New from Northern Journal: Interesting stuff

The inaugural edition of Interesting Stuff has items on the Southeast Alaska troll lawsuit, the timber controversy in Yakutat, a new pro-family advisor for the governor and a renewable energy project.

Update, 5/11: Scroll down to the bottom of the “Yakutat developments” section for news on a bankruptcy filing by the subsidiary of the Yakutat village corporation that led a controversial timber harvesting program in the Southeast Alaska community.

I tend to have a pretty healthy diet: I eat tons of salad, lots of fish. But sometimes, I stop at McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin (no meat) and hash brown, or I walk into a gas station and buy something that I’m embarrassed to identify here.

My professional diet, I like to think, is pretty similar. Most of the time, I try to do substantive, policy-oriented work that I would compare to eating vegetables. But inevitably, I stumble upon delectable morsels of information that I consider the journalistic equivalent of donuts, french fries or pizza.

To really stretch this metaphor: One of the frustrating things about operating a one-person news shop like Northern Journal, compared to working at a bigger outlet, is that there’s nobody else to eat the vegetables if you stop to eat every donut that presents itself to you. I’ve always wished I had time to write up every single interesting fact that I stumble upon, but now I definitely don’t.

So, I’m trying out something new. Each week (or so, don’t hold me to it), I plan to send a short edition of Northern Journal with a highly creative subject line: Interesting Stuff. It’ll be simple: links to documents, public notices and other newsy items, with a bit of commentary, on the different beats and stories I’m following, where I don’t have time or space for a standalone piece.

Let me know if you find this worthwhile, or if you have other ideas or feedback.

The inaugural edition of Interesting Stuff has items on the Southeast Alaska troll lawsuit, the ongoing timber harvesting controversy in Yakutat, a new pro-family advisor for the governor and renewable energy and health care projects.

One note: many of the postings here are court documents that I had to pay for, thanks to the federal judicial system’s absurdly anachronistic platform that charges 10 cents a page. If you find this information useful and you can afford it, please consider a paid membership.

Northern Journal is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Troll lawsuit

Last week, a Washington-based federal judge released a decision that had the effect of closing Southeast Alaska’s troll fishery for chinook salmon — a small-scale, hook-and-line harvest that supports some 1,500 fishermen across the region.

This week, Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration, which vowed to fight the closure, filed its first substantive legal response to the order. It asks the judge who issued the ruling to put it on hold until the state’s appeal can be heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the six-page request here.

Trident’s geothermal moonshot

Processing giant Trident Seafoods has been considering whether to build a massive new plant, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, in the Aleutian fishing hub of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.

Such a plant would replace Trident’s huge existing facility on the neighboring island of Akutan, and it would come with a major realignment of regional tax revenue and economic activity.

Trident already appears poised to benefit from infrastructure investments by the City of Unalaska in support of its prospective new plant.

Now, it’s also teaming up with the Alaska Energy Authority to apply for a $250 million grant from the Department of Energy that would help pay for a long-sought geothermal power project at the nearby Makushin Volcano. The $350 million geothermal development, a joint project between Unalaska’s Native village corporation and a company led by Fairbanks businessman Bernie Karl, could help Trident reduce its carbon emissions from its processing operations by 90%. It also would supply power to other consumers on Unalaska.

Read the grant proposal here.

Yakutat developments

If you’ve been reading Northern Journal for the past few months, you’ll know there’s a long-running controversy in the community about the local village corporation’s timber harvesting program, which drew strident opposition from many community members and, recently, a federal lawsuit by the corporation’s bank in an effort to collect what it alleges are $13 million in unpaid loans.

On Tuesday, a group of shareholders in the village corporation, Yak-Tat Kwaan, filed its own lawsuit in Anchorage Superior Court that seeks to wrest control of the corporation away from its existing board. As you may recall from previous coverage, the corporation’s board has canceled a series of elections since late 2021, initially citing “disinformation.” That’s had the effect of allowing incumbent board members to remain in their seats instead of standing for re-election.

The Stewards of Yakutat Coalition, led by co-chairs Amanda Bremner and Jay Stevens, are asking a judge to order the corporation to "promptly hold a lawful annual meeting" with all nine board members up for re-election, saying all nine of their terms have expired. The corporation’s chief executive, Shari Jensen, told me late Wednesday that she had not heard of nor seen the lawsuit yet.

Read the coalition’s press release here.

Read the coalition’s legal complaint here.

Read the coalition’s “lis pendens,” a legal warning to anyone seeking to take possession of the corporation’s real estate or other assets, here.

Separately, a dispute is playing out between the village corporation and its bank, which has asked a federal judge for a restraining order barring the corporation from moving a tug and barge that’s pledged as collateral on the corporation’s loans. The bank says the vessels are uninsured, that the corporation won't allow inspections and that they're operating without oil spill certification and other requirements.

Read the bank’s motion here.

The village corporation responded Wednesday opposing the bank’s motion, saying the tug and barge are insured and that the bank’s order to stop using the vessels has blocked the corporation from making $750,000 in profits from hauling scrap metal from Cordova to Washington.

Read the corporation’s response here. A supporting affidavit from the corporation’s chief executive is here, and another one from the corporation’s timber subsidiary is here.

Update, 5/11: Yak Timber, the village corporation’s subsidiary that led the timber program, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late Thursday.

Read Yak Timber’s bankruptcy filing here. Marvin Adams, Yak Timber’s chief executive, and Shari Jensen, the village corporation’s chief executive, both declined to comment. Jensen said shareholders should expect to receive a letter from the corporation shortly.

A new Anchorage emergency facility?

Alaska Regional Hospital is proposing to build a $17.5 million, 10,860-square-foot new "free-standing emergency department" in South Anchorage. Read the public notice here.

A pro-family policy advisor

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has given aide Jeremy Cubas, who was previously in a “media specialist” role, an extra title: “pro-family policy advisor.” Cubas seems to be a living embodiment of his new portfolio: His recently filed financial disclosure, available here, shows that he has nine dependent children.