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As Democrats add a Senate seat, Republicans bicker over what happened in Alabama

Alaska News - Wed, 2017-12-13 05:23

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – As Democrats celebrated a stunning Senate win in Alabama, Republicans picked through the wreckage Wednesday after a blow that showcased voter backlash to sexual misconduct allegations and the limits of President Donald Trump's political influence.

Doug Jones's victory in a part of the Deep South that has not elected a Democratic senator since 1992 was a dramatic repudiation of his opponent, Roy Moore, a former state judge twice removed from office. Moore responded to allegations that he made sexual advances on teenagers when he was in his 30s by describing his campaign as a "spiritual battle" against a conspiracy of Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington.

Defending his endorsement of Moore's Republican primary opponent, Trump said Wednesday that he knew Moore would not win the special election.

The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017

But Moore will not go quietly.

After the race was called by the Associated Press, Moore declined to concede defeat, saying he believed that the margin of victory could narrow enough to trigger an automatic recount. "Realize that when the vote is this close that it's not over," he said. "We also know that God is always in control."

The Alabama Republican Party said it would not support Moore's push for a recount.

Secretary of State John Merrill said after Moore spoke that even though the margin of victory stood at more than 1 percent, an automatic recount could still be ordered if a review of write-in votes and military ballots narrowed the margin of victory to less than 0.5 percent.

Jones's victory portended the head winds facing Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections, coming just a month after a historic Republican wipeout in the battleground state of Virginia. With Jones in office, Democrats will have a credible, if still difficult, path to retake control of the Senate two years into Trump's term.

The result could also become a factor in upcoming legislative battles, as Republicans will have one less vote in the narrowly divided Senate in 2018. Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. – who opposed Moore's candidacy after the allegations emerged – has said that the GOP tax overhaul will be completed before the end of the year, when Jones is sworn into office, the impact of Tuesday's outcome on the ongoing debate is unknown.

Merrill's office said Tuesday that the election will be certified between Dec. 27 and Jan. 3, giving Republicans as little as two weeks to pass a federal budget and the tax legislation with their current 52-to-48 majority.

Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones for his victory. "The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win," Trump wrote. "The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time."

Trump won Alabama with 62 percent of the vote in 2016. He attempted to lead a late rally for Moore in the closing weeks of the election, recording a robo-call, hosting a rally in Florida near the state line and repeatedly warning Republicans to avoid electing a Democrat.

The president's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, all but adopted Moore as the public face of his insurgent effort to topple the congressional leadership of the Republican Party. Bannon appeared at both of Moore's rallies in the final week, and he deployed the full force of his Breitbart News operation to support the campaign.

It did not work. In the end, Jones won about 50 percent of the vote compared with about 49 percent for Moore, with Jones benefiting from strong African American turnout and a white share of the vote about twice as large as Barack Obama won in 2008. Fifty-six percent of women voted for Jones, according to exit polls, while 58 percent of men voted for Moore. Just under 2 percent of voters in the state wrote in a third candidate.

"Bannon's war on the GOP backfired, ricocheted and hit the president," said Scott Reed, a Republican political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who opposed Moore in the primary.

Exit polls showed a steep drop in support for Trump since his victory in 2016. Just 48 percent of voters approved of the president's job performance, higher than the national average but well below the levels of 2016, when Trump adopted Alabama as one of his favorite locations for large rallies. It was the second time in two months that the state flouted Trump's endorsement. Republican primary voters also rejected Sen. Luther Strange, the president's choice in the September runoff.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor who made his mark convicting Ku Klux Klan members for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, cast his campaign as an opportunity for the state to turn the page on the divisive politics of its past. He supported protecting entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid, defended Obamacare and said he broadly supported abortion. A gun owner, he supported strengthening the background-check system.

"At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect," Jones said at his victory rally, a raucous celebration in Birmingham. "This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure that everyone in this state, regardless of which Zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake."

At a Democratic watch party in Gadsden, where several of Moore's accusers lived, women who knew the accusers broke down in tears when the result was called. "There was a movement, the resistance movement, the day Donald Trump was sworn in," said Ann Green, the chair of the Etowah County Democratic Party. "It didn't just happen on the coasts. It happened in Alabama."

Democrats were aided by senior congressional Republicans who dropped their endorsements of Moore after the allegations of misconduct surfaced, including hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Mike Lee, Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas. McConnell had promised to open an ethics investigation if Moore won.

The Republican National Committee also pulled out of the race after the allegations surfaced, with Trump's initial blessing, but then reengaged in the final week of the campaign at the president's direction.

Six women told The Washington Post that Moore pursued them in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Five were teenagers at the time, and one was 22. Moore, who denied misconduct but admitted to possibly dating high school girls, was in his early 30s at the time. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he took her to his house, gave her alcohol and touched her sexually.

Exit polls showed that voters were divided on the credibility of the accusations, with 51 percent saying they were definitely or probably true, compared with 44 percent who said they were definitely or probably false.

Alabama's senior senator, Richard C. Shelby, a Republican, announced that he could not support Moore, and the former holder of the seat, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, declined to make his vote public.

The outcome could have a major impact on Senate primaries in Arizona and Nevada, where Bannon and conservative activists are pushing insurgent candidates who establishment Republicans also fear will be unelectable statewide. These strategists will now step up their argument that candidate quality matters.

"I'm remembering Missouri and Indiana in 2012 – two can't-lose states where we nominated crap candidates and lost," said Steven J. Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a group affiliated with McConnell that opposed Moore in the primary.

[GOP decisions put Senate seat at risk in Alabama]
Bannon's allies struck back, blaming McConnell's lack of support for handing the seat to a Democrat. "Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment got what they wanted tonight in Alabama," said Andy Surabian, a former Trump White House political aide who works with Bannon. "They handed this seat over to a liberal Democrat."

Jones was aided by a massive infusion of late fundraising, which allowed his campaign and a supportive outside group to dominate television, radio, direct mail and digital ad spending. Highway 31, a super PAC supporting Jones, spent $4.1 million in the final weeks of the campaign, compared with about $1.3 million from two outside groups backing Moore – most of which came from America First Action, a group that supports Trump's agenda.

The Jones campaign also outraised the Moore campaign by 5 to 1 in the general election, bringing in more than $10 million in total, as liberal donors around the country grew excited about a possible upset.

Jones also highlighted the ground game that his campaign ran in the lead-up to the race, citing 1 million phone calls, more than 200,000 doors knocked on and thousands of volunteers who braved early Alabama snow to participate in last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts.

Joe Reed, the chairman of the black Alabama Democratic Conference, said worries about low black turnout had been refuted by what he had seen on the ground. Operatives turning out votes in African American areas had coordinated with the Jones campaign, something less-well-funded Democrats had struggled to make happen.

"It's a high turnout," Reed said. "The Jones campaign gave us everything we asked them for."

Sullivan reported from Birmingham. Scherer reported from Washington. Weigel reported from Gadsden, Ala. Elise Viebeck, David Fahrenthold, Philip Rucker and Scott Clement in Washington and Larry Bleiberg and Jenna Johnson in Alabama contributed to this report.

Juneau's shelter for women to open its doors to men - Seattle Times

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 22:20

Juneau's shelter for women to open its doors to men
Seattle Times
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau's domestic violence shelter for women will soon open its doors to men. The Juneau Empire reported Tuesday that the AWARE shelter plans to allow all genders to stay there starting Jan. 1. AWARE Deputy Director Mandy O'Neal ...

and more »

Juneau's Shelter for Women to Open Its Doors to Men - U.S. News & World Report

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 22:20

Juneau's Shelter for Women to Open Its Doors to Men
U.S. News & World Report
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Juneau's domestic violence shelter for women will soon open its doors to men. The Juneau Empire reported Tuesday that the AWARE shelter plans to allow all genders to stay there starting Jan. 1. AWARE Deputy Director Mandy O'Neal ...

and more »

This sick woman’s friends have kept their promise to visit her every day – for 21 years

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 21:26

It's been about 35 years since Harriet Fridkin has had full use of her body. Multiple sclerosis slowly has seized her, leaving her unable to move any part of herself except her head. Her mind is as sharp as it ever was.

