The November news is once again brought to you from the new urban office of ALO, located a short distance from downtown Anchorage. But don’t be fooled by the distance. The new spot is on the edge of a very quiet neighborhood where evening walks can be accomplished with very little traffic and Jack off leash for the most part. One of the closest walking areas is the Anchorage Park Strip which used to be the main airport for the city. It started out as a firebreak cut in the woods, and in the 1920’s was used to land planes when aviation was just getting started in Alaska. A major airport was built nearby in 1932 and the park strip was set aside for recreational activities and was even used as a golf course for a while. Now it is mainly open space with a skating rink, ball fields, and a few monuments. It is well used even in the winter, with cleared sidewalks. Nearby is the coastal trail which is well lit and maintained, covering 11 miles from downtown to a large park that connects to another trail system which links every part of the city. As a longtime walker in Bethel, where good walking trails are limited, this change is welcomed. In the past 30 days, if the iPhone app is accurate, about 150 miles have been logged with Jack. Some of those miles were at the unique Connor Bog dog park, about 150 acres of heavy woods and a lake near the Anchorage airport. There, all of the dogs are running loose, as are the many moose that hang out there. So far Jack has been chased by three different moose who seem to be satisfied if any intruder backs off when chased, which Jack is good at. During one walk at the dog park, former Bethel guy Bill Eggiman snapped this outstanding photo just before the bull moose took a run at two of Bill’s elderly walking partners, and then commented how quickly they moved when motivated.
Anchorage has upwards of 1,000 resident moose in the winter.
An Anchorage oddity that has often been discussed is the tendency to encounter former Bethel folks in the big city. Every few days on a walk another Bethelite is found on the trail. It would be interesting to learn how many Anchorage residents previously lived in Bethel at some point. A good guess is that the number is in the high hundreds, and they are like Army buddies who like to get together and talk about old war stories, of which there many.
In-court work is severely limited by COVID-19, but some progress has been made on out-of-court settlements. One case that settled involved a bad traffic accident in the Mat-Su Valley. A large commercial truck hauling material from a gravel pit lost part of its load on a highway, and the falling rocks caused a driver to lose control and suffer serious injury. That case settled for policy limits after an expert opinion was offered that the injured party had a permanent lifetime disability. The other settlement involved a claim against a male guard at the state jail who was accused of using improper force against a female inmate. Fortunately for the inmate, the incident was preserved on security film where another officer can be heard ordering the offending guard to immediately stop the use of force. That video prompted the State to settle before suit was filed.
Those two legal claims represent fairly standard cases for ALO but one case from a few years back was a one-of-a-kind case that is worth remembering. A call came in to ALO from the Bethel Alcohol Treatment Center which over the years has been a busy place. It has been a resident treatment facility for 30-90 day courses in both drying out and counseling. The caller said he had been there a while and wanted to go home and they wouldn’t let him out. In the interview, it became apparent that the guy expected to be released after a certain period of time but now was past that time and tired of the drill. A call to the facility produced a copy of the paperwork that required him to be at the facility until completion of the course, as a condition of probation on a criminal charge. Sharing that paperwork with the caller, an issue was identified. It seems the fellow in the treatment center was John Doe Sr. and the paperwork from the court concerned a guy named John Doe Jr, his son. Further discussion revealed the following account. Sr. got a letter in the mail in his village informing him that he was required to report to the treatment center on a certain date by order of the court. It is worth noting that the letter said neither Sr. or Jr., but simply John Doe. Being the good citizen that he was, Sr. dutifully presented himself at the appointed time, and began his treatment. In fairness, it should be noted that Sr. and Jr. shared a problem with booze so the course seemed at least at the outset, like a good idea to Sr. At the completion of what he understood was his expected stay at the facility, Sr. planned to go home, but the fine print of the order said he had to successfully complete the program which he had not done - that triggered the call to ALO. A couple calls later with a bit of back-up paper work offered, and Sr. was released with a free ticket home. On his way home, Sr. acknowledged to his lawyer that the program had been helpful but in his opinion lasted a little too long. The story wouldn’t be complete without noting that ALO sought reimbursement for Sr. for the unfortunate error by the government, and the State paid a modest settlement. And as a final footnote, Jr. was required to do his treatment after all. In order to fully understand why Sr showed up at the treatment center when he didn't have to, a person would have to understand that many older Native folk in rural Alaska were not accustomed to questioning authority. That attitude is now less prevalent.
