Polygraph results debated at Fairbanks Four hearing

first_imgCrime & CourtsPolygraph results debated at Fairbanks Four hearingOctober 23, 2015 by Dan Bross, KUAC Share:One of the Fairbanks Four passed a polygraph.The results of the lie detector test taken by Marvin Roberts last year were shared during day 13 of an evidentiary hearing being held to consider whether Roberts, George Frese, Kevin Pease and Eugene Vent, the men convicted of fatally beating John Hartman in 1997, are in fact innocent.Polygraph expert David Raskin of Homer administered the test and presented Robert’s answers to key questions like:“Did you participate in any way in the assault of John Hartman? Answered ‘no,’” Raskin said.Polygraphs use sensors to measure physical responses indicative of lying and telling the truth, and Raskin says Robert’s responses ranked extremely high on a truthfulness scale.“You have to have a -8 or lower to fail the test; a +8 or higher to pass the test,” Raskin said. “Mr. Roberts produced a score of +47.”Polygraph results are generally not admissible in court and it’s unclear whether Judge Paul Lyle will consider them in ruling on the Fairbanks Four request for exoneration.The State attempted to discredit the polygraph results. Attorney Bob Linton took aim at the technology used to test Roberts, Raskin’s wording of questions, and the validity of the science itself, quoting from a 2002 National Research Council funded polygraph study.“Almost a century of research in scientific psychology and physiology provides little basis for the expectation that a polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy,” Linton said. “The physiological responses measured by the polygraph are not uniquely related to deception.”Raskin countered that the review did not include any polygraph scientists and that numerous laboratory studies show polygraphs to be 90 percent accurate.Linton characterized Raskin as a polygraph advocate who profits from the technique.Share this story:last_img read more

Unalaska receives surprise visitor from the deep

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Aleutians | Oceans | WildlifeUnalaska receives surprise visitor from the deepApril 11, 2017 by Zoë Sobel, Alaska’s Energy Desk Share:An Unalaskan sees if he is as long as the beached squid. (Zoë Sobel/KUCB) Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2017/ann-20170411-11.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Carlin Enlow has lived in Unalaska her entire life, all 22 years. This is the first time she’s seen a squid washed up on the beach.“The only time I’ve seen something this big is down in the Seward Sea Life Center,” Enlow said. “They have a giant squid that I think they caught up here or washed up here.”Enlow found out about the squid on Facebook and made her way down to the beach after 10 p.m.A more than six-foot long squid washed up in Unalaska. (Zoë Sobel/KUCB)“It’s kind of one of those things where it’s like, ‘That’s awesome!’” Enlow said “And you think, oh I can rush down right now or is that a photo from a couple days ago? Did I miss it? This is a good little field trip.”The chance to see the beached squid has brought out a steady stream of Unalaska residents, from on-duty police officers to parents with kids wiping sleep from their eyes.But how rare is it to see a big squid on the beaches in Unalaska?According to Sea Grant agent Melissa Good it’s more common to see beached whales or other marine mammals.“My guess would be because [marine mammals] are living near the surface, whereas large squid are going to spend the majority of their time in the deep sea, so it’s less likely that they would wash up,” Good said.Although large, this is not a giant squid. Good thinks this squid is a robust clubhook squid.Although large, this is not a giant squid. Sea Grant’s Melissa Good thinks it is a robust clubhook squid. (Zoë Sobel/KUCB)Unalaska is in the middle of its natural range, which stretches from Southern California to the Gulf of Alaska through the Aleutian Islands.But seeing this species in the wild is pretty rare.As to why it died? Good doesn’t know.But less than a day after it washed up, it’s gone. She thinks eagles and foxes made a meal out of it.“It’s become a food source,” Good said. “I like calamari. Other things probably like calamari, too!”Share this story:last_img read more

