Anne Kilkenny’s Newfound Celebrity After Palin Letter.

8 09 2008

Anyone searching the internet for information about the suddenly famous governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, won’t take long to stumble across the letter written by Anne Kilkenny, resident of Palin’s home town of Wasilla, Alaska. Kilkenny wrote the letter, exposing the not-so-pretty side of Sarah Palin to family and friends the day after Palin’s surprise VP nomination. It went instantly viral.

She said she worked and reworked the letter to add things as people have asked more questions, deleted things that sounded too much like speculation and tried to keep it balanced with both positive and negative information.

“It’s not to make her look bad. It’s not to make her look good. It’s just to make her what she is,” she said.

In the letter, she lauds the former mayor as smart, hardworking and savvy. But, she says, far from being a fiscal conservative, Palin left Wasilla in debt, was intolerant of “divergent opinions” and “has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help.”

Much of what Kilkenny states has been pointed out by others in news stories. Palin, on the national pulpit, has lauded herself as a fiscal conservative who cut government budgets. But as mayor and governor she presided over growing budgets. Some of her information has received less attention.

As mayor, as Kilkenny notes, Palin benefited enormously from a sales tax passed by the previous mayor John Stein, whom she defeated in a bitter campaign in which she derided him as a “good ole boy.” That sales tax, passed to fund the police force, left the city flush with so much cash Palin was able to cut property taxes and still have revenues increase.

The letter is everywhere. Picked up by the Atlantic Monthly, the Anchorage Daily News, Daily Kos, this blog and too many others to list. Google it, and be amazed. Kilkenny has talked to the New York Times and National Public Radio, and is being hounded by the flock of press that has descended on our usually sleepy ‘little’ state.

With some notable exceptions, reaction to her letter has been positive, especially by those who are seeking the ‘real’ story of Sarah Palin from someone who knew her long before her meteoric rise to political stardom.

“How’s anyone to know if the people who do know don’t say anything,” she said.

As the McCain-Palin ticket promises to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington D.C., Kilkenny has begun that process in Wasilla.





A Letter About Sarah Palin from Anne Kilkenny

4 09 2008

This letter has been circulating for a couple days now, and I thought I’d post it in full for those who haven’t had a chance to read it. One of the best ways to become informed about local politics is by attending city council/assembly meetings. I know this from mind-numbing, clock-staring, experience. There’s no substitute for butt-in-the-chair observation, no matter how awful it is to sit for hours on end listening to a bunch of bloviating local politicians. But it’s difficult not to show who you are.

This letter is written by someone who knows Sarah Palin, lives in Wasilla, and has city council lurker cred. (There ought to be a badge for that.) I think that babygate is on the way out of the news cycle, and the next aspect of her life to come under scrutiny will be her tenure as mayor. This is a good place to start. And thanks to Anne Kilkenny for speaking out. Wasilla is a small town. It takes a certain amount of conviction and downright bravery to lay it all out there like this. So a hat tip and a big sweeping bow to Anne.

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992.
Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a
first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her
father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a
first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more
City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the
residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular
girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and
won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because
she is a “babe”.

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She
kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents
for seven months.

She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby.
There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out
there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a
champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly
sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his
work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or
so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their
major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything
like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.

She’s smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000
(at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about
670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running
this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been
pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had
gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had
given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6
years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over
33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the
City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation
(1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a
regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she
promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they
benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration
weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed
money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it
with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage
the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said
she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a
new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a
multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece
of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was
still in litigation 7 yrs later–to the delight of the lawyers
involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the
community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it
would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that
could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office
redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus
in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will
make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she
proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she
recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while
she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s
surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas
or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by
her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the
basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected
City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from
the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents
rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s
attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew
her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the
Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for
Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin
fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as
Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people,
creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally
grateful and fiercely loyal–loyal to the point of abusing their power
to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the
case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated”
her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top
cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure
and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that
an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t
fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation
for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen
contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she
later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to
replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded
for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew
her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in
help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town
introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council
became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She
abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t
like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got
the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one
of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no
background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great
job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the
high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the
structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this
Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party)
engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some
undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all
her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and
garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a
gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit,
exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from
Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel
politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to
nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing
projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative
action restored most of these projects–which had been vetoed simply
because she was not aware of their importance–but with the unobservant
she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party
leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated
them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a
fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah.
They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and
predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly
stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made
point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s
mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and
experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package
of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march
to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to
global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state
initiaitive that would have either a) protected salmon streams from
pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the
state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s
lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar
bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a
heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more
knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are
regretting it.

CLAIM VS FACT
•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years
•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary
school, not since
•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true
•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconsitutional).
•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.
•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
legislation
•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has
residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska.
No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on
supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city
administrator to run town of about 5,000.
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
residents
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union
doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim
that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed
voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting
programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny +
Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local
government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen
when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because
few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out
of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no
fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will
cost me somehow in the future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100
or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s
attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to
say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.

CAVEATS
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in
spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor)
from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of
Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust
for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible
for a private person to get any info out of City Hall–they are
swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the
population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The
day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the
current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was
5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to
2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny





Sarah Palin’s Preacher Problem. End Times Coming?

2 09 2008

Good Lord. Another ‘gate’. Just talked to one of our local progressive radio talk show hosts (yes, we have them in Alaska!) and she said her head is spinning. Mine is too. No one knows where to turn. Keeping up with the tidal wave of what’s hitting the fan in Alaska is fast becoming a full-time job. It feels like that old-time video game “Centipede”. It’s easy at first to blast those little centipedes as they work their way down the screen, but the longer you play the faster they come and bigger they get, and the more you have to work to keep them in check.

