City Leader Under Fire For Trying To Use Cops To Recreate 'Say Anything' Scene
Palmer, AK – A Palmer city councilman has been accused of using his position to try to convince police to blare a song request from a patrol car loudspeaker in his neighborhood in the middle of the night.
Palmer City Councilman Richard Best described his plan as a “grand gesture” for his wife, according to a recording of the call he made to the Palmer Police Department (PPD) at 12:35 a.m. on Jan. 10, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported.
“Are you familiar with the movie ‘Say Anything’?” Best asked an officer during the call. “With John Cusack holding the stereo above his head?”
Best’s plan was to re-create the scene from the 1989 film, during which Cusack’s character blasts the song “In Your Eyes” from a boombox outside the home of his love interest, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported.
The city councilman was traveling from Kenai to Palmer at the time of the call.
He also identified himself as a member of the city council, and repeatedly referred to the proposed favor as an “unorthodox request,” the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported.
“I’m willing to pay the fine of disturbance of the peace,” Best suggested during the call.
The commanding officer declined to have PPD participate in Best’s plan.
“Typically that’s not a request that we would normally do anyway, and with it being that time of the middle of the night that’s not something that we’re going to get on the PA and wake up the whole neighborhood and cause a disturbance over,” Palmer Police Chief Dwayne Shelton later told the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.
Best told the paper that he didn’t believe that he did anything wrong by mentioning his position with the city and asking police to disrupt his neighborhood with the song.
“I called as an individual citizen. There was no putting myself as an elected official into anything,” said Best, who has served over 10 years on the council during two separate terms. “I didn’t ask for any special favors.”
Best refused to acknowledge the incident during a Palmer City Council meeting on Feb. 25, but others in attendance made sure the issue was addressed.
Resident Hillary Palmer submitted an email to the council that was read aloud during the meeting.
“[Best’s] action fits the description of using public resource for personal gain. For this he has not apologized to the citizens he serves nor cited a temporary lapse in judgement,” Palmer wrote, according to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. “On the contrary, Mr. Best seems to find the situation humorous and sees no issue with the misuse of publicly funded law enforcement resources.
“I request that Mr. Best relinquish his position on city council as he has demonstrated his comfort with corruption and can no longer be trusted in a position of authority,” Palmer added.
City Councilwoman Jill Valerius said that many community members have reached out to her since news of Best’s attempted “grand gesture” broke.
Valerius said she found it “disturbing” that Best lied to the media by “saying that he had not used his position” when he made the request, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported.
The recording of the call proved otherwise, she said.
“The whole situation is being made of as though it’s a joke,” Valerius added.
“Many times I’ve heard him speak, including directly to me on this council, about how important the perception of our actions is to our constituents and that regardless if it’s written in code or not, we should be transparent and ethical at all times,” said City Councilwoman Sabrena Combs. “That being said, I hope that you, madam mayor, choose to publicly admonish his behavior on the record.”
Valerius also called on Best to apologize for his conduct.
Several city council members noted that there is no code of ethics in the Palmer Municipal Code pertaining to censuring or reprimanding members of the council, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported.
Establishing such a code has now become a focal point moving forward.