Trump ends DACA, calls on Congress to act

first_imgHomeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said the administration, facing legal challenges to the program, “chose the least disruptive option,” letting the program wind down in six months, and placing the onus on a sharply divided Congress to enact former President Barack Obama’s executive action into law.In a statement, Duke said no current beneficiaries will be affected before March 5 of next year. But she said, “No new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.”Duke said the administration’s decision to terminate DACA “was not taken lightly. The Department of Justice has carefully evaluated the program’s constitutionality and determined it conflicts with our existing immigration laws.”Trump signaled the decision earlier on Tuesday, tweeting, “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA.”Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., responded to the announcement in a statement saying, “It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York called the administration’s decision “heartless.” He said Democrats “will do everything we can to prevent President Trump’s terribly wrong order from becoming reality.”Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted that the move was “cruel.” DACA allowed individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children or teens before mid-2007 to apply for protection from deportation and work permits if they met certain requirements. Beneficiaries had to be under the age of 16 upon entering the country; no older than 31 as of June 15, 2012; lived continuously in the U.S. since mid-2007; be enrolled in high school or college, already have a diploma or degree, have a GED certificate or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military; and have no felony criminal convictions, significant misdemeanor convictions, no more than three other misdemeanor convictions or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.The program did not provide lawful immigration status. Instead, through what the Obama administration characterized as the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, it granted a deferral from possibly being removed from the U.S. to those who qualified; it also granted work permits. The deferrals and permits were granted for two-year periods and could be renewed for additional two-year periods.The Department of Homeland Security says existing DACA participants whose eligibility expires between now and March 5 have until Oct. 5 to apply for renewal. The department will also “adjudicate on an individual case-by-case basis” requests to enroll in the program and for renewal that were received as of Tuesday. However, new applications will not be accepted going forward.Valid permits will remain in effect until they expire, “unless terminated or revoked” before then, according to a fact sheet on the DHS website.Immigration and Customs Enforcement says its enforcement priorities have not changed. It has no plans to target DACA holders as their permits expire. They will be eligible for deportation, but remain a low priority.The USCIS generally has not referred cases in which a person’s DACA application is denied to immigration enforcement authorities unless the case involves a criminal offense, fraud or a threat to national security or public safety.The “DREAMers” had been in legal limbo since the start of the current administration. Throughout his campaign, Trump railed against the 2012 executive order signed by Obama — and pledged to “immediately terminate the policy” once he took office.But after being sworn in, he expressed some compassion toward DACA recipients. In an interview with ABC News on Jan. 25, Trump said, “They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”The Obama program was thrown into the center of a looming court battle in late June when a coalition of 10 state attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, threatened to sue the Trump administration as early as Sept. 5 if it refused to phase out DACA. They argued that Obama had overstepped his authority in creating and implementing the program. Only Congress has the authority to legislate such a change in U.S. immigration law, they contended.“[T]he program represents an unconstitutional exercise of legislative power by the Executive Branch,” Paxton wrote in an op-ed for USA Today in late July. “Phasing out DACA is about the rule of law, not the wisdom of any particular immigration policy,” Paxton also wrote at the time before emphasizing the principle of separation of powers at the heart of the structure of the federal government.Sessions had advocated for the termination of DACA but, as BuzzFeed reported in March, he was often out-argued by former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who like Trump, wanted to see it preserved.Bannon, who held hardline views on immigration that aligned more closely with the attorney general on other policy issues, reportedly had convinced the president to spare DREAMers and use them “as a strategic asset in the coming immigration policy battles.”But with Bannon and Priebus now gone from the West Wing, it appears the position held by Sessions and Stephen Miller, another Trump White House aide with ties to Sessions, has won out — under the pressure exerted by Paxton and some of his fellow state attorneys general.Trump’s decision leaves Congress facing increasing pressure to find a solution for a population that was estimated in 2012 to include as many as 1.8 million immigrants — of which about 800,000 have been granted deferred status under DACA.At the moment there are at least two bipartisan bills that could grant legal status or create a pathway to citizenship for those who were eligible for DACA. In July, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a new version of the DREAM Act, after which the DREAMers are named. And a companion bill was filed in the House by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.Additionally, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., introduced the American Hope Act. While Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., introduced the Recognizing America’s Children Act, a plan that has some support in his party.Durbin introduced an earlier version of the DREAM Act — the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act” — in late 2010; that bill failed to get enough votes to allow a floor vote. But the legislative project goes back much longer than the middle of Obama’s first term as president. Durbin first filed legislation about the DREAMers in 2001. “Other versions passed the House in 2010 and in the Senate, as part of a larger immigration bill, in 2013. But no bill has ever been passed by both chambers,” according to the Washington Post.In 2012, Obama stepped in with the DACA program when Congress failed to pass a version of the DREAM Act then. At the time, Obama justified his action saying, “These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”In an interview with Wisconsin talk radio WCLO on Friday, House Speaker Ryan said that he opposes the Trump administration ending DACA and that it is up to Congress to find a legislative fix to the question of what to do with the DREAMers. The speaker said that Obama was wrong to act without Congress and that Trump should defer to Congress to fix the issue.“Having said all of that there are people who are in limbo. These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home,” Ryan said. “And so I really do believe there needs to be a legislative solution, that’s one that we’re working on, and I think we want to give people peace of mind.”Responding to Ryan’s comments, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote Ryan, according to Politico, asking that he meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other House Democratic leaders “to discuss a comprehensive legislative solution for our country’s DREAMers.” In her letter, the top Democrat in the House also said legislative action was necessary “to shield … [the] DREAMers from the arbitrary cruelty of deportation.”Whatever Congress may do, another potential consequence of Trump’s action is that it is likely to bring his predecessor, who is arguably the country’s most high-profile Democrat, back into the political debate over the fate of the DREAMers.In his final news conference as president and just days before Trump was inaugurated, Obama said he would remain largely silent for the next year on most political issues — with a few exceptions where the nation’s “core values” might be at stake, in his view. Among those, was taking action against the DREAMers, including deportation.“The notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn’t do something themselves … would merit my speaking out,” he said.Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story: Federal Government | NPR NewsTrump ends DACA, calls on Congress to actSeptember 5, 2017 by Vanessa Romo, Martina Stewart and Brian Naylor, NPR News Share:A mother and daughter pose for photo near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 4, 2017. They were protesting to preserve DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration policy. (Creative Commons photo by Joe Flood)Updated at 1:10 p.m. ETThe Trump administration Tuesday formally announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — putting an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as “DREAMers,” who entered the country illegally as children.President Trump issued a statement, saying, “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”He also said he looks forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to address immigration issues “in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first.”Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of the policy, made the formal announcement Tuesday morning. He called DACA “unilateral executive amnesty,” and said the Obama administration “deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.” He said DACA “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”Sessions added, “We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple.”last_img read more

