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Updated: 10 hours 56 min ago

Trump taps Perry deputy to replace him at Energy Department

9 hours 10 min ago

In this Sept. 9, 2019, file photo Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette is interviewed on stage at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File) (Jon Gambrell/)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday selected Dan Brouillette, deputy to departing Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to lead the Energy Department, calling him a “total professional” with unparalleled experience.

Trump acted quickly, just a day after Perry told the president that he would leave by year’s end. Perry said his decision was not related to his role in administration actions on Ukraine that are now the focus of a House impeachment inquiry.

Brouillette has embraced Trump's call for U.S. dominance of international energy markets and says he backs an "all of the above" policy that promotes nuclear and renewable solar and wind energy as well as coal, natural gas and oil. Environmental groups, many lawmakers and others fault the administration for trying to spur the country's oil and gas production boom rather than rein in the climate-damaging fossil fuels.

He has traveled from Japan to former Soviet states to Qatar and Israel and beyond, promoting U.S. natural gas and natural gas production companies.

"When it comes to exporting LNG, the United States is open for business," Brouillette said in one such European stop last year.

Brouillette previously worked as an executive at USAA, which provides insurance and other financial services to members of the military, and as a vice president at Ford Motor Company.

He worked as an assistant energy secretary under George W. Bush and a Louisiana state energy regulator, among other work.

Plans pushed back to explode 2 cranes in New Orleans

10 hours 5 min ago

Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Gerald Herbert/)

NEW ORLEANS — Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city’s fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers.

With the possibility of winds picking up due to a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, officials had hoped to bring the cranes down Friday. But Fire Chief Tim McConnell said it would likely be midday Saturday, or later.

"We're in the tough part now. Making it happen, putting people back in danger," McConnell said. "We're working as fast as possible."

Light, intermittent rain and winds were complicating efforts Friday as workers in buckets suspended from another crane worked to prepare the site, McConnell said.

"Winds pick up too high — and obviously they're much higher at those elevations — it slows us down," he said.

Three people died when a Hard Rock Hotel building under construction at the edge of the French Quarter partially collapsed in a cloud of blinding dust and falling debris last Saturday morning. One body was recovered but the bodies of two construction workers remain in the unstable wreckage. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she joined loved ones in a memorial ceremony on a nearby rooftop Thursday night. She emphasized that recovering the bodies, with help from the National Guard, will be a top priority once the towers are down and the area is stable.

Cantrell cited the collapsed building and the coming storm in declaring a state of emergency Thursday that empowers police to "commandeer or utilize any private property," force people out of dangerous areas and suspend the sale or transport of alcohol and firearms, among other measures. Gov. John Bel Edwards followed by declaring a state of emergency in the city Friday.

The storm was on track to move east of the city but could still cause rain and gusty winds in the area.

Preparations, as outlined by McConnell, involved workers suspended from another crane that was moved into place Thursday. They were to weaken the damaged construction towers with blow torches and attach explosives at key points. One of the crane towers is about 270 feet high, the other about 300 feet. Both have massive cross arms adding more tonnage. Neither is stable.


Workers in a bucket hoisted by a crane begin the process of preparing the two unstable cranes for implosion at the collapse site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which underwent a partial, major collapse while under construction last Sat., Oct., 12, in New Orleans, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Plans have been pushed back a day to bring down two giant, unstable construction cranes in a series of controlled explosions before they can topple onto historic New Orleans buildings, the city's fire chief said Friday, noting the risky work involved in placing explosive on the towers. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Gerald Herbert/)

Officials said a wide evacuation area around the site would be expanded even further ahead of the explosion. Residents in the area were warned to be ready to leave Saturday afternoon and expect to be gone for several hours. A temporary relocation center was being set up for anyone needing it. People in the area also were warned to expect loud explosions.

McConnell said that once engineers believe they are about four hours away from detonation, the expanded evacuation will begin and authorities will go door to door to make sure people leave.

"If you are in line of sight of this you are too close," said city Homeland Security director Collin Arnold.

Gas to a major utility line was being shut down and steps were being taken to protect that line and underground electrical lines that could be affected by falling debris. McConnell said the line would be severely damaged were a crane to land on it.

If the operation is successful, McConnell said, the towers will drop vertically and simultaneously.

Experts, including some who brought down damaged buildings at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, have worked around the clock since Saturday to devise a means of safely bringing down the cranes.

The cause of the collapse remains unknown. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating and, Cantrell and McConnell said, evidence gathering began soon after the collapse.

"We have now, all documents from the offices, the contractor offices, that were located on the site," Cantrell said. "All documents have been removed and secured by OSHA as well as the New Orleans Police Department."

Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of some of the more than 20 people injured.

Letter: Budget cuts for thee, not for me

11 hours 18 min ago

How do we end up with these hypocritical politicians? Our soon-to-be-recalled governor hired conservative radio host Dave Stieren to be the “community relations liaison” at $135,000 per year. The previous liaison made $70,008. He also wants to hire a conservative law firm at $125,000 to fight Alaska’s public employee unions.

This is the same Koch brothers-backed governor who has cut the university, the marine highway system, public broadcasting and our seniors because he claims the state is out of money.

I guess he found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Juneau.

— Michael Henrich

Anchorage

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Troubling news

11 hours 20 min ago

I saw something very bothersome in the news this morning: President Donald Trump tried to declare himself immune to the law because he’s president. Let me say some words. I happen to keep a copy of our nation’s Constitution at home, defining multiple checks and balances. I also remember an aunt of mine — with a career in local government — once told me “the entire point of our government is that no one person has control.”

Our Constitution points out that there are multiple branches of administration, for the reason of accountability, and all of them have equal power. As a proud Democrat, I have to say I’m just disappointed with Trump and his constant disregard for our system here in the U.S. He always tries to dominate for himself, when he doesn’t have the right, and ignores the concerns of others.

— James Wilkinson

Anchorage

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Right call on Pebble

11 hours 33 min ago

I was thrilled to hear that Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced her position on Pebble mine. Thank you, Sen. Murkowski, for standing for Alaskans and salmon.

It’s a very delicate balance when it comes to our salmon and open-pit mining in and around their habitat. I’m in full agreement that it’s not worth putting a renewable resource at risk for one that is not and for one that will change the landscape of these mountains and the flow of its streams, possibly forever.

Also putting this mine at risk is the magnitude and frequency of earthquakes and the unpredictable activity of volcanoes in this region which is located near the Ring of Fire. This is not stable ground for any kind of tailing dams. Bristol Bay is not only at risk from Pebble mine, so is Cook Inlet from the infrastructure for processing and exporting. Salmon are the lifeblood of Alaska, along with our waters; they deserve our protection.

Many thanks again to Sen. Lisa Murkowski and committee members for all their hard work. Great first step, from what I’m understanding. I’m assuming the next battle will be to reincorporate the Clean Water Act standards back into the permitting process. I never have been on board with rolling back or eliminating this very important regulation.

And last but not least, many thanks to all behind Defend Bristol Bay, who have made it a so easy for me to keep up on this issue though their newsletters. Thanks to them for all their hard work.

While this is a victory in the fight to stop Pebble mine, it’s only a positive step in the long fight still ahead of us.

— Vicki Duggin

Nikiski

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Economic impacts of Dunleavy’s budget policy

11 hours 34 min ago

An Alaska resident for 31 years, I had been visiting Alaska for military and professional reasons since the 1960s. Since 2017, I have been “unretired” and work as an analyst. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget alarmed me immediately. I wrote an economic analysis for the Senate Finance Committee within days. I concluded that, after the longest recession in Alaska history, we should not drive it back into recession, or perhaps into a depression. My initial analysis was later confirmed by professional economists.

Gov. Dunleavy has been unwilling to work with the Legislature which, with great difficulty, overcame many divisions to come up with a reasonable budget, incrementally moving us toward a better balance between income and costs. Instead, he issued a record number of vetoes, decimating years of hard work from Alaska leaders and devastating many important institutions. He shows no awareness that a governor is a steward who needs to guard the interests of all Alaskans. His pledge to fund “vital” services was not kept. We dare not wait four years to replace him.

— Sid Trevethan

Anchorage

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Letter: Union rhetoric

11 hours 42 min ago

Lisa Idell-Sassi’s recent commentary in the ADN extolling Gov. Dunleavy’s move to allow state employees to not pay union dues demands a response. His action is really just a ploy to weaken the state employee’s union.

First, let me be clear: I have never met Ms. Idell-Sassil, and she certainly has the right to express her opinions. None of my comments are aimed at her personally, only the positions put forth in her commentary.

As I approach my 89th birthday, I no longer have a dog in this fight. I am a retired state employee, and my retirement benefits were achieved by strong union efforts. Anyone who thinks my retirement was in any way the result of goodwill or benevolence on the part of the state needs to check their head for soft spots.

