Palin Stomps Out of Room and Slams Door. Won’t Empty Pockets.

5 12 2008

Indulge me in a little impromptu Mudflats Theatre.

Characters:

Mom & Dad – Well-meaning, but indulgent. Unsure of how this whole family dynamic works. They appear weary and run down.

Child – Cute as a button. Feisty, bold and confident.

Friend – (if actors are hard to come by, this part can be played by a bobble-head doll, and his one line can be cut)

(Curtain rises. We see an average American kitchen. Mom and Dad are standing in front of a child whose arms are folded indignantly. A large jar lies on its side, with the lid removed. Half a cookie sits on the counter.)

M&D – Child, we’ve got a problem here. Someone’s been stealing cookies from the cookie jar. We’ve done some checking, and due to the crumb trail leading to your room, the fact that nobody else was around, and the chocolate in the corners of your mouth, we’ve come to the studied conclusion that it was you. You know you weren’t supposed to be doing this. We haven’t decided what the consequences are going to be, but we are in complete agreement, and do believe you are the one who took the cookies. Do you have something to say?

Child – I do have something to say to you, but you’re going to have to wait a minute. (wipes chocolate from corners of mouth and clears throat) I’ll be right back. (brightly) I’ve done nothing wrong and I can prove it!

(Child runs out the door. Time passes and child returns with a friend.)

Child – (out of breath) I have decided to ask my friend to investigate this, and he has come to the conclusion that I did nothing wrong. So, I really think we need to move along here. I hope you feel better now, Mom and Dad. (smiles)

Friend – (nodding) She has done nothing wrong.

M&D – (tentatively, to friend) But….what about all the evidence? Did you see the crumb trail? It’s not like we didn’t check this out ourselves. And she said she was going to prove she didn’t do it!

Child – So, you’re saying you don’t trust me? (silence) What. Do you want to see what’s in my pockets? Is THAT what you’re saying? Because there are no cookies in there and I’ll show you to prove it. Do you want to know every single thing I told my friend to prove it? Is that what you want? That’s what you want, ISN’T IT?!

M&D – (looking at the floor) Yes. We would like to see that. You promised you’d show us, so go ahead and empty the pockets, and tell us what you said to your friend.

Child – This is rediculous. I can’t believe you won’t let this drop! You really don’t trust me….I can’t believe it. I mean I had my friend check this all out! You are just being unfair! Why do you hate me?!? (pause) You know what? Forget it. I’m NOT showing you what’s in my pocket because you are just being ridiculous! Dad, I know you’d agree with me if it wasn’t for Mom butting in! She just wants to ruin my life! We’ll I’m moving on. There are more important things going on in this house, like homework, and chores, and dinner!

(Child stomps out of room and slams door hard.)

Now, I bring your attention to today’s headline in the Anchorage Daily News:

Governor’s Office: Troopergate is Over and Palin Testimony Won’t Be Released to the Public

As far as Gov. Sarah Palin is concerned, Troopergate is behind her and she won’t provide a transcript of testimony she gave in an investigation into whether she violated ethics laws in firing her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. [snip]

“The people of Alaska — and of the nation — deserve to have a decision from the proper tribunal putting their minds at ease that suggestions of misconduct that have circulated on the Internet and in some media outlets are not true. I therefore am waiving the confidentiality that usually covers personnel board complaints,” Palin said in a statement released by her lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, on Sept. 2, just days after she was named John McCain’s running mate.

She gave her only testimony in the matter on Oct. 24 while on the vice presidential campaign trail. Van Flein said at the time that she wanted to release a transcript of her deposition. Reached Thursday evening, Van Flein said he hadn’t talked to Palin about releasing it since then. “That’s their call, I guess,” he said.

Palin is simply ready to move on, her deputy press secretary, Sharon Leighow, wrote in an e-mail exchange this week.

“This matter is closed. We see no public purpose in artificially prolonging this controversy.”

Sarah (child) who promised to release her sworn testimony (empty her pockets) which was given to Timothy Petumenos (friend), who performed the investigation of Sarah Palin, which she initiated herself, is now stomping out of the room.

Meanwhile, Mom & Dad (the Legislature) have been told that their work is meaningless, that they are impotent, that they are laughable. The kid just told Mom and Dad that they have no power. And unless we do something about it, Mom and Dad are about to say, “OK, Sweetie. You just go clean your room and we’ll forget all about it. I’m sorry if we upset you.”

These are the kinds of parents that raise spoiled children with a sense of entitlement, who do whatever they want until someone stops them. I don’t want that kid running my state.

This entire situation, of course, is dripping with irony, as GovernorPalin just returned from a trip stumping for Saxby Chambliss on the premise that if Democrats managed to get a 60-seat majority in the Senate, it would be a disaster because “we would have no checks and balances”. And she wouldn’t want HER kids growing up in a country like THAT. Indeed.

Well, Alaska Legislature, I don’t want my children growing up in a country with no checks and balances either. Of course the Palin administration sees no purpose in finishing this process. Because the truth will hurt. Her testimony will open a big can of worms that we can all look at, and pick through, and figure out what she might have said that contradicts the truth. There’s a word for that……oh, yes! “Perjury.” Last time I checked, perjury was a crime.

So, if she really really did nothing wrong, then why won’t she empty her pockets?





Palin is Back at Work.

5 12 2008

I looked at the Anchorage Daily News today, and my first thought was, “Hey, isn’t that the lady from TV?” Yes, indeed, Governor Sarah Palin is back in Alaska and it looks like she’s working!

After the national media descended on Alaska last summer, like ravens on a Wendy’s dumpster, many things were dragged out into the spotlight that otherwise might have lingered in Alaskan obscurity. I think of that bizarre phenomenon like a team of ten or twelve strangers coming into your house and emptying out your closets, taking inventory, and then writing about it.  You’d realize that maybe you had some strange stuff in there, that you had just gotten used to, and other stuff you didn’t even know was in there…but now that you look at it all in the light of day, through someone else’s eyes, you realize that maybe you should have been cleaning out your closets more often.  One of those things was the Palin administration’s record on health care for children and pregnant women.  The national media was not kind in its analysis of how Palin was caring for women and children, and many Alaskans had been furious about it for some time, and felt vindicated by the media analysis from outside the state.

Lawmakers have scrapped for years over Denali KidCare, which provides health insurance for lower income children and pregnant women. Palin last year opposed the push to increase coverage — even though the state was enjoying a huge surplus at the time from high oil prices. It’s one of dozens of policy calls that came under scrutiny as the governor became a national figure in the wake of her nomination this summer for vice president.

Palin, pressed on why she’s now changed her position, kept repeating that it is an opportunity for more children to be covered.

