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Letter: Tragedy in Denali

Tue, 2018-08-14 07:14

It was with a heavy heart that I read of the tragedy of the loss of life in the K2 Aviation tragedy. In the mid-1980s, I flew twice with K2 founder Jim Oberlisk. The memories I have of the majestic mountains and of the charm and good nature of the community of Talkeetna are unforgettable. May God receive the souls of those victims with open arms and an open heart.
— Mike McAdoo
San Francisco, California

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Support Treadwell

Tue, 2018-08-14 07:09

Mead Treadwell is a Republican candidate for governor and I'm supporting him; here's why.

I'm proud that all the Republican candidates want you to continue to have your dividend. All of them agree on that; there are no differences among them on that issue. But Mead is the only Republican candidate with government, political and business experience.

He interned for Wally Hickel and eventually served as deputy DEC commissioner under Gov. Wally Hickel. He was co-founder of the Yukon Pacific Corporation, and chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission under President George Bush. He's a global expert on Arctic policy and economics.

Politically, he served as Alaska's 13th lieutenant governor, elected in 2010. He was responsible. He did the job effectively and quietly — no issues with the voting precincts; thank you Mead! He's a businessman, an entrepreneur; he doesn't need a government paycheck.

There's one more thing you need to know about him; he was a single father raising his children. His wife died of brain cancer and he talks about having three children and a minivan, then says his children raised him well. I like that modesty.

I too am a single father. And I know plenty of single mothers. This man, Mead Treadwell, personally understands the difficulties we as single parents have faced and do face raising our children in this fast-paced world, but keeps family values at the top of the list.

I also strongly believe two of our greatest Alaska statesmen, the late Gov. Hickel and the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, would have without a doubt supported him.
I'm supporting Mead Treadwell for governor and ask you to join me on Aug. 21 and vote for him.
— Neal D. DuPerron
Kenai

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Kavanaugh’s views a concern

Tue, 2018-08-14 07:04

I have major concerns about President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nomination due to his expansive view of presidential power.
CNN recently reported, "Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2013 asserted that it's a 'traditional exercise' of presidential power to ignore laws the White House views as unconstitutional, as he defended the controversial practice of signing statements prevalent in George W. Bush's White House."

A judicial check on presidential powers at the Supreme Court is critical for the fair and legal functioning of this administration and all others in the future. The "advise and consent" function entrusted to the Senate is arguably the most impactful power of Congress. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's consent can unlock the door to a wholesale dismantling of our system of checks and balances, or withholding her consent can secure the continuation of the vision of the framers of our Constitution to have powerful checks and balances in our government.

Sen. Murkowski should understand why this is even more important now, when we have a president who is unconstrained by the shame of indecency. She should honor the Constitution by playing her role as a check on unconstrained presidential power.
— Michael Covone
Anchorage

Letter: How to avoid future plurality winners of elections

Tue, 2018-08-14 06:58

In his column July 5, Charles Wohlforth discussed choosing a governor from among three candidates — with two of them likely to split votes that, otherwise, either one of them might have won with. This leaves the possibility that the third candidate might win without majority support. There is a solution — ranked-choice (or instant-runoff) voting — that Alaska should institute for future elections. It works like this, using the current gubernatorial three-way race as an example.

Voters would first rank the three candidates. The candidate with the least votes would be eliminated, and that person's second-place votes would instead be added to the others' totals. Suppose that Mark Begich or Bill Walker came in third. Then the second choice of voters who voted for that third-place candidate would be added to the totals of the remaining two candidates. Some might prefer Mike Dunleavy, some Mr. Begich or Mr. Walker, whoever was still in the running.
At that point — since we're down to two candidates, one of whom necessarily has the support of a majority of voters — the person with majority support is declared the winner.

The advantage of ranked-choice voting over our current first-past-the-post system is that there is never a winner with a mere plurality. The winner always has a majority. Another advantage is that more people vote, because even those who expect their candidate to lose still have an incentive to express their second-place preference. A third advantage is that centrist candidates tend to get more ultimate support than extreme ones.

The state of Maine has already instituted this system, as have many cities across the country. It's time for Alaska to do so too.
— Rick Wicks
Anchorage

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Cars plunge as highway bridge collapses in Italy; 20 killed

Tue, 2018-08-14 06:35

A view of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A large section of the bridge collapsed over an industrial area in the Italian city of Genova during a sudden and violent storm, leaving vehicles crushed in rubble below. (Luca Zennaro/ANSA via AP) (Luca Zennaro/)

MILAN — A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging nearly 150 feet into a heap of rubble below. Italian officials said at least 20 people were killed and others injured.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed at mid-day over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete debris onto warehouses below. Photos published by the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive, empty gulf between two sections of the bridge.

There was initial confusion over the exact death toll and officials were still searching for people in the rubble. Firefighters said two people were pulled alive from vehicles in the rubble and transported by helicopter to a hospital.

The head of Italy's civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, told reporters at a news conference in Rome that the collapse left 20 people dead and 13 injured. He said all the victims appeared to all have been in vehicles that plunged from the bridge.

Earlier, an Italian transport official, Edoardo Rixi, had said that 22 people were killed and 13 injured in the collapse.

Borrelli said 30-35 cars and three heavy trucks were caught up as an 80-meter (260-foot) stretch of the bridge collapsed.

Borrelli said highway engineers were checking the safety of the bridge at other points and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution. He said they were still trying to figure out the reason for the collapse.

"You can see there are very portions big of the bridge (that collapsed). We need to remove all of the rubble to ascertain that all of the people have been reached," Borrelli said, adding that more than 280 rescue workers and sniffer dogs units are at work. "Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal. "

Video of the collapse captured the sound of a man screaming: “Oh God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the gaping hole in the bridge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.


Rescuers among the rubble of the Morandi highway bridge that collapsed in Genoa, northern Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A large section of the bridge collapsed over an industrial area in the Italian city of Genova during a sudden and violent storm, leaving vehicles crushed in rubble below. (Luca Zennaro/ANSA via AP) (Luca Zennaro/)

Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.

Italy's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, called the collapse "an enormous tragedy."

News agency ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later Tuesday. “We are following minute by minute the situation,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Twitter.

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.