Legislature passes school funding bill, likely averting mass layoff notices to school workers

first_imgEconomy | Education | Interior | Politics | Southcentral | State GovernmentLegislature passes school funding bill, likely averting mass layoff notices to school workersApril 18, 2018 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Rally participants cheer in the rain at the second annual March for Science in Juneau on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)The Alaska House took a major step Wednesday toward preventing layoff notices from going out to teachers and other school workers this spring.The House voted to agree with changes the Senate made to House Bill 287 to fund schools separately and before the rest of the budget.Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara voted for the bill. He said it was important to act quickly.Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, expresses his views about the state operating budget, during the House floor session on April 2. On Wednesday, Gara spoke in favor concurring with the Senate’s changes to an early school funding bill.  (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)“By concurring today, we early fund schools and avoid pink slips,” he said. “By fighting with the other house for a week or two weeks over the language, we miss the pink-slip deadline.”The last two years, many teachers received layoff notices because the Legislature passed the budget later than usual.Not everyone agreed the bill is a good idea. One part of the legislation raised concerns among some minority-caucus Republicans. Along with funding next school year, it would also fund the year after next. But it would only do that if lawmakers agree on a plan to draw from permanent fund earnings.All 22 majority-caucus members and nine minority-caucus Republicans voted to concur with the Senate.But North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson was one of nine minority-caucus Republicans to vote against the bill. She said tying part of the bill to another piece of legislation is a bad idea.“I can’t support tying two bills together,” she said. “I wish it just would have been a simple bill, to where we were talking about funding, which is originally what we were doing.”Lawmakers expect to draw from permanent fund earnings to pay for the state budget for the first time in Alaska history. But they haven’t agreed on what the plan will be to make an earnings draw.And until there’s an agreement on the permanent fund, one thing that’s not clear is how the Legislature will pay for the school funding.The school funding bill will go to Gov. Bill Walker. He praised the bill in a statement after the House passed it.The bill left one other school funding issue unsettled. A separate measure the House passed, House Bill 339, would increase state aid to schools by boosting the base student allocation. The Senate hasn’t voted on the measure.HB 287 (flat-funding for schools) is headed to @AkGovBillWalker. @RepLesGara says they’re still working with Senate to reach agreement on level of education funding.HB 339 ($100 BSA increase) will have a hearing tomorrow @ 8am in Senate Education. @GavelAlaska will cover live. https://t.co/u0DrwPrJDt— Adelyn Baxter (@adelynbaxter) April 18, 2018Share this story:last_img read more

