the importance of Alaska, troop retention (and got) pay raises for the military,” Young said.Monthly basic pay for service members will increase 2.1 percent and Congress did not change the military housing allowance.Young counts several land conveyances, to state and local governments, among his accomplishments. And he said the water development bill Congress passed will further harbor projects in Alaska.“Biggest accomplishment, of course, is getting little problems solved for little people,” Young said. “They’re big problems to them. They’re little problems in the scale of things.”It’s not as visible as lawmaking, but Congress members devote a lot of staff time to untangling the individual problems their constituents have, with Social Security, Veterans Affairs, or other corners of the federal bureaucracy.“There’s nothing better, makes me happier when I pick up the phone and say ‘why is this happening?’” Young said, speaking of his calls to agency personnel. “Because then they say ‘uh-oh. I better check it.’ And they find out a lot of times they don’t have any grounds. They’re just doing it. And that makes the constituent happy. And that’s what I try to do.”Which helps explain another of Young’s accomplishments for 2016: Getting re-elected to a 23rd term.Now he’ll be the second most senior House member, behind Democrat John Conyers of Michigan.(Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, who had been No. 2, is retiring.)Young’s biggest frustration in 2016? He didn’t name President Barack Obama, although he’s had plenty of gripes about Obama’s leadership and environmental policies.Young said his biggest frustration was with the U.S. Senate.“Anything we sent over there they stopped. That’s not a good thing,” Young said. “I mean, we’re the spokesman of the people. The House of Representatives is the spokesman of the people, and they should at least be listening to it.”Young said he hopes the new Senate Minority leader, Charles Schumer of New York, and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell break can the logjam.Otherwise, Young predicts more political upheaval in the 2018 elections.Editor’s note: A headline assertion that Don Young “changes course” has been cut.Share this story:last_img read more

Weekly published Unalaska Police Blotter, which gained national attention, goes offline

first_imgAleutians | Public SafetyWeekly published Unalaska Police Blotter, which gained national attention, goes offlineFebruary 6, 2017 by Avery Lill, KDLG-Dillingham Share:FBI counselor Michael Siegling presents Unalaska’s Jennifer Shockley with her new deputy police chief badge at the FBI National Academy in Virginia. (Photo by FBI National Academy)Audio Playerhttps://cpa.ds.npr.org/kdlg/audio/2017/02/06_blotter.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Many police stations have a way of communicating their whodunits to the public, but few of them have gained as much worldwide attention as the Unalaska Police Blotter.Soon after the Unalaska police department began publishing their weekly activities, they put Jennifer Shockley, then a staff sergeant, in charge.“It was something that our department decided we wanted to do to basically let the public know what their police officers were busy doing on a day-to-day basis,” Shockley said.Early on, the blotter began making waves.Shockley received fan mail from around the country. Readers appreciated her blotter’s dry humor. It gave them a window into the lives of police officers in bustling international fishing port in the faraway Aleutians.Aside from being published often verbatim in local weeklies like the Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman, The Unalaska Police Blotter gained national attention with articles in the LA Times, Washington Post and NPR.Writing the blotter was time consuming.So exercising her expansive vocabulary and comically understating the absurd situations law enforcement handles was Shockley’s way to make the chore more palatable.“It wasn’t really so much a conscious decision. It was more just a style that developed over the years,” she said. “I enjoy creative use of words, so I peppered the blotter with a couple of interesting words. I tried to put some humor in situations where I could.”By way of example, these are some of the records that appeared in the Bristol Bay Times over the years:AssaultOfficers investigated a report of an assault that occurred between two besotted individuals. The two had a disagreement concerning one of the sots consuming the alcohol of the other sot. Sot one, the owner of the alcohol, chased sot two, the consumer of the alcohol, down the hallway of the bunkhouse. None involved wished to pursue charges.Suspicious Person/ActivityA drunken man phoned police and said he was naked, cold and exposing himself to passing vehicles and in need of assistance. He was unable to name or describe his location. Officers searched the common and not-so-common haunts of naked drunks but did not find the man in question.AnimalCaller reported that someone was feeding the eagles causing a hazard as one of the eagles had flown into her truck. Officers investigated and discovered that the eagles were not being fed, but were congregating, as eagles are known to do.Shockley was promoted to deputy chief about a year ago, and putting her witty spin on calls for service is no longer in her wheel house.The department doesn’t have the staff to keep up the blotter, she said.