Lori Townsend, APRN - Anchorage
ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8452 | About Lori
Tonight the University of Alaska Anchorage will feature a panel discussion on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. Last night we brought you the perspective of a legalization advocate and this evening we offer the opposing side. Dean Guaneli is a retired assistant attorney general for Alaska. Guaneli says there is confusion over the current law regulating marijuana here. He says because of the privacy clause in the state constitution, a 1976 decision by the Alaska Supreme court made it impossible for the state to enforce the law for small amounts in one’s home. But he says in 2006, the legislature clearly re-criminalized marijuana.
As Alaskans weigh how to vote on a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana, the University of Alaska Anchorage is holding a forum on Wednesday evening debating the issue. Tonight we bring you the perspective of one of those panelists. Lance Buchholtz is a retired Midwestern Sheriff who joined Law Enforcement Against Prohibition or LEAP in 2013. He is also an ordained minister. He says the war on drugs isn’t working.
Thursday, the World Trade Center Alaska will host the third Arctic Ambitions gathering in Girdwood. The theme for this year’s two-day event is ‘Doing business in the Arctic.’ Greg Wolf is the World Trade Center Alaska executive director. He says this year’s event is larger and the first day will feature speakers from other arctic nations and industries.
The Anchorage Daily News is undertaking a year-long examination of the affects of alcohol on Alaskan lives. Kyle Hopkins is reporting the series with photojournalist Marc Lester. On Sunday, the reporters introduced four mothers who have kids with fetal alcohol disorders. Hopkins says they wanted to tell the stories of the birth mothers and their kids.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced last week that he’s creating a new position called Special Representative for the Arctic Region. It’s been referred to as an “Arctic Ambassador” in some reports, but it’s not exactly that, and the reaction of Alaska’s two U.S. senators has been mixed.
A Mayo Clinic study of teen smoking rates in the Yukon Kuskokwim delta region found young people there use tobacco at high rates. Nearly 30 percent of 11 to 14 year olds and 63 percent of high school students use tobacco, compared to less than 20 percent of teens nationally. Dr. Christi Patten is the lead author of the YK Delta study. She says focus groups with kids in the region helped them design the intervention program for the youth, but the results were not good.
Former territorial governor Mike Stepovich died early this morning, after being injured in a fall. Stepovich served as governor in the late 1950s and was a major advocate for Alaska statehood. He was 94 when he died. Stepovich was born into a Fairbanks mining family. Alaska Edition host and Anchorage Daily News columnist Michael Carey was a teenager when Stepovich was Governor. He says Stepovich was a strikingly handsome man who was Governor at at critical time in Alaska history.
The state’s law department deals with a wide range of legal matters but this week’s show focuses on tribal courts and what the future may look like for court proceedings in rural Alaska. Earlier this week the Senate Indian Affairs Committee reviewed the Indian Law and Order Commission report. It paints a bleak picture for Native communities, saying the high rates of crime in Native communities is a “National Disgrace and a National Problem” and calls for more authority for tribal justice systems, saying in part that the state and fed government should strengthen rather than degrade tribal sovereignty.
KSKA: Friday, 2/14 at 2PM & Saturday, 2/15 at 6PM.
KAKM: Friday 2/14 at 7:30PM & Saturday. 2/15 at 4:30PM
When someone dies, it can take months to sort out legal and personal matters, but what if that life encompassed more than 70 years of international stage performances? Russ Reno is a long time family friend of the late performer Percy ‘Mike’ Madill.
It was a disappointing day for Kikkan Randall and her fans. The Anchorage skier failed to medal in the Olympic skate sprint in Sochi- an event many thought she would win. Randall missed advancing to the semifinals by a tiny margin- seven-hundredths of a second.
The winter Olympics in Sochi Russia began today with qualifying rounds in some sports. Seven athletes competing in the games call Alaska home or have roots in the state. The most talked about are the cross country skiers from Alaska Pacific University, Kikkan Randall, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen and her brother Erik. The winter Olympics in Sochi Russia began Thursday with qualifying rounds in some sports.
The annual Alaska Forum on the Environment is underway at the Dena’ina Convention center in Anchorage. On Thursday, federal project managers gave updates on cleanup projects across the state within national parks, on Federal Aviation property and at defense sites. The Defense Department has 537 formerly used defense sites or FUDS. Of those 70, remain active for cleanup.
Shell may be abandoning their plans for drilling in Alaska’s Arctic waters in 2014, but vessel traffic, tourism and other activity will continue to advance. As part of our ongoing look at future plans for port development and military oversight of Arctic safety and security, APRN’s Lori Townsend recently spoke with Daniel Chiu the undersecretary for strategy at the Department of Defense. Chiu says the Pentagon expects large increases in defense activity is likely decades out, but he says DOD is closely following climate science to ensure they have the lead time to adjust if necessary.
Two of the Republican candidates vying for U.S. Senator Mark Begich’s job, presented their records and thoughts on a range of issues for the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce lunch crowd today.
Governor Parnell says he has three main priorities for the legislative session that started yesterday in Juneau: education, the gas line and the unfunded Pers/Ters pension fund liability. Parnell told APRN’s Lori Townsend, the budget will be tight this year, but Alaskans have been through this before.
As lawmakers begin the 90 day session, House Speaker Mike Chenault and Senate President Charlie Huggins say there is just one must pass bill this session- the budget. But the majority party has other items on their agenda, along with a commitment to fiscal restraint. APRN’s Lori Townsend asked Speaker Chenault to outline his priorities.
With Kerttula’s resignation, the Democrats will have a new leadership team in the Legislature. Hollis French took over as Senate Minority leader from Johnny Ellis in a pre-arranged deal this session. And now Chris Tuck will become minority leader in the House. Representative Tuck says the Democrats are ready to move forward without Kerttula.
A recent editorial in the Anchorage Daily News proposes addressing chronic inebriation and the moribund area of east 4th avenue as the way forward for a more vibrant downtown. These ideas have been on the table before, but not from the person charged with championing the city as a great place to visit and do business. Andrew Halcro is a former state lawmaker and the current President of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Rather than glossing over the city’s ongoing problems, he proposes a health campus to deal head on with homeless people and chronic drunks.