Gov. Sarah Palin is clashing with a Juneau activist over what he calls "voyeur" bus tours past the governor's mansion that he asserts ruin the neighborhood to exploit her fame.
Chip Thoma, head of Responsible Cruising in Alaska, has put up signs saying "Stop Local Tours" in the area near the mansion, with active support from at least a handful of residents.
"As Governor Palin spends very little time in Juneau, especially during the summer, these are 'voyeur' tours premised solely on her notoriety," Thoma said in an April 30 letter to Juneau tour operators.
Thoma said in a Friday interview, though, that the tours really aren't any worse than before Palin took office. He said it's not about her, but about impacts on the neighborhoods near Juneau.
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The governor said she welcomes tourists and "can't imagine other areas of Alaska looking at having the Governor's house nearby as a degrading irritation that invites voyeurism."
The governor said she offered to meet with Thoma "to ask if I could lessen his burden by keeping a lower profile," but he declined and suggested she work it out with the Juneau mayor instead.
"I wanted to offer him to hide Piper's trampoline further in a corner of the yard ... if it's a matter of not giving anyone anything to look at so they'll go away then I'd ask Piper to not giggle so loudly on her buoy swing or bicycle in the yard," Palin said in a written statement, referring to her 7-year-old daughter.
Palin said she's spent most of her time in Juneau in recent months and finds the complaint ironic, given criticism in the capital city that she runs state government mostly from the Anchorage area.
"We've been slammed if we're not here enough, but now the table's turned and the message is we're creating chaos because we're here too often," Palin said in a written statement.
The bus tours are a combination of cruise ship company buses and local operations. Kirby Day of Princess Tours said the operators take measures such as avoiding going through the area at lunchtime and morning commute hours. He said there's actually been a large reduction over the years in buses going through the area.
"To characterize this as a major, major problem, it's just perplexing to us," Day said.
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