This photo shows a sign outside the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Juneau. The agency plans to update its electronic screening system after issuing personalized license plates reading "FUHRER" and "3REICH" and later recalling them because of complaints, officials announced Friday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Alaska plans screening changes after ‘3REICH’ license plate

An Alaska agency plans to update its electronic screening system

  • By BECKY BOHRER Associated Press
  • Wednesday, February 3, 2021 2:30am
  • NewsState News

An Alaska agency plans to update its electronic screening system after issuing personalized license plates reading “FUHRER” and “3REICH” and later recalling them because of complaints, officials announced last Friday.

A review by the state Department of Administration found that the same person owned both plates at different times. The “FUHRER” plate was issued over a decade ago and the department’s Division of Motor Vehicles had little information on how requests for personalized plates were processed back then, according to the report by department Deputy Commissioner Paula Vrana. It says the division recalled the plate in October after a complaint.

Application for the”3REICH” plate was made in October, but the term was not flagged because it wasn’t on a list of more than 11,000 “vulgar, violent, criminal and demeaning terms” used by an electronic system to screen plate requests, the report says. Flagged requests receive closer scrutiny, but when “included among several hundred other unflagged” items, “3REICH” was inadvertently overlooked for additional review by an employee going through applications, the report says.

The plate was issued in November and recalled Jan. 21 after a “report of concern” was received, according to the report.

The Nazi regime in Germany often was referred to as the Third Reich, with its leader, Adolf Hitler, known as the fuhrer.

On Jan. 22, a former newspaper editor, Matt Tunseth, posted a picture of the plate on social media. He later described seeing the plate at a stoplight in Anchorage that day and taking the photo.

The photo set off a firestorm and a member of the state Human Rights Commission was ousted for comments she made about the controversy.

Jamie Allard said on social media that “fuhrer” in German means leader and that “reich” means realm.

“If you speak the language fluently, you would know that the English definition of the word, the progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition,” Allard wrote, adding in another comment that she is “not for banning free speech.”

Jeff Turner, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, said last week that Allard’s comments had become a distraction for the commission. He said Dunleavy, who had appointed Allard, “felt it was in the best interest of the board” to remove her.

In response, Allard said that given “recent attacks against me, I feel it is best to step aside, so the commission can focus on its work” and she could get more time to focus on her role on the municipal assembly of Anchorage.

In a video posted Friday, Kelly Tshibaka, commissioner of the Department of Administration, said “3REICH,” “FUHRER” and variations of those terms were being added to the electronic screening list. She said the list would be reviewed and updated.

Vrana’s report says the DMV will implement an application process that “prohibits plate symbols that demean any ethnic, religious or racial group, or include otherwise vulgar, violent or criminal terms,” consistent with regulations, the report says.

The agency also will work to improve application reviews “to reduce the risk of error due to manual entry mistakes, human bias and subjectivity,” according to the report.

In carrying out the program, “it is incumbent upon the DMV to remain neutral and consistent in promoting civility while also creating opportunity for personal expression,” the report says.

More in News

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces a tourism aid initiative during a press conference on Friday, April 9, 2021, at Wings Airways Hangar in Juneau, Alaska. Dunleavy was joined by officials and business owners, including Alaska Sen. Peter Micciche (left). (Governer’s Office/Kevin Goodman)
Dunleavy announces tourism aid initiative

Dunleavy said 1.3 million tourists were expected to come to Alaska via cruise ship before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down operations.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Halibut season starts slow in Homer

The halibut season is off to a slow start in Homer, with… Continue reading

A Kelly Tshibaka campaign sign is seen inside of Nikiski Hardware & Supply on Friday, April 9 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tshibaka makes rounds on the peninsula

The former DOA head is challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski for her Senate seat.

Homer News file photo
Homer High School.
School announcements

School district risk level update and upcoming events

Courtesy photo 
Dr. Cheryl Siemers, the new director of Kenai Peninsula College, is seen in this undated photo. She begins her term on Monday, June 21, 2021.
Cheryl Siemers to lead Kenai Peninsula College

Gary Turner is the current KPC director, and will be stepping down in June.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meets Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School board kills efforts to phase out insurance benefits for board members

Members of the board receive a monthly stipend in addition to being eligible for district insurance.

Homer Flex High School Phoenix Award winner David Young holds his certificate on March 25, 2021, at Flex High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Homer Flex High School)
Homer Flex Phoenix Award winner: David Young

Homer Flex School recently released its recipient of the Flex Phoenix Award… Continue reading

City of Homer staff hold a meeting in the Cowles Council Chambers at Homer City Hall in this undated photo. The chambers are being remodeled to allow COVID-safe public meetings. (Photo courtesy of City of Homer)
Council introduces ordinance prohibiting beach launches of Jet Skis

Council introduces ordinance to ban launching Jet Skis, other powerboats, from beaches.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alaska alert level is higher than national average.

COVID-19 cases continue rising statewide and on the southern Kenai Peninsula. Statewide,… Continue reading

Most Read