And, as usual, nobody is happy. Democrats think she hasn’t gone far enough, and Republicans think she’s gone too far. But Republicans will likely not stop it, and Democrats will take what they can get.

One of the good things that has come from Palin’s run for VP, is that Alaskans have been forced to look outside the bubble. Those who have felt that Palin’s policies and attitudes were not in alignment with their own, are now realizing that a lot of other Americans out there share their sentiments. It’s hard sometimes to remember that out there is a big wide world that isn’t Alaskan.

We were all expecting, with the price of oil dipping below $40/barrel yesterday, that the state budget was once again going to fall victim to Palin’s dreaded red pen. So this increase in an “entitlement program” in the face of plummeting oil prices, and the coming economic crunch, came as a bit of a surprise. I wonder how much her decisions in the next few years will be made in consideration of that world outside. She has plans for 2012, after all…

Palin will release the rest of her proposed state budget next week and said not to expect any significant cuts. She downplayed the danger falling oil prices pose to the state budget, saying Alaska is in a far better position than other states.

Palin claimed the state could still end up with a surplus even if oil averages $45 a barrel over the next several months.

David Teal, the state Legislature’s chief budget analyst, said that is possible for the current fiscal year that ends in June. But he has doubts. “Oil is falling pretty fast; we don’t know if we’re going to have a surplus or a deficit,” Teal said in an interview. Palin’s new spending plan, though, would start in the next fiscal year — when Alaska oil prices would have to average at least $20 a barrel more than now to balance the budget.

Welcome to the season of tight-rope walking, fiscal wrangling and hand-wringing as we try to pack all that stuff back in the closet.





Palin vs. Murkowski….Another Epic Battle?

2 12 2008

athenaToday an article in Huffington Post has picked up on what could be, in Alaska, an epic battle come next year. In a tale worthy of Greek Mythology, Sarah Palin could be preparing to take on Senator Lisa Murkowski for her seat which becomes available in 2010.

Our story begins In 2002, when Frank Murkowski decided he’d had enough time in the Senate, and came home to Alaska to run for Governor. Murkowski, who had held the senate seat since 1981, won the gubernatorial bid. But who was to take his now vacant place in the senate? In his first wildly unpopular decision as governor, Murkowski appointed his daughter Lisa to the seat. It also became increasingly obvious over time that Frank was not cutting the mustard. Gas pipeline debacles and battles with the Legislature caused his popularity to plummet like a lead balloon. Adding insult to arrogance, he purchased a private jet to fly himself around the state and elsewhere. There was a radio contest to name the jet, and the winning entry was “The Bald Ego”.

Here’s where you picture Frank in a toga, being fed grapes, and fanned by his staff. Every once in a while, he’d make some bombastic proclamation that made the villagers angry, but other than that he had a pretty good life up on Mt. Olympus. Now and then, he’d wave over to the next mountain top where his daughter Lisa was actually not doing such a bad job being a senator according to the villagers. She wasn’t quite so conservative, appeared to be more ethical, worked harder, and actually seemed to care. Go figure.

Then came a young upstart from one of those outlying provinces from whence heroes always come. She was young, ferocious, and beautiful, and she had her eye on that throne. It was promising to be an epic battle. Troops on both sides rallied. Murkowski’s minions dropped their wine jugs and their platters of figs, and grabbed up weapons. They looked at the rag-tag team of outlanders, and decided that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. All they had to do was keep the power they already had. They had the advantage. How hard could it be? But then the primary battle came, and in David vs. Goliath fashion, with one well-placed stone flung by her sling, Murkowski was struck smack between the eyes by the young woman from the village, and went down like a bag of dirt with a 19% approval rating.

After the stunned silence, the rejoicing began. We did it! One of US beat the grape-eating guy who was making everyone miserable! Sa-rah! Sa-rah! Sa-rah! And the Bald Ego went up for sale in the public marketplace, and Sarah reassigned the grape-peeler to another job, and the villagers loved her. They loved the idea of her. It was perfect. We needed a hero and we got one. Of course, over the months, many of the villagers began to see things they didn’t like. The new Queen started to pull people in from the obscure outlying province and put them in positions of power that they weren’t qualified for. People from the village started disappearing, banished to the hinterlands. She got rid of her humble toga, and started dressing more and more like a grape eater. She started visiting other kingdoms far away where people cheered for her, and attending parties far and wide, while her own kingdom suffered. Some of the villagers who were paying attention started to get a little nervous, and then a little disgruntled, and then downright mad.

But others remembered that humble young girl who flattened Murkowski, and refused to give up their dream. Heroes don’t come easy, and heroic tales must stay as they are written, otherwise it would just be too depressing. Alaskans have lost other heroes lately to greed and corruption and hubris, and this one would be just plain heartbreaking.

And now our Queen is looking around. She’s scanning the horizon, looking at other mountain tops, and new thrones, and new lands to conquer. She remembers Lisa, daughter of Frank the vanquished. Lisa rules the mountaintop over there, closer to all those parties, and cheering crowds. That throne might be nice…

But Lisa feels the gaze of the restless Queen, the one who flattened her father with a stone. She has been holding a white-hot hatred for the Queen who is now known as “Murkowski slayer.” It’s uncomfortable to live one mountain away from someone with that nickname when your own name is Murkowski. She’s been stifling her desire for vengeance, but this frontal assault on her own mountain would be just too much.

Murkowski says a run against her would be fraught with risk. If Palin lost, her stock would drop just ahead of a potential 2012 presidential run. And if she won, she’d be a backbencher in a chamber that is dominated by seniority — and would have to begin her presidential campaign as soon as she took office.

“If she wants to be president, I don’t think the way to the presidency is a short stop in the United States Senate,” Murkowski said.

Asked Monday to respond to Murkowski’s comments, Palin’s communications coordinator, Kate Morgan, said only, “The governor has never stated her intention or desire to run for that office.”

True, she has not stated her intention or desire to run for that office. But there’s an awful lot of activity on Mt. Olympus these days. The blacksmiths are busy, the horses are being counted, and the royal court has a strange glint in their eyes. And one thing we do know is that Queen Sarah’s restless nature is no longer content on her own mountain. Her destiny lies elsewhere. She likes the thrill of the battle, and the villagers know that Queen Lisa’s mountain is the most advantageous to conquer.

So what will the villagers do when 2010 comes? Whose side will they choose? The discontented villagers who’ve been paying attention to Queen Sarah and seeing the same arrogance and hubris that took down her predecessor will rally behind Lisa who has been doing better than her father. Others, who love their heroes, will remember how Lisa got to be Queen of her mountain, and they will remember her father the grape-eater with the jet, and the epic saga of the battle won for the people by that unlikely girl with the sling.

