Haze and smoke over Upper Lynn Canal is no cause for alarm, experts say

first_imgSoutheastHaze and smoke over Upper Lynn Canal is no cause for alarm, experts sayAugust 2, 2016 by Jillian Rogers, KHNS Share:Haze was hanging around Upper Lynn Canal communities on Tuesday. The exact cause of the smoke could not be pinpointed. (Jillian Rogers/KHNS)The haze that’s been lingering over the Upper Lynn Canal for a day or so is likely from fires far away, according meteorologists. While it’s not known for sure which fires are the cause of smoky fog, officials agree that there is no immediate danger.Residents in Haines and Skagway started noticing a haze Tuesday morning hanging around both communities.Sharon Alden , a meteorologist with the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, said after examining satellite imagery and webcams, she can see the haze, but couldn’t figure out where it’s coming from.There’s currently a fire burning really hot in northern British Columbia, but it’s more than 100 miles away and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction for residents here to see or smell the effects, Alden said. A wildfire is smoldering near Tok, too, but, again, the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. The AICC map shows two tiny fires between Haines and Juneau, though one is reportedly extinguished, and the other is a fraction of an acre in size.In short, Alden says she can’t find a concrete source for the smoke.Down in Juneau, National Weather Service meteorologist David Levin said it’s possible the smoke traveled from elsewhere in the state days ago, and is just now settling here. He said the smoky haze has popped up on weather cameras around Southeast.“We imagine it must be something that got picked up over the Interior or maybe over the Kenai and got translated over the Gulf (of Alaska) over several days and is just now reaching here,” Levin said. “It’s nothing directly coming from the Interior or the fires up in Canada, but from our estimation it’s probably come over the Gulf and just take a couple of days to get here.”Levin said it’s common for Southeast to get some forest fire smoke throughout the summer from across Alaska and Northern Canada.Though “It’s not typical for it to come across the Gulf and make that long trek coming from the west, but it’s possible.”A recent high pressure system in the region helped bring the smoke here, he said.“Anything that’s down near the surface up to about 4,000 gets trapped, it can’t rise up and disperse. Then the westerly flow at the surface and over the lower levels – whatever is down there and is trapped just gets moved along with the wind flow.”Levin said there is no fire danger in the area, and visibility is still good, so flights are not affected at this time.Share this story:last_img read more

State eyes Alaska Permanent Fund earnings draw without plan

first_imgEconomy | Southcentral | Southeast | State GovernmentState eyes Alaska Permanent Fund earnings draw without planJune 21, 2017 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s exterior sign. Fund earnings could be spent for state government without a plan. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)Lawmakers have proposed drawing money from the Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to pay for state government for the first time. But as the Legislature focuses on preventing a government shutdown, it’s increasingly likely the draw won’t be based on any one plan. And that’s raising concerns with lawmakers, the fund’s leader and a bond-rating firm.Ever since a few years after the Permanent Fund was approved by voters in 1976, its earnings have been used for two purposes: to grow the fund, and for Permanent Fund dividends. But with the state bringing roughly 40 cents in taxes, fees and oil royalties for every dollar it spends, both the House and Senate have passed bills to draw from earnings to cover the gap.But they haven’t agreed on a plan on how much to draw. And without a plan, they’ve proposed two very different amounts.The House passed a budget last Thursday that would draw nearly $5 billion from fund earnings – 40 percent of the current $12.5 billion earnings account. The Senate would draw half that amount.Eagle River Republican Sen. Anna MacKinnon said the House draw is too large, adding that it would “devastate revenue coming into our state, as well as the security of Alaska’s dividends.”There are two big reasons why the House draw is larger. One is that the House included $800 million more for PFDs after it voted to restore full dividend checks last week. House members said the state should only cut PFDs from more than $2,000 to roughly half that amount under one condition: There are other new sources of money for the state, such as higher taxes on the oil and gas industry, or a broad-based tax.Anchorage Republican Gabrielle LeDoux of the House majority explained her side’s position.“One thing that we all were in agreement on was that a comprehensive fiscal plan should not be composed of simply reducing the Permanent Fund dividend,” she said. “It had to be comprehensive. That means everybody needed to be at the table, including the oil companies.”So that’s one reason why they differ. The other difference is that the House included $1.7 billion for an account appropriated for future school budgets. The Legislature used to do this, before the budget gap grew in the past few years. The Senate didn’t include any draw for this future funding.Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. chief executive officer Angela Rodell expressed concern earlier this month about a large draw from earnings without the Legislature passing a plan to use it.“Part of my concern will be, if that doesn’t pass, … the unknown quality of how much money they’re going to use,” she said. “Because under the current construct, they’re allowed to take and to appropriate as much as they need out of the earnings reserve account.”Rodell noted that the Legislature has handled Permanent Fund earnings based on rules set by state law. At least that’s been true up until now.“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get back to a more of a rules-based strategy, like we’ve had in the past, going forward,” she said.When Gov. Bill Walker included only the operating budget on his call for the second special session last week, he focused the Legislature’s attention on preventing a shutdown. But without the bills that would set up a plan for future Permanent Fund earnings draws, the Legislature may now spend earnings without a plan.That has bond ratings firm Standard & Poor’s concerned. S&P issued a negative watch on Tuesday, saying that it would likely downgrade the state’s debt if the Legislature doesn’t pass a plan to balance the state’s future budgets. This downgrade could make it more expensive for the state to borrow in the future.Walker has said he’ll add more topics for the Legislature to consider, such as a plan for Permanent Fund earnings, after lawmakers agree on a budget. The state government will shut down on July 1 if there’s no budget by then.Share this story:last_img read more