So, five nights a week for more than two decades, Fridkin, 75, has been a gracious host in her Montgomery County, Maryland home. Friends come to visit, always on schedule, sometimes to give her a therapeutic massage, sometimes to feed her, sometimes to unload about their day and get her time-tested advice for an hour or two.

It's been this way for 21 years.

"I like to talk to people," said Fridkin, her voice softer than it used to be. "If people have problems I like to help solve them."

Her friends, who have called themselves "Harriet's Harem" since 1996, have created a support group remarkable in its loyalty and longevity. A calendar goes out once a month, each day is assigned to a friend, and there's never a day that's left open.

If her nose itches, they'll scratch it, if she's thirsty they'll give her a drink of water. Mostly, they enjoy her company and marvel at her happy outlook on life and unflinching humor.

"I only keep the good friends," Fridkin says with a big smile. "The other ones, I don't keep around."

[A rapper and an 81-year-old woman finally met in person after bonding over Words With Friends]

The harem started with 12 members, and people have come and gone through the years. Some have died, some have moved away, some have left and rejoined as their schedules allowed. Now there are nine loyalists who cover the month, three of whom turned 75 years old this year.

"She gives so much more to all of us than I can tell you," said Judy Feldman, 83, one of the original organizers of Harriet's Harem. "She gives us the inspiration to go on, to overcome anything."

Fridkin, who has three children and six grandchildren, lives in Potomac with her husband of 54 years, Jerry Fridkin. She has a caregiver who helps take care of her during the day. But it is difficult for her to leave the house, which is where Harriet's Harem comes in.

"It helps her keep up with the outside world," said her daughter Marjorie Fridkin, 43.

One of Harriet Fridkin's favorite nights of the week is Monday, when her bridge group comes over to her Potomac home to play cards twice a month, just as they have since before she became immobile. A helper puts down her cards for her. She also is an avid Sudoku player, memorizing the entire grid before painstakingly instructing someone – often a member of her harem – where to write in each number. And she's a book lover and devoted QVC shopper.

"She is living, she's not just existing," Feldman said. "It's astounding."

The idea for an organized caregiving circle started in 1996 when Fridkin's mobility was getting worse. She could no longer walk, and Feldman and another friend were pitching in, taking her to appointments, preparing food and staying with her so she wouldn't be alone before her husband got home from his job in the Department of Justice's tax division. But the commitment became somewhat of a time challenge.

"We couldn't keep up with it," Feldman said. "Jerry is such a proud man and did not want to accept any help, so we put it on us and said we needed help."

They came across a piece in Parade Magazine about a woman named Cappy Capossela who had written a book titled "Share the Care: How to Organize a group To Care For Someone Who is Seriously Ill." It was about a group of women who had taken care of a friend who was dying of cancer and in desperate need of help as a single mother of two girls. The care circle was highly coordinated, efficient and loving. The book detailed how the three-year experience was transformative for the women, giving them purpose and direction, and they believed it vastly improved their friend's end-of-life experience.

The women in the book called themselves the "Funny Family."

"I thought the alliteration was fun," Feldman said. "So I came up with 'Harriet's Harem' and it stuck."

Fridkin's daughter Marjorie, who is a general surgeon at Garrett Regional Medical Center in western Maryland, said she's explained to patients and families over the years about her mother's harem and how helpful it is. But she's never seen it even close to replicated.

"Without social interaction, people are like a plant that doesn't get watered," Fridkin's daughter said, looking at her mother. "The world comes to you. It has kept you who you are."

Before Fridkin got sick, she was a gourmet cook, which was a great irony because her husband has always preferred frozen dinners, a dynamic that caused some friction and endless amusement in their marriage. So she'd cook elaborate meals and feed her neighbors, either when they stopped by or by passing a pot over the fence.

"If they walked in, they'd walk out with something," Fridkin said of her friends and neighbors.

She laughed recalling homemade pasta "hanging all over the kitchen" and having an early version of the Cuisinart to use for special recipes.

As a younger woman, her house was always filled with her children, their friends, and the smells of the kitchen. "When it was lunch time I would feed them," Fridkin said. "They always knew they could stop here."

[This Anchorage gas station owner didn't want anyone to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day]

Fridkin had several jobs through the years, working as an elementary school teacher in the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, and she also worked with an Alzheimer's organization coordinating care and support groups. She even continued working after her body started giving out.

"I got paid to talk," she said. "You don't have to move to talk."

Her daughter recalls that when she was younger, her mother was in constant motion, cooking, knitting, beading or entertaining friends.

So when Fridkin got sick, her friends and neighbors were the first to jump up and offer help. While the problems were very serious, none of the women ever took themselves too seriously.

Feldman remembered one day when Fridkin was still going out to restaurants but could not feed herself. It was Feldman's job to feed her, but they gabbed so much that Fridkin barely go to eat. When it was time to go, Feldman pushed the wrong button on the wheelchair and sent her friend careening into the table, knocking it over. Mortified, she looked down at her friend.

"I was horrified and terrified," Feldman said. "And she was just howling laughing."

Years ago, Jerry Fridkin set up their home for maximum ease for his wife and her wheelchair. While she has always been the more social spouse, and Jerry Fridkin is a man of fewer words, he deeply appreciates what the harem has brought.

"I like to see Harriet having outside friends and interacting with friends. I like to see my wife happy," he said. "It's a tribute to her, it shows you what a special person she is."

Fridkin said she hopes the story of her harem will touch someone like the story of Cappy Capossela's "Funny Family" touched her and her friends years ago. She attributes her good humored disposition in great part to her friends.

"It's a lot easier to concentrate on somebody's else's problems and somebody else's life than just think about your own problems," she said. "I really hope it's helpful to let people know they can form a group like this."

GOP decisions put Senate seat at risk in Alabama

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 21:17

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. — For Republicans, it did not have to come to this.

After a fraught campaign that tested the country's tolerance for political sideshows, Roy Moore, the party's Senate nominee, lost to the Democrat Doug Jones in a special election on Tuesday. Even before the race, Republican leaders in Alabama and Washington had taken to describing Moore as a kind of biblical plague — a punishing force inflicted on them, and outside their control.

But for all his local fame and notoriety, Moore was never an inevitability in the Senate race. Nor was it inevitable that Alabama would hold a Senate election this year at all, let alone one that the Democrats would win.

To grasp the sheer improbability of the election unfolding here, consider the improbable — and improbably ill-fated — decisions that Republican leaders made to bring things to this point.

[Democrat Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore in U.S. Senate race in Alabama]

Choice No. 1: The Vacancy

It began with President Donald Trump's selection of Jeff Sessions to serve as his attorney general — a favor to a fierce political ally, whom Trump soon turned against. By naming Sessions, the president ensured, at the very least, that there would be a raucous Republican primary in a turbulent red state. Had Trump named a non-senator to the job, no such election would have taken place.

Choice No. 2: The Appointment

When Sessions abandoned the Senate, it fell to Robert Bentley, Alabama's embattled governor, to pick a replacement. He had myriad options, with state legislators and members of Congress begging for the job. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, lobbied Bentley to consider naming a woman to the seat.

But Bentley went a different route, choosing Luther Strange, the state attorney general — who was at the time investigating Bentley. The appointment was seen as tainted from the start. Strange, however, believed he would have time to settle into the seat before defending it in a 2018 special election.

