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!

Advertisements




So How Did the Alaskan Independence Party Do?

14 11 2008

OK, the official numbers are not in yet in Alaska, but we can feel fairly confident that no candidate from the Alaskan Independence Party is going to win a seat this year.  But how did they fare?  They certainly got a lot more press than usual this year…especially from outside of Alaska.

The AIP Presidential candidate vote total went from .67% in 2004 to .52% in 2008.  No real change.

But, the AIP Senatorial candidate went from 1.22% in 2004 to 4.14% in 2008.  Almost a threefold increase!  Did the AIP become all the rage because of the trendy secessionist tendencies of Todd Palin, Alaska’s First Dude and “former” AIPer?  Did AIP Senate candidate Bob Bird, just ride the Palin’s coattails?

Or maybe the increase is due to those Republicans that couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a convicted felon, but also couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat?

Or maybe it’s because Ron Paul (who fared better than John McCain in the primary up here) endorsed Bob Bird, the AIP’s Senate candidate.  Those Ron Paul fans are pretty loyal, and so this is a definite possibility. 

It’s interesting to note that the increase in AIP votes from 2004 to 2008 would more than make up the difference between the now trailing Ted Stevens, and his Democratic rival for the senate seat, Mark Begich. I suppose in a metaphorical way, you could say that Ron Paul may have given Ted Stevens the “Bird”.

The only other AIP candidate on the ticket this year was Dan DeNardo running in House District 31.  You may remember him from a little bedtime story on Mudflats last month.  Just a quick reminder if you don’t want to go back and read the whole thing…

Here’s his bio:

“I study the creation and impact of the Luciferian Marxist-Lenninist Dialectical Sovietism that is the most encompassing secular historical force controlling every incorporated political party; the world’s exchange systems based on perpetual indentured slavery through interest bearing irredeemable security obligations, i.e. federal reserve notes; Law Merchant advisory panels masquerading as “juries”; bar associations composed strictly of card-carrying Kommunist Komrade Kriminals acting in Alaska under the Alaska Supreme Soviet in conjunction with Soviet counterparts in NKVD through the Khabarovsk-Alaska Collectivization Project; and state sponsored Kriminal Globalism’s “perpetual War for perpetual peace.”

And this guy got 3%…..so all my theorizing about Bob Bird’s 4% may have just been blown out the window. Maybe it’s just Alaska.





Sarah the ‘Fiscal Conservative’ Comes Out of the Closet.

5 11 2008

‘If people knew how frugal we are,’ said Sarah Palin. She told Fox News that her ‘favorite’ store is an Anchorage consignment shop called Out of the Closet. That was how she defended herself from the accusations of an over-the-top shopping spree at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and other high-end clothing stores.

An article coming out in Newsweek tomorrow has more information from behind the scenes. According to the article, Palin spent far more on her family’s wardrobe than the originally reported amount of $150,000 that was reported last month.

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family — clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent ‘tens of thousands’ more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide … said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.”

Newsweek reports that McCain rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were “sure he would be offended.”

An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

While already being labeled as a “drag” on the McCain campaign, Palin may end up being her own worst enemy. She’s back home in Alaska now, and her antics on the campaign trail of this supposed ‘fiscal conservative’ will follow her. Not merely an obscure Alaskan politician who will fade into the woodwork, Palin’s unlikely celebrity will continue to fuel her coverage in the media over the coming months.

Expect Palin’s wardrobe, and other evidence of her fondness for suspect spending to come out of the closet. Pass the popcorn, and put it on my tab!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine





House Gate?

11 10 2008

Remember back to the first week in September, when it seemed like every day there was a new “gate”?  Actually, believe it or not, “Troopergate” used to be known as “Palingate” in Alaska because we naively believed there was only one.  Oh, how innocent we were.

Since that long ago time, our naivete has fallen away, and “gates” have been springing up like mushrooms all over Alaska:  Troopergate, babygate, bookgate, pastorgate…the list seemed endless.  Add to that a whole host of more recent and harder to say “gates” – Leaving-your-town-in-debt-gate, collecting-per-diem-while-living-at-home-gate, charging-victims-for-rape-kits-gate, trying-to-rid-the-world-of-wolves-and-polar-bears-gate, and we’ve been busy people.  We’ve been focusing on John McCain’s I-didn’t-vet-my-running-mate-so-I’m-going-te-let-everyone-else-do-it-gate.

