Les Gara and More on KUDO Today. UPDATED! (Mike Doogan)

24 10 2008

Apologies everyone.  Sounds like there has been a last-minute change.  Rep. Mike Doogan will be today’s guest on The Demo Memo.  Mike is a popular former columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, a writer of mystery novels, and a current Alaska state legislator.  He is always entertaining, and will likely have an interesting take on the events du jour.

Link and times are still the same!

“Cutting Edge” with CC on KUDO progressive talk radio in Anchorage will be well worth tuning in to today. Rep. Les Gara will be hosting “The Demo Memo,” and CC will be talking quite a bit about the latest Palin issues from an Alaskan perspective.

Les Gara is well-known to Mudflatters for his various acts of chutzpah during the Troopergate fiasco, for facing down the worst of the McCain “Truth Squad”, and for recently requesting that the Alaska AG Talis Colberg hire an independent investigator to look in to allegations of potential witness tampering in the Troopergate investigation now under review by the Personnel Board.

You can hear KUDO streaming live by clicking >>>HERE<<<

The show runs from 3:00 – 6:00pm Alaska time. (7:00-10:00pm EST, 4:00-7:00 PST)

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Lawsuit to Stall Troopergate Investigatioin Fails!

2 10 2008

Sorry to interrupt the Republican “Non-Implosion is Victory” party, but there was some breaking news in Anchorage tonight that came out a couple minutes before the debate.

An Anchorage judge today refused to halt the Legislature’s investigation of Gov. Sarah Palin and denied the state attorney general’s attempt to throw out legislative subpoenas.

Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski heard arguments from both sides this morning and ruled just before 5 p.m. this afternoon.

“I think it’s great. It’s a big day for the state of Alaska,” said Peter Maassen, the lawyer representing the Legislative Council, which ordered the investigation.

Maassen said he expected the other side to attempt a last-minute appeal to the state Supreme Court.

It’s last-minute because the investigator hired by the Legislative Council, Steve Branchflower, is to present his report in a week. Branchflower is looking into Palin’s dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, and whether she improperly pressured him to fire a state trooper divorced from her sister. There is intense national interest in the outcome now that Palin is the Republican nominee for vice president.

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg said he didn’t know whether he’d appeal or if he’ll now advise the subpoenaed state officals to cooperate with the investigation. He said he needed to consult with them.

“I’m going to talk to the clients before I talk to you,” he said.

Five Republican state legislators sued to stop the investigation, and Colberg, a Palin appointee, asked the judge to throw out the legislative subpoenas. The governor’s husband, Todd, and nearly a dozen state officials have refused to honor the subpoeanas ordering them to testify, and they face the threat of possible jail time.

Thomas Van Flein, the Anchorage attorney representing both Todd and Sarah Palin, watched the court hearing today. He said in an interview afterward that, if the judge refused to throw out the subpoenas, he would expect Todd Palin to testify after all.

“Short of appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court, which no one has talked about, I don’t see why we wouldn’t just have Todd testify,” he said.

The plot thickens…





Palin on the Honor System. No Subpoena. Yet.

5 09 2008

Alaska legislators are preparing to issue subpoenas as part of an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of the “Troopergate” affair, but Palin herself won’t be hit with one.

State Sen. Hollis French, the Anchorage Democrat who is managing the probe into Palin’s firing of her former public safety commissioner, said legislators decided not to subpoena Palin as a gesture to calm what has become a tense standoff between the Legislature and the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee.

“We’re trying to de-escalate the situation. We just want the truth, clear the air,” French said.

However, legislators still want their investigator to interview Palin.

Hollis French, who was just interviewed on KUDO progressive talk radio in Anchorage said, “The governor says she will cooperate, and we have no reason to disbelieve her.  She’s said it 6, 7, 8 times.  She’s said it so many times, it seems illogical that she wouldn’t show up.”  When asked what would happen if she did refuse to testify, he said, “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.”  (*Note to Senator French – Please…no bridge metaphors.)

French also expressed disgust at Frank Baily, the Palin staffer who refused to show up for his scheduled deposition, noting that he’s currently on paid administrative leave and is “making $78,000 a year while he sits home,” refusing to testify and winning the prize for most irritating use of government funds in the state of Alaska.

State Senator Johnny Ellis (well respected and bipartisan) also made an appearance on KUDO, and stated that he firmly believed that no vetting process had happened.  He was in contact with anyone who’s anyone in Republican circles, and no one was contacted about anything.  Only Palin’s lawyer has claimed to have been contacted by the McCain camp, but never specified whether it was before or after she was selected.  He wrapped it up by saying that he felt if we asked ourselves the question in our heart of hearts, no matter how we may feel about Palin personally, she is definitely not qualified to be the commander in chief, and leader of the free world.