Control board moves forward with regulations that could prohibit cocktail sales at Alaska distilleries

first_imgBusiness | State GovernmentControl board moves forward with regulations that could prohibit cocktail sales at Alaska distilleriesNovember 17, 2017 by Berett Wilber, KHNS-Haines Share:Amalga Distillery employees in Juneau serve up a cocktail in their tasting room in May 2017. (Photo by Rhyan Nydam)The debate over whether Alaska’s distilleries can serve cocktails continues.The Alcohol Beverage Control Board reviewed at their meeting Monday  new regulations which would ban mixed drinks — unless you mix them yourself.Audio Playerhttp://khns.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/16Distilleregs-L.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Alaska’s 10 distilleries just got some bad news.The Alcohol Control Board decided proceed with regulations that stop distilleries from selling cocktails.For Haines’ Heather Shade, that was a blow.“It’s almost like the regulatory process is just failing an entire industry,” Shade said.Shade and her husband have been winning awards for craft spirits since opening the Port Chilkoot Distillery in 2013.Their businesses plan included getting legislation passed to allow distillery tasting rooms, so people could sample their spirits on-site.That law passed in 2014.Port Chilkoot has served cocktails and samples year-round in Haines ever since – until August.The state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office issued an advisory notice that took Alaska’s spirit makers by surprise.AMCO received a complaint that a distillery was serving cocktails, which was a violation of the law.“That was astonishing. It’s not a public safety issue,” Shade said. “Tasting-rooms have been operating in this manner for years.”  The three-year-old law says distilleries “may sell not more than three ounces a day of the distillery’s product.” Mixers — from tonic, or juice to vermouth for a martini — didn’t count as the “distillery’s product.” The control office warned distillers to cease selling drinks with ingredients they didn’t produce.Port Chilkoot changed their menu to comply with the new guidelines and keep serving cocktails.“We had to adjust by producing all of our own mixers from scratch on site, so they would qualify as our distilleries product,” Shade said. “But now we’ve heard from the AMCO director that that’s not what she meant, and what they want is for us not to make cocktails at all, unfortunately.”  The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office director sent a message in September to the Alcohol Control Board.Alaska’s Department of Law had looked into it and their interpretation was that distilleries shouldn’t serve cocktails at all, period.“This is essentially a manufacturing statute,” said Assistant Attorney General Harriet Milks. “It provides a license to produce distilled alcoholic products — gin, vodka, things like that. It does not permit, on its face, distilleries to serve cocktails.”The Control Board agreed to get new regulations written to make that explicit. But with a tied vote, they also allowed distilleries to keep serving homemade cocktails until those regulations are finalized.In the meantime, both regulators and distillers are frustrated.Milks said cocktails haven’t come up as an issue before because regulators monitor over 2,500 alcohol, and now marijuana, licenses statewide. There are only 10 licensed distilleries, half of which have been operating less than four years.“Did any of these distilleries come to the board and say hey, we’re selling cocktails, is that OK? No, they never did that,” Milks said. “Unless you communicate with the regulators. . . they don’t just have ESP!”Shade feels regulators did know distilleries were serving cocktails – or should have.Alaska distilleries advertise their cocktails in print, radio, social media, on their websites.The director of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board owns Anchorage Distilling, which serves cocktails in its tasting room.“Every form of common sense is saying this is a good thing and a legal thing and we just get these arbitrary rulings,” Shade said.No matter who knew what when, now that the Department of Law has weighed in, Milks said , the board’s hands are tied by that interpretation of the statute.Legislators are weighing in, too. Eight lawmakers sent a letter to the board, saying they intended for distilleries to serve cocktails when they passed the law.But that ship has sailed.“When we provide a legal interpretation of a statute, we do not have free range to read in every possibility that might exist under the sun just because that was not precluded,” Milks said. “If that’s what the intent was, legislator’s can go back and fix that easily clear all this up.”But the legislature doesn’t reconvene until January.During their November meeting, the Alcohol Control Board reviewed new draft regulations.They ban distilleries from serving mixed drinks — or at least from having staff mix them.Because they can’t regulate non-alcoholic beverages, they can’t ban serving ingredients separately. So, even though you couldn’t order a gin & tonic, you could order both gin — and tonic.The board voted to move forward with the regulations, and opened them up for public comment.Christy Tengs, who owns the Pioneer Bar in Haines, feels torn about the board’s decision. Her bar operates under a beverage dispensary license – which in Alaska can cost $250,000, Milks said.Distilleries don’t have to buy those licenses, and their annual fees are less than half what bars pay.“Beverage dispensary permits cost a lot of money, and they’re limited in a community,” Tengs said. “It has felt like unfair competition from my view.”Tengs recently put her bar up for sale. Business is hard enough in Haines, she says, for everyone.The Alcohol Control Board will review public comments on the draft regulations, before they take a final vote at their January 23 meeting.You can send a message to the Board at [email protected] this story:last_img read more

