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Feb 27 2015
City Council Implores More Citizens to Attend Meetings
Friday, 27 February 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
    At last night's meeting, the Kodiak City Council was visited by a couple of citizens concerned over the level of spending being considered by the city.
    Also, the council spent about an hour and a half in executive session discussing claims made by the contractor that is rebuilding Pier III, the cargo dock. No action was taken after the council gaveled back in. 
 
Feb 26 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report
Thursday, 26 February 2015

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Coming up this week, the board of fisheries is underway in Sitka, expect more drama from the Central Kenai Peninsula this summer, and has the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission outlived its usefulness? All that and more coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KCAW's Robert Woolsey in Sitka, KDLL's Shaylon Cochran in Kenai, KUCB's Annie Ropeik in Unalaska, KFSK's Angela Denning in Petersburg and KRBD's Leila Kheiry in Ketchikan.  

 
Feb 26 2015
Wild Alaskan Owner Responds to Federal Indictment
Thursday, 26 February 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
    Eight months of raids, undercover investigations by police and the Coast Guard as well as the Alcohol Beverage Control Board culminated in a three-count indictment for the owners of The Wild Alaskan, the exotic dance club anchored outside of Kodiak's harbors since June.
    Darren and Kimberly Byler were charged with violating the Refuse Act for allegedly pumping their toilet water into the channel and for making false statements about it to the Coast Guard.
    Darren Byler says this is just the latest in a pattern of harassment his business has suffered since opening.
    “When I think I've seen it all, it just keeps getting better, with  the government scrutiny since we opened up. The Coast Guard has laid down the hammer so to speak,  with all the funds, the power, the money. And we're guilty of nothing. They indicted us on charges they can't prove. Before people rush to judgment, we'll have our day in court.”
    Byler says he pumped the black water tank, which held the toilet water, into a bladder on the smaller vessel he used for transferring patrons to and from the Water Dock on the Spit, and then transferred it outside the three-mile limit for disposal. He said his on-board black water tank holds 3,500 gallons, though he says investigators seemed to think it was significantly smaller.
    “I have passed several Coast guard examinations with that same tank and that plumbing. The latest one in August, right after we opened by a boarding party from one of the Coast Guard cutters,  Long Island. And I have a document in my possession that I passed the MSD No. 3 Sanitation Device, which is my holding tank. Why are they claiming I don't have that tank in their documentation when I have a Coast Guard boarding party says I do have that tank? That's pretty stinky. No pun intended.”
    Byler is also upset that his wife has been indicted as well, saying the sewage disposal was his responsibility. 
    “My wife, for what they did to her is absolutely disgraceful. My wife has nothing to do with any of these allegations. She doesn't run the engine room of the vessel. I do. I handle all of the engine room operations, the transferring of the black water. She knows nothing about any of that stuff. That's my deal. But there trying to drag her into this just to be mean spirited and it's really disgraceful.”
    Byler has an open letter to the Coast Guard investigator posted on the Wild Alaskan Facebook page detailing many more of his thoughts on his situation. you can find it here:
 https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=916980604999716&id=797855206912257
 
Feb 25 2015
Stevens Says Legislature Trying to Keep Education Cuts Within Limits
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
    As the Alaska Legislature struggles to balance the state budget in light of the multi-billion-dollar revenue shortfall, everyone is trying to keep the cuts to education from going too deep. Governor Walker said as much in his State of the State Address, and it's true in the Senate Education Committee, on which Kodiak's Gary Stevens sits.
    "We're trying to protect education as much as we can. But in this budget process we're in, everything is going to be impacted. We've got at $3.5-billion deficit. That is just going to touch everyone in this state, every city, every borough, every school district. So, we're hoping to hold education harmless, but we know there will be some impact to it."
Stevens doesn't think the piece of personal legislation he's introduced this year should cost the state much money if it's implemented.
    "It's an attempt to bring back civics education in our school so that when kids leave school they'll have a good idea what it means to be a citizen, and will be more involved in the community and in the state and voting and that sort of thing. It's a very simple bill that would establish a task force to try and find out what are the ways that we can do this. One of the ways they did this in Massachusetts is industry got together, businesses got together and they funded workshops for teachers at no cost to the districts, so that teachers would go into a central location and be able to take a little class in how to use civics more as a tool in your classroom."
Monday on the House floor, a resolution was passed touting school choice, though the floor debate revolved around school vouchers private schools. It passed largely along caucus lines. Stevens pointed out it would require a change in the state constitution to allow public funds to be used for private or religious schools. 
    "Certainly a strong state in terms of parental choice so that parents have the opportunity to make as many decisions as they can to help their kids accomplish what they want them to accomplish. And of course we have a strong believe in local control, so the local school board makes all the important decisions. So our job is to fund things, to set standards and to make sure things get done that should get done like the testing and those issues."
    The Alaska Legislature is just more than a third of the way through their 90-day session. 
 
Feb 25 2015
Wasilla Legislator Proposes Slashing Public Broadcasting Funds in Half
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Alexandra Gutierrez/APRN 
    The Legislature is considering halving the amount of funding available for public broadcasting. 
    Rep. Lynn Gattis, a Wasilla Republican who chairs the Department of Administration finance subcommittee, introduced the cuts by saying the group was focused on essential needs. 
    “In this fiscal climate, the state should focus on mission critical services, reduce its footprint, and take this opportunity to get out of business that it doesn’t need to be in,” she said. “This has truly been an opportunity to evaluate the wants versus the needs of state government.”
    Between operations and infrastructure, public radio and television were granted $5 million in state funds in the last budget. With the proposal offered by the House Finance subcommittee, funding would be reduced to $2.5 million. 
    Tyson Gallagher, an aide for Gattis, explained that the cuts would be focused on outlets that have other broadcasting options in their service area. That includes commercial radio stations. 
    “With the advancements in technology and the development of other broadcast sources, there’s less of a need to maintain public service programming at comparable levels to prior years,” he said.
    State grants contribute more than half a million dollars to Alaska Public Media’s $6 million budget, which includes APRN and the Southcentral stations KSKA and KAKM. KTOO, the Juneau public radio station, now gets 10 percent of its $2 million budget from state grants. KUAC, which is operated by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, receives nearly $250,000. Because of the station’s position within the university, it was targeted for cuts when the school was experiencing its own shortfall. 
    Locally, Kodiak Public Broadcasting will receive a total of $137,334 in the current fiscal year.
    The changes will now be sent to the full House Finance Committee for consideration. 
 
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