Alaska News Nightly: October 29, 2010

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No Decision on Write-In Lists Yet
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
At news time, still no word from the Alaska Supreme Court on whether or not the state division of elections may provide lists of write-in candidates for voters who ask for them at early voting polling places and on election day.

Earlier this week, the state’s high court had ordered a stay on a Superior Court decision to prohibit the use of lists at polling places, citing violation of Alaska election law.

The legal wrangling is a result of a suit filed by the Alaska Democratic Party against the state division of elections over perceived voting irregularities in Homer and in Chugiak.  The suit was joined by the Republican Party of Alaska.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the lists to be used at polling places, but had required the state division of elections to segregate any ballots that were filed using information from the lists.  In an affidavit filed with the high court, division of elections director Gail Fenumiai stated that segregation of ballots would be possible at early voting polling places, but would not be possible on election day itself due to logistical problems posed by an expected high number of voters and the high number of polling places.  Fenumiai told the court that 438 polling places, many in remote locations, had already received election materials, and that the division lacks the resources to monitor every one of them to ensure that the segregated ballots are properly handled.

Reports are that the division of elections received around 60 filings as write-in candidates Thursday after an Anchorage talk show host urged listeners to do so.  The host, Dan Fagan, a Joe Miller supporter, asked them to do so as part of “Operation Alaska Chaos”, an effort to confuse voters by making Lisa Murkowski’s name harder to find on a write-in list.

Fagan has been temporarily taken off the air as of Friday.

Two Bethel Men Charged With Murder
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Two men in Bethel have been charged with murder, in what police are describing as a prolonged and torturous killing.  Now a law clerk from the Bethel Courthouse has also been arrested. And the Bethel Police say the investigation is not over yet.  Police say a Hooper Bay man was tortured – beaten across his entire body – and killed in Bethel, in Southwest Alaska.

The Tundra Drums reports tips led police to discover the Wednesday night slaying of 19-year-old Benjamin J. Kaiser.

Police Chief Larry Elarton says the two men were arrested Thursday in Bethel on murder charges, 32-year-old Harry Ned Williams and 46-year-old Jeffrey Allan Hout.

At least part of the beating took place in a shed behind Hout’s house, where blood was found.

Elarton says the beating seems to have centered around a property dispute.

Racial Attack Nets Offenders Jail Time
Associated Press
Two Anchorage residents were sentenced in state court Thursday to 180 days in jail for assaulting and harassing a homeless Alaska Native.

Robert Gum and Deanna Powers threw eggs, yelled racial slurs and threatened the man with a bat in a 2008 attack they recorded and posted on YouTube.

The two also were convicted of civil rights violations in federal court. The 19-year-old Gum was sentenced in September to 20 months and 20-year-old Powers to 16 months.

Both apologized to the victim, Eddie Barr, who has forgiven them.

Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off in Final Debate
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Leading candidates for Governor squared off Thursday night in the final debate of Alaska public broadcasting’s Debate for the State series. Republican Governor Sean Parnell and Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz butted heads on resource development, health care and public safety.

Palin and Others Work to Boost Miller Campaign
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
This year’s election is becoming increasingly rancorous, as candidates scramble for the one last vote that could make the difference in an ever-tighter race. With write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Scott McAdams challenging him for a U.S. Senate seat,  Republican candidate Joe Miller brought in some star wattage to boost his campaign.  KSKA’ s Ellen Lockyer takes us to Thursday night’s Miller rally in Anchorage.

Begich Keeping Close Eye On 2010 Election
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
One Alaska politician who is not in the middle of a heated campaign battle this year is Senator Mark Begich, who won’t face a reelection fight for his seat until 2014. But that doesn’t mean Begich isn’t paying attention to what’ s going on in election year 2010.

Airport Security Tightening Up After Dangerous Packages Intercepted
If you’re traveling by air this weekend, you may want to get to the airport a bit earlier than you’d planned. Because of apparent explosive material that was found in two U.S.-bound packages from Yemen, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying it has taken a number of precautionary steps to enhance security. Some of these security measures will be visible while others will not. The public may see heightened cargo screening and additional security at airports. The department is advising passengers to expect an unpredictable mix of security layers that includes explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams and pat downs.

Sitka Sound Science Center to Buy Building on Former College Campus
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Anchorage
An interest-free loan from the City and Borough of Sitka will help the Sitka Sound Science Center purchase its building on the campus of the former Sheldon Jackson College.

Scientists May Give Green Light to ‘Frankenfish’
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The U.S. meat and deli department or MAD, may soon approve the first genetically modified organism made for human consumption. Federal MAD scientists say the new super sized salmon could revolutionize aquaculture but critics are calling it Frankenfish! Crab Bait radio’s Matt Lichtenstein had a close encounter with the new threat posed by farm salmon.