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Late goal carries Eagle River past South in CIC hockey

Fri, 2018-12-14 23:34

Ty McEnaney’s goal with less than four minutes to go lifted the Eagle River hockey team past previously undefeated South 1-0 and into first place in the Cook Inlet Conference.

Winners of three straight games, the Wolves improved to 6-2 in the Friday night game at the McDonald Center. That puts them in first place in the CIC with 12 points, two point ahead of South, which slipped to 5-1.

Brooks Christian and Aidan Burton assisted on McEnaney’s goal. Ryan Gray finished with 19 saves for Eagle River and Hannah Hagenson had 21 for South.

In the CIC’s other game Friday, West battered Bartlett 11-0 at Ben Boeke Arena behind Matthew Patchin’s three goals and three assists. Hayden Leflamme, the goalie for Bartlett’s seven-player squad, stopped 35 shots.

On Thursday in the CIC, Service surprised Dimond 2-1 and Chugiak shut out East 7-0.

Dimond outshot Service 40-15 but Service goalie Kevin Taunton stopped the first 39 shots he saw and didn’t allow a goal until Dimond’s Henry Miknich found the net with 36 seconds left in the game. Jake Hayes and Connor Homan scored for Service.

In Chugiak’s win over East, Luke Momblow racked up three goals and an assist.

East, Bartlett to meet in Cougar Tip Off title game

Fri, 2018-12-14 22:40

Bartlett and East breezed through their semifinal games Friday to advance to the boys championship game of the Cougar Tip Off tournament.

Bartlett dispatched Service 56-38 and East stomped Chugiak 70-36 to set up an 8 p.m showdown between the longtime rivals Saturday at Service High.

Bishop Tosi supplied 13 points and 10 rebounds and Leroy Manogiamano added 12 points and seven rebounds to lead Bartlett. Elijah Cano’s 12 points topped Service.

East got 19 points from Kaeleb Johnson and nine blocks from Andrew Graves to take down Chugiak, which didn’t have any double-figure scorers.

In consolation-round action Friday, Homer beat Redington and Point Hope stopped Seward. On Saturday, Service and Chugiak will meet in the third-place game at 4 p.m., Homer and Point Hope will play in the fourth-place game at 2 p.m. and Seward and Redington will play in the seventh-place game at 10 a.m.

Action in the four-team girls tournament tipped off Friday with Homer outlasting Service 30-19 and Redington defeating Seward 24-16. Marina Carroll’s 16 points led Homer, and Abbie Fuller’s 10 points topped Redington.

Homer and Redington will play for the girls championship at 6 p.m. Saturday. Seward and Service play for third place at noon.

Snow adds to the challenge and enhances the fun at outdoor high school hockey game

Fri, 2018-12-14 21:22

A heavy snowfall added to the challenge of a girls high school hockey matchup between South/Bartlett and Service/East at the rink outside Ben Boeke Ice Arena on Friday afternoon. South/Bartlett coach Tom Moore said he advised his players to keep it simple. “Push the puck in front of you and skate to it,” he said between periods. “Because you can’t stick-handle.”

Players embraced the task. Several laughed and smiled as they stood by warming bonfires near their benches and wiped frost from visors between shifts. Others had some hot chocolate after the second period while a Zamboni scraped away an inch of snow that had collected.

Service/East goalie Lenaya Braniff said it was hard to see the puck, hard to slide on her pads and easy to get cold during the game. But she said her team enjoyed the new environment.

“The girls let loose a little more and have more fun,” Braniff said.

Moore said his team will remember the experience just as he remembers playing outdoor games on the same rink during his younger years. He said he recalls his feet getting so cold that they felt like they were going to crack if they were hit by the puck.

“I tell these guys we didn’t have little benches back then. We stood in the snowbanks,” he said.

Anchorage teacher accused of shoving a student at Ptarmigan Elementary has resigned, ASD says

Fri, 2018-12-14 18:19

A longtime teacher who the Anchorage School District says shoved and grabbed a student in May has resigned.

Deena Bishop, school district superintendent, announced the resignation in a statement Friday afternoon. The Ptarmigan Elementary School teacher had been out of the classroom and on paid administrative leave for several months, according to the school district.

“The conduct of this teacher was unacceptable and should not happen in any school,” Bishop said. “Our students should be encouraged, and when necessary, appropriately disciplined. That did not happen here.”

The teacher, Lynn Sherwood, was charged in June with one misdemeanor count of child abuse, stemming from the May 3 incident. She was accused of pushing one of her second-grade students, who is autistic, into a wall and then a door at Ptarmigan Elementary School. City prosecutors, however, later dismissed the abuse charge, saying they couldn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Meanwhile, there's an ongoing civil case against the school district that's tied to the alleged incident at Ptarmigan Elementary. The student's parents brought the lawsuit against the district on their son's behalf.

Sherwood wrote in a text message that she didn’t immediately have comment Friday.

“Eventually I’ll have more to say,” she wrote. Asked whether the school district had asked her to resign, she wrote: “I can tell you that I was glad to resign working for an employer that doesn’t protect its employees, but puts them at risk.”

There are conflicting accounts of what happened at Ptarmigan Elementary on May 3.

Sherwood on Friday emailed the Anchorage Daily News a five-page letter signed by her attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, and addressed to the municipal prosecutor in the now-closed criminal case. The letter is dated Sept. 24. Attached to the letter were notes written in support of Sherwood, including from parents of former students.

In Fitzgerald’s letter, he argues that the charge against Sherwood should be dismissed for an exhaustive list of reasons. Fitzgerald wrote that the student had hit and pushed a classmate in art class, and again as they lined up to go to recess on the day of the alleged abuse. Sherwood asked the student to sit at his desk to cool off. He pushed and hit his classmate again, Fitzgerald wrote.

Sherwood decided the student would stay in for recess, but he wouldn’t get out of the recess line. In the process of removing him from the line, he was disruptive, Fitzgerald wrote. At one point, he swung at Sherwood and she grabbed the shoulder of his sweatshirt to guide him out of line, Fitzgerald wrote. The student hit, kicked and spit at Sherwood, he wrote. At another point, Sherwood grabbed the student’s upper arms to prevent him from hitting her and kept him at arm’s length to avoid getting kicked, Fitzgerald wrote.

Sherwood has no prior criminal history. She was a teacher for more than 25 years and has no history of violence or aggressive conduct, Fitzgerald wrote. In each school she has taught, she has collaborated with the special education department.

Video footage captured on the day in question has not been released publicly. The criminal case did not go to trial.

According to the complaint, footage from Ptarmigan Elementary shows Sherwood escorting the student through the hall by his shoulder. The student was agitated and swinging his arms toward the teacher and pulling away, said the complaint. Sherwood pushed him into the wall and continued to escort him down the hallway, it said.

The student continued to fight against Sherwood, the complaint said. Sherwood let him go as several other students approached. The student was in an alcove near several large rolls of paper and Sherwood pushed him into a door “forcefully,” the complaint said.

The student’s mother, Katherine Armon, said Friday that she was told her son got into a verbal argument in art class, not a physical one. She said she was told he was later stepping on the back of a classmate’s shoe, making the shoe come off. At one point, Sherwood had grabbed him by the shoulder of his sweatshirt, Armon said.

“If you pull on his hoodie he’s going to think he’s being choked and he will start to get defensive,” she said.

Armon said her son started swinging at Sherwood. At one point, video footage showed Sherwood pushing her son “into a corner with excessive force,” Armon said.