Gov. Dunleavy’s obvious goal is to make Alaska into a “right to work” state by weakening unions. In “right to work” states, workers have the right to not pay union dues. They also have the right to work for lower wages, fewer benefits and the reduction or total elimination of retirement benefits.

In the late 1950s, industry went on a nationwide crusade to crush unions. Their actions included extensive funding and lobbying for anti-union legislation. Many companies also used intimidation, coercion, and the illegal firing of employees active in unions. National Labor Relations Board data shows 10,000 workers were illegally fired in 1980 alone. In 1960, 32% of workers were unionized. By 2016, that percentage fell to only 6.4%. Management was certainly successful in union-busting actions.

Unions certainly are not without fault. Some of the huge national unions were guilty of actions that were clearly excessive. Workers in some of these huge unions had little say about union goals or actions. But while they weren’t perfect, they were better for the workers than no representation.

I recently read that middle-class incomes, adjusted for inflation, are exactly where they were 25 years ago. Guess whose incomes have risen? The wealthy upper class! A major reason has been the weakening and/or elimination of union representation for workers. When I was working, on several occasions I met workers who did not want to pay their union dues because (they said) they disagreed with what the union was doing. When I asked for specific examples of what they disagreed with, these workers were almost always stuck for an answer. The sad truth is that the majority of workers who won’t pay union dues are simply too cheap! These folks like negotiated salary increases but prefer a free ride on the shoulders of active union members.

— R. Russ Redick

Anchorage

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

Diplomat tells investigators he raised alarms in 2015 about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine work but was rebuffed

11 hours 44 min ago

In this Jan. 30, 2010, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden, left, with his son Hunter, right, at the Duke Georgetown NCAA college basketball game in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File) (Nick Wass/)

WASHINGTON - A career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer, according to three people familiar with the testimony.

George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden's position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.

Kent said he had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for currying influence with his father, said the people. But when Kent raised the issue with Biden's office, he was told the then-vice president didn't have the "bandwidth" to deal with the issue involving his son as his other son, Beau, was battling cancer, said the people familiar with his testimony.

The testimony by Kent offers a reminder that as Democrats probe President Donald Trump's alleged actions in pressuring Ukraine to dig up compromising information on Biden, the impeachment inquiry also threatens to keep alive questions about the former vice president's handling of his son's foreign work at a precarious moment for his 2020 presidential campaign.

Kent, who also testified about how Trump's associates raised unfounded allegations about the former ambassador to Ukraine, is the first known example of a career diplomat who raised concerns internally in the Obama administration about Hunter Biden's board position. The Washington Post has previously reported that there had been discussions among Biden's advisers about whether his son's Ukraine work would be perceived as a conflict of interest, and that one former adviser had been concerned enough to mention it to Biden, though the conversation was brief.

During his testimony this week, Kent did not name the Biden staffer he said he communicated with, according to people familiar with his remarks.

[Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals]

Although many of Trump's charges regarding Hunter Biden have been unfounded, the elder Biden has faced questions about why he didn't anticipate concerns about potential conflicts of interest as he took a leading role in carrying out U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Polls show Biden with an advantage over Trump in a potential general election matchup, and Biden has sought in recent days to focus attention on the actions of a president many Democrats see as corrupt and unfit for office.

A former senior Biden national security aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, had no recollection of hearing about Kent's concerns, and also never heard a concern raised by the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time. The first time the aide recalls Hunter Biden's involvement surfacing as an issue was in December 2015, when the vice president traveled to Ukraine to deliver an anti-corruption speech and The New York Times wrote about his son's role. Hunter Biden's board appointment had been publicly announced the previous year and reported by the media at the time.

The aide said that Hunter Biden's position had no substantive impact.

"I don't understand what the optics thing means other than someone thinking it looked bad in a political way," the aide said. "Did it have any effect on US policies, either on what we were doing or what the Ukrainians were doing? It didn't. . .. In the aggregate it didn't have any discernible effect."

The aide said that Joe Biden was dealing with a lot during Beau Biden's bout with cancer, but that it had a minimal impact on his work.

"Day to day the vice president was at work and he was pretty focused," the aide said. "Does that mean it's inconceivable that someone said, 'Hey look it's not the time to raise a family issue?' I guess it's conceivable. But I never saw evidence he wasn't capable of doing the VP role and dealing with his family at the same time."

Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, said in a statement that "on Joe Biden's watch, the U.S. made eradicating corruption a centerpiece of our policies toward Ukraine."

Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company - which was headed by a former government minister investigated for possible corruption - in 2014, at the same time his father was leading U.S. efforts to crack down on corruption in that country.

The issue has erupted in recent weeks amid revelations about a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukraine's president to "look into" the Bidens, particularly whether Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor whose office had been investigating Burisma. The Democrats' impeachment inquiry is seeking to determine whether Trump withheld military aid and diplomatic support to Ukraine in an attempt to get information to use against Biden.

Trump and his allies have made the unsubstantiated claim that Biden pressed for the prosecutor's firing to protect his son. In fact, according to former U.S. officials and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, the investigation of Burisma was dormant at the time. And Biden, adding to the calls from others in the U.S. government and Western institutions, was urging Ukraine to tap a new prosecutor who would be more aggressive in combating corruption.

Biden has said that he never spoke with his son about his dealings with Ukraine and has said that he only learned of his position on the Burisma board when he read about it in news reports.

[The Ukrainian gas tycoon and the vice president’s son]

Hunter Biden told ABC in an interview this week that he did "nothing wrong at all" but that he showed "poor judgement" in accepting the position on the Burisma board.

Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that he wouldn't have changed anything about his actions, including discouraging his son from joining the board, and said he had no regrets.

"No. No, I don't," he said. "Because I never discussed with my son anything having to do with what was going on in Ukraine. That's a fact."

Biden has pledged that, if president, no one in his family would have "any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or foreign country." During the presidential candidates debate on Tuesday night, he twice dodged a question about why he did not have a similar policy as vice president.

But on Wednesday, he said his new policy was developed not because of anything Hunter Biden did but because of the actions of the Trump family.

Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, hold senior White House jobs, while Trump has retained ownership of his real estate business, which is being run by his sons and has been the subject of lawsuits alleging that the company has been a conduit for foreign governments to enrich Trump in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause. On Thursday, the White House announced that Trump had awarded the 2020 Group of Seven summit of world leaders to his golf resort in Miami, using his public office to direct a large contract to his private company.

"In my White House, none of my children or family have offices at the White House," Biden said. "They will not be invited to sit in significant meetings of a Cabinet-level post and they will have no foreign investment, and the reason to do that is not because of anything that went on in our administration. It is because of what Donald Trump has done. He has so debased the standard of what constitutes ethical behavior that the next president has to make it absolutely clear - absolutely clear - this will not happen again."

Biden's campaign has been attempting to move past any discussions about Hunter Biden, and his team considers most questions having already been addressed. Biden aides also pointed toward the debate on Tuesday night, where no candidate criticized Biden on the issue, as a sign that it is not resonating on the campaign trail.

"It's been asked and answered," Kate Bedingfield, his deputy campaign manager, told reporters after the debate. "Democratic voters know that these lies are not getting traction and it's not the conversation they want to hear. And I think that was reflected in the fact that it was not a significant piece of the discussion."

- - -

The Washington Post’s Michael Kranish, Josh Dawsey, Greg Jaffe and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

Trump says he’ll host G7 summit at cost at his resort - but provides few details

12 hours 3 min ago

In this March 7, 2015, file photo, the Trump National Doral clubhouse is seen in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) (Wilfredo Lee/)

WASHINGTON - A day after President Donald Trump awarded the massive Group of Seven summit to his own struggling Doral resort in Florida, the White House said Trump’s company would only charge taxpayers enough to cover the resort’s costs.

But neither the White House nor the Trump Organization answered more detailed questions about what that means. They did not provide specific dollar amounts or say if dollar amounts have been agreed to.

"Everything will be done at cost due to the emoluments clause," White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham wrote in an email message, "which means the summit would be significantly cheaper for taxpayers and our foreign guests."

She was referring to the Constitution's emoluments clauses, which say that presidents cannot accept payments from foreign governments or payments from the U.S. government in excess of his presidential salary.

For Trump, the potential benefits of awarding himself the summit go beyond the actual payments made by U.S. and foreign governments. There is also international media exposure that comes with the summit - putting Trump Doral on televisions and websites around the world.

Resorts that have hosted the summit of world leaders, including the Lough Erne resort in Northern Ireland in 2013, have seen increased exposure and improvements in their business for years after the summit. "Lough Erne wouldn't be the place it is today without the PR and the legacy of that event," William Kirby, the resort's general manager, said recently. "It's the pinnacle of the resort history."

That summit boosted the local economy and highlighted the resort on the world stage, he said. "You can't buy that, can you?" Kirby said.