Gov. Walker lets Juneau road money stand, but maintains no-build policy

first_imgJuneau | Southeast | State Government | TransportationGov. Walker lets Juneau road money stand, but maintains no-build policyJune 14, 2018 by Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO Share:A shot-up sign marks the end of the Glacier Highway in Juneau. Gov. Walker decided in 2016 against building an extension, but let lawmakers’ reappropriation of $21 million for a possible extension stand. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2018/06/14ROADnpr1.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Gov. Bill Walker committed $21 million to the Juneau Access Project with his signature Wednesday on the state’s capital budget.Back in 2016, the governor decided against building the ever-controversial road megaproject citing the state’s fiscal crisis. Why was the road money spared the veto?Business interests, environmentalists, politicians and neighbors in Juneau, Haines and Skagway have gone round and round for years on whether to build the road.“We’re delighted that the money was left in the budget, it’s back where it belongs and it gives us an opportunity to continue working on an important project for Juneau,” said Denny DeWitt, head of the pro-road First Things First Alaska Foundation.“We were disappointed in Gov. Walker’s decision not to veto this dead end project, given his opposition to wasteful megaprojects,” said Buck Lindekugel, attorney with the environmental group Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “But we urge him to continue to press his DOT commissioner to issue a decision selecting the no-build alternative this summer and address our other pressing transportation needs expeditiously.”They’re referring to money lawmakers cobbled together for the road late in this year’s legislative session, which came from past, unspent transportation earmarks for upper Lynn Canal.It’s a small victory for road supporters. Major hurdles to get to construction are still there.Like securing huge federal grants, which largely hinges on reversing Walker’s 2016 decision not to build the road.The governor’s spokesman Austin Baird said Walker’s policy on the road isn’t shifting. He said the governor didn’t veto the road money because it didn’t draw from new general fund money.Previously, state plans called for extending Glacier Highway in Juneau about 48 miles north to the Katzehin River.A new ferry terminal would be built there for a short trip to the road system via Haines or Skagway. State estimates from 2014 put the initial construction cost at $574 million.Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation’s final environmental review document on the project is expected this summer. Presumably, it will confirm the governor’s no-build decision.Share this story:last_img read more

State regulators to Alaska lobbyist: Stop helping candidates raise money

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Business | Government | Politics | State GovernmentState regulators to Alaska lobbyist: Stop helping candidates raise moneyOctober 17, 2018 by Nat Herz, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage Share:Lobbyists Royce Weller and Ashley Reed talk in the benches on the second floor of the State Capitol in January, 2017. (Marc Lester / ADN)Alaska lobbyists have been breaking an anti-corruption law by promoting fundraising events on behalf of political candidates, according to a preliminary opinion from the state’s campaign finance watchdog.Lobbyist Ashley Reed asked for the formal opinion from the Alaska Public Offices Commission. He wanted to know whether state law allows for lobbyists to email copies of invitations to fundraisers for political candidates.Jerry Mackie’s portrait from when he was a state senator.The Legislature banned lobbyists from engaging in fundraising activity more than two decades ago. Proponents of the ban said candidates who get help from lobbyists on their campaigns could, once elected, have a harder time refusing lobbyists’ requests for action on legislation.But in spite of the ban, as Alaska Public Media reported last week, Reed and another lobbyist, Jerry Mackie, have been sending copies of fundraiser invitations to their clients and friends.Reed and Mackie are among the state’s most influential lobbyists, and each earns more than $700,000 representing businesses in health care, oil development, mining and other industries.On Monday, the commission’s staff issued a three-page draft opinion. It addresses Reed’s question about whether he can send invitations to fundraisers.The short answer: No, because that’s engaging in fundraising activity, which the law bars lobbyists from doing.The opinion is still a draft — it has to be approved by the commission’s politically-appointed leaders at their next meeting, in January.Reed, reached by phone Wednesday, wouldn’t discuss the draft opinion.“I don’t want to fight in the media,” he said. “I want the commission to decide.”Among the candidates who benefited from the emails from Reed and Mackie are Gov. Bill Walker and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon.In earlier interviews, the lobbyists cited a section of the law that allows lobbyists to personally advocate on behalf of a candidate. The lobbyists also said they had informal approval to send the emails after talking with an employee of the public offices commission.Share this story:last_img read more

