Eugene Carl Haberman is a fixture at local public meetings. He regularly attends the MatSu Borough Assemby meetings, including the 4 p.m. “Special Meetings,” the MSB School Board meetings, the Palmer, Wasilla and Houston City Council meetings, the Port Commission meetings, the MSB Wastewater and Septage Advisory Board meetings, the MSB Aviation Advisory Board, the MEA board meetings, The State of Alaska’s Matanuska Valley Fish & Game Advisory Committee Meetings, and the State’s Agricultural Advisory Board, and a sprinkling of other smaller meetings such as various Community Council meetings throughout the Valley.
Mr. Haberman always makes use of the public comment time and he usually makes the same general point: our public officials are not following the rules re: transparency and public process. Read through almost any set of meeting minutes and you will find Mr. Haberman’s name and his comments.
Update: Mr. Haberman has not spoken at an Assembly meeting since the Spring of 2017, but he is still attending AND he is still speaking up at other meetings.
Here are examples of Mr. Haberman in action:
Palmer City Council Special Meeting Nov. 4, 2014:
D. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
• Stated he was unable to give the Council his comments at a previous meeting because
the meeting conflicted with a Borough meeting;
• Shared his concerns about the Mat-Su Borough’s lack of public notice for their canvas
board meetings and election certification;
• Shared his communication with various Borough officials with regard to his concerns;
• Requested the City and the Borough stop holding meetings on the same dates.
Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority Board MEETING MINUTES
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Wasilla, Juneau, and Anchorage, Alaska
AIDEA Board Meeting Minutes Page 2 of 5
June 23, 2016
5. PUBLIC COMMENTS
Eugene Carl Haberman, resident of Matanuska-Susitna Valley (Mat-Su), explained he follows the process used by officials for public meetings. He believes if the appropriate process is used, the decisions made by the governing body will more likely be in the public interest. Mr. Haberman reported he has attended public meetings, including Alaska Public Offices Commission, in Anchorage for the last five years and public meetings in the Valley for the last three years.
Mr. Haberman expressed concern regarding the unavailability of hard copies of the AIDEA Board meeting information for the public. He believes this is an inappropriate practice and has been an issue for a number of years. Mr. Haberman reported staff made a copy of the information for him immediately before the meeting began.
Mr. Haberman stated the three-minute time limit for public comments does not provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to share all their concerns. He noted the AIDEA bylaws state reasonable notice shall be provided for any special meeting. Mr. Haberman expressed his disappointment that the use of reasonable notice is too broad because there may be an occasion when the Board believes five minutes is reasonable notice for a special meeting. Mr. Haberman ncouraged members to contact him regarding AIDEA’s public process.
TRAPPER CREEK COMMUNITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES
Regular Meeting 6:30 PM Thursday, July 20, 2017
Guests present: Randall & Karen Kowalke and Eugene Haberman
Public Forum: Eugene Haberman spoke on the borough sales tax. He does not agree with the procedures taken by the borough.
(You have to give Mr. Haberman credit for driving all the way up to Trapper Creek, where he was the only “guest” at the meeting besides the local MSB Assembly member and his wife.)
Some people have praised Mr. Haberman for his tireless efforts. A longtime Valley realtor who has been involved in local gov’t recently commented on a local Facebook group that he has “found that Eugene is usually correct about things.”
The Frontiersman and Anchorage Daily News reporters seem to find Mr. Haberman interesting and/or amusing too.
However, the MSB does not sing Mr. Haberman’s praises and sent him a “cease and desist” letter in March, 2017. (For some reason, this strongly worded letter from the MSB Manager and Mayor, which was sent to Mr. Haberman via certified mail, was included in a MSB Septage Advisory meeting packet. See pp. 17 – 19. See also p. 4, the Feb 9, 2017, meeting minutes, where Mr. Haberman called for the entire Septage Advisory board to resign.) (Note: A source tells me that the MSBSD also sent Mr. Haberman a similar letter.)
Google tells me Mr. Haberman arrived in Alaska in the fall of 1977. He lived in Anchorage for many years, where he also was a regular at government meetings, before moving out to the Mat-Su Valley.
Mr. Haberman graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1974 with a degree in Political Science and Chinese and Japanese History. The first government official he “confronted” was U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim in 1972.
After college, Mr. Haberman worked in Wash, D.C. for a few years – first for the Presidential Clemency Program and then for Department of Commerce as a clerk.
“After working for the Department of Commerce in two different clerical positions I became disgusted with many who were working for the government and how those around me forgot on who they were working for, the people of the United States.”
And so Mr. Haberman quit and hitchhiked to Alaska (with a brief stop in San Francisco.) In Anchorage, he worked for environmental groups and published an local arts/entertainment magazine. (I am pretty sure he is retired now.)
Other public Watchdogs include Terry Snyder and Patty Rosnel.
Terry Snyder has a blog, the Citizen Lobbyist (although her last post was in 2014, the blog has good background information), and a radio show on KVRF (Big Cabbage radio). She also appears on Valley Edition which airs on Fridays.
Patty Rosnel was a regular attendee at MSB meetings for many years and kept close track of the MSB’s spending habits but alas she recently moved out of state. She founded the Facebook group “Borough Budget Watch” which continues on.
Note: Sometimes (a lot of the time lately) Ms. Snyder acts like a cheerleader and not a Watchdog.