[Trump’s prized Florida resort is in steep decline, according to company documents]

The White House appeared to be saying that Trump was going to take payments from both foreign governments and the U.S. government - but that he believed that was fine, as long as he didn't set out to make a profit. Typically, the U.S. government pays the bulk of costs for hosting a summit, but foreign countries pay for their own rooms.

Grisham also said that the government might set up a host committee for the event, which could raise private donations. In that case, it would give private donors a chance to pay the president's company - saving taxpayers money, perhaps, but creating new questions about conflicts of interest.

The Trump Organization did not respond to questions about the event on Friday.


In this July 27, 2016, file photo, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump National Doral in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) (Evan Vucci/)

On Thursday, the White House announced that it would hold the 2020 summit at Doral, a resort near the Miami airport that Trump bought in 2012. The resort is a keystone of Trump's finances, but it has been in sharp decline recently: from 2015 to 2017, the resort's net operating income fell 69 percent.

The summit is scheduled for June, which is typically one of the resort's slowest months with less than 40 percent of rooms occupied, and will likely fill the hotel with hundreds of diplomats, journalists and security personnel.

Trump's decision brought a flood of criticism Friday from Democrats, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., one of more than 200 Democrats who are suing Trump for past alleged violations of the foreign emoluments clause.

Blumenthal said they would add the Doral decision to their next legal filing, since it shows that Trump is accelerating his efforts to gain foreign-government business.

"Here he is, in plain sight, saying in effect, 'I'm just going to make your case for you,'" Blumenthal said.

There was a trickle of criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

"I don't understand why at this moment they had to do that," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., on CNN, calling the move "unnecessary" and adding, "I wouldn't do it." Kinzinger said he had defended Trump on the controversy of allowing Department of Defense crews to stay at Trump property in Scotland, but said, "this is something that feels a little different."

Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., said: "In the law, there's a canon that says, 'Avoid the appearance of impropriety.' I think that that would be better if he would not use his hotel for this kind of stuff."

In Brussels, where European leaders were gathered for meetings, European Council President Donald Tusk, an invitee to past G-7 summits, said it was not appropriate to spend public funds at Trump's resort. "Not at all," he said.

[Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals]

Tusk is expected to step down from his role next month, but for the last five years he has been a participant in the Group of Seven summit. His successor, current Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, will have to make the final decision about whether and how to participate in the summit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also asked by The Washington Post at a news conference whether she was ready to spend German tax money on Trump's private business, said that "this is a decision taken by the American president. I haven't had time to deal with this yet. We will take a close look at his invitation, and my intention is to attend the summit."

Already, Trump's decision is the subject of questions in Germany, where the leader of a far-left opposition party asked Friday whether the money should be channeled to Trump's business.

"Heads of state and government aren't in favor of financing his business," Left Party head Bernd Riexinger told the Agence France-Presse newswire.

"President Donald Trump is mixing private and state interests with his decision to place heads of state and government in one of his hotels," he said. "This behavior is harmful for democracy."

The budget for the 2013 summit in Northern Ireland-most of it paid for by Prime Minister David Cameron's British government-was reportedly more than $100 million.

The 2018 summit, held at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu north of Quebec City in Canada, provided a tourist boost for the region, according to an official in the regional tourist authority.

Hotel occupancy for June 2018, the month of the summit, got a nearly 20 percent bump over the prior June, pushing the region to its first year of more than 50 percent hotel occupancy.

"I cannot guarantee it's completely because of the summit but it really helped because April to June are not the high season. Those months were definitely good," said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

"What we can say is that it's been good for visibility for the region for sure to see the name Charlemoix everywhere," the official said. "It's been good for the tourism performance."

The White House has said that the Doral was clearly the best of the 12 possible sites that it vetted for the event but it has declined to name the other 11 sites. The one detail given about other sites was that one was so high-altitude that the planners thought they might have to provide oxygen tanks for participants.

"Out of an abundance of caution, that site was eliminated," Grisham said.

The White House has not explained how Trump would estimate the cost of hosting visitors at a resort whose expenses include staff, administration, maintenance and debt payments. It also hasn’t said if any outsider could challenge Trump’s estimate: In this unprecedented transaction, Trump is effectively negotiating with himself, as both buyer and seller, with taxpayers paying the bill.

May 17, 2005, OPINION: Suicide unrelated to VPSO program

12 hours 8 min ago

NOTE: This column was originally published on May 17, 2005.

On April 24, the Daily News published the transcript of testimony given to the Rural Justice Commission by Village Public Safety Officer Simeon Askoak of Russian Mission under the headline “Plea for funding VPSO program preceded officer’s suicide.” In his April 6 testimony to the commission, Askoak described the financial hardships of his village and said that he had to pay for utilities for his VPSO office out of his own pocket because the VPSO program was underfunded.

On April 8, Askoak took his own life.

Readers might be led to believe that the program is indeed underfunded and that financial problems in the program led VPSO Askoak to commit suicide. Out of respect for Askoak and his family, we will not publicly discuss what our investigation concluded. Suffice it to say, we previously approved reimbursement for the expenses he incurred, and his death was not related to the VPSO program that he served for 13 years.

The VPSO program was created some 25 years ago to bring additional public safety services to remote villages. The original intent was to provide villages not with police officers but rather with “first responders” who knew the village residents, spoke the language of the region, coordinated search and rescue and firefighting, taught water safety, investigated minor crimes and performed other duties such as enforcing curfew and controlling dogs. VPSOs are employed by regional nonprofit corporations under grants from the Department of Public Safety. VPSOs receive day-to-day support and guidance from state troopers, while the leadership in each village determines what services they desire.

Over the years, however, the VPSO position has evolved into more of a police officer than a general public safety officer. As that has occurred, fewer local residents have applied for the positions, and today barely half of VPSOs are Alaska Natives. Because sufficient qualified applicants cannot be found in the villages, we must look outside the villages, but recruiting from urban areas to serve in remote villages is no easy task. Because of a lack of qualified applicants, the VPSO program now has positions left vacant, but it is not for lack of funding. Seemingly constant claims that the VPSO program is inadequately funded are simply not true.

At this point, recruitment is a more pressing issue than funding. But should we recruit for public safety officers from the village, who are focused on general safety, or do we want nonresident police officers trained and primarily focused on investigating crimes and making arrests? The state keeps careful track of traumatic injuries in Alaska, and in rural villages there are 10 times as many injuries caused by accidents than there are by people committing crimes. It would seem, therefore, that in terms of the overall welfare of the village, there should be a return to the traditional public safety role. But village residents increasingly want lawbreakers strictly controlled, and therein lies the tension.

It is important to remember that the Alaska State Troopers serve all of Alaska, and they do so fairly and equitably, as shown in the recent decision by the Alaska Supreme Court in the case of Alaska Inter-tribal Council, et al. v. state of Alaska. The VPSO program was intended to augment services provided to villages by the troopers, and the court’s decision shows that the program performs that function well. Over the past two years, Gov. Frank Murkowski, with the support of the Legislature, has substantially increased trooper strength in the rural areas of the state, and the governor has pushed for a renewed focus on reducing the flow of illegal alcohol and drugs to our villages. We believe our efforts are paying dividends for the benefit of village residents.

Funding for the VPSO program as it is currently operating is adequate. I would like nothing better than to seek additional dollars for the program, but I’m not going to do so until we have qualified VPSOs to fill the positions. The unfortunate death of Simeon Askoak leaves one more VPSO position to fill.

Bill Tandeske is the commissioner of Public Safety for Alaska, a 26-year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers and a member of the Rural Justice Commission.

Deep-sea explorers find sunken WWII warship from Battle of Midway

13 hours 16 min ago

In this Oct. 7, 2019 image taken from underwater video provided by Vulcan Inc., the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga is shown in the Pacific Ocean off Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. (Vulcan Inc. via AP) (Vulcan Inc. via AP/)

MIDWAY ATOLL, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands — Deep-sea explorers scouring the world’s oceans for sunken World War II ships are focusing in on debris fields deep in the Pacific, in an area where one of the most decisive battles of the time took place.

Hundreds of miles off Midway Atoll, nearly halfway between the United States and Japan, a research vessel is launching underwater robots miles into the abyss to look for warships from the famed Battle of Midway.

Weeks of grid searches around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands already have led the crew of the Petrel to one sunken warship, the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga. This week, the crew is deploying equipment to investigate what could be another.

Historians consider the Battle of Midway an essential U.S. victory and a key turning point in WWII.

"We read about the battles, we know what happened. But when you see these wrecks on the bottom of the ocean and everything, you kind of get a feel for what the real price is for war," said Frank Thompson, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C., who is onboard the Petrel. "You see the damage these things took, and it's humbling to watch some of the video of these vessels because they're war graves."

Until now, only one of the seven ships that went down in the June 1942 air and sea battle - five Japanese vessels and two American - had been located.