Palin Vetting Documents from 2006. For Hard Core Palin Addicts Only.

5 09 2008

In 2006, when Sarah Palin ran for Governor of Alaska, the Democrats (unlike the Republicans of 2008) vetted her. The documentation is extensive, and was published online.

Recently, the link from various websites including Politico to the documents went dead. Then it came back. Then it went dead. Then it came back. You get the idea. Considering the tendency for things to vanish these days, and thanks to a reader of Mudflats, you may now peruse the document in its entirety below.

It’s 63 pages, so be warned. I suggest using the table of contents on page two to guide you on this “more than you ever wanted to know about Palin tour.” I wonder how long McCain’s document was?

palin-2006-vetting





Book Gate. Palin Wanted to Ban Books.

5 09 2008

That den of iniquity we know as The Wasilla Public Library. From my photo safari of Wasilla.

Book banning. This is just getting downright medieval. It’s out now that Sarah Palin, while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, tried to fire City Librarian Dorothy Emmons for not agreeing to remove “objectionable books” from the Wasilla Public Library. Dorothy Emmons, to her credit, and the credit of librarians everywhere, refused. Something about….which amendment was that?….oh, that’s right….the FIRST ONE.

Here’s what happened after Palin asked the librarian if she’d be “alright” with removing books that Palin found unacceptable.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn’t fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.

The question everyone wants to know is, “What books was she trying to ban?” Unfortunately, no concrete information exists on this…yet. Emmons has not been reached for comment, but may be able to shed some light, especially since she now lives in another part of the state and is no longer in Wasilla, where perceived “Sarah bashing” can be risky.

But until then, I present for your literary amusement, a random selection of “the most harmful books of the 19th and 20th century” as compiled by Newt Gingrich’s conservative online cabal known as “Human Events”. Presumably, knowing what we do about Palin’s ideology, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume any or all of these would be on the hit list. (No link provided to Human Events because, trust me, …you don’t want to go there)

Das Kapital, The Feminine Mystique, The Communist Manifesto, The Course of Positive Philosophy, Beyond Good and Evil, Mein Kampf, On Liberty, Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Silent Spring, Coming of Age in Samoa and….wait for it…The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. And I’ll go ahead and do some wild speculation that the name Harry Potter may come up. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Ironically, the first time I remember Sarah Palin being portrayed in the national media was in a piece on the Daily Show where she was salaciously compared to a “naughty librarian.” I’d like to claim my very own Lloyd Bentsen moment right now and say to Sarah Palin, “I know librarians. Librarians are friends of mine. Governor, you’re no librarian.”





Hillary’s Mad…This Oughtta Be Good.

4 09 2008

When I heard, on Friday that Hillary Clinton had commented on the Palin nomination, I was ready for it. I’m not sure what I was expecting but when I heard her, I almost choked. I was expecting something forceful, something strong and assertive, something…well…Hillary. Instead was a lukewarm congratulations.

Gulp.

Perhaps Hillary was as much in shock as the rest of us, and needed a little time to regroup. I’ve been drumming my fingers, waiting for the regrouping to be complete, and honestly, I was starting to worry a little. The Clintons have the power to make people nervous. You never know quite what they’re up to. But the New York Times reported that Hillary’s miffed, and miffed big time.

Mrs. Clinton’s friends said she was galled that Ms. Palin might try to capitalize on a movement that Mrs. Clinton, of New York, built among women in the primaries.

Clinton advisers said they expected that a bloc of her female supporters would give Mr. McCain a second look because of Ms. Palin, and that Mrs. Clinton was probably Mr. Obama’s best weapon in response.

So back Hillary goes to the “Rust Belt” states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, presumably to talk some sense into the women who are considering a vote for Palin based upon matching body parts. I’d like to think that women as a collective are way smarter than that, but there’s no harm in bringing out the big gun if she’s willing and able.

Now, if the Republican Convention would hurry up and be over with, we can get on to the real campaigning. Obama/Biden, for the first time broke the 50% barrier in national polling, garnering an 8 point lead over McCain/Palin. The polls were taken over the weekend, so at least initially, the Palin pick showed no bounce. She may see a bouncelet after her acceptance speech last night. She speaks with energy, and sincerity, and as it has been said, “Sarah Palin will look you straight in the eye and tell you black is white.” She dazzled in comparison to the parade of wrinkly old white guys that preceded her, but the effect may not last through the media vetting, and the debate with Joe Biden. And there are many more scandals coming down the pike.

So Hillary, come out, come out, wherever you are!





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