Legislature seeks new path to fund vetoed programs

first_imgShare this story: Economy | Politics | Southcentral | State GovernmentLegislature seeks new path to fund vetoed programsJuly 15, 2019 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:While the Legislature failed last week to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes, lawmakers are trying again to fund the vetoed programs in a new bill. A draft bill the House Finance Committee discussed on Monday would also set permanent fund dividends at $929 to have a balanced budget. House Bill 2001 would both reverse Dunleavy’s vetoes to the operating and capital budgets and set the dividend level. Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, co-chair of the House Finance Committee, speaks in support of a bill during a House floor session in Juneau in March. On Monday, Foster said the Legislature would have to make further budget cuts or draw from savings to have permanent fund dividends more than $929. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)Rep. Neal Foster, a Nome Democrat, said the Legislature must draw from savings or make further cuts to have dividends more than $929. He added that dividends would be $1,490 if all of Dunleavy’s vetoes are maintained, without further cuts or draws from savings. “I’m not saying that that’s what the PFD is going to be,” Foster said. “This is certainly a starting point.” The bill also would pay for budget items like Power Cost Equalization and college scholarships. They don’t have a funding source since money for these programs has been swept into a state savings account. It’s unlikely the bill would become law in its current form, since it reverses Dunleavy’s vetoes and could be vetoed by him. It also would require support from Republican lawmakers aligned with Dunleavy. Members from the House majority flew up from Juneau to hold the House Finance Committee meeting at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. Members from the House minority, which has been meeting in Wasilla, also attended the committee meeting. Wasilla Republican Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard questioned the new bill’s legality. She said that it goes beyond Dunleavy’s call for the special session, which is limited to funding full permanent fund dividends. “I have grave concerns with what is before us,” Sullivan-Leonard said. “My understanding was that the second special session call was very specific to the permanent fund dividend. And (that) was not a budget bill.”A lawyer for the Legislature said the courts haven’t weighed in on how far a special session can stray from what’s on the call. The Washington State Supreme Court has said in that state there has to be a rational connection with the special session’s subject. Foster said the budget and the PFD are connected because the Legislature has to say how they’ll pay for the dividend. Dunleavy spoke to the press before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. He didn’t comment on the new bill. But he did express hope there would be progress in talks with the Legislature. Lawmakers and state officials have said that the state stands to lose federal transportation funding if the Legislature hasn’t passed a capital budget by the end of July.“We all realize that we’re running out of time,” Dunleavy said. “And we all want a closure to this legislative session. We all want what’s best for Alaska. We have different ideas on how to get there. But I feel strongly that we’re moving closer together and I’m pretty optimistic.”There hasn’t been visible progress from the talks between the Legislature and the governor so far. Monday was the first House Finance Committee meeting since there were changes to the committee, following former co-chair Tammie Wilson leaving the House majority. Anchorage Republican Rep. Jennifer Johnston is the new co-chair. Fairbanks Democrat Rep. Adam Wool joined the committee. last_img read more

