August 30, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 35

Policeman whose suit paved way for tour tax dies

A policeman whose lawsuit against the City of Haines led to a 1 percent sales tax later dedicated to tourism promotion has died.

The Fairbanks News Miner reported Aug. 19 that Jeff Gorman died Nov. 9. He was 62 and suffered from liver disease, family members said.

Gorman and his family moved to Alaska in 1976 and came to Haines in 1977 after roughing it in a cabin in Chicken, Alaska.

While making an arrest downtown in 1979, Gorman was assaulted and blinded in his right eye. In 1984, Gorman won a $425,000 out-of-court settlement with the City of Haines, following a $1 million personal injury lawsuit. To pay off the debt, city voters established an additional, 1 percent sales tax.

When the tax was about to expire, tourism advocates, including hotelier Arne Olsson and tourism director Chip Waterbury, launched a campaign to instead rededicate it to fund the town’s fledgling tourism promotion efforts.

The vote passed 222-168 in October 1987.

Gorman was born in Massachusetts. He and wife Darlene had two children, Lorilee and Benjamin. In 1982, the family moved from Haines to Delta Junction, and later moved to North Pole and Fairbanks. Gorman, who was preceded in death by his wife, was buried in Delta Junction.

He is survived by family in Fairbanks, Michigan and Gainsville, Fla., according to the Fairbanks obituary.