Wilson junkyard garners complaint
by Jeff Richardson / jrichardson@newsminer.com
Oct 30, 2009 | 5499 views | 69 69 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FAIRBANKS – An Esro Road resident has filed a junkyard violation complaint against Fairbanks North Star Borough mayoral candidate Tammie Wilson, who owns property nearby.

Gary Newman re-filed a decades-old complaint with the borough Department of Community Planning on Thursday after he learned his original protest had been deactivated. He claimed Wilson’s property violates borough junkyard rules. Newman said junked cars and old pieces of metal clog the right of way adjacent to the property.

Wilson said her property complies with borough codes.

“In my opinion, he’s doing this because it’s four days before the election,” Wilson said.

Election-season discussion of junkyards has highlighted different perspectives held by Wilson and her opponent, Luke Hopkins, who both sit on the Borough Assembly.

Wilson has made the protection of private property rights, particularly “grandfather” rights, a central plank of her mayoral campaign. It has been an issue of concern to her since at least 2005. That year, as a private resident, she opposed a proposed ordinance that would have allowed the borough to cite people for failure to abide by zoning rules. The ordinance didn’t pass.

“Unlike the city, the borough does not have police powers,” Wilson wrote in response to a News-Miner questionnaire last month. “Therefore, we should not attempt to implement unenforceable rules.”

Hopkins was one of the three assembly members who in 2005 recommended citations to enforce borough codes.

Issuing citations would be better than hiring “more lawyers upstairs to prosecute these issues,” he said at the time.

 In his response to the News-Miner questionnaire last month, Hopkins said the issue remains unsettled. “Citations should be used only after borough officials fail to resolve conflicts,” he wrote.

Newman’s complaints about Wilson’s Esro Road property pre-date her ownership. Newman filed a similar complaint in 1987 against the previous owner, Bruce Ehrens. Borough officials sent several warnings to Ehrens in the late 1980s, but it doesn’t appear the issue was resolved.

The borough has deactivated all code complaints it received before 1990, citing a large backlog. When Newman was told by a News-Miner reporter on Thursday that his complaint was inactive, he immediately re-filed it.

“(The problem) didn’t start with her, but it’s definitely accelerated,” Newman said.

Wilson purchased the Esro Road property in 2003. It’s home to dozens of vehicles.

The Wilson campaign said the vehicles have included some stored for deployed soldiers and others on which family and friends are working.

Newman said he received a call from Wilson about two years ago asking him to withdraw his decades-old complaint. Newman said he agreed to do so as soon as the right of way was cleared. Nothing happened, he said.

Wilson remembers that conversation differently. She did make the request as part of an effort to clear the slate. She said Newman did not ask for additional cleanup, though.

Esro is a private road, and property owners pitch in for road maintenance. Newman said it’s impossible to clear brush and maintain areas that are loaded with junk.

He said other property owners have kept their areas clear.

“I like to get along with my neighbors, and I like to respect my neighbors,” Newman said, “and it seems like there’s some disrespect here.”

Newman declined to say who he was supporting in the mayoral race, calling it “irrelevant.” Wilson said Newman has a prominent Luke Hopkins campaign sign outside his driveway.

Jim Lee, the borough’s deputy director of the Department of Community Planning, said Wilson’s property will be examined for compliance when an investigator reviews complaints received from the area.

If the borough determines a violation exists, a formal letter will be sent detailing steps needed to bring the property into compliance with junkyard codes.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 31, 2009
Whoopie, I would put forth the hypothesis that the new & improved system bites & that has led to the drop in comments...
Mike Prax
October 31, 2009

RE: Your 10:58 Post Implying that I Broke the Law as Applied to the Open Meetings Act:

Think about how easy it would be to circumvent the Open Meetings if some group of three or more individuals with malicious intent wanted to meet secretly under the present circumstances.

Now consider whether they'd choose to meet next to the borough clerk's office with the door open during normal business hours after a notice of the meeting stating the time and place of the meeting had been posted on the entrance to the borough administration building if they wanted to avoid getting caught conducting a 'secret meeting'.