Safety of Alaska-bound fuel barges under scrutiny

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Energy & Mining | Oceans | Southeast | TransportationSafety of Alaska-bound fuel barges under scrutinyDecember 1, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:The Gulf Cajun tug, right, tows the Zidell Marine 277, a 430-foot fuel barge Nov. 27. A day earlier, the barge detached from its tug, the Jake Shearer, far left, in Canadian waters on Nov. 26 near Bella Bella, British Columbia. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Coast Guard CCGS Gordon Reid)A near-miss involving a Skagway-bound tug and tanker barge hauling millions of gallons of fuel through the Inside Passage has reignited debate in Canada over shipping petroleum through its territory.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/12/171201BARGE.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.It was big news the next day in western Canada. The incident near Bella Bella, British Columbia, in Canada’s portion of the Inside Passage was just a few miles from a similar incident last year.In October last year, the Nathan E. Stewart tug had just unloaded its fuel cargo in Ketchikan.Its distress calls to the Canadian Coast Guard were obtained and published by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.About 29,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled. A nearby clam fishery used by the Heiltsuk First Nations tribe remains shut down 13 months later.Canadian authorities had been criticized over a delayed response and slow cleanup efforts.When last Sunday’s close-call involved the tug Jake Shearer and a 430-foot barge loaded with fuel, there was renewed outcry and concern.Harley Marine Services, the parent company of the tug operator, isn’t commenting, citing the open investigation by Transport Canada.But in Bella Bella, the community of 1,600, people have been listening intently to chatter on the VHF radio and talking to crew members and Coast Guard officials.“The actual tug and barge was hit by a rogue wave, causing one of the pegs that holds the tug to the barge to break and that led the crew to release themselves completely from the barge because it was putting the tug in danger,” said William Housty, the Heiltsuk First Nations’ incident commander in Bella Bella.Two crew members were reportedly able to jump from the tug to the loose barge to drop its anchor.Otherwise it could’ve run aground or broken up on a rock pile he said he could see from the air just meters away.“We’ve had these two incidents in the last year, it’s really kind of magnified these sort of tugs and put into question whether these tugs are actually capable of handling the seas in this part of the world,” Housty said.In the wake of the wreck last year, restrictions on barge traffic had recently been tightened by Canadian authorities.The tug Jake Shearer and its barge were apparently heeding new navigation rules on transiting fuel vessels that required them to avoid certain narrow straits in the area.“The American tug and barge industry have been going up and down this coast for over a century,” said Kevin Obermeyer, chief executive officer of the Pacific Pilotage Association which regulates marine navigation on Canada’s west coast.The association routinely issues waivers to the fuel companies so their vessels aren’t required to have a Canadian pilot on board as is required of other heavy vessels.Since the Exxon Valdez spill, the U.S. requires vessels carrying petroleum cargo to have an approved contingency plan for spills and fires. Canada doesn’t.“The oversight that we do is make sure that the officers and the crew on those vessels have been going through these waters sufficiently to have the experience and knowledge to do it safely,” Obermeyer said.We cannot bear all the risks for American companies traversing through our territorial waters, the Oceans Protection Plan requires tangible & timely solutions. We are calling for an Indigenous Marine Response Centre. Too much too risk. #JakeShearer #NES https://t.co/TWNnsLNl01— Marilyn Slett (@bellabellabc) November 27, 2017But critics say that might not be enough.The Canadian government has proposed banning full-sized tankers in the Inside Passage even though they don’t use that route.Tugs and barges hauling fuel — like the Jake Shearer and Nathan E. Stewart — would remain exempt.“We’re banning something that doesn’t occur but we have all this marine traffic passing through our Canadian waters and Canadians are saying look we’re taking all this risk but we’re getting no benefit,” said Joe Spears, a retired maritime law attorney who runs an oceans consultancy in Vancouver. “This is pretty much a live issue and it affects Alaska and I think we need to sit down and talk about this because of all of Southeast Alaska depends on these tugs and barges to get the refined petroleum product.”There’s no tracking how much fuel is shipped north to Southeast Alaska.One industry estimate offers an estimated 50 millions gallons annually.But there’s no hard data kept by the U.S. or Canadian authorities.But it’s a lot — because of the geography and the demand.Fuel retailers in Southeast Alaska say the loss of fuel deliveries by barge would be unthinkable.“Depending on how cold it is, we can haul up to 400,000 gallons of heating fuel in a month or more,” said Phil Isaac of Ike’s Fuel in Douglas. His family has owned the company that trucks heating fuel around the capital city for more than a half-century. “There’s just no way we could haul that in. The barges – the barges can bring up a million gallons at a time. There’s no way to replace that.”People in Bella Bella understand that — they get their fuel delivered the same way.“There’s people along the coast that live here and depend on the resources in this area for survival.” said William Housty in Bella Bella. “To put all that at stake for the movement of fossil fuels is very difficult for people to fathom.”Four days after the incident Canadian authorities admitted they’d grossly under-stated the amount of fuel carried in the barge.The vessels are carrying about 3.7 million gallons of diesel and gas – more than three times it had previously disclosed.The confusion, the agency said, came from mistaking liters for gallons.Share this story:last_img read more