“That’s the part where we really said, ‘This is not OK, and we need this investigated,’” Armon said.

Armon said she was happy and relieved to hear that Sherwood had resigned.

“I think it’s the right choice,” she said.

She added: “Lynn was a great teacher, I don’t know what caused her to lose her cool in that moment. I’ve made some mistakes in my life that I had to pay consequences for and unfortunately this is a situation that also had consequences."

Bishop said the school district was in the midst of its disciplinary process when Sherwood decided, on her own, to resign Friday. In Bishop’s statement, she said the district’s top priority is student safety.

“This individual’s behavior is not reflective of the ASD staff, who act professionally and with the best interest of students in mind every day,” Bishop said.

A timely story you might have missed

Fri, 2018-12-14 17:52

Snow falls on an ornament hanging from a tree in Lyn Ary Park on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Turnagain residents Alan and Kathy McArthur hung the ornaments earlier this month with their seven-year-old granddaughter, after finding themselves with extra ornaments when they completed decorating the tree at their house. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / ADN/)

There’s so much in the news. Sometimes we miss human interest stories that are both heartrending and encouraging. Some years ago a story came to my attention about a 16-year-old girl who became pregnant out of wedlock, though she was in fact engaged. Early engagement and marriage is not as uncommon as one might think. In fact my great-grandmother Sally Rainey was only 15 when she married. It’s become almost common today, but many of us can remember when pregnancy without benefit of legal spouse was scandalous.

The girl’s fiancé in this story was sure he hadn’t gotten the girl pregnant - he was a “religious type.” Quite understandingly, he found it difficult to trust the story the girl was telling him. He loved the girl, but was reluctant to go through with the marriage and have his friends think him a fool – or to call the baby a “bastard” (meaning not knowing who the father was). It’s likely some of his friends suggested an abortion, but we don’t know. Like anyone with a modicum of common sense, he went to an experienced counselor for guidance. Because of the counselor’s knowledge of the couple, he advised they go ahead and marry – regardless what others might think.

When the girl’s unplanned pregnancy became obvious, people made a big deal of it. Even people where she and her fiancé worshiped didn’t like what they thought was going on.

At this point the couple decided the best thing – perhaps the only thing – was to get out of town, at least until the baby was born and things might quiet down. Like most folks of their class, there was scarcely money for travel or anything else. Fact is, on the trip, the couple was basically homeless. After a trek of some 80 miles and a week of travel, someone took mercy and provided makeshift shelter. Just in time.

A healthy baby boy was born. Mother and son did well, even though a doctor wasn’t present at the birth. Some other travelers heard about the situation and brought the baby gifts. But the little family was still in desperate circumstances. That can happen when a child gives birth to a child. Next the government got involved and politics also entered the picture. Of course, this made things go from bad to worse. The couple and the baby had to cross a state line to evade arrest.

Eventually things calmed down some, and the family was able to return back to their hometown. The baby became a young man, was home schooled and learned his father’s trade. But the son had other things on his mind. He grew up to be a famous teacher and world-changing leader. The boy’s mom and dad also became famous. Unplanned pregnancies sometimes bring unanticipated results. Who would have thought?

A few years ago I was traveling in the area where the baby was born. I’d heard the story about this family several times, wanted to visit the baby’s birthplace, and did so. It was in the little town of Bethlehem. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Bob Lynn is a longtime Alaskan and former member of the Alaska Legislature and U.S. Air Force. He lives in Anchorage.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

City of Anchorage estimates $30 million and counting in earthquake damage

Fri, 2018-12-14 17:06

Anchorage officials estimate the Nov. 30 earthquake caused at least $30 million in damage to city-owned water lines, roads and buildings.

The number is expected to rise, with assessments and repairs slated to continue for months.

But Lance Wilber, the city budget director, gave a rough snapshot Friday afternoon of known damage estimates:

  • $10 million to repair water main line breaks.  
  • $10 million to repair or replace a building at the Anchorage Regional Landfill that houses warm storage, a maintenance shop and administrative offices. 
  • $10 million to fix roads and repair some city buildings, including the Eagle River Town Center.

Wilber said city departments have been closely tracking expenses. The plan is to apply for both state and federal reimbursement to cover repair bills, he said.

The damage estimate, the first to come from Anchorage’s city government, is roughly in line with others released by large government agencies. The Anchorage School District estimated between $25 million and $50 million in damage; the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said this week that it had spent $25 million on temporary repairs.

So far, the city has been fixing water line breaks and patching roads, Wilber said. He said more extensive repairs will happen in the spring.

Most city-owned buildings fared well in the quake, Wilber said. But some need more inspection and repair.

At the Anchorage Regional Landfill, a warm storage area and maintenance shop suffered serious structural damage and was declared unsafe to enter, said Suzanna Caldwell, spokeswoman for Solid Waste Services. Employees will also be relocated from an attached administrative building that suffered damage, she said. She said it’s possible the entire building would have to be replaced.

The building closures and repairs will not impact daily operations at the landfill, Caldwell said.

Alaska should not allow onsite marijuana consumption

Fri, 2018-12-14 17:00

FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2018, file photo, an employee at a medical marijuana cultivator works on topping a marijuana plant, in Eastlake, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Dermer, File) (David Dermer/)

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board is considering proposed regulations to allow retail marijuana establishments to add “marijuana consumption areas” where customers could smoke, vape, eat or drink cannabis products on the premises. Public comment ended Nov. 1, and the board will host a public hearing Dec. 19 on the proposed regulations.

The question at hand isn’t whether retail recreational marijuana use should be legal. It became legal in Alaska in 2015. Rather, the concern is whether the proposed regulations will compromise efforts to keep legal marijuana use as safe as possible. Current scientific data point to two specific health concerns that Alaskans should carefully consider before permitting onsite (public) consumption – the risks from driving while impaired and health effects from secondhand smoke exposure.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana, impairs reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and perception of time and distance, all of which increase the risk of a motor vehicle crash. While THC affects different people differently, the tendency to drift or weave on the road is a common impairment problem for drivers under the influence of marijuana. Unfortunately, the combined use of marijuana and alcohol compounds that impairment.

The variety of ways marijuana can be consumed also complicates the ability for servers and customers to determine when “enough is enough.” Impairment after consumption of marijuana edibles may be delayed and can last several hours. A recent, well-designed study by Johns Hopkins University shows that vaped cannabis products lead to more pronounced impairment of cognitive and psychomotor function than equal doses of THC consumed by smoking. Blood THC concentrations do not directly correlate with the user’s degree of impairment, and a person may feel safe to drive after a few hours even though impairment can last much longer than a person feels “high.”

Another recent study examined fatal crashes over a 25-year period that occurred between 4:20 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on April 20, a well-known day of celebrating marijuana. The study found an increased risk of fatal traffic crashes when compared to the identical time period on other days.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, in a 2017 report, concluded there is “substantial evidence of the statistical association between cannabis use and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.”

The proposed regulation changes, if enacted, can reasonably be expected to result in increased public consumption of cannabis products, which in turn could lead to increased driving under the influence, creating a significant area of public health and law enforcement concern.

Exposing others to secondhand smoke is the second health hazard. In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that there is no safe level of secondhand tobacco smoke, and this year, Alaska passed a smokefree workplace law, prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces. More study is needed, but recent scientific studies suggest secondhand marijuana smoke may pose health risks similar to those posed by tobacco smoke. A recent laboratory study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that “secondhand smoke can exert similar adverse cardiovascular effects regardless of whether it is from tobacco or marijuana.”

