Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anchorage VFW Post Fighting To Stay Alive

A friend who is about to return to his home in Alaska advised me that the Anchorage VFW Post is having big problems.

I found an article from the Anchorage Daily News about what is going on up there.

My first reaction after reading the article, honestly, I thought, "The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is really pretty chicken-shit!"

And besides the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) folks, it sounds like the Post has a neighbor with a cruel agenda of wanting it closed down - no ifs ands or buts!

And for us who have never been to Anchorage Alaska, I've found out that Anchorage has a population of  295,570 as of 2011, covers an area of 1,961 sq miles, with an unemployment rate at around 5.2% as of December 2012.

Anchorage which is officially called the Municipality of Anchorage is a "unified home rule municipality" in the south central part of the U.S. state of Alaska.

What is a "unified home rule municipality"?

In United States local government, a consolidated city–county is a city and county that have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation, and a county, which is an administrative division of a state. It has the powers and responsibilities of both types of entities.

Anchorage is governed by an elected mayor and 11-member assembly, with the assistance of a city manager.

These positions are supposedly non-partisan as is the case with all municipal elected offices in Alaska, and because of this no candidates officially run under the banner of any political party.

All eleven members are elected from districts known as sections. Five of the sections elect two members from designated seats, while the remaining section elects one member.

Here's the article, and ask yourself if this doesn't all sound pretty chicken-shit to you:   

Dispute over S. Anchorage VFW club goes to Assembly

Published: April 21, 2013

By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA, Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage — Neighbors of a Veterans of Foreign Wars club in a strip mall on the Old Seward Highway want to close it down, and they're hoping to enlist the support of the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday.

Neighbors have been complaining for nearly two years that the club was too noisy to be next to a residential area, that trash from the club blows into their neighborhood, and there's sometimes vomit.

VFW Post No. 9981, in a mall south of Huffman Road, is allowed to serve alcohol to members and their guests, but is not open to the public.

As recently as March, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board says the VFW violated its license by serving alcohol to a non-member -- an undercover investigator from the board.

In July of 2012, the board sent the VFW a notice of violation for putting notes on the club's Facebook page indicating that the public was welcome to some club events.

"We've made a few mistakes," says Steve Hubbard, commander of VFW Post No. 9981. But, Hubbard said, all the concerns raised have already been responded to.

"Trash has not been an issue for two years," Hubbard said. "The fact is all of those issues are resolved."


Apart from the liquor license violations, at least some of the club's problems stem from its location. The mall is on land zoned industrial. But right behind the mall and down a small slope there's a subdivision.

Don and Katie Kessler live in a house behind the mall where the second floor overlooks the back entrance of the VFW.

They've been leading the effort to get rid of the club.

"Right now, because of all the liquor license violations, we would really like to see the place shut down," Don Kessler said.

Kessler said he didn't want to go into detail because the matter is coming up before the Assembly.


On Tuesday, the Assembly considers whether to protest renewal of the VFW's license.

The Assembly has two separate issues on its agenda:

• A protest. If this proposal passes, the city would protest the club's liquor license renewal with the state ABC Board, which makes licensing decisions. A public hearing is scheduled Tuesday night at which representatives of the VFW, the residents and the Old Seward Highway-Oceanview Community Council are allowed to testify.

• A deal. The city attorney's office and lawyers for the VFW on Friday signed a potential agreement that the Assembly could accept instead of moving ahead with the protest. A resolution to accomplish that is on the agenda.

Under the deal, the city says it won't protest the club's liquor license renewal as long as the VFW agrees to certain conditions, such as not playing karaoke or live music after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, or midnight on the weekends; and collecting loose trash along the fence-line once a week.

The strip mall, on the west side of the Old Seward Highway, has been there for 30-some years, its owner told the Daily News in 2011.

The VFW moved to rented space in the mall in January of 2011. The group sold its old building, also on the Old Seward Highway, to get out of debt, Hubbard said in 2011.


