JANURARY 2017 OFFICE NEWS

Kaiser wins 3rd K300 | Some cases settle | More Trump Business

A cold Kuskokwim 300 highlighted a busy January at ALO. Temperatures in the minus 40 range were common along the trail for the 38th running of the Kuskokwim 300. Lack of wind made that temperature more bearable, and local guy Pete Kaiser won his third race in a row. Here is a unique view of his finish. Increased purses for all three races made for some happy racers, and no rule violations made for equally happy race officials. Once again, the mass start for the Akiak Dash attracted attention.

Now it is on to the Iditarod for most of the famous racers who took part in the K300. Lack of snow in the Alaska Range has once again caused the race committee to consider moving the start to Fairbanks. Fans are not happy about that prospect, because the Rainy Pass zone provides much of the excitement for them in the early part of the race. Starting in Fairbanks means the first few days are a boring run down the river to Kaltag. There are other alternatives, and hopefully they will be considered.

ALO was busy resolving cases while the race was ending. Three cases settled, including a couple of major ones. An earlier reported incident at a youth jail in Anchorage resulted in a settlement without the need for a lawsuit. This incident gave the State of Alaska little room to maneuver, especially the part involving sexual contact after the resignation notice. What were they thinking?

Another settlement involved a child burned during a school outing in a rural village near Nome. At a spring picnic, a school employee utilized alcohol to stoke a fire that was already burning during a spring picnic. Many Alaskans, including mushers, use alcohol for fire starting, but using it on a burning fire is always dangerous, even in cold weather. This time, the fire flared up and burned a student sitting on the opposite side of the fire, downwind. The 2nd degree burn left scarring, and still causes discomfort more than a year later.

The final settlement involved a flying incident out of Bethel. A Caravan flight left Bethel on a day with heavy overcast, carrying several passengers bound for a coastal village. The plane ascended into the clouds, and suddenly it pitched left and downward, in an apparent stall. The pilot recovered but not before the plane emerged from the clouds and was approaching the ground at an odd angle. Passengers estimated the plane was 100-200 feet above the ground when it finally leveled off and then continued the flight. Three passengers asked ALO to make a claim for their fright, but the pilot denied anything had happened. The case resolved when a fourth passenger, a Catholic priest on his way to a village, confirmed the incident.

The recent settlement with the State of Alaska brings to mind a long ago claim against the State that didn't make the cut at ALO. A gentleman from a nearby village called for an appointment, saying he wanted to bring a civil claim against the State. He was a former client, and nice guy. When he arrived at the office he explained why he wanted to sue the state. It seems he had traveled to Anchorage a few days earlier, and when he checked into his hotel, a couple of guys followed him to his room and when he was about to unlock the door, they jumped him and stole his wallet with $500 in cash. This action, lurking at hotels frequented by rural folks, is not unheard of because crooks have figured out that travelers from the bush often carry cash instead of credits cards.

While the story was compelling, the obvious question to the client was this: "Why do you think the State of Alaska is responsible?" His answer made perfect sense, but didn't make for a very good lawsuit. "If the State gave those guys jobs, they wouldn't have to go around robbing people."

Bethel has turned out its share of athletes who have gone on to greater success. The most recent is Natalie Hanson, a former member of the Dog Farm softball team. This article reveals the success of that team's rigorous training regimen. All team members were asked to develop their muscles to this level, but some didn't quite make it.

The ALO news has some faithful readers in Nome. One of them posted this with hopes of making the news. This link in turn goes out to Nils Hahn and other Nome readers. Jeff King commissioned a new floor length parka to combat cold weather on the trail. After the race Jackie Klejka caught another guy modeling the coat for King and Brent Sass. The Dog Farm has found a wonderful place to retire old sled dogs. Kaiser was a rowdy dog who was likely the toughest guy in the yard, but upon retirement he seems to have turned over a new leaf. All of the retired dogs sent in last year have wonderful new homes.

This month's mandatory moose is an artistic photo of a mama with three calves, taken by Leilani Devries near Palmer.

Finally the Trump thoughts for this month. He has been in office for a couple weeks, and it has been a mess by any objective standard. The tweets continue, the goofy statements about ratings and polls, and the very poorly rolled out immigration ban have all been discussed at length, but the greatest concern on this end is the apparent effort to strong arm other countries into positions favored by the US. That's not the way it works. Foreign relations are intricate, and relations with one country directly affect our relationship with other countries for reasons that are not always apparent, especially to the public. One example is trade. American can talk tough on trade, but in the end there is a global market and taxing one country might result in bad news for the US in another market. A measured approach to our dealings with other countries is important, and Trump the bully doesn't seem to understand that.

But the scariest news about Trump is his recent tweet calling the person who ruled against his immigration ban a "so-called judge". Coming from the president such disrespect for the judiciary is alarming. Who knows how many of Trump's followers will take that message to heart and decide to feel the same way about the judiciary? It also suggests how Trump might react to more significant judicial setbacks down the road. If he was a client at ALO and publicly said that about the judge who ruled on his case, he would be looking for a new lawyer. But first he would hear how incredibly stupid it is to publicly challenge a judge. This isn't the first time he has done it, and likely won't be the last. Trump forgets the basic rule of court decisions: if you want to win, you better have a stronger case than your opponent, especially when the opponent is highly motivated and well represented. After a lifetime of bullying legal opponents in business disputes where he could outspend the other side and often win in the process, he must now face the reality that his opponent often won't back down so easily.