Like alcohol, marijuana can be dangerous and addictive, but it can also be used responsibly, without harm to others, by many non-pregnant adults. Medicinal use of cannabis may be beneficial in the treatment some health conditions. However, based on the concerns outlined above, for the health and safety of Alaskans, we strongly urge the Board not allow smoked, vaporized, aerosolized and edible cannabis consumption in retail establishments or other public places.

Adam Crum, M.S.P.H., is Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Dr. Jay Butler, M.D., is former DHSS Commissioner and acting Chief Medical Officer.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

Dunleavy’s budget: $3,000 dividend checks but a bigger deficit

Fri, 2018-12-14 16:49

JUNEAU — Lower projected oil prices and a larger Permanent Fund dividend are generating a $1.6 billion deficit in Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s inaugural state budget.

That deficit is likely temporary: The document released Friday, ahead of a legal deadline, is the transition spending plan released earlier this month by Gov. Bill Walker but with a revised revenue forecast and a bigger Permanent Fund dividend of about $3,000 paid under the traditional formula. Under the proposal, total state spending would rise to $12.2 billion from the $11.2 billion approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

Earlier this week, Dunleavy had said his budget would be a revised version of Walker’s proposal. Friday’s document contains no changes to the budgets of state agencies, but OMB director Donna Arduin said it is a work in progress.

“It’s a starting point that shows a $1.6 billion deficit," Arduin said of Friday’s budget proposal.

In a press release following the release of the budget, she said “all items of state expenditures are on the table” when it comes to cuts that resolve the deficit.

Dunleavy said earlier this week that, to him, a “full dividend” includes back payments for payments vetoed by Walker and cut by the Alaska Legislature. But the spending plan released Friday makes no mention of those back payments. Instead, the line item devoted to the dividend is $1.9 billion — enough for a dividend of about $3,000 per person in 2019, not the $6,700 that it would be if back payments were included.

The exact amount of the dividend will vary based on the number of applicants and the investment performance of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.

Asked about the back payments, Department of Revenue commissioner Bruce Tangeman said, “Obviously, that’s not included in the FY20 budget, so that will be dealt with in a different appropriation bill or a different manner.”

In an interview after his election win, the governor said he would look to the Permanent Fund — and specifically the reserve account that contains its investment earnings — to fund those back payments. That would violate the sustainable limits legislators set for themselves in legislation last year. Friday’s budget from the governor follows those limits.

Legislation cannot be formally introduced into the Legislature until after it convenes Jan. 15, though lawmakers will begin pre-filing bills before it starts. The governor has until Feb. 13 to complete an amended budget proposal and submit it to the Legislature.

While the dividend represents a significant change from Walker’s proposal, the bigger difference is a revised forecast for the price of oil. Walker’s budget predicted North Slope oil prices would average $76 per barrel during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and $75 per barrel next fiscal year.

Because of that prediction, Walker was able to tout his budget as “balanced," even though prices had sunk well below that amount by the time he presented his proposal to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce in late November.

The new revenue forecast predicts North Slope oil prices will average $68 per barrel this fiscal year and $64 in the fiscal year that starts July 1. That forecast is closer to what the Department of Revenue predicted this spring than the bullish outlook in Walker’s budget.

Under Walker’s forecast, the state would have a small surplus this fiscal year and next. Under the new revenue forecast, there is a $263 million deficit in the current fiscal year (at the time lawmakers passed their budget, the expectation was of a $692 million deficit) and a $1.6 billion deficit in the next.

Given that the governor is expected to significantly revise his own proposal — and that legislators haven’t yet had their say — the size of the deficit could change significantly as debates progress.

If the deficit does remain, lawmakers may find few options. The governor is firmly opposed to taxes that would raise new revenue, and lawmakers last year set guardrails on their ability to draw additional money from the Permanent Fund. (That legislation is not binding and could be changed.)

If those two options are off the table and lawmakers do not cut the budget sufficiently, that would leave only the Constitutional Budget Reserve to cover the spending deficit. As of Nov. 30, that account contained $1.71 billion. The fund contained more than $12 billion at its peak and was accompanied by another multi-billion-dollar savings account, the Statutory Budget Reserve, but years of swelled budgets were followed in 2014 by an abrupt fall in oil prices.

With lawmakers unwilling to impose new taxes, those savings were used to make ends meet while spending declined. Now, those savings accounts are almost exhausted.

“Hard decisions have been pushed off and pushed off. It’s time to address them," Arduin said.

Members of the Alaska Senate Majority, including Senate Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, and Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, were in their annual two-day retreat and haven’t yet had a chance to review the “first draft” of the governor’s budget, spokeswoman Daniel McDonald said by text message.

The two Senate Democrats on the committee, Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, praised Dunleavy’s inclusion of a larger dividend.

“I am glad to see that Gov. Dunleavy is going forward with a full 2019 Dividend and hope to work with him to figure out a process to pay back three years of reduced dividends,” Olson said in a prepared statement.

Wielechowski added that while he supports the larger dividend, he would like to see the governor fix the deficit by reducing tax credits given to oil and gas drillers.

“It is time to eliminate this oil tax credit to close our budget gap, instead of forcing working Alaskan families to shoulder the burden of balancing the budget,” he said in prepared remarks.

4th Avenue Theater owners plan structural assessment, hazardous material removal after quake

Fri, 2018-12-14 16:37

The owners of the historic 4th Avenue Theatre in downtown Anchorage say they are surveying for structural damage in the aftermath of the Nov. 30 earthquake and taking steps to remove hazardous materials.

Peach Investments renewed a demolition permit for the building this week. Word of the permit activity traveled fast and triggered a flood of concern that the building with the iconic “4th Avenue” sign was being torn down.

That isn’t the case, said Terence Chang of Peach Investments, whose family owns the theater. Chang said the owners first obtained the permit in December 2016 and needed to renew it. He said the permit is only for interior work.

A similar controversy unfolded about this time last year.

The owners need the permit to further evaluate structural damage after the Nov. 30 earthquake, Chang wrote in an emailed statement. He said the theater is in an area susceptible to ground failure, based on seismic maps. He also said the earthquake made his family’s plans to remove hazardous materials from the former theater more urgent.

“This major effort involves interior demolition and disposal of hazardous materials within the floors, walls and ceilings,” Chang wrote.

Other demolition-related activities will include the inspection, assessment and removal of failed and failing building systems, according to Chang.

Chang indicated the theater’s owners were looking at ways to preserve well-known art deco murals inside the theater. The murals show Alaska landscapes, wildlife and industry and are treasured by art lovers.

“The building owners will provide careful consideration to how to maintain the interior artwork, but the most important intent right now is to preserve human life and safety,” Chang wrote.

KTVA temporarily relocating after earthquake damage; Friday evening broadcasts canceled

Fri, 2018-12-14 16:29

Operations at Anchorage-based television station KTVA are relocating because of damage at the station’s building at 1001 Northway Drive from the Nov. 30 earthquake, according to a news director.

As a result, KTVA will not broadcast the news Friday evening at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., or 10 p.m., said news director Janis Harper.

It’s not clear yet where the temporary facility will be, she said, and it’s not clear how long the relocation will last.

