OCTOBER 2017 OFFICE NEWS

The October news comes to you from the Elk Farm where another fall season is coming to a close. Wildlife activity has been abundant, with the most recent sighting being one of the highlights. Three otters showed up in the pond closest to the house, emerging during a phone call with an Alaska lawyer which wasn't interesting enough to keep the listener from staring out the window. Sue grabbed her phone and went closer. The ironic part of the story is the history behind the pond. A few years back the wetland had deteriorated to the point where water critters really couldn't use it anymore, so a non-permitted restoration project was started. That project managed to avoid detection, unlike several others that have resulted in small fines but also produced the wonderful wetlands that now exist on the farm. It is unfortunately true that doing the project, getting caught for not having a permit, and paying the fine is a far better option that going through the painful permitting process. It is also true that the government experts who control wetland activities know less about what really should be done to enhance wetlands than some non-experts who actually occupy those areas. Right now the Elk Farm has the finest wildlife habitat it has had for decades.

That prime habitat has produced numerous large white tail bucks. Andy managed to harvest one soon after arriving to hunt, and that basically ended the season for the Angstman family. A big bucks only policy has been the rule on the farm for a few years, not for trophy hunting, but instead to limit the deer harvest and enhance viewing opportunities the rest of the year. When one of the best bucks was taken, there was no desire to take another. A Cocker Spaniel field trial was held on the farm in mid-October, leaving a batch of released pheasants for Jack to chase for the rest of the fall. Ducks, geese, cranes and swans have also been numerous. The increase in swans has led to another observation. Apparently swans are territorial, and if enough occupy a small area, they drive off the geese.

Two cases were settled during October. One involved a horrible car-motorcycle crash in Kodiak. A car making a turn hit the side of a motorcycle which had the right of way and in the process mangled the leg of the motorcycle driver who hired ALO. That case settled easily for policy limits, and additional claims are now being pursued. A number of Kodiak claims have made their way to ALO recently, thanks to former Bethel Public Defender Josh Fitzgerald who relocated to Kodiak as a private lawyer. His wife Aileen briefly worked for ALO just before the family moved, providing trial support in a major jury trial in Bethel. Josh is a hopeless Iowa Hawkeye fan, and currently holds the traveling Floyd of Rosedale trophy replica that is awarded to the winner of the Iowa-Minnesota football game each year. The space normally reserved for that pig trophy at ALO has been vacant for a few years.

The other settlement was for an elderly ALO client from a coastal village who suffered a badly broken hip which greatly diminished her mobility, after falling on the ice in front of the local city office. Her settlement was substantially reduced because she was required to pay back Medicare for the cost of her treatment through the Indian Health Service. Many clients are surprised to learn that when they settle a civil claim, they are often required to repay various parties for the cost of their medical care, even if that care was provided through their own insurance. In some cases that amount is so high that the injured party receives nothing from the settlement, although in such cases the third party usually negotiates a settlement which assures the injured party some recovery.

Speaking of Medicare, it is surprising indeed that more people haven't objected to the huge cut to Medicare that is part of the proposed tax cuts now in Congress. The notion that the richest folks in America get a massive tax break and to pay for that break, money is being taken from what has become one of the most successful social programs in American history is astounding. Medicare is essential for most elderly people, and in many cases it is a life or death situation. The notion that the Waltons and the Kochs need a tax break is absurd. Their excess amount of wealth has given them an inordinate amount of influence in our government, and for that the rest of the population is about to pay a steep price. Of course Medicare is just one of many cuts, most aimed at programs which benefit poor people.

The United States Government just issued a climate report, with some straight talk about the issue of global warming. This report was prepared by scientists in both the Obama and Trump administrations. The Trump folks had the power to prevent the report from coming out, but did not do so. That fact reveals that even the Trump folks know the science is solid. It also reveals what has been noted here for years: denying that the earth is warming is a political position, not a scientific position. There are no credible scientists that dispute global warming, there are only a bunch of vocal politicians and political pundits who do so. If your science knowledge is coming from Limbaugh, Hannity, and the like, you don't know much about science. This story from the Today Show about Alaska illustrates the problem.

This month's mandatory moose took a stroll through Anchorage. This albino deer is roaming around some property owned by a friend in Wisconsin.

A good friend from high school told this story about an incident a long time ago when she was starting out as a hair dresser. She attended school to learn the trade, and during that training, she was told that in addition to styling hair, she should be on the lookout for medical issues she might encounter in a customer's hair and scalp that should be mentioned to the customer. Ever the attentive hair dresser, she checked her customers for dandruff, little bugs of various kinds, and of course various rashes. On one customer she noticed a significant rash and after she finished with the styling, she informed the customer "I noticed you have a bad case of syphilis that probably should be treated." While it is understandable that a person could confuse the words syphilis and psoriasis, the lady in the chair was not amused. By the time the manager settled things down, the new hair dresser kept her job, but the customer likely found a new stylist. No names were used in this story, but if she is a good sport, the good friend will go back to Facebook and comment "Yup, that was me."