And others of us are still waiting for a brand new, and as yet unknown hero to arrive, and slay them both.





How Palin Spokesman Got Me Nine Extra Weeks of Vacation Time.

1 12 2008

Yes, you heard Palin right. In her speech to the adoring masses in far away Georgia, she explained why she fled her responsibilities in Alaska. She explained why she used her precious time to stump for Saxby Chambliss instead of doing her job. She did it….for Alaska. (One hand on heart, one hand dabbing eyes, and an imaginary third hand waving the Alaskan flag)  She did it for me, and for the little children, and for their puppies, and for future generations, and for the country!  God Bless Amairca. (sniff)

I’m kinda selfishly lookin’ at this to tell you the truth.  It’s not just for Georgia, this is for folks in Alaska and in Hawaii, and in Maine and in Washington State and in Washington D.C.  I’m lookin’ at this you know I’m a mom with five kids.  This is for my kids and their future…

Meanwhile, Alaska Dispatch reports on the reaction by the Palin administration to the Democrats’ press conference this morning, decrying the governor for leaving the state to engage in partisan campaigning while vital Alaskan issues go unaddressed by our absentee governor.  They called a press conference of their own:

“It has been 27 days since the election and this is the fifth day (Palin) has not been in the state,” Bill McAllister, Palin’s spokesman, told reporters at the news conference. “State business is unaffected.”

OK… let’s do the math. Where is that calculator…..ah, there it is.  Let’s see….(punching buttons)…that….means that she’s been gone… 18% of the time since the election, and “state business is unaffected.”  That’s pretty interesting.  And there are some wider implications.

Using Palin standard, we can conclude that if you work 50 weeks a year, you can take an extra 9 weeks off this year, and your job would be unaffected because that’s only 18% of your work schedule!  Wow!   And if your child attends school full-time at 180 days for the typical school year, you can keep them home for over a month and their school work would be unaffected!  And if the Alaska Legislature shaved 18% of the days off the legislative session, that session would be whittled down to a mere 74 days instead of the current 90 day session, with no effect on the business of the state.  Just amazing!  

And if anyone tells you otherwise, you just send them to Bill McAllister at the governor’s office.  He’ll straighten them out.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go plan my three month vacation.  Nice.

 

 

 





Where’s Sarah? The Return of a Classic.

1 12 2008

wheres-sarah1

Back in 2006, the members of the Alaska State Legislature were doing their jobs in the place they were supposed to be doing their jobs, also known as the state capitol, Juneau. The governor, however, didn’t like Juneau much. She preferred to do her job from Wasilla and Anchorage, while collecting per diem payments and living in her own home. I know that the rest of the Legislature who live in the Anchorage area would probably love to do their jobs from home while collecting per diem payments. It’s hard to be away from your family for that long. Juneau can only be reached by plane. It can be difficult. But I’m guessing it would be frowned upon if they did it.

Double-standard aside, Sarah Palin was absent from her place of employment a lot. As a sign of protest, legislators from both sides of the aisle took to wearing a unique fashion accessory. They appeared at the Legislative session wearing buttons that said, “Where’s Sarah?” They realized that it was, in fact, impossible to be effective as a governor if you are not actually present.

This astute political observation couldn’t be more relevant today. Today, Sarah Palin is not in her office. She is not dealing with the affairs of state. She is not working on the gas pipeline, or the dropout rate, or trying to figure out why our gas prices are more expensive than anywhere else in the country. She’s not playing catch-up from all the work she missed while on the campaign trail, and she’s not trying to figure out what to do to keep Alaskans warm this winter. She’s not figuring out what to do about the budget which was finalized when oil was in the $60/barrel range, not the $45/barrel it is now.

So, where’s Sarah? She is on the stump for Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. She flew out to a private fundraiser last night, and is making four campaign stops in Georgia today. This travel comes on the heels of two months of campaigning out of state, and a recent trip to Florida for the Republican Governors’ conference. Yes, this is only two days (plus travel prep, speech prep, flying time, jet lag, etc.), but once again the Governor has missed the point. It’s what got her in the turkey video. She was unable to step outside the situation and ask herself, “How will this look to OTHERS?” How will it look that after months away trying to run the state from my Blackberry, and a return to a politically divided Alaska with lots of domestic problems that have been on the back burner, that I’m heading off to do more partisan political grandstanding for a controversial Republican candidate on the other side of the continent?” Because, if she had asked the question, the answer would have been, “Bad.”

I was glad to see the Democratic Party in Alaska stand up and say something today. This came from the Alaska Democratic Party:

Anchorage – While Gov. Sarah Palin is out of state again, this time in Georgia campaigning for incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on the eve of the runoff election, Alaska faces challenges including a lack of leadership from the Governor.

Palin will stump for Chambliss, the draft-evading incumbent Republican who waged a notoriously misleading campaign against a decorated war hero, at rallies Monday in Atlanta, Augusta, Savannah and Perry, Georgia. Palin has been back in Alaska at work for only a few days since running for vice president. “Alaskans need our Governor here earning her salary and working on key problems facing Alaska families,” said Alaska Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins. Alaska is facing significant challenges, Higgins said, including:

  • Oil prices have dropped dramatically to about $45/bbl from the peak of $144/bbl in July, which threatens the state budget.

  • Alaskans are paying some of the highest prices for gas in the nation, averaging $2.87 per gallon, while the national average is $1.91.

  • The state’s oil production continues to decline, due to falling prices and mature fields.

  • The global credit crunch and falling natural gas prices threaten the Alaska gas line.

  • The State is failing to meet its constitutional obligation to take care of public education as shown by the high drop out rates and the low graduation rates.

  • Many Medicare patients cannot find doctors.

  • There is continued flight from rural villages.

  • Alaska faces the prospect of reduced federal dollars from Washington, D.C.

“Alaska’s challenges are significant, and there is much that needs to be done right now. Our Governor should remember that her primary job is to work on behalf of the citizens of Alaska, not engage in partisan politics in other states,” Higgins said.”Governing is more than creating photo ops. We’d like a commitment that the Governor is working, not just scheduling media appearances.”

Why the press conference? Is this one-day stump that egregious? Isn’t she going to be on the east coast anyway to join other governors as they meet with President Elect Obama on Tuesday? What’s the big deal? I’ll answer that question as my mother would. “Sarah, you’re really pushing it.” And she is. And each time she pushes, more and more Alaskans will push back, and her popularity will continue to slide, and she will continue to play “gotcha” with herself. In honor of the governor’s flight to Georgia, I have resurrected the “Where’s Sarah?” button. I have tried in vain to find an image of the original button, but have hopefully captured the spirit in this new incarnation of an old favorite. To get one, or several dozen, click HERE. And don’t worry Legislators, my customer list is strictly confidential…your secret is safe with me!