The expedition is an effort started by the late Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. For years, the crew of the 250-foot Petrel has worked with the U.S. Navy and other officials around the world to find and document sunken ships. It is illegal to otherwise disturb the underwater U.S. military gravesites, and their exact coordinates are kept secret.


In this Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, photo, Vulcan Inc. director of subsea operations of the Petrel, Rob Kraft looks at images of the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga, off Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones) (Caleb Jones/)
In this Oct. 7, 2019 image taken from underwater video provided by Vulcan Inc., the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga is shown in the Pacific Ocean off Midway Atoll. (Vulcan Inc. via AP) (Vulcan Inc. via AP/)

The Petrel has found 31 vessels so far. This is the first time it has looked for warships from the Battle of Midway, which took place six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and left more than 2,000 Japanese and 300 Americans dead.

The attack from the Japanese Imperial Navy was meant to be a surprise, a strike that would give Japan a strategic advantage in the Pacific. It was thwarted when U.S. analysts decoded Japanese messages and baited their enemy into revealing its plan.

As Japanese warplanes started bombing the military installation at Midway Atoll, a tiny group of islands about 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu, U.S. forces were already on their way to intercept Japan’s fleet. U.S. planes sank four of Japan’s aircraft carriers and a cruiser, and downed dozens of its fighter planes.

One of the American ships lost was the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier that was heavily damaged and being towed by the U.S. on the battle’s final day when it was hit by torpedoes. The other, the USS Hammann, went down trying to defend the Yorktown.

Retired Navy Capt. Jack Crawford, who recently turned 100, was among the Yorktown's 2,270 survivors.

Japanese dive bombers left the Yorktown badly damaged, with black smoke gushing from its stacks, but the vessel was still upright.

Then the torpedoes hit, Crawford told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in Maryland.

“Bam! Bam! We get two torpedoes, and I know we’re in trouble. As soon as the deck edge began to go under, I knew ... she wasn’t going to last,” said Crawford, whose later military career was with the naval nuclear propulsion program. He also served as deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy in the Department of Energy.

The Yorktown sank slowly, and a destroyer was able to pick up Crawford and many others.

In May 1998, almost 56 years later, an expedition led by the National Geographic Society in conjunction with the U.S. Navy found the Yorktown 3 miles below the surface.

Crawford doesn't see much value in these missions to find lost ships, unless they can get some useful information on how the Japanese ships went down. But he wouldn't mind if someone was able to retrieve his strongbox and the brand-new sword he left in it when he and others abandoned ship 77 years ago.

He was too far away to see the Kaga go down.

A piece of the Japanese aircraft carrier was discovered in 1999, but its main wreckage was still missing - until last week.


In this Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 photo, Vulcan Inc. director of undersea operations for the Petrel, Rob Kraft, left, and the Naval History and Heritage Command's Frank Thompson, left, look at footage of the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga, off Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones) (Caleb Jones/)

After receiving some promising sonar readings, the Petrel used underwater robots to investigate and get video. It compared the footage with historical records and confirmed this week it had found the Kaga.

"On the occasion of the discovery of the Kaga, we send our thoughts and prayers to our trusted and valued friends in Japan," said Rear Adm. Brian P. Fort, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Japan. "The terrible price of war in the Pacific was felt by all our navies. From that painful lesson, we have become the closest of allies and friends committed to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The other three Japanese aircraft carriers - the Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu - and the Japanese cruiser Mikuma are still unaccounted for.

The Petrel crew hopes to find and survey all the wreckage from the battle, an effort that could add new details about Midway to history books.

Earlier this year, they discovered the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier that helped win the Battle of Midway but sank in the Battle of Santa Cruz near the Solomon Islands less than five months later. More than 100 crew members died.

The Petrel also discovered the USS Indianapolis, the U.S. Navy’s single deadliest loss at sea.

Rob Kraft, director of subsea operations on the Petrel, says Allen gave him and his crew a mission to preserve history, educate people about the past and honor those who fought on these great ships. Allen died last year.

“This originally started with his desire to honor his father’s service to our country,” Kraft said. “It really extends beyond that at this time. We’re honoring today’s service members, it’s about education and, you know, bringing history back to life for future generations.”

___

Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

Iditarod champ Pete Kaiser tells AFN how a community lifted him up

13 hours 40 min ago

2019 Iditarod champion Pete Kaiser wears a dentalium chief's necklace, gifted to him by Alaska Federation of Natives co-chairman Will Mayo, after Kaiser's keynote address Thursday during the AFN convention at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

The keynote speaker of the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, musher and 2019 Iditarod champion Pete Kaiser, used stories of his sled dogs to describe leadership in the Native community and his own path to success.

Young dogs learn from watching older dogs with years of training, as in real life, said Kaiser, the fifth Alaska Native and first musher of Yup’ik descent to win the 1,000-mile race across Alaska.

“Our elders are the gateway to knowledge and history," he said. "They hold and observe wisdom that cannot be obtained from any ... website. They are the door to our past and the future of our state.”

A lead dog, Morrow, who brought the team to the finish line in Nome this year, was once barely good enough to make the team and had to be sent home early in her first Iditarod. But over time she learned from the other dogs. In the middle of last year’s race, Kaiser put Morrow in the lead position.

“If you haven’t found your place on the team yet, keep at it and be ready for your opportunity,” Kaiser said, to applause.


Peter Kaiser poses with his lead dogs Morrow, left, and Lucy after winning the 2019 Iditarod on March 13. (Marc Lester / ADN archive) (Marc Lester/)

The experience helped Kaiser understand why he reached a point in his life that put him at the podium before thousands of Alaska Natives on Thursday. His family, community and the state lifted him up, offering support and understanding as he worked hard to pursue his goal.

“As a team, great deeds can be accomplished,” he said.

Will Mayo, AFN co-chair and former president of the Tanana Chiefs Conference representing tribes in the Interior, presented Kaiser with a chief’s necklace.

“It is the highest mark for a leader to our region,” said Mayo.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman named AFN Citizen of the Year

The longest-serving member in the history of the Alaska Legislature received one of the most prestigious prizes awarded by the AFN.

The organization gave Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, its Citizen of the Year Award on Thursday, honoring the contribution of an Alaska Native person to the Native community.

Born and raised in Bethel, Hoffman has served more than 30 years in the Legislature, starting in the House in 1986 before moving to the Senate, AFN said. He’s used his prominent positions, including as co-chair of the House and Senate Finance committees, to fight for rural Alaska.

Speaking Thursday, Hoffman, 69, recognized past and present rural lawmakers he’d worked with to get things done. They worked across party lines, and with urban lawmakers.

Among other things, Hoffman has helped protect the $1 billion Power Cost Equalization fund used to lower high rural energy costs, said Ana Hoffman, co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

“He can be relied on to represent the best interests of the citizens of our state,” said Ana Hoffman, a distant relative of Lyman.

Ray Watson, chair of the Association of Village Council Presidents, praised Hoffman from the AFN stage.

“Every Alaskan village has benefited from his work,” Hoffman said. “When he fights, he fights for rural Alaska.”


Vernon C. Elavgak dances with the Tagiugmiut Dancers on Thursday at AFN. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

Murkowski introduces bill creating pilot program to reduce crime rates in rural areas

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who appeared by video at AFN on Thursday, announced that she has introduced legislation to help address the public safety crisis in rural Alaska.

The Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment Act, if passed by Congress, would allow some tribes in Alaska to exercise special criminal jurisdiction involving domestic violence issues, in some cases over non-Natives.

Murkowski’s office said in a prepared statement that among domestic violence victims in Alaska, Native women are overrepresented by 250%. Meanwhile, an investigation by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica found that one in three communities in rural Alaska have no local law enforcement.

The bill would establish a pilot program giving a limited number of Alaska tribes special tribal authority allowed in the Violence Against Women Act of 2013.

[U.S. Attorney General announces additional $42 million for rural Alaska public safety]

The special authority in the 2013 law applied to Indian Country, which rarely exists in Alaska. Thus, it largely benefited tribes in the Lower 48, giving them power to prosecute certain non-Natives who violate qualifying protection orders or commit domestic or dating violence against Indians in Indian Country.

Murkowski’s bill would expand the 2013 law to apply to some tribes in Native villages. It would also apply to incidents involving sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking and assault of law enforcement or corrections officers.

AFN president Julie Kitka said Thursday that the bill would create a multiyear pilot program, and could apply to up to 30 villages.

“It is a big deal,” she said.

Murkowski’s office said the legislation builds upon a bill championed by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, that was passed by the House in April and would give tribes in five Alaska villages law enforcement authority over crimes addressed in the 2013 act.

Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals

13 hours 44 min ago

President Trump listens to Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room at the White House on Oct. 16, 2019. (Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford)

WASHINGTON - Two Cabinet secretaries. The acting White House chief of staff. A bevy of career diplomats. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney. And at the center of the impeachment inquiry, the president himself.