“It was something that takes about 8 to 10 hours a week to do. We’re operating at about 60 to 70 percent capacity with our staffing right now, and we just really need to spend our time focusing on law enforcement activities.”As this staff sergeant-turned-author with an international following reflects on her years maintaining the blotter, a couple of the stories have stuck with her.In one instance, she said, police rendered assistance to a cyclist being chased by a herd of feral horses. In another case, also involving a cyclist, police stopped a young man riding a bicycle downtown late at night.“He had blood on himself,” she said. “When he was stopped by an officer, he told the officer that his girlfriend had turned him on to vampirism, but he wanted to get out of it. He was on his way to the Catholic church to be exorcized.”Shockley will miss writing up the week’s shenanigans, and she knows the readers miss it too.Calls for Unalaska Police to respond to drunken sailors, sinister eagles, and unruly horses won’t stop, but writing about them will. At least for now.Share this story:last_img read more

Russia says U.S. broke international law in striking Syria, citing ‘pretext’

first_imgFederal Government | Military | Nation & World | NPR NewsRussia says U.S. broke international law in striking Syria, citing ‘pretext’April 7, 2017 by Bill Chappell, NPR Share:Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET with U.N. Security Council meeting detailsRussian President Vladimir Putin is calling the missile strike President Trump ordered against Syria on Thursday “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext,” the Kremlin says.At Russia’s urging, an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council began shortly after 11:30 a.m. ET Friday to discuss the attack, in which two U.S. guided-missile destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base, the facility that hosted warplanes that the U.S. says carried out a chemical weapons strike in Idlib province earlier this week.The emergency session was led by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is currently serving as the Security Council’s president.In the past six years, Haley said, Syria has terrorized its own people and “committed criminal acts that shocked the conscience of all humanity.”She continued, “The international community has repeatedly expressed its outrage. The Joint Investigative Mechanism has found beyond any doubt that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people multiple times.”Haley then discussed Tuesday’s apparent chemical attack, saying Syria had murdered “innocent men, women, and children in the most gruesome way.”“Assad did this because he thought he could get away with it,” Haley said. “He thought he could get away with it because he knew Russia would have his back. That changed last night.”As Haley spoke, Syria’s ambassador to the U.N., Bashar Jaafari, was seen moving his translation earpiece further away from himself on the desk in front of him.“Our military destroyed the airfield from which this week’s chemical strike took place. We were fully justified in doing so,” ,” Haley said. “The moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered. His crimes against humanity could no longer be met with empty words. It was time to say ‘enough’ — but not only say it. It was time to act. Bashar al-Assad must never use chemical weapons again, ever.”She then blamed Iran’s government for supporting Assad in Syria and said that Russia also bears “considerable responsibility” for the regime’s transgressions.Haley added that Russia has used its Security Council veto seven times to quash actions on Syria.Syria’s Jaafari spoke at the end of the session, saying that in Thursday night’s attack, the U.S. “waged a barbaric, flagrant act of aggression against a base of the Syrian Arab Air Force … using a number of missiles which led to a number of martyrs, many injured, including women and children, and wide-ranging material damage.”The strike was a violation of the U.N. charter and international norms, Jaafari said, adding that the U.S. had tried to justify its actions with “empty pretexts, fabricated arguments” about Syria’s use of chemical weapons.The ambassador insisted that Syria’s army doesn’t have chemical weapons and “would never use such weapons in any of its operations against armed terrorist groups.”Earlier in the emergency session, the U.K. ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft, said his country supports the U.S. strike “because war crimes have consequences, and the greatest war criminal of all — Bashar al-Assad — has now been put on notice.”Rycroft called the U.S. attack a proportionate response. Later, he added that Russia “sits here today, humiliated by its failure to bring to heel a puppet dictator.”Russia’s Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin told the Security Council that rebels and terrorists in Syria were celebrating the U.S. strike and using it as an opening for attacks of their own.Mentioning previous U.S. military actions in Iraq, Libya and Syria, Churkin told the American delegation, “Think of the consequences. Remember what you’ve produced in the Middle East.”Addressing Britain’s Ambassador Rycroft, Churkin told him, “Stop putting forward these unprofessional arguments and accusations against my country. These are not diplomatic. They are lies.”Churkin continued emphatically, “Once again, I warn you: Don’t even try to get into fights in the Arab world. Nothing will work, and nothing will be achieved. That’s why you’re getting annoyed. All Arab countries recall your colonial hypocrisy.”The U.S. strike was criticized as an extremely serious violation of international law by Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenti, who referred to a copy of the U.N. charter as he said it “prohibits unilateral actions.”Llorenti also said the U.S. has a history of intervening in other nations, including in Latin America — and to illustrate his argument he held up a photo of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2003, during his famous “weapons of mass destruction” speech at the U.N.Before the U.N. session began, Russia notified the U.S.