P. O. Box 1301
Bethel, AK. 99559
Ph: (907)543-2887(Bet.) / (907)222-5058 or 222-6084 (Nap.)
(907) 545-2877 (Cell)
AVCP Regional Economic Summit & 49th Annual AVCP Convention Report:
Regional Economic Summit:
The focus of the Regional Economic Summit was the high cost of energy in our region and its overall effect on all aspects of our daily lives here from the price of transportation to the expense of everyday goods and services. While there were many distinguished speakers at the summit, nothing really new was revealed. Nor were any solutions to our rural Alaska energy crisis offered – at least for the near future. There are several things like the Yukon Kuskokwim Freight/Energy Corridor, the Donlin Gas Pipeline, the Chuluminik Lake Hydro Project, and a High Voltage Direct Current Line from a natural gas fired power plant located at Prudhoe Bay that are being studied, but any on-the-ground implementation of these are many years away – if ever.
In the meantime, rural Alaskan residents spend 47% of their household income on energy.
Napaimute’s presentation was well received. Once again we were given more time than other presenters to tell our story and we expressed our appreciation to AVCP for this.
49th Annual AVCP Convention, Day 1:
The 2013 Convention theme was: “Enhancing Our Resources Through Creativity, Innovation, and Unification”
The Convention convened Tuesday morning with 43 of the 56 villages in attendance. The Middle Kuskokwim (Unit 3) was represented by Napaimute, Chuathbaluk, Aniak, and both Kalskags.
NVN Council President Devron Hellings accepted a position on the resolutions committee, eventually chairing what can sometimes be a contentious process. I was holding my breath to see how NVN’s 2014 Fishing Restrictions Resolution would be received by the delegation.
But, for the first time that administration can remember, subsistence issues took a back seat to a new threat to our region:
The following are highlights from the presentations given at the Convention:
President Naneng’s Report:
- Effects of sequestration on AVCP: travel freeze, hiring freeze, possible reduction in force
- Canada is proposing a 10 yr. moratorium on King Salmon fishing on the Yukon
- AVCP, TCC, and AFN are working with our Congressional Delegation in Washington D.C. to introduce legislation to create a demonstration project Tribal Fish Commission for both the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers
- AVCP is working to amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exempt subsistence hunters from having to purchase duck stamps
- Many of the programs instituted by the late Senator Stevens are under attack and even being done away with. Examples given were: 8a status for AK Native Corporation businesses and the Denali Commission. CDQ groups may be next. AVCP has to be careful about picking its battles.
- Most of AVCP’s programs have deferred revenue that will help offset sequestration cuts. Programs mentioned were TANF & IRR Transportation.
- The most heavily impacted programs will be Realty, Natural Resources, and Head Start.
- There may be a $125 million reduction in BIA funding
- Native leaders across the nation are asking the Federal Gov’t (Congress?) to exempt native programs from sequestration
- 2014 may see up to 20% reduction in funding
The Keynote Speaker at this year’s convention was Ana Cooke Hoffman.
AVCP Financial Report was given by new CFO, Alex Werba:
(see information provided separately)
The auditor’s report was “no significant findings”
No 2014 budget yet due to government shut down.
Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell:
- He supports co-management (tribes/state/federal) of Alaska fish and game resources
- He supports the strengthening of Alaska Native Culture and Languages
- He supports improved access to the election process through no requirement for photo ID, allowing absentee voting in the villages, and language assistance for voters not fluent in English
Stephanie Moreland, Governor’s Special Assistant for Fish and Game:
- Many questions to her about the by-catch issue (our salmon being caught and thrown away by Bering Sea trawlers)
Senator Lyman Hoffman
- Redistricting is being thrown out and he will once again represent the region, including for the first time, the lower Yukon as far up as Russian Mission
- His 2014 priorities are (in order): energy costs, fisheries management, and education
- The weatherization program is also important to him
- Power Cost Equalization (PCE) now has a $400 million permanent fund and will no longer be at the mercy of annual legislative appropriations
- He wants to see public facilities added to the PCE program
- Education funding has not kept up with inflation. Higher energy costs mean less $ for the classroom
- With the new oil tax reform there will be less funding available for capital projects
- The oil tax reform will go before the voters in august 2014
Representative Bob Herron
- Supports Salmon Endowment Fund
- Opposes Oil Tax Reform
- The State operating budget must be reduced
- Capital projects budget is going to be cut
- He promotes energy projects
- Supports legislation to allow Village Public Safety Officers to carry firearms
- Sits on the Arctic Policy Commission. Most of the AVCP region is considered arctic
Michelle Anderson, CEO AHTNA Regional Corporation:
- 1.6 million acres of regional corporation land that is surrounded by State land and is accessible by the state highway system.