But now, a brand new “gate” surfaces.  I present “House Gate”.  There will be more digging on this one in the days to come, but here’s what we know now. 

Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city awarded nearly a half-million-dollar contract to design the biggest project in Wasilla history to Kumin Associates. Blase Burkhart was the Kumin architect on the job—the son of Roy Burkhart, who is frequently described as a “mentor” of Palin and was head of the local Republican Party (his wife, June, who also advised Palin, is the national committeewoman). Asked if the contract was a favor, Roy Burkhart, who contributed to her campaign in the same time frame that his son got the contract, said: “I really don’t know.” Palin then named Blase Burkhart to a seven-member builder-selection committee that picked Howdie Inc., a mostly residential contractor owned at the time by Howard Nugent. Formally awarded the contract a couple of weeks after Palin left office, Nugent has donated $4,000 to Palin campaigns. Two competitors protested the process that led to Nugent’s contract. Burkhart and Nugent had done at least one project together before the complex—and have done several since.

A list of subcontractors on the job, obtained by the Voice, includes many with Palin ties. One was Spenard Builders Supply, the state’s leading supplier of wood, floor, roof, and other “pre-engineered components.” In addition to being a sponsor of Todd Palin’s snow-machine team that has earned tens of thousands for the Palin family, Spenard hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004. When the Palins began building a new family home off Lake Lucille in 2002—at the same time that Palin was running for lieutenant governor and in her final months as mayor—Spenard supplied the materials, according to Antoine Bricks, who works in its Wasilla office. Spenard actually filed a notice “of its right to assert a lien” on the deed for the Palin property after contracting for labor and materials for the site. Spenard’s name has popped up in the trial of Senator Stevens—it worked on the house that is at the center of the VECO scandal as well.

Todd Palin told Fox News that he built the two-story, 3,450-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath, wood house himself, with the help of contractors he described as “buddies.” As mayor, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits in the wide-open city, and there is no public record of who the “buddies” were. The house was built very near the complex, on a site whose city purchase led to years of unsuccessful litigation and, now, $1.3 million in additional costs, with a law firm that’s also donated to Palin collecting costly fees from the city.

Dorwin and Joanne Smith, the principals of complex subcontractor DJ Excavation & Development, have donated $7,100 to Palin and her allied candidate Charlie Fannon (Joanne is a Palin appointee on the state Board of Nursing). Sheldon Ewing, who owns another complex subcontractor, Weld Air, has donated $1,300, and PN&D, an engineering firm on the complex, has contributed $699.

Ewing was one of the few sports-complex contractors, aside from Spenard, willing to address the question of whether he worked on the house as well, but he had little to say: “I doubt that it occurred, but if it did indirectly, how would I know anyhow?” The odd timing of Palin’s house construction—it was completed two months before she left City Hall and while she and Todd Palin were campaigning statewide for the first time—raises questions, especially considering its synergy with the complex.

So Todd Palin says he built his lakeside home with the help of some “buddies” who were also building contractors.   First of all, this alone isn’t as unusual as it might sound to those in the Lower 48.  I personally know at least 4 people who have build houses with the assistance of “buddies” who were contractors.  Alaska is a very do-it-yourself kind of state.  Just as it isn’t really that unusual to be a pilot and own a small plane, or a snowmachine,  or to go moose hunting.  However, that said, we’re talking about the Palins.

Were this something that had been brought up as a stand-alone piece of evidence for a corruption investigation of a squeaky clean governor, I might never have thought it worth digging into.  But usually, once you’ve established something is an onion, it doesn’t matter how many layers you peel away, it’s still an onion.  And once you’ve established that someone abuses a position of power for self-gain (which we just did when the Branchflower Troopergate report was released), you can pretty well imagine that no matter how many layers you peel away, you’re likely to find more of the same.

Just as my first reaction with Palin’s and Ted Stevens’ “connection” to Spenard Builders Supply was to dare the Village Voice to find anyone who built a house in Alaska who DIDN”T have a connection with Spenard Builders Supply, we should not dismiss it too hastily.  Patterns are patterns, and onions are onions.  Nothing in Alaska stays hidden for long these days.

Todd Palin’s interview on Fox. He talks about building the house at minute 2:00.