Alaska News Nightly: May 25, 2012

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Murkowski Not Satisfied With Response On Allen

The Associated Press

Senator Lisa Murkowski says she’s not satisfied with the explanation she received on the government’s handling of a key witness in an Alaska corruption case.

Murkowski requested an inquiry into the Justice Department’s investigation and decision not to prosecute Bill Allen on charges of transporting a minor across state lines for immoral or exploitative purposes.

In a letter to Murkowski, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said Justice officials have wide discretion in deciding whether to pursue criminal charges. He said Justice’s internal ethics watchdog, charged with determining whether the decision not to prosecute Allen was based on improper factors, found further investigation of the matter unwarranted.

Allen was a key witness in an investigation that ensnared then-Senator Ted Stevens. Stevens’ conviction was tossed after the Justice Department admitted misconduct.

Biologists Trying New Ways To Eliminate Southcentral Pike

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Northern pike are native to other parts of the state, but not Southcentral Alaska. Biologists are experimenting with new tactics to wipe out northern pike that have been introduced to waterways in the area since the 1950s. They’re also working to educate the public on why it’s important not to illegally stock waterways with pike.

PFD To Invest In Rentals

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The Permanent Fund is ready to invest $400 million toward the idea that a growing number of people don’t want to own homes.

The Fund’s Trustees have approved an investment in American Homes For Rent, a company that buys packages of single-family homes – including foreclosures – and manages them as rental units. The Permanent Fund would own as much as 80 percent of the company that already owns more than 1,000 houses nationally. The Fund’s Executive Director Mike Burns says the company sees some changing demographic groups that want alternatives to a home investment.

“Another factor due to the economic times, I think is weighing heavily on people, is their need for mobility. Someone doesn’t want to pass up on a job opportunity in Minneapolis because they can’t sell their home in Colorado Springs. So mobility is becoming…it’s a factor,” Burns said.

Burns says the investment is part of the Fund’s Special Opportunities Portfolio — saying the need for the company will exist only for a while.

“It will go away and hopefully we will never do it again — the country will never get in this type of situation again. But for a period of time, we think a window is open and we’d like to see if we could go through that window,” Burns said.

Burns says the properties the company will purchase will mostly be in areas where there are large number of homes on the market now — saying property management needs to work on a large scale to be profitable.

A final contract is under negotiations right now — and Burns says as soon as that is completed, the transaction will be finalized.

NPR Foreign Correspondent Comes Back To Alaska Roots

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Years before I even came to Alaska much less starting working for APRN, a young man from Fairbanks made his reporting debut at KYUK in Bethel. He then went to work as host and producer of this show, Alaska News Nightly, eventually making his way to NPR in Washington DC. Corey Flintoff has spent the last decade working as a foreign correspondent for NPR in the Middle Cast. Flintoff is back in Alaska this week helping out APRN, this time as more of a celebrity than reporter. He says the stories he was reporting on during his early career are very similar to the stories in the Alaska news today.

Seattle Company Recycling Hundreds Of Junk Cars Near Haines

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

When hundreds of junk cars began taking over the Chilkat Valley near Haines this year, it prompted complaints from neighbors and concern in the borough about how to deal with the problem. But thanks to some coordination between the borough and a Seattle recycling company, hundreds of junk cars and piles of scrap metal have been removed from the Chilkat Valley.

Alaska Airlines Testing New Luggage-Tagging System

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska Airlines is trying out a new luggage-tagging system at the SeaTac Airport. It could expand to other airports, including some in Alaska.

Customers use new kiosks to weigh their own bags and print out and attach labels. Travelers still must drop off luggage with agents and show identification.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says it’s a small change that should save some time.

SeaTac is the airline’s largest hub, followed by Anchorage, Portland and Los Angeles.

AK: Anchorage DJ Teaches Mountain View Kids to Spin

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The Mountain View Boys & Girls Club is packed with kids after school. One reason they show up is the music. There’s a room filled with instruments and a digital production studio. Now an Anchorage DJ who grew up in the neighborhood is adding to the mix by sharing his craft.

300 Villages: Tatitlek

This week, were visiting Tatitlek, a tiny village in Prince William Sound, south of Valdez.  That was David Totemoff Senior, Tatitlek’s IRA Council President.