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?





Walt Monegan for Governor?! Can I Vote Now?

4 12 2008
Walt Monegan at UAA on 12/3/08. Photo by Linda Kellen Biegel.

Walt Monegan - Photo by Linda Kellen Biegel.

Has Christmas come a little early here in the North Land? I almost fell off my chair yesterday when the latest rumors broke. I was unable to attend a talk given by former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, but two of Alaska’s intrepid bloggers were there and they have some interesting news.

First, let’s hear from Phil over at Progressive Alaska:

Former Anchorage Police Chief and Alaska Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, speaking to a group of journalism students, UAA faculty, and community members, refused, when asked whether he might consider running for governor of Alaska, to rule it out.

When asked a third time about this, he stated that he had agreed with his faculty host, not to discuss his political future at the event.

I attended the talk to meet Monegan, a public safety officer I’ve long respected. There were a couple of questions I had hoped to ask, but they weren’t about his political aspirations. The questions on future politics and potential political considerations he might be pondering, took me completely by surprise.

And this, from Linda at Blue Oasis:

Mr. Monegan spoke on what he’s learned over the years about the relationship between the people and their government. “Basically, what I want to talk about, and what I’ve been invited to speak on, is the importance of the integrity of our government and its leaders.”

He discussed his appreciation of our Founding Fathers and how “the law of the land” includes an understandting that “If the government starts to become more oppressive, the citizens not only have a right but an obligation to alter or abolish the government.”

The third question on the subject was from APRN, who first asked if Walt was going to take any action against the State on being called a “rogue” and he said “I love the State of Alaska so the answer is no.” Then she asked for a firmer answer to the question about running for governor and he said he didn’t want to violate the non-political requirement of speaking at UAA. [snip]

As long as it’s not violating any rules I could honestly say that my wife and I are talking about it.

And a hush falls on the land. What’s this? Did someone actually address the importance of the integrity of our government and its leaders and MEAN it? Ears prick up everywhere. I’d recommend reading both posts in their entirety, and also check out the link to the audio of Monegan’s talk on Blue Oasis.

2010 could be very very interesting. I wonder what’s being chatted about at the Governor’s office today? I’m sensing another chapter in the Greek myth that is Alaska politics. OK, Mr. Monegan, you take the left flank, and Senator Murkowski, you take the right flank and Alaskans for Truth will head right up the middle. Someone blow a horn!

And if anyone wondered about what kind of support people feel for Walt Monegan, how many other former Commissioners of Public Safety could inspire someone who lives thousands of miles away to dress up like Sarah Palin and make the following statement:

Sarah...er...I mean Lila with a 2010 campaign sign!

Sarah...er...I mean Lila with a 2010 campaign sign!

Sarah Palin isn’t the only Alaska politician with national appeal! This is Lila from the Mudstock meetup in Chicago in October. It’s true…Mudflatters can see the future!





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.





I Saw Walt Monegan Today.

15 11 2008

I was running around town today, doing a few errands and who should I see, but Walt Monegan. I’ve met him before briefly, but I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. I was taken by surprise, and I felt like I had so much to say. I wanted to thank him for his service to the state. I wanted to tell him I though he really got the short end of the stick. I wanted to tell him that I appreciate all he was doing for the Troopers, and for rural Alaska, and that I was sorry he never had the chance to make his plans a reality. I wanted to ask him if he needed anything….I don’t know what it would be, but I, like so many others wish I could do something. He looked a little tired.

I froze. Maybe, I thought, he just wants to have a Saturday afternoon running errands like everybody else. Maybe he just wants one small block of time without having to think about Sarah Palin, or talk to anybody about Troopergate. I know I have times where I just don’t want to think about Sarah Palin anymore….I can only imagine how he feels.

Then I started thinking that people are always grateful for kind words. Maybe I’d make it really short, so I wouldn’t interrupt his day, but so he’d know that there was one more person out there pulling for him, and doing what they could to support him. I wouldn’t engage him in conversation, but I ‘d let him know I was on his side. But what would I say? I stood there for a minute composing the perfect 10-second statement that would encompass all those things, and come out just right.

