Sponsors of a referendum to repeal a tax cut on oil companies allege that opponents are interfering with their ability to collect signatures.
Pat Lavin is one of the organizers behind the referendum. He says the harassment started in Anchorage last week and escalated on Monday, when an unidentified woman interrupted the signature gathering effort at the Barnes and Noble.
“This was physically putting her hands on people signing books to kind of get their attention and basically say, “Don’t do this. That’s a bad idea. You don’t want to sign that.”
The practice is called blocking, and the intent is to make it harder not just for a petition circulator to get an individual signature but to control a high-traffic space. Lavin says that because the incident upset customers, petition circulators were asked to cut their day short. He says he’s worried the same people could target them again.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an army, but you know a few persistent harassers can really — as we saw at the Barnes and Noble — shut things down.”
With less than a month to go, the referendum group has to collect over
30,000 signatures to get on the ballot. At last count, they were above 20,000.
Because interfering with constitutional rights is a misdemeanor, referendum organizers have requested a meeting with Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew.
Management at Barnes and Noble was not able to answer questions about the incident.
- The state is granting nearly $300,000 to improve water quality in some of Alaska's most damaged watersheds, including Juneau's orange-tinted Duck Creek.
- More than a third of all the penalties imposed since 1976 were logged last year.
- "You know, we're not talking about some smoky, old wood stove here. We’re talking about high-tech equipment," said Daniel Parrent, a program manager at the U.S. Forest Service.
- "Did you think that ganging together seven different taxes would make it more likely or less likely that any would pass?” asked Eagle River Republican Rep. Dan Saddler.