Alaska News Nightly: August 30, 2010

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Hoonah Suspect Gives Up; Charged with Murder
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
The standoff is over between Alaska State Troopers and a Hoonah man who allegedly shot and killed two police officers Saturday night.

It ended shortly after 9:30 Monday morning, when the suspect, 45-year-old John Marvin, Jr., left his home in response to troopers’ efforts.

Marvin is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of Hoonah Police officers Tony Wallace and Matt Tokuoka. Troopers’ Spokeswoman Megan Peters in Anchorage declined to get into specifics about what tactics were used to end the standoff, citing an ongoing investigation.

“All I am saying is that Marvin exited the residence in response to efforts by SERT,” she said. SERT is the troopers’ Special Emergency Response Team. Peters said law enforcement personnel from around the state provided resources and manpower during the incident, including Juneau, Anchorage, and Sitka Police, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, and a U.S. Forest Service officer.

Troopers said Marvin shot Wallace and Tokuoka shortly after 10:30 p.m. Saturday, in what is being described as an ambush witnessed by the dead officers’ families.

Hoonah Mayor Windy Skaflestad said his son Arlen – a reserve officer – was one of the first on scene.

“He told me the same story, that the families was there: the mother of Tony and the wife and two children of Matt, Skaflestad said. “They were good friends. They were visiting on the street when it happened.”

A Coast Guard helicopter transported one of the victims to Juneau, where he died. The other officer died at Hoonah’s health clinic.

Meanwhile, Marvin barricaded himself inside his home on Front Street in Hoonah.

Skaflestad said Marvin is well-known to Hoonah Police. A year ago, he says Marvin attempted to wrestle Officer Wallace’s gun away from him.

“He picked on the wrong person when he went after to wrestle Tony, because Tony is a wrestler, a state wrestler champ,” Skalfestad said. “So, it was the wrong person. But they had quite a bit of bump-ins with him for about a month or two about a year ago. So, I think that’s what set this all off.”

Hoonah is a city of about 800 residents, 40 miles west of Juneau on northern Chichagof Island. The shootings leave the community with just one police officer, Chief John Millan. The town also has one officer-in-training.

City Administrator Bob Prunella said officers from Wrangell Police Department will fill-in while the force gets back on its feet.

Libertarian Party Not Considering Murkowski for Ballot Spot
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Libertarian Party announced today they will not consider letting Senator Lisa Murkowski use their spot on the November ballot if she loses her primary race against Joe Miller. But the ALP said there may be support for letting Miller run as a Libertarian if he doesn’t win the tight contest for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Miller Chides Murkowski for Using “Outside Help”
Libby Casey, APRN – Anchorage
Joe Miller is chiding Senator Lisa Murkowski’s campaign team for what he calls “outside help,” but he has also brought in an outsider – a staffer for Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence is assisting his team.  Pence is also the chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Miller has accused the group that works to get Republicans elected to the Senate of, in his words, “meddling” in the vote counting process. But Lisa Murkowski came out swinging today against his accusations, calling his comments “blatantly false” and astounding.  She said in a press release that Miller is acting like he’s “afraid of Republicans.”

Miller told ABC News that he believes the National Republican Senatorial Committee is trying to, “skew the results” in Murkowski’s direction.  But Murkowski’s campaign says they’re relying on their own team and local volunteers. The chief counsel for the NRSC was sent to Alaska, but the group says he’s no longer involved.  Joe Miller told ABC that he talked over the weekend with Senator John Cornyn, who heads the Republican group.  Miller says Cornyn promised he is pulling out members sent to Alaska.

The NRSC has not retuned APRN’s calls despite repeated requests.

Both Republican Senate candidates have engaged lawyers to watch over ballot-counting efforts at the Division of Elections.  And both are bracing for a possible re-count if the numbers continue to be close.

Joe Miller a Hot Commodity in Media Since Primary
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller of Fairbanks has been a hot media commodity since taking the lead in the Republican primary.  After stepping off set from filming a spot with CBS’s Face the Nation in Fairbanks Sunday, Miller said he’s done dozens of interviews since last Tuesday’s election.

With campaigns suspended as they await the count of absentee and questioned ballots in the close race between Miller and incumbent Lisa Murkowski, Miller says he can handle the media attention, and is using it to get his message of federal restraint out.

Miller advocates for defunding federal health care and transitioning away from social security, but says that the shift would be gradual, unless the federal government goes bankrupt.

Thousands Gather For Glenn Beck Rally Featuring Palin
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington DC Saturday for Fox News commentator Glenn Beck’s “Restore America” rally, which featured Sarah Palin.  APRN’s Libby Casey checked in with the crowd about their opinions of Alaska’s former governor.

Officials Fighting UPS Furloughs
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
A plan by rapid package shipper UPS to furlough Anchorage based pilots is meeting resistance with the help of Alaska’s elected officials.

Earlier this year, UPS announced plans to furlough some 300 pilots nationally, citing a company-wide cost cutting regime.  Almost all the pilots affected, 262 of them, were based out of the company’s Anchorage hub,  because the furloughs affect the pilots with the least seniority,  and the recently established Anchorage hub  has the greatest number of  junior pilots.   Pilots are fighting the move.  Bob Thrush, president of the Independent Pilots’ Association says UPS has gone back on its word

Alaska Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have put pressure on UPS to reconsider, and Alaska governor Sean Parnell and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan have contacted UPS officials on the issue.  So far, about 109 UPS pilots from Anchorage have already lost their jobs.

The remaining pilots are slated to lose their jobs by the end of next March. Thrush says the furloughs were not necessary, because the pilots initially volunteered shift and vacation pay cuts to head off the furloughs

Many of the affected pilots have homes in Anchorage.  IPA spokesman Brian Godet says if the UPS plan goes through, the pilots could be furloughed through 2014, and that  could mean lost revenues of up to $61 million for the city and the state.  But UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot, speaking from Louisville, Kentucky,  says there are some changes coming

Thrush says if UPS decides to rehire any pilots, regulations demand that the furloughed pilots be offered their jobs back first.

Mangeot says UPS’s second quarter earnings indicate a 40 percent increase in Asian exports, and that growth could extend to Alaska

The state house transportation committee is getting involved in the issue.  A hearing on the UPS layoffs is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 9:00 in Anchorage to question UPS officials about the plan. UPS has 1,000 employees in Alaska and spends $328 million a year to run its operations in the state.

Sockeye Salmon Overwhelming Fish Processors
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
Sockeye salmon are returning to British Columbia’s Frasier River in one of the biggest runs seen on the river in nearly a century. Biologists say 30 million fish could return- nearly triple the original forecast. Processors are so overwhelmed that they are considering sending fish to Ketchikan for processing.

Pink Salmon Season Winding Down
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
A better-than-expected pink salmon season has been winding down in Southeast Alaska. As of last week, the seine fleet had harvested about 20 million pinks which is about on par with projections. But the fish have been bigger than average and they’ve been worth more than last year on the dock. Meanwhile, there are signs of a big pink run next year.