Would You Rather Freeze to Death, or Be a Socialist?

28 11 2008

On Thanksgiving weekend, when Americans are thinking of all they have to be grateful for, many are also burdened with worries about the future. Matters as fundamental as keeping warm are very real for thousands of Alaskans living in rural villages where the price of heating oil hovers around $10/gallon. The costs associated with flying heating oil out to rural communities that are off the road system is astronomical. Many communities are experiencing theft of heating oil by neighbors desperate to keep warm, and others in coastal communities are scouring the shore for driftwood to burn. These things are incomprehensible to most Americans, but are a stark reality in Alaska. Many families are abandoning the native subsistence lifestyle that their families have been living for thousands of years, and moving to Alaska’s urban centers because they feel they have no choice. This is causing a whole host of other challenges for the rural communities that are losing residents, and for the urban centers coping with the influx of rural Alaskans coping with culture shock.

For the past three years, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has been donating free heating oil to Alaska villages, and economically depressed communities in 23 states across the country. This has the effect you might imagine in Alaska. Some are deeply grateful. Those are usually the cold people. Others are furious at the gesture from this unapologetic socialist, and either accept the gift begrudgingly, or have outright refused to take it. Those in the latter category are starting to rethink their position facing the hard reality of the coming winter, and the fact that some rural families will be spending in excess of 40% of their income on heating fuel.

I am unsure if the irony of the socialist free fuel dilemma is lost on Alaskans. While some state leaders are squawking that

a) Chavez is a Socialist

b) Socialists are evil

Therefore we should reject them and all they stand for.

They seem to be OK with the fact that

a) Sarah Palin also gave away money for free fuel to all Alaskans in the form of an energy rebate check.

b) This sounds awfully…..socialist

c) Sarah Palin was openly railing against socialism and all things socialist across the country on the campaign trail.

Many say, “We shall forget this comparison because we don’t like cognitive dissonance and we shall not ever admit that a socialist idea has any merit at all, nor that any Alaskan might think we need to be doing the same thing as Hugo Chavez. Humph.”

The main difference, of course, is that Chavez is providing the fuel to rural communities that have at least a 70% Alaska Native population, and Sarah Palin gave it to everyone, including wealthy Anchorage residents who spent it on…whatever.

Speaking of the $1200 energy rebate check issued by Palin,

Anchorage Rep. Bob Lynn, a Republican, said he doubts the state would cut checks again because oil prices are dropping and the payment was meant to be a one-time measure.

Lynn said it’s not right for Alaska to receive oil from Chavez. “We need to be able to take care of our own. The United States needs to do something about this,” he said.

Still, Lynn added later, “It’s one thing for me to speak philosophical thoughts here in the warmth of my home in Anchorage. It’s another thing to have a wife and kids in danger of freezing to death out there.”

Bingo. It’s time for Alaskans and Americans to stop screaming “Socialist!” like it was a four-letter word and get over the reactionary knee-jerk rejection of an entire political philosophy because of the fear of a label. Fear of freezing should trump fear of a word. We need to address these problems using concepts with long-term solutions, and not be afraid to use what works because of how it sounds. And we need to recognize where the need exists most and focus our efforts there.

It’s going to take some conviction and courage from both sides of the aisle in Alaska to deal with this, especially considering the ironic anti-socialist rhetoric that came from our Governor on the VP campaign trail.

 





The Alaskan White Knights are Waffling, and We Have Homework to Do.

25 11 2008

waffle

I have a couple questions.

What do you do when your Governor is accountable to your Attorney General, and your Attorney General is accountable to your Governor, and neither one of them will either acknowledge or administer consequences for bad behavior.  It’s like a kid whose Mom says, “Go ask Dad,” and whose Dad says, “Go ask Mom.”  Neither one of them wants to be accountable, and neither one of them has any  intention of answering the question.  They are hoping the kid will go away.

Now I have another question.

What do you do when the Legislature, the voice of the people who hired the Governor, also refuses to administer consequences for bad behavior, and simply stands mute?  And what do you do when that silence then turns into statements that run not only counter to the expectation of the people, but to their job description, and the bounds of ethics and the law? 

What do you do when your “voice” no longer speaks for you?

I have a small understanding about how people with Tourette syndrome, or muscular spasms must feel.   It must feel like a betrayal of mind and body when the things that are meant, on the most basic level, to represent you  (your voice, and your actions) are hijacked by unknown forces, leaving you making declarations and gestures that have no connection with your true intent. 

When the Alaska Legislature starts talking about how we’re all weary of Troopergate, and Governor Palin, Attorney General Talis Colberg, and those who ignored legislative subpoenas should just be able to continue without facing any consequences for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, and the law,  I feel like shouting, “This is not me!  I’m not saying this!  I’m not doing this!”

I have often compared the Democrats of the Legislature to white knights. I’ve been blown away at times by their bravery, their conviction, and the fact that they put themselves out on a limb to do the right thing. And I’ve also given a pat on the back to Republicans who have planted themselves on the right side of the fence despite their party affiliation. In some ways the Repulicans had the harder job. When the bipartisan Legislative Council voted to make public the Troopergate report whose first finding was that Sarah Palin abused her power and violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, I was amazed. I began to…dare I say it aloud….have faith in my Legislature.  All of them.

Now, after the election, as Sarah Palin gets back to the business of the state (when she’s in town), I am beginning to lose that faith.  The white knights are starting to pull their punches, the horses are rearing like they’ve seen a snake, and the villagers are getting a horrible sinking feeling. We are wondering what happened to them? We wonder if they are breaking their vows to us, and justifying the betrayal in the name of “moving forward and working together on the issues that really matter.”

Call me crazy, but I think ethics really matters.   If you polled voters and asked if they’d rather have an ethical politician or an unethical one, you’d get the obvious answer. And if you broke down the results of this poll by party affiliation, I don’t think you’d find much difference.  Everyone wants ethical politicians. So, why, after a candidate has been elected, would anyone want to stop a process that was designed to find out if that politician is corrupt?  Why would you budget $100,000 for an investigation to find out whether a politician violated the ethics act if you were going to ignore the finding?  And why, if the findings showed that the politician had indeed violated the ethics act, would you decide to give them a free pass?  And why, if witnesses, and perhaps the head of the Department of Law violated…..the LAW, would you be just fine with that?

