ALL IN THE SAME TACO BOAT – Sitkans, many wearing face masks, line up this afternoon at the Sitka Elks Lodge food booth. With the pandemic, most of this year’s Sitka Independence Day events have been modified, but not entirely canceled. The American Legion and Sizzling Chow Cuisine also will have outdoor food booths. While there’s no downtown parade, there is a parade of classic cars that will tour Sitka streets beginning at 1 p.m. at Whale Park. A sing-along and military salute will take place on Totem Square 7 p.m. Friday and a fireworks display will take place 11:30 Friday night over Sitka Channel, with spectators asked to follow social distancing recommendations. The Rotary Club is holding its annual Duck Race on the fourth. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Senate Leaders Criticize AG Over Local Hiring

    ANCHORAGE (AP) — Alaska’s attorney general violated the state constitution by not defending a law that encourages construction firms to use Alaska workers on state contracts, according to leaders of the state Senate majority and minority.
    Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, an Anchorage Democrat, criticized Attorney General Kevin Clarkson in separate letters for his actions on a local hire challenge, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
    In response, Clarkson said he took an oath to defend the U.S. and Alaska constitutions. The law violates those constitutions, he said, and it makes sense to stop enforcing it.
    “I didn’t take an oath to promise to defend every law the Legislature passes no matter how unconstitutional it is,” he said.
    Hiring laws that give Alaskans a preference over workers who earn high wages and fly home to other states have been an issue for decades.
    Alaska’s local-hire law at the time of its passage was believed to be in accordance with the law and has remained in force for 30 years without challenge until this year. It has been backed by Republican and Democratic state administrations.
    In July, a southeast Alaska construction company, SECON, sued and said the law was unconstitutional. The company challenged fines the state had imposed.
    The Alaska Department of Law decided to settle. State attorneys canceled some of the fines and Clarkson agreed to write a legal opinion about the constitutionality of the law.
    The opinion said existing Alaska local-hire law is unconstitutional and should not be defended.
    Legislators objected and said Clarkson should defend state law until a judge renders a verdict.
    “Your ad hoc determination that the laws of our land, which remain untested in the courts, are unconstitutional is a diversion into the lawmaking field that is rightfully the purview of this branch of government,” Giessel wrote Oct. 22.
    A letter by Begich, and co-signed by Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski of Anchorage, said the attorney general’s failure to enforce Alaska hire appeared to violate his statutory duties.
    “You don’t get to be judge, jury and executioner,” Wielechowski said. “It’s your job to defend the laws of the state of Alaska.”
    In an attachment to the Wielechowski-Begich letter, legislative attorney Daniel Wayne said the local-hire law may be unconstitutional, but “because of the separation of powers doctrine, it is the province of the court, not the executive or legislative branch, to declare that a law is unconstitutional.”
    Clarkson said if legislators want to encourage local hire, they can offer job-training programs and financial incentives for companies who hire Alaskans.

   

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-2-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 39

Total statewide – 1,017

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (6 resident; 2 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 10 (7 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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