Monday, February 14, 2011

On Bill Weimar

Bill Weimar's deportation from Mexico and detention in Texas, awaiting extradition back to Florida, to face charges in child sexual battery, has prompted a few people to get hold of me, either asking for information about Weimar back in the 80s and 90s, or to inform me that my "friend," Bill Weimar, has been arrested.

I worked for Allvest, Inc, a company Bill started with a few other investors in 1985. I worked at the Cordova Center from 1986 through early 1993, as a security shift supervisor, case manager, Program Coordinator, Program Director and - finally - as Bill's Executive Assistant. I would not have described him then as my friend, nor would he have characterized me as one of his. The last time we communicated was probably in 1996 or 1997. He wanted me to do something for him. I told him I couldn't put it into my schedule.

At that time, Bill had a lot of "friends." He was ubiquitous at Democratic Party candidate fundraisers. He would have me represent him at some GOP fundraisers for candidates he wanted to influence through his cash or checks.

His friends then included Tony Knowles, Bill Sheffield, Max Gruenberg, Ramona Barnes, Ed Dankworth, Frank Pruitt and many other Democratic Party politicians and apparatchiks.

As I've written before, in the early 90s I warned him against getting close to either Jerry Ward or Bill Allen. He seldom took my advice, and the pressure he put on my colleagues in Allvest administration to disregard my advisory memos and comments during staff meetings had a lot to do with my being glad to leave the company in 1993.

Weimar's role in demobilizing the liberal faction in the Alaska Democratic Party in the year or so before construction of the oil pipeline has had long-term implications, which haven't been written about since that time, to my knowledge. In one of my earlier essays here on him, I described his role in the changing business environment in Anchorage and Alaska at the close of the 1980s:

The person most responsible for economic growth in Southcentral Alaska at the end of that decade was Joseph Hazelwood. At least two of the major figures in the ongoing Department of Justice investigations into Alaska political and business corruption owe a lot of their rise to Hazelwood: Bill Allen and Bill Weimar.

Weimar and his partners had already started Allvest Laboratory when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef. What had been a fairly small urinalysis sampling service grew rapidly in the 1990-91 series of measures I call the "post-Hazelwood reforms." The expansion possibilities became so overwhelming in early 1991, I was called away from my regular post as Program Coordinator of the Cordova Center, to help Matt Fagnani, Allvest Lab's then-director, conduct educational programs among crews of the Alaska Marine Highway System in Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

Few people outside the merchant marine realize how profoundly Hazelwood's misconduct changed their profession. And subsequent drug test requirements throughout the transportation industry owe the skipper of the Exxon Valdez their thanks for more stringent standards, which have probably saved hundreds of lives, if not thousands. There's a bit of irony there, I'm sure.

Teaching merchant mariners how to get their shipmates to piss into little bottles while they are being closely observed was even more difficult than teaching them how not to screw up the chain of custody paperwork that makes the sample valid. Essentially, what the post-Hazelwood reforms forced upon this industry, where crew-mates become family during weeks or months at sea, broke into that family structure. It was like telling these people to throw their traditions of trust and judgement out the porthole.

Fagnani, who was very definitely a "Friend of Bill," is still in the pee testing business.

Weimar, in the way he networked his way through our corrupt politics to become five times richer than Pete Zamarello ever was, wasn't much different than a lot of people with businesses doing large-scale contracts with the State of Alaska or the Municipality of Anchorage. There are people out there right now, manipulating our politicians through money, as I write. And they will continue to get away with what Bill did, what Bill Allen did, what Pete Zamarello did.

Weimar, like anyone under indictment, has yet to go to trial or plead out, before we can call him a sexual predator. I've always known him to be crooked and lacking in a deep moral anchor, but as I've already written, these charges surprised me somewhat.

Once again, though, to make it perfectly clear - I was never, unlike many, many currently prominent Alaskans, a "friend of Bill" Weimar.

Here's the description of the first of several confrontations between Bill and me that ultimately led to my being shunned by my colleagues at Allvest:
My low point with Weimer was during the time of Cordova Center expansion. He was converting the large parking garage at the bottom of the building into new, expanded and integrated administrative and common areas. It was a good idea. The execution was awful, though.

The building itself, 130 Cordova Street, is questionably constructed on a hill that is sure to slide down into the Ship Creek basin if we have another Good Friday-level earthquake. One contractor told me that Pete Zamarello (who had the building constructed in the 1970s as condos) built it to see how far he could go, in terms of testing Anchorage building permits.

During the 1991-92 expansion project, in early February, the building's heating system had to be disconnected and rebuilt. The hundred or so residents in the building only had a very few electric heaters to heat their rooms. A big cold wave hit, and the rooms got so cold that residents and staff kept the faucets running all the time.

I brought up the problems with Weimer. He laughed, saying that the residents could complain all they wanted. If the Department of Corrections closed the center down until the heat was back on, they'd have to go back to prison, so he felt they'd keep quiet.

He was right.


Anonymous said...

Weimar is a total scumbag and a thug. Nothing I read about him these days is a surprise.

I still derive great satisfaction from defeating one of his crooked projects back in the 90's. He and Rambona were quite the couple back then. Barff.

Chenagrrl said...

Well heck, he really hasn't changed from the lid-dealer he was a the UofA, Fairbanks in the late '60s. In those days, he fancied himself a super lefty. I don't know that he was ever a thriving student. Lived by his wits was more like it.

Anonymous said...

If he did what he was accused of, he should be taken out back behind the barn and shot.

As a tax payer, I have a problem with my tax dollars having gone towards making a sexual predator fabulously wealthy in the prison business.

On the other hand, I do recall history, the Salem witch trials, etc. These things can be complicated.

But really, I could have done without the specifics at breakfast time. I may never eat Cheerios again. bt

Frank Smith said...

I helped defeat Weimar's scams from 1996 through 2005, including the prison proposals for South Anchorage, Delta Junction, Kenai, Whittier, Sitka, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Mat-Su and Nome.

I can say with 100% confidence that Tony Knowles, Fran Ulmer and Margaret Pugh had considerable influence regarding the failure of those proposals. Other Democrats, particularly Johnny Ellis, Eric Croft and Ethan Berkowitz were significant opponents as well.

Weimar bribed Republicans exclusively, because they were the ones who were for sale.

clark said...

philip, you said 2.5 years ago in the linked post: "Bill may be one of the dirtiest operators in Alaska history."
looks like he managed to top that.