Alaska News Nightly: January 28, 2011

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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International Pacific Halibut Commission Reduces Longline Quotas
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Longliners in Southeast and the Gulf of Alaska will see big cuts to their quotas this year under catch numbers approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday morning. Along with the commercial reductions, the commission is also recommending a limit on the size of halibut that charter boat clients can keep in Southeast. The annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia was online.

Congress Moving to Improve Health Care Law
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Mark Begich says the U.S. Senate now has the votes to repeal an unpopular provision in the National Health Care law that small businesses complained about.

The health care act passed last year required businesses to file IRS 10-99 forms for every vendor they paid more than $600.

The effort to strip that out of the law hit 60 co-sponsors this week.

President Obama called for getting rid of the 10-99 provision during his State of the Union speech. He defended the overall health care law but said he’s open to improvements.

Begich says the President’s support is helping gain momentum in Congress. He says things are finally working out – but it’s after months of trying to convince Democratic leadership and the White House.

Begich says he’s still supportive of the over-all health care law, and says this is not a sign that it’s flawed. He says implementing a bill is the hardest part of lawmaking.

The provision is scheduled to kick in next year, unless Congress acts. Among the 60 Senators who have signed on are 14 other Democrats, and 45 Republicans including Senator Lisa Murkowski. Begich says the senate could vote on it as soon as next week.

Congressman Don Young is a co-sponsor of the House version of the 10-99 fix.

Anchorage Should See More Job Growth in 2011
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Anchorage’s economy fared better than expected last year, while 2011 should show even more job growth. KSKA’s Len Anderson reports on the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation’s annual forecast.

Jurors Hear Taped Testimony About Waterman Autopsy
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The prosecution continued hearing testimony from witnesses in the state’s ongoing trial against Rachelle Waterman in Anchorage Friday. In taped testimony recorded at Waterman’s first trial in 2006, Dr. Frank Fallico, a forensic pathologist, describes in gritty detail what autopsy results showed after Lauri Waterman’s body was discovered.

Dental records proved the identity of the body. Fallico testified Lauri Waterman died of “blunt force injury”, and the circumstances surrounding the death clearly indicated homicide. The Craig housewife and mother was abducted and murdered in November of 2004.

James See, who was police chief in Craig at the time of the murder, described how he went to the Waterman home to alert Lauri Waterman’s husband, Doc Waterman, of the possibility that the body found in the burned van may be his wife. At the home, See encountered two things.

See also told jurors Friday that he also saw Jason Arrant lingering near the Waterman home at that time. Arrant seemed interested and asked “what’s going on.” See told him to leave the crime scene immediately and sealed the house.

Rachelle Waterman was seeing Jason Arrant at the time of the murder, to the displeasure of her mother. Investigators identified Arrant as a suspect almost immediately. In Friday’s court session, jurors heard a recording of investigators interviewing Rachelle Waterman the day after the body was found.

Robert Claus, who was an Alaska State Trooper present during that interview, told jurors that Rachelle Waterman seemed calm and not visibly upset at the time her statements were taken.

Rachelle Waterman is being tried for the second time for conspiracy and murder in the death of her mother. Her first trial ended with a hung jury. Arrant and a second man, Brian Radel, were convicted and are serving prison terms for the murder.

Senators Vote to Ban Anonymous Hold on Legislation, Appointments
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Senators voted Thursday to ban the practice of putting anonymous holds or blocks on legislation and appointments. The “secret holds” tradition got the scorn of Senator Mark Begich last year when the President’s appointee to be U.S. Marshal for Alaska got stuck in limbo because Republicans blocked it. Rob Heun was eventually confirmed by the Senate, but Begich was frustrated by the lag time.

Oftentimes secret holds of appointees had nothing to do with the person or job, but were politically motivated to make a point. President Obama called for the practice to end in last year’s State of the Union address.

Both Senator Begich and Lisa Murkowski voted with 90 other Senators to end the secret holds. Four senators voted to keep the practice, all Republicans and most of them members of the brand-new Senate Tea Party Caucus: Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and freshmen Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Senator John Ensign of Nevada also voted to keep secret holds.

The new rules say the name of a senator blocking legislation will be published in the Congressional Record two days after a hold is placed. Thursday Senate leadership on both the Democratic and Republican sides said they reached an agreement to limit the number of Presidential appointees that will need confirmation by the full Senate. That’s in hopes of cutting down the number of holds and filibusters, and lightening the Senate’s work-load.

Kodiak Fisherman Sentenced to Community Service, Anger Management
Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
A Kodiak fisherman who threatened a federal fisheries observer has avoided jail time after a judge sentenced him to community service and ordered anger management therapy.

45-year-old Jeffrey Eugene Scott had been the skipper of the vessel Dusk owned by Kodiak businessman Al Burch. Burch said the incident began after Scott had dumped a load of pollock in Kodiak Harbor.

Court documents say Scott then chased the fisheries observer to the parking lot of Pacific Seafoods where he threatened her as she was trying to leave. That happened on Oct. 7, 2009. Burch said he had fired Scott shortly before the parking lot incident.

NOAA enforcement agents interviewed Scott later that day. He reportedly told them he could do whatever he wanted to the female observer if he saw her in town. He was criminally charged in federal court and pleaded guilty this month to two misdemeanor counts for threatening a fisheries observer.

The judge sentenced Scott to three years of probation and ordered him to serve 100 hours of community service as well as therapy. His former employer says the sentence seemed appropriate.

The judge also ordered that Scott’s future interactions with fisheries observers be limited.

Fairbanks Assembly Ends Fine Particulate Emissions Standards
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks Assembly has approved an ordinance that eliminates fine particulate emissions standards and fines for violating them. The changes come in response to a proposition passed by voters last fall that stops the borough from banning, prohibiting or fining people for the use of home heating devices. Borough Attorney Rene Broker said the proposition leaves the assembly no wiggle room to go after people who smoke out their neighbors.

The assembly heard hours of testimony Thursday night from people who claim public health should supersede an unregulated right to heat. Fairbanks resident Douglas Yates advocated for retaining key provision of the old smoke ordinance, equating the responsibility to regulate air quality to basic traffic law enforcement.

Assembly members were sympathetic to people who testified about health problems precipitated by smoke, but ultimately passed the weakened ordinance 7 to 1.

The new law retains a popular old stove and boiler repair, replacement and removal program, and adds clean burning pellet appliances as a go to option. It also keeps in place educational outreach on clean burning, and a ban on burning high smoky fuels like railroad ties, plywood, and wet cord wood.

 

Assembly members agreed the panel is far from done grappling with fine particulate pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency requires the Borough and State to develop a plan for bringing Fairbanks air quality into compliance with federal standards by December 2012.

Diane Benson Hired to Promote Gas Line
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Diane Benson has been hired to promote a gas line from the North Slope to Fairbanks. The Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor last fall, is the new Public Relations Director for the Fairbanks Pipeline Company, which has proposed the project. Benson says the job is in line with her desire to see state residents benefit from Alaskan resources.

Benson and gubernatorial candidate Ethan Berkowitz advocated for Alaskan investment in a gas line during their bid for office. She says the Fairbanks Pipeline Company would allow Alaskans to buy shares in their gas line project.

The company’s proposed 12-inch diameter pipeline is designed to provide gas to fuel the Fairbanks area’s large consumers like Golden Valley Electric, Eielson Air Force Base and Alyeska.

Benson says there’s a bill in the legislature that would allow state participation in the Fairbanks gas line project.

Tustumena 200 Brings Together Full Spectrum of Mushers
Ben Stanton, KDLL – Kenai
The Kenai Peninsula’s Tustumena 200 Sled Dog race and other races this Saturday will bring together a full spectrum of mushers. KDLL’s Ben Stanton takes a look at some of what motivates the racers.Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl + B)Italic (Ctrl + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)▼
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Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.
Download Audio (MP3)

International Pacific Halibut Commission Reduces Longline Quotas
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Longliners in Southeast and the Gulf of Alaska will see big cuts to their quotas this year under catch numbers approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday morning. Along with the commercial reductions, the commission is also recommending a limit on the size of halibut that charter boat clients can keep in Southeast. The annual meeting in Victoria, British Columbia was online.
Congress Moving to Improve Health Care Law
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Mark Begich says the U.S. Senate now has the votes to repeal an unpopular provision in the National Health Care law that small businesses complained about.
The health care act passed last year required businesses to file IRS 10-99 forms for every vendor they paid more than $600.
The effort to strip that out of the law hit 60 co-sponsors this week.
President Obama called for getting rid of the 10-99 provision during his State of the Union speech. He defended the overall health care law but said he’s open to improvements.
Begich says the President’s support is helping gain momentum in Congress. He says things are finally working out – but it’s after months of trying to convince Democratic leadership and the White House.
Begich says he’s still supportive of the over-all health care law, and says this is not a sign that it’s flawed. He says implementing a bill is the hardest part of lawmaking.
The provision is scheduled to kick in next year, unless Congress acts. Among the 60 Senators who have signed on are 14 other Democrats, and 45 Republicans including Senator Lisa Murkowski. Begich says the senate could vote on it as soon as next week.
Congressman Don Young is a co-sponsor of the House version of the 10-99 fix.
Anchorage Should See More Job Growth in 2011
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Anchorage’s economy fared better than expected last year, while 2011 should show even more job growth. KSKA’s Len Anderson reports on the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation’s annual forecast.
Jurors Hear Taped Testimony About Waterman Autopsy
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The prosecution continued hearing testimony from witnesses in the state’s ongoing trial against Rachelle Waterman in Anchorage Friday. In taped testimony recorded at Waterman’s first trial in 2006, Dr. Frank Fallico, a forensic pathologist, describes in gritty detail what autopsy results showed after Lauri Waterman’s body was discovered.
Dental records proved the identity of the body. Fallico testified Lauri Waterman died of “blunt force injury”, and the circumstances surrounding the death clearly indicated homicide. The Craig housewife and mother was abducted and murdered in November of 2004.
James See, who was police chief in Craig at the time of the murder, described how he went to the Waterman home to alert Lauri Waterman’s husband, Doc Waterman, of the possibility that the body found in the burned van may be his wife. At the home, See encountered two things.
See also told jurors Friday that he also saw Jason Arrant lingering near the Waterman home at that time. Arrant seemed interested and asked “what’s going on.” See told him to leave the crime scene immediately and sealed the house.
Rachelle Waterman was seeing Jason Arrant at the time of the murder, to the displeasure of her mother. Investigators identified Arrant as a suspect almost immediately. In Friday’s court session, jurors heard a recording of investigators interviewing Rachelle Waterman the day after the body was found.
Robert Claus, who was an Alaska State Trooper present during that interview, told jurors that Rachelle Waterman seemed calm and not visibly upset at the time her statements were taken.
Rachelle Waterman is being tried for the second time for conspiracy and murder in the death of her mother. Her first trial ended with a hung jury. Arrant and a second man, Brian Radel, were convicted and are serving prison terms for the murder.
Senators Vote to Ban Anonymous Hold on Legislation, Appointments
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Senators voted Thursday to ban the practice of putting anonymous holds or blocks on legislation and appointments. The “secret holds” tradition got the scorn of Senator Mark Begich last year when the President’s appointee to be U.S. Marshal for Alaska got stuck in limbo because Republicans blocked it. Rob Heun was eventually confirmed by the Senate, but Begich was frustrated by the lag time.
Oftentimes secret holds of appointees had nothing to do with the person or job, but were politically motivated to make a point. President Obama called for the practice to end in last year’s State of the Union address.
Both Senator Begich and Lisa Murkowski voted with 90 other Senators to end the secret holds. Four senators voted to keep the practice, all Republicans and most of them members of the brand-new Senate Tea Party Caucus: Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and freshmen Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Senator John Ensign of Nevada also voted to keep secret holds.
The new rules say the name of a senator blocking legislation will be published in the Congressional Record two days after a hold is placed. Thursday Senate leadership on both the Democratic and Republican sides said they reached an agreement to limit the number of Presidential appointees that will need confirmation by the full Senate. That’s in hopes of cutting down the number of holds and filibusters, and lightening the Senate’s work-load.
Kodiak Fisherman Sentenced to Community Service, Anger Management
Jacob Resneck, KMXT – Kodiak
A Kodiak fisherman who threatened a federal fisheries observer has avoided jail time after a judge sentenced him to community service and ordered anger management therapy.
45-year-old Jeffrey Eugene Scott had been the skipper of the vessel Dusk owned by Kodiak businessman Al Burch. Burch said the incident began after Scott had dumped a load of pollock in Kodiak Harbor.
Court documents say Scott then chased the fisheries observer to the parking lot of Pacific Seafoods where he threatened her as she was trying to leave. That happened on Oct. 7, 2009. Burch said he had fired Scott shortly before the parking lot incident.
NOAA enforcement agents interviewed Scott later that day. He reportedly told them he could do whatever he wanted to the female observer if he saw her in town. He was criminally charged in federal court and pleaded guilty this month to two misdemeanor counts for threatening a fisheries observer.
The judge sentenced Scott to three years of probation and ordered him to serve 100 hours of community service as well as therapy. His former employer says the sentence seemed appropriate.
The judge also ordered that Scott’s future interactions with fisheries observers be limited.
Fairbanks Assembly Ends Fine Particulate Emissions Standards
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks Assembly has approved an ordinance that eliminates fine particulate emissions standards and fines for violating them. The changes come in response to a proposition passed by voters last fall that stops the borough from banning, prohibiting or fining people for the use of home heating devices. Borough Attorney Rene Broker said the proposition leaves the assembly no wiggle room to go after people who smoke out their neighbors.
The assembly heard hours of testimony Thursday night from people who claim public health should supersede an unregulated right to heat. Fairbanks resident Douglas Yates advocated for retaining key provision of the old smoke ordinance, equating the responsibility to regulate air quality to basic traffic law enforcement.
Assembly members were sympathetic to people who testified about health problems precipitated by smoke, but ultimately passed the weakened ordinance 7 to 1.
The new law retains a popular old stove and boiler repair, replacement and removal program, and adds clean burning pellet appliances as a go to option. It also keeps in place educational outreach on clean burning, and a ban on burning high smoky fuels like railroad ties, plywood, and wet cord wood.

Assembly members agreed the panel is far from done grappling with fine particulate pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency requires the Borough and State to develop a plan for bringing Fairbanks air quality into compliance with federal standards by December 2012.
Diane Benson Hired to Promote Gas Line
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Diane Benson has been hired to promote a gas line from the North Slope to Fairbanks. The Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor last fall, is the new Public Relations Director for the Fairbanks Pipeline Company, which has proposed the project. Benson says the job is in line with her desire to see state residents benefit from Alaskan resources.
Benson and gubernatorial candidate Ethan Berkowitz advocated for Alaskan investment in a gas line during their bid for office. She says the Fairbanks Pipeline Company would allow Alaskans to buy shares in their gas line project.
The company’s proposed 12-inch diameter pipeline is designed to provide gas to fuel the Fairbanks area’s large consumers like Golden Valley Electric, Eielson Air Force Base and Alyeska.
Benson says there’s a bill in the legislature that would allow state participation in the Fairbanks gas line project.
Tustumena 200 Brings Together Full Spectrum of Mushers
Ben Stanton, KDLL – Kenai
The Kenai Peninsula’s Tustumena 200 Sled Dog race and other races this Saturday will bring together a full spectrum of mushers. KDLL’s Ben Stanton takes a look at some of what motivates the racers.
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