Alaska News Nightly: December 13, 2010

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Miller Takes Case to Supreme Court
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Republican US Senate candidate Joe Miller is taking his case to the Alaska Supreme Court.  Miller’s camp announced Monday afternoon that attorney Thomas Van Flein has filed an appeal with the state’s highest court.  On Friday, a lower state court ruled against Miller in his on-going challenge to the way in which the state elections division conducted a count of write in ballots for Miller’s rival in the race, Senator Lisa Murkowski.

A federal judge had halted certification of the Senate election until resolution of the issues raised by Miller.

The Alaska Supreme Court has issued an expedited briefing schedule, requesting Miller’s opening brief by tomorrow, and the state’s opposition brief due on Wednesday.  Oral arguments are scheduled for Friday.    Miller is appealing portions of the lower court ruling, questioning  what Miller terms a “modification of  state law that previously required write-in ballots to match the candidate’s declaration form.”  Since the lower court ruling, Miller says, such ballots will be counted based on an election officials’ interpretation of voter intent.

Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto says the campaign also wants a hand count of Miller’s ballots.

Fishery Council Reviews Crab Management Plan
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council continued its December meeting through the weekend in Anchorage.  One of the main items on the panel’s plate was a look back at a Bering Sea Aleutian Islands crab management plan after five years.

Bilologists Kill 14 Wolves Near Port Heiden
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
State biologists killed 14 wolves near the Alaska Peninsula community of Port Heiden last week in response to wolves killing several pets and acting aggressively toward Port Heiden residents. Residents killed seven wolves earlier but the bad behavior continued and the state decided it was a public safety issue.

Murkowski, Begich Vote to End Cloture on Tax Cut Plan
Libby Casey – Washington, DC
Alaska’s Senators helped an effort Monday to advance the proposed tax cut bill currently being hotly debated in Washington.  Both Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich voted in favor of cloture, cutting off the chance of a filibuster, and allowing the bill to move forward in the Senate.  The vote was seen as a test of the deal, which was struck between President Obama and Congressional Republicans and is detested by liberal Democrats.

Alaskan Shrimpers Eligible for Federal Aid
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska shrimpers can get up to $12,000 to improve their businesses. A federal program is offering support for fishermen hurt by competition from foreign shrimp farms and harvesters. About 300 people have commercial shrimp permits for Alaska waters, but only a third of them still fish. Most shrimpers live in Southeast. Glenn Haight of the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program says eligible shrimpers will be trained in business planning and financial management.

Sport-Fishing Industry Bracing for Halibut Meeting
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The guided sport-fishing industry is bracing for potential impacts from next month’s annual meeting of the international pacific halibut commission. As commissioners consider a 47 cut to the halibut limit for commercial longliners in southeast, they’ll also look at more restrictions on the charter fleet.

Fairbanks Testing New Public Transportation Option
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
There’s a new public transportation option in the Fairbanks area.  The Borough is making four vans available for groups of people to commute to work.  The Borough is contracting with Michigan based VPSI for the service.  The company runs van pools in Anchorage and many other communities across the country.

Pilot Error Led to C-17 Crash
The Associated Press
A military probe has concluded that pilot error was to blame for the crash of a giant C-17 cargo plane after takeoff from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson last July.  All four on board the aircraft died. Investigators are not saying which of the four was piloting the plane, which stalled after making too abrupt a turn after takeoff from the base.  The plane was too low to have room to recover, and hit the ground. The casualties were Major Michael Freyholtz of Hines, Minnesota;  Major Aaron Malone of Anchorage; Captain Jeffrey Hill of York, Pennsylvania; and Master Sergeant Thomas Cicardo, an Alaska Air National Guardsman from Anchorage.

Military Wants New Alaska Training Range
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
The military wants to create a new 125,000-square-mile training range in the Interior and Gulf of Alaska.

Feds Considering Changes to Management of Native Sacred Sites
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Federal officials are considering changes to management of Native sacred sites in national forests. A year-long review stems from conflicts in the Lower 48. But the new policies could affect burial sites and other locations in Alaska.