Alaska News Nightly: December 16, 2008

Senator Stevens is fighting to keep his law license in Alaska. Plus, a new study documents a dramatic increase in air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean.

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Did witness who said he lied in Stevens trial actually lie about lying?
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Federal prosecutors say former State Senator Jerry Ward convinced a witness in Senator Ted Stevens’ trial to lie after the trial about an immunity deal. They say Ward was trying to protect himself from prosecution for an unrelated matter.

Alaska Bar confirms Stevens should be disbarred post-conviction, pre-appeal
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The Alaska Bar Association says Senator Ted Stevens’ should have his law license temporarily suspended. Stevens is fighting the move, which is standard practice when a lawyer is convicted of a felony. The Bar Association filed its reply Monday, formally saying it is indeed appropriate for the court to temporarily suspend his license.

EPA permit to dump toxic oil and gas waste in Cook Inlet challenged
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
Environmental groups are challenging an Environmental Protection Agency permit that allows oil and gas companies to dump wastewater in Cook Inlet.

With State budget down 7%, Governor’s pay may jump 20%
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Governor Sarah Palin’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year calls for a 7% reduction in state spending. But while the Governor is calling for government to tighten its belt, a commission Palin appointed is recommending she get a $25,000 raise. The Governor’s current annual salary is $125,000. The State Officers’ Compensation Commission is also recommending slightly smaller raises for the Lieutenant Governor and members of Palin’s cabinet.

Nikolski phones offline more than a month, awaiting parts
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The Aleutian Islands village of Nikolski has not had phone service since early November. ACS provides service to the island. ACS Communications Director Paula Dobbyn says the problem started with a blown switch on a phone system tailored for a small, isolated community. Only about 40 towns use the same type of switch, requiring special parts manufacturing. A technician is trying to get to Nikolski to repair the problem but is stuck in Unalaska with weather delays.

Obama picks Energy and Environment leaders suggesting mixed Alaska impacts
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
President-elect Barack Obama says his new “Energy and Environment Team” will work together to develop green energy and tackle global warming. He officially announced yesterday his picks for Energy Secretary and director of the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

Arctic warming study shows accelerating heat feedback loop
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Arctic has been called the “canary in the coal mine” when in comes to global warming. And a new study quantifies just how pronounced that phenomenon is.

Three rural Democrats join Alaska House Republican majority
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Democrats Reggie Joule of Kotzebue, Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham and Bob Heron of Bethel are now working with the majority Republicans in Alaska’s House of Representatives. Republican Mike Chenault of Nikiski says the three will broaden the views of the majority caucus while minority leader Beth Kerttula of Juneau says she’s disappointed with the departures. The House majority now numbers 26 with the minority numbering 14.

Anchorage student numbers force mid-year hiring
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
A larger student enrollment than predicted is prompting the Anchorage School District to spend over $600,000 expanding its teaching and classroom aide staff.

Yukon Quest wins $10,000 from Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks City Council voted last night to give $10,000 to the Yukon Quest. Quest officials sought financial support directly from the council after missing an application deadline for city bed tax funds this fall.