SUPPLY CHAIN WOES – James Pelletier, Yellow Jersey bicycle mechanic, is surrounded by cycles waiting to be repaired as he points to empty display racks at the Harbor Drive store. The main showroom rack, which can hold two dozen new bicycles, now holds only three bicycles (including an unclaimed special-order $5,000 electric mountain bike) for sale. A nationwide supply chain disruption of bicycles and parts is not expected to be alleviated any time soon. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Dunleavy’s Relief Aid Plan Raises Questions

By BECKY BOHRER
 
The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed disbursing more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid through a process that would not require the Legislature to reconvene. A legislative attorney, however, has raised questions with that approach.

Dunleavy has asked the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee to review his plan to distribute funds to help municipalities, nonprofits, small businesses, schools and other areas. State law lays out a process by which a governor can submit to the committee plans to accept and spend on a budget item additional federal or other program funds. Even if the committee disagrees, a governor can proceed. 

The law includes a 45-day clock though Dunleavy said he wants quick action.

It’s the process former Gov. Bill Walker used in expanding Medicaid. 

But Megan Wallace, director of Legislative Legal Services, raised concerns with use of the process for the federal aid in a memo responding to questions from Sen. Bill Wielechowski. She told a House committee last week there were a lot of unknowns. 

“If we want to take out the speculation, or confusion, in terms of authority to expend those monies, yes, the simplest thing to do would be for the Legislature to specifically appropriate” the funds, she said.

The Legislature went into recess after passing a budget in late March amid coronavirus concerns. Rep. Chris Tuck, who chairs the budget and audit committee, said Wednesday that legislative finance and legal staff were reviewing Dunleavy’s proposal to weigh in on what possibly could go through the process and what might need full legislative action. 

Legislative leaders and Dunleavy have sparred over separation of powers issues previously.

Dunleavy told reporters Congress and President Donald Trump wanted the money to be distributed as quickly as possible. 

“They did not specifically send it through the Legislature; they sent it directly to the states,” he said, adding there is no required state match for the funds. “So this is directly from the feds to the state, passing through to the individuals at the local level to try and help as quickly as possible.”

Earlier this month, Dunleavy said he expected many of the larger vetoes he made to the state budget, including aid for schools and local governments, would be offset through use of funds from the federal coronavirus relief package. In a statement Wednesday, he said he was working “with the best available information at the time which led many to believe CARES act funding could in fact be used to offset revenue loss.”

But he said there’s a “lack of clarity” surrounding this. The state consequently will act under the guidelines that the funds “can be used to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on state/municipal expenses and to support businesses and the state’s nonprofits,” he said.

Meanwhile Wednesday, a caravan of more than 80 vehicles paraded through the otherwise largely quiet streets of downtown Anchorage, with participants blaring their horns and waving American flags. Organizers of the demonstration, from the Facebook group Open Alaska, said they supported Dunleavy’s move to allow some businesses to partially reopen starting Friday. Group leaders urged Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to also do more to open businesses.

“To the extent that their sole goal is to reopen Anchorage, I am supportive – but on a timeline that minimizes the risk of COVID to the public and to the businesses that call the municipality home,” Berkowitz said in a emailed statement to The Associated Press.

Berkowitz said at an earlier news conference Wednesday that some businesses will be allowed to reopen Monday, and further guidance for businesses will be released Friday. He said the list of businesses that will be allowed to reopen is similar to what the state is allowing to open. 

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Associated Press reporter Mark Thiessen contributed from Anchorage, Alaska.

 

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-21-20)

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 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 46

Total statewide – 6,950

Total (cumulative) deaths – 45

Active cases in Sitka – 17 (7 resident; 10 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 41 (37 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 266.

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

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
September 2000

Enrollment is down by more than 100 students from last year, a decline four times greater than anticipated in the budget, Sitka School District Superintendent John Holst said today. The budget was based on an enrollment down by only 25 students.

50 YEARS AGO
September 1970

The borough assembly approved unanimously an ordinance authorizing expenditure of $12,000 for a redevelopment plan for the Sitka Indian Village. ... Judy Christianson, a member of the Sitka Community Action Group board of directors, has suggested that the planning be handled by a private social service organization called Habitats West.

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