It came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary. It's the high point of the Italian summer holiday season when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains. That means traffic could have been heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is 45 meters (148 feet) high, just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long.

The collapse of the bridge comes eight days after another major accident on an Italian highway, one near the northern city of Bologna.

In that case, a tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck on the road and getting hit from behind itself. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

TSA tests scanners that allow travelers to keep electronics and liquids in their bags when going through airport security

Tue, 2018-08-14 06:22

Carry-on luggage is fed into a new CT scanner at Washington Dulles International Airport. Washington Post photo by Andrea Sachs. (Andrea Sachs/)

For what feels like eons, Transportation Security Administration officers have been reminding travelers to remove all electronics and liquids from their carry-on bags and place them in a tray. At more than a dozen airports, however, passengers are hearing a new refrain: Keep your items in your luggage.

This summer, the agency is amping up its pilot test of new CT scanners (in longhand, computed tomography checkpoint scanners). Fifteen airports throughout the country will employ the new technology. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was the first facility to receive the advanced screening innovation, in 2017, followed by Boston Logan and New York's JFK.

The 3D imaging equipment resembles a hospital CT scanner, with bags replacing bodies. The technology uses an X-ray camera to shoot hundreds of images, thereby assembling a fuller view of the objects tucked inside carry-ons. TSA officials can rotate the items on three axes, a vast improvement from the current scanners, which provide only 2D images. By improving detection, TSA hopes to reduce the number of secondary bag inspections and speed up the security process, a triple bonus for travelers.

"This is the same technology as checked bags," said Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson. "This can really detect explosives."

The agency will integrate the 3D scanners into regular security lines. To participate in the test, head for the lane with the giant white machine that resembles a sci-fi movie prop. Then, fight the urge to remove your electronics and liquids, and walk on through.

Despite the change of one rule, several others remain, including the size restriction on liquids (remember your 3-1-1). You must also remove your coat and shoes, unless you are part of a trusted traveler program such as PreCheck.

TSA plans to install up to 40 units by the close of the year and more than 145 by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Trump lashes out at former aide, calls her ‘that dog’

Tue, 2018-08-14 06:17

Omarosa Manigault at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 13, 2016. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by John Taggart. (John Taggart/)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump escalated his messy clash with former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman on Tuesday, referring to the longtime colleague, who had been the top African-American in his White House, as “that dog!”

Trump tweeted a barrage of insults Tuesday morning as Manigault Newman continued promoting her White House tell-all and releasing secret audio recordings. Her book paints a damning picture of Trump, including her claim that he used racial slurs on the set of his reality show "The Apprentice."

"When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn't work out," Trump said. "Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!" John Kelly is White House chief of staff.

While Trump trades in insults on a near daily basis, deeming Manigault Newman a "dog" was a stunning move in a row that touched on several sensitive issues in Trump's White House, including a lack of racial diversity among senior officials, security concerns — Manigault Newman taped her firing in the White House Situation Room — and extraordinary measures such as non-disclosure agreements to keep ex-employees quiet.

Trump has also pushed back against Manigault Newman's claim that she had heard an audiotape of him using the N-word. He tweeted that he had received a call from the producer of "The Apprentice" assuring him "there are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word as attributed by Wacky and Deranged Omarosa."

Trump insisted, "I don't have that word in my vocabulary, and never have." He said Manigault Newman had called him "a true Champion of Civil Rights" until she was fired.

Manigault Newman, the former White House liaison to black voters, writes in her new memoir that she'd heard such tapes existed. She said Sunday that she had listened to one after the book closed.

On CBS Tuesday, Manigault Newman released another audio recording that she said showed campaign workers discussing an alleged recording of Trump using the racial slur. The White House and the campaign did not immediately respond to questions.

One of the people allegedly featured on the tape is Katrina Pierson, an adviser to Trump's re-election campaign who served as a spokeswoman for his 2016 campaign. Pierson has said she never heard Trump use this type of language and said on Fox that the only person she heard talking about a tape was Manigault Newman.

Asked if the book can be backed up by email or recordings, Manigault Newman said on CBS that every quote in the book "can be verified, corroborated and it's well documented," suggesting she may have more information to release.

The dispute has been building for days as Manigault Newman promotes her memoir "Unhinged," which comes out officially Tuesday.

In a series of interviews, Manigault Newman has also revealed two audio recordings from her time at the White House, including portions of a recording of her firing by Kelly, which she says occurred in the high-security Situation Room, and a phone call with Trump after she was fired.

Manigault Newman says she has more recordings. Asked on MSNBC's "Hardball" if special counsel Robert Mueller — investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia — would be interested in any of them, she said, "If his office calls again, anything they want, I'll share."

Trump officials and a number of outside critics denounced the recordings as a serious breach of ethics and security — and White House aides worried about what else Manigault Newman may have captured in the West Wing.

The tape recording appears to show Trump expressing surprise about her firing, saying "nobody even told me about it." But Manigault Newman said he "probably instructed General Kelly to do it."

On Twitter, Trump declared Monday that she had been "fired for the last time," a reference to her appearances on his reality TV show. He said Kelly had called her a "loser & nothing but problems," but he himself had tried to save her job — because he liked her public comments about him.

"I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me - until she got fired!" Trump tweeted.

Responding on NBC, Manigault Newman said, "I think it's sad that with all the things that's going on in the country that he would take time out to insult me and to insult my intelligence."

She added, "This is his pattern with African-Americans."

First lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, is disappointed that Manigault Newman "is lashing out and retaliating in such a self-serving way, especially after all the opportunities given to her by the President," said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

Manigault Newman's exit does highlight the lack of diversity among Trump's top aides. She was the highest-ranking African-American on the White House staff. She said on NBC that in her absence "they're making decisions about us without us."

Trump's battle with Omarosa underscores the racial tensions that have defined his presidency. He notably blamed "both sides" for violent clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago and has questioned the intelligence of other prominent black figures including California Rep. Maxine Waters, basketball star LeBron James and TV journalist Don Lemon. He also has targeted black NFL players for kneeling in social protest during the national anthem.

Manigault Newman also alleges that Trump allies tried to buy her silence after she left the White House, offering her $15,000 a month to accept a "senior position" on his 2020 re-election campaign along with a stringent nondisclosure agreement.

