St. Paul Island Mayor Jacob Merculief, left speaks to the Native Issues Forum at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall with Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson on Monday, Mar. 2, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

St. Paul Island Mayor Jacob Merculief, left speaks to the Native Issues Forum at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall with Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson on Monday, Mar. 2, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Empire Live: AMHS at the Native Issues Forum

Live updates from the meeting.

Summary: Many of the people at the forum were deeply concerned about the state of the ferry system and want to see something done sooner rather than later. One speaker told the panel to stop talking and do something about it, a comment which received a round of applause.

12:58 p.m.

One member of the audience, Jackie Pata, says she’s intrigued by the concept of a public corporation but she’s also a little concerned by the involvement of the private sector.

“I want to make sure we don’t cross the line between a public corporation and private sector leading the way the leaves people behind,” she says.

Maintaining the public service mission will be one of the top priorities for the public corporation Venables says. One of the models currently being looked at is in British Columbia where passengers on higher traffic routes pay more and their ticket prices subsidizes the smaller, less used routes.

12:48 p.m.

Members of the audience are now asking questions or making statements to the panel. One person asks what would happen to union members if the system were privatized.

Ware says he wants to clarify that Southeast Conference does not support privatization but a public corporation, which is different.

A public corporation, Ware says, would help address some of the, “iinefficiencies in the administration that made it difficult if not impossible for people to do their jobs.”

Venables says that a public corporation model would give unions a seat at the management table. Many of the difficulties between unions and management resulted from, “misalignment, not working together as well as they should.”

12:34 p.m.

Percy Frisby, executive director of Friends of the AMHS says there has been a lot of well-deserved criticism level at the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Frisby blames the governor for mismanagement and cutting back services offered by AMHS.

“We are in a state of emergency,” Frisby says, “We demand accountability oversight. This is not a perfect storm. This is a calculated miscarriage of justice.”

Percy asks the crowd to demand the governor declare a state of emergency over the ferry system.

12:30 p.m.

Southeast Conference has long been an advocate of a public corporation model for reforming the ferry system and Venables is giving a presentation on the merits of that plan.

Will Ware, chief of project development for Tlingit and Haida who has worked with Southeast Conference says that model allows for management of the ferry system to break free from government bureaucracy which can slow things down.

”We felt there were some people in the private sector that could really help us,” Ware said.

Venables says the way the system is operated as whole needs to be reworked. With such an expensive operation, he says, “you have to really start treating it like a business.”

12:17 p.m.

Southeast Conference Executive Director Robert Venables is giving a brief overview of what the Marine Highway is going through. Venables is also on the AMHS Reshaping Work Group recently formed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Venables is going back to the founding of AMHS, pointing out that it’s creation was supported by Alaskans across the state, not just in communities that use the ships directly.

The system is currently in a crisis, Venables says. “The fleet is old, and many of the solutions should have been implemented 20 years ago.”

12:13 p.m.

Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is hosting a Native Issues Forum at Elizabeth Peratrovich hall focusing on the Alaska Marine Highway System. The AMHS is one of the most important issues for Tlingit and Haida said Central Council President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson in his opening statements.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

James Whistler, 8, operates a mini excavator during Gold Rush Days on Saturday, June 17, 2023. People young and old were offered a chance to place tires around traffic cones and other challenges after getting a brief introduction to the excavator. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
There’s good reason to be extra charged up for this year’s Juneau Gold Rush Days

Digital registration for logging/mining competitors new for 32nd annual event this weekend.

Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk points out some of the features of the homeless shelter’s new location a few days before it opens in July of 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Mariya Lovishchuk stepping down after 15 years as executive director of the Glory Hall

Leader who oversaw big changes in Juneau’s homeless programs hopes to continue similar work.

Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people gather in Juneau for the opening of Celebration on June 5. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Federal judge considers lawsuit that could decide Alaska tribes’ ability to put land into trust

Arguments took place in early May, and Judge Sharon Gleason has taken the case under advisement.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, June 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Workers stand next to the Father Brown’s Cross after they reinstalled it at an overlook site on Mount Roberts on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Hugo Miramontes)
Father Brown’s Cross is resurrected on Mount Roberts after winter collapse

Five workers put landmark back into place; possibility of new cross next year being discussed.

KINY’s “prize patrol” vehicle is parked outside the Local First Media Group Inc.’s building on Wednesday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau radio station KINY is using AI to generate news stories — how well does it get the scoop?

As trust and economics of news industry continue long decline, use and concerns of AI are growing.

Most Read