Assembly member Jennifer Johnston, who is sponsoring the move to protest the license, said she's trying to fix the problems, not necessarily close the club.

She'd like to see it modify operating hours to accommodate the neighbors, keep the area neat and clean, and "not have karaoke at 2 in the morning."

She's taking into consideration the fact that the strip mall is on land zoned for industrial uses, she said.

"On the one hand you have a couple of houses built there with full knowledge the adjoining land was industrial," she said. "There could have been a gravel pit."

The city doesn't have direct control over the VFW's liquor license. The state does. But the city does have the ability through land use laws to set conditions on the city permit to use that space as a club that serves alcohol. That's what Johnston wants to do.

Kessler said the agreement drawn up by city lawyers and VFW lawyers gives the VFW "exactly what they already have."

"The agreement had absolutely zero input from the community," Kessler said.

Wayne Ross, whose law firm represents the VFW, said the club is contesting issues raised by the Kesslers.

"But in the interest of being good neighbors, they've agreed to the conditions.""These guys should have a place where they can relax and not still have to fight for freedom," Ross said.

-- end of article.

You can reach Rosemary Shinohara at rshinohara@adn.com or at 257-4340.

For me, I find it interesting that there isn't a Home-Owner's Association attacking the VFW - but instead a single home owner with an agenda.

Kessler appears to have a problem with Veterans.

And yes, taking what he said into account, it appears he certainly has an agenda. Remember, Don Kessler exaggerated the Post's violations when he said, "Right now, because of all the liquor license violations, we would really like to see the place shut down,"

"All the liquor license violations"? What "all" is there?

The VFW Post No. 9981 has only been at that location since 2011. The complaints about the trash were not liquor license violations but were addressed.

In July of 2012, the board sent the VFW a notice of violation for putting notes on the club's Facebook page indicating that the public was welcome to some club events.

That's right, since the VFW is considered a Private Veterans Club, it cannot say the words "public welcome."

Yes, that's right, they should have said, "members and guests welcome."

No kidding! Call the FBI! Quick, arrest someone! Teach those Veterans a lesson! The nerve of them saying "public" instead of "guests!"

That grammatical error alone should result in stiff prison terms for everyone associated with the Post.

Don't think so, ask ABC who went out of their way to send the VFW a notice of violation for "putting notes on the club's Facebook page."

How is saying the word "public" in place of the word "guests" on Facebook "a liquor violation?"

Is that "chicken-shit"? Yes, that is without a doubt the epitome of being "chicken-shit!"

As for failing to have someone sign-in to the Post's guest book?

Most all Veterans Posts stay on top of that for two reasons. First, it is the law. Non-members must sign-in.  And second, most are afraid of ABC who might want to play the game of "Gotcha!"

You see, the premise to Good Government is that government and private sector work hand in hand to accomplish a harmonious existence.
The government entity justifies their existence by helping the company stay within the rule of the law through notification and guidance called "help."

The company in return benefits and employs people who pay taxes to keep that government in the black.

The government benefits from seeing more citizens working. The companies benefit by become profitable and a success, subsequently employing more neighbors and townspeople. Everyone wins!

To bad that that's not the real world.

Today, government employees abuse power. Power is everything to those with "authority."

To those with authority, it is all about justifying their existence by demonstrating how many fines they can levy and how many businesses they can shut down.

As recently as March, the Alaska state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board says the VFW in Anchorage violated its license by serving alcohol to a "non-member" - aka "a guest".

That information came from an undercover investigator from the ABC Board who obviously saw it take place and noted someone didn't sign-in. 

But instead of advising the bartender or a Post Officer right away of what just that took place - and maybe in the process help the Post by showing them where they need to be more vigilant - instead that ABC investigator said "Gotcha!"

What is wrong with this picture is easy. People there are being "chicken-shit"!

And as for the Vets? I'd wager that they just want a place where they can find camaraderie and serve the community in a positive way. After all, that's what we do.

Story by Tom Correa

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