Of course by the time I had mentally composed my script, he was gone. I saw him with his wife off in the distance, and thought maybe I could still catch him if I ran…but then I decided it would ruin the effect of my casual quick 10-second support statement if I had to arrive there gasping and out of breath from running top speed down the street to catch up with him.

So, I hope Walt and his wife had a nice afternoon, and I hope they didn’t think about Sarah Palin.





Palin’s Neiman Marcus Pants on Fire?

8 11 2008

Think waaaay back to November 3rd…I know it seems like a lifetime ago, and another era. In many respects it was another era. The 2008 election will go down in history, and we were all there, drinking it in as it happened. Nobody feels like looking backward. And that’s just what those who released the report from the Personnel Board’s investigation into Palin’s ethical conduct in the Troopergate scandal are counting on.  Their report is old news.  It’s sooooo pre-election.  Let’s just move along…nothing to see here.

You’ll recall that Palin initiated this investigation of herself, into her own actions, by a board that reports to her, and whom she can fire…..and the report found her innocent! This report conflicts with the ‘other’ investigation by the Alaska State Legislature’s bipartisan Legislative Council. They found her guilty of violating the state executive ethics act. I remember this well, as the giant green bound copy of that report has been sitting on my desk since October 10th.  Here’s the exact wording:

Finding Number One:  For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.  Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides”

“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

The not-so-coincidental timing that released the Personnel Board’s contrary “Palin is innocent” finding on November 3rd, meant that headlines on election day in Alaska and elsewhere proclaimed Palin’s exoneration of wrongdoing. How very beneficial for her.

So now that election day is past, it’s time to revisit that slippery little event that snuck past us right before the election.

There’s a lot to cover, and these two Troopergate reports contradict each other in multiple ways. So, rather than to overload our poor brains that are still recovering from the frenzy of the election season, let’s just look at one for now.

The question at hand: Did Palin, and/or her staff inappropriately apply pressure to then Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten? And was the reason that Monegan subsequently lost his job at least in part because he didn’t fire Wooten?

Commissioner Monegan testified under oath that the Governor called him in January 2007 to talk about Trooper Wooten.

Sarah Palin denied, under oath, that the conversation occurred.

<<<LOUD FIRE ALARM SOUND>>>

One doesn’t need to be a great legal mind to realize that if two people are questioned about the same thing, and both are under oath, and each one contradicts the other one….then….somebody is lying. And when you lie under oath, that’s known as perjury.  And perjury is a crime.  (ominous chord played on giant pipe organ)

Furthermore, although Todd Palin acknowledges talking to Monegan about Trooper Wooten, he states, and Governor Palin concurs that she had no knowledge of this.  And Petumenos tells us if the Governor says it, and her husband says it, then that’s good enough for him.  Case closed.

Only one problem.  There’s the matter of a little email to one Commissioner Monegan.  It is dated February 7, 2007, shortly after that aforementioned phone call that did, or didn’t happen, depending on who you believe.  In this email, Palin states to Monegan”

I know you know I’ve experienced a lot of frustration with this issue.  I know Todd’s even expressed to you a lot of concern about our family’s safety…”

Hmmmm.  So…if we believe the Governor about not talking to Monegan about the Wooten issue, then how does she know that Monegan knows….and if she didn’t know about Todd talking to Monegan, then how does she know that Todd has expressed concern to Monegan.

<<<<ANOTHER FIRE ALARM SOUND>>>>

One of the options that could have been exercised by the Personnel Board is that after the investigation, they had discovered “probable cause” to believe that there may have been a violation of the State Executive Branch Ethics Act.  This acknowledgment would have resulted in further investigation to determine if any violation had occured.  One would think that the above situation would be enough to indicate “probable cause.”

