I had known Ward since my assistant at the Whittier Harbor in the late 70s had worked on Ward's wife Margaret's Anchorage Assembly campaign, and from reading articles about Ward, or meeting him at fundraisers. He struck me as the sleaziest Alaska politician I had ever met, and utterly untrustworthy.
I had also met Allen at fundraisers, and had had a disagreeable encounter with him at the huge Spring 1990 auction of surplus material left over from the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup. From the encounter, I had the same feeling about Allen as about Ward: Utterly untrustworthy.
Now, this past week, we see Sen. Mark Begich's name surfacing with that of a guy, who if anything, may be even less trustworthy than Jerry Ward or Bill Allen.
Senator Mark Begich toured Seward’s industrial area port and harbor on July 5 to discuss a multi-million dollar expansion that would support the Coastal Villages Fishing Fleet and Arctic resource exploration. Seward is the northernmost ice-free port in the United States.Just before the 4th of July weekend, Sen. Begich had been out in Bethel for a "fisheries roundtable:
Joining him were Seward Vice Mayor Jean Bardarson, councilwomen Vanta Shafer and Christy Terry, city manager Jim Hunt, assistant city manager Ron Long, and port director Louis Bencardino, in addition to the COO of Coastal Villages Trevor McCabe and Alaska Railroad director of real estate Jim Kubitz.
After the tour, Begich will return to Washington to secure funding for the port expansion and the infrastructure needed to support oil and gas companies.
Attendence [sic] included Quyana, US Senator Mark Begich, Alaska Sen. Lyman Hoffman, Alaska Rep. Bob Herron, AVCP, Tanana Chiefs Conference, village tribal representatives, staff from Sen. Lisa MurkowskiI suspect McCabe was either at the conference, or had somebody from his part of the CDQ "community" there for him.
Soon after the Bethel and Seward trips, Begich, evaluating the severe shortage of commercial and subsistence fish coming into the Yukon and Kuskokwim river systems, requested that Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell request Federal disaster aid for people impacted there:
Following up on his fishery roundtable discussion in Bethel last week with local leaders and fishery managers, U.S. Sen. Begich has sent a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell, asking the Governor to declare a fisheries disaster in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.Just this weekend, Gov. Parnell acceded:
A state disaster declaration is required before federal assistance can be sought to help those impacted by the record low Chinook and other salmon runs this year.
On June 28, the Association of Village Council Presidents asked Sen. Begich, the entire Congressional delegation, state leaders, and the Obama Administration to pursue a disaster declaration for the region.
In the summer of 2009, the Alaska Congressional delegation requested a federal disaster declaration for the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery after complete fishery failures in 2008 and 2009.
The federal disaster declaration was made in January 2010. Federal disaster aid can result in loans and grants for those impacted by such a disaster.
In a year full of disappointing news for both sport and commercial fishermen, Gov. Sean Parnell on Saturday sent a letter to acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, requesting a disaster declaration in the wake of particularly dismal 2011 and 2012 Chinook salmon runs on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.And, late last week, Trevor McCabe's name came back up, in a strangely coercive petition he forced Alaska Native fishers along the river to sign, in exchange for 100 fathoms of new, smaller-sized web for their subsistence nets.
In Parnell's letter, he tells Blank that "the cause of these declines is undetermined and could include a variety of factors including ocean survival or other unknown factors." He says that commercial fishing on the Yukon River fishery was restricted in 2011, and the state doesn't expect to open the fishery to commercial use at all in 2012.
He said that subsistence harvests are also likely to be reduced.
Conflict has already arisen between subsistence fishermen and authorities in Southwest Alaska, as a fishing ban on king salmon was defied and troopers began to seize fish and nets from fishermen along the Kuskokwim River. Many residents of small villages lining the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers -- accessible only by boat or air -- rely on their subsistence fishing quotas to put food on the table during the leaner winter months.
In late June, the run of kings counted on the Yukon River was more than 55,000 below the historical average of 75,000.
Here's the document he forced people to sign to get the web. According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, McCabe wrote it himself:
McCabe's letter so incensed the Alaska Journal of Commerce, they editorialized about it this weekend:
Something stinks in Southwest Alaska.It isn't just contemptible. It is disgustingly racist.
By now you’ve probably heard about the weak king salmon runs around the state causing widespread closures to subsistence, sport and commercial fishermen.
You also may have heard about the “Kuskokwim Rebellion” on June 20 when fishermen took to the waters in defiance of an extended subsistence closure by setting their nets at the end of the original seven-day period agreed upon in the preseason.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game enforcement seized 1,800 pounds of fish and 21 nets, and when it did allow fishing it required six-inch mesh gear that isn’t widely possessed in the region.
Into this desperate need stepped Coastal Villages Region Fund, the Community Development Quota group for the Kuskokwim region. CDQ groups are six tax-exempt organizations in Western Alaska representing 65 villages that receive 10 percent of the Bering Sea fishing quotas annually, including pollock, crab and halibut.
Coastal Villages handed out 100 legal nets a week after the Rebellion at the request of the Association of Village Council Presidents, which includes all 20 CVRF communities and the 56 federally recognized tribes in the Kuskokwim region.
But the nets were far from free.
In order to receive a net from CVRF, fishermen had to sign an “acceptance statement” acknowledging the nets were being provided at the request of AVCP and paid for by revenue from the pollock fishery where bycatch of king and chum salmon has caused controversy for decades.
The one-page statement included two paragraphs on salmon bycatch in the pollock fishery, including the claim that “the best available science shows that the pollock fishery is not a significant contributor to our salmon problems.”
This statement authored by CVRF Chief Operations Officer and former pollock industry lobbyist Trevor McCabe is at best misleading, and forcing fishermen to sign it amid a disastrously weak king salmon run with their lives on the line is contemptible.
Stay away from this guy, McCabe, Sen. Begich.
Don't touch any of his ideas or promises with a ten-foot pole.
Some feel the FBI isn't done with him in regards to Ben Stevens, or with the Seward SeaLife Center real estate scam he profited from.
Sen. Begich and his staff seem to have some creative ideas about Seward port expansion and how that might tie into creating a combination of industrial and educational infrastructure there that would allow Alaskans to create the Arctic support fleet of the future, in our own state. I've talked about this with him, urging him to get familiar with the Turku Finland model.
Involving a slimeball like Trevor McCabe in any of this is not a good idea, Mark. He's like Jerry Ward and Bill Allen, all wrapped into one greasy, sleazy package.