Alaska News Nightly: October 15, 2010

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Candidates in Monetary Race in Final Push Before Election Night
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
In the race for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller raised more money in August and September than his two main opponents combined, but write in candidate Lisa Murkowski enters the final push before Election Day with the most cash on hand.

Candidates had until the end of business Friday to send in campaign reports detailing how much money they raised and spent between Aug. 5 and the end of September.

The reporting period covers the weeks leading up to the Aug. 24 primary and the following month.  Miller raked in nearly four-times more money than Murkowski did in August and September. After Murkowski lost the Republican primary, national GOP leaders disavowed her and threw their support – both in name and dollars – to Miller as their Party’s winner.

That helped him raise $1.1 million in August and September, a staggering boost from the $84,000 he had on-hand leading up to the period.  But Miller has spent nearly half of his war chest, and entered October with $680,000 in his coffers.

Murkowski started this month with nearly double that on hand: $1.1 million. She waited three weeks after Election Day to launch her write-in campaign, but money did keep coming in.  In August and September she raised more than $300,000.

Scott McAdams, the Democratic candidate, collected more than double what Murkowski did.  He pulled in $660,000, a far cry from the mere $16,000 he had going into August.

McAdams hits the final weeks of campaign season with $400,000 in his campaign’s bank account.

During the last reporting period, Murkowski out-spent the competition, she poured nearly $1 million into her race, while Miller spent $560,000, and McAdams about half that. What the campaign numbers do not show are the interest groups that are spending their own money on the race.

Funding Playing Large Role in Campaigns
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The candidates in this year’s three way race for Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat may come out about even, according to a new poll indicating Joe Miller, Scott McAdams and Lisa Murkowski are only slim percentage points apart. Yet, dollars and votes don’t always tally, and campaign funding issues could make all the difference.

Parnell Explains Vision of Restructuring Oil Industry Taxation
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Friday, Governor Parnell gave more details on how the state’s tax on the oil industry should be restructured – he wants to limit the tax rate oil producers would pay when prices are high – called the “progressivity” element of the tax.

Parnell has in recent weeks suggested changes to the ACES – for Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share – oil tax regime that passed when he was Lieutenant Governor.  The tax has allowed the state to profit from the high price of oil in recent years.

Friday, before the Resource Development Council, he called for more input from oil companies and set tax revision as the top element of support the state can offer to increase oil development.

The governor’s staff says Parnell has not yet proposed a specific top limit to the tax that would meet the phrase “effectively capping progressivity.”   His press secretary says the idea stemmed from discussions with oil company representatives and others following tax revisions he made during this year’s legislative session.

Ethan Berkowitz, who’s running to replace Parnell in the governor’s office, says the tax limit is an admission that the ACES tax isn’t working.  He says the evidence has been available that the industry is in decline because of the tax – and that, he says, has put the state’s entire economy at risk.

Berkowitz proposed a new, more stable method of determining taxes based on production, not price of oil at the start of his campaign for the office.

Parnell, in today’s speech, called for industry and related companies to discuss the tax proposal in a public forum before the legislature.

Walker Accepts Berkowitz’s Offer to Help on Gas Pipeline Project if Elected
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Falling short of endorsing the candidate, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker has accepted an offer to work with Ethan Berkowitz to bring about an all-Alaska gas pipeline.  But that is dependent on Berkowitz’s winning the race against Sean Parnell for the job as governor.

Correspondence between the two released today indicate an offer by Berkowitz for Walker to – quote – “select and lead a team” to make the line a reality.

Walker said in reply that he would be honored to do that.  And on Friday, he said that he’s glad someone is looking at the line with enough specificity and seriousness to make such as offer.

Berkowitz said Walker’s commitment to working on the project is more important than an endorsement in his campaign.

New Calista President Anticipates Changes
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
The new president of Calista, the Native Corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, says things will be different. Andrew Guy was hired by the Board of Directors on Sunday, October 10 to replace 15-year President Matthew Nicolai who was let go amid a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Calista is headquartered in Anchorage, but as Angela Denning-Barnes reports from KYUK Bethel, Guy wants to reach out to shareholders back home.

Wainwright Principle Pushing for Increased Attendance
Jake Neher, KBRW – Barrow
Schools along Alaska’s North Slope are seeking new methods to improve student attendance this school year. Getting kids in their seats every day has long been a struggle for the North Slope Borough School District, but one principal in Wainwright is working especially hard to turn his school’s numbers around.

Wasilla Soldier Will Go Be Tried in Court Martial
Associated Press
The Army will try one of the soldiers accused of killing three civilians in Afghanistan for murder.

Cpl. Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla is accused of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit premeditated murder, assault and impeding an official investigation.

Morlock will now go to court martial. No court date has been set.

22-year-old Morlock is one of five soldiers accused of killing civilians for sport in a recent Stryker brigade deployment. All have denied the accusations.

The charges were announced Friday.

Internet Causing Sex Trafficking to Evolve, Becoming More Dangerous
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
The internet is changing the way prostitution is occurring in Anchorage, and according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that’s made it more dangerous for underage girls.

That was the message the FBI brought to the Association of Village Council Presidents or AVCP’s annual convention held earlier this week.  There they warned delegates about the perils of sex trafficking facing young people from villages and cities, alike.

Water Treatment Problems Delay New Sport Fish Hatchery
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
Problems with the water treatment system at the new state sport fish hatchery in Fairbanks will delay for another year the production of trout for interior waters.  As KUAC’s Tim Ellis reports, the set back at the $46 million facility is creating frustration.