“I think that probably through the course of the weekend the possibility of us having a live newscast is questionable right now,” Harper said on Friday afternoon. “We’re going to do everything we can to get on the air, but we have to make sure everyone’s safe first. Relocating a television broadcast facility, not the easiest thing.”

There are some “pieces on the exterior of the building that need to be removed” because of the quake, Harper said.

KTVA’s news operations already moved once because of damage by the earthquake, to another spot within the station’s building. Damage at the building is still being assessed, Harper said.

More than 100 buildings in the Anchorage and Chugiak-Eagle River areas have already been deemed unsafe because of structural damage from the quake.

As of Friday afternoon, KTVA employees were working from home or coffee shops around town to do their work, Harper said.

“But we have a traffic department, sales department, creative services department, so instead of being in one location, we’re going to be split up into different GCI facilities,” she said. KTVA is owned by telecom company GCI.

General manager Jerry Bever also did not know where KTVA, which broadcasts on channel 11, would be moving to.

“Those are all plans that we’re working out this weekend,” he said Friday afternoon. “Right now we’re concerned with making sure the current facility is clear.”

KTVA will still be publishing news online while the broadcasts aren’t happening, Harper said.

Trump names budget director Mulvaney as acting White House chief of staff

Fri, 2018-12-14 14:50

Mick Mulvaney listens during a Senate Banking committee hearing in Washington on April 12, 2018. Bloomberg photo by Toya Sarno Jordan. (Toya Jordan Sarno/)

WASHINGTON -President Donald Trump on Friday abruptly named Mick Mulvaney, currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, as White House chief of staff, elevating a conservative ideologue with congressional experience to steer his administration through a treacherous phase.

Mulvaney replaces John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general who Trump ousted as chief of staff last week, capping the president's extraordinary week-long public search for his third chief of staff in two years.

"I am pleased to announce that Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management & Budget, will be named Acting White House Chief of Staff, replacing General John Kelly, who has served our Country with distinction," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration."

Trump added, "I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! John will be staying until the end of the year. He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!"

Trump selected Mulvaney both because of the relationship the two men have forged during the first two years of the administration and because of Mulvaney's previous experience in Congress, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters only on the condition of anonymity.

"He got picked because the president liked him," the official said. "They get along."

Mulvaney, a frequent visitor to the Oval Office, met Friday with Trump to discuss the budget and a potential government shutdown, the official said, adding that Mulvaney knew he would be named acting chief of staff before Trump fired off his tweet.

Mulvaney will manage a White House under siege. Democrats will take the House majority in January and are promising a series of oversight investigations, including into alleged corruption in the administration. Meanwhile, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation has been intensifying, while a separate investigation by federal prosecutors in New York that involves illegal hush-money payments to women who alleged affairs with Trump is ongoing.

Mulvaney, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, is one of the more ideologically conservative members of Trump's Cabinet. He was elected to the House in 2010 as a member of the tea party movement and was known for his professed support of fiscal conservatism.

The senior administration official said there was "no time limit" for Mulvaney's appointment, explaining that he was named in an acting capacity "because that's what the president wants."

Russell Vought, the deputy director of management and budget, will replace Mulvaney as OMB director, the official said.

Mulvaney, 51, has held several hats in the Trump administration. He has served as budget director since the beginning, but also held the role of acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through much of the past year until his permanent successor, Kathleen Kraninger, was sworn in earlier this week.

Trump's selection of Mulvaney comes after several candidates announced publicly that they were not interested in the position. After meeting with Trump for more than an hour at the White House residence on Thursday evening, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie announced at midday Friday that he had taken himself out of consideration.

Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, was offered the job by Trump last weekend but declined.

Mulvaney's aides in recent days played down his chances of becoming chief of staff, saying he was not interested in the position.

But a senior White House official said Mulvaney was interested all along. Earlier this year, at a private dinner, Mulvaney told Trump that he wanted to be chief of staff. He vowed loyalty to the president's family - including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers - and said that he would not leak to reporters. He told Trump he would manage the staff, but not try to manage the president - an answer Trump liked, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation. At the time, Trump was deciding whether he should keep Kelly.

Mulvaney has developed a political profile of his own, making calls to donors and attending political breakfasts and lunches. He has often discussed his conversations with the president, according to a person who has attended events, and speaks of Trump with affection.

Trump grew deeply annoyed that his chief-of-staff search was being portrayed negatively in the media because top candidates were turning him down, according to a senior administration official.

"In the best of times, this is a thankless, all-consuming, brutal job," said Chris Whipple, author of "The Gatekeepers," a history of White House chiefs of staff. "And under this president in particular, it's almost mission impossible . . . Nobody wants the job because it's impossible to perform given Trump's personality and his belief that he can fly solo."

Trump and Mulvaney hardly knew each other when the incoming president asked the firebrand House Republican to serve as his budget director. The pick was supposed to give the president credibility with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Once in the White House, Mulvaney evolved quickly into a Trump-minded political figure, backing the president's big-debt vision and accepting that many of the spending cuts he had spent years demanding as a congressman would never come to fruition under a Trump administration.

Mulvaney put out a budget proposal last year that fell short of eliminating the deficit - something once considered sacrilegious for members of the House Freedom Caucus, which he co-founded several years ago.

"He's been gung-ho on everything the president has tried to do," said Steve Bell, a former Republican staff director on the Senate Budget Committee. "He's put out budgets that he probably knew were incoherent because the president asked him to. And he'll probably do whatever the president asks him to do. On the positive side, he'll be a very good liaison with House Republicans."

But Mulvaney has virtually no credibility with congressional Democrats, many of whom scoffed when he helped Trump add $2 trillion to the debt over the past two years. Mulvaney had been part of the leading group of Republicans that called for severe spending cuts and deficit reduction, even helping lead a government shutdown in 2013.

"Based on Mulvaney's history both at OMB and his closeness to Trump, I don't see how this helps with Democrats or improves some sort of a bipartisan process on key issues," said Jared Bernstein, who was chief economist to former vice president Joe Biden. "He's a hardcore Trump supporter, far more than many others in the administration, which is saying a lot."

Trump had temporarily installed Mulvaney at the CFPB, which was created during the Obama administration and which he sought to shrink by cutting its budget and stripping back its regulatory reach.

Perhaps helping Mulvaney's prospects in the new job, he established himself as one of the most detail-oriented officials during key moments. He developed a deep knowledge of the intricacies of numerous government programs and was unashamed to push back on any criticism that the Trump administration attracted.

Mulvaney defended, for example, the White House's decision to call for cuts on food assistance for the elderly and young children, claiming there was little evidence these programs worked.

As chief of staff, he will have to have an even broader mandate, dealing with both domestic and international issues, not to mention the proclivities of Trump, who likes to make phone calls on his own without being told who to speak to or when.

Mulvaney is well-liked within the White House among a number of different factions. He was able to befriend both hard-line conservatives and more centrist advisers, striking up a friendship with former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn that helped them both navigate last year's tax cut fight.

In Congress, Mulvaney was a vocal deficit hawk, but he oversaw a dramatic expansion of the deficit during his time at the White House - in part because of a big increase in spending as well last year's tax cut law. Deficits are now approaching $1 trillion a year, an unusually large sum during an economic expansion.

Mulvaney has said he still favors reducing the deficit but that it is impossible with the current political dynamic in Washington, largely blaming Senate Democrats for failing to agree to any reductions.

But Trump himself has shown little interest in reducing the deficit, something Mulvaney has acknowledged. Last year, Mulvaney inquired whether Trump would be open to making cuts to Medicare or Social Security as part of a broader budget deal, and Trump rejected the idea.

