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AK Beat: Anchorage Assembly postpones tennis courts decision until Nov. 19

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
Whitney Williams, a South High senior and three-time state tennis champion, spoke in favor of Mayor Dan Sullivan's plan for new indoor tennis courts during an Anchorage Assembly meeting on Tuesday Nov. 5 at Loussac Library. Loren Holmes photo

Anchorage Assembly again postpones indoor tennis court decision: After hearing again from supporters and opponents of a plan to use $10.5 million of state funding to build six indoor tennis courts, the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night postponed its decision. With time running out on the meeting, dozens of people were still waiting to offer their comment on dueling proposals from Assemblyman Bill Starr and Mayor Dan Sullivan. Starr’s proposal would strip the money for a new indoor facility and use it instead to increase maintenance and improvement funds for other municipal-owned facilities, such as Sullivan Arena, and the  Ben Boeke Ice Arena.  Mayor Sullivan’s idea would partially fund the indoor tennis facility, but use some of the money on other projects.  Because so many people came out to give public testimony, Assembly members were unable to take action on either proposal, and the issue was reset for the next meeting on Nov. 19.

Recall petition for Rep. Lindsey Holmes to be turned in: Recall supporters say they have more than 1,000 signatures collected in their attempt to force a recall election of Rep. Lindsey Holmes, who ran for office last year as a Democrat, but then became a Republican. "This is about the voters of District 19 saying 'we want our votes back, we would like an opportunity, given all of the information, to vote again,'" said Wigi Tozzi, recall organizer. The effort collected 1,101 signatures as of Tuesday, and has verified that 905 are registered voters in the district, he said. The recall application requires a minimum of 808 valid signatures. If the state Elections Division approves the petition, supporters will then have to collect 2,020 valid signatures to get their recall election. The recall supporters will hold a rally in Anchorage, with yard signs and bumper stickers, eventually moving to the elections office on Gambell Street to turn in petitions, Tozzi said.

 Tuition hike proposed for UA students: University of Alaska students would pay $6 more per credit hour starting next fall, or about $90 per semester for those attending full-time, under a proposal the UA Board of Regents is to consider Wednesday in Anchorage. For graduate courses, the increase would be $12 per credit hour. The meeting is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lee Gorsuch Commons on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. "Even with the increase, the university would remain among the lowest of public institutions in the 15 Western states,"  UA press release says. Tuition went up by 2 percent this year, one of the smallest increases in more than a decade, the university said.

Anchorage gets first-ever triple-A rating from financial agency: Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan announced Tuesday morning that the city’s finances have drawn the attention of the bond-credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s. The mayor said that for the first time the city has earned the agency’s highest AAA rating, the first Alaska city to do so. Fairbanks, the second-largest city in Alaska, carries a double-A rating. A higher credit rating means the municipality may pay a less interest on bonds it issues to raise money for such capital improvements as roads and schools. Anchorage is set to issue $43 million in school bonds on Wednesday, and Anchorage Chief Financial Officer Lucinda Mahoney said the new rating could save the city as much as $7.5 million over 10 years if the city issues the same amount of bonds in forthcoming years as it has this year. The new bond rating puts Anchorage in the top 10 percent of the 4,000 municipal governments that Standard and Poor’s tracks.

GOP Sen. Click Bishop urges Parnell to release report: Fairbanks Republican Sen. Click Bishop has joined those calling on Gov. Sean Parnell to release a state-funded study of Medicaid costs to the public. In a letter to Parnell Oct. 29, Bishop said he believes the $80,000 study should be made available to the public so that there is "time to review and understand this information before the next legislative session and before we are called upon to make any changes to the state's Medicaid program." The Parnell administration has refused so far to release the report, arguing that keeping it secret will create less confusion.

Downtown food fight: Things are heating up between the owner of a downtown restaurant and a local food truck that started serving late-night patrons in the same neighborhood. In one corner, Brown Bag Sandwich Co. Owner Antoine McLeod, a brick-and-mortar building that serves gourmet sandwiches. In the other, John D'Elia, owner of the Asian-fusion inspired Urban Bamboo food truck. According to KTVA, McLeod contends Urban Bamboo is operating without the proper permits, though D'Elia disagrees. So with the number of food trucks only exploding in Anchorage, who will decide? Perhaps it will be the Anchorage Assembly, who will consider the permitting issue at a workshop on Thursday at City Hall.

YouTube video award has Fairbanks connection: FifGen Films, an Oregon-based video company with strong ties to Alaska, created a video for Lindsey Stirling & Pentatonix's viral cover of the Imagine Dragons' song "Radioactive," and it won the first "Response of the Year" award at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards on Sunday. FifGen Films, based in Corvallis, is owned and operated by Jimmy Bates and Reilly Zamber. Zamber grew up in Fairbanks and attended West Valley High School as well as the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon and handles the day-to-day business operations of FifGen Films. The video has had nearly 42 million views since February. Watch it below, or click here.

Scenic Seward Highway lauded: For Alaska residents, this may come as no surprise, but the Seward Highway south of Alaska's largest city has been named one of the most-scenic roads in America by Country magazine.  The 125-mile highway, which connects Anchorage to Seward, is joined by the Oregon Coast Highway, the Door County Coastal Byway in Wisconsin, the road through Utah's Red Rock Country and others. Completed in 1951, the Seward Highway runs through the scenic Kenai Peninsula and Chugach National Forest, with views of Turnagain Arm. During the 1964 earthquake, nearly 20 miles of the Seward Highway sunk into Turnagain Arm and had to be rebuilt.