Over two weeks of closed-door testimony, a clear portrait has emerged of a president personally orchestrating the effort to pressure a foreign government to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 political rival - and marshaling the full resources of the federal bureaucracy to help in that endeavor.

On Thursday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney waded further into the morass, saying during a rare news conference that he understood Trump to be asking for a quid pro quo with his Ukrainian counterpart - only to attempt to retract those comments in a bellicose statement six hours later.

"We do - we do that all the time with foreign policy," Mulvaney said when asked about a quid pro quo during the news conference, adding moments later: "And I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy."

[Mulvaney remarks enrage Trump advisers; Pelosi puts no timetable on impeach inquiry]

Contrary to weeks of denials from the president and his defenders, a growing body of evidence makes clear it was Trump himself who repeatedly pushed his own government and a foreign power to intervene in domestic political concerns, enlisting and ensnaring a growing number of administration officials in a way that increasingly made even some members of his own team uncomfortable.

The wave of witnesses reflects the growing peril enveloping Trump amid the burgeoning inquiry, which he and some top aides have tried to block by refusing to abide by congressional subpoenas. Not only are a growing number of officials and longtime employees choosing to come forward with damaging evidence, the narrative they are laying out points to potential violations of law, including prohibitions on accepting campaign help from a foreign entity, that bolster the case for impeachment.

The prepared testimony Thursday of Gordon Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the European Union, showed how deeply the president involved himself in the Ukraine negotiations that are the focus of the inquiry, and the extent to which he outsourced Ukraine policy to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

"I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters," Sondland said, according to his prepared remarks.

Yet despite his discomfort, Sondland said that because he and his team had been "given the president's explicit direction," the group "agreed to do as President Trump directed" and involved Giuliani in the ongoing Ukraine discussions.

At the core of the impeachment inquiry is Trump's request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - while the United States was withholding nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine - for "a favor" in the form of investigating former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as detailed in a rough transcript of a July 25 call between the two leaders that was released by the White House under public pressure.

Sondland’s prepared remarks depict an atmosphere where diplomats at times felt trapped, torn between what they believed was right and the directives the president was issuing. Returning to the United States after attending Zelenksy’s inauguration, Sondland said that he and the U.S. delegation urged Trump to arrange both a phone call and an Oval Office visit with Zelensky - only to be told by the president that he had concerns about Ukraine, and that they should talk to Giuliani about them.

"Based on the president's direction, we were faced with a choice," Sondland wrote in his testimony, explaining the Ukraine envoys felt they could either "abandon" their effort to improve relations between the two countries, "or we could do as President Trump directed and talk to Mr. Giuliani to address the President's concerns." (Ultimately, they chose the latter.)

[In unprecedented move, Trump awards next G-7 summit to his own Miami-area resort]

Finally, Sondland's prepared notes made clear that after he called Trump to specifically ask about allegations that the president was withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political favor, Trump was upset with the mere question of impropriety.

"The president repeated: 'no quid pro quo' multiple times," the remarks state. "This was a very short call. And I recall the president was in a bad mood."

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry also clarified just how adamant Trump was in ensuring that Giuliani be included in Ukraine discussions.

"Visit with Rudy," Perry paraphrased the president as saying.


About 400 supporters of President Trump gathered on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building on Oct. 17, 2019, in opposition to the House Democratic impeachment inquiry. (Washington Post photo by Michael Robinson Chavez)

Perry told the paper that after he contacted Trump's personal attorney as part of an effort to facilitate a meeting between the president and Zelensky, Giuliani relayed to him unsubstantiated concerns that Ukraine - not Russia, as the U.S. intelligence community has concluded - had interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.

On Thursday, Perry notified Trump in writing that he planned to resign soon.

As early as May, Giuliani began publicly pushing theories involving Ukraine for which he had no reliable evidence. He urged, for instance, a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, while his father was vice president. So far, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Biden or his son.

At the time, many viewed Giuliani's efforts in the Ukraine as something of a personal passion project - the extracurricular schemes of an aging lawyer whose behavior even some in Trump's own orbit considered erratic.

Now, however, as Giuliani has said himself and as a number of other witnesses have made clear, Giuliani was working at the behest of his client, the president of the United States.

In rough notes released by the White House of Trump's controversial call with Zelensky, the president seems to view Giuliani as almost interchangeable with Attorney General William Barr, telling Zelensky he hoped the Ukrainians could work with Giuliani and Barr to root out corruption there, including investigating the Bidens.

Mulvaney, too, acted as an enabler, organizing a meeting in late May that stripped control of Ukraine policy from experts at the National Security Council and State Department. He reassigned control to Perry, Sondland and Kurt Volker, then the special U.S. envoy to Ukraine - a group that called themselves "The Three Amigos."

Even those with less one-on-one interactions with Trump have offered testimony painting a picture of dysfunction at best - and malfeasance at worst - emanating down from the president.

[Prepare for impeachment, McConnell tells GOP senators]

Last Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told congressional investigators that she had been forced out of her post by "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives." Yovanovitch specifically named associates of Giuliani - two of whom have since been arrested over campaign finance violations - who she believe regarded her as a threat to their financial and political dealings.

On Monday, Fiona Hill, the White House's former top Russia adviser, told investigators that on Ukraine, Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy that bypassed traditional channels and career diplomats. Then-national security adviser John Bolton was so alarmed by Giuliani's actions that he instructed Hill to alert White House lawyers about his efforts, she testified.

Hill also testified that Bolton said he wanted no part of any "drug deal" that the president's allies were pursing with Ukraine, and that Bolton described Giuliani as a "hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up."

As for Sondland - a wealthy Oregon hotelier - Hill told investigators that she believed he was a possible national security threat because he was so out of his depth when it came to handling the administration's Ukraine policy.

Then, on Wednesday, Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testified that he had resigned the previous week in protest over how he believed the State Department had become politicized under Trump and Pompeo. McKinley, according to his prepared testimony, also cited his concerns over the administration's efforts to pressure Zelensky into investigating the president's political rivals.

"I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents," McKinley said in his prepared remarks.

The steady stream of closed-door testimony, as well as public statements, contradicts Trump's repeated claims that his phone call with Zelensky was "perfect" and "totally appropriate," and that he did nothing wrong.

Nick Akerman, a prosecutor who investigated President Richard Nixon, said that unlike Watergate, when prosecutors struggled to figure out Nixon's role in the events they were investigating, a growing body of evidence points directly to Trump.

"Here, you'll have that in spades," Akerman said. "All these individuals, all testifying that this is what happened. . . . It's just cascading at this point."

Akerman said that unlike Nixon's loyal cadre of aides, Trump's outer circle of aides and advisers are increasingly unwilling to shield him from what some view as his own dubious behavior.

"This is a situation where you've got a lot of people who are career people, extremely smart people who certainly don't want their reputations smeared," Akerman said. "Trump had to use these foreign services people and professionals. He didn't speak Ukrainian and Russian. He couldn't communicate his threat without these people. He was forced to use people whose loyalty was to the U.S. government and Constitution and not to him."

And, he added, each new witness and detail seems to reveal a common thread: "You've got Trump clearly involved."

- - -

The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

Delta’s new $59 subscription gets you booze and early access to overhead bins, but is it worth it?

13 hours 59 min ago

A Delta Airlines jetliner taxis at Logan International Airport, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes) (Bill Sikes/)

Air travelers who stress over finding a place to stow their carry-on bag have a new option: Pay an annual fee to board flights early - and hope it will be enough to avoid the critical mass of fellow travelers and their luggage.

Delta introduced a "new travel benefits bundle" called SkyMiles Select on Wednesday that costs $59 for a year. Its benefits - the subject of hot debate on frequent flier websites - include priority boarding, eight drink vouchers and "a limited-edition bag tag."

"Board sooner and find the perfect overhead bin space with Main Cabin 1 boarding," the airline says on its website. Despite that hook, the airline is not explicitly guaranteeing travelers will always find bin space free.

"Customers have told us they want more ways to access benefits when traveling with Delta, and we know priority boarding is a valuable benefit as it gives customers more time to get settled before their flight," Delta spokesman Anthony Black said in an email. "We'll look to expand the types of benefits they can access based on feedback from this test."

The boarding position is hardly elite: According to Delta's website, Main Cabin 1 boards fourth from last, after four other groups (not including military, travelers who need extra help, or those with car seats and strollers). One segment that could benefit: those who book the cheapest tickets, known as "basic economy," which boards last. If they buy the bundle, they get to board earlier.

"There is some value here," says Kyle Potter, editor-in-chief of the travel website Thrifty Traveler, who wrote about the new benefits. "Not a ton."

[Here’s what can get you banned by airlines, hotels and rental car companies]

[This airline’s ‘baby map’ allows passengers to avoid young fliers. Will others follow suit?]

