Lori Townsend, APRN - Anchorage
ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8452 | About Lori
Since the Frank Murkowski administration, every Alaska governor has offered his or her own version of oil tax reform. Now, Governor Bill Walker is expressing concern with aspects of the current tax regime.
Quiet after the frenzy of the holidays is a welcome change for many Alaskans, but for those who live from paycheck to paycheck or are homeless, the quiet can mean less. Less public attention to donations of clothing, food and money during the coldest part of the year. In December, Lisa Aquino took the helm as executive director for Catholic Social Services, the organization that runs Brother Francis Shelter, Clare House and other assistance programs in Anchorage.
Fish and Game resources are important to nearly every Alaskan and the state’s new acting commissioner of Fish and Game says he’ll take that to heart as he makes decisions. Sam Cotten is a former Democratic state lawmaker. More recently, he’s been a commercial fishermen and a member of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
OMB’s new director Pat Pitney says she wants Alaskans to be involved in the conversation on how to trim the state budget as the price of oil falls. Pitney is a former vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She says budget cuts are necessary, but the Walker administration wants to be strategic about where they happen.
Alaska lawmakers sent a letter to Governor Bill Walker this week urging measures to rein in budget items. Incoming Senate President Kevin Meyer, a Republican from Anchorage and House Speaker Republican Mike Chenault of Nikiski signed the letter, along with the chairs of the finance committees for both chambers. The letter lays out suggestions such as a hiring freeze for all state departments, limiting agency travel and requesting department budgets for the first six months of 2015.
Mark Myers is preparing to become Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources on January 16th. He is currently Vice Chancellor of Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Myers has also worked for the oil industry as a petroleum geologist and for the federal government- leading the United States Geological Survey.
And he was the director of the division of oil and gas when Frank Murkowski was Governor. Myers says he made a difficult decision to resign from that job.
Tribes in Alaska are celebrating a decision that allows them to apply for lands to be placed into trust status with the federal government.
Valerie Davidson has been one of the biggest advocates in the state for Medicaid Expansion. Now implementing that expansion is one of her top priorities as Alaska’s new Commissioner of Health and Social Services. Another focus for Davidson will be child welfare- she just served on the U.S. Attorney General’s advisory committee on Native children exposed to violence.
Davidson started in the job December first. She says when she accepted the appointment she consulted her two daughters and her mom.
A state attorney was shot and killed in Barrow last night. Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Law’s Criminal Division Rick Svobodny says Brian Sullivan was killed some time before midnight. Barrow police are leading the investigation.
Carrying signs and chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot”, and “Black lives matter”, a crowd of more than 150 Alaskans marched peacefully through downtown Anchorage Saturday afternoon to draw attention to issues of racial inequality and justice, after the shooting of an unarmed black man in Missouri and the choking death of another black man in New York ended with no charges for the officers involved.
Alaska’s top military commander, Lieutenant General Russell Handy has been on the job here for more than a year. He’s overseeing ALCOM here at a time when the U.S relationship with Russia has grown frosty. In September, Russian military flights that were within 50 miles of the Alaskan and Canadian coast lines caused enough concern that F22s were sent from JBER to intercept them. Lt. General Handy says the Russian flights did not cross into the 12 mile international boundary zone and were not considered hostile.
Two recent reports highlight the tragically high rate of violence in Alaska. One from the FBI is a revision of how rape is defined in the state. The new definitions have resulted in much higher numbers in a state that already suffers from being the worst in the nation for sexual violence. The second report looks at the impact on Native children from exposure to violence in their homes and communities.
KSKA: Friday, 11/21 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, 11/22 at 6:00 p.m.
KAKM: Friday, 11/21 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, 11/22 at 4:30 p.m.
The Alaska Ocean Observing System is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary of aggregating information about ocean conditions and sharing that data with a wide range of partner organizations and other ocean users. Molly McCammon is the executive director of AOOS. A former director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill trustee council, she was asked to head up a new ocean observing organization in 2003. McCammon says Congress wanted a better system to integrate ocean research and in 2004, AOOS was launched. She says traditional research looks at what needs to be learned, but AOOS starts with who the users are and what they need to know to make decisions.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey are reporting a steep decline in the number of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea. In a study published on Monday, they show the population dropped 40 percent in the first 10 years of this century.
The Division of Elections will continue counting ballots today – Friday – 8 business days after the November 4th election. As Alaskans wait for final counts in especially the Governor and U.S. Senate race, the presumptive winners, Bill Walker and Dan Sullivan, are planning their way forward. However, it’s important to note that as of today, Friday—neither Governor Sean Parnell or Senator Mark Begich have yet conceded, that of course could change later today based on ballot counting that will take place later today.
KSKA: Friday, November 14 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 15 at 6:00 p.m.
KAKM: Friday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Tonight in Anchorage the YWCA will present the 25th annual Women of Achievement award to 10 Alaskan women who have helped others. Some as well known news makers and others, who have quietly gone about the tasks of improving the lives of those around them, without much attention. Hilary Morgan is the YWCA’s CEO. She says the women’s advocacy organization has a theme for this year’s event of honoring the past, inspiring the future.
Local filmmaker Mary Katzke of Affinity Films, has taken on the subject of family members caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease. Katzke says she started out documenting friends in the sandwich generation: Those with careers, children at home and also caring for aging parents but she focused in on five families dealing with Alzheimer’s because of the emotional toll of caring for a family member who may not recognize you. One of those caregivers is Janet Burts, who has been caring for her mother since her father passed away in 2010. Katzke says in a state with the fastest growing elder population per capita of any other, exploring the individual decisions that each family has to make is timely.
The elections are finally over, although in Alaska, there is still uncertainty over the U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial race outcomes. Those race results will not be clear until more than 20,000 early, absentee and questioned ballots are counted next week.
KSKA: Friday, November 7 at 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 8 at 6:00 p.m.
KAKM: Friday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 8 at 4:30 p.m.
A novel by first time author Archana Mishra focuses on the need to make education more readily available to women. The Anchorage resident is a Native of India and lived and worked in Australia before moving to Alaska. She says for rural women in India, indigenous people in Australia and rural women in Alaska, the need is the same. Education creates equal societies. Mishra is an attorney and says all of the women in her family are highly educated. Her book, The Fortunate Child follows a girl who dreams of changing the world through helping others. She says women can’t be part of a thriving economy if they are not educational equals.
Voters approved ballot measure two last night. The measure makes legal the production, sale and use of marijuana for Alaskans over 21 years old. Washington DC and Oregon approved similar measures.