Alaska News Nightly: October 6, 2010

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3)

Shell Submits Proposal for One Well in Beaufort Sea
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Shell Alaska announced today it isn’t likely to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea next summer. But the company has submitted a proposal to the Interior Department for drilling one well in the Beaufort Sea. And in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it will have a new containment system in Alaska to respond to a spill. But at least one environmental group says the risks are still too high.

Subsistence Review to be Made Public
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Department of the Interior is ready to make public its recent review of Federal Management of subsistence in Alaska.

In an advance summary, the Federal government says it will not re-define subsistence to include Urban Natives – instead leaving it only to rural residents, native and non-native.   It also will not ask that federal management be expanded onto land owned by native corporations.

The first of 15 recommendations included in the report call for adding two subsistence users from rural areas to the Federal Subsistence Board.  This is in response to public concerns that the board is not knowledgeable and responsive to rural needs.

The report also recommends that the board give deference to the Regional Advisory Councils’ recommendations for actions on local issues, to review decisions by other governmental agencies that might affect subsistence use,  and to allow the Board to take part in the hiring of the Director of subsistence Management for the department.

The full report is expected to be made public by the end of the week and will be published on the Interior Department’s website.

Begich Voices Support of Social Security
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Social Security provides benefits for more than 70,000 Alaskans, old and young. Wednesday, Alaska Senator Mark Begich reiterated his support for the venerable program, which provides retirement income to older Americans and turns 75 years old itself this year.

McAdams Pledges to Protect Social Security
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
In signing a personal social security protection pledge on Wednesday, Democratic Senate Candidate Scott McAdams said it’s important that seniors know they have a safety net when they retire.

McAdams acknowledged that there have been funding problems with the Social Security System.   However, he suggests that enough money would be available if the cap on the system’s payroll tax were lifted.  He says a CEO of a major company, making a salary in the millions of dollars pays no more than someone making $150,000.

In the pledge he has made McAdams promises to fight cuts to Social security benefits and to stand against any attempts to weaken or put the system at risk.

Mat-Su Voters Turn Down Governing Style Change
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Matanuska Susitna Borough voters turned down a bid to change the borough’s governing style on Tuesday, while they elected two new Borough Assembly members.

With more than 2, 000 absentee and questioned ballots out, unofficial borough election results show Proposition One, which would have repealed the weak mayor form of government in favor of a strong mayor,  failed at the polls.

Voters also overwhelmingly rejected Proposition Five, a ballot proposal that would have allowed the Borough to opt out of Alaska Public Offices Commission campaign finance disclosure regulations in favor of a Borough disclosure statement.

Proposition Three for $33.9 million in school  capital improvement bonds passed by a narrow margin but

Transportation bonds did not fare so well, as voters rejected $33 million in road construction bonds.

Voters also turned down $9 million in bonds for sports track and field improvements.

A little over 18 percent of Valley voters turned out at the polls on Tuesday.

Southeast Races Wrap Up
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau and Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
Votes in Juneau and Petersburg decided on issues ranging from the allocation of sales tax money, to funds for a bridge and a city smoking ban.

Fairbanks Voters Elect New Mayor
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The city of Fairbanks is getting a new Mayor.  Longtime city council member Jerry Cleworth defeated incumbent Mayor Terry Strle in yesterday’s municipal election.  Cleworth says he’s relieved the campaign is over and looks forward to getting to work on immediate challenges of the new job.

North Pole voters retained Mayor Doug Isaacson, defeating a citizen recall petition put on the ballot by opponents, who allege improprieties involving city property sales and credit card use.  Isaacson maintains he hadn’t done anything wrong, but the former mortgage broker says he’s learned from the recall experience.

Isaacson says he hopes city government can come together and turn the focus from divisive politics to issues.

A citizen proposition that strips pollution fines and the ability to ban wood heating appliances, from a Fairbanks borough air quality ordinance passed yesterday.

Borough voters decision to restrict local government’s punitive power on pollution control, effectively puts enforcement in the hands of the state, which is ultimately responsible for air quality.  Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins says it’s unclear how development and administration of the air quality plan will be handled now, but that it could be similar to how the D.E.C. managed a similar fine particulate problem in Juneau.

Hopkins says meetings with D.E.C. officials are planned for later this week to discuss the issue. He says the main focus of the borough air quality ordinance- a wood stove change out program that provides subsidies for residents to replace older polluting units with new clean burning models will continue.

Bridge Opens Over Tanana Rover
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
A new bridge over the Tanana River south of Tok has just opened, and it’s one of the biggest in the state.

Anchorage Working to Reduce Homeless Numbers
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Considering the climate, it’s surprising that Alaska has so many homeless people as a percentage of the population. Alaska’s among the top 10 states, according to a 2008 Housing and Urban Development report to Congress. In Anchorage, agencies, non-profits, and businesses are working to change those statistics.

Subsistence Major Focus of Southeast’s Oldest Indigenous Organization
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Southeast Alaska’s oldest indigenous organizations are meeting in Saxman, near Ketchikan, this week. The Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood are holding their annual Grand Camp Convention. Subsistence continues to be a major focus.

CORRECTION: Leaders Meet About Suicide Prevention
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
In a story that aired Tuesday evening on Alaska News Nightly about a roundtable discussion on Suicide, reporter Shane Iverson misidentified Paula Ayunarak as Nancy Ayunarak. Paula Ayanurak helped spearhead a suicide prevention project in the village of Alakanuk as a health aide. She is currently a board member of the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation.