Lawmakers Preparing to Head Back to Juneau

There’s no word yet on whether a special session will be held next week to deal with the single issue of keeping the Coastal Management program alive. However Senate officials are meeting on Sunday to make a final decision. Lawmakers were instructed to proceed as if there will be a special session and were asked to make travel plans to be in Juneau on Monday, May 30th.

Nome Democrat, Sen. Donny Olson says he doesn’t think a special session would need to last longer than a couple of days, but first a deal needs to be worked out.

Olson expressed frustration at what he says were past promises by administration officials to fix the problem of a lack of input allowed by local communities into development in their area. It didn’t happen. He says a simple extension of the current program wouldn’t be satisfactory because there’s been plenty of time and lots of warning to the Governor that the coastal management program needed to be dealt with.

Olson says he thinks the Parnell administration is biased toward industry and isn’t concerned enough about local community input.

Gov. Parnell was not available for comment today but a statement he posted earlier this week on Facebook says in part that the Coastal Management bill became too weighted toward environmental concerns and not enough toward jobs and the economy. He wrote that employees with the ACMP program are currently looking for work elsewhere and the administration is exploring how Alaskans can participate in the federal permitting process.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori