NOTE: This story originally appeared on knom.org.
After facing a slew of charges alleging professional misconduct, Nome Superior Court Judge Timothy Dooley has responded to the allegations, denying any wrongdoing or any pattern of behavior unbecoming a judge.
RELATED: Nome judge faces discipline over inappropriate remarks, commission says
In late May the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct (the state body charged with oversight of judges and courts) cited Judge Dooley for six incidents the commission said may have violated codes of professional conduct.
The commission highlighted statements made by the judge during court hearings—which can be heard in full in a KNOM story last month—that the commission said potentially violates state law, and the state’s code of conduct for judges, by showing “insensitivity” to victims, witnesses, and others in both criminal and civil cases.
The complaint was based on multiple anonymous reports submitted from May of 2013 through September of last year.
In a formal response filed last month, attorney William Satterberg, representing Judge Dooley, acknowledged the judge did indeed make the statements in court. The response goes on to say Judge Dooley “specifically denies” he engaged in a “pattern of conduct” that violates state laws or behavior standards for judges.
In the filing Judge Dooley asked “the complaint be denied in its entirety” and requested the issue be subject to a hearing in Nome. Further, the judge asserted the hearing be held before an “independent panel,”calling the “existing panel” of the commission “predisposed” and “no longer … impartial.”
The commission apparently rejected Judge Dooley’s request for a Nome hearing. In late June it ordered a December hearing—in Anchorage—where the judge will confront the complaints, complete with witnesses and evidence, before the nine remembers of the commission.
If the complaints prove valid, commission director Marla Greenstein said Judge Dooley could face three possible punishments: a formal and public admission of wrongful conduct, a suspension from office, or (most severely) removal from office.
The decision will ultimately be heard, and enforced, by the Alaska Supreme Court.
A broken pole and power line has caused an hours-long power outage Friday in the Turnagain area of Anchorage, Chugach Electric Association spokesperson Sarah Wiggers told Channel 2 News.
"A piece of heavy equipment fell and took down a power line and broke a pole around 8:30 this morning," Wiggers said.
According to Wiggers, about 240 homes on Susitna Drive, Foraker Drive, Turnagain Parkway, St. Elias Drive, Brooke Drive, Captain Cook Drive, Lord Baranof Drive and Illiamna Avenue have been affected.
"We have crews out there working on putting the pole back up and there is no telling how long it could take, but I would venture to say about two to three more hours," Wiggers said.
KODIAK — The man who broke into homes and stole women's underwear will undergo a mental health evaluation.
The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports 19-year-old Ryan Cornelio was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in jail and ordered to receive a sexuality-focused mental health evaluation. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted burglary in March.
Cornelio had gotten caught when he broke into an occupied home. During the ensuing investigation, court documents reveal police found more than 100 pairs of women's underwear in his room.
Several of Cornelio's victims gave statements before Wednesday's sentencing. They said they wanted Cornelio to get help and that they have forgiven him.
When the judge asked Cornelio if he had anything to say before he was sentenced, Cornelio said he was sorry.
Alaskans call the mountain Denali. Ohioans want it to keep the name of an also-ran U.S. president. In this video, the Daily Show visits both states and declares a winner.
Warning: PG-13 language ahead.
10:45 A.M. UPDATE:
Anchorage police say the motorcyclist hurt in an early morning crash was pronounced dead at 1:45 a.m. He is identified by police as Carlos Chavesta, 29.
Police say Chavesta's motorcycle struck a Subaru Outback from behind at about 1:04 a.m. at Minnesota Drive and Tudor Road. Chavesta was thrown from the motorcycle and struck by another motorcyclist who was trying to stop. Chavesta was not wearing a helmet, police say.
The crash closed southbound lanes of Minnesota Drive for more than 4 hours, opening by 5:30 a.m.
Read the full police announcement here:
At 1:04 AM on Friday, July 3, 2015, Anchorage Police responded to a vehicle collision at the intersection of Minnesota and Tudor. A 2010 Subaru Outback was stopped at a red light in the far right-hand southbound lane of Minnesota. Just as the light turned to green, but before the Subaru had begun to move, it was struck from behind by a motorcycle driven by 29-year-old Carlos Chavesta. Chavesta was thrown from his motorcycle and he landed in the center lane of travel.
A second motorcyclist was traveling in the middle lane of Minnesota when he saw Chavesta's body in the roadway. That motorcyclist attempted to stop, and as his bike was in the process of falling onto its side, it ran over Chavesta. The second motorcyclist, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from his bike but was not injured.
Chavesta was transported to a local hospital, and declared deceased at 1:59 AM. There was no indication at the scene that Chavesta had attempted to brake before colliding with the Subaru. Chavesta was not wearing a helmet and excessive speed is not a suspected factor in the crash. Toxicology results, which will not be received for several weeks, will determine whether or not alcohol or drugs were involved.
Southbound Minnesota, between Spenard and Tudor Roads, was closed during the investigation. The roadway was re-opened at around 5:30 AM. No citations have been issued at this time. The driver of the Subaru was not injured. This investigation is still continuing.
Authorities temporarily closed the southbound lanes of Minnesota Drive early Friday morning following a collision that seriously injured a motorcycle rider, police say.
The crash came at 1:04 a.m. near the Minnesota and Tudor Road intersection, according to Anchorage police. The motorcycle rear-ended another vehicle.
The southbound lanes of Minnesota were closed between Spenard and Tudor roads but had reopened 7 a.m., police dispatchers said.
Police have released no additional information about the crash.
Maybe you saw the viral photos this week of a crow landing on top of a flying eagle in Washington. Meantime, in Alaska, Leah Jackson and her daughter saw a very different scene unfold Wednesday in Homer.
Alaska's newly appointed Marijuana Control Board has proposed four changes to state marijuana laws.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the board held its first meeting Thursday in Fairbanks. They signed off on statutory changes it wants the Alaska Legislature to change in last year's ballot measure that legalized commercial marijuana.
The four issues include allowing cannabis clubs, updating criminal law, clarifying the difference between a personal grow and an illegal operation, and giving villages the ability to opt out of commercial marijuana sales.
Much of the public testimony at the meeting regarded the desire for the state to allow businesses where people could use marijuana, which the board has supported.
A public comment period on draft regulations for the marijuana industry will be open July 7 through Aug. 8.
SITKA — A search for a California couple whose Sitka bed-and-breakfast host reported them missing came to a happy end when police discovered the couple had been at the circus.
The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports Sitka Fire Department search and rescue Capt. Lance Ewers says the couple was last seen by their B&B host Tuesday morning when they left for a hike. By Wednesday evening, the host was worried and called police.
Ewers says searchers entered the couple's room at the B&B and discovered a cell phone. When they called the last number in the phone's log, the husband picked up.
Ewers says the couple had been at the circus at Moller Field and hadn't been lost at all. They just hadn't seen their B&B host since returning from their hike.
Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/
ANCHORAGE -- On the same day Alaska's largest city officially set a record low for annual snowfall, with 25.1 inches last fall through this spring, it also became clear that dozens of cities across the Lower 48 had snowier winters than Anchorage.
Snowfall in Anchorage over the past year is about one-third the usual 74.5 inches that fell per year. This year's total is also less than Boone, N.C., (27.7 inches), Fort Wayne, Ind., (45.1 inches), Lowell, Mass., (120.6 inches), and an array of other towns wary of the weather many Alaskans missed.
Overall, among cities with a population of 100,000 or more, Anchorage ranked No. 42 for snowfall last year...
Most data used in this map comes from the National Weather Service and was aggregated by Golden Snow Globe National Snow Contest, which compiled a list of the most snowfall among cities with 100,000 plus residents.
NIKISKI -- Following recent struggles with crime, Nikiski residents have put an ordinance on the October ballot to decide whether the Kenai Peninsula community will fund its own police force.
Many residents have complained about long response times from Alaska State Troopers.
The Soldotna-based troopers, however, serve an area larger than the size of Massachusetts, according to Capt. Andrew Greenstreet.
Greenstreet put a request in his budget proposal for two additional troopers that would cover the Nikiski area, but with budget cuts in every department of the state, the funds were not allocated.
Nikiski resident Ann Krogseng helped organize the group that wants Nikiski to have it's own law enforcement.
She explained that funding would be structured similarly to how a fire service area is. Local residents would pay a mill rate that would fund the department.
JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker has made official Alaska's intent to change the name of a census area named for confederate military officer Wade Hampton.
Walker sent a letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John Thompson, saying he planned to now refer to the region in western Alaska as the Kusilvak Census Area to honor the wishes of local residents. The area is home to the Kusilvak Mountains.
Last month, the city and Native village of Hooper Bay passed a resolution calling for that specific name change.
The president of the Association of Village Council Presidents says the push began months before the deadly June shootings in South Carolina that brought renewed attention to remnants of confederate history. But Myron Naneng Sr. said that elevated the issue.
Alaska State Troopers described a bizarre and busy morning for 27-year-old Harding Custer today.
The trouble began at 5:15 a.m. when a woman arrived for work at Cup of Joe Coffee on the Parks Highway at Vine Road and found a man in the process of stealing money from the java stand. The woman’s husband confronted the man, whom troopers later identified as Custer, and Custer threatened the husband with a handgun, according to a trooper report posted online.
Custer jumped into a blue Chevy Tahoe and sped away, troopers said. Before long, troopers spotted the SUV and tried to pull it over. Custer refused to stop and led authorities on a chase that reached speeds of 100 mph, according to the report.
Troopers gave up the chase at Mile 66 of the Parks Highway as the Tahoe raced northbound.
Just before 7 a.m., however, passersby called 911 to report a drunken man exposing himself on the side of the Parks Highway, near Nancy Lake Parkway in Willow.
“We had several individuals contact us," said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.
Troopers arrived and found Custer with cash and other items stolen from the stand. The Tahoe was nowhere to be seen.
Custer, who is a Fairbanks resident, was taken to a Mat-Su jail where he is awaiting a court appearance. He faces charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree assault, weapons misconduct, eluding police, theft and reckless driving.
Troopers are asking for the public’s help in finding Custer’s 2009 Tahoe. The SUV is blue with a license plate that reads FRR796. Authorities believe it was abandoned in the Willow and Talkeetna area. Anyone with information is asked to call 352-5401.
Court records show Custer has been charged in at least six prior criminal cases since 2008, most recently pleading guilty to criminal trespass in 2014.
FAIRBANKS — Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials are warning after a North Pole man was sickened by tularemia, a bacterial infection known as "rabbit fever."
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the man became sick after skinning a hare this spring.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human tularemia cases in the United States are relatively rare, with fewer than 200 cases reported per year between 1990 and 2013.
Tularemia symptoms include fever, sore throat and swollen glands. It can be fatal if untreated.
It's often transmitted to people handling infected rabbits, hares, beavers and muskrats.
Fish and Game advises that Alaska residents try to keep their animals away from hares, which will be slower if they are infected, making them easier to catch.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com
Just over a week before he was supposed to start, the newly named director of the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus says he won't be showing up for work.
The Daily Sitka Sentinel reports that Chris Gilmer emailed UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield Tuesday to inform him that family circumstances and other opportunities will keep him from reporting for duty.
Caulfield says he will be in Sitka next week, at which time he will meet with the community advisory council to plan the next steps for an interim leadership arrangement.
Gilmer was selected for the position in February to replace Jeff Johnston. Gilmer has been core professor and chair of the Department of Undergraduate Writing at Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 2009.
Gov. Bill Walker is limiting the amount available to pay for oil and gas tax credits this fiscal year.
In a letter to legislative leaders, Walker said the state will continue funding credits this year but at a slower pace, until a more sustainable credit system is developed or Alaska's financial situation improves. The new fiscal year started Wednesday.
He used his veto power to limit to $500 million the amount available to pay the credits. The budget estimate for the credits was $700 million and would have allowed them to be paid even if that amount was exceeded.
Walker said the state would still honor its credit commitments over time.
Democrats had similarly pushed for a delay in paying the credits during the budget debate, but majority Republicans balked.
Alaska State Troopers are investigating a crash that left a woman injured and thousands of people near Wasilla without power early Wednesday, after the occupants of the vehicle left the scene.
Several 911 calls came in to troopers at about 3:20 a.m. after the car “went off the road and hit electric wires” at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine roads, according to a Wednesday AST dispatch.
“According to witnesses three people fled the scene prior to AST arrival,” troopers wrote. “The female passenger was contacted at her nearby residence; 61-year-old Barbara Walter identified the driver. Walter was injured and was transported to (Mat-Su Regional Medical Center).”
A post on the Matanuska Electric Association’s Facebook page reported the resulting outage at 3:41 a.m., with power restored by 5:07 a.m.
“A car accident near Vine and (Knik-Goose Bay Road) has disrupted the transmission line, taking two of our substations offline,” MEA officials wrote in the initial Facebook post. “Approximately 5,900 members are currently without power.”
The collision remains under investigation, with troopers saying MEA estimated about $3,000 in damage caused by the crash.
ANCHORAGE -- Tuesday morning Ethan Berkowitz walked down 6th Avenue for the first time as Anchorage's mayor.
He was wearing the same suit he wore while being sworn into office, officially succeeding two-term Mayor Dan Sullivan, and was on his way to a construction crew that was fixing a sidewalk.
By the time the job was finished Berkowitz's navy blue pants were speckled with concrete. He joked about having to clean himself up before his wife saw that he had probably ruined his black dress shoes.
Berkowitz peppered the construction crews about the type of concrete they were using and about the best techniques to smooth out the sidewalk.
"I think the most important thing you do as mayor is make sure the city is working, that you fix the potholes, the public is safe," Berkowitz said. "This is a way of doing it: fixing potholes does make the city safe."
