October 17, 2008 in City

Investigator will get documents


A legislative panel agreed Thursday to share confidential personnel records with the lawyer who is leading a second abuse-of-power investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s firing of her public safety commissioner.

The Legislative Council voted unanimously to provide the confidential documents to the Personnel Board’s independent counsel, Tim Petumenos, who is investigating Palin’s firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan.

Petumenos did not attend the brief session in Anchorage on Thursday and did not return a call seeking comment.

Last week, an investigator for the Legislative Council found that Palin was within her right to fire Monegan but had violated ethics laws by trying to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired.

A report by Stephen Branchflower, the council’s investigator, concluded that Palin unlawfully abused her power by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired, but it was largely toothless. State lawmakers have no authority to sanction Palin for ethical misconduct. That’s up to the three-member Personnel Board, which is appointed by the governor.


Arctic temps hit record high

Temperatures in the Arctic last fall hit an all-time high – more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal – and remain almost as high this year, an international team of scientists reported Thursday.

“The year 2007 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic,” said Jackie Richter-Menge, a climate expert at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H, and editor of the latest annual Arctic Report Card.

“These are dynamic and dramatic times in the Arctic,” she said. “The outlook isn’t good.”

The ocean is warming and causing global sea levels to rise even faster than predicted, according to the Arctic Report Card, the product of 46 scientists from 10 countries.

Summer 2007 set a record low for sea ice in the Arctic, threatening reindeer, walruses and polar bears and opening shipping lanes above the Arctic Circle, the report said. This summer’s ice melt was only slightly smaller.

The Arctic Report Card’s authors attributed the temperature spike to a combination of long-term global warming and short-term, natural variations in ocean currents and winds above the Arctic Circle.

“Global warming by itself wouldn’t cause this much sea ice loss,” Overland said. Nor would changes in wind and ocean currents alone.

“Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect of both natural variation and the emerging global warming signal,” he said. “Both are necessary to put us in this strange new world. Once we’re in this place, it’s very hard to go back.”


Facing eviction, woman kills self

A series of financial setbacks left Wanda Dunn facing eviction from the house in Pasadena where her family had lived for generations.

Dunn, 53, told neighbors that she would rather die than leave.

Early Monday, the day of her expected eviction, firefighters pulled her body out of the house as it burned. She apparently had set it on fire before shooting herself in the head, authorities said.

“We knew it was going to happen,” said Steve Brooks, who lived across the street. “It was nobody’s fault; it was everybody’s fault.”

As Brooks watched the flames, he noticed that Dunn had left two of her plants on his porch, along with a note: “Please take good care of us or find us a good home.” She also had left several inexpensive toys, along with the name and address of a charity organization.

From wire reports

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