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KNBA News - Gov. Walker holds $200m oil tax credit; New direction at city hall with mayor Berkowitz

Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KSKA

Governor holds back $200 million in oil tax credit payments

Gov. Bill Walker has reduced by $200 million the amount available to pay for oil tax credits this fiscal year. In a letter to legislative leaders, Walker said the state will continue funding credits this year but at a slower pace until a more sustainable credit system is developed or the state financial situation improves. The new fiscal year started yesterday.


  New Anchorage mayor comes in with a celebration of diversity, focus on public safety, economic development

By Zachariah Hughes, APRN

Yesterday, Ethan Berkowitz formally became the new Mayor of Anchorage. As KSKA's Zachariah Hughes reports, the celebration Downtown was a marked departure from past inaugurations, with a heavy emphasis on changing directions at city hall.

Berkowitz's swearing in was an informal affair. Frankly, it felt more like a block party than a government event. Supporters, local politicians, kids, curious passersby--Town Square Park filled with hundreds of people while the Vinyl Floors, a West High School band, played on stage.

The ceremony itself was short and sweet. It was also diverse, something speakers as well as audience members noted. The event opened with a Dena'ina prayer, and eventually yielded to a Yupik dance group and Hip-Hop performance. Rhetoric throughout drew on language from community activism emphasizing Anchorage's multiculturalism, as well as subtle nods towards progressive values. It's the same tone Berkowitz used on the campaign trail, and throughout his transition into office the last two months.

"We are, in many ways, liberated from the way things have been done before. And we have the responsibility,” said Berkowitz, “and the ability, to take care of things ourselves. It's our time to make a new Anchorage."

The mayor's office in Anchorage is technically nonpartisan. And while there were no overt jabs at the conservative outgoing Sullivan Administration, there was a decidedly liberal flavor to the festivities, with Downtown Democratic legislators smiling beside prominent community activists. For attendee David Landry in the audience, the openness of the event set a tone unlike any past inaugurations.

"Just very excited to have a new generation of mayor in town,” said Landry. “And it's about time."

As for specifics in Berkowitz's policy agenda, details are scant, but the focus remains on issues highlighted in his campaign.

"Working on public safety issues, we've been working on economic development issues,” said Berkowitz. “And we're also getting the early stages of preparing the next budget. So, we've been hard at work, even before we moved into the office."

But the remainder of the afternoon was for celebration, music, and a very long line for free cupcakes.


Alaska’s North shore is among the fastest eroding in the nation

A new report says erosion is eating away at Alaska's northern coast at some of the highest rates in the nation, threatening habitat and infrastructure.

The U.S. Geological Survey study published Wednesday looked at more than 50 years of data and found an average yearly shoreline change of more than 4 1/2 feet. Extreme cases showed an annual difference of more than 60 feet.

USGS geologist Ann Gibbs says the report provides baseline information for an area studied far less than other parts of the country. The new study looked at nearly 995 miles of the coast between Alaska's icy Cape and the Canada border.

The study is part of an ongoing assessment of the nation's shoreline. It did not address climate change.