-led coalition in Syria that it intends to suspend the “deconfliction channel” that was created to prevent unintentional encounters between U.S. and Russian forces that are operating in the same country.Tuesday’s attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun has been blamed for dozens of civilian deaths. Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. has “very high confidence” that the attacks included the sarin nerve agent.Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office issued a statement calling the U.S. strike “an unjust and arrogant aggression.”Of Trump’s justification for the attack on Russia’s ally — saying Syria used chemical weapons to kill dozens of its own citizens — the Kremlin’s press office said that an international group had ensured that “The Syrian Army has no chemical weapons.”But that international group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, says that while all the chemical weapons Syria had officially acknowledged possessing were destroyed in 2013, it has since deployed its fact-finding mission in Syria on “numerous occasions” to investigate repeated allegations that Assad’s regime was using chemical weapons.The OPCW says that it has confirmed with a “high degree of confidence” that Syria has previously used chlorine and mustard gas.Of the accusations that sarin had been used in the April 4 attack, the OPCW said Thursday that it was still collecting and analyzing data, classifying its inquiry as ongoing.“The OPCW cannot and will not release information about an on-going investigation,” the organization said in an update on Friday. It added, “This policy exists to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process and its results as well as to ensure the safety and security of OPCW experts and personnel involved.”The U.S. strike came after widespread claims that Tuesday’s attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Shaykhun had deployed chemical agents. Those claims were bolstered Thursday, when the Turkish government — which is allied with Syrian rebels — said autopsies of victims showed evidence of sarin exposure, as the Two-Way reported.Khan Shaykhun is roughly 60 miles from the Turkish border. After the attack, dozens of victims were brought to a border crossing where the Turkish government had set up a decontamination center, the AP reported yesterday.Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said via state-run TASS media that the cruise missile strike was reminiscent of 2003, when the U.S. led an invasion of Iraq “without the consent of the U.N. Security Council and in violation of international law.”Saying that the U.S. attack in Syria had been prompted by photographs rather than facts, Lavrov blamed “speculations on children’s photos” for the American strike. He also accused nongovernmental organizations of staging incidents to prompt a move against the Syrian government.Russia also critiqued the U.S. strike’s accuracy: Only 23 out of the 59 cruise missiles that were fired at the air base hit their target, Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said Friday, citing Russia’s data recording equipment. That’s according to TASS, which adds that Russia will now reinforce the Syrian army’s air defense system.Syria’s General Command of the Army has issued a statement calling the attack “a blatant act of aggression targeting one of our air bases.” According to Syria’s state-run news agency, the army also said that with the attack, the U.S. is now a “partner” of ISIS and other terrorist organizations that have targeted Syrian forces.As the Two-Way has reported, U.S. officials informed Russia — which launched its own military campaign in Syria in fall 2015 — of the impending missile strike. And in planning the attack, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said, the U.S. was careful to avoid risk to “third country nationals at that airport — I think you read Russians from that.”Today, Russia seems to be taking little solace from that effort, though Lavrov confirmed that no Russian service members had been harmed.“This move by Washington … has dealt a serious blow to Russian-U.S. relations, which are already in a poor state,” said Putin’s press service.Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story:last_img read more

Coast Guard begins the new year by safely rescuing three hunters in Prince William Sound