The fact is that we met the requirements of the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Vezey apparently expected adherence to a higher, but unpublished, standard. I was as 'displeased' that he chastised us without previously notifying us of his expectation as he was 'displeased' that he met without prior notification to him, but if we dwell too much on what displeases us, this becomes a very unpleasant world.

I realize that you will choose to continue to maintain that this incident violated the Open Meetings Act, but any reasonable person will see that it was only a procedural disagreement

Now think about the monitoring system that would have to be put in place to provide reasonable assurance that any given group isn't meeting in secret.

The absurdity of the Open Meetings Act is self evident to any honest person.

The problem is that honest people don't recognize the threat to the balance of power between the executive and judicial branches of local government that the Open Meetings Act imposes, while dishonest people recognize the opportunity that it presents for them to exert even greater control over honest people.

The personal attacks that we are hurling against each other as a result of this campaign are a symptom of a growing problem that should cause us to consider what we're becoming as a society.

We have a responsibility to our neighbor to discuss a problem with them and come to a resolution if we have a disagreement, rather than burdening the general community with our problems. We must accept this responsibility in order to maintain a truly civil and free society. Responsibility cannot be delegated.

Turning to the government rather than talking to them is one of the most damaging things that we can do to a free society.

Despotic regimes don't just happen. Their genesis lies with people first looking down their nose at their neighbor for living an alternative lifestyle, then forming a group to collectively look down their noses at others who don't measure up to their moral standards, then asking a governing authority to impose their moral standard on their neighbors or seek an advantage over them. It only gets worse from there.

Examples of this are: Self proclaimed 'conservatives' looking down their nose at people who might be struggling with an addiction or choosing to form a relationship with a person of the same gender or following a different religious doctrine and etc., then asking the government to impose their standard upon their neighbor.

Another Example is self proclaimed 'liberals' or 'progressives' looking down their noses at others who don't measure up to their idea of an acceptable profession or material lifestyle and then calling upon the government to impose their standard upon their neighbor through zoning laws and other regulations.

In both cases the answer is to help your neighbor rather than criticize them. But we should scrupulous avoid imposing burdens on our neighbors that are not rightfully theirs.

Please take this into consideration before casting your vote this Tuesday. Ask yourself if you like what we're becoming. Your liberty and most importantly your children's liberty depends on the decision that we make today.

Ability to manage the government is a secondary consideration to 'willingness to uphold the principles of liberty and recognize the rights of another human being.'
October 31, 2009
Comments have sure dropped off with the "new & improved" system!
October 31, 2009

Mike Prax- "What should concern us is that the Open Meetings Act severely hampers assembly members from performing their oversight and policy setting functions because of the logistics involved with setting up casual meetings."

Yeah, its sooooo hard to simply ask the clerks to post the time and dates of meetings. Almost as hard as finding a cure for cancer or ending starvation.

Its much better to just break the law and meet in secret and pretend that your constitutional rights are being plundered.

And now we see your involvement with the conservative group has also led to more (alleged) violations of state laws. Trouble just follows you everywhere, Mike.

October 31, 2009
Contempt for the law; (Would that be referring to you or to me?)

RE: Your 5:52 Post Regarding the Open Meetings Act

Thanks for clarifying the record of Mr. Vezey's comments at the assembly meeting regarding our meeting. I didn't recall whether he filed a formal complaint or simply expressed his 'displeasure'.

In retrospect, I can appreciate his displeasure that we didn't extend the courtesy of notifying him. However, I still think it was a simple procedural misunderstanding that provided media fodder on a slow news day.

The spirit of these blogs illustrates why overzealous application of the Open Meetings Act might not be a good idea. And have you stopped to consider that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention held in 1787 agreed to refrain from discussing anything about their deliberations publicly for the 80 days that it took them to complete their work?

There are definite limits to the benefits of public discussion as well as collective decision making.

Mike Prax

October 30, 2009

T. Cole, isn't it the nature of man to be brutish? Isn't your campaign quixotic?

"All mankind [is in] a perpetual and restless desire for power... that [stops] only in death."

