VERY USEFUL LESSON – Pacific High School student Madison Mercer adjusts a mirror as Matt Groen, Pacific High School teacher, shows a large class how to butcher deer meat this morning at Sitka High School. For the second year in a row Meggan Turner, Sitka High School foods and nutrition teacher, has brought in Sitka black tail deer she's harvested to demonstrate methods of processing deer meat. She says it's a great way for Sitka High and Pacific High students to learn in the same classroom. Sitka Tribe of Alaska's Charlie Skultka was on hand to share traditional stories and processing techniques. Also pictured is Pacific High student Demetri Lestenkoff. (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.


Ethics Complaint Law Proposal is Questioned

    JUNEAU (AP) — Proposed rules that would allow the Alaska Department of Law to represent the governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general against ethics complaints may violate provisions of law and the state constitution, according to a legislative attorney.
    In a memo, legislative attorney Daniel Wayne wrote the proposal may not serve a public purpose, as required by the state constitution, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported .
    Wayne wrote the constitution bars the executive branch from adopting regulations unless a state law allows it. The law doesn’t allow it in this case, he said.
    He also said the proposal would unconstitutionally provide protections to some state officers but not others.
    The memo was requested by Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who with Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux and Democratic Rep. Andy Josephson sent Attorney General Kevin Clarkson a letter expressing concerns.
    The department has proposed rules that would allow it to defend the governor or lieutenant governor against ethics complaints if the attorney general determines the representation is in the public interest.
    The department could defend the attorney general against an ethics complaint if the governor determines doing so is in the public interest, under the proposal. Information received by the department in defense of such complaints would be considered confidential.
    The deadline for public comment on the proposal is Monday. The Department of Law isn’t responding to comments while the comment period is open.

Ferry Repairs To Slow Service To SE Towns

    JUNEAU (AP) — The state ferry system plans to halt service to several small southeast Alaska communities until work is completed on one of its vessels.
The state transportation department says the LeConte needs costlier work than expected.
The Aurora is scheduled to be brought into dry-dock Monday. It had been scheduled for an annual overhaul.
The department says it can’t afford to fix both and will proceed with repairs on the ferry requiring the least work.
Spokesman Sam Dapcevich (dap-seh-vitch) says the ferry not repaired would remain laid up.
He says the one that gets work will return to service when the work is done. Meanwhile, the department says there will be no service to Angoon, Tenakee, Pelican and Gustavus. Haines, Skagway and Hoonah will have reduced service.

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