- - Wednesday, November 9, 2011


County votes to OK U.S. record bankruptcy

BIRMINGHAM — Leaders of Alabama’s most populous county have voted to file an estimated $4.1 billion bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The Birmingham news reported that the Jefferson County Commission’s action came after spending about six hours over two days meeting with its lawyers to discuss legal options. Those options included a Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing and a settlement with creditors on the county’s $3.14 billion sewer debt.

Commissioner Jimmie Stephens made the motion to file bankruptcy, saying it’s time to resolve the issue.

The county has been trying for several years to find a way to resolve its sewer debt crisis and fix its fiscal 2012 county general fund budget, which commissioners have said needs another $40 million.


Storm damages roofs, sends residents inland

ANCHORAGE — High winds and surging waves pummeled Alaska’s western coast Wednesday, churning the Bering Sea and forcing residents of Nome and isolated native villages to seek higher ground inland.

Communications officer Zane Brown said the brunt of snow and hurricane-force winds hit about 2 a.m. A voluntary evacuation moved residents from beachfront businesses and homes to shelters at a community center and a church.

Planning section chief Mark Roberts of the state emergency operations center told KTUU-TV that west coast communities were reporting isolated power and communications interruptions.

The last time forecasters saw something similar was in November 1974, when Nome took the brunt of another storm. That sea surge measured more than 13 feet, pushing beach driftwood above the level of the previous storm of its type in 1913.


State to probe utility on storm power outages

HARTFORD — Connecticut’s attorney general said Wednesday he will research whether the state’s largest power utility broke any laws in its handling of outages that left thousands of people in the cold and the dark for more than a week in the wake of a pre-Halloween snowstorm.

Connecticut Light & Power is facing at least five investigations into the outages triggered by the Oct. 29 storm, which brought trees down on power lines across the state and cut electricity to at least 830,000 customers. But the probe by Attorney General George Jepsen could carry the most serious consequences.

Mr. Jepsen told the Associated Press in an interview that his office will develop a legal theory that could determine whether CL&P violated any laws. He is asking the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to gather emails, correspondence and other documents to determine whether CL&P had a plan to manage its electrical system during and after the storm.

Power was restored to most customers, but several thousand remained in the dark Wednesday.


More votes cast for deceased mayor

MONTAGUE — More voters cast ballots for the longtime mayor of a western Michigan city who died a week before the election than for his challenger.

The Muskegon Chronicle reported, however, that the 129 votes cast in Montague for Henry Roesler Jr. don’t officially count. Challenger Kevin Erb, 32, who got 115 votes in Tuesday’s election, will serve the two-year term.

Roesler, 84, died of cancer Nov.1. He had been seeking his 11th consecutive term as mayor.

City officials last week checked state law after Roesler’s death and determined that any votes cast for him wouldn’t count.

Mr. Erb ran unsuccessfully against Roesler in the 2009 mayoral race.


Case dropped against polygamist sect leader

SALT LAKE CITY — State prosecutors dropped charges Wednesday against a polygamist sect leader serving a life sentence in Texas in a separate case.

Warren Jeffs had been found guilty of rape by accomplice — a 2007 conviction that was overturned last year by the Utah Supreme Court, which cited improper jury instructions by the trial judge.

“As a result of the conviction in Texas, we decided not to bring him back to Utah for a retrial,” said Brian Filter, senior deputy attorney for Washington County.

Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was sentenced to life in prison in August on charges of sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.

The Utah case charged Jeffs with arranging an underaged marriage involving Alicia Wall, who wrote a book about her experience. Jeffs had been accused of presiding over the marriage. The two felony charges of rape by accomplice involving Jeffs were the result of sexual encounters with a husband she said she didn’t want to marry.


Missing boy’s relatives to take polygraphs

BELLEVUE — The father of a missing toddler and several of his relatives are voluntarily taking polygraph exams as hope of finding the child alive begins to fade.

But Bellevue Police Maj. Mike Johnson said at a news conference Wednesday that the boy’s mother still refuses to take a lie-detector test.

The woman, Julia Biryukova, told investigators that her 2-year-old son, Sky Metalwala, vanished Sunday in Bellevue when she left him sleeping alone in her unlocked car for an hour after it ran out of gas. Police say she told them she was on her way to a hospital because the boy didn’t feel well when the car stalled.

Maj. Johnson said he thinks that Mrs. Biryukova or someone close to her knows what happened to the boy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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