Choice No. 3: The Date

Bentley helped set this process in motion, but he left office before he could see it through. After he resigned in a deal with prosecutors, his successor, Kay Ivey, surprised national Republicans by rescheduling the special election. She moved it from November 2018 to a random Tuesday in December of this year, amputating half of Strange's borrowed term and forcing an early reckoning for the unpopular appointee.

Choice No. 4: The Primary

If Strange was viewed uneasily in Alabama, he was fully embraced in Washington. McConnell backed him forcefully in his bid for a full term and committed millions through a super PAC to aiding his candidacy. But in defending Strange from his Republican rivals, McConnell's allies chose not to attack Moore, believing that Strange could defeat him in a one-on-one race.

Instead, they made devastating attacks on Rep. Mo Brooks, an arch-conservative lawmaker whom they viewed as a Senate gadfly in the making. Brooks' campaign crumbled — and the bulk of his support migrated to Moore, helping him trounce Strange in a September runoff election.

Trump, meanwhile, was an inconsistent ally of Strange, endorsing him on Twitter and holding a campaign event to rally support, but also musing publicly at that rally about whether he had erred in his endorsement. The event may have done more harm than good.

Choice No. 5: The Nominee

With the Republican nomination in hand, Moore presented Republican leaders with a searing and seemingly binary choice: Embrace a man they saw as a loathsome extremist, in the hope of saving a Senate seat, or shun him and write off the election as a loss to Doug Jones, the Democrat.

They chose, instead, a worst-of-both-worlds middle path, nominally endorsing Moore but closing their checkbooks to him, and leaving him to fend for himself in the race. That approach was just distant to enough to leave Moore gasping — unable to raise money to answer Jones' television commercials — and just supportive enough so that when Moore found himself facing multiple allegations of improper sexual behavior or unwanted advances with teenage girls, party leaders had to answer for Moore.

Had any one of a number of Republicans made any one of those choices differently — from creating the initial vacancy to halfheartedly accepting Moore in September — the party might not be staring at electoral humiliation in the Deep South.

The outlandish political circumstances are not lost on people here: At a rally for Jones on Monday night, Charles Barkley, the former basketball star, marveled at the sheer bizarreness of the race.

"If somebody sent you this as a movie script," he said, "you'd throw it in the trash."

Chugiak’s Snell named football Gatorade Player of the Year

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 21:12

Chugiak's Derryk Snell capped a dynamic football season with the sport's biggest high school football award Monday, when he was named Alaska's Gatorade Player of the Year.

The senior running back/wide receiver chalked up 38 touchdowns and led the Mustangs to an undefeated regular season at 8-0.

He amassed 2,197 total yards (1,374 rushing, 823 receiving) and twice tallied six-touchdown games for the Mustangs.

At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Snell boasted solid hands and good balance for one of the biggest skill players on the field.

Snell scored six touchdowns, including a key pick-six, in a come-from-behind victory over Utah's Green Canyon in a game played in the Lower 48.

A two-way player, Snell added 67 tackles (13.5 for loss), four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries on the season.

[For Chugiak's Snell, the end zone is a familiar place]

"Obviously that wasn't the goal for this year, but it's a nice accolade," Snell said Tuesday of the honor. "I couldn't do that without my team.

"I was just trying to play for my team and trying to get us back to the championship."

Chugiak's season ended in the Division I semifinals in an epic 75-62 loss to eventual-state-champion Bartlett in a game Snell scored five touchdowns and reeled of 190 yards of offense.

Snell has verbally committed to play college ball at Montana State — an NCAA Division I team in Bozeman, Montana. The Bobcats play in Division I's FCS subdivision.

He said he is playing basketball this season for the Chugiak after taking last season off to focus on football.

Off the field and court, Snell volunteers with the Special Olympics and is involved with his church youth group and the Lions Club.

Stassel just misses World Cup podium at Copper Mountain

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 21:08

Anchorage snowboarder Ryan Stassel posted his best result since January, finishing fourth in a World Cup big air snowboard event over the weekend at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado.

Stassel scored a 154.50 through his three jumps in the big air competition, which features a big ramp, a big jump, and big tricks.

The result is Stassel's best since he finished second in a World Cup slopestyle event in January in Austria.

Norway's Mons Roisland won the event with a 182.75, followed by three Americans — Chris Corning (177.25) in second, Chandler Hunt (159.00) in third and Stassel in fourth.

The event served as an Olympic Qualifier. Snowboarders must secure one podium finish in a slopestyle or big air qualifier to meet Olympic qualification criteria.

A 2014 Olympian, Stassel is up against stiff competition to make the 2018 Pyeongchang team.

At 25 years old, Stassel is more than half a decade older than some of Team USA's rising young snowboarders like Hunt (19) and Corning (18).

"We have some young guns that really progressed and got some really good tricks," Stassel told Team USA. "They're right behind us. They've got exactly what it takes and know exactly what it takes to be there."

Stassel's next event will be the Dew Tour slopestyle starting Wednesday in Breckenridge, Colorado. The event is another Olympic Qualifier.

Westlake will not heed calls to resign over misconduct allegations

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 20:50

Rep. Dean Westlake, who was asked by Democratic leaders to resign after reports surfaced last week that he had behaved inappropriately with female aides, said late Tuesday he plans to remain in office.

"Many people in the past few days have called for me to resign. I have thought seriously about it, and I have asked for counsel from friends, family, Native leaders, elders and God," the Kiana Democrat said in a statement. "I have decided not to."

Westlake was accused by seven current and former female aides late last week of making repeated unwanted sexual advances and behaving inappropriately during this year's legislative sessions. He is in the first year of his term.

[Seven aides at Alaska Capitol say legislator made unwanted advances and comments]

The women described the behavior after one of them went public and recounted unwanted touching and sexual comments in a letter to legislative leaders. He was asked to resign by leaders of the House majority coalition and the chairman of the Alaska Democratic Party. The Juneau Empire also called for his resignation in an editorial.

"I want to once again apologize to any woman whom I have made uncomfortable with either my actions or words. I never intended to hurt anyone, but I understand now that I have," the statement said. "I want to thank anyone who came forward. Doing so required strength and bravery."

The women, who asked not to be identified for fear of professional repercussions, described Westlake giving lingering hugs, making sexual comments, asking for dates and touching them inappropriately.

In his statement, Westlake said that he was "re-examining" his actions.

"I used to think of certain actions as friendly or funny, but I have come to understand that they can be offensive and intrusive," he said. "I will be an ally and supporter of women moving forward."

[2 investigations into state Sen. Wilson wrap up in his favor]

Readers write: Letters to the editor, December 13, 2017

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 20:41

Some specifics please, senator

Sen. Shelley Hughes' commentary (Dec. 11) contained many figures. The numbers I want to see from her and the Senate majority are the specific programs and department budgets they would like to cut. It's easy to say, "We need to cut further," but I want to see specifics.

Is she prepared to further cut the snow plowing budget? Cut the number of state Troopers? How about closing the Pioneer Home in the Valley? How about cutting health insurance benefits for legislators so their coverage is similar to Medicaid coverage (I am glad to hear she is making progress in your battle with breast cancer)? How about cutting the state's share of education funding and shifting those costs to local property tax payers? Please tell Alaskans the specific cuts that should be made, not more campaign slogans.

— Paul Laverty

More state news, not fake news

Why don't you publish more articles like the two commentaries in your Monday (Dec. 10) edition. One by Cliff Groh on "Why Alaskans face highest health care costs" and the other by Sen. Shelley Hughes on "Have we cut the state budget enough" instead of repeating the fake news published by The New York Times and Washington Post?