- AHTNA Lands have become overrun with urban hunters
- The hunters are in trespass, but AHTNA has little enforcement power
- AHTNA is proposing Federal Legislation to create a unified co-management system.
- Corporation lands would be put under a tribal conservation district
Subsistence Issues Panel:
Kuskokwim Inter-tribal Fish Commission
This is a demonstration project being proposed to Congress. 2/3 of the Kuskokwim tribes would have to pass resolutions of support
Housing Commission Nominations:
The following were nominated for the two open housing commissioner seats (this year’s election was conducted by AVCP-RHA):
Moses Paukan, Sr.
49th Annual AVCP Convention, Day 2:
Senator Lisa Murkowski (via live video)
- Sequestration will be a 10 year problem
- The Energy Committee has jurisdiction over ANCSA and ANILCA that why this summer’s subsistence hearings were held by the Energy Committee
Representative Don Young (via live video)
- Very busy man with the gov’t shut down going on
- Working on a bill for the Inter-tribal Fish Commission
- Head Start will get funded
Commissioner Bill Streur, State Department of Health and Social Services
- $1.6 Billion for Medic Aide, foster care, adoptions, LIHEAP, food stamps, grants, aid to woman & infants, senior care
- Funding is flat
- DHSS has discretionary authority – can move $ around in the budget – haven’t had to yet
- Some positive things: expansion of nursing homes, clinics, and increased funding for juvenile justice programs in our region
- Big potential cuts in food stamp program – need for reform
I later met informally with the Commissioner and Gene Peltola to discuss the need for food stamp reform and its negative effect on the health of the people of our region. I showed him the color ad that runs each week in the Delta Discovery for pizza from the QFC: “Quest Card Eligible!” Is that the intent of food stamps – to let people buy pizza??! We also discussed the genuine need for assistance with food purchases but how the food stamp program is seeing rampant abuse – being used to purchase soda pop and all kinds of processed convenience type foods. This is affecting the health of our people. Our region now has the fastest growing diabetes population. There is also a growing suspicion that welfare programs are contributing to the high cost of living in our region. Welfare has become such a huge part of our local economy that vendors can inflate their prices to further take advantage of what many consider “free money”. We have seen fuel vendors in the villages do this with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). He took the copy of the newspaper with him.
I had to run to the airport to ship supplies to the guys winterizing our equipment at the harvest site so missed the presentation by Judge Charles Ray and the Bering Sea Elders Committee.
Housing Commissioner Elections:
Wayne Morgan and George Peter were elected.
The resolutions sailed through this year’s convention with very little discussion or controversy. Many of them were grouped together and passed according to the recommendations of the resolutions committee. Devron did a great job of chairing the committee and keeping the resolutions process flowing smoothly and timely.
Regarding the two resolutions submitted by NVN:
The one requesting a change in the AVCP By-laws to hire the President instead of electing was pulled before there was much chance for discussion. This was due to a misunderstanding. We knew going in that this was to be an advisory vote only. If it appeared that the AVCP villages were ready to seriously consider changing the By-laws, then in 2014 we would work through the process of giving all 56 villages 30 day notice of the proposed By-law change. The delegates would take the official vote to make the change at the 2014 Convention. This plan had been communicated to AVCP when we submitted the resolution and they understood. Unfortunately, some didn’t and the resolution was pulled after two delegates spoke in opposition to it and one former leader of NVN spoke in favor of it thinking that it was invalid without the 30 advance notice to all the villages.
