Alaska News Nightly: May 1, 2008

UPDATE, MAY 2: When originally posted — and sent out via nightly e-mail — we incorrectly identified Jake Metcalfe as “Ray Metcalfe” in the introductory block below. The two Metcalfes are actively seeking political office at this time but they are completely different people, have no family relation and their campaigns are unrelated. We deeply regret the mistake and are sending an apology to Ray Metcalfe today.

US House candidate Jake Metcalfe’s campaign advisor Bill Scannel resigns under pressure. Also, Governor Palin decides not to declare Juneau’s electricity a disaster. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles resigns. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Jake Metcalfe’s campaign advisor resigns under fire
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The campaign advisor to democratic Congressional candidate Jake Metcalfe resigned this afternoon. Bill Scannell’s resignation comes amid allegations that he was behind a series of false websites intended to smear one of Metcalfe’s opponents, fellow democrat Ethan Berkowitz.

Governor Palin says Juneau’s energy crisis is not a disaster
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
The governor was briefed this afternoon by her disaster policy cabinet, which met this morning to determine if the capital city would qualify for relief funds after avalanches cut off its supply of low-cost hydroelectric power two weeks ago. It was the second meeting on Juneau’s request for a disaster declaration. Palin says she concurs with the cabinet’s recommendation. The city had sought the declaration to access state and federal assistance

Rising cost of electricity in Juneau will affect other parts of the state
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The increase cost of electricity in Juneau will have an impact on the Power Cost Equalization program that helps lower energy prices in other parts of Alaska – mainly rural communities that use diesel fuel to generate electricity. But the Disaster Policy Cabinet has not yet calculated the amount of that subsidy change.

Governor’s top aide resigns
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Palin’s Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles has resigned his position as the top aide in charge of the daily management of the administration. Tibbles was Palin’s campaign manager during the 2006 election and joined the governor’s staff shortly after the election. Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Nizich will temporarily take over the position. Among other staff changes announced today, Russ Kelly will move to Washington DC to work for the governor’s office there. He is currently the legislative liaison for the governor.

Federal investigators say weather not a factor in a helicopter crash
Associated Press – Anchorage
The crash near Sheep Mountainlast month killed four people. National Transportation Safety Board
investigator Larry Lewis says witnesses in the area on April 15 say visibility was at least two miles, and there was a high ceiling. Lewis says they will now focus on mechanical factors in the crash of the state-chartered helicopter. Era Helicopters pilot Benoit Pin died, along with three employees of the state Department of Administration. A 14 year old boy survived.

Despite focus on gasline, LNG still getting attention in Alaska
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Developing a new pipeline is the current focus for getting Alaska’s North Slope natural gas to market, but it isn’t the only option. Gas to liquids technology is getting another look as an alternative method of commercializing Alaska’s gas.

Permanent Fund Director tapped to advise international money managers
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska Permanent Fund Executive Director Michael Burns has been meeting with international money managers in Washington DC over the last 2 days. He’s offering guidance to countries on developing
transparent practices for government managed funds. Burns says the International Monetary Fund is developing these voluntary guidelines to help quell some of the anxiety in the world wide markets.

Remains of 500-year-old man linked to Alaska Natives
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Remains of a centuries-old man found in a receding Canadian icefield have been linked to Southeast Alaska Natives. Organizations based in the Yukon and Juneau say DNA testing demonstrates the close historic connections between tribal groups on both sides of the border.

Alaska School Activities Association approves strict new substance ban
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
For the first time, high school sports and activities will be subject to a statewide policy against tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. The new rules include both consequences and an educational requirement for students who get into trouble.