The offer raises fresh question about the ways that White House aides are being offered safe landing spots after they leave. For example, Trump's former personal aide John McEntee, who was removed from his job in April, went to the campaign.

Trump tweeted Monday that Manigault Newman has a "fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!"

It was not clear exactly what he was referring to. White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on ABC that there are "confidentiality agreements" in the West Wing. And Trump's campaign said that in the 2016 race she "signed the exact same NDA that everyone else on the campaign signed, which is still enforceable."

Meanwhile, Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said on "Fox and Friends" Monday that Manigault Newman may have broken the law by recording private conversations inside the White House.

"She's certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law," Giuliani said.

But experts in national security and clearance law said that, while she seriously violated rules — and would likely be barred from ever being granted a security clearance — she probably didn't break any law unless the conversations she recorded were classified.

In the recording with Kelly, which Manigault Newman quotes extensively in her new book, Kelly can be heard saying that he wants to talk with her about leaving the White House.

"It's come to my attention over the last few months that there's been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you," Kelly is heard saying, before adding that if she makes it a "friendly departure" then she can "go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation."

Manigault Newman said she viewed the conversation as a “threat” and defended her decision to covertly record it and other White House conversations, saying otherwise “no one” would believe her.

Police investigate homicide in Fairview

Mon, 2018-08-13 21:51

A man was the victim of a homicide in the Fairview neighborhood of Anchorage, police reported in a written statement Monday night.

At 7:28 p.m. Monday, police responded to a shooting at a residence on the 1000-block of E. 20th Ave., When they arrived, officers found a man dead inside the home.

"Initial indications are that this was a targeted event and the people involved know one another," police wrote.

There have been no arrests and police have not released suspect information.

Are rich people more likely to lie, cheat, steal? Science explains the world of Manafort and Gates.

Mon, 2018-08-13 20:38

What is about money that makes people do bad things?

It seems a fair question when the news is dominated by misdeeds of the rich and powerful. The Paul Manafort trial, now entering its third week, has revealed details of his alleged crimes: defrauding banks out of tens of millions of dollars, evading taxes by stashing huge sums in offshore accounts and using riches earned through unregistered work for foreign governments to buy $15,000 ostrich and python jackets.

Manafort's deputy Rick Gates testified about the small fortune he embezzled and spent on his globe-trotting infidelities. Also last week, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was charged with insider trading. Scandals have shown Trump's Cabinet members flouting government rules and ethics for private jet rides, $31,000 dining table sets, $43,000 soundproof booths and questionable business trips abroad.

"To researchers who study wealth and power, it's dismaying but not surprising because it tracks so closely with our findings. The effect of power is sadly one of the most reliable laws of human behavior," said Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley who has spent decades studying wealth, power and privilege.

Six years ago, Keltner and a then-graduate student in his lab, Paul Piff, published influential innovative experiments that confirmed many of our worst assumptions about the rich and the corrupting power of wealth.

In one experiment, the researchers stationed themselves at a busy intersection with four-way stop signs and tracked the model of every car whose driver cut off others instead of waiting their turn. People driving expensive cars – like a brand-new Mercedes – were four times more likely to ignore right-of-way laws than those in cheap cars like an old beat-up Honda.

"It told us that there's something about wealth and privilege that makes you feel like you're above the law, that allows you to treat others like they don't exist," Keltner said.

Next, they had a researcher play a pedestrian trying to cross at a crosswalk and tracked which cars stopped as the law requires and which blew right past him. The results were even more stark.

Every one of the cheapest cars stopped, while half of the expensive cars ignored the pedestrian in the crosswalk – many even after making eye contact.

There have been warnings throughout the ages about the corrupting effects of wealth and power. Buddha, for example, gave up the rich life of a prince for enlightenment. Jesus warned his disciples that a camel would have an easier time squeezing through the eye of a needle than a rich man trying to get into God's kingdom. Rapper Biggie Smalls reached a similar conclusion before his untimely death: "Mo money, Mo problems."

In the past few decades, a growing body of psychology research has tried to capture and measure the exact effects of wealth on behavior and morality.

That research has shown the rich cheat more on their taxes. They cheat more on their romantic partners. The wealthy and better-educated are more likely to shoplift. They are more likely to cheat at games of chance. They are often less empathetic. In studies of charitable giving, it's often the lower-income households who donate higher proportions of their income than middle-class and many upper-income folk.

In one of the more surprising findings from their 2015 paper, Keltner and Piff found the rich are more likely to literally take candy from children. In that experiment, they first asked 129 subjects to compare their finances to people who had either more or less money. Then they gave their subjects a jar of candy and told them the sweets were intended for children in a nearby lab but they could take some if they wanted. Those who felt richer after comparing their finances to poorer people took significantly more candy for themselves.

The findings build on similar research in recent years that suggests wealth and power strip people of their inhibitions, increase risk taking and feelings of entitlement and invulnerability. At the same time, power makes people less empathetic and able to see others' perspectives.

"Wealth is basically a mechanism for power, and power has a freeing effect on people. It takes away the constraints of society and frees people to act according to their dominant desires," said Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School, whose experiments have explored how power often propels people's actions. In some cases, those desires may be altruistic or helpful to society, so power heightens those goals and can give rise to effective philanthropists. Often, however, power leads to self-serving behaviors unrestrained by the usual concerns over rules or the consequences for others.

Because much of the psychological research into wealth and power is relatively new, many of the findings are still being tested and need to be confirmed by replication, researchers say. "I wouldn't say these questions are settled. There are disagreements about the exact effect of wealth and ethics and how large the effect is," said Michael Kraus, a social psychologist at Yale's School of Management. But the research has never seen such booming interest and momentum – with growing inequality in America and a multimillionaire born into wealth in the White House.

"There's a lot of reasons we should care about the ethics of wealthy people," Kraus said. "Even if research found that they were no more unethical as anyone else, their influence on the world is so much greater. If someone like me steals something, it only affects only a handful of people. But if someone like Manafort steals or lies or cheats, it affects so many more people. There are foreign governments and banks involved. You start getting into that area where it can affect the whole country and the course of democracy."

A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing.