There’s fundraising for indicted senator Ted Stevens’ 547, not actually knowing “what the VP does all day”, her affiliation with the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, earmarks after earmarks for her small town projects, zero international experience, Troopergate, Babygate, Dairygate, Bridgegate, Toddgate, and now…..Churchgate.

I’ve picked this particular centipede today, (shall we call it the Jesus-pede?) because this is something that crosses the line between a candidate who is unqualified, and a candidate that is not using the same play book as most of the rest of us.

I did a drive-by of Palin’s church when I was traveling through Wasilla yesterday, not realizing the furor that would be churning the blogosphere less than 24-hours later about a speech Palin delivered there only three months ago. Here’s what she said regarding the war in Iraq.

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God.”

Let that sink in a minute. A task that is from God. Sarah’s war is a holy war. It’s not, apparently from the God that says “turn the other cheek” or “I am my brother’s keeper” or “the greatest of all these is love”. It’s not about diplomacy, international relations, figuring out why we are so despised in the Middle East, keeping Israel secure, revamping how the U.S. deals with its unsustainable dependence on foreign oil, combating poverty and desperation that leads young men to terrorism. Nope. This war is God’s will. It’s God’s holy war. She went on:

That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.

So the plan is to pray for a plan? Perhaps it would have been better to pray for a plan beFORE we went to Iraq. Better still to sit down and create a plan – a thoughtful, intelligent, human-type plan.

Knowing that Palin has only been out of the country once, in 2007, to visit the Alaska Guard in Kuwait, we rightfully wonder what might influence her international policy. How will her decisions be made? What is her style of governance? Well, folks, this might just be it. Pray for a plan and hope it’s the right one.

Beyond that one speech she made in June, what else do we know about Palin’s church? Good question. Anchroage residents, who comprise the vast majority of the population in this region of Alaska, know that Wasilla is the heart of Alaska’s Valley Bible Belt. This is evidenced by the dozens and dozens of roadside churches, the Christian schools and bookstores, and how many people are wearing crosses in the local supermarket. But I, and most others I know really don’t know much more than that. But, the press, bloggers, and curious citizens are now McCain’s post-facto vetting team, and they are opening can after can of worms.

Let’s break the vacuum seal on that latest can, shall we? (giant sucking sound, behold worms) This is from Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God. Palin attended here for most of her adult life, until her new affiliation with a similar church in the state’s capitol, Juneau:

What you see in a terrorist — that’s called the invisible enemy. There has always been an invisible enemy. What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what’s going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. … We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. … Jesus called us to die. You’re worried about getting hurt? He’s called us to die. Listen, you know we can’t even follow him unless you are willing to give up your life. … I believe that Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode. Everyone say “war mode.” Now you say, wait a minute Ed, he’s like the good shepherd, he’s loving all the time and he’s kind all the time. Oh yes he is — but I also believe that he had a part of his thoughts that knew that he was in a war.

How will the Republican party and the pundits handle Palin’s “Reverend Wright Moment”? Did McCain vet her on matters of her religious ties, knowing how devastating the impact of his church selection turned out to be for Obama? You’d think. But maybe McCain knew all along, and thought it was no big deal. Which scenario is more sobering? And how do non-Christians in the rest of the country and in Alaska feel about the “end times” philosophy of this church?

Is this one more step toward the End Times of the McCain-Palin ticket? Let us pray.





A Photo Safari of Wasilla, Alaska – Home of Sarah Palin.

1 09 2008

 

Time for a caption contest!  Anyone?

I’m finally home with high speed internet, and able to post the photos from my little trek through Wasilla and the Mat-Su Valley this weekend.  First a big hat-tip to my spouse who chauffeured me around Wasilla for two hours this afternoon and obeying dutifully every time I yelled “STOP!!”  I tried to capture the spirit of what makes the Valley unique, so I didn’t photograph Home Depot, or Walmart, or Lowe’s. 

There were some interesting signs of Palin around.  And I ran into a friend who was sporting a McCain – Palin t-shirt.  I said, “So you’re a fan?” and she said, “I LOVE Sarah!  She’s my hero.  I just need to get some duct tape to stick over the McCain part.”  A new and interesting perspective.  There are lots of them.

I have good friends and family who live in Wasilla and other parts of the Valley.  The Valley is quirky, occasionally scary, often funny, and sometimes just downright unexplainable.  Anyone from the area will recognize many, if not all of the places I photographed.  All the Wasilla photos were taken on main roads.  Click on the photo to get a caption.

I hope you enjoy your virtual Alaskan safari through the Valley, where Sarah Palin has lived and was raised since infancy.  This is her world folks, and her executive experience before she became Governor in 2006.  Buckle up.

Use the photos as you will but please credit https://mudflats.wordpress.com if you do.  Thanks.

Enjoy!

 

And Wasilla City Hall as seen on CNN.  Hat tip to the Ragin’ Cajun and Mad Skillz.





Heading Home Through SarahLand.

1 09 2008

 

Last week - prescient black cloud appears over Republican booth at the State Fair

Last week - prescient black cloud appears over Republican booth at the State Fair

I’ll be heading back home to Anchorage today, and passing through Wasilla…Alaska’s new most famous (or infamous) small town and home of Governor Sarah Palin.  I’ve got camera in hand and will post a “Valley Gallery” tonight.  I’ve already got some great shots, and I think you’ll enjoy the virtual tour.

Just talked to a Valley resident who works for the state and is a registered Independent.  I asked, “So, what do you think of our new Veep candidate?”  The answer (after chuckling and shaking his head) “What a way to commit suicide.”  He’d just gotten back from the Alaska State Fair.  That’s where Palin was when she got “the call” from John McCain asking her to be his running mate.  The first run of McCain/Palin T-shirts were already sold out.  But there were a few bumper stickers left….right next to the ones that say “Liberalism is a Curable Disease”.  Nothing like a little brotherly love in the Alaska Republican booth.