Passengers board the ferry Malaspina while vehicles wait to load at the Auke Bay terminal in Juneau. Travelers will no longer be able to take advantage of some discounts, due to budget cuts. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News)Port community leaders worry next summer’s Alaska Marine Highway System schedule will be as unreliable as this summer’s.Download AudioBudget cuts and mechanical breakdowns left many of this year’s passengers stranded, dropping destinations or switching to air travel. Town leaders say that hurt tourism, especially small-town excursions, restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts.During Wednesday’s schedule teleconference, Wrangell Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore said she’s being asked whether it will happen again.“It’s just so critical from an economic standpoint for our businesses and communities that if we have all these cancellations in July and August, it’ll just be disastrous,” she said.Small communities dependent on the Alaska Marine Highway were hardest hit, since they had fewer alternatives.Pelican Mayor Patricia Phillips said officials need to have backup plans when ferries break down.“It’s essential to reschedule canceled service due to mechanicals or scheduling changes. We have freight out here waiting to ship out, so it’s important to reschedule that service,” she said.Pelican isn’t in the draft schedule, though officials say it will be. But it, Sitka and many other communities will see reduced service .The schedule is a worry for more than Southeast. Prince William Sound, for example, faces significant service cuts with its fast ferry tied up next year.Alaska Travel Industry Association President Sarah Leonard said a third of her 700 member businesses are in ferry ports.“The changes to the schedule last summer resulted in a 14 percent decline in non-resident travel on the ferry. And members told us that they lost thousands of dollars in business due to the rebookings and cancellations,” she said.Alaska Marine Highway officials said they’re doing their best to design a schedule that can be maintained.That’s the reason for the deep reductions proposed for next summer, which reflect a $25 million budget cut.Transportation Department Deputy Commissioner Mike Neussl said everything depends on legislative funding.“There’s always risk and uncertainty there. I will do my best in testifying and communicating that it’s important that we lock that schedule in and fund the schedule we publish,” he said.Neussl and other ferry officials say they’ll make some changes in the draft schedule for next summer. It should be complete in December.
Salgado, a 50-year-old section chief for the hospital’s LGBTQ Center for Wellness, Gender and Sexual Health, told the AP in an email Thursday that he had posted various photos of gender-reassignment patients’ genitalia and that all of the patients had given their consent. But he said the hashtags, which “I had never seen in my life,” were added by someone who had hacked his account. Salgado said the petition was sent by a patient with gender dysphoria who was going through a difficult time in life. Salgado said he loves the transgender population and has spent years caring for them. (3/14) The New York Times: Florida Surgeon Resigns Over Instagram Photos Of Transgender Patients’ Genitals This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Associated Press: Surgeon Denies Posting Homophobic Comments On Social Media Well-Known Transgender Surgeon Resigns Following Furor Over Instagram Pictures Of Patients’ Genitals Dr. Christopher Salgado, 50, worked at the L.G.B.T.Q. Center for Wellness, Gender and Sexual Health at the University of Miami Health System. “The purpose really was to be educational with it, but it went awry,” he said. However, critics were not only upset about the pictures but the captions that appeared to be mocking, as well. A well-known Florida surgeon who specializes in transgender health care has resigned from his position at the University of Miami amid an uproar over pictures he posted on Instagram that showed surgical procedures and patients’ genitals alongside captions and hashtags that mocked transgender people and Asians. The surgeon, Dr. Christopher Salgado, 50, worked at the L.G.B.T.Q. Center for Wellness, Gender and Sexual Health at the University of Miami Health System until last month. Interspersed with photos of himself smiling with friends and colleagues, he posted images and text on his Instagram account, @sexsurgeon, that many people found disturbing. He deleted the account last month. (Stack, 3/14)