Mon, 2018-08-13 19:19

ESTACADA, Oregon – Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used to be named Shadow. And when he was named Shadow, he suffered. At a veterinarian's exam last year, he was 300 pounds underweight, his black coat lice-ridden, his skin scabbed and his genitals so frostbitten that they might still require amputation.

The horse had been left outside and underfed by his previous owner, who last summer pleaded guilty to criminal neglect. And now Justice, who today resides with other rescued equines on a quiet wooded farm within view of Oregon's Cascade mountains, is suing his former owner for negligence. In a lawsuit filed in his new name in a county court, the horse seeks at least $100,000 for veterinary care, as well as damages "for pain and suffering," to fund a trust that would stay with him no matter who is his caretaker.

The complaint is the latest bid in a quixotic quest to get courts to recognize animals as plaintiffs, something supporters and critics alike say would be revolutionary. The few previous attempts – including a recent high-profile case over whether a monkey can own a copyright – have failed, with judges ruling in various ways that the nonhumans lacked legal standing to sue. But Justice's case, the animal rights lawyers behind it contend, is built on court decisions and statutes that give it a stronger chance, particularly in a state with some of the nation's most progressive animal protection laws.

"There have been a lot of efforts to try to get animals not only to be protected but to have the right to go to court when their rights are violated," said Matthew Liebman, director of litigation at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which filed the suit in Justice's name. Those "haven't found the right key to the courthouse door. And we're hopeful that this is the key."

These efforts have been made amid broad growth in legal protections and advocacy for animals. Three decades ago, few law schools offered courses in animal law; now, more than 150 do, and some states have created animal law prosecutorial units. All 50 states have enacted felony penalties for animal abuse. Connecticut last year became the first state to allow courts to appoint lawyers or law students as advocates in animal cruelty cases, in part because overburdened prosecutors were dismissing a majority of such cases.

These developments count as progress, animal rights lawyers say, in persuading lawmakers and courts to expand the traditional legal view of animals – as property – to reflect their role in a society in which dog-sitting is big business and divorces can involve cat custody battles.

"Our legislature acknowledged that people care a lot about animals, and that's something that's evolving and increasing," said Jessica Rubin, a University of Connecticut law professor who serves as an advocate in that state's cruelty cases. "The law, hopefully, is catching up to where our morals are."

But expanding the protections for animals is quite different from granting them legal standing, which courts have not been willing to do. In 2004, a federal appeals court shot down a suit in the name of the world's cetaceans, in which President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were sued over the U.S. Navy's use of sonar. In 2012, a U.S. District Court dismissed a suit filed on behalf of five SeaWorld orcas, which argued that their captivity was a violation of the 13th Amendment's prohibition on slavery. This spring, a federal appeals court ruled that a crested macaque that took its own photo could not sue for copyright protection, saying "this monkey – and all animals, since they are not human – lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act."

In New York courts, a group called the Nonhuman Rights Project has for several years sought writs of habeas corpus for captive chimpanzees, arguing that they are "legal persons" – a term that can apply to corporations and ships – and have a right to freedom. While judges have occasionally praised the effort, they have ultimately rejected it, saying chimpanzees cannot bear the duties and responsibilities required of legal persons.

Against that backdrop, Liebman says Justice's case is "more reasonable" than the others. It does not involve the Constitution or historically weighted concepts such as slavery or a writ of habeas corpus. It's not so, well, silly-sounding as copyright for a monkey.

Instead, he and colleagues say, it is a logical next step. Their argument goes like this: While some state cruelty laws were written to protect animal owners or public morals, Oregon's anti-cruelty law makes plain it is intended to protect animals, which it calls "sentient beings." What's more, state courts have ruled that animals can be considered individual victims. And because victims have the right to sue their abusers, the lawsuit says, Justice should be able to sue his former owner.

Justice, of course, has no idea he is suing. Sarah Hanneken, an Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney in Portland, says that Justice's ignorance of the lawsuit is irrelevant.

"This whole idea of somebody who has been injured by the acts of another and not being able to speak for themselves in court, so having an adult human do it for them, this is not new," Hanneken said. "Children are allowed to bring lawsuits, because we recognize that children have interests that laws protect."

According to court filings, Justice's former owner, Gwendolyn Vercher, surrendered the horse to a rescue organization in March 2017 at the urging of a neighbor in Cornelius, west of Portland. In a letter to law enforcement, an equine veterinarian who examined the horse at the time said he was "severely emaciated," lethargic and weak. That poor condition probably contributed to a lasting problem – the animal's penis had prolapsed, and his inability to retract it led to frostbite, trauma and infection.

"When I got him, he was a lot worse than I anticipated," said Kim Mosiman, executive director of Sound Equine Options, which takes in and finds homes for about 100 horses each year.

Justice, whom Mosiman fondly describes as "like a grumpy old man," has gained weight and become more social. On a sun-soaked afternoon at the dusty farm in Estacada, he nibbled grass alongside a retired racehorse named Flick and used his nose to nudge the notebook of a visiting reporter. But the lawsuit says his penis may require partial amputation and that his medical conditions will demand long-term care.

"I'm trying to find someone who wants to adopt him," Mosiman said. "But if they find out they're going to have to be financially responsible for him, he's never going anywhere."

Some animal law experts warn that Justice's lawsuit is extreme, even dangerous. Richard Cupp, a Pepperdine University law professor who has been critical of the chimpanzee personhood cases, said he thinks the horse case has even more radical implications.

Allowing Justice to sue could mean any animal protected under Oregon's anti-cruelty statute – a class that includes thousands of pets, zoo animals and even wildlife – could do the same, he said. (Livestock, lab animals, hunting targets, rodeo animals and invertebrates are exempted.) If this approach were adopted elsewhere, Cupp said, a stampede of animal litigation could overrun courts.

"Any case that could lead to billions of animals having the potential to file lawsuits is a shocker in the biggest way," Cupp said. "Once you say a horse or dog or cat can personally sue over being abused, it's not too big a jump to say, 'Well, we're kind of establishing that they're legal persons with that. And legal persons can't be eaten.' "

Cupp emphasized that he supports Oregon's progressive animal cruelty laws and rulings. But legislation is a more reasonable way of expanding animal protections, he said. Justice's case, for example, could be addressed through a law requiring an abuser to cover an animal's future care. "This would not be bad for society," Cupp said. "We do need to evolve. We're not doing enough to protect animals."

