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Jill Burke

Anchorage Democrats Rep. Chris Tuck and Sen. Bill Wielechowski are heading to Juneau with plans to beef up Alaska’s Uniform Code of Military Justice. The effort is intended to improve the culture within the Alaska National Guard, which came under heavy criticism in 2014 by federal investigators for leadership failures.

“By adding and changing the Uniform Code of Military Justice, we would be creating a criminal justice system within the guard,” Wielechowski said at a press conference at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Thursday...

Jill Burke

When Jessica McDonnell decided to use cloth diapers on her son, she didn’t know it would lead her into the world of business and ultimately, a storefront of her own just off the Parks Highway in Wasilla.

What started as a quest to cloth diaper her child has evolved into a hands-on boutique where the natural parenting baby products that line the shelves are as much of a draw as the personal connections that are made there among parents who come to explore cloth diapering.

“The biggest misconception is that it is going to be difficult. It’s not. It is super easy,” McDonnell said during a recent afternoon interview at her store...

Jill Burke

The hacking cough. The sneezing. The sore throat. If you’re among the people who are trying to fend off these and other symptoms, you’re not alone.

The flu has made its way into more Alaska households than usual for the start of the holiday season.

The 405 cases already identified so far this month are “by far the highest number of confirmed flu cases we’ve seen in November in the past four years,” Dr. Michael Cooper, program manager for the state’s infectious disease program, said in a statement released Tuesday.

What’s not yet known is whether this is an early peak to the flu season or a very high low point in a season that could prove to be one of the worst in recent years...

Jill Burke

More than a month after suing Gov. Sean Parnell for the release of public records related to problems in the Alaska National Guard, plaintiffs Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Public Media have received more than 2,000 pages of documents, but the heavily redacted material sheds little light on how Parnell and his staff addressed guard-related complaints.

On Oct. 9, the attorney general agreed to rolling production of the desired records. When that didn’t happen, the news outlets sought relief in court. On Oct. 30, Alaska Superior Court Judge Greg Miller ordered the state to begin daily production of the records sought until Election Day...

Jill Burke

An Alaska Army National Guard sergeant who in the last six years has survived two sexual assaults, an abusive husband and a year of workplace harassment is finally seeing the system work the way it should.

This past summer, Anchorage police arrested the men suspected of sexually assaulting Sgt. Rosa Ralls. They are the only arrests made in any of the 20 known cases the department has looked into in which guard members were either victims or suspected assailants. Meantime, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, who has come under scrutiny for his handling of criminal allegations and other dire issues within the guard, invited Ralls to speak with him late last month...

Jill Burke

As an appointed official in Gov. Sean Parnell’s office in 2012 and 2013, Nancy Dahlstrom came to distrust the practice there of sharing complaints about the Alaska National Guard with the guard’s chief official, an appointee of Parnell.

But in 2009, when she was a conservative Republican House member representing Eagle River and Anchorage’s military bases, she was a staunch defender of the status quo, sending a pointed email to a whistleblower complaining about several top officers, including Thomas Katkus, the general Parnell was about to name as guard commander...

Richard Mauer,Jill Burke

A former Republican legislator who received complaints about the Alaska National Guard as an aide to Gov. Sean Parnell said the governor's chief of staff ordered her to pass the concerns she heard to the head of the guard -- even when the complaints were about the guard’s top leaders.

“I thought, ‘If there is something here, the problem is only going to be made worse by including the commissioner of Military and Veterans Affairs,’” Nancy Dahlstrom, a former representative from Eagle River, said in an interview this week...

Jill Burke,Richard Mauer

Nearly three weeks after media reports began to chronicle what appeared to be a pattern of predatory debauchery within the Alaska Army National Guard’s recruiting and retention battalion, the recruiters named in the stories are suing in federal court in an effort to reveal how the story got out.

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Joseph Lawendowski, Sgt. Shannon Tallant, Master Sgt. John Nieves and Master Sgt. Jarrett Carson filed suit in Washington, D.C. against the U.S. Department of the Army and the Secretary of the Army over violations of the Privacy Act...

Jill Burke

Master Sgt. Jarrett Carson, a large, bald man described by his own attorney as a loud, brash, direct, in-your-face senior noncommissioned officer, is fighting to save his military career.

Carson, a 19-year guardsman, is the latest recruiter from the Alaska Army National Guard to undergo a trial-like administrative hearing to determine whether he should be kicked out of the military...

Jill Burke

The day Alaska Dispatch News published excerpts from a secret recording of Gov. Sean Parnell’s “town hall” with National Guard troops from which the public and media were barred, an official sent an email to Army Guard members that “new guidance” from the Army bars soldiers from taking their smartphones and tablets to their military workplace.

The problem was, the “guidance” from the Army wasn’t new, and it didn’t prohibit soldiers from taking their personal devices to work.

Most smartphones have software that makes it easy to record a conversation or speech, even when the device is in a pocket...

Richard Mauer,Jill Burke