His spokeswoman Nora Morse said getting the sidewalk on 6th Avenue fixed was a campaign promise Berkowitz made during the campaign. An older woman had tripped on the broken sidewalk and hurt herself, Morse said.
Asked if he felt nervous before being sworn in, Berkowitz said, "I feel good."
ANCHORAGE -- A new report says erosion is eating away at Alaska's northern coast at some of the highest rates in the nation, threatening habitat and infrastructure.
The U.S. Geological Survey study published Wednesday looked at more than 50 years of data and found an average yearly shoreline change of more than 4 1/2 feet. Extreme cases showed an annual difference of more than 60 feet.
USGS geologist Ann Gibbs says the report provides baseline information for an area studied far less than other parts of the country. The new study looked at nearly 995 miles of the coast between Alaska's icy Cape and the Canada border.
The study is part of an ongoing assessment of the nation's shoreline. It did not address climate change.
Alaska state regulators have named six marijuana businesses it says are operating illegally.
In cease-and-desist letters signed this month by Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board chair Cynthia Franklin, officials threatened "enforcement action" against owners of the businesses. The matter, which highlights the boundaries of newly legalized marijuana in Alaska, will be discussed Thursday in Fairbanks by the board.
The alcohol control agency was temporarily empowered to regulate pot like alcohol when Alaskans legalized recreational marijuana in November. Gov. Bill Walker on Wednesday named the five members of the Marijuana Control Board, which is expected to take over regulating pot from the ABC Board under the terms of Ballot Measure 2.
While pot is now legal in Alaska, no businesses have been licensed to sell the drug and certain other commercial activities remain banned.
Three Anchorage-based businesses -- Absolutely Chronic Delivery Company, Pot Luck Events and reporter-turned-pot-supporter Charlo Greene’s Alaska Cannabis Club -- received the warnings. Wasilla-based Discreet Deliveries and Northern Heights LLC were also sent letters, as was Green Rush Events in Kenai.
According to the letters, Absolutely Chronic and Discreet Deliveries provide door-to-door pot sales. The other businesses operate as marijuana clubs, where people can use pot they either bring themselves or receive for free after paying a membership fee.
Each of the letters was sent by certified mail, and copied to local police chiefs and enforcement authorities in each business’s jurisdiction as well as Alaska’s U.S. attorney, Karen Loeffler. In them, Franklin explains that the ABC Board has yet to issue licenses for marijuana businesses -- with the first not expected until May 2016.
The letters are dated June 18 through June 22.
According to Franklin, each of the four marijuana clubs operates under a system identical to that of an outlaw “bottle club” in the alcohol business.
“You are operating an unlicensed marijuana business whose equivalent in the liquor licensing rules has been illegal for more than 30 years,” Franklin wrote. “Unless a future Legislature explicitly creates a statute allowing for marijuana clubs, this business model will continue to be unauthorized and illegal.”
Franklin had harsher words for Absolutely Chronic and Discreet Deliveries, telling each firm’s owner that their business “is not legitimate, does not pay taxes, is not regulated and is not subject to consumer protection regulations, which the ABC/MCB is still in the process of creating.”
Theresa Collins, the owner of Pot Luck Events in Anchorage, told KTUU on April 20 that her business was fulfilling an unmet need for Alaskans. At the time, the 3rd Avenue establishment was throwing Alaska’s first “4/20” celebration since legalization.
A call to Collins asking whether she planned to remain in business wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
All six firms were warned by Franklin of serious civil and criminal consequences should they continue their operations.
“The legal consequences of operating this business are varied and could range from criminal penalties to civil fines, tax penalties and prohibition from receiving an actual marijuana license when they become available in 2016,” Franklin wrote.
The ABC Board will convene its marijuana meeting in Fairbanks at 9 a.m. Thursday, at the local Legislative Information Office building at 1292 Sadler Way.
Public testimony will be taken shortly after the meeting begins, either in person or by phone at (800) 315-6338. Callers should dial code 69173 to address the meeting.
A government report indicates about a third of the world's polar bears could be in imminent danger from greenhouse gas emissions as soon as 2025.
The U.S. Geological Survey says updated scientific models don't bode well for polar bear populations across the world, especially in Alaska, the only U.S. state with the white bears.
The report released this week is part of the government's recovery plan for the polar bear. It's expected to be published Thursday in the Federal Register.
Greenhouse gases are blamed for the climate warming that's reducing the polar bear's summer sea ice habitat. The effects of diminished sea ice are projected to lead to population declines throughout the century.
Scientists saw no rebound in population numbers in their research models, which stretched to the year 2100.