Most beer, wine and spirits cost $9, so eight drink vouchers are worth more than the $59 fee. But, Potter points out, Delta credit card holders already board in the same group, and those with certain levels of frequent flier status board earlier. Those travelers aren't the target market for this offer, he said.

"They're going after kind of the Average Joes and Average Janes out there who fly twice, maybe three times a year," Potter says. "And this could give them a reason to keep going back to Delta for those two or three flights a year because they want to use those benefits."

Delta isn't the only airline to offer subscriptions; United sells them for its economy plus category and baggage, among other things. And other airlines sell early access to the plane: JetBlue's "Even More Space" seats come with early boarding, and on Southwest, travelers can pay $15 to $25 each way to nab a boarding position before most of the rest of the plane. Both airlines highlight access to overhead bins as a perk. Delta itself sells a priority boarding add-on for $15 each way.

On the forums for FlyerTalk, an online travel site, some fliers sounded intrigued by the offer. Others were not so impressed.

"I guess it's best of the rest," one user said about the boarding group. "But calling it priority is a stretch, even on a good day."

Another commenter worried about what the new subscription could mean for the future of bin struggles: “If this proves popular, we might start seeing some flights that run out of overhead space in the middle of Main Cabin 1 boarding!”

1 passenger dead in Unalaska crash of PenAir plane flying from Anchorage that injured 10 others

14 hours 4 min ago

A Penair plane that flew from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor, pictured off the runway at the Unalaska-Dutch Harbor airport on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. (Jennifer Wynn)

A 38-year-old man from Washington state died when a PenAir plane went off the end of the runway Thursday afternoon at Unalaska’s airport, officials say.

David Allan Oltman died of “traumatic injuries suffered in the crash,” according to updates Friday morning from Unalaska officials and Alaska State Troopers. Another critically injured passenger was flown to Anchorage. Nine others were also hurt, according to the city’s Department of Public Safety. Responders had to extricate one patient and evacuated the others.

The Alaska Airlines flight carrying 42 people was operated by Peninsula Airways, or PenAir. Cordova’s high school swim team was on the plane, which left Anchorage at 3:15 p.m.

Oltman died Thursday night, according to a statement from RavnAir Group, which owns PenAir. RavnAir president Dave Pflieger extended “deepest sympathies and condolences” to his family and loved ones.

“Our entire team is devastated by this tragic incident,” Pflieger said.

Authorities say it’s not yet clear what happened to cause the SAAB-Scania 2000 twin-engine turboprop plane to go off the end of the runway, coming to a stop just short of the water with its nose hanging over an embankment. The airport is notoriously challenging due to topography and winds.

The plane crashed at around 5:45 p.m. after a missed approach on the first attempt to land, according to preliminary information from Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Board.

“The accident happened on the second landing attempt," Johnson said.

Local officials said the swim team members were all unhurt, but the mother of one said a piece of metal was embedded in his leg and the person next to him suffered a broken leg, according to a report in The Cordova Times.

Her 16-year-old son is staying in Cordova until Sunday, when he’s supposed to fly to Anchorage, Lisa Carroll said. She and his father will meet him at the airport and he’ll get the piece of metal removed from the soft tissue of his leg Monday.

“He’s fine but shaken,” Carroll wrote in an email Friday. “I’m just thankful for all the emergency responders and citizens of Unalaska who responded to the scene ... As a parent I am shaken, but again God is good and I’m glad there were boots on the ground taking care of all the injured. My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved.”

The Unalaska Fire Department arrived about five minutes after the crash and transported seven patients to the Iliuliuk Clinic and four others were brought to the clinic by personal vehicle, according to the public safety update. Injuries ranged from minor to critical.

A major investigations team of eight or nine people from the NTSB was expected to leave Washington, D.C., for Anchorage on Friday morning. Some members will continue to Dutch Harbor on Saturday. The investigation is being run from the agency’s headquarters because it involves a commuter air carrier and someone died in the crash, Johnson said. An Anchorage-based investigator is on the team, which also includes experts in airworthiness and operations as well as John Lovell, the the investigator in charge.

The runway is shut down until further notice, local officials say. Law enforcement has secured the scene pending the arrival of the federal investigators. The plane may still pose safety risks so officials are asking the public is asked to stay away from the area.

PenAir and Ravn are fully cooperating with the NTSB, according to a statement sent through a public-relations firm representing the airline. PenAir and Ravn have established a family assistance line at 1-800-757-4784.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Letter: Why I stood in protest

14 hours 34 min ago

Alaska Federation of Natives co-chairman Will Mayo steps in to quiet a protest during Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy's address during the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. A few dozen protesters stood with their fist raised and backs turned, and some people attempted to drum out the governor's address. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

I was very pleased to see your wonderful coverage of the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention now taking place in Fairbanks. I was approached by one of your fine reporters after I joined many delegates who stood in protest when Gov. Mike Dunleavy gave his speech. I had two concerns on my mind at the time. First, we are involved with a lawsuit with the state of Alaska over its herring harvest policies in Sitka and surrounding subsistence areas. The state’s stance on allowing massive overharvesting has caused multiple herring spawning grounds to fall into extinction, all the while the “scientific analysis” is causing this extinction.

Second, the governor has slashed a large part of the budget for the Alaska Marine Highway System, which is causing hardship on all communities from the Aleutian Islands to Ketchikan. Many small communities will be crippled by the loss of their ferry services. Cordova will not see a ferry for five months. Elders in villages will not be able to get to their medical appointments due to the cost of airfare.

For these reasons, I felt a need to protest against what I felt were the governor’s callous decisions that affect the lives of many coastal Alaskans.

Will Hanbury Jr.

Sitka

Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.

What we know about the Anchorage man accused in the brutal hotel-room killing of a woman

15 hours 14 min ago

Brian Steven Smith is arraigned Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 on a charge of first-degree murder at the Anchorage Jail courtroom. (Loren Holmes / ADN) (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News/)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to place more emphasis on what’s known about the background of the defendant, Brian Smith. Many readers were upset about the way the victim, Kathleen Jo Henry, was portrayed in earlier versions of the article. It was not our intent to cast her in a negative light, and we apologize to readers offended by the earlier versions. -David Hulen, editor

Police aren’t answering questions about how a 48-year-old South African immigrant and a 30-year-old Anchorage woman originally from a Southwest Alaska village met in an encounter that investigators say ended with her murder. But details are beginning to emerge about the lives of Brian Steven Smith and Kathleen Jo Henry before, police say, Smith brutally beat, choked and killed her in an Anchorage hotel room in early September then dumped her body along the Seward Highway south of the city.

Smith is charged with first-degree murder.

He was arrested after someone found a small memory card on the ground Sept. 30 near the Carrs store at Gambell Street and East 13th Avenue. The card, labeled "Homicide at midtown Marriott,” contained 39 images and 12 videos taken from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6 — all documenting the horrifying scene at a local hotel, according to charging documents.

The images showed a naked woman, later identified as Henry, being beaten and strangled in a hotel room, charges say. She tried to fight back. Other footage showed a man detectives later identified as Smith yelling at her to die and laughing, according to the charges.

Images also showed a body covered in a white sheet being moved through a parking lot to a truck, the charges say. Police identified Henry on Thursday as the woman whose remains were found near the Seward Highway south of Anchorage on Oct. 2.

Smith was arrested Tuesday as he returned to Anchorage by plane from an unknown destination. He’s being held at the Anchorage jail on a total of $750,000 in appearance and performance bonds.

An Anchorage police spokeswoman said the agency is “not participating in any further interviews” and has no additional information to release on what officials call an ongoing investigation.

Detectives recognized Smith from the graphic videos because he is involved in a separate ongoing investigation, according to the Anchorage Police Department. Police have declined to say anything about that investigation.

[Videos and photos show brutal attack of woman in Anchorage hotel room by man charged in her death, charges say]

Smith lived with his wife and their cat on a quiet, woodsy cul-de-sac in the Geneva Woods subdivision in Midtown Anchorage, according to friends of the couple. Smith has no apparent criminal history in Alaska.

His wife didn’t respond to requests for comment. She told KTUU that she was shocked by the charges against Smith. The couple married in 2014, according to Smith’s Facebook page.

Neighbor Harold Heinze said it wasn’t uncommon to see Smith’s wife out gardening, but he rarely saw Smith and knew nothing about him except he drove a black pickup.

Neighbors are still processing the allegations against Smith, said Heinze, a former state natural resources commissioner.

“The whole thing seems so horrific and bizarre,” he said. “Real brutality.”

Smith had previously worked at DOWL Engineering as a materials tester and inspector, according to a former co-worker. It’s not clear what job he held recently. He told the judge at his arraignment Wednesday that he had about $2,000 in savings. Smith on his Facebook profile describes himself as “self-employed” and said he grew up in Queenstown, Eastern Cape and went to Queens College.

He entered the military following school, according to a South African reporter who translated an Afrikaans publication’s story about the “Alaska-moord.” Smith’s father died when he was relatively young, friends told the publication. Smith was described as quiet and standoffish.