— Earl Korynta

It's easy to say 'Cut the budget,' but how about some details?

Dennis Gall's criticism of Sen. Shelley Hughes recent commentary (Dec. 11) on cutting the budget is spot on. Few conservatives disagree, there is more to be done. So thanks Sen. Hughes, for sharing the numbers relating to what's happened already.

But as Gall noted in so many words, it's way past time for rolling up your sleeves Senator, and setting out the specific cuts to specific programs so we can debate their relative merits. Please, do it right here in your next opinion piece — the sooner the better — and we will applaud it. This is how any business is managed. You bring solutions to the meeting, not just criticisms. We have heard the "cut the budget" dog whistle over and over, and over and over. Lawmakers are long on dogma and short on anything resembling detail. We will reliably alert to your dog whistle, but only so many times. We understand every lump of largess has a constituency, We understand those constituencies will vote for you or a challenger.

We get all that. But we elect representatives to do the work, not just tell us there is work to be done.

— Bob Lacher

Anchorage folks have right to manage bears just like others

Mike McQueen's concern (Letters, Dec. 3) over my recommending an intensive management program for bears in GMU 14C (Anchorage Bowl) seems hypocritical. Since we don't hear him complaining about the intensive bear management program in GMU 13, in which he resides (Copper Center), why not Anchorage?

No matter how careful you are, when bears are not afraid of humans, more people will suffer. Just ask the families of the Anchorage residents who have been killed by bears over the past 25 years.

— Jim Lieb

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@adn.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@adn.com.

Prep hockey: Eagle River drops Service; Bartlett earns road win

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 20:30

Eagle River 6, Service 2

Tucker Lien delivered two goals in the third period and Ty McEnaney registered a goal and three assists to power Eagle River in a 6-2 hockey win over Service on Tuesday.

Wolves goalie Ryan Gray furnished 31 saves to 18 for Service goalie Kevin Taunton in the Cook Inlet Conference game at Ben Boeke Arena.

The game was tied through the first period and Eagle River took the lead on a McEnaney goal in the second period before adding three more in the third.

Service received goals from Landon Hill and Ben Martensen.

Bartlett 3, Houston 1

Three Golden Bears scored goals and goalie Haydin LaFlamme snagged 34 saves in Bartlett's 3-1 hockey win at Houston.

Bartlett's Owen Wilson scored a goal two minutes into the game and the Golden Bears led the rest of the way. Andrew Vandenbos and Brad Mackin added goals for Bartlett.

Houston was led by Kai Kingery (1 goal) and goalie Josh Smoldon (24 saves).

Police: Anchorage sees 3 unrelated armed robberies in less than 12 hours

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 20:15

A trio of Anchorage businesses were hit by armed robbers between Monday evening and early Tuesday, but police say they don't appear connected.

Here is how police spokeswoman Renee Oistad relayed the events:

At 6:24 p.m. Monday, police were called to Domino's Pizza at 3024 Mountain View Drive. A man pointed a handgun at an employee and demanded money from the cash register. The robber ordered the employee to lie on the ground, which he did. The suspect was described as a black man in his late 20s to early 30s, about 5 foot 10 inches tall and wearing dark clothing. His face was covered.

Three hours later, a Yellow Cab driver reported being robbed in the Raspberry Road area. The driver had picked up three white men at a downtown restaurant. When the cab was in the area of Dunkirk Drive and Casper Court, one of the men pulled a handgun. The men took money and some other items from the cab driver.

Police said all three men were in their early 20s. One was wearing a blue plaid shirt and jeans. The other two wore fleece hoodies.

The third recent robbery happened before 5 a.m. Tuesday at the Holiday gas station at 8803 Jewel Lake Road, according to police. A white male and a black male walked in. The white man pointed a handgun at an employee, who was ordered to open the cash drawer. The black suspect took money from the register. Then the white suspect noticed a second employee on a cordless phone. The employee ended up on the floor and the suspect hit the employee on the head with the gun, then stomped the phone.

Both suspects ran off.

Police say the white suspect was described as being tall and skinny. He wearing a black hoodie, bandana and blue jeans.  The black male was described as being shorter with tattooed forearms. He was wearing a bandana, black shirt and blue jeans.

In all three cases, police tried to track suspects with a police dog, but weren't able to find them.

The different suspect descriptions indicate the robberies are not related, Oistad said.

The robberies are under investigation, police said.

‘#NotYouToo:’ How many harassers are there?

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 19:44

Who will it be today?

Every morning we brace ourselves before looking at our newsfeeds. Which beloved or respected public figure will be accused of harassing or assaulting women?

On Twitter and Facebook, the outraged, depressed and weary are pleading: "Please, please don't let it be _____," inserting the name of a favorite movie star, admired politician, holy man or even the boss we adore. Because it's starting to feel like it could be just about anybody, right?

This week's Advent Calendar of Horrors opened to show chef Mario Batali, who is admired for his cooking but adored for his jolly demeanor and ridiculous footwear. He apologized for behavior that included grabbing women's breasts and buttocks.

"Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted," Batali wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. He's taken a leave of absence from his restaurants and removed from his role on ABC's "The Chew."

And last week it was the respected 9th Circuit Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski, who has now been accused by six former clerks or junior staffers of inappropriate sexual conduct, including showing two of them porn in his chambers.

Before that, it was The Today Show star and every-dad Matt Lauer, who was promptly fired, and high-minded television host Charlie Rose, also shamed and exiled.

Three men have resigned from Congress amid allegations of sexual misconduct: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who actually asked two former female staffers to bear his child as a surrogate.

Meanwhile, an accused groper who once bragged on an "Access Hollywood" tape about grabbing women by their crotches occupies the Oval Office. In between calling all his accusers liars, Trump has been urging the voters of Alabama to elect a man to the Senate who allegedly preyed on teenage girls when he was a prosecutor in his 30s.

Who's next?

Let's call this the #NotYouToo part of the movement.

There's a whole list of men we're hoping and praying aren't creeps, right? And a deeply disturbing question about what percentage of men in this country are harassers and predators? Is it 10 percent? 20 percent? Higher?

While the national reckoning on sexual harassment and assault is shocking to some, it's hardly a surprise to the huge population of women who have been betrayed by a mentor, a caregiver, a family member or a friend.

The numbers, after all, show that most women – 6 out of 10 – who report being sexually assaulted knew their attacker, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. And sexual assault is hugely under-reported in the United States. According to the 2015 Crime Victimization Survey done by the Department of Justice, the number of violent, sexual assaults that weren't reported that year were more than double the ones that were reported.

When we talk about sexual harassment in the workplace, we confront the same phenomenon of under-reporting. As the #MeToo outpouring demonstrates, it's way bigger than anyone thinks.

"Common workplace-based responses by those who experience sex-based harassment are to avoid the harasser, deny or downplay the gravity of the situation, or attempt to ignore, forget, or endure the behavior," an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's task force on workplace harassment reported last year.

The folks who handled nearly 7,000 sexual harassment complaints last year estimate that 3 out of 4 harassment victims never report it.

Does this all mean everyone's a harasser? At times, it sure feels like it.

Some men are responding to the onslaught of allegations by avoiding interacting with women in the workplace.

Vice President Mike Pence, for instance, doesn't dine alone with a woman who isn't his wife or attend any event where alcohol is served without her. He's been ridiculed for it – The Onion reported that Pence asked for the removal of Mrs. Butterworth from his breakfast table – and justifiably so.

Because this rule immediately limits women's access to powerbrokering, networking or any other interactions men are allowed to have with one another, and it turns women into little more than tempting sex objects.