For right now, I’m going to give our White Knights on both sides of the aisle the benefit of the doubt.  I, on behalf of the villagers, am going to accept some responsibility for their waffling.   Perhaps we just haven’t been doing a good enough job of letting them know we’re here, and that we’re going to back them up.  Maybe they really think people don’t care.  Perhaps they feel like they’re headed off to battle with no ammunition.  That has to be scary.

So here’s your homework Mudflatters…  As a Thanksgiving present to the Alaska State Legislature, I want you to give them some ammunition.  Every email you send, every letter you write, every phone call you make is an arrow in their quiver.  Phone calls count as two arrows…maybe even three.

I want our white knights to be armed to the teeth.  I want them to ride into battle feeling invincible.  I don’t want them to feel like they were abandoned by the village.  Let’s hang a garland of flowers around their necks, and sent them off with a full quiver of public outrage.

I’m not willing to throw them under the horse just yet.

For emails to all Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE – then cut & paste them all into your email address bar.

For phone numbers of the Alaska State Legislators – Click HERE

Giddyup!





Alaska Needs Your Help! In Which I Explain That the Creature from the Black Lagoon is a Good Guy.

24 11 2008

creature-from-the-black-lagoon

I’ve been talking for weeks now about goings on beneath the surface of Alaskan politics. I’ve fielded dozens of inquiries asking, “What can we do to help?” I’ve answered, “Don’t worry. News is coming. Things are happening. Just be patient.”

I’ve said it’s like bubbles in a pond that start small, and get larger, and clue you in that there’s something down there…and the bigger they get, the sooner you know it’s coming.

Now I want you to imagine a rowboat containing all those Alaskan politicians that don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, all those that have been stonewalling, and twisting the truth, and doing everything possible to stay comfortable right where they are. The boat is large, and the crew is pleased with themselves. They sit under parasols and straw hats, dining on little sandwiches without crusts spread with lies, and tiny cakes glazed with croneyism.

“Do you guys hear anything?….Sounds like bubbles.” says communications director A, with a mouthful of sandwich.

“I don’t hear anything. Can you pour me a glass of lemonade? Ooo…And take my picture!” says politician B, smiling.

“Yeah, I hear it. It definitely sounds like bubbles to me.” says Politician B’s husband.

“What’s that?” (shrieks spokeswoman C, peering over the side of the rowboat at the large growing circle of bubbles)

“Get away from the edge!” bellows Legislator D.

(The occupants all scoot over to the far side of the boat. It lists precariously from the sudden shift in weight distribution, and almost starts to take on water. All of a sudden, a large webbed hand emerges from the bubbles, grabs the rail, and pulls down hard. The boat is now upright again, and the picnickers gape in horror as they realize the boat is about to be boarded. Another webbed hand grabs the rail, and the creature, fueled by the moral outrage of the citizenry pulls its massive body out of the water with a terrible cry. It’s……

Alaskans for Truth! Hooray! (The creature places its webbed hand on its leathery abdomen, extends its leg backward, and makes a sweeping bow. Distant applause is heard over the water.)

The boaters realize with growing dismay that the crowd that has gathered on the shore has not come to help them fight off the beast. They are actually cheering for the creature who has boarded the boat! What can this mean?! Why do they hate us?! Quick, offer this thing a sandwiche or something!

But neither the creature, nor the townsfolk on the shore will be deterred. The creature has made itself quite comfortable on the boat, and is now sitting, and has actually begun to row the boat ashore (Hallelujah!) with the intent of delivering the trembling crew right into the middle of the mob of agitated townsfolk….

It’s amazing what can be brought to life with some good old fashioned community organizing. What all this means is that Alaskans for Truth is now an official Political Action Committee, registered with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. And they have issued a call to action.

Rather than to try to figure out how to get our creature to pull something out of his non-existant pocket, and read an eloquent call to action, I’ll just give you a link to the Alaskans for Truth website, which spells it all out. What do they want?

  1. Censure of the Governor for violating the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
  2. Penalties for the state employees and Todd Palin who ignored subpoenas.
  3. Hold hearings on whether Governor Palin and her husband committed perjury in their sworn statement to Timothy Petumenos.
  4. An independent investigation into Attorney General Talis Colberg’s alleged witness tampering in the Troopergate investigation.

How is this going to happen? In two ways.

First, the call to action involves emailing the Alaska State Legislature and letting them know in no uncertain terms that these things still matter. A governor who is in violation of a state ethics act matters. An Attorney General who tells state employees to ignore legislative subpoenas matters. A Vice Presidential candidate and her husband who may have committed perjury matters. They are trying to tell us that these things don’t matter. But, they do.

And don’t for a minute think, dear Mudflatter, that what you do won’t have an effect. Do you remember when we were all biting our nails, wondering if the Legislative Council would release the Troopergate Report? It was touch and go. That report almost didn’t get released. I was there biting my nails in person, when they voted to release it. And one of the Legislators said, “Maybe I’ll be able to get through my inbox again…….”

That means you mattered. And you can matter again. Alaska is small, and every voice that speaks up may as well be using a megaphone. Nobody gets lost in the shuffle. Everyone is heard.

And don’t worry if you are not from Alaska. Because when Sarah Palin was foisted upon you as a Vice Presidential candidate, and when she was made an international celebrity, and when 77% of Republicans want to see her on the national political stage, this matters to you too. All you need to do is explain that, in case they don’t get it.

And the second way to help, is by donating. Alaskans for Truth wants to get their message out, and that means funds are necessary. The goal is to take out ads in the Anchorage Daily News, The Anchorage Press, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, The Juneau Empire, The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, The Tundra Drums…you name it. You’ll see the big yellow DONATE button on the website.

And here again, your voice matters. Alaska is one of the cheapest media markets in the country. Don’t think that a donation of $5 or $10 won’t matter. Everything will.

I once compared Alaska Bloggers, and citizens on both sides of the aisle who wanted the truth to get out to “Whos”, from the Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a Who. Those little Whos, living on a dust speck, had to raise their collective voices to be heard by the outside world, and save themselves from doom. We in Alaska have been doing our best since August 29th to tell you our story, and to make sure that the rest of the country learned the truth. Just like the Whos, we have been yelling “We are here! We are here! We are here!” Do you hear us?

If so, then climb on board the rowboat, go to Alaskans for Truth, and start emailing and donating. The time has come to hold Alaska’s leaders accountable. The time for action is now.





Interesting Rumors from a Reliable Source…

22 11 2008

It’s a relatively quiet day on the Mudflats. That always makes me nervous. It usually means that shortly there are going to be so many things hitting the fan, I won’t even have time to cover them all. That’s been the pattern, anyway.