Not so, says independent investigator Tim Petumenos.  As a matter of fact, the report completely ignored the email. (Mental picture of Tim Petumenos sticking his fingers in his ears going LALALALALALALA!)

With all these alarm bells going off, you’d think someone would be paying attention.  And this is only scratching the surface.  Stay tuned.





Author of TheoPalinism on KUDO Today!

6 11 2008

Leah Burton, author of the new book TheoPalinism will be on CC’s show on KUDO today. Should be good!

For the live feed, click HERE.

Burton writes from a unique perspective of being a multi-generational Alaskan who has worked as a lobbyist in Alaska for Family and Children’s Rights, lending her a distinctive view on this debacle.

With an irreverent wink, wink, nod, nod….”Say it ain’t so Joe! Aw gosh – you betcha! Guys and gals!” …and all the other folksy disrespectful colloquialisms Sarah Palin has thrown around as she crossed America on the 2008 presidential campaign trail, insulting all but the fanatics she mobilized…she and her followers have blundered and failed.

The Palin Factor inspired this author to put pen to paper and illuminate just a sampling of the ideologies behind Sarah Palin’s unbelievable rise to the republican ticket as their anointed selection for vice president.

TheoPalinism is ground swell movement that has insidious roots in America and it has taken the
F
undamentalist Religious Right Evangelical Extremist Charismatics (FRREECs) (NOT to be confused with Christians!) over 30 years to infiltrate the Republican Party and find their “Poster Girl”.

The book also includes a chapter contributed by Burton’s father who is a 35 year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers and a retired Commissioner of Public Safety – twice – for the State of Alaska. Commissioner Burton speaks to the real issues embroiled in Troopergate in his chapter that cites the lack of pursuit through proper channels and processes where a complaint such as the Palin family purports to have had with the governor’s brother-in-law, should have been followed.





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.

 





Prominent Alaskans Demand an Apology from the McCain-Palin Campaign.

1 11 2008

One of the most interesting things about living in Alaska is that you get a true appreciation of how large and how small it is – large geographically, and small socially.  The fact that there are so few people means that it’s almost impossible to spend a day doing errands without running in to someone you know, it’s common to find out that two of your unrelated friends actually know each other, and that engaged citizens can really affect positive change in the political process.  Another consequence of this “smallness factor” is that those who hold public office, and do a good job, become very well respected in the community.  Everyone knows who they are, and when they have something to say, people listen.

People generally respect one another here.  You learn quickly that you’d better treat people well or it might come back to haunt you. The guy you just told off will undoubtedly end up being your kid’s soccer coach, or the guy who pulls over to help you change a tire when it’s 20 below zero.  The woman that just made you land on the horn in traffic is undoubtedly going to be standing next to you in line wherever you’re going, or will be serving you your lunch.

This is why Alaskans, regardless of their political affiliation, watched in horror as Megan Stapleton (former local newscaster turned Palin spokeswoman) and attorney Ed O’Callaghan (an ‘outsider’ hired by the McCain campaign) started giving press conferences, calling themselves the “Truth Squad”.  The Truth Squad’s purpose it seemed, was to sully the reputation of former Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan.  According to the independent investigator hired by the Alaska State Legislature, Palin abused her power in his firing.  She wanted Monegan to fire her ex-brother in law, an Alaska State Trooper who she felt had wronged her family.  Monegan couldn’t legally act, because the matter was already closed.  Palin fired him anyway. 

It was either going to play out in the media that Palin abused her power, or that Monegan deserved it.  So the Truth Squad got to work, and they broke the cardinal rule in Alaska – treat people well.   Monegan is well-loved, and respected across the board.  So, for Palin’s story to stick, the McCain-Palin campaign had to make this look like Monegan’s problem.  Enter the Truth Squad.  According to them, Monegan had a “rogue mentality”,  and he committed acts of “outright insubordination”.  Try to get a job in law enforcement if the Governor of the state has called you an “insubordinate rogue”.