2 positive COVID-19 cases identified in Fairbanks area

first_imgCoronavirus | Health | Interior | State Government2 positive COVID-19 cases identified in Fairbanks areaMarch 16, 2020 by Kris Capps and Julie Stricker, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Share:Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in May 2011. (Creative Commons photo by RadioKAOS)Two people in Fairbanks have tested positive for COVID-19, officials at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital foundation said on Monday evening.According to Dr. Michael Burton, an emergency medical physician at Fairbanks Memorial, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fairbanks. Both are men, identified as “older individuals.”  Details have not been disclosed to protect their identity. Both are currently stable and being treated as outpatients, according to Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer.The two had recently traveled Outside, separately. There is no known link between the two.Both men had become ill and were diagnosed by doctors and tests later came back positive. Both of the men and their families have been quarantined in their homes.“Each case makes us more concerned,” Zink said. “Every single day we can slow down the curve is important. We live in a big state; we can socially isolate well.”It is the second and third positive diagnosis in Alaska. The first was a foreign national who arrived in the state as a pilot on a cargo flight. He developed a fever and respiratory problems shortly after he arrived on March 11. He went to Alaska Regional Hospital for treatment, was stable and in quarantine, Anchorage officials said.The state will be working all night to identify all the people both of the Fairbanks men have been in contact with in the previous several days, Zink said.Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said people who are returning to Alaska from spring break should pay attention to people around them and isolate as much as possible, just in case they’ve been exposed.A hotline has been established at the hospital for people who have questions or concerned about if they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. That number is 907-458-2888.Dr. Angelique Ramirez said “This is not the time to go to a bar and give your friend a hug. Our mission is the health and well-being of all Alaskans. This is a significant outbreak. It’s been a little bit of a race against time. We will need everybody’s help.”Ramirez is quality medical director with Foundation Health Partners, which operates Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the Denali Center and Tanana Valley Clinic.Testing supplies are still limited, but the foundation has been trying to round up as many supplies as possible and hopes to set up a drive-through testing site as soon as this week, she said. It is important to test the most vulnerable people first, she said.“We know the community wants this and desires this,” she said.Having a test does not change the treatment, said  said. The preferred treatment is isolation.Shelley Ebenal, CEO of Foundation Health Partners emphasized that residents need to make sure they wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and socially isolate. She noted that the group of people at the news conference was not an ideal situation.“We need community support,” Ebenal said. “We need you to listen to guidelines and obey them. If we don’t, our health system will be overwhelmed.”Testing is continuing, Zink said, with more than 250 people being tested so far. Three have been positive and the state will update its statistics at noon on Tuesday.“Get ready, get set, go, guys,” Ebenal said. “It’s here.” Alaska governor, Anchorage mayor hold coronavirus news briefingsShare this story:last_img read more

Alaska’s health mandates aren’t laws, so enforcement is murky

first_imgCoronavirus | Public Safety | Southeast | State GovernmentAlaska’s health mandates aren’t laws, so enforcement is murkyApril 21, 2020 by Eric Stone, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Ketchikan Share:An Alaska State Trooper cruiser parked on Nome’s Front Street in January 2015. (Photo by Matthew F. Smith/KNOM)State health mandates technically carry the force of law. Some of them outline penalties for violators — breaking a state-mandated quarantine, for example, could mean a fine of $25,000. But when someone violates them, enforcement can get murky.Thorne Bay is a city of about 500 people on Prince of Wales Island. The nearby city of Craig has seen two residents test positive for the coronavirus. And concerns about the spread of the virus have residents on edge. But officials in Thorne Bay say they’re having trouble enforcing state and local emergency orders requiring that most out-of-state travelers quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.Acting city administrator Teri Feibel says that a man recently flew his private plane from Washington state to the island’s airstrip. She says he then tried to board a boat tied up in Thorne Bay’s harbor. But Feibel says he hadn’t filled out a state-mandated declaration form outlining his travel history and his intended quarantine location.“We notified him of the requirement and he refused to fill out any paperwork, didn’t feel it applied to him and was very upset,” she said.Unable to access his boat, the man left the harbor. But he returned the following day while Harbormaster Ron Wendel was at the city office.“He showed up here in town and proceeded to take groceries — couple cartloads of groceries — down the dock to his boat,” he said.Wendel says he reported the apparent violation of state and local orders to law enforcement.Thorne Bay doesn’t have its own police force — they rely on state troopers and a village public safety officer. But Wendel said state troopers weren’t much help.“They explained to me at that point in time, that they could not help us at all because this is a state mandate, not a state law,” Wendel said. “And because it was not a law, there was nothing that they could do.”For his part, 77-year-old Paul Lewis said he’s doing his best to comply with state and local health restrictions. He says he left Washington for Alaska to protect his wife.“First of all, this is a life-or-death decision for me. My wife is 75 years old, and she has a very low immune system,” he said when reached by phone Thursday. “And the doctors told her that if she got the virus, it would kill her for sure. So I decided to come up here to cut the chance of her being infected by 50 percent.”He said he’s lived on his 32-foot boat in Thorne Bay’s harbor seasonally for the past three years — that’s where he intended to ride out his mandatory two-week quarantine. And Lewis says that’s exactly what he’s doing.He said he was unaware that state and local authorities required travelers to fill out a declaration.But that statement from a local state trooper — that troopers can’t enforce mandates — troubled the two Thorne Bay officials. And it’s led to questions over how state law enforcement can ensure compliance with health mandates.Acting administrator Feibel asked the town’s state legislative representative, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, for help. Troopers say they’re focusing their energy on encouraging Alaskans to voluntarily comply with the mandates.But Kreiss-Tomkins said it’s not clear what tools state troopers can use when faced with someone who won’t abide by the rules.“My sense from the Department of Public Safety is that things are being figured out — how to deal with, sort of, ‘bad apples,’” he said.At this point, state leadership says criminal charges aren’t the answer.“We’ve done a tremendous job without having to order Alaskans around,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy told reporters Thursday.“The idea that we’re going to use a heavy hand on Alaskans — we never talked about doing that. We don’t want to do that,” he added.And Dunleavy said he’s pleased with the level of compliance so far.But Kreiss-Tomkins said state and municipal law enforcement agencies need to figure out what to do when simply encouraging people to follow the law doesn’t work.“If politely yet firmly asked at first to stop, and then it persists, then like, what’s step two? And then when do you really bring down the hammer?” he asked.He said lax enforcement threatens to undercut compliance on a broader scale. In other words, if people see their neighbors gathering in groups or ignoring other mandates, that “weakens the degree to which others abide by those same rules,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.For now, though, it’s not clear how — or if — state authorities will compel Alaskans to follow the rules.Share this story:last_img read more

Special FCC licenses could help Southeast tribes close digital divide

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Coronavirus | Science & Tech | SoutheastSpecial FCC licenses could help Southeast tribes close digital divideOctober 8, 2020 by Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska Share:Will Micklin of the Tlingit-Haida Central Council at the Elizabeth Peratovich Hall in Juneau on March 9, 2016. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld)Southeast Alaska tribes have few communities connected by roads. And while the internet has helped bridge gaps from physical distances, it’s often far from fast or reliable.That was on display this month when Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska held its 85th tribal assembly entirely online. Tribal Vice President Will Micklin says the COVID-19 pandemic made that necessary, but the digital divide was apparent.“It was a difficult connection for most of the villages outside of Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau,” he said.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2020/10/07SPECTRUM.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Tlingit & Haida is among hundreds of tribal entities nationwide to apply for a special wireless spectrum license to fill gaps in communities underserved by commercial carriers.“We don’t have a profit motive,” Micklin said. “Our motive is delivery of service. I really view broadband as an inherent right for our tribal citizens, and that is made ever clearer to me by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, where deficiencies and infrastructures became ever more apparent.”This year the FCC made that possible by offering a spectrum for wireless broadband — including 3G and 4G and perhaps even 5G data when it’s available— to Native communities. Any unclaimed bandwidth will be auctioned off later to private carriers.Other tribes in Southeast are taking the same initiative. Hoonah Indian Association has a pending application with the FCC. Tribal administrator Bob Starbard says it covers the tribe’s traditional territory and even some neighbors.“Our plan is to use it to create a broadband network for all of the community residents of Hoonah and any of the other population centers that’s happened to fall within our territory,” Starbard said.That territory includes Gustavus, at present time, and because radio waves don’t generally respect municipal boundaries, the service would likely reach Elfin Cove and Tenakee, too.That overlaps with Tlingit & Haida’s application. But both tribes say they’d cooperate, not compete. The regional tribe has pledged not to overlap its services with local tribes.If a tie-in with a commercial carrier doesn’t make sense for Hoonah, there’s talk of tribes joining forces because they’ll be on the same 2.5 GHz spectrum. Starbard says the Tlingit & Haida Central Council is discussing “some form of inter-tribal network” with other tribes.But first, he says, the FCC will need to issue the licenses. And when it does, hundreds of tribes across the United States are expected to have a unique opportunity to fill gaps in connectivity in underserved areas — which describes most of rural Alaska.Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that the 2.5 GHz spectrum data will likely be 3G and 4G data services as 5G is not yet available outside of a few limited test markets.Share this story:last_img read more