Mulvaney has attracted scrutiny since joining the White House. He told a group of banking executives earlier this year that, while in Congress, he gave preference to lobbyists who contributed to him financially, according to a report in the New York Times.

A direct line to the past: The streetcars of San Francisco

Fri, 2018-12-14 13:31

A streetcar painted in tribute to Philadelphia runs along the San Francisco waterfront in July. Photo for The Washington Post by Justin Franz (Justin Franz/)

When Rick Laubscher was 6 years old, he rode a streetcar to the circus. The San Francisco native is pretty sure he saw the lions and tigers and all that comes with it, but he wasn’t left with much of an impression.

"I don't remember the circus," he says six decades later. "But I remember that streetcar ride."

So started a lifelong fascination with San Francisco's streetcars that eventually led to Laubscher playing a key role in the creation of a vintage trolley line through the heart of the city, allowing visitors and commuters alike to ride the rails just as they did a century ago. While perhaps not as recognizable as the city's famed cable cars, the F-Line of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (also known as Muni) offers a unique way to take in the sights. Every day, up to two dozen vintage streetcars, many built before World War II,carry people from the Castro District to Fisherman's Wharf.

"San Francisco's past isn't just frozen in an old picture or sitting in a museum," says Ed Reiskin, the transportation agency's director of transportation. "You can actually get on and ride these streetcars from another era."

A San Francisco streetcar passes people square dancing in the Castro neighborhood in June 2016. Photo for The Washington Post by Justin Franz (Justin Franz/)

Reiskin says that Muni is unique because it has two vintage types of transit integrated into its otherwise modern system. The famous cable cars date from 1873 and were designed to climb the city's steep hills by connecting to a cable that moves beneath the street. The 1906 earthquake destroyed many of the city's cable car lines and most were replaced with more modern streetcars, which receive their power from an overhead wire.

As it did in many cities, the streetcar spurred a huge amount of development in San Francisco. By the 1930s, 50 trolley lines connected every neighborhood, including four sets of streetcar tracks right up the middle of Market Street.

"Streetcars built the urban America that we know today," Laubscher says. "The electric streetcar helped stretch the boundaries of our cities."

Streetcar ridership across the country began to decline with the advent of the automobile. In the 1950s, dozens of streetcar routes were replaced with buses in San Francisco. In the 1970s, the city began to modernize its rail system and replaced its old streetcars with modern light rail vehicles. It also put its Market Street route beneath the main thoroughfare. In 1982, the last vintage streetcars were put into storage. To mark the end of rail service on Market Street, Muni rolled out one of its oldest streetcars for a final ride.

A streetcar painted in honor of Cincinnati's transit line passes San Francisco's Ferry Building in June 2016. Photo for The Washington Post by Justin Franz (Justin Franz/)
A streetcar built in 1928 for use in Milan rounds a curve in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood in July. Photo for The Washington Post by Justin Franz (Justin Franz/)

It was that ride that gave Laubscher, then chair of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce's transportation committee, an idea to organize a vintage trolley festival that would offer rides up and down Market Street on weekends. The chamber took the idea to Mayor Dianne Feinstein, who supported it, but cautioned she did not "want to see any junk out there." The first festival was an overwhelming success that was repeated for five years, setting the stage for a permanent vintage trolley line through the city. On Sept. 1, 1995, the F-Line opened for service.

The F-Line starts at the intersection of 17th and Castro streets, in the heart of the vibrant Castro District, and heads toward downtown on Market Street. Heading east, the trolleys pass the U.S. Mint and within a few blocks of landmarks such as City Hall (which features the fifth largest dome in the world) and Union Square. Near the intersection of Market and New Montgomery streets, the F-Line passes in front of the Palace Hotel, where President Warren Harding died in 1923.

After skirting the Financial District, the F-Line rounds a curve toward the small San Francisco Railway Museum run by Market Street Railway, a nonprofit organization that advocates for and supports historical transit in the city. Next stop is the Ferry Building, which completed on the city's waterfront in 1898 and is known for its clock tower that reaches 245 feet into the air. From here, the F-Line follows the waterfront all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, a popular tourist destination. Along the way, passengers can take in views of the bay and Coit Tower, a concrete edifice dedicated to firefighters who perished in some of the city's worst blazes.

While the more-modern light rail vehicles in Muni's fleet may offer a smoother and quieter ride, the experience of riding one of the vintage cars is much more memorable. Instead of cold plastic seats, the vintage cars have wooden benches and the only air conditioning is an open window. While Muni has upgraded the cars with amenities such as GPS and backup cameras - all standard on more-modern streetcars - you would be hard-pressed to find anything else from the 21st century when you board.

Emma González has been at Muni for 20 years and has been working on the vintage streetcars since 2008. She says it's hard not to fall in love with the old cars, which come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

A historic streetcar painted in honor of Dallas, Texas, passes Pier 39, a popular tourist destination, in June 2016. Streetcars fell out of favor in most of the country after the automobile boom of the 1950s, but the city by the bay still uses them. Photo for The Washington Post by Justin Franz (Justin Franz/)

"I feel like a movie star" operating the old streetcars, she says. "People come from all over the world to ride them."

Her favorite streetcar is No. 578, affectionately called the "Dinky." The car was built in 1896 and looks nearly identical to the hill-climbing cable cars. In total, Muni has more than 50 historical streetcars, many from across the United States, but others hail from England, Italy and Australia. The bulk of the fleet is made up of Presidents' Conference Committee streetcars, or PCCs, streamlined cars that date from the 1930s. More than 4,500 PCCs were built and used in 33 cities. While some of the PCCs are painted in Muni's vintage green and cream livery, most are painted in tribute to different cities that used PCCs, including Washington, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

"It's a riot of color, patterns and designs representing all of the different transit agencies," Laubscher says.

Maintaining century-old streetcars is no easy task, Reiskin says. Because of their age, Muni frequently has to make its own parts to keep them in service. However, the agency receives plenty of help from Market Street Railway; Laubscher is the group's president.

Two streetcars pass each other along the San Francisco waterfront in June 2016. The old-school transit method is still ferrying passengers as an option alongside more modern conveyances and the city's famous cable-car system. Photo for The Washington Post by Justin Franz (Justin Franz/)

Over the years, Market Street Railway has advocated for the expansion of historical streetcar service, including the creation of the E-Line in 2015 that goes from the Ferry Building toward AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

There are dozens of museums across America dedicated to streetcars. Some cities have followed San Francisco's lead and re-created their own vintage lines. However, Laubscher says none of them is quite like the F-Line in San Francisco, particularly because the streetcars are still a critical part of the city's transit system, one that in addition to carrying visitors takes commuters to work and school.

“It’s not enough to just preserve machines like these as static displays; you have to let people experience them,” he says. “San Francisco relishes its transit history, but we also put our history to work.”

FBI: Anchorage man made bomb threat against Pennsylvania college

Fri, 2018-12-14 12:30

A federal judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for an Anchorage man FBI agents say is behind a bomb threat this year at a Pennsylvania college campus.

An agent said in a sworn affidavit dated Wednesday that a Twitter user called “BdanJafarSaleem” posted a series of threatening tweets in May claiming he placed several explosive devices around the campus of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, hoping to “inflict the utmost damage possible.” The threats were also emailed directly to Lafayette College officials that day, the affidavit said.