There’s a little fallout from Turkey Gate. New news is promised on Monday regarding the crazy Stevens trial revelations which one reader brilliantly described as “Dynasty meets Northern Exposure meets The Sopranos.” But other than that, not much news. This gave lots of time today for speculation about things here in Alaska. Will the Governor be running for Lisa Murkowski’s senate seat in 2010, or will she try for another term as governor? And WHO will rise up and run against her? Will Ted Stevens win his appeal? Will I actually be able to consume turkey this Thanksgiving after witnessing Joe the executioner and his cone of death?

But a couple hours ago, I heard a little sound…..a sound you can only hear when it’s quiet. Like a paper envelope being slid under a door. (OK, this happened via email, but it doesn’t make as good a story) Minding my own business, sitting at my rolltop desk, watching the snow fall, the sound made me look up. I turned around, and sure enough I spotted it – an envelope, face down on the wide plank entryway floor. I stood and hurried over to the door, flung it open, and looked right….nothing. Looked left….and I just about made out a glimpse of a black cape as it whisked around the corner and out of sight. Hmmmm. I thought about pursuing the caped stranger, but as I had just been blogging, and following the proper dress code rules, I was in my pajamas and didn’t feel like racing out in the cold.

“Mudflats”. Yes, it was addressed to me. I slit open the envelope, intrigued. No return address, and the letter was signed “A Reputable Source.” (That means I know who it is, but I can’t tell you).

And the contents of the mystery note? A clue. A clue, which addressed one of the very questions I had just been pondering, and it wasn’t the one about the turkey, which won’t be answered until Thanksgiving Day.

The question? Who will step up to be the dragon slayer in 2010? Who has the smarts, the experience, the integrity, and the chutzpah to go toe-to-toe with Sarah Palin, whether she runs for governor, or senator. And there was the answer, scrawled in unfamiliar penmanship – Democratic State Senator Hollis French.

Ahhh. This is good. He is very qualified, has an impressive resume, and is one of the White Knights of the Legislature. Before he gets the official Mudflats endorsement, however (not that this endorsement is particularly coveted), I’m going to wait and watch and see what happens when the Legislature meets again. They have much on their plates, and they need to know they are supported, but they have some tough decisions ahead and people will be watching.

I saw Hollis French on Thursday. He was on line at Costco. That’s why I love this state. Our representatives aren’t somewhere distant, holed up in a marble tower. They don’t seem alien and unapproachable. They are on line at Costco, buying fruit. LOTS of fruit. The man really loves fruit. So, when it becomes appropriate to send something to Hollis French when he becomes our next Governor, or Senator, I’ll make it a fruit basket, and make it under $250.





Palin Will Continue to Steal Cookies, She Says.

10 11 2008

cookies

A newly released interview of Sarah Palin by KTUU and the Anchorage Daily News has left me speechless. I had to listen to it twice before I could really believe it. It’s a little over nine minutes, but it’s so filled with red meat, it’s going to keep me busy all day.

Here’s the first installment:

Remember “per diem gate”? It was one of Sarah’s many “gates” that came to light shortly after her nomination, and was revealed at the same time as “travel gate,” both of which were discovered by the Washington Post back in early September. It was a little embarrassing that we needed the Washington Post to discover our governor’s dirty little financial secrets, but it was better to know than not know. This one may not have incensed the average voter in the rest of the country, but up here, the implications were huge.

Alaskans are not pleased by fiscal shenanigans. We are a frugal people and wasteful spending is not going to win you fans. Fiscal conservatism is the mantra that gets people into office. Remember former Governor Murkowski and his spendy private jet? Part of Palin’s fiscal conservative label came from selling that jet, which had become a symbol of outrageous spending that a sitting governor charged to the state. Here’s the background:

Washington Post – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official “duty station” is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.

The governor’s daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show.

Now, this is a sore spot with many Alaskans. Palin is not a fan of Juneau. She’s there as little as she can possibly manage. State lawmakers even wore buttons saying “Where’s Sarah?” in protest. Working in Juneau is part of the job. It is, after all, our state’s capitol, even though some wish it wasn’t. There have been a couple attempts to move the capitol from Juneau to Wasilla, or another location that is on the road system. But for right now, travel to Juneau by plane is just part of the package and everyone knows that going in.

From the Juneau Empire:

“Palin has spent little time in Juneau, rarely coming to the state capitol except when the Legislature was in session, and sometimes not even then. During a recent special session called by Palin herself, she faced criticism from several legislators for not showing up personally to push for her agenda. Someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, ‘Where’s Sarah?’”

Many Alaskans figured that the fact that Palin was charging the state a per diem fee, while in the act of shunning our state capitol so she could stay home in Wasilla would be her undoing. THEN when we found out about her children showing up at events when they were uninvited, unexptected, and on the state’s dime, that was just too much. Swanky hotel rooms for her daughters, expensive multiple one-way flights…you could almost feel the fiscal conservatives, and budget watchdogs bristling. She was going to be in biiiiig trouble.

So, right up front in this interview came the question:

Q: One of the things that came up during the campaign is that you charged the state per diem for time spent here in Wasilla. Is that something that you are going to continue to do?

Palin: Oh, we’ve always followed the law and fully disclosed all that and the choice there in many months of the Juneau mansion being replumbed and um all the …all the improvements being made in the infrastructure in the Juneau house where we weren’t gonna be there anyway, knowing that in the end it would have cost the state more money to do what other governors had done and that is either charge the state for hotel rooms or the state renting an apartment like they did for Governor Murkowski. We said no, we just won’t sell our house knowing that we’re going to spend quite a bit of time here, especially those months when the remodels were taking place in the Governor’s mansion, and we would disclose my per diem. We wouldn’t try to hide it. But as long as this is about full disclosure, not trying to take anything from the state, just trying to do my job and part of my job is with the first family, having them with me at some of these events. I’m going to continue to do my job, and my family is going to continue to be a part of it.

She’d rather work from home, so she did. She says It would have cost the state more to have her working in Juneau where her actual job was located, but she didn’t feel like being in Juneau, so she decided to work from elsewhere, and charge the state for meals and incidental traveling expenses despite the fact she was eating in her own kitchen and sleeping in her own bed. And she charged the state for travel expenses to stay home. And somehow this is OK. And the state of Alaska paying for Bristol’s fancy New York hotel and over $20,000 in family travel? That’s OK too.

It was as though Sarah was caught with her hand in the cookie jar when mom and dad walked into the kitchen and turned on the light. “What do you have to say for yourself, Sarah?” ask Mom & Dad. “Well, Mom and Dad, I’m not doing anything wrong, and I’m fully disclosing the fact that I’m taking cookies, and I’m going to continue to do that.” Huh? This is one of those moments as a parent when you have to think long and hard about how you react, because there’s obviously a fundamental lack of understanding about who is in charge, and how this relationship works.

