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July 2020

A streak of beautiful weather has delayed the July news a bit.  It is a fact that folks waiting out the pandemic in rural Alaska have options available to them that others might not.  Alaska outdoor activities have taken the place of urban activities for many Alaskans, and the Angstman cabin in Wood Tikchik State Park has had lots of use.  For a photo tour of the area, check out this Facebook collection from a recent visit. 


ALO Legal News - Reflections & Updates


Call Me Mister

A favorite topic here on the ALO news has always been old stories from legal cases.  One of the best involves a lawsuit against recently bankrupted airline Ravn, back when it was known as Hageland here in the Bethel region. ALO has had numerous cases against that company, mainly because they crashed a bunch of airplanes, but one case involved a prop strike to the head of a young woman in a village.  There were numerous witnesses and it was clear the pilot started the engine before the passengers had collected all of their baggage. A demand letter went to the company in an email, and a risk management person for the company took issue with the factual content of that email and responded to his fellow management people. Unfortunately he hit reply all, and thus his response arrived on a laptop in the main office at ALO.  It was not saved, but it read something like this:  “That dickhead is hallucinating. He has the facts all wrong. Is it OK if I contact him directly to set him straight?”   


The dickhead in question could not resist responding with another reply all.  “The facts are accurate, and even a dickhead could win this case.”   But that didn’t end the discussion. In the workup of the case, it became apparent that the risk manager had met with the pilot right after the accident and concocted an explanation for the prop strike that varied from the actual facts.  Throughout the preparation of case, the dickhead lawyer referred to the risk manager by his last name only despite a request from opposing counsel that he be identified as Mr.  That led to a motion the morning of trial asking the court to order the use of Mr. during the trial.  The judge heard the argument from the company lawyer and then turned to the offending lawyer for an explanation.  “Your Honor, the risk manager sent me an accidental reply all where he referred to me as a dickhead.”  The court smothered a laugh and said “That puts this issue in a different light.”  The court’s order stated that all counsel should use proper titles where appropriate. That left some wiggle room, and the risk manager, who did not appear at trial, was never called Mr. by the opposing lawyer.  The jury didn’t seemed to mind, finding Hageland at fault and also finding that punitive damages were appropriate. Throughout the trial, the story concocted by the risk manager was ridiculed repeatedly, it didn’t hold up.



Farewell to the National Guard Armory Gym

The National Guard Armory gym which served as the home of Bethel City league basketball for many years recently came down in a heap as the last remnants of the Kilbuck School fire are demolished. The gym was a major meeting place in a town with limited entertainment options in that era. City league basketball games would often fill the bleachers with hundreds of fans and rivalries carried on for years.  The Old Friendly Dog Farm team was intact for about 30 years, and actually won a few trophies, including the one shown above at ALO, thanks to careful recruiting.  Two memories from a city league career that lasted until about 10 years ago include the only technical foul earned in over 50 years of playing. That happened when riding the bench one night as Dennis Gunder reffed the game. A creative criticism of a call was made as Dennis ran by and an immediate technical foul was awarded.  It was puzzling coming from Dennis who rode refs pretty hard in an equally long career in city league.  The other memorable moment came during a game against a team featuring State Senator George Hohman. George was fairly short and very aggressive on the court.  On one under the basket play, he managed to get underneath everyone and straightened up quickly purposely flipping one unsuspecting player over George’s back and head first onto the floor.  Someone else was forced to shoot the free throws because of a quick trip to the emergency room for stitches above the eye.  It is noteworthy that George never apologized  for that effort, but he did wind up in jail for bribery a few years later.  ALO did eventually sue George for failing to pay a  local contractor for services rendered on a building.  George ended up owing several thousand dollars on that case and paid by bringing the money to deposit with the court clerk.  The clerk reported the payment was made in cash, and came out of a brown paper bag.


ALO Case Update

One other ALO case recently made the news in Nome - "Lawsuit Against Myrtle Irene’s Owner Moves Forward As Gold Mining and Reality T.V. Season Resumes." That case is in the discovery phase and like all jury cases in Alaska it faces uncertain scheduling with the Covid-19 issue. It marks the third time ALO has had cases involving folks from the reality TV series in Nome.


Mushing Read

A former Minnesota resident and current Alaskan, Katherine Keith penned an interesting account of her path from a feisty Minnesota girl to her current role as a competitive dog racer in rural Alaska.  She is based in Kotzebue, and has raced the Kuskokwim 300, which gets a mention in the book.  Here is the race excerpt from Epic Solitude.



Mandatory Moose & Other Critters

This month’s mandatory moose is a pair of young ones.



The security camera at the elk farm recorded this interaction between a crane and a deer with surprising results.



The front lawn at the farm has been a virtual hangout this summer. It was fairly dry in July and the watered lawn attracted critters with its juicy grass. Here are a few of the regulars.



Bethel had a tough year for mosquitoes early but they disappeared in July. Not so everywhere, as this photo from the Northern part of Alaska shows.



A solar panel layout built a while back at ALO has been made into an advertisement that recently showed up online.


That was when the dogs still occupied a prominent spot in the yard.  Speaking of dogs, every gardener needs a helper.



Cartoons

LaMont Albertson seeks out great cartoons so that you don’t have to, and they are provided to you free of charge each month on the ALO news.  Here are some for July.


Glenda Bach also has an eye for cartoons. 


Wealth Disparity

This article "'Disturbing Milestone': Just 12 US Billionaires Now Own More Than $1 Trillion in Combined Wealth" describes the problem with American wealth that has been mentioned here several times.  The disparity in wealth in this nation is much more than the fact that we have a massive class of people who are now considered poor.  For many years the argument against big government was that government interference prevented economic growth by thwarting big business. Starting in the 1980’s, that argument has turned into fiction as bigger and bigger companies came to have increasing say in who gets elected in this country.  We have reached the point where a few big companies and billionaires control enough votes to dominate politics in America.  The result is that the government can no longer can control business, but instead, big business controls government.  How else could the government pass legislation to give our richest citizens a massive tax break when the nation’s financial needs are immense?  The mantra of both big business and government leaders is continued economic growth, which of course is impossible. Economic growth needs increased resources and increased population in order to happen, and the earth obviously has a finite limit for both and those limits are fast approaching. It is ironic that the one consistent driver of US economic growth for a long time has been immigration  There are many very smart folks who believe both limits have been exceeded, and a downward trend in both population and resource use is about to begin.  Those folks point to population trends in many developed nations, and also point to shortages in wood, water and food that already exist in many areas of the world.  It won’t be a graceful descent.



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