Alaska News Nightly: February 6, 2009

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State Senate holds Todd Palin and 8 others in contempt
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The state Senate today found nine state employees and Governor Palin’s husband Todd  in Contempt for not conforming to legislative subpoenas last fall as part of the investigation of the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.  None of the ten were punished.

UA President Hamilton pitches legislature on university funding

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton wants to open more doors to education for the state’s high school graduates. In a presentation to the House Finance Committee this week, Hamilton said more than 10 years ago the legislature wanted him to prepare more Alaskans to join the state’s work force.  And he said that, now, the University has become the biggest engine for jobs in the state.

Tenative agrement reached in US Senate on stimulus package
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
U.S. Senate Democrats say they’ve reached a tentative agreement with some moderate Republicans on the economic stimulus bill.  The massive funding package could go to a vote as soon as tonight – but senators are saying it will likely be tackled this weekend.

Prosecutors admit another mistake in Ted Stevens corruption case
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Federal prosecutors have admitted another error in the case of former Senator Ted Stevens.  The head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, William Welch, says he made a mistake when he told the court that government employees mentioned in an FBI agent’s complaint wanted their story to be “made public.”   In a letter to the court, Welch says none of the government employees mentioned in the complaint gave their consent to having their names released.

Defenders of Wildlife targets Governor Palin over aerial predator control

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
In acknowledging Governor Palin’s increased national notoriety, the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife is enlisting celebrities to raise the profile of their fight against Alaska’s aerial predator control program. Actress Ashley Judd is the voice over for a short video that criticizes the shooting of wolves.

Sitka school board hopes to raise number of Native teachers

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, KCAW – Sitka
Alaska Natives represent less than five percent of educators in the state, yet twenty five percent of the population is Alaska Native. Across the state school districts are struggling to increase the number of Native teachers, but qualified candidates can be difficult to find, especially when budgets are decreasing for hiring any teachers at all.

FEDCO issues report on increasing Alaska’s natural gas supply

Dan Bross,KUAC – Fairbanks
A Fairbanks group has issued a report that looks at options for increasing Alaska’s natural gas supply.  The Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation’s Interior Issues Council report was prompted by the cleaner burning, lower cost attributes of natural gas.  Fairbanks only natural gas is currently trucked in from Cook Inlet,

US Senate enviroment committee pledges new climate-change legislation

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington,DC
The chairwoman of the US Senate Committee on the Environment, Democrat Barbara Boxer of California is pledging to have new global-warming legislation before the end of the year.  Boxer announced her goals for combating climate change earlier this week.

Unisea pollock fleet enters third week of strike

Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The Unisea pollock fleet is on strike. The strike began when the season opened on January 20th. Captains from multiple boats say they are holding out for higher pay. The other major processors are offering 36.5%t of profits but Unisea is only offering 36%. The captains say they just want to be treated fairly and be offered the same price as everyone else.

Pollock and Cod seasone plagued by high bycatch numbers

Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The pollock and cod seasons are both starting out with unusually high levels of bycatch. That could cause problems for the fleet further on in the season. Cod boats are mostly concerned about halibut bycatch—they can only get a certain amount of halibut bycatch per year before the National Marine Fisheries Service closes down the fishery for the year.