Alaska News Nightly: February 5, 2008

Governor Palin turns back the clock, putting the Habitat Division back into the Department of Fish and Game. Plus, a jury in Fairbanks deliberates the case against former Fairbanks mayor Jim Hayes, and Alaskans participate in Super Tuesday. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Governor Palin reverses Governor Murkowski on Habitat Division
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Palin today overturned the first controversial decision made by her predecessor in office, Frank Murkowski. She moved management of the Habitat Division from the Department of Natural Resources and returned it to the Department of Fish and Game. Murkowski made the move in January of 2003, just a few weeks after the beginning of his term.

Fairbanks Jury mulls charges against former mayor Jim Hayes
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A jury is deliberating the case of former Fairbanks mayor Jim Hayes. Hayes is on trial in federal court in Fairbanks on 28 counts, including theft, money laundering and fraud. He’s accused of stealing from federal grants for personal gain and to help build a new church.

Sinopec pitches legislature on gasline
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The legislature yesterday heard the Chinese interest in a gas pipeline to Valdez. Sinopec was rejected by the governor’s gas team after submitting an application through the Little Susitna Construction Company. Sinopec would provide the financing and construction expertise for a gasline, liquefaction plant and marine terminal.

Alaska delegation expresses doubt on stimulus package
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
Tomorrow, the U-S Senate is expected to take a key procedural vote on an economic stimulus package. But for different reasons, Alaska’s senators have their doubts about it.

Earmarks becoming harder to finagle

Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
A gloomy federal budget with a ballooning deficit will focus even more attention on earmarks as Congress starts work on 2009 spending plans. Over his years in the Senate, Ted Stevens has effectively used earmarks to steer hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars to Alaska. But he acknowledges the process is about to become more difficult.

The public weighs in on hoverbarge issue
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
More than 200 people filled Centennial Hall’s Sheffield #3 ballroom last night for a public meeting on the possibility of hover-barges carrying minerals from the Tulsequah Chief Mine down the Taku River. Centennial Hall’s other rooms were booked by the Canadian owners of the mine. But the main action was in the standing-room-only information session hosted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Alaskans take sides over presidential candidates
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Members of Alaska’s Republican and Democratic Parties can vote for their presidential candidates in today’s Super Tuesday events.  Republicans will go to the polls, while Democrats will gather to caucus.  The Republican Party is having a preference vote at the polls this evening.

Court takes Anchorage assembly to task over Walmart rezoning
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
A superior court judge ruled  yesterday the Anchorage Assembly ignored municipal requirements when it rezoned some 20 acres in the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam’s Club project in Muldoon.