So, when Representative Les Gara, in an epic piece of video footage, demanded that Meg Stapleton (former news anchor turned Palin spokeswoman) apologize to Walt Monegan, and the other Legislators that had gotten smeared by the “Truth Squad”, he wasn’t kidding.  This wasn’t some quaint, old-fashioned request, nor was it just a PR stunt.  He really did think she owed them an apology.  So did a lot of other Alaskans.

Now, two other prominent Alaska lawmakers have joined in the formal request for an apology.  Gail Phillips, former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chancy Croft, former Democratic President of the State Senate released a press release yesterday, that has already received wide coverage in the state, on radio and in today’s Anchorage Daily News.  This is one more thing that will be waiting on Governor Palin’s desk when she gets home.  It’s a good letter, and it sums up eloquently what many Alaskans feel.  Here it is reprinted, by permission, in its entirety:

October 28, 2008

Dear Senator McCain:

We are writing because we believe an apology is owed from your campaign to Alaskans and our former Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan. As former legislative leaders of both major political parties in Alaska, we haven’t always agreed upon political issues. However, we adamantly agree that Mr. Monegan, who is well respected in Alaska by people of all party affiliations, is owed an apology. The attacks against Commissioner Monegan for his role in administering a personnel issue, now known statewide as “Troopergate”, were unwarranted and wrong. Mr. Monegan is a former U.S. Marine, a front-line police officer, was Chief of Police in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, served as our State’s Commissioner of Public Safety and served both Republicans and Democrats with professionalism and honor.

This summer Governor Palin fired Mr. Monegan as Commissioner, which was within her purview. However, in July, the Legislature, through unanimous action by the bi-partisan Legislative Council, voted to investigate Commissioner Monegan’s termination and whether his refusal to fire Trooper Wooten played a role in his termination. The investigation had nothing to do with your campaign.

After Governor Palin was named as your running mate, your campaign stepped into the fray. In an effort to discredit and stop the bi-partisan legislative investigation into whether or not Governor Palin acted improperly in seeking the termination of her former brother-in-law, Trooper Wooten, your campaign engaged in a near-daily course of personal attacks against Mr. Monegan and members of the legislature. It’s obvious to many of us that you probably were not aware of these attacks by your campaign committee; however, since the final responsibility is yours, we feel Mr. Monegan is owed an apology from you.

In an effort to halt the bi-partisan investigation, your campaign staff tried to vilify Commissioner Monegan. Before Governor Palin was selected to your presidential ticket, she had agreed to the investigation; she publicly said it was justified and that she and her staff would cooperate with the investigation. She stated to the press that the public had a right to be concerned whether or not her administration may have placed improper pressure on the State Department of Public Safety to fire her former brother-in-law.

Following Governor Palin’s selection as your running mate, your campaign sent staff to Alaska to try to stop the investigation that Governor Palin had previously agreed to. Your campaign staff accused the legislative action as partisan in spite of the fact that the unanimous vote of the Legislative Council was bi-partisan.

Your campaign accused Mr. Monegan of being a “rogue”, of being insubordinate and other defamatory statements. To justify your involvement in this Alaskan issue and the Governor’s termination of Commissioner Monegan, your campaign continually changed the excuses for his termination. The various and changing excuses given by your campaign speaks clearly to the lack of credibility in its involvement.

Despite your campaign’s efforts to stop the investigation in court, and by public pressure, the investigation was recently completed. On October 10th the investigative report was released and the independent investigator, Steve Branchflower, concluded that the Governor had violated the State’s Executive Ethics statute by pressuring for the termination of Mr. Wooten from his position as an Alaskan State Trooper. The investigation also found that one of the probable reasons Commissioner Monegan was terminated was his refusal to fire the Governor’s former brother-in-law.

We acknowledge the authority the Governor has for terminating Commissioners; however, your campaign’s interference into this State matter and attempts to discredit Commissioner Monegan for campaign purposes is very troubling. Both the vilification of Mr. Monegan and the attempts by your campaign to stop the investigation were wrong.

