Alaska News Nightly: November 21, 2013
Legislator Office Money Policy Changes
Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau
For the past year, legislators have been required to treat their office accounts as income. They got a lump sum from the state, and were expected to spend that money on stationery and mailers under the honor system. Now, they’re moving back to a policy where they have to submit receipts for those expenditures.
Redistricting Saga May Be Close To Ending
The Associated Press & Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau
The legal fight over Alaska’s redistricting plan may be nearing an end.
Jason Gazewood, an attorney for Fairbanks-area plaintiffs George Riley and Ronald Dearborn, says they do not plan to appeal a decision approving the latest map. A spokesman says Alaska’s Democratic Party also does not plan to appeal.
Gazewood says those who filed friend of court briefs may have standing to appeal but he didn’t think so.
On Monday, Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy ruled the plan met constitutional challenges. The decision was the latest in a dispute that dates to 2011 and has involved several proposed iterations for Alaska’s political boundaries.
The Alaska Supreme Court allowed an interim map to be used for last year’s elections but in December ordered the redistricting board to redraw the map.
With maps more firmed up, a couple of political challengers have submitted paperwork to the Division of Elections. Harry Crawford, a former state legislator from Anchorage, filed a letter of intent Tuesday, but says he is still deciding whether to run for House or Senate. And on Thursday, Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Jim Colver announced that he plans to run against Rep. Eric Feige in the Republican primary for their district.
McGrath Skeletons Found To Be 1,000 Years Old
Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks
A construction project in McGrath last year uncovered three skeletons. Authorities opened a missing persons case, but it turns out these remains have been “missing” for much longer than anyone expected. Radiocarbon dating shows the bones could be a thousand years old. Scientist have spent the last year analyzing DNA and isotopes to find out more about who the individuals were, what they ate and whether they are related to people living in the McGrath area today.
Family of Man Shot By Anchorage Police Sues
The Associated Press
The family of man fatally shot by Anchorage police is suing the police department, officers and the city, claiming reckless, excessive force was used.
Anchorage attorney Philip Weidner is representing the family of Shane Tasi, who was fatally shot June 2012.
Weidner says the lawsuit filed Thursday seeks more than $1 million.
Police say officer Boaz Gionson fired at Tasi after Tasi approached him aggressively with a stick and refused repeated commands to put it down.
According to police, an investigation determined Gionson used justifiable force when he drew his service weapon and shot the 26-year-old man.
Police say a toxicology report showed that Tasi had a blood-alcohol level of 0.185, more than twice the legal driving limit.
Amendment Would Let Military Prosecutors Handle Sexual Assault Reports
Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC
The U.S. Senate this week has been debating how the military should handle sexual assault reports from service members. Both Alaska senators have signed on to an amendment that would let military prosecutors, rather than a suspect’s commander, determine which cases to pursue. Senator Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday spoke on the Senate floor about some of the incidents that motivate her.
ASD Surveys Community On Budget Cuts
Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage
Going into 2014, the Anchorage School District faces more budget cuts. The gap is big: $21 million, caused by four years of flat funding from the governor combined with general cost of living increases. The School Board recently held three community meetings to gauge what residents value as the district approaches the next round of cuts.
Organization Becoming Difficult For Fishermen, Scientists Partnerships
Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska
In Alaska, fishermen and scientists have a long history of working together to figure out how to catch fish in a way that’s safe – for crew members, and for the species out in the ocean.
Now, there’s a plethora of research groups out there wanting to set up those partnerships – but, it’s getting harder to organize their efforts.
New Book Celebrates 25 Years of Collaborative Science
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A new book celebrates 25 years of collaborative research and science between the Cup’ik people of Chevak, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. The title, Banding Together to learn and Preserve, 25 years of goose banding at old Chevak – lays out the premise of this year book style collection of pictures and science information gathered during the decades of bird banding.
Two Bucks For A Turkey Huck
Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau
That’s not a rowdy bowling alley, but lunch hour Wednesday at Juneau’s State Office Building.