One of the tweets reportedly included a letter in which the user claimed that, after losing his grandfather and being broken up with by his girlfriend, he found “faith and healing in Allah” and pledged allegiance to ISIS. The Twitter account had been created using a fake phone number, the affidavit said.

The college determined the threats were not credible, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

Agents traced the account to Gavin Casdorph, 20, of Anchorage, the affidavit said. Casdorph told agents he made the threats after getting into an argument online with another Internet user on Discord, a voice and texting application used by gamers. Casdorph said the user, called “Neuroscientist,” challenged him to make the threats.

Agents said Casdorph boasted he believed “it would not have been easy for law enforcement to prove how he did it unless he admitted to it.”

The judge who issued the warrant approved a motion Wednesday to have the charges sealed.

Wisconsin governor signs sweeping lame-duck Republican bills

Fri, 2018-12-14 12:12

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a sweeping package of Republican legislation Friday that restricts early voting and weakens the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, brushing aside complaints that he is enabling a brazen power grab and ignoring the will of voters.

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2018, file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addresses members of the media from his office in Madison, Wis. Walker signed a sweeping package of Republican-written legislation Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, that restricts early voting and weakens the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, brushing aside complaints that he is enabling a brazen power grab and ignoring the will of voters. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File) (John Hart/)

Signing the bills just 24 days before he leaves office, the Republican governor and one-time presidential candidate downplayed bipartisan criticism that they amount to a power grab that will stain his legacy.

Just two hours later, a group run by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced it planned legal action to block the limitation on early voting.

Walker's action Friday came as Michigan's Rick Snyder, another Midwestern GOP governor soon to be replaced by a Democrat, signed legislation in a lame-duck session that significantly scales back minimum wage and paid sick leave laws that began as citizen initiatives. Michigan's Republican legislators also are weighing legislation resembling Wisconsin's that would strip or dilute the authority of incoming elected Democrats.

The push in both states mirrors tactics employed by North Carolina Republicans in 2016.

Speaking for 20 minutes and using charts to make his points, Walker detailed all of the governor's powers, including a strong veto authority, that will not change while defending the measures he signed as improving transparency, stability and accountability.

"There's a lot of hype and hysteria, particularly in the national media, implying this is a power shift. It's not," Walker said before signing the measures during an event at a state office building in Green Bay, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) from his Capitol office that has frequently been a target for protesters.

Walker was urged by Democrats and Republicans, including Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and former Republican Gov. Scott McCallum, to reject the legislation. Walker, who was defeated by Evers for a third term, had earlier said he was considering partial vetoes, but he ultimately did not strike anything.

Evers accused Walker of ignoring and overriding the will of the people by signing the bills into law. He held a five-minute news conference in Madison shortly after the signing to accuse Walker of ignoring the will of the voters.

"People will remember he took a stand that was not reflective of this last election," Evers said. "I will be reviewing our options and do everything we can to make sure the people of this state are not ignored or overlooked."

Evers didn't elaborate and left without taking questions.

Walker, speaking after he signed the bills, brushed aside what he called "high-pitched hysteria" from critics of the legislation. He said his legacy will be the record he left behind that includes all-but eliminating collective bargaining for public workers, not the lame-duck measures.

"We've put in deep roots that have helped the state grow," Walker said. "You want to talk about legacy, to me, that's the legacy."

Holder's group, the National Redistricting Foundation, along with the liberal One Wisconsin Now, promised a swift legal challenge to one provision Walker signed limiting early voting.

Holder, in a statement, called it a "shameful attack on our democracy."

Holder's group and One Wisconsin Now successfully sued in federal court in 2016 to overturn similar early voting and other restrictions enacted by Walker.

The Wisconsin bills focus on numerous Republican priorities, including restricting early in-person voting to two weeks before an election, down from as much as nearly seven weeks in the overwhelmingly Democratic cities of Milwaukee and Madison.

The legislation also shields the state's job-creation agency from Evers' control until September and limits his ability to enact administrative rules. The measures also would block Evers from withdrawing Wisconsin from a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, one of his central campaign promises.

The legislation imposes a work requirement for BadgerCare health insurance recipients, which Walker won federal approval to do earlier this year, and prevents Evers from seeking to undo it.

It eliminates the state Department of Justice's solicitor general's office, which outgoing Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel used to launch contentious partisan litigation. Doing away with it ensures Democratic-Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul can't use the office to challenge Republican-authored laws.

The bills also allow lawmakers to intervene in lawsuits, ensuring Republicans will be able to defend their policies and laws in court if Kaul refuses to do it. Kaul also would need approval from the Legislature's budget-writing committee before he can reach any settlements, further increasing the power of that GOP-controlled panel.

The Republican-controlled Legislature introduced and passed the bills less than five days after unveiling them late on a Friday afternoon two weeks ago. Outraged Democrats accused the GOP of a power grab that undermined the results of the November election. Evers and others have argued Walker will tarnish his legacy by signing the bills, and Kaul has predicted multiple lawsuits challenging the legislation.

Republican legislative leaders countered that they were merely trying to balance the power of the executive and legislative branches. They said they wanted to ensure Evers must negotiate with them rather than issue executive orders to undo their policy achievements.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said by signing the bills, Walker was "acknowledging the importance of the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government."

Walker's signing of the bills comes a day after he announced a $28 million incentive package to keep open a Kimberly-Clark Corp. plant in northeast Wisconsin. One of the lame-duck bills would prevent Evers from making such a deal, instead requiring the Legislature's budget committee to sign off.


Associated Press writer David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this report.

Alaska Division of Elections' new leader is a familiar face

Fri, 2018-12-14 10:34

JUNEAU — Eleven months ago, speaking to Republicans at a primary election debate in Juneau’s Prospector restaurant, Kevin Meyer promised that if he were elected, he would seek to restore Gail Fenumiai as director of the Alaska Division of Elections.

Alaska Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai at the elections office in Anchorage on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (Bill Roth / ADN/)

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Meyer fulfilled that promise.

Fenumiai, who oversaw the state’s election system between 2008 and 2015, will begin her new-old job Jan. 2, according to a message from the lieutenant governor’s office. Josie Bahnke, the former Nome city manager who became elections director under Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, has already been dismissed from state service.

Lauri Wilson, the regional elections supervisor for Southeast Alaska, will be in charge of the division until Fenumiai takes office.

Republicans have criticized Bahnke’s performance as elections supervisor, particularly after the 2016 Democratic primary in House District 40. In that race, which was decided by the Alaska Supreme Court, judges ruled there had been errors and “malconduct” by elections officials. The Alaska Supreme Court ultimately awarded the election to Dean Westlake, who helped form the Democratic-led coalition House Majority, over Benjamin Nageak, who had joined Republicans in a prior House majority.

At the January debate in Juneau, Meyer referred to Bahnke as a political appointee and said he would seek to replace her with Fenumiai, who had overseen several particularly challenging elections, including U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s 2010 general-election victory as a write-in candidate.

Before becoming overall head of the Division of Elections, Fenumiai worked her way through the ranks as an elections coordinator, information officer and elections program specialist.

“Gail has the skills, wisdom, experience and judgment to restore Alaskans' faith and trust in our elections process, and that is exactly what we pledge to do,” Meyer said in a prepared statement accompanying the announcement.

For Kikkan Randall, a hero’s homecoming. Then, an alarming discovery.