Consequently, giving power to the individual would create a dangerous situation that would start a "war of every man against every man" and make life "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

Thomas Hobbes circa 1724
October 30, 2009
I think the next anon poster who thinks the NewsMiner editorial board is anon ought to do some reading and thinking! It is the NewsMiner board position and therefore not secret! This has been SOP since the invention of newspapers mostly.

As I say, attacks on this website that are nasty and brutish would be fine, if the nasty brutes who make them had the minimal decency to identify themselves. But clearly they do not.
October 30, 2009
Looking forward to the day when cheechakos like Wilson, Cox, and VanderKolk are run out of town for good.

Don't worry Fairbanks, the light's at the end of the tunnel.
October 30, 2009
I wonder if you misinterpreted Roger Waters' message...
October 30, 2009
Tammie Wilson is done for. Thank GOD almighty!
October 30, 2009
Re: Comment from FACTS ARE FACTS

>Fact: Tammie was denied dividend checks because she lied to the PFD people in her first application.

Last I checked, lying on your PFD application is a criminal matter. I certainly haven't seen any evidence that Tammie was charged with a crime. Perhaps you meant to say something else, but instead chose to give us spin.

BTW, I quit applying for the PFD over 15 years ago, as I objected to the Leftistlature using it as a carrot in attempting to dictate how we should live our lives. By current political standards, the fact that I don't apply for a PFD means that I'm not an Alaskan resident, despite the fact that I've lived here full-time for decades and take an active part in my community.

>Fact: Tammie has only been here six years and her inexperience shows every time she is asked a serious question. Holy Crow.

I haven't had time to follow every last bit of the campaign. I have been to enough events recently to notice that it's "Use the force" Luke who stumbles at every turn. Moreover, the contempt he shows on his face for everyone who isn't on the same page as him hasn't been seen in Fairbanks politics since Donna Gilbert was still halfway relevant.

>Fact: Tammie has been chronically underemployed for most of the last ten years. Doesn't that concern Wilson supporters?

Actually, not as much as it concerns me that her opponent is milking the system by retiring from UAF and yet still working a part-time job there while collecting a retirement at the same time.

Perhaps the fact that the Democrat/labor union gang have been doing it for years, to the point where we almost had a crisis situation a few years ago with PERS, has numbed everyone to the consequences of such a situation.

October 30, 2009
That photo is scary......
October 30, 2009
I remember seeing "PRIVATE ROAD" signs up on Esro Road for decades, but don't recall seeing any recently. Apparently though, it is still a private road. Am I too far off base in wondering why the borough would be involved in a right of way issue on a private road?

And why does this story basically amount to telling us that an in-law of Niilo Koponen is strongly allied with an in-law of David Guttenberg in an effort to stop a candidate with significant populist support? And yet people have the temerity to contend that I'm full of when I talk about the attempted Democrat/UAF takeover of borough government which has been going on for years?

On the carpetbagger issue: I grew up listening to Jerry Fears on KFAR rant and rave about how newcomers were killing the community. Meanwhile, today, these same sort of people are still stuck in the 1960s, still hate newcomers and fail to realize that many such newcomers are currently contributing far more to this community than they are. I've been here 30 years and yet still find myself treated like a second class citizen by many in Fairbanks, even people who themselves or their parents or grandparents were essentially moved up to Alaska by the federal government for the sole purpose of pushing statehood through.

I recently found myself working part-time at UAF after many years of having nothing to do with the place. Seeing how every little last thing you do is subject to politicized scrutiny, it made perfect sense when a co-worker from my regular job pointed out that if "Use the force" Luke retired from a UAF job, then he obviously spent years keeping his mouth shut and not making any waves. Considering the potential for exciting times we may face in the community in years to come, I don't want a "go along and get along" type of person for a mayor.

October 30, 2009
Contempt for the law
October 30, 2009

JustLiberty- Mike Prax, the mentality you are expressing here demonstrates why you should never be allowed to be in the legislature. The Open Meetings Law is designed to keep the public informed as to what elected officials are up to. It was not designed for the convenience of politicians.