Smith left South Africa in 2013, according to a biography he posted on the Quora question-and-answer platform. He also posted hundreds of replies to questions about South Africa and apartheid, some with racist overtones, through the fall and into October.

In August, he replied to this question posted on the site: “Do white people assume all black people are thieves?”

Smith’s response: “White people do not assume this. EVERYONE assumes this when they look at police crime statistics. Everywhere in the world where blacks go there is an immediate increase in crime. It is a statistical fact that blacks are +- 600% more prone to breaking the law than whites.”


Kathleen Jo Henry (Facebook)

A relative confirmed that Henry grew up in Eek, a Yup’ik village of about 300 people in the Kuskokwim Delta south of Bethel. Community members said the family was grieving Henry’s death, and declined to comment.

Smith’s next scheduled court appearance is a hearing on Oct. 21.

When reporting on violent crime, first do no harm

15 hours 38 min ago

I was about 30 years old when I wrote my first letter to an editor. I wrote the newspaper in the Massachusetts town where I was living, taking them to task for their reporting of a rape case. A woman in the community was walking to her home when two men abducted and gang-raped her. That newspaper provided lurid details about the woman’s love life, implying that because she worked in a discotheque, had a couple of drinks after work, and had been seen in conversation with one of her attackers, she had asked to be raped. In that letter, I made the point that no matter what kind of personal life a woman has, nobody ever asks to be assaulted.

Forty years later, I am saddened to be again writing about the same subject. This time, the victim did not escape with her life. Kathleen Henry was murdered in a most brutal manner and we must all do our best to honor her memory.

The original reporting in a recent story on this tragic murder in our state’s leading newspaper was appalling. Negative information about the victim’s life that had absolutely nothing to do with the crime was published. In ADN’s defense, I must say that the editor responded to my complaint within hours, the negative wording in the article was subsequently removed and an apology added. The damage, however, was already done. The victim had been blamed.

Reporting by KTUU on Oct. 11th had similar issues: their report began by telling us negative information about Ms. Henry thus coloring the remainder of their piece.

So, what must we do to make sure that we do not continue blaming crime victims for another 40 years?

When the authors of the ADN article reached out to Ms. Henry’s community for information, they said they were grieving and didn’t want to respond right away. The ADN also searched Ms. Henry’s court records and her Facebook page, and included some of that information in the article. At this point the reporting went off the rails. There was no logical reason to share the court records of a murder victim. Nothing in those records would ever be of any use to the public. News media must avoid publishing irrelevant and hurtful information. Always.

[Giant qaspeq shines light on missing and murdered indigenous women]

We can decide what the public really needs to know about a victim by asking what purpose that information will serve. Knowing where the victim is from lets us reach out to help and send condolences to the right people. All victims have relatives, and we should assume that those family members care. Knowing if the victim had children helps because those children may need extra support. If knowing that the victim was a member of a specific group would protect others in that group from becoming targets by alerting them to an ongoing pattern of assaults in a certain area, then that information could be relevant, provided it was not used to point fingers at the victim. Beyond this, unless the family wants to share more information, there is nothing we need to know. We do not need to know the victim’s financial status, employment status, history of incarceration, living arrangements or things they shared on Facebook that were never intended for the public. Unless there is a kind and useful reason for providing information, don’t provide it. Ever.

We must agree that all murders are tragedies, no matter who the victim is. When reporting on a murder victim, we should place ourselves in the shoes of the bereaved family. How would they want to see their loved one represented? If their choice is to say nothing, then we must respect that. If we can find nothing else good to say, then say nothing at all. The victim’s family members are already suffering: Avoid words that will wound them further.

Remember, nobody ever “asks” to be assaulted or murdered. Never.

Sharing negative information about victims diminishes them. It may poison the future jury pool. Worse, it sends a subtle message to perpetrators of violence that certain people can be victimized without consequences. It feeds the culture of impunity. When my friend in Massachusetts was raped, the perpetrators were so confident that they would get away with it that they did very little to cover their tracks. They assumed that because the woman had a “reputation,” there would be no consequences. In the 2018 Schneider case in Anchorage, the perpetrator apparently felt himself to be so entitled and protected by this impunity that he took time to explain himself to his victim after assaulting her. Ms. Henry’s murderer filmed his crime. We must end the culture of impunity. Forever.

Today there is a little more awareness. Forty years ago, the newspaper in Massachusetts offered no apologies. This time, the editor responded my complaint, apologized and made changes. But we still have work to do to make this kind of follow-up unnecessary. As long as victim blaming — however unintended it may be — continues, so will the culture of impunity and the assaults and murders. We must decide that we want it to end and take action. Now.

Jenny Bell-Jones is chairwoman emeritus of the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This work represents her own opinion and not that of the department.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

First all-female spacewalking team makes history

16 hours 7 min ago

In this photo provided by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir exits the International Space Station on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The world’s first female spacewalking team is making history high above Earth. This is the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that a woman floated out without a male crewmate. Their job is to fix a broken part of the station’s solar power network.(NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The world’s first all-female spacewalking team made history high above Earth on Friday, replacing a broken part of the International Space Station’s power grid.

As NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the job with wrenches, screwdrivers and power-grip tools, it marked the first time in a half-century of spacewalking that men weren't part of the action.

America's first female spacewalker from 35 years ago, Kathy Sullivan, was delighted. She said it's good to finally have enough women in the astronaut corps and trained for spacewalking for this to happen.

"We've got qualified women running the control, running space centers, commanding the station, commanding spaceships and doing spacewalks," Sullivan told The Associated Press earlier this week. "And golly, gee whiz, every now and then there's more than one woman in the same place."

NASA leaders, Girl Scouts and others cheered Koch and Meir on. Parents also sent in messages of thanks and encouragement via social media. NASA included some in its TV coverage. "Go girls go," two young sisters wrote on a sign in crayon. A group of middle schoolers held a long sign reading "The sky is not the limit!!"

At the same time, many expressed hope this will become routine in the future.


FILE - In this image released Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, by NASA, astronauts Christina Koch, right, and, Jessica Meir pose for a photo on the International Space Station. NASA has moved up the first all-female spacewalk to Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, or Friday because of a power system failure at the International Space Station. (NASA via AP)

Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a three-time spacewalker who looked on from Mission Control in Houston, added: “Hopefully, this will now be considered normal.”

NASA originally wanted to conduct an all-female spacewalk last spring, but did not have enough medium-size suits ready to go until summer. Koch and Meir were supposed to install more new batteries in a spacewalk next week, but had to venture out three days earlier to deal with an equipment failure that occurred over the weekend. It was the second such failure of a battery charger this year, puzzling engineers and putting a hold on future battery installations for the solar power system.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watched the big event unfold from Washington headquarters.

"We have the right people doing the right job at the right time," he said. "They are an inspiration to people all over the world including me. And we're very excited to get this mission underway."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent congratulations to Koch and Meir "for leaving their mark on history" and tweeted that they're an inspiration to women and girls across America.

The spacewalkers' main job was to replace the faulty 19-year-old old charge-regulating device — the size of a big, bulky box — for one of the three new batteries that was installed last week by Koch and Andrew Morgan. A preliminary check showed everything to be good 250 miles (400 kilometers) up, but several more hours were needed to confirm that.

"Jessica and Christina, we are so proud of you," said Morgan, one of four astronauts inside. He called them his "astrosisters."

Spacewalking is widely considered the most dangerous assignment in orbit. Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who operated the station's robot arm from inside during Friday's spacewalk, almost drowned in 2013 when his helmet flooded with water from his suit's cooling system.

"Everyone ought to be sending some positive vibes by way of airwaves to space for these two top-notch spacewalkers," Dyson said early in the spacewalk.

Meir, a marine biologist making her spacewalking debut, became the 228th person in the world to conduct a spacewalk and the 15th woman. It was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, an electrical engineer who is seven months into an 11-month mission that will be the longest ever by a woman. Both are members of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2013, the only one equally split between women and men.

Pairing up for a spacewalk was especially meaningful for Koch and Meir; they're close friends. They're also both former Girl Scouts.

It took two decades for women to catch up with men in the spacewalking arena.

The world's first spacewalker on March 18, 1965, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, died last week. NASA astronaut Ed White became the first U.S. spacewalker less than three months after Leonov's feat. Women did not follow out the hatch until 1984. The first was Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya. Sullivan followed three months later.

Friday’s milestone spacewalk was the 421st for team Earth.

For this Alaska clan, pipeline safety is the family business

17 hours 33 min ago

If you’re trying to find an Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. employee named Martin Parsons, you’re going to have to be more specific.

You could be looking for Contingency and ICS Planning Manager Martin Parsons, who works out of the company’s Midtown Anchorage headquarters. But you’ll also find Martin Parsons working as a technician at the Valdez pipeline terminal.