A family recently represented by ALO in a distant community reported that after their successful court case, they discovered interesting things on their daughter’s cell phone. Apparently the high achieving teenager, who is a top student in her high school, had two ALO phone numbers saved among her ten speed dial numbers. When asked why, she responded “You never know when you might need a lawyer.” Seems like that would make a good Facebook ad for ALO.
Don Rearden - "Ada Blackjack Rising"
Alaska author Don Rearden is often mentioned here for his varied skills, and his most recent success is a must watch six minute film - "Ada Blackjack Rising" for anyone interested in Alaskana.
The film is profiled in this ADN article "An absolute powerhouse’: Short film tells the incredible survival tale of Ada Blackjack." Ada Blackjack was a Native woman from Western Alaska who was recruited as a helper on a remote expedition in the early 1900’s. The group fell on hard times, and after being isolated on an island for years, Ada emerged as the sole survivor. This film, based on a book written a few years ago, is worth the time to see. Don wrote the screenplay. He used to get his high school compositions edited at ALO, so when he wins his first Oscar, it only seems appropriate that ALO will get invited to the party.
Mandatory Moose & Other Creatures
This month’s mandatory moose has a holiday theme.
This lynx showed up in someone’s window in Anchorage, sitting on top of their porch.
This Elk Farm farm encounter between a deer and a raccoon might surprise you a bit.
Treasure Trove of Cartoons
LaMont Albertson must have a treasure trove of cartoons stashed somewhere. Cartoons are an outstanding way to check on the human condition. They routinely poke fun at ridiculous things people do, and do so with a minimum investment of words. But they are most appreciated by folks who are able to laugh at themselves, a trait that is sorely lacking in many people. Here are three gems from LaMont.
Many time Kuskokwim 300 champion Jeff King added a good one as well.
Financial Situation in America
The financial situation in America is a favorite topic on ALO news. Here are a couple of pages that illustrate part of the problem with the American economy.
Those sad truths are the result of the ultra-rich having too much control over the American government and economy. Somehow working Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that their lives will improve if the richest folks get richer, but obviously that hasn’t worked.
And that leads to the recently completed election. Trump loyalists across the country still want to believe their man won, based on a series of tweets and public comments claiming voter fraud. Those claims did not hold up in court, and because this is a legal website, that part of the story is worth discussing. Why did those lawsuits fail? When a lawsuit seeks immediate court action to overturn an election, one of the basic rules is that the person bringing the claim must show in its first offering that there is substantial evidence supporting their claim. If not, the rules require that the claim be dismissed. In over 50 such claims, Trump and his supporters could not supply evidence of fraud. This despite raising 200 million dollars to wage that war. The massive fraud that was claimed in public statements was not backed up in court. A tell-tale sign emerged right away when major law firms with high grade lawyers withdrew from cases when their clients, including the Trump campaign, were unable to produce evidence to back up their wild claims of fraud. It’s always a bad sign when a lawyer pulls out early in a case. ALO has done that a few times, usually because the client wanted to pursue bogus claims, and sometimes because the evidence showed the client was simply lying. Here, Trump’s many good lawyers withdrew rapidly leaving a few stooges to argue the cases, led by formerly competent lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Poor Rudy has fallen on hard times, so much so that he is now seeking a pardon from Trump, along with a bunch of others in the inner circle. This article from The Washington Post entitled "The most remarkable rebukes of Trump’s legal case: From the judges he hand-picked" documents some of the results of the lawsuits, many decided by judges appointed by Trump. The scathing rebukes issued by some of the judges are noteworthy, but none more so than Stephanos Bibas, the Federal appeals court judge appointed by Trump in Pennsylvania - “Charges of unfairness are serious,” Bibas wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel. “But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” It should be noted that there are vote irregularities in every election, and only rarely do they have any consequence. The only exception was Bush-Gore, which was decided by about 500 votes in Florida, and there were easily that many contested votes.
The frivolous lawsuits have set back the cause of democracy substantially, and America can expect to see contested elections as the norm going forward. Trump lost this year by more than he won four years ago, but is unwilling to acknowledge that he was a historically unpopular one term President, who pissed off way more people than he pleased. Meanwhile he ponders how he might pardon himself and his family on the way out, while using the $200,000 million raised since the election in more or less any way he pleases going forward.
Wolves and dogs are favorites topics at ALO. This pretty well sums up their story.