Fri, 2018-12-14 09:42

First of six parts

Kikkan Randall stood on the concrete platform of Anchorage’s Town Square and looked out at the faces of her hometown. On a Wednesday afternoon in early April, this mountaintop view capped her 20-year journey as an athlete.

She saw her family sprinkled in the crowd. Her son sat on her husband’s shoulders. Her dad held up an oversized picture of her. At her feet, children looked up, just as she had gazed on her own Olympic heroes as a girl.

Kikkan Randall speaks to a crowd gathered in Town Square on April 4. Hundreds of Alaskans filled Town Square Park in Anchorage for a celebration of gold medal winner Randall and the state's other Winter Olympians. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

She was already one of the most recognized and respected athletes in Alaska history. As a gold medalist and a mother, she was starting a new life.

That life would last 39 days from that April afternoon. And then a new journey would begin for Randall. A cancer journey that would remake how she was seen and how she saw herself.

Anchorage had followed every step of Randall’s skiing career. In the months that followed, she also shared the intimate moments of her difficult cancer year with the Anchorage Daily News.

The story begins in Town Square, with Randall’s skiing teammates at her side, Olympians in their own right. She had insisted they also be recognized.

But the crowd had come to see her. She had won a historic gold medal at the Winter Olympics six weeks earlier, the first in her sport for an American. It felt like it was their medal too.

“Kikkan, to come back wearing that hefty gold around your neck, you wear it with pride,” said U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, on the steps with Randall. “But know that as Alaskans, we wear it with you.”

Adonna Bach, 4, center, and Zahn Bach, 7, examine Kikkan Randall's gold medal in Town Square on April 4. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Kikkan Randall's father, Ronn Randall, holds up a large picture of his daughter in Town Square Park. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Kikkan Randall, left, stands with several other Alaskan Olympians who were recognized in Town Square on April 4, 2018. Hundreds of Alaskans filled Town Square Park in Anchorage, Alaska, for a celebration of gold medal winner Kikkan Randall and the state's other Winter Olympians who competed in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Photograpahed on April 4, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

Randall first drew attention as a teen at Anchorage’s East High School. She joined an Olympic-minded ski training program as a sophomore and made her first Olympics in 2002, at age 19.

Randall’s accomplishments were bar-setting in a sport close to Alaska’s heart. She became the most accomplished American cross-country skier long before she won Olympic gold.

In Rybinsk, Russia, in 2007, she became the first American woman to win an International Ski Federation World Cup race since former Alaska Methodist University skier Alison Owen did it 29 years prior. In the years that followed, Randall did it 12 more times.

In 2012, she became the first and only American woman to win the World Cup season sprint title. She repeated the feat in 2013 and 2014. Three times she has earned medals at the biennial Nordic World Ski Championships.

Arriving in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last winter, she became a five-time Olympian.

Many Alaskans stayed awake in the middle of a February night to watch Randall in what would be the final race of her last Olympics. She was no longer the U.S. team’s fastest sprinter, but coaches chose her to join the team’s rising star, Jessie Diggins of Minnesota, in the two-person team sprint event.

Randall’s 18th Olympic start pitted her against the sport’s titans, including Norway’s Marit Bjoergen, the winningest athlete in Winter Olympics history.

Randall held them apace, even on the course’s punishing climbs.

“As the hill got steeper, I actually felt stronger and stronger,” Randall said.

This is what history looks and sounds like. @jessdiggs and @kikkanimal win @TeamUSA's first ever gold medal in cross-country skiing.

You'll want your sound up for this...

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) February 21, 2018

When she tagged Diggins for the third and final time, the American team was in position to medal. Diggins detonated from the final turn and, in an electric finish that became one of the most replayed moments of the games, lunged her boot forward to win by .19 seconds.

Randall screamed. She and Diggins joyfully danced on top of the podium. America watched as they received the nation’s first Olympic gold ever in cross country skiing.

United States' Jessica Diggins, left, and Kikkan Randall celebrate after winning the gold medal in the women's team sprint freestyle cross-country skiing final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) (AP/)
Kikkan Randall poses for photographs with her Olympic gold medal during a celebration in Town Square on April 4. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

She finally made it home to Anchorage, after finishing her final season, six weeks later.

“It’s been a fairy-tale ending to an amazing journey,” she told the crowd in Town Square. "And now that my career is coming to a close, I can’t wait to see what this next generation is going to do, because they know it’s possible.”

Randall stayed until the crowd dissipated, the folding chairs were racked, and her ungloved fingers were cold — until everyone who wanted to inspect her medal or pose for a picture had a chance.

Anchorage farewells took weeks, with public appearances and intense moments thanking friends and sponsors. When it was over, Randall moved to Penticton, British Columbia, with her husband, Jeff Ellis, and 2-year-old son, Breck.

She found herself alone with her family, sitting on lawn chairs in their living room as they furnished their new home, starting afresh and ready to begin new rhythms of life.

“I did start to realize how different it was going to be, and how there was going to be some challenge to figure out a new purpose,” she said.

Kikkan Randall leads a crowd of kids in activities at the Ski With Alaska's Olympians event at Kincaid Park on April 6. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)
Kikkan Randall spends time in her Anchorage home with her 2-year-old son, Breck, days before the family moved to Penticton, B.C. Photographed on April 5. (Marc Lester / ADN) (Marc Lester/)

But the joys of family time were immediate. On Mother’s Day, sunny and warm, Randall awoke to flowers and a card. She hiked with Ellis and Breck out their back door into hills that were purple with blooming wildflowers. They bought a children’s swimming pool for their son and a grill for the backyard.

“It felt like we were going to be able to settle in,” Ellis said.

That evening, after the couple put their son to bed, Randall prepared for sleep. As she changed clothes, she felt a hardness in the tissue of her right breast. At first she thought it might be part of a rib bone. Upon further inspection, it felt like two peas.

Before the day could end in the calm that it began with, her mind and mood twisted and turned. It’s probably nothing, she told herself. She remembered a friend who had once found a benign growth.

But she couldn’t shake a sinking feeling in the back of her mind before falling asleep.

She said, “Jeff, am I crazy or does this feel like something?”

Upcoming: ‘The old Kikkan’ gives way to cancer treatment and hair loss

How Alaska eats: And the recipe contest finalists are ...

Fri, 2018-12-14 09:18

Reign Galovin's cranberry-ginger salsa won the side dish category in our holiday recipe contest. (Kim Sunee)

Newsletter #26: The envelopes, please ...

Maya Wilson, Kim Sunée and I had lots of fun judging our holiday recipe contest, sponsored by Hempire Co. We got pretty excited about the winner of the side dish recipe category, this fun cranberry-ginger salsa by reader Reign Galovin. Sunée thinks it goes well with everything from scrambled eggs to meats.

Maya made our other winning recipe, in the dessert category, Italian Christmas cookies called cuccidati (pronouced: coo-chee-dawt-tee) from reader Judith Mack. Funny story: I called my Italian auntie for pronunciation help and she was like, “I have never heard of that in my life.” It turns out the cookies come from the Sicilian region, which is really far from where she’s from. Many of the recipes I found for them online are actually from places in America with deep Italian immigrant roots. Anyway, recipe calls for figs, orange zest, whiskey and cloves, and Maya is quite happy with them.

Cuccidati, or Italian fig cookies, were the winner of the dessert recipe category in our holiday recipe contest. (Maya Wilson)

Who has been to Mo’s, the new (and only) Jewish deli in Anchorage? Reviewer Mara Severin, who hails from North Jersey, has a giant crush on their simple pastrami sandwich — which, it turns out, is so good because of where they source their meat. The writing in her food review is particularly lovely this week, give it a read.