But let's be real about this. Take a good look around you – your workplace, your house of worship, your neighborhood, your home. For every crotch-grabber, flasher and creep to make headlines, there are good men who don't harass. And who don't need Pence's rule to stay respectful of the women around them.

They've been following – perhaps unbenownst to them – the Dwayne "The Rock" rule.

It's not complex, tricky or confusing, this issue of sexual harassment.

Simply treat every woman you come across the way you would treat Dwayne Johnson.

Would you put your hand on The Rock's knee, massage his shoulders while talking about a work issue, ask him up to your hotel room, fondle his behind, lock the door from your desk or drop your pants and show him your junk? No?

Congratulations, it's #NotYouToo.

Petula Dvorak is a columnist for The Washington Post.

Alaska lawmaker refuses to resign amid misconduct claims - WTOP

Legislative News - Tue, 2017-12-12 19:11


Alaska lawmaker refuses to resign amid misconduct claims
The Alaska Legislature recently put together a panel to recommend changes to its policy on sexual and other workplace harassment. After Garrett went public, Westlake issued a statement saying he welcomed a review and updated sexual harassment policies ...
Westlake will not heed calls to resign over misconduct allegationsAlaska Dispatch News

all 6 news articles »

Alaska Lawmaker Refuses to Resign Amid Misconduct Claims - U.S. News & World Report

Juneau Hot Topics - Tue, 2017-12-12 19:07

U.S. News & World Report

Alaska Lawmaker Refuses to Resign Amid Misconduct Claims
U.S. News & World Report
Dean Westlake, D-Kotzebue, talks with another legislator during a break in the opening session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau, Alaska. The rural Alaska lawmaker has refused calls that he resign amid allegations of inappropriate behavior from seven ...
Westlake will not heed calls to resign over misconduct allegationsAlaska Dispatch News

all 6 news articles »

FBI texts reveal anti-Trump, pro-Clinton comments

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 18:40

WASHINGTON – Texts between two senior FBI officials involved in both the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails and possible connections between Trump associates and Russia show the two frequently discussed their political views, and their intense dislike of candidate Donald Trump and fear he might win.

A review of the texts between senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page were sent to lawmakers Tuesday night. The texts are now the subject of an ethics investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general, and show the two senior officials repeatedly offering harsh opinions about political figures. Among many other comments, the two called Trump "an idiot."

The Washington Post reported last weekend that Strzok, the deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, was removed from his position in late July as top FBI agent on special counsel Robert Mueller III's team when his bosses learned about the texts between him and Page.

Page had also worked on Mueller's team – which is investigating possible coordination between Trump associates and agents – but left that position earlier in July, for what officials have said were unrelated reasons.

[Mueller's swift moves signal mounting legal peril for the White House]

Strzok and Page were key players in the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server to do government work as secretary of state, as well as the probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election.

During the Clinton investigation, Strzok was involved in a romantic relationship with Page, who worked for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The extramarital affair was problematic, these people said, but of greater concern among senior law enforcement officials were text messages the two exchanged during the Clinton investigation and campaign season in which they expressed anti-Trump sentiments and other comments that appeared to favor Clinton.

The texts were sent to Congress the night before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, where the messages between the two FBI officials could fuel Republican calls for a second special counsel to be appointed to investigate how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation.

One of the earliest texts, from 2015, shows Strzok calling Bernie Sanders, Clinton's rival in the race for the Democratic nomination, "an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out."

On March 4, 2016, Page texted: "God, Trump is a loathsome human," to which Strzok replied: "Yet he may win."

Strzok then added: "Good for Hillary," to which Page replied: "It is."

That conversation, which takes place after 2 in the morning, includes Strzok texting: "God, Hillary should win 100,000,000-0."

That same night, Page notes Trump's comment about the size of his hands, and says "This man can not be president."

The comments seem to be the two discussing remarks made during political debates.

While some defenders of Page and Strzok have said their comments were harmless and the whole issue was overblown, the two repeatedly expressed strong political opinions.

On March 16, 2016, Page texted Strzok: "I can not believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president." The next month, she texted: "So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can't be traced, you were just venting bc you feel bad that you're gone so much but it can't be helped right now."

Over and over, the two express their contempt for people way beyond Trump and Clinton – other politicians, the press, and lawmakers. "I LOATHE Congress," Strzok texted Page on June 22, 2016.

During the Republican National Convention, Page texted: "wow, Donald Trump is an enormous d*uche." Speaking of the Trump campaign's apparent lack of coordination, she added: "It's just a two-bit organization. I do so hope his disorganization comes to bite him hard in November."

Responding to Trump's public fight with a Gold Star family in August 2016, Page texted: "Trump should go f himself."

That same month, Strzok wrote that he's "worried about what happens if [Clinton] is elected," though he doesn't explain his concern.

Most of the exchanges are back-and-forths about the pair's disgust with Trump, but as they get closer to Election Day, the two watch at least one Clinton-Trump debate and their feelings are clear.

"Oh hot damn," Strzok texted. "HRC is throwing down saying Trump in bed with russia," then adding: "She could do SO MUCH BETTER… but she's just not getting traction… Jesus."

On Election Day, he texted: "OMG this is F*CKING TERRIFYING," forwarding a story saying Clinton could lose, to which Page replies, "Yeah, that's not good."

Days after the election, Page texted to say she bought "All the President's Men," a book about Nixon and Watergate, because "I needed to brush up on Watergate."

Democrat defeats Roy Moore in U.S. Senate race in Alabama

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 18:39

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's election for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, scoring an upset victory in a deeply conservative state against a Republican candidate who was backed by President Donald Trump, U.S. media said.

Jones, 63, a former federal prosecutor, prevailed over Roy Moore, 70, whose campaign was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct toward teenagers when he was in his 30s.

While Republicans maintain control of both houses of Congress, Jones' victory will reduce their majority in the U.S. Senate to 51-49, possibly making it harder for Trump to advance his policy agenda.

['I wouldn't vote for him': Alaska senators say they don't support Roy Moore]

Moore has been accused by multiple women of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, including one woman who said he tried to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14. Moore has denied any misconduct and Reuters has not independently verified any of the accusations.

The accusations come amid a wave of such allegations against powerful men, including Trump. Democrats have signaled that, if Moore wins, they will try to tar Republicans as insensitive to women's concerns.

Network exit polls showed Trump was not a factor in the decision for about half of Alabama voters. Some 29 percent said they voted to express support for Trump, and 20 percent said they voted to oppose him.

Exit polls also showed a heavy African-American turnout, a core constituency whose support is vital for Jones, with about 30 percent of the expected electorate black.

Moore showed up to vote at the Gallant Fire Department in northern Alabama on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat.

In nearby Gadsden, Louis Loveman, 73, a retired librarian and self-described lifelong Republican, said he voted for Jones. "It's simple," he said. "I don't trust Roy Moore."


"There are too many allegations floating out there for there not to be fire behind all that smoke. I never voted for a Democrat before, but I did today," Loveman said.

Polling locations around Montgomery, the state capital, saw a steady stream of visitors throughout the morning, and anecdotal reports from across the state suggested a relatively high turnout elsewhere as well.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told the AL.com news site that he expected roughly 25 percent of registered voters would participate, lower than the 64 percent who voted in last year's presidential election.

Several voters said the sexual misconduct allegations were inconclusive. "They're speculation," said retiree Robert Morrison, 74.

Geneva Calvert, 80, said she was voting for Moore because he would help advance Trump's agenda. "He stands for what President Trump stands for," she said.

But Peggy Judkins, 48, said she voted for Jones and that Moore was a bad candidate before "all this molesting stuff," noting he had been twice removed from the state Supreme Court for defying federal court rulings.

"Moore got thrown out of office two or three times before," she said. "So why would you put him back in? That's crazy."