Cupp points to a Connecticut law as one that maintains an important distinction between animals and people. It focuses on "the interests of justice," not the animals' interests.

Geordie Duckler, a Portland animal law attorney who represents Vercher, said he views the horse lawsuit as a publicity stunt, one he does not expect Oregon courts to take very seriously.

"There's a massive chasm between saying a thing is a victim and saying now it must have rights, and the rights are apparently the full panoply of rights, and must include a right to sue," Duckler said. "There's no such thing as a right in a vacuum. . . . As soon as you have animal rights, then you'd better have animal jails and prosecutions against animals."

The slippery-slope arguments are familiar to Mosiman, who calls her group an animal welfare, not animal rights, organization. When she considered Justice's long-term needs, though, she had no qualms about signing him up as a plaintiff, she said.

"It was pretty clear-cut: If he wasn't starved, this wouldn't have happened," Mosiman said as Justice languidly scratched his neck and head against a towering pine tree. "It's about him."

Anchorage nears vote on plastic bag ban

Mon, 2018-08-13 17:59

Anchorage officials are close to deciding whether the city should ban single-use plastic shopping bags.

The city Assembly is slated to debate a ban at its meeting at the Loussac Library Tuesday night. Elected officials have spent this month hammering out the details of an ordinance, which they say is aimed at encouraging people to bring fabric or other reusable bags from home.

The ban, which would take effect no sooner than the start of next year, is expected to have sweeping effects for both retailers and consumers. If it passes, Anchorage would join nearly 20 Alaska communities that no longer allow plastic shopping bags, including Palmer, Wasilla and a number of rural villages.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz supports a ban on all single-use plastic shopping bags, said spokeswoman Kristin DeSmith.

[Plastic…with a price: How the bag ban shakes out at Wasilla's big retailers]

Some key details have yet to be decided. Here are some of the questions the Assembly will be debating Tuesday night:

— Whether disposable plastic shopping bags would be banned entirely in Anchorage.

— Whether plastic bags will still be allowed at a certain thickness. Some communities have only banned particularly thin, single-use shopping bags, with officials saying thinner bags travel further in the wind and are more likely to end up along roads.

— How much businesses should charge if customers want paper or reusable plastic or cloth bags. The Assembly will debate alternative-bag fees ranging from 10 cents and 50 cents.

Lobbyists for a national plastics industry association have been attending Assembly work sessions to argue against the ban.

[Plastic bag war heats up in Juneau as industry hires Alaska lobbyist to fight proposed tax]

Assemblyman Christopher Constant said he's willing to support either an outright ban or allowing thick, 4-millimeter plastic bags.

But Assemblyman John Weddleton said he would rather allow less-thick plastic bags, at 1.25 millimeters, with a fee for handing them out. Weddleton owns Bosco's Comics, a comics, card and game store in Spenard that uses plastic bags for customers and for promotional materials. He guessed it would cost his business about $1,000 more each year if the measure passed and he had to switch entirely to paper products.

But if a fee indeed changes customer behavior, businesses could save in the long term, Weddleton said.

"Retailers will have some higher costs, but if people quit using bags it could be a win for us," Weddleton said.

A few weeks ago, Weddleton said, he spent two hours in front of a Carrs-Safeway grocery store on Huffman Road. He talked to several dozen shoppers to gauge opinions about a ban. He said shoppers were generally supportive, even people that had more than a dozen plastic bags in their carts.

Forrest Dunbar, the chair of the Assembly, there was a good chance the Assembly would take a vote Tuesday night after debating the bigger questions.

"(But) if it doesn't, I wouldn't take that as a sign that an ordinance won't pass," Dunbar said in a text message Tuesday. "Rather, it's that we are trying to work out some details."

Dunbar said the ban would not take effect before Jan. 1, 2019.

Missing 74-year-old man found near Southeast Alaska lake

Mon, 2018-08-13 17:58

A 74-year-old man who had gone missing during a berry-picking trip in Southeast Alaska was found Sunday afternoon in good health, according to officials.

The man was identified by Alaska State Troopers as Valentino Barattin, of Haines. Barattin had gone berry picking near mile 26 of the Haines Highway, troopers said, and had failed to return home after becoming disoriented and "slightly injured" during the trip.

Barattin had last been seen at his home on Friday morning, the Coast Guard said. After being reported missing Saturday evening, his car was found on a remote road.

A search effort began late Saturday and involved the the Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and three canine teams.

On Sunday, Barattin was found in a forested area near Walker Lake, about 28 miles northwest of Haines the Coast Guard said in a written statement. He was in good condition.

Barattin told troopers that he had become disoriented and had suffered a slight injury, so he had decided to stay in one spot until help arrived.

The Coast Guard took him to the Haines Airport, where he was met by medics, troopers said.

Barattin was one of two people officials searched for over the weekend; the second person, 56-year-old Earl "Rocky" Ashworth III, walked away from his camp near milepost 56 of the Seward Highway. He was reported missing late Friday night, troopers said.

Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters wrote Monday that troopers had suspended the search for Ashworth, barring "better information on a location he may have gone."

Police: Woman upset by construction noise fired shot into the air

Mon, 2018-08-13 17:58

Anchorage police are asking people to avoid an area of Government Hill after a woman, reportedly upset by nearby construction noise, fired a shot into the air and is now refusing to leave her home.

At 5:45 p.m., police said that a SWAT team had arrived at the Government Hill home. Gas may be deployed, police said, and some surrounding homes had been evacuated.

Officers responded to a report of shots fired on the 300-block of East Manor Avenue at 3:05 p.m., the Anchorage Police Department said in a written statement.

A woman had walked outside, "upset over nearby construction noise being made by a paving crew," police said. "The female fired one shot into the air and then went back inside her home."

Nobody was hurt, police said.

The woman has been communicating with officers over the phone, but is refusing to come outside, police said.

"The area immediately around the home is blocked off to through-traffic; please avoid the area," police said around 3:45 p.m.