Want some help sorting things out? Check with Deanna Parsons, an administrative analyst for Alyeska’s engineering contractor. She’s been married to one Martin Parsons for more than 25 years.

The other one calls her “Mom.”

A passion for Prince William Sound

If you told Martin Parsons 30 years ago that he’d spend his career working in the oil industry, he’d have said you were nuts.

“I grew up commercial fishing,” Martin said. “My dad commercial fished for 50 years. I was a commercial fisherman since the time I was five years old. I was born into it, so I always thought that’s what I would do.”

Martin was working on a shrimp boat out of Cordova on March 24, 1989, when the oil tanker Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef. With the fisheries closed in the spill’s wake, he ended up working on the cleanup effort.

He didn’t know it then, but that first foray into spill response planted the seeds of a lifetime in oil and gas.

Martin went to welding school with an eye on expanding his career options. When he came home, an uncle suggested he apply for work with a spill response organization that was looking for welders. Martin had a job lined up on a crab boat out of Kodiak, but he figured the Valdez job was worth a shot.

“Next thing I knew I was doing my physical, drug test, and started working,” he said. “That was back in 1991.”

With emotions still raw from the spill, it was a tense time for a kid from a family of commercial fishermen to go into oil and gas.

“All my friends and family members still commercial fish,” Martin said. “It was a weird transition.”

But if the spill had taught Martin anything, it was that he wanted to make sure something like it never happened again. His career path soon led him into prevention and response, and he likes to think he has helped provide some reassurance to his fishing family.

One thing that helped ease tensions with the commercial fishing community, he said, was the launch of Alyeska’s Vessels of Opportunity program, which contracts with local boat crews to provide spill response support.

“We do a lot of training, not only in Prince William Sound but Kodiak, Homer, Seward, Valdez, Cordova, Whittier,” he said. “They see the emphasis we do put on safety.”

Martin’s love of the Sound is rooted in more than fishing; it’s central to his Alaska Native culture. Martin is a shareholder in Chenega Bay Corp. and The Eyak Corp., for which he serves as chairman of the board of directors. He also chairs Alyeska’s Alaska Native Program Advisory Board and is vice chair of the Alaska Clean Seas board of directors.

“The Prince William Sound is my backyard,” Martin said. “It’s my playground. It’s where I grew up. It’s where people earn a living. I don’t ever want to see anything like that happen again. That’s what’s kept me here so long.”

The homesteaders’ granddaughter

Deanna Parsons has her own deep roots in Alaska. Her paternal grandparents homesteaded in Chickaloon in the ’40s and ’50s. Her maternal grandparents drove from New York in 1966, crossing the border into Alaska on her mother’s 16th birthday. Deanna’s parents met when their families were among the first residents in the newly established town of Eagle River.

“I’m pretty Alaska-grown,” said Deanna, who grew up in Eagle River and moved to Cordova right before her 17th birthday, when her father was transferred to a new posting with the Alaska State Troopers. That was where she met Martin.

For Deanna, the first opportunity she had through Alyeska wasn’t a job — at least, not a job with the company. She and Martin married young, and when the first of their three children came along 26 years ago, his job supported the family so she could be a full-time mom.

“I consider myself very lucky,” Deanna said. “I tell everybody it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

Five years ago, when their youngest got her driver’s license, Deanna went back into the workforce, taking a job with Alyeska’s corporate communications team. When Martin started his new position in Anchorage about two years go, the company found a role for Deanna as well, first with the projects team and then as an administrative analyst working for the engineering director, a contractor through Chugach Alaska Corp.

“It’s really different every day, which I love about the job,” said Deanna, whose responsibilities range from planning travel and teambuilding events to facilitating meetings and arranging workspaces.

And it doesn’t hurt that she gets to spend so much time with her husband.

“We commute together and we work in the same building, and people say, ‘How in the world do you spend that much time together? How do you separate your life?’” she said. “We just make an effort.”

Martin and Deanna drive about 30 minutes each way from her family’s homestead on Little Peters Creek, commuting on the same highway where their son, Martin Dean, was born in an ambulance en route to the hospital. (“We almost named him Martin Glenn,” Martin said.) They have one rule on the drive home: No work talk past the Glenn Highway weigh station.

“Once we hit that weigh station, work talk stops,” Martin said. “We try not to bring work home.”

Martin’s passion for his career was contagious even before Deanna went to work for Alyeska. One year when they were still living in Valdez, she decided she wanted to learn more about his work with the fleet response program.

“I actually joined a commercial fisherman on his commercial vessel training,” she said. “It was really cool. I did it for three years, did the training and all of that, and the classes, and went out on the boat and on the drills.”

Knowing her husband and his love for the Sound, she said, it’s perfectly natural that he’d choose a career path that would help protect his home.

“He (comes) from a place of, one, ‘I want to make sure that this never happens again,’ and two, that if something like this happens again, he wanted to be on that ground floor of being prepared and knowing that they have the tools and knowledge” to mitigate it, she said.

In the years that have passed since Martin went to work for Alyeska, she added, members of his fishing family have recognized his commitment to keeping Alaska’s waters safe.

“A couple of years ago we were in Cordova for something, and an older gentleman that he had known for his whole life pulled him aside and said, ‘I just want you to know how proud we are of how hard you’ve worked to make sure we’re prepared,’” Deanna said.

The new generation

Martin Parsons is the fourth man in his family to bear his name. His son, Martin Dean Parsons, is the fifth. And it usually doesn’t cause much confusion… except when it comes to work.

“(I get) a lot of emails that aren’t really meant for me,” Martin Dean said. “It actually took them quite a while to figure out an email address for me.”

Two years ago, Martin Dean joined Alyeska as a technician in the vapor recovery facility at the Valdez terminal. He didn’t grow up thinking he’d work with his parents someday, but after checking out a few different courses of study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, he discovered the process technology program and knew he’d found his niche.

“I just loved it,” Martin Dean said. “The way my teachers taught everything, they just made the whole subject interesting.”

Martin Dean did two internships with Alyeska, and once he had his instrumentation technology certificate in hand, he won a full-time position at the pipeline terminal he’d been looking at since childhood from across the port.

The kid who grew up teasing his dad about his commitment to safety culture — Martin says the children used to make fun of him for wearing safety glasses to do home repairs — is now responsible for maintaining an inert environment inside the crude oil tanks and ensuring the system isn’t venting hydrocarbon vapors or sucking in oxygen. If he doesn’t do his job, everyone will know right away; the vapor recovery facility is also the terminal’s power plant.

“It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something every day when I leave for the day and the lights are still on at the terminal,” Martin Dean said.

And aside from the odd misdirected email, he thinks it’s really cool to be working in the same company as his parents.

“It wasn’t like going into some random company that you’ve never heard of,” he said. “I knew exactly what I was getting into.”

His coworkers are high school classmates and their parents, college friends, and people who’ve been his dad’s colleagues for decades.

“Being his namesake — you’ve got to live up to it a little bit,” he said. “It’s something that I’m pretty proud to do.”

As parents, Martin and Deanna say they feel privileged to have so much in common with their son as he sets out on his own career.

“It's been fun to watch him grow and listen to him talk about things that excite him,” Deanna said. “We know what he's talking about with a piece of machinery at work, and he can tell us what he did on it. I think that's unique.”

‘Are you Martin Parsons’ dad?’

In Martin’s Anchorage office, there’s a document more than 40 years old — a commendation from E.L. Hutton, then president of the pipeline, congratulating Martin’s grandfather on pipeline work done by North Gulf Natives, Inc., a company of what is today called Chugach Alaska Corp.

“When the pipe came into Valdez off the ships, (North Gulf Natives) was contracted to knock the ends off the pipes and get them ready to be welded,” Martin explained. His maternal grandfather led the team, and his father was part of the crew — making Martin Dean Parsons the fourth generation of his family to work on the pipeline.

In his 28-year career, Martin has watched the industry change significantly — often, he said, for the better, especially when it comes to safety and innovation.

“I was around when we were running over a million barrels a day,” he said. “That’s been a big change.”

Even as the oil and gas landscape in Alaska changes, both Martin and Deanna said they’re happy to see their son go into the field.

“What he does is very important for the company,” Martin said. “I 100 percent know that he’s going to put in a 40-year career as well.”

And it’s a treat to share the business with his son, he said, even though it’s a sign of the passage of time. The generational shift was apparent to Martin on a visit earlier this fall to a pipeline pump station.

“We brought in some technician trainees that were just hired; they’re doing a pipeline tour,” he said. “They said, ‘Are you Martin Parsons’ dad?’

“I’ve lost status now,” he joked.

Presented by the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, working to promote the long-term health of the oil and gas industry for the benefit of all Alaskans. Learn more at Facebook.com/AlaskaOilAndGas.

This story was produced by the creative services department of the Anchorage Daily News in collaboration with AOGA. The ADN newsroom was not involved in its production.

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