Republicans have been bitterly divided over whether it is better to support Moore to protect their Senate majority or shun him because of the sexual misconduct allegations.

Several prominent Republican senators have distanced themselves from Moore and a political group that works to elect Republicans to the chamber has stayed out of the race.

Alabama's senior U.S. senator, Richard Shelby, said he did not vote for Moore. Without mentioning Moore by name, Republican former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an African-American who grew up in Alabama, called the special election "one of the most significant in Alabama's history."


But Trump endorsed Moore last week.

"Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!" Trump said in a Twitter post in which he criticized Jones as a potential "puppet" of the Democratic congressional leadership.

On the eve of Tuesday's election, Moore was joined on the campaign trail by Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, who blasted Republican critics.

"There's a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better," he said.

Moore has combined a hard-edged social conservatism with many of Trump's populist themes. He has said homosexual activity should be illegal and has argued against removing segregationist language from the state constitution.

No Democrat has held a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama in more than 20 years. In 2016, Trump won the state by 28 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Jones has touted a record that includes prosecuting former Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the 1963 bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, in which four girls were killed.

He spent the past week rallying African-Americans, the most reliably Democratic voters in the state, and hammering Moore in television ads. He has told supporters his campaign is a chance to be on the "right side of history for the state of Alabama."

"Judge Moore has been consistently wrong about the Constitution," Jones said to reporters after voting on Tuesday at a Baptist church in Birmingham. "I don't think Roy Moore is going to win this election."

(Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Gadsden, Ala. and Julia Harte, Susan Cornwell and Susan Heavey in Washington)

Two investigations into state Sen. Wilson wrap up in his favor

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 18:37

State Sen. David Wilson won't be prosecuted for slapping a reporter, and his actions in a separate incident involving a legislative aide don't amount to sexual harassment, authorities have determined.

Wilson, a freshman Republican from Wasilla, has been under scrutiny on two fronts for his behavior during legislative sessions this year. Two investigations regarding Wilson are being closed out, according to a legislative report and a decision letter from prosecutors released Tuesday.

Wilson, reached Tuesday afternoon, said he is grateful for the conclusions but doesn't believe either matter is entirely finished.

The chain of events began May 2 during an encounter in the Alaska Capitol between Wilson and Anchorage Daily News reporter Nathaniel Herz.

Herz said he asked Wilson whether he thought a recent story was fair, and the lawmaker responded by slapping him. Herz reported what happened to the Juneau Police Department, which turned over the results of its investigation to the state Office of Special Prosecutions.

The matter was investigated as a possible harassment case, a type of offense that hinges on whether the defendant intended to harass or annoy the subject.

[ADN reporter slapped by Wasilla lawmaker]

The state was unlikely to prove that Wilson intended to harass or annoy Herz, Andrew Peterson, chief assistant attorney general, said in a letter Tuesday to Juneau police Sgt. Jeremy Weske.

"This in no ways implies that Senator Wilson's conduct is not of concern, but rather that the resources necessary for this prosecution is disproportionate to the conduct, especially since the Legislature has the authority to address this conduct through other means," Peterson wrote.

Herz said Tuesday he still is glad he brought the complaint to "register that this was not acceptable behavior from anyone, let alone an elected official."

Wilson said Herz is a respected journalist and he wants to sit down with him "so that we both can have a little bit more closure."

The second incident happened June 15 – the second-to-last day of the first special legislative session — in front of House Speaker Bryce Edgmon's office in the Capitol.

Members of the House Democrat-led majority coalition were meeting behind closed doors – in caucus.

Wilson had approached the office asking why loud music was playing, according to the investigative report by the Legislative Affairs Agency released Tuesday.

A legislative aide told him the music was to prevent others from listening in. She stood between him and the office door.

According to a surveillance video, Wilson took out his cell phone and lowered it to about the hemline of the aide's skirt, the report by Skiff Lobaugh, human resources manager, said.

The phone was angled toward both the aide's skirt and the door, the report says the video showed. The phone was at skirt level for 4 seconds, but never reached below the hemline, the report said.

Reporters who witnessed the incident had described it as Wilson putting his phone between the aide's legs. Wilson called a news conference last week in which he said his phone was never on, he was standing away from the others and his phone never went between anyone's legs.

The aide told Lobaugh that she thought Wilson acted inappropriately, but she didn't think it was sexual though it might have come across that way.

The cell phone's placement seemed to be a result of Wilson's desire to record the meeting, not anything else, the report said. Wilson told the investigator that in his view, he was making playful conversation and was just acting like he was going to record the meeting.

What happened doesn't fit the definition of a hostile work environment for sexual harassment, the report said.

But it was an uncomfortable situation for the aide, who never brought a complaint herself, the report said.

The surveillance video has not been released. Under legislative policy, only law enforcement, certain Legislative Affairs employees and lawmakers specifically approved by Legislative Council – the House-Senate housekeeping body – can see surveillance videos.

Wilson, who has seen it, said he wants the video made public so that a complete story is told. He said the report has inaccuracies and came about through "gossip columns."

At his news conference last week, Wilson chastised witnesses to the cell phone incident, saying they weren't telling the truth.

House Speaker Edgmon responded that what Wilson was saying in itself constituted harassment of witnesses. The speaker called for another investigation.

The House majority cannot comment on the new report "because the incident is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Legislature's human resources department," said Mike Mason, spokesman for the House majority.

The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday approved the report's release, which Wilson also had been pushing for. Senate President Pete Kelly had asked for the report.

1st AMH Anchorage Cup races go to Schumacher, Gellert

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 18:01

A day after winning Lynx Loppet nordic ski titles, Service's Gus Schumacher and West's Molly Gellert won the first AMH Anchorage Cup races of the season.

Both skiers won their races by two seconds.

Schumacher edged Toomas Kollo to win the men's 8.1K freestyle race in 18 minutes, 20.2 seconds Sunday at Kincaid Park.

Gellert won the women's 8.1K in 21:01.5 ahead of second-place Hailey Swirbul.

Aaron Maves and Elizabeth Page were winners in the 5.5K races.

About 140 skiers came out for the races.

[Schumacher, Gellert hold off field to win Lynx Loppet ski crowns]

AMH Anchorage Cup race No. 1
Kincaid Park


8.1K men

1) Gus Schumacher, 18:20.2; 2) Toomas Kollo, 18:22.1; 3) Marcus Deuling, 19:21.8; 4) Peter Brewer, 19:22.1; 5) Tracen Knopp, 19:36.1; 6) Cody Priest, 19:49.5; 7) Zackarias Toresson, 19:50.1; 8) Kenneth Brewer, 19:54.5; 9) Galen Johnston, 20:04.6; 10) Andrew Kastning, 20:52.1; 11) Brandon Herhusky, 20:58.2; 12) Ben Arians, 21:34.9; 13) Gary Snyder, 21:48.2; 14) Andrew Dougherty, 21:49.3; 15) Gavin Kentch, 21:50.1; 16) Brian Kirchner, 21:58.2; 17) Rich Suddock, 22:04.3; 18) Duncan Wright, 22:35.0; 19) Jan Buron, 22:59.6; 20) Kevin Donley, 23:00.5; 21) Troy Fritzel, 23:20.1; 22) Stacey Moon, 23:22.5; 23) Ben Allen, 24:39.4; 24) John Weddleton, 24:41.8; 25) Dan Brokaw, 24:42.3; 26) Maksim Mayer, 24:59.7; 27) Mike Truskowski, 25:13.8; 28) John Mucha, 25:19.1; 29) Rob Witter, 25:34.4; 30) Patrick Carnahan, 25:45.4; 31) Davin Holen, 25:48.3; 32) Neil Brauer, 26:14.6; 33) Rick Rogers, 26:22.7; 34) Bradley Cruz, 26:37.3; 35) Chad Trammell, 26:41.1; 36) Glenn Gellert, 27:21.6; 37) Brian Looney, 27:57.4; 38) David Ward, 28:48.1; 39) Paul Twardock, 29:00.9; 40) Charles Boyle, 30:08.9; 41) Gunnar Knapp, 31:32.0; 42) Luis Sanchez, 38:09.3; 43) Ben Stedman, 39:50.1.

