Alaska News Nightly: September 10, 2007

Opening statements and some wiretaps were heard in Anchorage today in the Pete Kott corruption trial. Plus we explore news of coal, herring, immigrant rights, auklets, the Alaska Highway and attempts by law enforcement to keep a bank fraud suspect under arrest and in jail. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Kott legislative corruption trial begins in Anchorage
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Pete Kott began today in Anchorage. Opening statements were read this morning, and the prosecution began presenting wiretapped recorded evidence later in the day. Kott is accused of accepting bribes from officials of VECO while the legislature debated the Petroleum Production Tax (PPT) in the spring of 2006.

Wade appears in court on bank fraud charges; Schloss remains missing
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
The preliminary hearing and bail appearance began for Joshua Wade this morning in Anchorage. Wade is accused of two counts of bank fraud for allegedly using the ATM card of Mindy Schloss — who has been missing for more than a month.

Coal development west of Anchorage could start as early as 2009
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Matanuska-Susitna Valley
A proposed coal development near Anchorage could provide fuel for local power. DRven Corporation’s Chuitna coal project on the west side of Cook Inlet is planned as an export operation, although developers say some mine output could be used closer to home — if the price is right.

Biologists studying Crested Auklet secretions that repel ticks and attract mates
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Biologist Hector Dougless is documenting birds on St. Lawrence Island exhibiting behavior previously observed only in mammals.

Should Anchorage police demand proof of citizenship in traffic stops?
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
A proposed ordinance now before the Anchorage Assembly has drawn criticism from ethnic advocacy groups. Assemblyman Paul Bauer, representing East Anchorage, is behind a city ordinance that would require Anchorage police officers to ask drivers for proof of legal immigration status during routine traffic stops. The proposal has raised hackles on and off the Assembly.

Native Yukon tribe fighting gas pipeline possibilities; may put a toll booth on Alaska Highway
Nancy Thompson, CBC – Whitehorse, YT
A tribal group on the Canadian side of the Alaska border has a beef about being left out of natural gas pipeline negotiations, and is threatening to take it to the streets — or, more accurately, to the Alaska Highway, which runs through their territory. The White River First Nation says it will resist all attempts to put a pipeline there. And if nobody wants to pay for the right of way, they will look for other sources of income, such as a toll booth.

Lynn Canal herring under review for possible threatened/endangered listing
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Federal fisheries officials are examining the status of Pacific herring stocks in Lynn Canal. If research shows the small fish in trouble, they could be listed as threatened or endangered. Erika Phillips of the National Marine Fisheries Service says the agency agreed to examine the stock after being petitioned by the Sierra Club’s Juneau chapter.

On April 2, 2007, we, NMFS, received a petition to list the Lynn Canal (Alaska) stock of Pacific herring, Clupea pallasi, as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After review, we find that the petition presents substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are initiating a review of the status of the Lynn Canal population of Pacific herring, and we request data, information, and comment on the subject action. Specifically, we are soliciting information regarding population structure and stock delineations of Pacific herring in Southeast Alaska, the Gulf of Alaska, and the North Pacific Ocean; population trends and ecology of Pacific herring in Lynn Canal and Southeast Alaska waters; habitat requirements and current habitat conditions; known and anticipated threats to the viability of the population; and efforts being made to protect the species.

Craig sculptor turns Southeast rocks into art, furniture
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A Southeast Alaska man has created a business that celebrates the region’s geology. Gary McWilliams collects exotic marbles and other rocks from the Prince of Wales Island area and turns them into sculptures, furniture and jewelry.