- - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ALASKA

Local voters reject mine over worries about salmon

JUNEAU — Voters of a small southwestern Alaska borough late Monday narrowly passed a measure blocking a proposed gold and copper mine that critics say would have threatened one of the world’s premier wild salmon fisheries.

The local election, pitting environmentalists against business interests in a bitter feud, gained national attention.

The vote bans large-scale resource extraction, including mining, that would destroy or degrade salmon habitat. The measure was aimed squarely at Pebble Mine, a massive gold and copper prospect near the headwaters of Bristol Bay.

The debate surrounding Pebble has attracted the attention of chefs, actor-director Robert Redford and big-name jewelers who have vowed not to sell any gold coming from the operation. Their concerns support local opponents who fear the mine would fundamentally change the area’s landscape and disrupt, if not destroy, a way of life.

Unofficial results, released by the Lake and Peninsula Borough clerk late Monday, showed 280 in favor of the measure and 246 against.

ARIZONA

‘Toughest sheriff’ subdued on witness stand

PHOENIX — The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America took the witness stand Tuesday and explained in a subdued voice that he had little to do with failed corruption investigations led by his office and one of his allies.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s well-known bluster was nowhere on display at the disciplinary hearing for former county attorney Andrew Thomas.

“I have 4,000 employees. I delegate,” Sheriff Arpaio said when asked whether he had read investigative reports in some of the corruption cases.

Lawyers pressing the discipline case said officials, judges and attorneys who crossed Sheriff Arpaio and Mr. Thomas in political disputes often were targeted for investigations and, in some cases, were criminally charged.

Sheriff Arpaio and Mr. Thomas contend they were trying to root out corruption in county government. County officials say the investigations were baseless.

A federal grand jury is investigating abuse-of-power allegations against the sheriff, and the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a civil rights probe of his immigration patrols.

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