8.1K women

1) Molly Gellert, 21:01.5; 2) Hailey Swirbul, 21:03.8; 3) Hannah Rudd, 21:29.2; 4) Michaela Keller-Miller, 21:55.5; 5) Lauren Fritz, 21:58.9; 6) Casey Wright, 22:19.9; 7) Jenna Difolco, 22:22.6; 8) Natalie Hynes, 22:40.3; 9) Sadie Fox, 23:04.8; 10) Alison Arians, 23:24.5; 11) Rachelle Kanady, 24:46.8; 12) Jaime Bronga, 24:59.3; 13) Karina Packer, 25:41.2; 14) Lupua Oba, 25:52.5; 15) Nadia Dworian, 26:11.5; 16) Julia Ditto, 26:28.4; 17) Mariah Graham, 26:34.3; 18) Tamra Kornfield, 26:59.2; 19) Kari Fritzel, 27:02.0; 20) Julie Hood, 29:09.6; 21) Melanee Stiassney, 29:24.7; 22) Germaine Thomas, 29:32.5; 23) Nora Matell, 29:36.9; 24) Cindy Drinkwater, 29:39.9; 25) Cynthia Decker, 29:51.7; 26) Devon Crawford, 29:58.7; 27) Clare Ross, 30:31.8; 28) Liz Brewster, 30:57.6; 29) Carly Syren, 31:37.5.

5.5K men

1) Aaron Maves, 13:59.5; 2) Kai Caldwell, 15:32.0; 3) Carter Brubaker, 15:52.0; 4) Mark Eggener, 16:02.4; 5) Porter Blei, 17:21.8; 6) Isaac Hermanson, 17:31.4; 7) Eli Hermanson, 17:42.1; 8) Thomas Simono, 17:48.8; 9) Jared Gardner, 18:01.0; 10) Oliver Wright, 18:39.4; 11) Ruari O'Brien-Holen, 19:54.0; 12) Sam Saunders, 19:56.9; 13) Geoff Wright, 21:31.7; 14) Morgan Hartley, 22:16.6; 15) Niko Latva-Kiskola, 22:25.8; 16) Cesar Rodgers, 24:23.6; 17) Elias Soule, 25:17.3.

5.5K women

1) Elizabeth Page, 12:31.8; 2) Quincy Donley, 14:50.8; 3) Caitlin Gohr, 16:34.8; 4) Alison Ulrich, 17:13.6; 5) Sally Hokanson, 17:17.0; 6) Natalie Hood, 17:44.1; 7) Julia Thomas, 18:48.4; 8) Savannah Ulrich, 19:13.4; 9) Marine Dusser, 19:21.1; 10) Berit Meyers, 19:26.5; 11) Alia Parker, 22:06.0; 12) Yukiko Hayano, 22:28.6; 13) Cathy Wright, 22:42.4; 14) Bridget Paule, 23:33.7; 15) Joan Antonson, 23:34.1; 16) Kimberly Ames, 23:42.7; 17) Naomi Kiekintveld, 24:11.5; 18) Zoe Rodgers, 24:23.0; 19) Aurelie Barnel, 24:28.6; 20) Meredith Schwartz, 24:32.5; 21) Nora Hulse, 28:02.7; 22) Robin Kornfield, 30:56.0; 23) Meghan Cavanaugh, 31:03.7.

State forecast for 2018 revenue jumps by $250 million as oil prices rise

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 17:52

Thanks in part to increased oil prices, Alaska expects to earn $2.1 billion in unrestricted general fund revenue in the current budget year, up by $247 million from a preliminary report issued just weeks ago.

Other factors contributing to the increase include unexpected production tax payments made after that preliminary report was issued, and an adjustment to mineral royalties being deposited into the general fund, said a statement from the Department of Revenue Tuesday.

The statement accompanied the release of the state's fall revenue sources book, an annual look at state income with a decade-long forecast. The prediction for unrestricted general fund income in the 2018 fiscal year, ending in June, is up from last year's $1.35 billion, the lowest level since the late 1990s.

Alaska officials in late October issued the unusual preliminary report to inform lawmakers' discussions during a special session that included budget matters.

North Slope oil prices that help determine critical royalty and production tax revenues have jumped, to close to $64 a barrel on Monday, up from about $56 a barrel in early October.

The state also slightly raised its long-term oil price forecast since the preliminary report.

"Oil markets appear to have come into balance compared to prior periods," said Sheldon Fisher, revenue commissioner.

He said the department expects oil prices to steadily increase, reaching $75 a barrel in a decade.

The preliminary report in October cited better-than-expected oil production as contributing to increased revenue forecasts. That report warned Alaskans that the annual budget deficit still exceeded $2.5 billion.

Dillingham scammer gets 10 years in jail for defrauding Alaskans of $2.7 million

Alaska News - Tue, 2017-12-12 17:44

Floyd Jay Mann, a 56-year-old from Puyallup, Washington, was sentenced to 10 years in jail Tuesday, a term he began immediately after the hearing at the U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Judge Timothy Burgess handed down the sentence, which was above the guideline range. Two U.S. Marshals escorted Mann from the courtroom on Burgess' order that he remand to custody.

"I think the only way to ensure he doesn't commit this crime again in the future is to ensure that he can't," said Burgess, concluding lengthy remarks that held Mann and his clever but cruel scheme in low regard.

The defense had argued that Mann's addiction to opiates, his use of up to nine 30 milligram oxycodone tablets a day over many years, was the driving force behind his scam. Burgess didn't buy it.

[Convicted Dillingham scammer asks for leniency, blaming gambling and drug addictions]

Mann's scheme, perpetrated over six years and involving some 15 victims, was "too sophisticated, devious, and calculated" to blame on drugs.

"The idea that he was drug-addled to the point that he didn't know what he was doing doesn't hold up," said the judge. "I've been doing this for a while and haven't seen anybody come up such an elaborate, and yet preposterous" scam.

Mann, he said, was a "dogged, determined charlatan" who had "permanently damaged, emotionally and financially," more than a dozen people, "all to feed Mr. Mann and his desires."

"To say this case is serious is an understatement."

The sentencing hearing began Monday. Mann looked well, dressed in a gray sport coat with a shirt and tie and fresh haircut. But his gaze rarely lifted from the table as several victims explained how they had come to believe his sordid tale, and how they have suffered since.

"We were all fearful of losing everything we had invested up to that point," one woman explained. "It gets kind of sick, you know, you can't go on forever, but you can't quit. You're still thinking to yourself: is it really true? You live with this man in your pocket, in your heart, every waking moment … always thinking, what is Jay going to need?"

Victims, in written testimony or delivered on the stand, said Jay Mann had shaken their belief in humanity and left several of them destitute. One woman expressed a profound embarrassment she has felt in Dillingham where many have asked, "How could you not know?"

[Washington man accused of defrauding Alaskans out of $2.7 million]

Jay Mann met John and Clara "Tookie" Wren in Puyallup in 2011. He moved in just a few doors down, and one day offered to help fix the radiator in Tookie's car for free.

"He said, 'I can fix that, it's a neighborly thing to do,' " she recounted.

Soon the Wrens, who are siblings, became very close with the Manns, acting as grandparents to their children, and John a "father figure" to Jay. Tookie would take soup and fresh baked bread over, "because they were family."

