Alaska News Nightly: March 2, 2010

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Kookesh Slapped with Ethics Violation
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
Angoon Senator Albert Kookesh, a Democrat, has been slapped with a state ethics violation over comments he made in January at a Craig city council meeting. A senate ethics subcommittee found that Kookesh implied that he would use his legislative power to block state funding for community projects if the Craig city council opposed legislation he was supporting.

State Debates Court Ruling on Campaign Finance
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
House and Senate committees on Tuesday opened debate on the state’s response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision opening political campaigns to corporations and labor unions — as an extension of the federally guaranteed right of free speech. House State Affairs Chairman Bob Lynn- a Republican from Anchorage- said the decision has been a “political earthquake,” felt throughout the nation:

Senate Reaches Deal on Unemployment Benefits
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The U.S. Senate has reached a deal that will allow it to move forward and soon reinstate unemployment benefits.  Since Thursday, Republican Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning had single-handedly blocked the short-term extension of unemployment benefits and other popular measures.

Regulatory Commission Says No to Enstar
The Associated Press – Anchorage
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has denied a request by Enstar Natural Gas to recoup a $5.7 million billing error. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has denied a request by Enstar Natural Gas to recoup a $5.7 million dollar billing error. The company had asked the commission to retroactively approve a rate hike the company made in January 2009. Enstar overcharged Fort Richardson Army Post for 10 times as much gas as the Army used at its laundry over a five-year period from 2002 to 2007. The company later repaid the Department of Defense. Enstar said the higher gas volume resulted in lower prices to individual consumers and that they should pay because the gas was used in its system and left unpaid. The RCA ordered Enstar to refund the extra charges it has made to customers. The company can appeal in Alaska Superior Court.

Wolves Enjoy Salmon?
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Wolves like to eat moose and caribou. That’s a given- ungulates are by far their favorite prey. But a new study shows wolves also eat a lot of salmon where it’s available, even in Interior Alaska. The research could transform the way biologists and managers think about how the species interact in the ecosystem.

UA Presidential Candidates Tour the State
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Candidates vying to become the next president of the University of Alaska are on a 3 day tour of the system’s main campuses. The three finalists are Lisa Rossbacher, president of the Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia; Alaska Railroad president Pat Gamble; and UA Southeast Chancellor John Pugh. They began the tour in Fairbanks on Monday, where they attended forums, talked about their visions for the university, and answered questions from the public. All three candidates emphasized the importance of the university driving Alaska’s economy by educating people, supporting industry with research, and pioneering new projects.

Advocate Pushes for Change in Foster Care System
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
An advocate for changes to the state’s foster care system testified to the subcommittee for finance for the Health and Social Services committee today. Amanda Metevier is the state wide coordinator for Facing Foster Care in Alaska.

Police Discover Meth Lab Remnants in Downtown Petersburg
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Petersburg police say they discovered the remnants of a methamphetamine lab in the woods within downtown. Its one of only two such labs authorities have found in or near the Petersburg area in at least the past decade.