first_imgSouthwestCoast Guard begins the new year by safely rescuing three hunters in Prince William SoundJanuary 3, 2018 by Mitch Borden, KMXT-Kodiak Share:The three men rescued posing with the aircrew that found them. (Photo by Lt. Brian Dykens/Coast Guard)Coast Guard personnel spent the weekend searching for three hunters in Prince William Sound and found them on Monday.The crew of an MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter spotted the hunter’s boat and a flag on the south side of Chenega Island, which is where the hunters had taken shelter.The men were transported to Seward and none of them had any medical concerns, according to a Coast Guard news release.The Coast Guard began its search Friday after the hunters were reported missing. Sea and aircrews searched more than 1,600 miles before finding the men.The search was impeded by severe weather and some Coast Guard personnel were delayed by it. It was reported in some areas that winds were about 50 mph and seas at 10 feet.The release says the hunters were able to get through the ordeal by eating kelp and sheltering in a cabin they found.Michael McNeil, the command duty officer for the Anchorage Coast Guard Sector said, “Starting the new year with a positive outcome to a difficult case is all we can really ask for.”The Coast Guard urges mariners to be prepared when they go out on the water by staying informed, wearing life jackets, and filing a float plan.People should also make sure they have a radio, marine flares, and a working bilge pump on their boat.Share this story:last_img read more

Budget deal in limbo amid scramble to avoid partial shutdown at midnight

first_imgFederal Government | Nation & World | NPR NewsBudget deal in limbo amid scramble to avoid partial shutdown at midnightFebruary 8, 2018 by Kelsey Snell and Jessica Taylor, NPR Share:Updated at 9:57 p.m. ETThe fate of a bipartisan budget agreement remains in limbo just hours before a Thursday night deadline to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government, with Republicans and Democrats still at odds over spending levels and immigration.Now, it seems likely that the non-essential operations of the government could shutter for at least a few hours overnight, with the Senate not set to vote on a spending compromise until at least 3 a.m. Friday and the House set to vote somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., according to guidance from the House majority whip’s office.Optimism about the $300 billion, two-year budget agreement began to falter earlier Thursday as some House Democrats threatened to vote against the bill because it does not address immigration. Some conservatives are also threatening to vote against the measure because it would increase spending and add billions to the deficit.Senate leaders had hoped to pass the bill early in the day but were forced to wait after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., objected to the plan. Paul said he planned to force the Senate to wait until the early hours of Friday morning — after the midnight shutdown deadline — when debate time would expire and the Senate would be allowed to override his objection.“I’m not advocating for shutting down the government,” Paul said in an interview on Fox News. “I’m also not advocating for keeping the damn thing open and borrowing a million dollars a minute.”Paul took to the Senate floor Thursday evening, armed with charts and graphs that pointed to what he says is wasteful government spending.“I just can’t, in all honestly, look the other way just because my party is now complicit in the deficits,” Paul said.Congressional leaders still have several options to avoid a partial shutdown at midnight. They could extend government funding through the end of the day Friday or into the weekend — through a short-term measure known as a continuing resolution — as long as there are no objections in the House or the Senate, including from Paul. No final decisions have been made about whether such an extension would be necessary, but leaders are considering their options, according to several congressional aides.The Senate is expected to easily pass the bill if Paul relents. Paul refused throughout the evening to say how he plans to proceed. But separate concerns grew in the House as his protest wore on.A growing number of House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are threatening to vote against the bill, raising concerns that House leaders may not have the votes to pass the spending bill in that chamber.“We cannot allow our success in one part of the discussion to diminish our leverage in another,” Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats. “Speaker Ryan’s refusal to allow a bipartisan process for a DACA proposal demeans the dignity of the House of Representatives. It is also an insult to the American people, who overwhelmingly support the Dreamers.”Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in an interview on All Things Considered Thursday that he also wouldn’t vote for the current budget agreement because it doesn’t reflect his party’s values. Republicans, he said, should be doing more to make overtures to Democrats if they need their votes to keep the government open.“What I am suggesting is they control the House, the Senate and the presidency. I don’t know why, for crying out loud; why they can’t actually govern, is beyond me,” Crowley lamented. “And the notional idea to blame Democrats in the House when they have the Oval and the majority — it’s really incumbent upon them to pass their budget. It’s not our responsibility to do that. It’s the responsibility of the governing party to do that, and they have failed miserably. We’ve gone from week to week, or month to month with continuing [resolutions] and that’s no way to govern.”House Republicans have always expected that they would need some Democrats to help pass the spending bill, and the growing revolt has sparked serious anxiety that the spending agreement could fail, especially since House Republican leadership appears unsure how many Republicans will vote for the bill. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus already announced that their roughly 30 members will vote against the pact.Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., a member of that fiscally conservative caucus, told All Things Considered Thursday that he is not confident the House has the votes to pass the spending bill and hopes enough House Republicans will oppose the idea “that we’re going to spend away our future.”“The problem is the American people have elected so many debt junkies that they’re ecstatic with borrowing money today so they can get elected tomorrow [without] worrying about someone paying for it after the elections,” Brooks said. “And that’s very unfortunate that so many people are putting their self-interest, their elections before their country.”The two factions are angry about dramatically different issues but their combined frustration could be enough to make sure the bill can’t pass.House Democrats huddled for more than an hour Thursday night to decide how they should vote. Members emerged conflicted.House Democrats are particularly worried that they will lose any leverage on immigration once a spending bill is enacted. Spending bills are among the few areas where Republicans need Democratic votes in the House. Pelosi and other top Democrats say they want to force Republicans to agree to legal protections for DREAMers, including the roughly 700,000 immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally after being brought to the country as children and who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.Democrats decided to take advantage of that leverage and merge immigration talks and spending negotiations after President Trump last September announced his plan to wind down DACA. The program ends on March 5 according to terms set by the administration but is the subject of litigation in the federal courts.Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says Democrats’ power would disappear if the budget bill passes because it would lift the spending pressure created by mandatory budget caps that have forced Congress to revisit spending fights since the caps were enacted in 2011.“Once you’ve lifted the caps and you’ve done this, do you really believe that anybody is going to take us seriously?” Gutierrez asked reporters. “They have decoupled the budgetary process from anything where we needed leverage.”The Congressional Hispanic Caucus officially announced their opposition to the budget bill, with the group urging members to vote against the measure in a statement released Thursday evening.“CHC cannot support this budget caps bill that leaves Dreamers behind,” they said. “We stand with nearly 90% of Americans that agree Dreamers should be protected.”An official with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget told NPR that OMB is currently preparing for a lapse in appropriations funding for the government. The official also urged Congress to send the funding bill to the president’s desk “without delay.”The deal was announced Wednesday as a bipartisan breakthrough that could free Congress from an endless cycle of spending fights.The agreement was negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to increase military and domestic spending for two years.Under the pact, the Pentagon would get an additional $80 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $85 billion in fiscal year 2019, while domestic spending would grow by $63 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $68 billion the following fiscal year.“No one would suggest it’s perfect, but we worked hard to find common ground,” McConnell said in a speech announcing the deal.Schumer echoed the support, saying the agreement would give the federal government certainty after years of bickering.“This budget deal is a genuine breakthrough,” Schumer said, adding the agreement would “break the long cycle of spending crises.”The agreement also has the support of the White House, where press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised the plan to hike military spending.“This deal achieves our top priority, a much needed increase in funding for our national defense,” Sanders said Wednesday. “The bottom line is that, thanks to President Trump, we can now have the strongest military we have ever had.”Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story:last_img read more

Five Juneau residents ordered to pay fines, restitution for deer poaching

first_imgCrime & Courts | Juneau | Southeast | WildlifeFive Juneau residents ordered to pay fines, restitution for deer poachingApril 13, 2018 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Alaska Wildlife Troopers say this photo, believed taken on or about Dec. 13, 2015, is evidence of Juneau residents poaching deer. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildlife Troopers)State wildlife officers have closed the case on what they call one of the most egregious cases of deer poaching in Southeast Alaska.Most of the defendants — including an Auke Bay charter operator — have pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges, and must pay fines and restitution.The operation dates back more than two years ago when a conscientious Alaskan hunter tipped off Alaska Wildlife Troopers.Alaska Wildlife Troopers say this undated photo is evidence of Juneau residents poaching deer in fall 2015. (Courtesy Alaska Wildlife Troopers)Trooper Jake Abbott took the lead on the investigation.Others from Wildlife Troopers, Alaska State Troopers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement helped out as the case mushroomed.After tallying over a dozen illegally taken deer, Abbott said he pretty much stopped counting.“With this case and the length of the investigation, I finally just kind of reached a point where I just went ‘OK, I need to stop poking the hornet’s nest and just get people charged,’” Abbott said.“What often happens through the course of these investigations (is that) we take investigatory steps such as getting search warrants and stuff,” Abbott said. “Usually, through the course of that we end up finding other violations that have been committed.”The hunting violations included shooting from a boat, exceeding the bag limit, and abusing the proxy hunting system for elders and the disabled, Abbott said. He said the poachers evaded answering their questions because they knew what they were doing was wrong.Most of the violations occurred during the fall 2015 deer hunting season near Chichagof Island’s Elfin Cove and on Admiralty Island’s Glass Peninsula.Alaska Wildlife Trooper Jake Abbott stands in front of the Alaska State Trooper post in Juneau in July 2017. (Photo by Quinton Chandler/KTOO)Abbott said the Glass Peninsula is a pretty popular hunting area.“It’s an area that can be harder to get to, especially later in the season if people don’t have adequate boats because the Taku Inlet area can be a pretty nasty piece of water.”All of the defendants were either co-workers or somehow acquainted with each other, Abbott said.“With these people, these are all avid outdoorsmen. The majority of them, they were all involved either in the sport fishing industry as guides or they’re all avid hunters.”Abbott said troopers conducted interviews, served search warrants on the defendants’ homes, and combed social media for trophy shot pictures.Abbott said it’s hard to have your mind set on looking for just that one piece of evidence, that one thing.“You never know what might be that little piece of evidence, that little nugget of gold that can send you over the edge as far as being able to make a case or not,” Abbott said. “That was kind of the instance here in which we just kept finding little nuggets of gold, and more little nuggets of gold, then people’s statements corroborating what we were seeing or not seeing.”Grantley Moore, 43, of Juneau pleaded guilty in Feb. 8 to misdemeanor charges of unlawful possession, providing false information on a hunt report, and taking an over-limit of deer.“I’ve been pretty much been fishing my entire life,” said Grantley Moore in a promotional video for Moore Charters. “I grew up out in the middle of nowhere in Tenakee Springs.”Investigators determined that many of the deer hunting trips occurred on Moore’s charter vessel Eclipse.Moore did not return messages placed at his business seeking comment.As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, charges of taking big game from a boat and unlawful possession or transportation of game were dropped.Moore was fined a total of $3,500 and ordered to pay the state $1,600 in restitution for illegally harvesting four deer.He also was put on probation for a year and lost his hunting privileges for two years.Tyler Matthews, 24, of Juneau pleaded guilty Feb. 1 to unlawful possession, taking big game from a boat and as a non-resident harvesting deer as a proxy when prohibited.As part of a plea agreement, the misdemeanor charges were reduced to violations, and two additional misdemeanor charges of unlawful proxy hunting and unlawful game possession or transportation were dropped.Matthews was fined a total of $900 and ordered to pay the state $800 in restitution for illegally harvesting two deer.Matthews could not be reached for comment.Alaska Wildlife Troopers say this photo, believed taken on or about Nov. 11, 2015, is evidence of Juneau residents poaching deer. (Courtesy Alaska Wildlife Troopers)Others charged in the case include Benjamin Olson, 30; Mckenzie Wilson, 24; and Wyatt Weimer, 25, all of Juneau.They earlier pleaded no contest at arraignment to violations of taking big game from a boat, unlawful possession, and unlawful proxy hunting.They were each ordered to pay fines up to $1,650 and restitution of as much as $800.There are two other defendants with unresolved cases.Daniel Collins, 22, of Oklahoma did not appear in court and a $500 arrest warrant has been issued. Anies Sadeghi, 25, of Juneau awaits trial, which begins May 22.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska bill would hike municipalities’ license plate costs

first_imgLocal Government | State Government | TransportationAlaska bill would hike municipalities’ license plate costsMay 8, 2018 by Associated Press Share:KENAI — Part of a bill introduced in the Alaska Legislative session would increase the price municipalities pay for their license plates.The Peninsula Clarion reported Sunday that the bill, sponsored by a House committee, would remove an exemption for municipalities that currently has them paying $10 per vehicle. That price would increase to $100 per vehicle.The bill includes a number of other adjustments for the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles, including a $5 fee for driver knowledge tests, repealing permanent vehicle registration for vehicles that are at least 8 years old and increasing the age for free senior identification cards from 60 to 65.Municipalities have objected to the bill. Alaska Municipal League Executive Director Kathie Wasserman says she didn’t find out about the bill until the last minute.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska’s draft climate action plan includes carbon tax on page 43

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Climate Change | State GovernmentAlaska’s draft climate action plan includes carbon tax on page 43August 1, 2018 by Elizabeth Jenkins, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau Share:The Trans-Alaska Pipeline runs alongside the Dalton Highway near the Toolik Field Station on June 9, 2017, in the North Slope Borough. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)Governor Bill Walker’s Climate Action Leadership Team has been discussing a robust draft plan to tackle climate change. The draft mentions a number of ways to go about that: from beefing up efforts to monitor ocean acidification to better educating the public on the causes of warming. But the state is going to need a way to pay for it all, and the plan addresses that, too: Alaska should consider a carbon tax.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2018/08/PLAN.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Task force member, Luke Hopkins, lives in a home in Fairbanks built on permafrost. As the climate warms, he says his own foundation is changing. “I would say that if I put a ball on the floor, one aspect of my house, it would roll a little bit,” Hopkins said.It’s not a problem Hopkins sees going away. He thinks Alaska needs to update its engineering and design standards to better respond to homes like his on melting permafrost. The draft climate action plan includes language to do that, but those efforts require more research and that requires money. “Where’s that going to come from? Hopkins said. “Well, carbon pricing has been used elsewhere in the country and in the world. And so we think we think we ought to look at it.”At least seven states have proposed carbon pricing legislation. Carbon pricing is basically this broad term for putting a price on CO2 emissions. It includes things like a carbon tax or a cap and trade program. Alaska’s draft plan recommends the state should think about endorsing a national strategy to put a price on carbon while also taking steps to implement its own carbon tax. The most commonly talked about ways that could work is, as fuel comes out of the ground, oil and gas companies would pay a fee. And that cash would be used to help fund various energy efficiency projects and more studies to better understand the impacts of climate change — like, how can homeowners like Hopkins stabilize their house as the permafrost thaws?Hopkins says thinking long term about some form of carbon pricing is a good idea. “Many of these things have to be looked at in-depth,” Hopkins said. “We’re just putting out what our recommendations would be for the goals that we have.”Chantal Walsh with the state’s department of natural resources co-chaired a committee with industry representatives. The group has been providing some feedback to the governor’s climate action team. As for a state or national carbon tax, Walsh says there’s more that needs to happen before they have that discussion. “It doesn’t make any sense to do individual states by any means,” Walsh said. “And there’s also the question of: does it do any good to be one nation doing this?”Instead, Walsh thinks scoping out some kind of policy for putting a price on carbon around the world makes the most sense. In a letter submitted to the climate action team, BP expressed strong reservations about a state carbon pricing program. Luke Hopkins believes there’s still a lot that could change in the draft plan before it’s submitted to the governor by September. But something about carbon pricing will likely be in the final version. “I think it will stick in the plan,” Hopkins said. “I don’t think there’s an overwhelming consensus in the group recently that says we don’t want to put anything about carbon pricing. That’s why it’s in the plan right now.”The Climate Action Leadership Team will be looking at the draft policy statement on carbon pricing when they go through the plan at their in-person meeting on Thursday in Anchorage.Share this story:last_img read more

Democrat Begich turns to Alaska voters one more time in governor’s race

first_imgElection Coverage | State GovernmentDemocrat Begich turns to Alaska voters one more time in governor’s raceOctober 22, 2018 by Becky Bohrer, Associated Press Share:U.S. Sen Mark Begich talks to reporters after speaking to a joint session of the 28th Alaska Legislature, March, 3, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)For months, Mark Begich faced pressure from fellow Democrats to drop out of the Alaska governor’s race. Now, he’s their best shot at winning the seat.The race was upended last week when independent Gov. Bill Walker dropped his re-election bid. He said he concluded that he had no chance of winning against Begich and Republican Mike Dunleavy and thought Begich would be better for Alaska than Dunleavy. Walker’s announcement came days after his lieutenant governor, Democrat Byron Mallott, resigned over what Walked described as an inappropriate overture to a woman.Walker, a former Republican who was elected with