2014 King Salmon Fishing Restrictions:
This resolution was referred to the AVCP Executive Board. There was no discussion. The reasoning was that this is an issue for just the Kuskokwim River Villages not for all 56 villages to consider.
This resolution will be addressed at a meeting of the AVCP Executive Board during the AFN Convention. I hope that NVN representatives and others from the Middle Kuskokwim will be able to discuss this resolution with the AVCP E-Board at their meeting in Fairbanks. I would also like to address this with the E-Board via teleconference if the opportunity could be made available.
Regional Organization Reports:
I missed the Calista report as I was in a meeting with Joe Spaeder of the AYK Salmon Research Project.
AVCP Regional Housing Authority
CEO Ron Hoffman addressed the delegates. Here are the key points of his presentation:
- High energy & transportation costs continue to plague housing development in the region
- With sequestration there is a $750,000 reduction in funding to AVCP-RHA in FY 2013
- FY 2014 may see $800,000 or more in funding reductions
- They are working hard to continue the same level of services, programs, and staff
- There will be a travel freeze, hiring freeze, and possible quarterly office closures ( a day or two per week)
- Urged all delegates to contact their Congressional Delegation to exempt Native American programs from sequestration
- According to the Alaska Office of Native American Programs: AVCP-RHA has constructed 35% of all new housing in Alaska!
- AVCP-RHA does force account for their housing projects – local people do all the work
- 2012 – 900 people in the region employed, $15 million paid out in wages
- Even more in 2013
Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation Report:
CEO Gene Peltola addressed this year’s Convention. Here are the highlights of his presentation:
- Electronic Health Records – this was mandated under Obama Care. If not implemented, YKHC would lose 20% of its ability to bill Medic Aid the first year of non-compliance. This increases to 60% by 2017 (?)
- YKHC had to spend $18 million of its own money to implement electronic health records
- YKHC lost $7million to sequestration in 2013
- Will lose $22 million over the next 8 years. Funding reductions also reduce contract support funding causing further strain on the organization
- Quote from Gene, “this will be devastating”
- They are working to get an exemption from sequestration for Indian Health Service (IHS)
- Alaska Native Health Board (ANHB) is taking the lead in working with our Congressional Delegation
- Need to get forward funding so that they will know their budgets a year in advance and won’t be subject to government shut downs
- Some program/service reductions now being considered if the situation doesn’t improve are: shut down small village clinics, not provide money for air travel from the villages, run the YKHC hospital at 50% capacity
Other Regional Health Issues:
- 200 heroin addicts in Bethel, 200 more occasional users
- Cancer – need improvement in diagnosis. The diagnosis process is taking too long
- There is no MRI at the Bethel hospital
- There is a recently purchased CATSCAN – did 2,800 CATSCANS the first year
- IHS doesn’t provide funding for equipment. Equipment has to be purchase out of YKHC’s earnings
- Cancer is now the #1 killer of Alaska Natives
- Our region has 2-3 times per capita higher rates for lung cancer
On A More Positive Note:
- YKHC has $40 million in construction projects going on in Bethel (all funded by the State)
- The new assisted living center recently opened and gradually filling up with patients
- The construction of the new pre-maternal home is ahead of schedule and under budget
- Construction of the new alcohol treatment center is about to begin
- A local superintendent oversees all of this construction
KYUK Lower Power FM Stations
KYUK has funding to install 2 low power FM stations in villages that don’t currently receive KYUK radio (some of the coastal areas, upper Kuskokwim and the lower Yukon)
Additional stations can be installed at a cost of $18,000 – $30,000. Annual maintenance and operating costs range from $1,000 – $3,000
The 49th AVCP Convention closed with the presentation of the President’s Awards.
The Hunter-Fisher Award was given to the 25 fisherman that protest fished in 2012.
The Tugkar (Eddie Hoffman) Award went to the attorney representing them.
I noticed that the delegates from the Middle Kuskokwim didn’t clap when these awards were given.
2014 will be the 50th anniversary of the AVCP Convention and they are looking for ideas to celebrate this.
The convention will be held in Bethel.
That’s the report from this year’s convention.