Alaska News Nightly: January 23, 2008

Today in Alaska news… Kodiak’s Gabrielle LeDoux stops fundraising for her Congressional campaign under threat of Republican excommunication while Nome’s House representative Richard Foster reports in from a Seattle hospital. Meanwhile, Exxon Valdez plaintiffs file their last documents with the Supreme Court and whales are found wintering off Kodiak. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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LeDoux Congressional campaign stopped amidst fundraising complaints
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Kodiak Republican Gabrielle LeDoux has put her campaign for Congress on hold — at least the fundraising part of it. Fellow members of the House Majority caucus had complained she was raising money during the legislative session, sometimes from within the Capitol itself.

Exxon Valdez plaintiffs file last brief before Supreme Court oral arguments
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Valdez
Yesterday, attorneys submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of claimants in the Exxon-Valdez punitive damages case. This is the plaintiffs’ final document to be filed and their last act in the litigation before the court hears oral arguments in late February.

High prices forcing oil consumption cutbacks
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
High world oil prices are a boon to state coffers, but they’re taking a toll on personal budgets. Homeowners and local businesses suffer when fuel is expensive.

Anchorage Schools proposing $35 million budget boost for 2008-2009
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
The Anchorage School Board spent all day yesterday examining the administration’s proposed 2008/2009 budget. Balancing expected state funding increases against perceived student needs, the general operations portion totals over $580 million, an approximately $35 million increase over this year.

Nome’s Richard Foster in Seattle hospital
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Nome representative Richard Foster is undergoing treatment in Seattle following a stroke last Friday. Foster, a Democrat, is serving his 20th year as a member of the House, much of that time acting as Majority Whip — even in legislatures dominated by Republicans.

Some whales skipping seasonal migration, wintering off Kodiak Island
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
Scientists have long heard reports of whales over-wintering on the west side of Kodiak Island, and this year they decided to do an in-depth survey. And for the first time, University of Alaska marine mammal biologists successfully tagged a fin whale in Uganik Bay.

Crashed St. George economy hoping for revival
Annie Feidt, APRN – St. George Island
The city of St. George is starting to look like a ghost town. Houses are boarded up and the large school building is nearly empty. Like neighboring St. Paul, the island’s economy was hit hard when the Opilio Crab Stock crashed in 1999. But residents are hoping new economic development projects can help bring the town back to life.

Summer ferry schedule expected Jan 31, following cost-cutting rewrite
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska Marine Highway managers say they delayed the summer ferry schedule while they worked on cutting costs. Ferry chief Dennis Hardy told the House Transportation Committee yesterday that recent years’ schedules called for more sailings than the state could afford. He said the new operating plan will reduce expenses.

Feds reviewing proposed rail/port project in Mat-Su
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Matanuska-Susitna Borough
Another step has been taken toward building a railroad extension from Alaska Railroad’s main line to the Matanuska Valley’s Port MacKenzie. A preliminary report is now in the hands of the federal Surface Transportation Board, which is the agency that will make the final decision on the project.