So…..what do Mom and Dad (the State Legislature) do? If you listen to legislators, they’re sounding awfully concilliatory lately, and it’s making those who want to hold Palin accountable uneasy to say the least. I’ve heard Democratic legislators saying that we all need to work together for the good of the state, and they’ve worked with Sarah in the past, and we all need to march ahead and let the healing begin, and so on. I’ve heard them squirm around about the makeup of the new Legislature, and that there aren’t as many Democrats as they would have liked. I’ve heard them cite the fact that Alaska voters have given Palin a 61% approval rating as evidenced by how many voted for the McCain-Palin ticket. In other words, the Alaska State Legislature sounds an awful lot like the U.S. House of Representatives under George W. Bush. If only things were different, we could hold him accountable to the law….sigh….

I am assuming that all members of the Legislature will be watching this video, and I hope that each and every one of them realizes what it is. It is a dare. As a matter of fact, it’s a double-dog-dare. The Governor has just said that she is going to continue being unethical, and she’s going to do it right. in. your. face. “What are YOU going to do about it?” says the child with her hand in the cookie jar.

So, what are you going to do about it, Mom and Dad Legislature? You have two choices.

1) Well…..OK, honey. But you really shouldn’t have done that. You can keep taking cookies but you just need to let Mommy and Daddy know first, OK? Kiss on forehead.

2) Listen young lady. We don’t need any of your backtalk. Put that cookie down and go to your room because we need to have a serious conversation.

It’s your choice Legislature. Alaskans are tired of corruption. And don’t forget that Palin may still have a 60% approval rating, but before her VP run, it was over 80%. The more we know, the less we like. And Alaska voters don’t get to vote on the law. It’s not a popularity contest to see who has to obey the law and who doesn’t. Dealing with law is YOUR job. That’s why we put you there.

I hope there are some strong statements forthcoming from our elected officials. I don’t think I voted to have representation that gets cowed by a kid who just got nailed swiping cookies.

(More to come on this interview.)

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So, What’s Next for Sarah Palin?

5 11 2008

palin-183

Sarah Palin has taken the collective soul of national politics, divided and conquered. In eight short weeks, a political unknown from Alaska went from hockey mom Governor, to national megastar, and finally came to rest with the simultaneous titles of “Conservative Rising Star” and “Most Feared Woman in America”. It’s been quite a ride.

Alaskans are sitting here wondering exactly what will happen. A political hush has fallen on the land. There’s been a lot happening up here while our Governor was whisked away to tour the nation, soak up the limelight in front of cheering crowds, and get a taste of political life outside her borders. She was confident, she told us. Confident in her readiness. She was wired for the mission. And no one who was paying attention would argue that point.

But, what IS the mission? When Palin was asked, months before her selection as the VP running mate for John McCain, if she was interested in the position, she came back with her now famous quote, “I’d have to know what it is that the VP does every day.” But, she then went on to say that she would need to know that the position would be “fruitful, especially for Alaska.” She finished up the interview by saying, “This job is pretty cool too.” That made Alaskans feel good. It made us feel like our Governor was special enough to be considered for a spot on the presidential ticket, but wans’t interested in all that. She was thinking of us first, and her commitment to the people of Alaska.

Then a strange transformation began to happen before our eyes. After the surprise nomination, and the subsequent campaigning, our hometown girl started acting differently. Maybe it was the crowds, maybe it was the taste of power, maybe it was Neiman Marcus. But suddenly here was our governor talking about expanding the powers of the Vice President, dropping tens of thousands of dollars in other people’s money on fancy clothes, smearing local politicians and public servants back home, and dropping hints that she’s entered the national scene and may not want to leave, at least for the long term. That was a lot to take for many Alaskans.

We sort of feel like the high school sweetheart whose steady girlfriend went off to the big city and found somebody better, somebody more worldly, somebody with more money, and dropped us like a hot potato. Only now he broke up with her, and she’s on her way back. Awkward.

It remains to be seen if Alaska, the jilted boyfriend will take Sarah back. There are lots of fences to be mended, and relationship counseling in our future. While there are many Sarah fans who will welcome her back with open arms, there are many who have turned their back, and others who feel downright vengeful. It will be a tangled knot to untie.

The Alaska Legislature upon whose bipartisan support Palin depended to actually accomplish things is now fractured. She never had solid Republican support, and depended heavily on friendly Democrats…friendly Democrats that she didn’t think twice about throwing under the bus during the Troopergate investigation. Keep in mind that when I refer to “the Troopergate investigation”, I mean the real one, conducted by the Alaska State Legislature. I don’t mean the one that Palin instigated herself, to investigate herself, to clear herself which was conducted by a 3-person board, appointed by the governor, that reports to Palin herself. Just so we’re clear on that point.

Chances are, too, that the very engaged, very motivated Obama supporters in Alaska were not too pleased with our Governor as she whipped crowds across the nation into a froth about their candidate “palling around with terrorists (plural),” resulting in shouts of “Kill him” and “Terrorist”. We now learn that Palin decided to bring Bill Ayers into the picture without clearing it with the McCain campaign, and that the Secret Service reported an upsurge in threats against the President Elect and his family right around the time that Palin began amping up the divisive rhetoric.

And don’t forget, Palin asked for Republican Senator, and Alaska political icon Ted Stevens to step down after his seven felony convictions for failure to disclose gifts on his Senate disclosure forms. This may seem like an eminently rational thing to do, but remember that Stevens is currently out front in this hotly debated Senate race. The results are so close, we won’t know for two weeks whether Alaskans have indeed elected an 84-year old convicted felon to the U.S. senate. But about half of Alaskans like him enough, despite that fact, to vote for him anyway. This is Stevens country, and Uncle Ted’s troops will be looking at Palin with a critical eye when she pops back into our lives, after shoving him on to the ice floe in front of the nation.

This is the new Sarah Palin, who went from an approval rating hovering at 90% after her election, to inspiring the largest political rally in the history of Alaska – not a rally to congratulate her, but a rally to demand that she come clean with her promise of “open, honest, and transparent” government. And then there was the second-biggest political rally – Alaska Women Reject Palin. And the third biggest – Alaskans for Obama. Any way you look at it, there is now a rabid, engaged group of considerable size that opposes Palin with every fiber of their being, where there used to be none at all.

But, this is also the same Palin who got a hundred or so supporters to line the streets in Wasilla before daybreak to wave signs as her motorcade passed on the way to the airport to join John McCain after she voted in Wasilla on the morning of the 4th. And this is the same Sarah Palin on the presidential ticket that won the state of Alaska handily, despite the amazing organization of the opposition.

