A complaint filed with the Mat-Su Borough’s Assessment Office led to two property assessors showing up at the home of Rep. Kevin McCabe on Friday. They were there to do an inspection and reassessment because someone they would only identify as a “reporter” had made a complaint that McCabe’s property wasn’t assessed high enough.
None of the properties around that neighborhood have been assessed since 2013, and McCabe said he asked the assessors if they were also doing an assessment on any of the other seven homes in the area between East and West Papoose Lakes. No, they told him, just his property. They weren’t going to reassess anyone else’s properties.
McCabe says he has 40 acres, a house, and a pole barn, plus a couple of chicken coops. There’s nothing special about his place, he said, that would make it stand out for a targeted reassessment.
“I welcomed the borough assessors to come look at my property. I have nothing to hide and they were consumate professionals and very pleasant (and apologetic). When asked, they admitted that they came only to assess my property at the request of some reporter,” McCabe said. “It sucks that people can weaponize the bureaucracy to harass a public official whom they disagree with politically. Where does that end? Can anyone ask the borough assessors office to go out and assess an opponents property? I don’t agree with some of the assembly members position on things, can I ask that they have a special assessment?” McCabe said.
McCabe noted that the lack of property assessments in the area is emblematic of the growth the borough has experienced. “The borough provides no means to self-report ones properties value – and I am not an appraiser anyway,” he said.
McCabe was the subject of a lawsuit earlier this year lodged by former newsman Mark Kelsey, who complained that he had been blocked from McCabe’s official Facebook page. Kelsey, a Mat-Su borough resident but not a constituent of McCabe’s, filed the lawsuit June 1 in Anchorage Superior Court. Kelsey was a publisher of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman from 2011-2016, and had been a reporter and managing editor for the paper and other newspapers at various times before that. He also worked for the Department of Commerce for a few years.
Kelsey has, in the past, posted extensive social media comments specifically relating to McCabe’s property, including his tax assessment information that is available at the borough, and has called him out as a “tax chiseler.”
Kelsey’s lawsuit over being blocked on Facebook, and others similarly brought against legislators, have prompted the Legislature to begin to revise the wording on its social media policies. Lawmakers have to walk a fine line — they need to allow people to comment on their official pages, but also need to protect people from being abused, bullied, harassed, and elected officials have to monitor comments for vulgarity and threats.
The Legislature’s current social media policy was last updated in 2011 and Alaska has no case law to inform the issue about when a lawmaker can block someone for repeated instances of harassment.
But meanwhile, it appears a resident of the borough — maybe one with strong political and criticisms of Republicans — has elevated the doxxing of a lawmaker to a new level — sic’ing the property assessors on him to increase his tax payments.