We respectfully request an apology from your campaign to Mr. Monegan. He is a good man who has put his life on the line for Alaskans many times and he deserves better treatment from you and your campaign. Not only have the personal attacks from your campaign deeply affected and hurt the Monegan family, but also the people of Alaska who care and respect Mr. Monegan.

Sincerely,

Gail Phillips
Former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives

Chancy Croft
Former President of the Alaska State Senate

Alaskans for Truth, the organizers of the huge rally in downtown Anchorage last month, and the organizers of the petition demanding the resignation of the Attorney General Talis Colberg for his botched handling of the Troopergate investigation, has issued a call to action.

They ask that any and all people, from inside or outside the state, who agree with the above letter, and are disgusted by the treatment of this decent, hard-working man who has served his country and his state with honor, please send a postcard to the McCain campaign adding your name to those respectfully demanding an apology for their behavior.  Then, let Alaskans for Truth know you did (alaskansfortruth@gmail.com).  It’s a small act, but it may help to restore something important that was taken from a good man.

Postcards can be sent to:

Honorable Senator John McCain
John McCain 2008
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215

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Interesting Show With Breaking News Today on KUDO 1080am.

31 10 2008

There is some interesting news regarding Troopergate fallout coming momentarily on KUDO! CC’s show starts in just a few minutes.

You can stream it live HERE.

Highlights:

*Sarah Palin claims that her first amendment rights are threatened because the media is criticizing what she is saying on the campaign trail. Interesting claim that the freedom of the press to ask questions of politicians infringes the first amendment rights of the politicians… (head is spinning)

*Ted Stevens claimed last night during the Senatorial debate that he “hadn’t been convicted of anything.” Attorney Meg Simonian explains that under sentencing guidelines, Stevens’ continued denial of responsibility for his actions could serve to increase his sentence.

*Juror #4, the one who left the Ted Stevens trial to attend her father’s funeral, is summoned back to D.C. to explain her actions. She was not able to be contacted at the appointed time to discuss if she would be able to return to the trial last Monday.

*Palin has waived her confidentiality in the Personnel Board investigation, to allow public scrutiny. However, the other members of her staff who are being investigated have not. Therefore nothing is being released to the public. There are no guidelines in existence to determine what happens when a group is being investigated, and only one member has waived this right.

The question is, WHY has her staff refused to waive confidentiality. Palin, up until the point she was tapped to be the VP nominee told her staff to cooperate with any and all investigations. We’ve been given no explanation as to why the staff isn’t waiving this right.

It’s possible that this is, of course, a big PR move so Palin can appear to want open, honest process while knowing all the while she wouldn’t be accountable because of her uncooperative staff.

BREAKING NEWS – PRESS RELEASE CALLS FOR APOLOGY FROM THE McCAIN CAMPAIGN

BIPARTISAN CALL ON McCAIN CAMPAIGN FOR APOLOGY

TO FORMER ALASKA PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER

Campaign Attacks Career Law Enforcement Office Called “Unconscionable”

ANCHORAGE – Today a bipartisan call was made on the McCain Campaign for an apology to former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. The bi-partisan call was made by former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Gail Phillips and former Senate President Chancy Croft. Both legislators expressed dismay at the negative characterizations made by McCain’s campaign staff that traveled to Alaska in September and October in an unsuccessful attempt to derail the Legislature’s bi-partisan “Troopergate” investigation. That investigation resulted in a report that was released, on a unanimous vote of the Alaska Legislature’s Legislative Council, on October 10, 2008.

Mr. Monegan, as conceded by Governor Palin in hiring him for the position, earned great respect throughout Alaska for his dedicated law enforcement work.