Not only did you and Rick Solie keep the public out of the meeting (a sticky note on the door does not cut it), you deliberately cut your fellow assembly members out of the meeting. This behavior was unheard of before the right wingers took over the assembly.

The News-Miner exposed this secret, illegal meeting; some excerpts:

"Assemblymen Dave Veazey at a full assembly meeting after the leadership session expressed displeasure over the presiding officer's quietly arranged meeting with Deputy Presiding Officer Mike Prax, Assembly Finance committee Chairman Bonnie Williams and Assembly Audit Committee Chairman Garry Hutchison.

"That was a mistake and it was my fault", said Solie, who was elected presiding officer of the 11 member body this fall.

"Its not just the interests of the members of the assembly we're talking about here," Veazey said. "It's the interests of the members of the public that may want to attend these meetings. The thing I find difficult is we have a group of assembly people discussing future finances of the borough that can't plan a meeting a week in advance."

"The Open Meetings Act is not intended to be for the convenience of elected officials," he said. "It's intended to be for the convenience of the public."

Over and over again we find Republicans violating the law. This is why many are so worried about Tammie given her track record and those she is associating with.

October 30, 2009
terencemcole wrote

last paragraph.Please have the courage of your convictions and use real names if you are going to say nasty things about someone.Anything else is just reprehensible. thank you
October 30, 2009


I believe that you are referring to a meeting between the presiding officer, the deputy P.O. (yours truly), and the finance committee chair that was held at the borough office building a week or so after we were elected by other assembly members to these leadership positions. Please let me know if you're thinking about something else.

The 'Open Meetings Act' had been passed by the legislature fairly recently as I recall. Prior to that time there were no laws abridging the right of the people to peaceably assemble. Again; as I recall, (because this has been some time ago) I discussed with the borough clerk whether the open meetings act would impact the proposed meeting and how to comply with the notification requirements. We concluded that we would meet the requirements if we posted a notice of the meeting on the entrance to the borough office building. The notice was subsequently posted and we met a few days later in a room adjacent to the clek's office with the door open to get to know one another and discuss scheduling the normal business that the assembly takes care of during the year. We didn't feel that it was necessary to invite other assembly members because because of the mundane nature of what was to be discussed.

While we were meeting, another assembly member saw the notice on his way to the clerk's office to pick up his mail. He stopped by and was invited to join as long as we was there, but he declined the invitation and instead made an issue of inadequate notice.

I don't remember whether we were actually found to be in violation of anything, but we agreed that we did wasn't in keeping with the spirit of the law.

Had we met in a personal residence, or had we neglected to inform the borough clerk of our intention, had we failed to post any notice at all, or or even if perhaps we had closed the door, the meeting could have been characterized as a 'secret meeting'. But I think that the assembly agreed then and I still maintain that it was nothing more than a technical violation of the spirit of the law.

What should concern us is that the Open Meetings Act severely hampers assembly members from performing their oversight and policy setting functions because of the logistics involved with setting up casual meetings. The result is far greater control over public business by the administration which is not subject to the same abridgments on the people's right to peaceably assemble. As an example, the entire employee labor contract is negotiated behind closed doors and the details of the negotiation aren't revealed to the assembly or the public until the "11th hour."
October 30, 2009
SnitcherII except for¡ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ǝןʇʇ and ıן ɐ but I am in total aagreement with "'dıssoƃ 'ɹǝʌǝɟ uıqɐɔ ɟo ǝsɐɔ pɐq ɐ ǝʌɐɥ oʇ ɯǝǝs ןןɐ noʎ ǝɔuıs". I wove this new format, where is that waskowy wabbit?
Bugs Bunny
October 30, 2009
To anonymous:

"It is a shame that so many people are abusing this faulty formatted system and posting under several user-names."

I agree, we need to go back to the original format!

October 30, 2009
The nastiness and personal attacks of some bloggers here are hardly intimidating...they are just plain shameful...and it just gives me more reason to vote for Tammie Wilson. She's obviously got something going for her if people have to attack her on such a ridiculous issue that has nothing to do with her ability to be our mayor.
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