Canada rejects transboundary mine permit protest

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Environment | Southeast | SyndicatedCanada rejects transboundary mine permit protestDecember 7, 2017 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Seabridge Gold staff stand in a rust-colored valley that’s part of its Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell exploration project in 2014. A federal agency in Canada has rejected a permit appeal from an Alaska conservation group.  (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska)An Alaska environmental group has lost its appeal of a large Canadian mining project planned for just across the border.The developer said the decision shows it’s behaving responsibly. But the conservation group said project owners, and Canada’s government, didn’t follow their own rules.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/12/07AppealCan.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.About a year ago, the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council tried a new tool to protest plans for the Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell transboundary mining project.It appealed to a Canadian agency called the National Contact Point. SEACC staff scientist Guy Archibald said it’s supposed to address international business disputes.“We’re exploring every venue we can to try to protect the transboundary rivers and the communities and fisheries they support from the large-scale development of Canadian mines across the border,” he said.Guy Archibald of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, left, discusses issues with former Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell, right, during a 2015 transboundary mine meeting in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)It tried to convince Canadian authorities that project owners didn’t fully follow guidelines requiring stakeholder engagement and environmental protections.But last month, that agency rejected that appeal.“There is no formal requirement for us to engage in Alaska,” said Rudi Fronk, chairman and CEO of Seabridge Gold.The Toronto-headquartered corporation owns the KSM — and another British Columbia mine-exploration project.“The confirmation from the National Contact Point in Canada just clearly reinforces the process we went through during the environmental assessment process, that the engagement we had not only with the Canadian authorities, but also the Alaska authorities, was appropriate and bountiful,” he said.(Read the National Contact Point report rejecting SEACC’s appeal of the KSM project.)SEACC acknowledges meetings took place, involving conservation, tribal, fisheries and other Southeast Alaska groups.But Archibald said the Canadian government failed to look into what happened at those meetings.“They did not consider at all whether that communication between Seabridge Gold and SEACC was adversarial at all. Or particularly informative at all,” he said. “Just that Seabridge had attended some meetings, presented their PowerPoint and that was adequate.”Seabridge Gold said it’s listened to concerns and made changes in its plans.(Watch Seabridge Gold’s Rudi Fronk discuss plans for the KSM Mine.)For example, it moved its tailings storage site at the request of British Columbia tribal leaders. And Fronk said it added protections to its design for that site, where waste rock is kept after being processed.The KSM, Red Chris and Galore Creek projects are among several planned for northwest British Columbia, near the Alaska border. (Map courtesy Seabridge Gold)“There is no requirement, or there was no requirement, in British Columbia to actually line the tailings facility,” he said. “But we agreed that we would line a portion of the tailings facility to deal with material that went through the mill that would actually touch cyanide.”The company continues drilling at its KSM site to locate valuable concentrations of gold, copper and other metals.But its biggest challenge is to find investors and partners to turn the exploration project into a mine.Fronk said the corporation has turned down several offers because they were not the right match.He said non-disclosure agreements prevent him from identifying those companies.SEACC, meanwhile, continues to push for high-level talks between U.S. and Canada’s federal governments.It, other organizations, the Walker-Mallott administration and Alaska’s Congressional delegation want stronger protections for Alaska fisheries.(Take a tour of the KSM exploration projects during the summer drilling season.)Share this story:last_img read more

Unfixed frisky felines overwhelm Juneau resident who surrenders 25-plus cats to humane society

first_imgJuneau | Public SafetyUnfixed frisky felines overwhelm Juneau resident who surrenders 25-plus cats to humane societyJanuary 10, 2018 by Tripp J Crouse, KTOO Share:Gastineau Humane Society clinic director Alicia Harris and Animal Control Director Karen Wood vaccinate one of about 25 cats surrendered this week. (Photo by Samantha Blankenship/Gastineau Humane Society)Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2018/01/10cats-NPR1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.What started with just two frisky cats — became a big problem for one Juneau resident.The owner called Gastineau Humane Society on Monday. The next day, the humane society removed 25 cats from the Mendenhall Valley home. Taking in the animals alone will cost the organization an estimated $10,000.Executive Director Samantha Blankenship estimates that it was about a 1,200-square-foot home, with one or two small bedrooms.“Cats, even if they’re related, will mate with each other and procreate very quickly among even family members. … It’s a good reminder to people that they need to spay and neuter their animals, because it can quickly get out of control.”Blankenship said the house was pretty dirty.“We assessed the situation to begin with and decided to take a couple of cats and come back the next day, sort of suited up to deal with all the feces that was in the environment,” Blankenship said. “As you can imagine with that many cats, it’s hard to keep on top of cleaning up after them.”Blankenship said the owner, whom the humane society declined to name, reported finding a couple more cats Wednesday. Blankenship said the cats did go out, but were mostly indoors.Gastineau Humane Society clinic director Alicia Harris holds one of the about 25 cats surrendered this week. (Photo by Samantha Blankenship/Gastineau Humane Society)The humane society will update the cats’ vaccinations, spay or neuter them and microchip them. They hope to begin adopting some out next week.“Most of them seem pretty healthy and pretty friendly,” Blankenship said. “We had to vaccinate them on intake, and get them in kennels and get them set up and let them calm down.”She hopes the community will donate cash to help defray the costs.Blankenship said the humane society deals with these kinds of situations once or twice a year, usually involving cats.Visiting hours at Gastineau Humane Society are 1 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.Gastineau Humane Society and Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center work together to provide low cost spaying and neutering services for low-income qualified individuals.Share this story:last_img read more

