Alaska News Nightly: October 15, 2007

Tom Anderson, the first of several former Alaska legislators to be convicted on corruption charges, received his prison sentence today. Meanwhile Ted Stevens is raising lots of money for the 2008 election, cancer rates fall for everyone except Alaska Natives or Native Americans, and the Bristol Bay crab fleet remained tied up on the first day of the crab season. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Anderson sentenced to 5 years; expresses regret
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Today a federal judge sentenced former state Legislator Tom Anderson to five years in prison for seven felony counts of bribery, extortion, conspiracy and money laundering. Anderson was the first lawmaker to go on trial in a massive federal probe of corruption in the Alaska Legislature, and the judge said he had to make an example of him because of the damage his actions had done to the public’s trust in its government. His sentence fell in the upper range of federal guidelines.

Poll to legislators asks about questionable polls from VECO
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
More than half the current members of the state legislature have responded to a poll taken to determine just how much influence VECO has had over legislative activities in the past. 26 representatives and 12 senators from the Alaska Legislature have responded to the AKPIRG poll.

Ted Stevens turns in quarterly campaign revenue record
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The reelection campaign for Senator Ted Stevens has raised its highest amount of contributions in a single quarter since 2002. They announced today that between July and September of this year they raised more than $463,000 for Stevens.

Fort Richardson soldier killed in Iraq
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Department of Defense today announced the death of another Fort Richardson soldier serving in Iraq. 27-year old 1st Lieutenant Thomas M. Martin of Ward, Arkansas, died yesterday of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire during combat operations. Martin was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Richardson.

Crab season opens, but boats remain tied up in Dutch Harbor
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
The Bristol Bay red king crab season opened today, but like last year, the majority of the fleet is still tied up in Dutch Harbor, waiting for their proxies in Seattle to agree on a fair price. Greg White is a negotiator for the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, which represents about 70% of the Bering Sea crab fleet in negotiations with seafood companies.

Southeast group pushing for Alaska’s first tribal college
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
There are 32 tribal colleges in the United States. Credited with getting more Native Americans and Alaska Natives into post-secondary education, tribal colleges are federally designated and eligible for specially earmarked funds. States like Montana and North Dakota have numerous tribal colleges. Alaska has only one. A small group in Sitka is looking to right that imbalance. The group met last week to start figuring out how to start a tribal college in Southeast Alaska.

Grand Camp focusing on health, cancer treatment and economics
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Southeast Alaska’s oldest Native organization will continue its focus on health issues during the next year. That includes a push for a regional cancer treatment center. Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood leaders say they’ll also advocate for economic development in Southeast, including the Kensington mine near Juneau.

Alaska Natives not sharing in national cancer death rate reductions
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
A report out today says cancer death rates are dropping significantly in the U.S. but not for Alaska Natives and American Indians in the Plains states.

S.J. College in trouble with state commission over teaching cost transfers
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) has initiated a complaint against Sheldon Jackson College for failing to pay its share of scholarship funding and other expenses incurred as part an ongoing “teach-out.” The formal complaint from the will allow ACPE staff to investigate and audit the college’s promises of support for students finishing their Sheldon Jackson degrees at other institutions.

Southeast United Way developing nonprofit Board leadership
Weld Royal, KTOO – Juneau
Across the country, nonprofit organizations face a serious leadership shortage. Juneau is no different. United Way of Southeast Alaska hopes to address that need with its new 10-day training program that prepares individuals to serve on nonprofit boards. The program starts early next year and aims to build a regional network of community leaders. It’s modeled on an Anchorage initiative that’s been named one of the best in the nation.