Palin has sliced her state down the middle and polarized her constituents in a way that I would not have imagined possible just a few months ago. The majority of Alaskans still support her, but her negative ratings have soared as Alaskans and the rest of the country have gotten to know her, and her political life will not be the cake walk it once was. And there are many investigations, and skeletons in the closet that are just beginning to emerge.

As for her future aspirations? She refuses to give a clear cut answer about 2012, saying that “Oh, you know, it seems like so far.” But Palin has tipped her hand as a political opportunist, and as one who has tasted power, celebrity and adoring crowds, and she likes what she sees. How will she handle going back to li’l old Wasilla? It’s anyone’s guess.

Her next opportunity to move upward on the national politial scene comes if Ted Stevens is elected, and subsequently expelled by the Senate. She is not able to appoint herself or anyone else to the seat, but she is eligible to run for that seat in a special election. Failing that, the next window of opportunity comes in 2010, when Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is up for re-election, as is Republican Congressman Don Young. It is also the year she would run for her next term as Governor. There are many options, but there is a lot of ground to cover between now and then.

Has she so damaged herself politically in the state, that she will become an ineffective Governor, and one-term wonder? Has her foray into national politics captured the imagination of the people so much that they will want to see her back in DC, perhaps making her own presidential bid? Has the national Christian Conservative base found their dream girl? Or has the country, perhaps, in its landslide election of President Elect Obama shown itself to have evolved beyond the culture wars, and to have transcended the divisive politics of the past which Palin has now come to symbolize for so many.

It may be that Palin has found her national niche, but that this niche, with the help of a two-term Bush presidency and a weary nation, has proven too narrow to wield any actual power in turning a national election. Whatever the outcome, there is no question that Sarah Palin has been let out of the box.





Troopergate II Report to be Released at 3:30 Election Eve – Updated.

3 11 2008

Independent Investigator Tim Petumenos, who was hired by the Personnel Board just said he will release his troopergate report at 3:30 p.m. today. This is the second report, following on the heels of a Legisltative Investigation whose report last month indicated that Palin had abused her power in the firing of former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan.  This investigation was initiated by Palin, who filed an ethics complaint against herself to make sure that the investigation happened in this venue.

Kyle Hopkins from the Anchorage Daily News is on the scene.

He said the report would cover Gov. Sarah Palin’s firing of Walt Monegan as well as a separate complaint from Anchorage activist Andree McLeod alleging alleges that state hiring practices were circumvented for a Palin supporter.

Petumenos has two staff members with him, and each has a thick, yellow-bound document on their lap. I should note that when I called
Personnel Board chair Debra English before the meeting to ask about
the Palin investigation, she didn’t say anything but recommended
showing up.

Buckle your seatbelts.

*****UPDATE – In a complete stunner that actually shouldn’t surprise us, The Personnel Board’s investigation of Palin, which she initiated herself, has concluded  that she did nothing wrong. At all.  Ever. And neither did any of her cronies.

Several members of the Alaska State Legislaure who are also attorneys have stated over the past weeks that they would be very surprised if the results of the Petumenos investigation initiated by Palin herself differed significantly from the Branchflower investigation initiated by the Alaska State Legislature. Hmmm.   I guess they are surprised.

The state Personnel Board-sanctioned investigation is the second into whether Palin violated state ethics law in firing her public safety commissioner, and it contradicts the earlier findings by a special counsel hired by the state Legislature.

 

Both investigations found that Palin was within her rights to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

 

But the new report says the Legislature’s investigator was wrong to conclude that Palin abused her power by allowing aides and her husband, Todd, to pressure Monegan and others to dismiss her ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten. Palin was accused of firing Monegan after Wooten stayed on the job.

[snip]

Petumenos wrote the Legislature’s special counsel, former state prosecutor Steve Branchflower, used the wrong state law as the basis for his conclusions and also misconstrued the evidence.

His findings and recommendations include:

 

– There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in deciding to dismiss Monegan as public safety commissioner.

 

– There is no cause to believe Palin violated the state ethics law in connection with Wooten.

 

– There is no cause to believe any other state official violated the ethics act.

 

– There’s no basis to conduct a hearing to “address reputational harm,” as requested by Monegan.

 

– The state needs to address the issue of using private e-mails for government work and to examine how records are kept in the governor’s office. Palin used her Yahoo e-mail account for state business until it was hacked.

This investigation agreed with the findings of the Legislative investigation that Palin was within her rights to fire Monegan, who was an at-will employee. Monegan himself has never disputed Palin’s right to fire him.  However, the Personnel Board’s conclusion that Palin did not abuse her power is in direct contradiction to the Branchflower report released by the Legislative Council.

The fact that this report concludes there is no cause to believe that any other state official violated the ethics act is one that should raise eyebrows.  Nobody thrown under the bus, even?  Everyone is squeaky clean, angel-faced and pure as the driven snow…..yeah, right.

But here’s the killer.  Walt Monegan was denied his request for a public hearing to clear his name, after Palin and her “Truth Squad” dragged his reputation through the mud by saying that he had a “rogue mentality” and committed acts of “outright insubordination”.  Unbelievable. 

Since the Personnel Board has now refused to grant his request, this means that he has now, officially, exhausted all administrative possibilities in his case, and is basically now free to file a lawsuit.

So here’s your quick recap of the investigation:

The Legislature decides to investigate Palin for ethics violations.  Palin says she will cooperate, so no subpoena is issued.  Palin sends out Attorney General Talis Colberg to interview witnesses in advance of the Legislature’s investigation, so she knows what they’re going to say.  Palin discovers a taped phone call made by her administration pressuring Troopers to fire Wooten.  Palin says she is surprised by phone call and concedes it looks bad. Palin files ethics complaint against herself so that the Republican governor appointed Personnel Board, made up of people that she can fire,  will be the group that investigates.  Palin says Legislative investigation has become partisan and refuses to cooperate. Attorney General tells state employees they don’t need to comply with Legislative subpoenas.  They don’t show for depositions.  At the last minute they provide written testimony, but Palin still does not cooperate because she was not subpoenaed.  Legislature releases report that says Palin abused her power and violated the Executive Ethics Act.  Then, the day before the election, The Personnel Board releases a report clearing Palin and all state employees of everything.

My contacts at Alaskans for Truth, who were involved in supporting Walt Monegan in his request for a hearing, are not pleased.  This isn’t over by a long shot.  It’s unlikely that this grass roots group is going to let Palin skip off into the sunset without a fight.

Stay tuned for updates as they become available.  I expect we’ll be hearing from members of the Legislature soon.