Alaska News Nightly: January 20, 2011

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Jury Interviews Continue for Second Waterman Trial
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Jury selection and questioning continued in Anchorage Thursday in the lead up to the Rachelle Waterman trial. Waterman is accused of conspiracy and murder in the 2004 death of her mother Lauri Waterman. Her first trial ended in a hung jury.

Governor Calls for Unity Among Alaskans
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
In a low-key address to the state House and Senate Wednesday night, Governor Sean Parnell called for unity among Alaskans – and set his goal in terms he referred to during his run for the office last year.

Parnell, Democrats Agree on Goals Despite Differing Methods
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
House Democrats agree with Governor Parnell that Alaska needs to attract new industry and bolster development. But they think it can be done.

House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula delivered her party’s response last Wednesday night to the Governor’s State of the State address.

While the Democratic caucus has many of the same goals as Parnell, Kerttula says they would take a different route than the Republican governor.

Parnell has already introduced legislation to reduce oil taxes, in the hope that it would encourage exploration and production. But it would cost the state more than five-billion dollars from 2013 to 2017.

Kerttula says the best way to attract business and industry to Alaska is to lower energy costs, provide a well-educated workforce, maintain current infrastructure and assure that people and their families have safe places to live.

Governor Elaborates on State of the State Address
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Parnell met with reporters on Thursday morning to fill in some details on last night’s State of the State address.

He said that the tax cuts he proposed for the oil industry is a major priority for him. He recognizes that many legislators are not convinced they’ll ever see the jobs the cuts are intended to generate.

The governor did not point to any economic analysis showing positive results from the Billion dollars in annual tax cuts that he wants to make. But he did acknowledge a Revenue Department report issued earlier this week that concluded taxes are only one of several factors in whether an industry makes new investment in the state.

The report refers to volatile changes in oil prices and the world-wide economic turmoil, concluding that, “the economic activity of the past three years may not have been the best benchmark by which to judge the impact of a tax system.”

Budget Shortfall Means Big Cuts for ASD
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
A multi-million dollar shortfall has prompted Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau to recommend a 2011-2012 budget that cuts more than 50 staff positions, reduces summer school offerings and raises a number of district fees.

Fishing Guide Fined, Sentenced to 10 Days in Jail
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
A Ninilchik sport-fishing guide has been sentenced to 10 days in jail and a $5,000 fine, following his conviction on five violations of federal and state sport-fishing regulations.

Board Hears Testimony on Closed Hooligan Fishery
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Federal Subsistence management board continued meetings in Anchorage Thursday. One issue that garnered a lot of passionate testimony was over a recommendation from the Southeast regional advisory council to permanently close the Eulachon or Hooligan fishery on the Unuk River. For the past five years the fishery, called oligan by the Metlakatla people, has been closed, but it is reviewed yearly.

Thomas Lang Senior from Metlakatla has been a fisherman for more than 50 years. He said even though board members claim that a permanent closure can be re-opened, he says that hasn’t been his experience, citing the icy straits near Hoonah.

He said the rendered oligan grease has been their basis of trade for thousands of years.

North Slope Council member Rosemary Ahtuangaruak said the proposal gave her a lot of concern because there was not enough notice and consultation with the Metlakatla people about the permanent closure recommendation.

The board voted to defer action and continue with the current annual review of the fishery.

Pete Prosbasco assistant regional director with the office of subsistence management says Friday’s subsistence board meeting will deal with President Obama’s mandate of improving consultation with tribes.

Probasco says the entire day will be devoted to developing the consultation process with tribes. He says information exchanged between tribes and the federal managers will then be given to the regional advisory councils to incorporate in to their recommendations to the board. The Federal Subsistence board must defer to the recommendations of the regional advisory councils.

Randall Taking Short Break Before World Championships
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Kikkan Randall is half way through the best cross country ski season of her career. The Anchorage skier is currently leading the sprint world cup ranking. Randall is back in Anchorage for a few weeks to take a break from racing and prepare for the world championships next month in Oslo Norway.

Stanley Cup is Coming to Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Stanley Cup is coming to Fairbanks. The National Hockey league Championship Trophy visit scheduled for next month is being organized by the Fairbanks Hockey Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame president Randy Zarnke says the Stanley Cup, has only come to Alaska twice, both times displaying in Anchorage.

Zarnke says Fairbanks has been trying to arrange a Stanley Cup visit through the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto for the last five years. He says locals were finally able to work a deal because the Cup was scheduled to be in Whitehorse. Zarnke says the plan calls for a community photo with the Stanley Cup on Sunday Feb. 13 at Fairbanks Big Dipper Ice Arena.