Democratic support in 2014, said he and Begich don’t agree on a lot of things. But Walker said he fears Dunleavy will unravel some of his major policies and “hurt” Alaska. Dunleavy’s campaign manager criticized Walker for a “bitter, partisan” attack on Dunleavy.Begich, the former Anchorage mayor and one-term U.S. senator, entered the race late, worried about the direction the state was headed. Alaska fell into a recession in 2015 amid slumping oil prices. Crime rates are up. Student test scores are lagging. But his decision to run riled some Democrats and independents who believed Walker deserved a second term. They worried Begich and Walker would split the vote and hand the race to Republicans.Begich said his campaign was “inundated” with calls after Walker’s announcement Friday, “a sign that people have been waiting for the governor’s race to firm up in one way or another, and now they see it.” He called Walker’s action courageous.“I think this is the moment,” he said, adding: “I believe we can move the dial and win this election.”State Rep. David Guttenberg was among the Democrats who backed Walker and wanted Begich to quit. Now, he said, “you just take one pin off and put on the other.”“I would have hoped that it would have reconciled itself earlier,” he said of race dynamics. “But it is what it is.”Begich, he said, is now the clear choice for him.Libertarian Billy Toien also is running.It was amid intense pressure this summer that Begich said the focus of his campaign became clear.Then, speaking to a women’s group in Anchorage, his voice hoarse from laryngitis, he embraced his Democratic roots. He talked about wage inequality, fighting for working families who struggle with costs like day care and the need to speak out when President Donald Trump, who easily won the state in 2016, is wrong. “You cannot be silent,” he told them. “You cannot sit there and hope it’s all going to work out.”The women applauded. But he said the positive response after video of the speech was posted online, from people previously on the fence, was like “the Big Bang.”“It crystallized in my mind … all these people I’ve talked to on the campaign trail, ‘This is why I’m in.’ I don’t need the office,” he said, adding: “But I do believe there’s a lot of people who have been just excluded from the process.”Begich knows he has to earn every vote and has been traveling the state, sometimes meeting people when they can make time for him.Wife Deborah Bonito said Begich prefers working to recreating but might allow himself an hour of Netflix with her or playing cards with their son, Jacob, after dinner. Begich, who plays poker, said that game and other experiences he’s had — as a bartender, in business — taught him useful skills for being in office: patience, listening to people, taking calculated risks.Growing up, public service was instilled in the Begich kids. That pull that Begich feels isn’t about ego — it’s engrained, said state Sen. Tom Begich, one of Begich’s brothers.“Maybe that’s a consequence of a parent dying young who’s been involved in public service and has only been involved in it in a way that’s pretty idealistic. You end up feeling it’s an unfinished thing that needs to be finished, and so you’re driven by that for the rest of your life,” Tom Begich said. “You’re always engaging, you’re always involved, you’re always reaching out.”For a long time, Begich blamed politics for taking his father. In 1972, a plane carrying U.S. Rep. Nick Begich and House Majority Leader Hale Boggs went missing during a campaign trip in Alaska. They were never found.Nick Begich left behind six children; Mark was 10 years old.Begich told supporters he came to understand his father’s commitment.“He understood that you can’t wait for someone else to speak up or speak out or do the right thing,” Begich said. “If there is work to be done, you must get in there and do it.”Tom Begich said some told his brother that if he waited four years he could “walk” into the governor’s office.“If that’s what it’s about, if it’s about waiting for your time, then what’s the point of public service anyway? And he’s said those very words to me before,” Tom Begich said of his brother.Mark Begich has emphasized his support of abortion rights. He has proposed constitutionally protecting the annual check Alaskans receive from the state’s oil-wealth fund and suggested Alaska’s Medicaid rolls are so high in part because some big companies aren’t paying their workers a livable wage. His running mate is Debra Call.Dunleavy’s campaign has sought to portray Begich as a career politician who wants to grow the size of government. Begich has said he wants to stabilize the budget and is open to new revenues.Begich has had tough races before. He eked out a win over longtime Republican U.S. Sen Ted Stevens in 2008 but lost re-election in 2014 to Republican Dan Sullivan in the most expensive race in state history.Bonito said Begich wasted no time thinking about returning to work. He became CEO of a consulting firm.“That’s kind of what he brings to the table, like, there’s setbacks but there’s also, ‘Hey, folks, here’s how we’re going to move forward,’” she said. “… There’s no moping.”Former U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat who worked with Begich, called Begich independent minded and “relentlessly bipartisan.”He is nice but not a doormat and stands up for what he believes, Pryor said.“He is what is right about politics,” Pryor said.Share this story:last_img read more