{News Briefs}

In UAA Welfare study, subjects return to work

A recent study conducted by UAA Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies, with support from the Alaska Division of Public Assistance, documented the status of families that left the welfare rolls after the state's implementation of welfare reform. The evaluation team found that 694 Alaskans left the Temporary Assistance program rolls during the 24-month period ending in October. 1999. Eighteen percent of the respondents reported that their household received child support payments of $282 per month. Eighty-eight percent of recipients who left Temporary Assistance were female and the typical family included two children.

 

2001 Special Olympics wants you

Volunteers are being sought for what is to be the largest sporting event in Alaska history, the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Responsible and reliable individuals are needed for the position of Delegation Assistant Leader (DAL) of the games. Coordinators are seeking volunteers who are fluent in one or more foreign languages, such as Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic, German, Chinese, Czech, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Greek, Portuguese or Dutch. For more information, contact the Special Olympics volunteer services office at 277-2497.

 

Alaska education doesn't make the grade

The National Assessment of Education Process (NAEP) gave Alaska low standings for Education Week this year. Alaska scored low because Alaska's education standards are based on Quality Schools Initiative (QSI) a program focusing on specific areas of study, such as reading, writing and math and neglecting others, such as social studies and science. The low standings may have also been attributed to a decision that was made to not participate in the NAEP and allow Education & Early Development to make education assessments in Alaska. In 1996, Alaska administered to the NAEP and tended to score very well, but this year scored surprisingly lower than many other states.

 

SamulNori Korean folk art

The Anchorage Concert Association presents Korean folk art by a crew called SamulNori. SamulNori means “to play four things” and the instruments used will represent the spirits of wind, rain, clouds and thunder. SamulNori attempts to preserve the ancient styles of Korean music and dance through performing a percussion ensemble. Their performance will be at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in the Atwood Concert Hall on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at www.anchorageconcerts.org, 263-ARTS or 1-800-GRT-SEAT. All Carrs Tix providers will have tickets available ranging from $16-24. Discounts are available for military, seniors and students. Group discounts for parties of 10 or more are attainable by contacting 272-1471.

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Knowles tries to up the minimum wage

Gov. Tony Knowles recently called for the Legislature to raise Alaska's minimum wage and join future increases to the rate of inflation. Minimum wage in Alaska is currently $5.65 an hour, 85 cents under the next lowest on the West Coast. According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, approximately 5.5 percent of the state's total workforce receives hourly wages between $5.65 – $6.74 an hour. The bill Knowles transmitted would increase the minimum wage to $6.40 on Oct. 1 and go up 75 cents next year.

 

Merril Lynch hosts 'Smart Women Finish Rich'

Merrill Lynch will host “Smart Women Finish Rich,” an educational seminar for women on Saturday, Feb. 3. It will be held from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Hotel Captain Cook, 939 W. 5th Ave. “Smart Women Finish Rich” is based on the 1999 best-selling book by David Bach. It is an educational seminar providing investors with seven easy steps to help them achieve financial security and fund their dream. A $25 registration fee will be charged to benefit the Anchorage Soroptomist International Club (SIA), a local non-profit organization, working to improve the lives of women and children. For more information, call Stephanie Almeida of Merrill Lynch at (907) 564-6752 or (888) 221-6642 outside of Anchorage or e-mail [email protected] by Friday, Feb. 2, 2001. Please make out registration donation checks to SIA and mail to c/o Leslie Schmitz, 3335 Arctic Blvd., Ste. 203, Anchorage, AK, 99503.

 

Health initiative protects Alaskans

Gov. Tony Knowles recently announced a health initiative to regulate dangerous diseases, such as tuberculosis, measles, hepatitis C and chlamydia. The initiative will add $2.28 million to the FY2002 budget for the Division of Public Health. This should help protect Alaskans from the rising trends of TB and other devastating outbreaks. The initiative called “Back to Basics” divides the money for public health nursing, public health laboratory, and for the improvement of data collection and analysis. New breast and cervical cancer legislation

This month, Gov. Tony Knowles announced new legislation expanding Medicaid coverage for women with breast and cervical cancer. Kate Coleman, a woman from Juneau who is combating breast cancer without any health insurance, joined Knowles to present the legislation. This legislation is an attempt to take advantage of the recent federal regulation regarding the issue. Supporters hope that the legislation can help women still struggling and suffering with their cancer.

 

Coke will pay up to $150,000 to workers in race case

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story demanded that Coca-Cola pay all African-Americans employed by Coke from April 22, 1995, to June 14, 2000, from $1,000 to about $150,000 as part of its settlement of a race discrimination suit.           

In the class action case, $82.8 million in cash and stock options will be set aside for damages, and a back pay fund will be divided among eligible employees. The amount of money paid out to employees will be based on length of service at Coke, pay level, education and any wage disparities that exist between them and their white counterparts.

The remainder of the settlement, which totals $192.5 million, includes more than $20 million in legal fees, an estimated $43.5 million to make pay equity adjustments for African-Americans over the next decade, and $36 million to fund a Diversity Task Force. It also includes a $10 million promotional achievement award fund (to be distributed over the next decade) for African-American executives who are promoted and succeed.

The damages fund will award an estimated $370.78 to eligible employees for every tenth of a year that each worked at Coke from the beginning of their employment through June 14, 2000, when the settlement was announced. That dollar amount will vary, depending on the number of employees who actually participate. Class members may elect to take some or all of it in 10-year restricted shares of Coca-Cola stock.

No one will receive less than $1,000, but there is a cap on damages. The cash award from both funds cannot exceed the lower of two amounts either $150,000 or three times the class member's annual base salary.

 

Adjunct/TV judge gets the ax for missing class

A judge whose second job was on Fox TV's “Power of Attorney” lost his first job as an adjunct professor at at Seton Hall University School of Law for missing too many classes due to TV appearances. Seton Hall said the professor resigned to protest his replacement; he says he was fired.          

Halfway through the semester, Andrew Napolitano was informed that his class would be taught by another professor.

The school is investigating student complaints about Napolitano's having rescheduled classes on four occasions last semester. Associate Dean Kathleen Boozang announced in a Dec. 21 e-mail to students enrolled in Napolitano's yearlong Constitutional Law course that a faculty member would take over the class in the spring semester at the Newark, N.J., school.

Apparently, Napolitano was not pleased with the school's decision. He sent out an e-mail to his students on Jan. 2 that said, "I did not agree to stop teaching you. I was terminated by Dean Boozang." In his defense, he commented that “rescheduling is a way of life for busy lawyers.”

On "Power of Attorney," Napolitano portrays a judge who referees disputes such as the one between roommates fighting over bills, and a divorced couple fighting over who should pay for their child's braces. Napolitano issues binding rulings and gives the parties a short lecture at the end of the show.