[Get this newsletter first, delivered to your inbox every Friday: Sign up here. ]

A Reuben sandwich at Mo's Deli. (Mara Severin/ADN)

Meanwhile, your personal local food shopper, Steve Edwards, has a bunch of local food gift ideas for you. And, are you having a little party this week? Might I suggest this pimento cheese spread that Kim Sunée got from South Carolina-born Carlyle Watt, the man who comes up with some of the many delicious things on the menu at Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop? There are also these classic Swedish meatballs from Maya Wilson.

Oh, and support local food writing and local news and, if you haven’t, buy a digital subscription to the paper. Stay tuned next week for the grand prize recipe winner, who will take home a new KitchenAid.

Here’s hoping your pimento cheese is spread thick on some good white bread. See you next week.



Kyl plans to resign Arizona Senate seat, clearing way for another GOP appointment

Fri, 2018-12-14 08:38

WASHINGTON - Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.. plans to resign from the Senate on Dec. 31, vacating the seat he has held since the death of Sen. John McCain and clearing the way for Arizona's governor to name another Republican to the post.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, said in a statement Friday that he had received a resignation letter from Kyl. Ducey is required under law to name another Republican to the seat.

After McCain's death in August, Ducey appointed Kyl, a well-known former Republican senator, to fill his seat. Kyl committed to serving through at least the end of this year - making no promises about returning for the 2019 Congress.

Until recently, it appeared that Ducey was likely to appoint Rep. Martha McSally, who narrowly lost a race for Arizona's other Senate seat in November. But her stock has fallen in the eyes of the governor, according to two people familiar with his thinking, as Ducey approaches one of the most significant decisions of his political career.

In his statement, Ducey said that "Senator Kyl didn't need to return to the Senate."

“His legacy as one of Arizona’s most influential and important political figures was already without question,” Ducey said. “But he did return, and I remain deeply grateful for his willingness to step up and serve again when Arizona needed him. I wish him and his family all the best.”

Facebook says new bug allowed apps to access private photos of millions of users

Fri, 2018-12-14 08:32

Facebook on Friday revealed that a major software bug may have allowed third-party apps to wrongly access the photos of up to 6.8 million users, including images that people began uploading to the site but didn't post publicly.

The mishap, which occurred over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook's mounting privacy headaches after a series of incidents earlier this year in which it failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users.

In general, Facebook allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users' permission and access photos shared on their timeline. Because of the bug, though, roughly 1,500 apps could access "a broader set of photos than usual," Facebook explained in a blog post.

That includes photos that a user may have started to post, but abandoned before actually publishing, because Facebook keeps a copy of the draft in the event a user might want to finish uploading it later.

The software bug also may have allowed developers to access photos they weren't supposed to on Marketplace, a Facebook hub for users to buy and sell goods, and some posted in Stories, where users can share short photo or video updates that appear for 24 hours.

Facebook's latest revelation quick drew sharp rebukes from privacy advocates. "It's stunning that Facebook has the ability to send user photos to third parties when the user has not fully uploaded the photo," said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "It's like a provider sending draft emails."

In response, Facebook apologized to users on Friday. "Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug," the company said. "We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users."

Facebook did not detail the exact apps that may have obtained these photos, or what they may have done with them. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The photo mishap could embolden those who believe Facebook and its peers in Silicon Valley should be regulated for the data they collect about their users. It could also result in fines and other penalties for Facebook, which is already under federal investigation for a series of earlier privacy breaches. That probe, initiated by the Federal Trade Commission, is the result of Facebook's entanglement with Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that improperly accessed data on 87 million users.

Rotenberg said the new incident offered "more evidence" that Facebook has run afoul of the 2011 agreement it brokered with the FTC that required the tech giant to improve its privacy practices - violations that could result in sky-high fines.

Several of Facebook’s recent privacy lapses have involved third-party apps. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, the firm previously harnessed profile information on Facebook users in 2015 through a quiz app developed by a researcher. In response to that scandal, Facebook initiated a broad review of the games and other third-party apps made available to its users on the site. In May, it suspended about 200 of them, declining at the time to describe exactly why.

This Fairbanks artist’s unique ink drawings blend scientific illustrations and magical realism

Fri, 2018-12-14 08:24

Elizabeth Lent stands in front of one of her ink drawings. (Courtesy Elizabeth Lent)

Elizabeth Lent is a jack of all trades and a master of one.

While she’s been recognized for her writing and photography prowess, she’s starting to make a name for herself in Alaska through her ink drawings. That name, however, is not Elizabeth Lent. Instead, she uses the name van Lent as a way of reconnecting with her Dutch heritage.

A Fairbanks resident, Lent was introduced to her pseudonym after her father had come across a book about their Dutch family as they settled in America.

“There’s a little bit of silliness to it and like no particular reason for anything and this one gentleman that came over from Holland on that ship said, ‘You know what, I’m going to take any name and that name is going to be van Lent.’ And that is the person who went forth and had all this land and children,” Lent said. “And then land disappeared and our name disappeared too with the land, and we’re just the Lents. And van Lent has been lost.”

The story resonated with Lent and she’s used the name on her ink drawings since.

"Pacific Golden Nutrients" (Courtesy Elizabeth Lent)

“In reclaiming that name, I’ve come to realize how many other stories I have to reclaim as well,” Lent said. “That’s just one path of my history on my father’s side. I think mostly it’s been really valuable in realizing how much there is to learn.”

Lent’s curiosity is reflected in her ink drawings. She likes to research the environment around her to make a cross between scientific illustrations and magical realism. Most of her pieces feature staples of Alaskan wildlife and plant life, from salmon to mushrooms. One of the most popular pieces from Lent’s showcase at Snow City in July was a drawing of the salmon life cycle.

“While I am here and making art and Alaskan people are seeing my art, I am definitely drawing Alaskan flora and fauna, and I’m doing the research and doing my best to be as well informed as I can to draw it as well as I possibly can,” Lent said. “But it would change if I was traveling somewhere else for a period of time because I would get curious about the things around me.”

Lent’s passion for ink drawings started while she was in college studying fine arts and writing at the Art Institute of Chicago. She studied abroad at a small college in Ireland for a part of her university experience, and that’s where she started really connecting with ink drawings.

Before college, 22-year-old Lent had never considered herself an artist. While she enjoyed art courses in high school, she never felt like she was anything more than just a creative person. After she finished her degree at the Art Institute, Lent was looking for any creative endeavors when she came across an application for the photography competition Rarefied Light.

“I was just looking for anything to do, any opportunity I could apply for just to get back in the game of art after taking a break,” Lent said.

"Salmon Life Cycle" (Courtesy Elizabeth Lent)

The Alaska Photographic Center said they received 610 entries to the competition from 91 artists. Lent was among the 34 artists recognized at the show.

While she is passionate about photography, Lent says it’s her ink drawings that she spends most of her time working on. After her solo show in July, van Lent received commissions on everything from her life cycle drawings to requests for illustrations on marriage certificates.

Lent will be displaying her work at the Christmas Village marketplace at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. She will have original illustrations, prints, sweatshirts, T-shirts, cards and enamel pins for sale.

Lent’s next big project is an exhibition at Fat Ptarmigan in March featuring birds and botanicals. For more information about Lent’s work, visit her website at