This is a developing story; Check back for updates

Don Young holds the fundraising lead among congressional candidates

Mon, 2018-08-13 17:47

U.S. Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s lone U.S. House member, speaks during a forum on Alaska Native issues on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

WASHINGTON — Longtime U.S. Rep. Don Young has the fundraising lead in this year's congressional race in Alaska, but a challenger running in the Democratic primary — Alyse Galvin — has made significant gains in recent months.

Young raised about $800,000 as of August 1, according to the latest tallies available from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Galvin raised nearly $600,000. Young had nearly $435,000 remaining on hand, and Galvin had just over $250,000 remaining as of August 1.

Galvin, an independent candidate, is taking on Dimitri Shein in the Democratic primary next week. Shein has raised $195,000 overall and had $108,349.04 remaining on hand as of August 1. But most of that is his own money: He contributed $40,000 early in the campai gn and recently offered the campaign a cash infusion with a $100,000 loan. Shein's campaign can repay him that money after the election, if the cash is available.

Young, a Republican, will face Thomas John Nelson in the August 21 primary election. Nelson, who counts himself as a fan of the congressman but wants the 85 year old to hand over power to a successor, raised just $4,939.16 as of August 1, according to the FEC. He had just over $1,000 on hand.

Young's fundraising tallies reflect the benefits of his position: an incumbent, re-elected 21 times, currently the "Dean of the House," the longest-sitting member of the House. Most of his individual contributions — more than $391,000 — come from people contributing more than $200 each. Just $29,748.93 came from small-dollar contributors as of August 1, according to the FEC. Roughly half of Young's haul came from Political Action Committees (PACs) — more than $375,000.

[Education advocate aiming to unseat longtime Alaska Rep. Don Young]

Some of Young's biggest corporate donations came from the PAC and employees of Edison Chouest Offshore, a company with a long history of Alaska operations and a likely builder of any future new American icebreakers. Other major contributions came from the oil and gas industry, transportation unions, GCI and Trident Inc. Young also received $24,000 in donations from various sugar industry PACs.

The congressman is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.

Galvin's contributions reflect the fundraising of an unelected candidate: more small-dollar contributions and hardly any from PACs. Donors spending $200 or less put $157,000 into her coffers. Galvin drew only $9,000 from PACs: $4,000 from the National Education Association fund, $1,000 from a local United Food and Commercial Workers union, and $4,000 from the defunct campaign of Steve Lindbeck, the last Democratic candidate to challenge Young.

Lindbeck and Young both ultimately raised just over $1 million each during the 2016 congressional campaign.

Galvin and Shein will debate Tuesday, August 14 at 5:30pm at 49th State Brewing Co. in Anchorage. The event is free to the public and will be broadcast online on the Alaska Democrats Facebook page.

Under new law, military children get sex assault protections

Mon, 2018-08-13 17:43

The Defense Department must improve the way it responds to child-on-child sexual assault at military bases in the U.S. and abroad as part of a sweeping new law President Donald Trump signed Monday.

While the Pentagon began addressing sexual assault in the ranks a decade ago, an Associated Press investigation revealed that similar reports involving military kids got lost in a dead zone of justice. Child offenders were rarely held accountable — even when they confessed — and victims often received no counseling or other help.

Under the new law, more than 70,000 students in Pentagon-run schools now receive the same legal protections as their U.S. public school counterparts. The schools also must overhaul their system for tracking and addressing assault allegations.

And, for the first time, a case must be reviewed by a central authority, regardless of where on base an assault is reported. That review by the Family Advocacy Program, the military's social services provider, must recommended "treatment, counseling, or other appropriate interventions."

AP found that some child-on-child sexual assault reports were buried, while those that were investigated faced numerous barriers to justice within the Pentagon and Justice Department.

Counselors would turn away victims, for example, because military regulations said help was available only if the alleged offender was an adult or caretaker.

Offender rehabilitation or punishment was rare. Instead, go-to solutions included kicking alleged offenders into the civilian world or transferring their families to another installation.

AP identified nearly 700 cases of child-on-child sexual assault on military bases worldwide from the start of 2007 through summer 2017. That was a certain undercount — the Pentagon did not track cases, and identifying them required interviews and records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Military officials had quietly resisted congressional action, arguing they could fix the problem themselves.

Lawmakers disagreed and wrote reforms into the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019. The $716 billion law, which Trump signed at Fort Drum, New York, also includes a military pay raise and investments in advanced weaponry.

Congress has also initiated investigations by the Pentagon's inspector general and the Government Accountability Office .

In one victory for the Pentagon, a requirement the Senate passed that bases share control over cases with local civilian authorities was watered down to only asking the service branches to explore such a change and report back.

The law will most immediately impact the Pentagon's network of schools in seven U.S. states and 11 other countries.

New positions are being created to coordinate responses to sexual assault reports. Disciplinary files will follow students when they switch schools. And the commander of a base will also be expected to keep track of incidents at schools.

By the end of March 2019, the Department of Defense Education Activity, as the school system is known, must establish policies that grant its students the same legal protections afforded those in public schools under a federal law known as Title IX.

Public school districts have operated for years under specific guidelines from the U.S. Education Department on how to handle student sexual violence and comply with Title IX. The Pentagon's system gave principals little training and direction. In one case at a base school in Germany , parents of several first grade-girls said they were not informed about alleged assaults until months after the principal received reports.

The Pentagon school system plans to roll out reforms to its complaint-review process in September, according to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Carla Gleason wouldn't comment on other requirements in the law, saying the military was reviewing how to meet them.

One former Pentagon school parent, who has pushed reforms for several years, said the new law was just the first step in resolving issues of sexual assault among military kids.

"It will just be a piece of paper," said Susan Roeder, "and it has to be implemented to schools across the world on a very personal level."

___
Pritchard reported from Los Angeles, Dunklin from Dallas.

Seattle airport adds security measures to cargo areas, terminals after theft of plane

Mon, 2018-08-13 16:00

Planes sit on the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport after service was halted after an Alaska Airlines plane was stolen Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Wash. (Bettina Hansen /The Seattle Times via AP) (Bettina Hansen/)

SEATTLE — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has added temporary security measures in cargo areas and inside airport terminals after a rogue ground-service agent took off Friday in a Q400 turboprop plane and crashed it into a south Puget Sound island, officials said.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire said Monday at a news conference that the port had not yet identified any lapses in security protocols after Horizon Air employee Richard Russell stole the plane.