Former Speaker Phillips offered the following statement about Mr. Monegan, a former U.S. Marine, widely-respected career police officer, Anchorage Police Chief and State Public Safety Commissioner” “It’s unconscionable that an outside campaign organization which had no knowledge of the history, background or understanding of an Alaskan issue would come to our State to destroy the reputation and life of a dedicated Alaskan public servant, Walt Monegan. Senator McCain’s attempt to insert his campaign into action taken by the Alaska Legislature was wrong and poorly thought out.”

Former President Croft noted “Walt’s good reputation has become a casualty because of people who never met him, don’t live in Alaska and who valued political attack over honor. Gail and I are speaking for thousands of Alaskans of all political loyalties and we would like to help Walt get back his earned reputation for honesty and dedicated public service.”





Will the Real Rogue Please Stand Up?

26 10 2008

I’m sorry…(sticking finger in ear and wiggling)…I’m afraid I didn’t hear you properly McCain aide.  You were saying something about someone in Alaska being “rogue”.  You MUST mean Sarah Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, Trooper Mike Wooten, or former Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan.

Don’t you remember when our governor and her mouthpieces told the whole country they were “rogue”?  Yeah, I know…pretty serious stuff that “rogue” talk.  Pretty scary.  Ask any cop on the force.  Being called a “rogue” is fightin’ words.  Yup…   I even looked it up in the dictionary when Governor Palin used that  word. Where’s that definition….ah!  Here it is:

  1. Vicious and solitary. Used of an animal, especially an elephant.
  2. Large, destructive, and anomalous or unpredictable: a rogue wave; a rogue tornado.
  3. Operating outside normal or desirable controls: “How could a single rogue trader bring down an otherwise profitable and well-regarded institution?” (Saul Hansell).

So who was this person who went “rogue” according to a McCain aide?  In a delicious twist of irony, it’s the Governor herself.  And while the wonderful poetic metaphor of the Republican VP nominee being compared to a vicious elephant is not lost on anyone, I think it’s definition #2 and #3 we’re looking at here.

With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin “going rogue.” [insert crazy elephant noises here – AKM]

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to “bust free” of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls — recorded messages often used to attack a candidate’s opponent — “irritating” even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

“Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”

A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is “not good at process questions” and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

Process questions?  What are “process questions”?  Another quick Google search will answer that. [time passes]  Google doesn’t know what a ‘process question’ is either!  But apparently, whatever it is, it makes the rogue elephant go all crazy.

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Second Troopergate Investigation Moving Quickly.

25 10 2008

Yesterday, Sarah Palin gave her deposition to the second Troopergate independent investigator, Tim Petumenos. Petumenos flew out of Alaska to question Palin on the campaign trail in St. Louis. The details are scant, but we do know a few:

  • The deposition took two hours.
  • Petumenos told Palin he was moving quickly, but couldn’t say whether the investigation would be complete before Election Day.
  • Palin wants to make the transcript of her interview public.

“I am so pleased to finally have gotten the chance to tell what really happened and get the truth out,” Palin said in a statement released by her attorney, Thomas Van Flein.  “It was the right thing to do to bring this before the Personnel Board and have a true arms length unbiased and apolitical investigator look into this.”

I have a hunch that Petumenos will have nothing to do with that last request, for two reasons.  First, although Palin herself has waived her right of confidentiality, other members of her staff have not.  So it would be difficult, if not impossible,  to tease out the information that has only to do with Palin and nobody else.

Second, I think Petumenos will realize that the release of her deposition would make the whole thing look political, which is the LAST thing that Palin wants.  Right? 

We all know that if Palin really wants this “out there,” all she has to do is hold a press conference.  I doubt that reporters will come up with any questions that Petumenos didn’t.  Nothing is stopping her.   So, why doesn’t she do it?  Because she doesn’t want to.  One independent investigation has already found Palin guilty of an ethics violation. Branchflower and Petumenos are both highly respected men, known for their professionalism, and thorough unbiased work.  All of Branchflower’s work was turned over by request to Petumenos for use in his own work.   It would be stunning if the second investigation found anything different.