Public safety task force calls for police cameras in Juneau

first_imgJuneau | Local Government | Public SafetyPublic safety task force calls for police cameras in JuneauFebruary 26, 2018 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:Video surveillance from a privately installed security camera provides footage of a suspected burglary in downtown Juneau in 2015. (Image courtesy Juneau Police Department)Juneau should install security cameras in areas with high crime. That’s the recommendation of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Public Safety, which delivered its final report to the Assembly Monday evening.Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis, who chaired the task force, said he felt conflicted about placing cameras in public because of privacy concerns. But Nankervis suggested that cameras could improve safety and would defer to the Juneau Police Department.“JPD was very concerned about how that system would be: whether that’s a passive unmanned system or an active system that’s manned and where that would go,” the retired police captain said. “We didn’t want to get into the weeds on that. We just said wherever JPD thinks the highest crime areas are that would benefit from use – look at whether that’s an option or not.”The task force has met 10 times since August. Its recommendations include filling the nine vacancies in the police department, bolstering treatment and diversion programs and hiring an outside contractor to study gaps in social services that contribute to recidivism.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska Aerospace Corporation schedules launch at Kodiak facility

first_imgMilitary | Southwest | TransportationAlaska Aerospace Corporation schedules launch at Kodiak facilityJune 25, 2018 by Kayla Desroches, KMXT-Kodiak Share:Alaska Aerospace Corporation launch facility in Narrow Cape. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Aerospace Corporation)The Alaska Aerospace Corporation scheduled a launch next month at its Kodiak facility.President and CEO Craig Campbell said a commercial company will conduct the launch sometime July 14-20. He says the site will be closed for certain hours during those days.“The intention is that the rocket will launch in the first day, but if the weather’s bad, if there’s an equipment issue, it protects the next few days so that they can continue to launch the rocket within the specified window.”Campbell said a couple of previous launch attempts this year were not completed, and he isn’t able to share anything more about the operation because of a nondisclosure agreement.He said Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which has a contract with the Missile Defense Agency, is trying to build the number of commercial companies it contracts with.Share this story:last_img read more

Tourists pledge to cancel trips to Alaska if Murkowski confirms SCOTUS nominee

first_imgFederal Government | Juneau | Politics | Southeast | TourismTourists pledge to cancel trips to Alaska if Murkowski confirms SCOTUS nomineeAugust 2, 2018 by Henry Leasia, KHNS Share:The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 21, 2009. (Creative Commons photo by Matt Wade)Prospective tourists have pledged to cancel vacations to Alaska if U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski confirms President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. That is according to a letter sent to visitors bureaus in cities across Southeast Alaska.Audio Playerhttps://khns.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/01SCOTUSletterWithIntro.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Thirty-seven people hailing from 11 different states across the U.S. have added their names to the letter addressed to visitors bureaus in Skagway, Ketchikan and Juneau.The short letter reads, “The undersigned pledge to cancel Alaska vacations and refrain from making any plans to visit in the future if Senator Murkowski confirms President Trump’s anti-choice SCOTUS nominee.”Travel Juneau CEO Liz Perry said she’s seen this kind of thing before.“This is not uncommon in the industry,” Perry said. “As a matter of fact, the industry refers to this as the weaponization of travel. The threat of a boycott if a political end is not met. Such boycotts can be effective, but most of the time they mostly hit the frontline workers, your service operators. The political folks involved, in this case our U.S. senators, are very seldom affected in a major way.”Perry said she wrote a letter back to its author, Shoshana Hantman from Katonah, New York. Perry encouraged her to write Murkowski directly.“I wanted to acknowledge her concerns and let her know what generally our position was on the way boycotts can or cannot work, and invited her to take a different tack,” Perry said.When reached by phone in New York, Hantman declined to comment for the story.Skagway Tourism Director Cody Jennings asked the Skagway Borough Assembly to consider the letter at its upcoming meeting this week.U.S. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiMurkowski has not said whether she will confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.Her vote could be critical in deciding the nomination since a single nay vote among Republicans coupled with the unanimous Democratic opposition would sink the nomination.Perry of Travel Juneau said she sent a copy of the letter to Sen. Murkowski’s office in Juneau.Share this story:last_img read more

Treadwell points to experience in campaign for governor

first_imgEconomy | Energy & Mining | Interior | Politics | Southcentral | State GovernmentTreadwell points to experience in campaign for governorAugust 13, 2018 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Mead Treadwell says he would draw from his business and government experience if he’s elected governor. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)Mead Treadwell is trying to make up ground in the race to win the Aug. 21 primary to become the Republican candidate for governor.When Treadwell says why he should be governor, the former lieutenant governor talked about the sheer range of issues he’s faced in business and government.“You need a candidate with experience to be your governor,” he said. “The odds are very strong that the Republicans are going to win this race. The Democrats and Bill Walker are, you know, going to be dividing up the left. And I want the Republicans to put forward a strong candidate who has actually worked on Alaska’s economy all over the state.”Treadwell is 62 years old. He grew up in Connecticut.Treadwell said his father was admirable in many ways, but that he abused alcohol.“I came from a family, which had a great dad when he was sober,” he said. “He was mayor of our town. He had actually just cut the ribbon on a fire department the day before our house burned down and the fire department was pulling him out. He died in that fire and the rest of us got out.”He came to Alaska with his grandmother in 1974, and served on Walter Hickel’s unsuccessful campaign for governor four years later. He spent most of the 1980s working for a company trying to develop the Asian market for Alaska’s natural gas. After Hickel was elected governor in 1990, Treadwell joined the administration as deputy commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation.He has three children who he largely raised on his own after his first wife Carol died from brain cancer.“When she died, she left me a kindergartner, a first-grader, a fifth-grader and a minivan,” Treadwell said. “And I drove that minivan to scouts and to volleyball and to the ski hill. And had we not been able to come together as a family and spend those weekends, every weekend at the cabin, I’m not sure we would have survived.”Treadwell remarried, to Virginia McClure.Hickel remains a powerful influence on Treadwell. Hickel told Treadwell near his death in 2010 to continue the state’s longtime fight for more control over its land.“Another thing he said is: ‘Stay free,’” Treadwell said. “We engraved it on his gravestone where he was buried standing up, so he didn’t have to get up to fight, he said. But the main thing about ‘stay free’ is this: Don’t be set with conflicts. And make sure that you have your principles, but be creative enough in your thinking and pragmatic enough in your thinking to get things done.”His business experience included work with an investment firm he started with his friend John Wanamaker and two others. Wanamaker credits Treadwell’s persistence with the success of some of the companies they invested in. They include Immersive Media, which developed the 360-degree cameras later used for Google Street View.“The reason why we got there is my buddy just kept beating that horse,” Wanamaker said. “We just kept working it and working it and working it when, you know, some of us thought, ‘Hey, maybe it’s a cool technology, but there’s no application.”Treadwell’s campaign website doesn’t lay out many specific policy proposals. He does say he supports setting permanent fund dividends at the full amount under the formula used until 2016. Treadwell hasn’t spelled out how he would pay for it. He says he would look to lower the cost of state government while improving what he calls government’s  “outputs,” in areas like high school graduation rates and the rate that prisoners commit new crimes.“I’m not going to tell you a division I’m going to eliminate or anything else,” he said. “I’m going to make sure that we look at outputs as well as inputs.”He noted his experience with Street View and another business that provided anti-piracy technology for films.“We could be attracting those kind of companies here,” he said.He said he would look for opportunities to develop manufacturing and other industries that would add value to the state’s natural resources.“I’m wearing a belt that’s made out of salmon leather right now,” he said. “We’ve got to be ferocious in bringing jobs back to the state.”Treadwell’s immediate rival is former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy. The senator’s brother and others have bankrolled a group backing Dunleavy.“I don’t see a problem with Mike Dunleavy having the capability to get elected,” Treadwell said. “I do see a problem with Alaska having a governor who doesn’t have a whole lot of experience. And there was what I’ll call checkbook deterrence to others who wanted to get into the race … I finally decided that I’m going to go up against this paper tiger and I won’t have as much money. But I’ve started companies where we didn’t have as much money as somebody else and we made things happen.”Treadwell said he’s gaining support from Republicans, as well as from undeclared and nonpartisan voters.Share this story:last_img read more