Turn back the pages — Sept. 25, 1986
Compiled by Julie Rosier
Vaska calls for unity in reapportionment — The political power of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta was undermined and weakened by a 1981 state reapportionment board decision to divide the region into three separate house districts and two separate senate districts, says former Democratic legislator Tony Vaska. According to Vaska, it is important that area leaders begin working together now to make sure that the existing flaws in the division of regional legislative districts are fixed during the next reapportionment process. “Right now, one of the Delta’s representatives is from Nome, one is from Fort Yukon, and one is from Bethel. Part of the Delta is represented by a senator from Kotzebue, and the other senate district is so large — extending from the Bering Sea to the Canadian border — that our people do not get the real representation to which they are entitled,” said Vaska. “The political division of the Delta has meant that our ability to get things done in Juneau is hurt. There are enough people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim house districts and one senate district. There is simply no excuse for the current apportionment plan, under which our lives are controlled by people that do not live in our region. Vaska, who is engaged in a tight race for the privilege of representing Senate District M, said that new decisions about election district boundaries will be made in 1990 and 1991, by a reapportionment board likely to be appointed by the next governor.
On sovereignty and urban & rural’s mutual interests — In a prepared statement before the Y-K Delta Mayor’s Conference held here last week, the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Community & Regional Affairs said, “The destruction of traditional lifestyle and the subsistence way of life will have negative impacts on urban Alaska. If there is no way for people to survive in rural Alaska, there will be relocation to urban Alaska with the consequent increased demand on local governmental services and competition for scarce jobs. These linkages must be understood by urban Alaska to avoid a limited view that is destructive to the state as a whole.” The department’s deputy commissioner is Jeff Smith. In a later discussion with the mayors and administrators, Smith said that he “disagrees very strongly” with the sovereignty movement when it is linked to the dissolution of a municipality. “I see no benefit, only a negative impact,” he said. “I think though, that if the people don’t want a municipality they should be allowed to dissolve it.” The primary concern in dissolving a city surrounds the city’s financial debts, added Smith.
LKSD early retirement okayed — Twenty-nine Lower Kuskokwim School District teachers and principals are eligible to retire early at the end of this school year as a result of action taken by the district school board Sept. 25. The early retirement plan for certified employees is not expected to save the district any money, according to Superintendent Sue Hare. The plan was adopted as an option for teachers who have worked for the past 17 years. Eligible are those teachers and principals who have 17 or more years in the profession. The plan requires both the school district and the teachers to pay all at once the remaining three years of retirement benefits. Teachers affected are mostly based in Bethel. Principals affected are Lon Winters of Bethel Regional High School, William Ferguson of Kasigluk, Jack Clark of Napaskiak. Ray Thorson of Atmautluak, Pat Kennedy of Kongiganak and Don Rasco of Nunapitchuk. The offer is good only for this year; it is not expected to be offered in future years.
Council candidate files civil suit against city manager — Bethel city council candidate Ron Southern filed suit against Bethel City Manager Ivan Widom Tuesday afternoon in Bethel Superior Court. The complaint for damages document recounts the first attempt of Ron Southern to file for city council on Sept. 8. The complaint says Southern went to the city offices, and when he asked for the necessary papers to file for election, “instead of providing the papers, the defendant (Widom) responded by saying to the plaintif, (Southern) ‘You son of a bitch.’ ”
“Subsequently,” the complaint states, “defendant ran about the office hollering, ‘Hit me. Hit me.’ Defendant at one point backed up to his office door and ran directly at the plaintiff, stopping short of hitting him. Plaintiff (Southern) left the area as soon as possible, failing in his attempt to obtain the papers to file for candidacy.”
“As a result,” the first claim for relief states, “of first claim for relief states “of the actions of defendants Ivan Widom, plaintiff suffered severe emotional trauma, was extremely frightened, was embarrassed, and suffered mental and emotional distress.” The claim asks for money damages for each claim plus attorney’s fees. Mr. Southern is represented by Bethel attorney Myron Angstman.
Cowper vs. Sturgulewski: A rural debate — The victor in last week’s first gubernatorial debate between Democrat Steve Cowper and Republican Arliss Sturgulewski differs according to whom you talk to. The debate, sponsored by the Bethel Chamber of Commerce, was held as a part of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Mayor’s Conference last week. Moderator was Steve Constantino, president of the chamber. The debate was broadcast statewide on both radio and television.
Two separate panels — one composed of individuals representing bush special interest groups and another representing bush press — quizzed the candidates prior to their quizzing one another. Audience members, which numbered about 300 in the packed VFW Hall, also shot questions at the finalists.
Members of the special interest panel were John White (representing fishery interests), Robert Nick (of the Lower Kuskokwim School District and the Association of Alaska School Boards), Andy Paukan (mayor of St. Mary’s), and Pat Afcan (representing the Bethel Task Force on Alcohol & Violence). Nick replaced Fritz George on the panel; George failed to show on time for the debate.
Members of the press panel were Rich Goldstein of KYUK-TV, Rosie Porter, publisher of The Tundra Drums; and Martha Steward, publisher of the Arctic Sounder newspaper in Kotzebue.