"All security protocols were taken care of," she said, describing the heist as a one-in-a-million aberration.

When asked if it scared her that the protocols were not able to prevent the incident, Gregoire said, "It's not fear, it's how do we get better."

On Friday, Russell got into a pushback tractor, attached it to the empty aircraft and turned the airplane toward the runways, authorities said. He then taxied to runway 16C and took off at 7:32 p.m. He crashed about one hour and 10 minutes later in a wooded area of Ketron Island in south Puget Sound.

The FBI said Sunday night that it had recovered the flight-data recorder and components of the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage, as well as human remains.

Gregoire said airport workers undergo background checks looking back 10 years. Sea-Tac Airport 18 months ago also added physical screening for airport workers who access secure areas. Workers must present a badge, go through a metal detector and biometric screening, which analyzes a fingerprint.

Sea-Tac Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said workers are "red-lighted" and denied access to airport areas they don't frequent.

"Just because you have a badge doesn't mean you can go everywhere," he said.

Gregoire said the port, airlines and other stakeholders had already begun to review security processes. She said she expected it would be part of a “national conversation” that involved the federal government.

Alaskans collect medals, including gold in women’s hockey, at Gay Games

Mon, 2018-08-13 15:35

Members of the Alaskan Ice women’s hockey team pose with their gold medals in Aug. 2018 at at the Gay Games in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Hilary Morgan)

When the Alaskan Ice women's hockey team got its start several years ago in advance of the 2014 Gay Games, the first order of business for some of the players was to learn how to skate. Others merely had to learn how to play hockey.

They learned their lessons well. Last week at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris, the Alaskan Ice captured the gold medal in women's hockey.

The hockey gold was among seven medals collected by Alaskans during the weeklong competition.

Darl Schaaff won four medals in martial arts, including gold in self-defense in the over-50 men's black belt division. He also claimed a silver and two bronzes.

Stephan Smith grabbed silver in the men's 50-54 cycling time trial, and Trevor Storrs took bronze in the men's 45-49 triathlon.

In the gold-medal hockey game, the Alaskans cruised to a 6-0 win over NATO, a team made of up women from Germany, France, Canada and the United States.

They finished with a 2-3 record, with all three losses and one of the wins coming against men's teams. Their last game was against NATO, the only other women's team in the tournament.

The gold medal capped a journey that started several years ago, player Hilary Morgan said.

"About 6 or 7 years ago, teammates Robyn Henry and Amy Holman heard that Gay Games 9 were going to be played in their hometown, Cleveland," Morgan said by email from Paris.

Holman, who plays in the Subway women's league, was one of the few who already played. Henry, Morgan and others decided to learn, and in 2013 their YWCA Alaska/Lifeskills team joined the Anchorage Women's Hockey League.

The team that played in Cleveland in 2014 didn't win any medals, but several members returned to play in Paris. The 2018 roster had an age range from 21 to 60 and included three married couples and one engaged couple.

In their first four games, the Alaskans played men's teams. They lost 5-1 to a California team, 6-1 to a New York team and 4-1 to a Toronto team.

They eked out a 3-2 win against a men's team from France to gain some confidence heading into the gold-medal game, where they scored two minutes in and never looked back.

Federal government advances Donlin gold project, issuing major permit

Mon, 2018-08-13 15:16

Donlin Gold mine work camp and runway are seen from the air, August 2015. (Lisa Demer / ADN file)

The federal government on Monday gave a thumbs up to the Donlin Creek gold project in southwestern Alaska, issuing major permits for development following an environmental review of the project, officials said.

The approval by the Army Corps and Bureau of Land Management on Monday followed a six-year environmental review of the project, an open-pit hard rock gold mine that would be built about 10 miles north of the Kuskokwim River community of Crooked Creek, about 275 miles west of Anchorage.

Donlin Gold, owned by NovaGold Resources and Barrick Gold U.S., must still seek scores of individual state and federal permits for everything from water discharge to waste management.

The Army Corps, the lead agency in the review, and the BLM, said it preferred Donlin's proposed development scenario, according to a statement from Donlin Gold. The decision rejects other development proposals that sought reduced environmental impact, including not allowing the development at all.

The company expects to produce 33 million ounces of gold over the project's 27-year life. Mining facilities, including a 2,350-acre tailings pond to hold 568 million tons of ground-up waste material, would occupy land owned by The Kuskokwim Corp. and Calista Corp., Alaska Native organizations from the region.

Construction would last about four years, including development of a 316-mile natural gas pipeline from Cook Inlet, and a 30-mile access road to a port along the Kuskokwim. Barges would haul cargo, supplies and diesel fuel along the river that links to the Bering Sea.

The Corps issued a permit under the Clean Water Act, while BLM issued a permit for the pipeline right-of-way over federal lands.

Donlin Gold has agreed with Calista Corp. to give hiring preference to the company's Alaska Native shareholders, according to a summary of the proposal from the Corps. The company has said it would employ about 1,750 regional residents during construction, and another 550 residents during operations.

Deantha Crockett, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association, said the project would employ about 1,200 people total during operations.

"This is great news for the economy," she said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates

Sturgeon wants protection for Alaskans’ rights and subsistence use

Mon, 2018-08-13 15:12

John Sturgeon, in front of the Supreme Court, is part of a case involving a hovercraft and moose hunting,, on January, 17, 2016 in Washington, DC.(Bill O’Leary / The Washington Post)

When John Sturgeon walked into my office seven years ago, he had a simple story that the National Park Service had unlawfully denied him access to his longtime hunting grounds in Interior Alaska. His case is in the news now, pending again before the United States Supreme Court. In those seven years, John has carried the burden of protecting Alaskans' right to use Alaska's land and waters.

