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Nathaniel Herz

Former Anchorage Assembly candidate Nick Moe has been fined $275 for failing to report a $500 in-kind donation to his campaign.

The fine, levied by the Alaska Public Offices Commission last week, was reduced from a maximum of $55,000 after the commission ruled that the omission "appeared to be the result of an honest mistake."

Moe, who ran as a write-in candidate, came within 600 votes of unseating current Assembly Chair Ernie Hall in last April's municipal election.

According to an affidavit from Moe, his campaign failed to follow campaign finance rules related to a radio ad he commissioned from Tom Begich, a political consultant...

Nathaniel Herz

Anchorage will drop its effort to acquire land near Kincaid Park to use for housing and services for homeless residents, and those at risk of becoming homeless, Mayor Dan Sullivan told a community meeting Monday night.

The city could not find a way to pay for the development of the 66-acre property, which could have cost as much as $80 million, Sullivan said.

"Quite frankly, it's the sticker shock," he told more than 175 people at a meeting of the Sand Lake Community Council. "The scale of it is beyond what we considered to be affordable."...

Nathaniel Herz

Members of the Anchorage Assembly sharply questioned Mayor Dan Sullivan about the planned construction of tennis courts in the Turnagain neighborhood, alleging that the Legislature had been "hoodwinked" into funding them.

The accusation came from Assemblyman Bill Starr at a work session Friday at City Hall. Starr frequently interrupted Sullivan and accused him of usurping the Assembly's authority to shape state funding requests.

Along with other members, both liberal and conservative, Starr peppered Sullivan with questions about how much the project would cost to build and maintain, and how some $10 million was secured from the state to pay for it...

Nathaniel Herz

A local Native corporation is suing the city over what it says is a stinky deal on a methane gas project at the Anchorage Regional Landfill.

Eklutna Inc., headquartered in Eagle River, accuses the city of depriving it of revenues from a system that collects gas from the landfill and sells it to another company, Doyon Utilities. Doyon then converts the gas to electricity for use at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Under a longstanding settlement called the North Anchorage Land Agreement, the city is supposed to split any revenues from so-called "public interest lands" with Eklutna, according to Curtis McQueen, the corporation's chief executive officer...

Nathaniel Herz

Three Anchorage Assembly members are trying to delay funding for the construction of indoor tennis courts in the Turnagain neighborhood, citing concerns over the project's costs and how it was funded.

Bill Starr, Adam Trombley and Dick Traini have sponsored a resolution that would split a $37 million state grant into two chunks. That would allow the Assembly to separately consider $26.5 million in upgrades and renovations to four city ice arenas and other facilities, and $10.5 million for what the city is calling the Northern Lights Recreation Center -- the six indoor tennis courts and a pair of half basketball courts...

Nathaniel Herz

The number of serious crimes reported in Anchorage in 2012 rose in seven of eight categories tracked by the FBI, according to the latest statistics released by the bureau.

The FBI, using data provided by the Anchorage Police Department, recorded increases in murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor-vehicle theft, and larceny and theft.

Overall, reports of violent crime rose 3.8 percent, while reports of property crimes -- like thefts and burglaries -- rose 11.5 percent. Reported arsons declined, from 126 in 2011 to 97 in 2012.

The statistics, released last month, represent only the crimes people tell police about. Some number go unreported, and experts caution against drawing too strong a conclusion from a year-to-year change...

Nathaniel Herz

The Alaska Supreme Court has agreed to expedite Anchorage's appeal on the contentious case involving the city's new labor relations law.

The city's public sector unions have pushed for the expedited schedule because it could allow resolution of the case in time to hold a referendum on the law at the municipal election scheduled for April of 2014.

The Supreme Court granted the request Tuesday after a joint request from the unions and the city's attorneys, who agreed to the quicker schedule.

The unions are trying to repeal the labor relations law -- which restricts rights of certain unions to strike, and limits raises, among many other provisions -- through a referendum...

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Assembly task force that's been taking testimony on the city's public hearing policies is holding its last meeting Tuesday night at which citizens can weigh in on the task force's own recommendations.

The task force, led by former Assembly member Jane Angvik and composed of 10 other residents, was convened after a controversy stemming from the Assembly's decision to shut off public testimony on a labor relations law last March.

The task force in late September released a set of draft recommendations to improve the hearing process.

The recommendations include improving the public notice and information that the Assembly provides about hearings, and about new ordinances it will consider...

Nathaniel Herz

A case involving a hotly contested piece of Cook Inlet-facing property in Anchorage went to trial in Superior Court on Monday, with a decision expected after a judge hears arguments over decades-old deeds and the intent of a real estate developer and historic Alaska figure named Marvin "Muktuk" Marston.

The two-week trial pits the city against a group of property owners led by Matt Fink, a son of former Mayor Tom Fink, in a dispute that's been unfolding for the last six years.

The contested land, in the Turnagain neighborhood next to Lyn Ary Park, is less than three acres, said Bob Owens, the city attorney working on the case...

Nathaniel Herz

The Anchorage Police Department is anticipating a staffing shortfall next year, which could lead to delays in its responses to low-priority 911 calls, downsizing of specialized units like detectives and traffic enforcement, and steeper overtime costs, according to Chief Mark Mew.

Mew stressed that the department had not determined exactly which approach it would take, or that all would be necessary.

"But those are the logical possibilities," he said.

A small recruiting class and dozens of officers leaving the department this year mean that the number of sworn officers in 2014 will likely hover between 335 and 350, Mew said -- below his target of 375...

Nathaniel Herz