Alaska News Nightly: September 15, 2008

Four state employees say they’re willing to testify in the legislature’s “Troopergate” investigation. Plus, two seal pups have resumed their life in the wild after being nursed back to health by the Alaska SeaLife Center. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Palin campaign now says Monegan was fired for insubordination
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Anchorage
The John McCain / Sarah Palin campaign fired a volley at “Troopergate” allegations against Alaska’s governor today. At a press conference at McCain campaign headquarters in Anchorage, former Palin press secretary Megan Stapleton said the campaign is releasing new information. Stapleton claimed former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan’s firing was in reaction to behavior called “egregious insubordination.”

State green-lights employees to testify in Palin/Monegan investigation
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Department of Law has agreed to let the legislative investigator looking into the Monegan firing interview state employees for which subpoenas were approved on Friday.

Group of lawyers recommending voters kick judge out of court
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
In the November general election, Alaska voters will be asked whether or not to retain 12 judges across the state. But the Alaska Judicial Council is recommending that voters do NOT retain a judge in the district that includes Bethel and Fairbanks.

Begich facing fine for failure to disclose portion of wife’s income
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) is recommending that Anchorage Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Begich be fined $1,420. Commission staff say Begich failed to disclose $15,000 in income his wife Deborah Bonito received as a shareholder of four different companies. The recommended civil penalty is $10 per day for the 142 days it took Begich to correct his state disclosure forms.

Comment period on Endangered Species change extended to Oct 15
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Bush Administration has extended the comment period for its proposed revision of the Endangered Species Act. The deadline for the public to weigh in was initially today, but the Interior Department has extended it until October 15.

Mass market lumber in Southeast long gone, but specialty mills survive
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Southeast Alaska’s biggest timber mills are long gone, due to changes in government policy and the global market. But small mill operators continue to turn out lumber and specialty products on Prince of Wales Island.

New convention space 4 times the size of Anchorage’s old Egan Center
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Last Friday Anchorage’s new Dena’ina Convention and Civic Center hosted its first event. The “sneak preview” of the 215,000 square foot facility drew about 200 people.

Seward biologists send rescued seal pups back to nature
Emily Schwing, KBBI – Homer
The Alaska SeaLife Center staff successfully released two harbor seal pups back to the wild Friday afternoon.

New evidence indicates sharks toured Alaska’s ancient waters
Jay Marble, KRBD – Ketchikan
Researchers have located the remains of ancient sharks in Southeast Alaska. Until recently these sharks were only found in Europe and Russia.