John had hunted moose for 40 years along the Nation River, which flows into the Yukon downriver from Eagle. It's a "navigable river," which means control of its submerged lands and waters had been granted to Alaska at statehood. The best moose hunting grounds are some 15-20 miles upriver. To get there, however, John had to traverse a portion of the river that runs through the Yukon-Charley National Preserve. Like all Interior rivers, the Nation often runs shallow during hunting season. When this happened, John couldn't get his riverboat upriver to where the moose were. In 1990, he bought a small air cushion vessel, a "hovercraft," about the size of a personal watercraft, to skirt over shallow places that grounded his river boat to a halt when the Nation was low. One day in 2007, he was stopped on a gravel bar to repair a steering cable. A riverboat with National Park Service rangers motored up. The rangers told John it was illegal to operate the hovercraft on the Nation River within the boundaries of Yukon-Charley. John objected that the Nation was state water because it was navigable. The rangers shook their heads. If John tried to launch the hovercraft back into the river, he would be arrested.

I had closely followed the parceling out of public lands in Alaska since statehood. In 1980, Congress established Yukon-Charley as part of the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act. Prior to passage, conservation groups sought to sweep navigable rivers and uplands owned by the state and Native corporations into many new national parks and refuges. A deal was struck in Congress. The boundaries could encircle state and private lands as long the law made it clear the National Park Service could not regulate those lands as if they were federal lands. For the next 15 years, the Park Service honored this agreement, but for some inexplicable reason reversed itself in the mid-1990s. The rangers threatening to arrest John Sturgeon in 2007 were implementing that reversal.

To me, borrowing from Robert Service, John's case was simply whether the promise made by Congress to Alaskans was a debt unpaid. I thought John a worthy client to pursue that claim. The very first time we met, he had trouble getting in the door. He had been bowhunting for Dall sheep with a friend in the Chugach Mountains during a snowstorm. His leather boots froze solid, but none of that mattered when his friend was fortunate enough to kill a legal ram. They focused on getting the meat out despite John's freezing feet. John's story convinced me he wasn't picking a fight with the Park Service for ideological reasons. He lived for hunting, and he just wanted to use the vessel he'd always used. "He's the real deal," I told my wife that night.

Recently, John was accused in personal terms in this newspaper of prizing his own right to hunt over Alaska Native subsistence fishing rights. This was upsetting because John has longtime ties to Native communities and has been forceful in his belief that Alaska Natives should have the rural subsistence fishing preference enforced in the Katie John line of cases. As a result, he has argued throughout this case that the courts can let him hunt with the hovercraft without disturbing Native subsistence fishing rights. Last winter, he reached an agreement with the state of Alaska and the Alaska Federation of Natives on a specific legislative fix to ANILCA which would have reaffirmed Congress' promise to Alaska and ratified the rural subsistence fishing preference decisions. The language was successfully introduced in Congress. John took heat from many hunting organizations for taking that stand, but he did it because he thought it was right. The fact that this settlement effort failed disappointed everyone involved.

Now, the Supreme Court is again called upon to decide if the promise made to Alaskans when ANILCA passed is indeed a debt unpaid and John is still arguing that the court can enforce that promise without disturbing Native subsistence fishing rights. The author of the piece accusing John of being anti-subsistence knew all of this. For shame.

Doug Pope is a longtime attorney in Alaska and one of two Alaska attorneys representing John Sturgeon in his case currently pending before the United States Supreme Court.

Mark Begich gets things done

Mon, 2018-08-13 15:04

Mark Begich files to run for governor Friday, June 1, 2018 at the state division of elections office in midtown. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

We want to tell you why we support Mark Begich for governor. He has the executive experience to lead the state government, as he did for six years as the mayor of Anchorage. Additionally, he will work across the aisle with the Alaska's legislature to achieve policies and actions that enhance Alaska, as he did in the U.S. Senate for six years.

We supported Bill Walker for governor in 2014 and participated in his transition forum, as well as his Fairbanks meetings on the state's fiscal crisis. He worked hard on the state's fiscal shortfall but was unable to persuade the Legislature to adopt most proposals he advanced. Instead, he oversaw reductions in state services as state savings were depleted.

We are particularly concerned that under Gov. Walker's proposal, the permanent fund dividend is severed from the productivity of the Alaska Permanent Fund, and the amount of the dividend is now left to annual haggling among legislators. We agree with Mr. Begich that the dividend should be added to the Constitution and that amount of the dividend should be set as a product of the earnings of the principal of the fund. Also, inflation-proofing must occur annually.

We know Gov. Walker's efforts on the gas pipeline have been his primary focus, but it may not come to fruition due to forces beyond Alaska's control. In the meantime, we need leadership to strengthen other sectors of Alaska's economy, now.

At 56, Mark Begich has already demonstrated an outstanding record of getting things done. He has led actions at the local, state, and national levels. He is also a successful Alaska business entrepreneur who has met a payroll.

When elected mayor, he faced a $33 million deficit, so Mark reduced costs and restructured city departments to be more efficient. They fixed the intersection of Lake Otis and Tudor, built other major road projects and developed the Dena'ina Convention Center.

Mark served as U.S. senator from Alaska from 2009 to 2015. His service was marked by working across party lines to meet Alaska needs. Thus, together with Republicans, he expanded services to veterans, kept the F-16s in Fairbanks, and provided access to funds to expand fiber-optic connectivity throughout Alaska. He gets things done.

He continued his support of women and children by voting to provide equal pay for equal work, protected a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, and funded early childhood education, because 90 percent of brain development happens by the time children are five years old.

We believe that as our next governor, Mark will lead colleagues to solve the fiscal issues of the state government. We are confident that he will protect the permanent fund and bring stability to the Permanent Fund Dividend program. We believe he will bring new vitality to our public education system, because he believes it will build the economic foundation for the future.

We have known Mark and his family for decades. We trust him to act in the best interest of Alaska. He solves problems. He solicits and listens to all points of view before making a decision. Mark will bring his creative energy and experience to meet the challenges of Alaska.

As people who want to strengthen the future of Alaska, we urge you to vote for Mark Begich for governor.

Vic Fischer was a delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, 1955-56, and later served in the state senate. He was Anchorage's first planning director and is the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute for Social and Economic Research's Director Emeritus.

Jane Angvik was on the Anchorage Unification Charter Commission in 1976, and was a member and chairwoman of the Anchorage Assembly. Jane also served as state Commissioner of Commerce and state Director of Lands in the Department of Natural Resources.

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