Alaska News Nightly: November 29, 2010

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Miller Lawsuit to be Heard in Juneau
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Fairbanks judge Douglas Blankenship ruled this afternoon that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s lawsuit against the state division of elections should be heard in Juneau. Blankenship said it’s too inconvenient for the state to be involved in a case in Fairbanks.  Blankenship did not decide whether Senator Lisa Murkowski could intervene in the case.  Miller had this reaction to the latest chapter in the fight over Alaska’s Senate campaign.

Miller filed his case in Fairbanks, and said he had wanted the case to be heard there for a variety of reasons.

Miller’s suit alleges state elections officials broke Alaska law by accepting some write-in ballots that had rival candidate Murkowski’s name misspelled on them.  Lieutenant Governor Craig Campbell and the State Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, have stated that voter intent is the driving factor in accepting a write in ballot as valid.

Murkowski has declared victory in her write in campaign with a 10,328-vote lead over Miller, a total that includes 8,159 ballots contested by Miller’s observers. But Miller says he thinks he can pick up some extra votes if the courts side with him.

Miller is seeking to block certification of the general election, which elections officials had hoped to certify today.  Miller told reporters in Fairbanks Monday that he wants a recount.

Miller is also contesting Murkowski’s intervention in the suit.  Attorneys for Miller says only the state can deal with enforcement of state law.

Stretch of Kuskokwim River Experiences Break-Up Over Weekend
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
For some residents along the Kuskokwim River, Thanksgiving meant more than just eating lots of turkey. It meant preparing for a flood. A large stretch of the river experienced break-up over the holiday weekend.

FBI Giving No Further Explanation About Suspect’s Attempted Alaska Trip
Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
The 19-year-old Somali immigrant who the FBI alleges tried to detonate what he thought was a bomb in a Friday Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon had reportedly tried to travel to Kodiak for a summer fishing job.

Congressmen Referenced in Zachares’ Trial May Never Be Named
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The conviction of Congressman Don Young’s former aid Mark Zachares who was convicted for taking gifts from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, left hanging the identity of two lawmakers referenced in his trial.

Zachares could have faced years in prison. But prosecutors requested a lighter sentence because he helped investigate two congressmen in the Abramoff influence-peddling scandal.

Prosecutors did not identify the congressmen, referring to them in documents as only A or B, but said they ultimately were not charged. Anchorage Daily News investigative reporter Richard Mauer has been following the story. He says we may never know the names of Congressman A or Congressman B.

Council Member Ousted From Sitka Tribe of Alaska
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
The Sitka tribe of Alaska’s tribal council has ousted one of their members. George Paul has been removed from the council. Five members found Paul guilty of neglect of duty and gross misconduct after a deliberating a lengthy closed session last Wednesday night.

Paul, along with three other council members, walked out of that executive session and the rest of the meeting, upset that the discussion of Paul’s removal was being done out of public view.

As KCAW’s Ed Ronco reports, Paul’s removal is effective immediately, but the debate surrounding it is far from over.

Water May Become a Commodity
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Alaska is home to a commonplace resource that is becoming scarce in many parts of the world.  No, not oil – water.  And an Alaskan marketing expert tells us why we need to start thinking of water as a valuable commodity.

Southeast Police Come Together to Bring Protection to Hoonah After Tragedy
Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines
It’s been three months since two Hoonah police officers – Matthew Tokuoka and Anthony Wallace – were murdered by a local resident.  45-year-old John Marvin Jr. is accused of the killings.

The town was left without law enforcement protection after the killings, since a third officer was allowed leave after the tragedy.   Officer Joe Mills is back at work and a new Police Academy graduate, David Lindstrom  has recently joined the force.  But during the bleak months after the deaths of the two officers, police personnel from all over Southeast Alaska donated time and expertise to bring police protection to the remote town.   KHNS reporter Tara Bicknell spoke with one of the officers who filled in for his fallen comrades and brings us this story.