Alaska News Nightly: October 4, 2007

Alaska’s series of political corruption trials got more interesting today as Vic Kohring is given a revised indictment alleging additional corruption activities. Meanwhile some of those left in the legislature turn their noses up at the Governor’s proposed oil tax revision. Plus, Alaska confronts a future with less sea ice and Petersburg thinks twice about being the Southeast’s garbage man. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Former legislator Vic Kohring hit with revised corruption indictment
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The federal government has released new details in their case against former state legislator Vic Kohring. Prosecutors have filed a new indictment against Kohring which supersedes the original and now allege that Kohring had been conspiring with VECO officials dating back to 2002. They say he may have helped VECO with an oil bill in 2003, and that he fired his Chief of Staff after Bill Allen told him to a year later.

Senate committee debates international ‘Law of the Sea’ treaty
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee gave critics a chance to air their concerns about the Law of the Sea Treaty today. In testimony last week, top defense and State Department officials said they believed ratification of the treaty was in the best national security and economic interests of the nation. However, a small but vocal group of critics believe it would undermine U.S. sovereignty in a range of ways.

Stevens complains of diminishing Coast Guard service in Alaskan waters
Joel Southern, APRN – Anchorage
Senator Ted Stevens said today he believes Alaska is getting short-changed when it comes to ocean and port security. At a Senate Commerce oversight hearing, Stevens voiced his concerns to Rear Admiral Dave Pekoske, the Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Operations. He said while the Coast Guard is putting a lot of attention on inspecting foreign ports and other Homeland Security responsibilities, its presence in Alaska waters is declining.

State legislators rejecting Governor’s — or anyone’s — oil tax proposals
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Legislators don’t anticipate a final resolution to the tax issues the Governor wants them to consider in a special session later this month. With several different alternatives available — and deeply held opinions on oil tax methods — lawmakers say they don’t really expect to see a majority of them supporting anything.

Murkowski wants to know: Is the BIA office moving or not?
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The man who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs says no decision has been made to move the Alaska regional office from Juneau to Anchorage, despite rumors making the rounds in the state. At an oversight hearing this morning in Washington, DC, Senator Lisa Murkowski raised the issue with Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Carl Artman. She asked Artman to confirm or refute claims by Alaska region director Niles Caesar that the decision has been made and that Caesar is under a directive from the Interior Department to move the office to Anchorage.

National, state and local anti-meth campaigns synchronizing
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
An afternoon-long anti-methamphetamine forum held today in Anchorage was preceded by a press conference with federal, state and local officials describing various enforcement and educational campaigns against the drug. But the most moving success story came from a recovered meth user.

Polar sea ice retreat to affect Alaska’s oceans
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Sea ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean shrunk to its lowest point on record this summer. That news has huge implications for nearly every aspect of life in Alaska, from the landscape to the weather. Researcher James Overland with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Seattle has been studying the change. And he’s in town this week to talk about what the ice retreat might mean to Alaska’s oceans.

Petersburg not so sure about ‘trashy’ future
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Petersburg will continue to take part in planning for a regional solution for garbage disposal needs in Southeast Alaska. But at this week’s city council meeting, some officials were not excited about building the facility in Petersburg.