The topic of Jay's missing teeth came up once, and he said he had cancer and the teeth had been removed in an operation. Then he began concocting a story about having taken a drug called Levaquin, which he claimed was manufactured by Pfizer, and that the drug had caused his cancer. He was only supposed to have been prescribed it for "a short time, but he was prescribed it for a long time," and a lawsuit was close to settling.

"He brought over all this paperwork, and it looked official," Tookie said. There were just a few more medical tests to get done, which he was running out of money to pay for.

There would be money involved. So much, he told the Wrens, that he was nervous about leaving it all to his children. If the Wrens would help fund the remaining tests, he would split the proceeds with them.

For that next six months, the God-fearing Wrens prayed over Jay Mann and began giving him what money they could scrape together. Tookie was receiving $600 a month in Social Security, her only source of income.

"First I paid my tithe, then maybe $100 for groceries, and the rest went to Jay," she said.

The Wrens moved from Dillingham to Washington to be closer to medical care. John had been diagnosed with colon cancer, and with the proceeds from Mann's lawsuit, Tookie and John were planning to go to a cancer treatment center in Mexico. Jay said he would go, too.

Pretty soon the Wrens had run out of money, and called a dear friend from Dillingham for some financial help. This person quickly sent money to the Wrens to help them pay their basic bills, and the connection was made. Jay Mann "struck gold," as Judge Burgess put it.

The money flowed in, the story grew more intriguing, and Mann dangled the payout just hours or days in front of his victims. Even as their investments grew and losses mounted, this group of good and decent people kept asking God to save the life of their friend Jay.

"They were actually praying for him, all the while he was preying on them," said assistant U.S. attorney Aunnie Steward, who prosecuted the case.

Mann was "ruthless" as he watched John and Tookie lose their home, then John lose his life to cancer, and never slowed down his scam. He demanded deliveries of money every day, and when suspicions were raised by his bank, the victims dropped off bags of cash in his car instead. Those came in once or twice a day, and after the Wrens lost their home and moved in with family in nearby Auburn, the deliveries required a 15 mile trip. Soon the car gave out, and there was no money for repairs.

Peter DiMaggio was linked in early on and replaced the Wrens as Mann's primary contact. Mann and DiMaggio exchanged about 30,000 text messages and phone calls over five years.

In 2015, believing the payout was close, DiMaggio came down from his Mat-Su home to help see it through. He stayed at the same Auburn home as the Wrens, as the fictitious lawsuit was just a week away from wrapping up.

Mann cooked up a "gag order" and penalties if anyone other than DiMaggio contacted him or tried to look into the case. Supposedly Pfizer and some judges and other folks in Texas wanted Mann dead, and were not happy with the financial support he was being given to keep him alive.

Before they had moved from Puyallup, the Wrens had been fined $2,000 "four or five" times just for "seeing him down the street," Tookie told the court. "We would have to call Peter and tell him we wanted to go to the store. Then Peter would call Jay and make sure he was inside. Then before we came home from the store, we'd have to call again to make sure it was safe."

DiMaggio lost his home, too. He took up permanent residence in the same house the Wrens were living in. The owner testified that her husband did not believe the scam and had a bad heart; he died in 2016. "We had a lot of stress at that time," she told the court, tears coming down her face.

From 2012 through 2015, they made payments nearly every day, funneling money wire transferred from Dillingham to bags of cash left in Mann's car. The lawsuit was going to be paid out "every day, every day, every day, but it was always something else that came up," Tookie testified.

Did she ever doubt the legitimacy of what was going on, asked Steward?

"No, because Jay was our friend. And friends are honest with each other."

Their friend Jay Mann was living a far different life than he portrayed to his victims. They believed that he was constantly in and out of the hospital, either for surgeries or blood tests or other complications. Once he claimed to need a second liver transplant after the first one didn't take. The victims quickly pooled money together for that expensive procedure. The texts came in, and occasionally phone calls from phony judges, FBI agents, lawyers, and others. Mann often pretended to be his own daughter, expressing through texts the urgency of the medical treatments underway.

In reality, he spent nearly every night for four years at one of a couple of casinos around Fife. Slots were his game, and the best investigators were able to tell, he spent most of the night glued to just a machine or two.

"The employees told us he was in there all the time," testified Patrick Matthews, a special agent with the IRS.

A few of the 188 voicemails he left for DiMaggio were played in court. On some, left around daybreak, a very groggy Jay Mann demanded that the group get the day's money together immediately, and that he would probably lay down for a few hours, except that he was afraid that if he slept he might never wake up.

Over his five-year spree, Mann collected more than $1 million in winnings from the casinos. Taking house odds into account, the government believes slot machines are where most of the nearly $3 million he collected from his victims — plus his winnings — went. The prosecutor also estimated that Mann might've spent half a million on illicit oxycodone over that same period.

Meanwhile his victims lost homes, businesses, jobs, life savings, and even inheritance money. John Wren, unable to pay for his cancer treatment, lost his life. One couple was reduced to sitting around a small stove in their home through the winter, grateful for scraps of pallet wood they could collect from local stores in Dillingham. All other utilities had been turned off.

Authorities eventually caught on, though exactly how and when has not been officially disclosed. It might have started with an email Dillingham police received in 2014 from a person close to the victims who had just left town. It very specifically detailed what was happening. Realizing any criminal charges would likely fall under federal jurisdiction, the Dillingham Police Department contacted agents with the FBI. Investigators with the Social Security Administration, IRS and FBI began putting a case together through 2015. How, they wondered, could the Manns be collecting tens of thousands of dollars in needs-based Social Security payments and afford to gamble this much?

The noose was tightening, and eventually the Manns' Puyallup home was raided in the spring of 2016. The evidence was taken to a grand jury, which handed down indictments on 11 counts of wire fraud and eight counts of money laundering.

The Department of Justice announced the indictments on Sept. 8, 2016, and both Jay and his wife Cheryl Mann were arrested, then quickly released on bail. She eventually pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and a federal judge in Washington sentenced her to three years of probation.

In July, 2017, Jay Mann pleaded guilty too. He sought no deal or arrangement in the case. His attorney, assistant federal defender Jaime McGrady, was successful in keeping Mann out of custody until Tuesday, but otherwise gained little ground.

McGrady called one witness at sentencing, a local substance abuse counselor in Anchorage. She intended to establish that her client's actions were attributed to an opiate addiction that began after he was over-prescribed pain pills following an injury. But the testimony of her "expert" witness, who had a hard time recalling the address where he worked, fell apart when he cited a devastatingly low rate of addiction recovery, and had no idea what the going rate on the street was for an oxycodone pill.

At the end of day one, Judge Burgess signaled he might choose to sentence Mann beyond the guideline range of 78 to 97 months in jail.

On day two, victim impact statements were read into the record. Burgess heard how some felt "abused, abandoned by society" and that it was too late to start over from their losses. How Mann had accidentally tapped into the "Dillingham mentality, where people rely on each other and help each other no matter what." That the situation had escalated to absurdity, but that they were in over their heads and didn't know a way out. That a three-to-one return on their investment was always just a day or two away.

Steward and McGrady made their final arguments, with the government recommending a stiff penalty for the ruthless fraudster. McGrady said "drugs change people," and now that he is clean, Mann will have no motivation to scam again.

Burgess made the rare move of handing down a sentence above the guidelines, sending "Mann to 10 in the can," as one agent quipped after the hearing. He was ordered to remand immediately and will be transported to the medium-security federal penitentiary in Sheridan, Oregon.

When he is released, Mann, who will be in his mid-60s, is expected to begin working to repay $2,682,000 in restitution.

This story was republished with permission from KDLG in Dillingham.