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?





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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Behind the Scenes Update for Hard-Core Troopergate Devotees.

23 10 2008

Stretch your mind back for a minute. Remember when a group called Alaskans for Truth collected all those signatures asking for the immediate resignation or dismissal of Alaska Attorney General, Talis Colberg for telling state employees it was OK to ignore legislative subpoenas? There was a big rally (the biggest in the history of the state) and more than 2000 signatures were collected in the span of a couple days. Then they were delivered to the governor’s office in Anchorage. They were supposed to be delivered to Lt. Governor Sean Parnell….but he decided to stay holed up in his office with the blinds drawn, so we got this guy:

That’s Bill McAllister. He used to work as a newscaster at KTUU, Anchorage’s NBC affiliate. Now he’s Sarah Palin’s Communications Director. Meghan Stapleton used to work as a newscaster at KTUU, Anchorage’s NBC affiliate, too. I’m beginning to sense a pattern here…

As any good Truth Squaddite would do, McAllister is still not content to let the Troopergate investigation conducted by Stephen Branchflower and the Legislative Council rest. All those state employees (plus Todd Palin) who didn’t show up for their depositions? Right at the end, they acquiesced and wrote up a quick statement with the help of the McCain cadre of lawyers.

Well, Bill wasn’t quite through smearing Walt Monegan, the ex-Commissioner of Public Safety whose firing caused the whole Troopergate fiasco. He wrote a little letter to local and national journalists which was a 50/50 mixture of scolding and whining. Linda Kellen Biegel (blogger Celtic Diva) who was present during the petition drop, didn’t like it much. As a matter of fact, it rankled her so badly that she posted an open letter to the aforementioned Mr. McAllister.

Worth a look. She’s maaaad.

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The Release of the Branchflower Report.

10 10 2008

It was a long long day in the halls of the Legislature.  What many thought would be a couple hours of waiting turned into an eight hour day.  The hallway outside the conference room was jammed with media, ABC, BBC, CNN, NPR, the whole alphabet soup.  There were bloggers and journalists, camera crews and members of the legislature, Palin folks and Alaskans for Truth – all staring at the clock, and each other,  and waiting for any crumb of news.

Outside the building, standing in the rain, were about 40 Palin supporters with signs saying, “We love our Gov.” and “We are proud of you.”

Every once in a while a legislator would pop out of the room and say, “It’ll be another hour or so,” and back they would go.  Eyeballs pressed against the venetian blinds could see through the little string holes that Stephen Branchflower was talking, going through the report page by page.

There were Hollis French sightings, and Bill Weilechowski sightings.  Les Gara was there, as was Fred Dyson (one of the ‘gang of six’ who filed the lawsuit to stop the subpoenas).  Palin’s spokesman Bill McAllister paced the halls.  Shannyn Moore and Eddie Burke exchanged a brief hello.  It was like a big melting pot of the Alaska political and media world in one little hallway…..all.  day.  long.

The Palin supporters headed over for coffee at a local coffee shop, and after the coffee was made, they found out it was a “liberal” coffee shop and took off without paying, leaving the coffee behind.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the doors opened and the 50+ members of the media flooded in to the room.

A roll call revealed that 12 of the 14 members of the Legislative Council were present.  The two missing members were Rep. Samuels, and Rep. Wilken (known to Mudflatters as Rep. “I don’t care what the rest of the country thinks. Move to Alaska and then you can lobby me.”)

Senator Lyda Green made the motion to release the public parts of the report to anyone who asked, and to not release the confidential portion of the report.  Rep. Stoltze objected for purpose of discussion.

Discussion followed:

Stevens:  The Legislative Council originally voted unanimously, and laid out the rules of the investigation.  It was designed to be non-political.  He’s sorry it was “taken into the political realm”.  Feels it would be a mistake to just read the findings and not the rest of the report.  Urges caution, and thinks the report should be read “with a jaundiced eye.”

Stoltze:  He had some differences with the report, but thought the process was thorough.  Felt the release of the report was a “no brainer.”  It utilized public funds, and is a public document.  He said he had received hundreds of emails from all over the country urging him to vote to release the report, and was hoping if the report was released he’d be able to get through his inbox again.

Wilson:  Felt the report was well done.  There is some speculation in it and she doesn’t agree with everything, but feels Branchflower did a good job.  The full report is more than 1000 pages.  The public will not have all the information.

Coghill:  He was pleased with the professionalism displayed by Branchflower.  He feels the politicizing has “settled down a bit” and didn’t feel it had an affect on Branchflower’s findings.

Guttenberg:  Thanked Hollis French, and Stephen Branchflower.  Says to remember that the report is about “a family”.  Feels that the legislature has done a good job and has served the public well.

Cowdery:  He “can’t fault the Palins for trying to defend their family,”  but will vote to release the report.

Elton:  Thanked everyone for staying up late, going through the 1300 pages of the report.  This was not an easy job.  Thanked French and his staff.  Thanked his own staff.  Thanked Judge Michalski and the Alaska Supreme Court.

By this time it had become pretty apparent that the vote would pass, and sure enough as the list was read, we realized the ruling was unanimous.  I have to say I wasn’t expecting that.

And now I’d like to thank all of you who spent time writing to the Legislative Council with your concerns about releasing the report, and passing the information to others.  I have no doubt that this was a contributing factor.  When Stoltze talked about all the emails he received, you could see the knowing looks on the faces of all those who were there.  They knew they had an important decision to make, and they knew that people across the world were watching.

After the vote, there was a mad scramble by the press to grab their homework for the weekend – a big fat 263 page green-covered, spiral-bound report entitled:  Report of the Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Termination of Former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Potential Abuses of Power and/or Improper Actions by Members of Governor Sarah Palin’s Administration.  Volume I – Public Report.

And you yourself may have your very own copy (minus the spiral binding and the green cover)

Just put on some comfy sweats, grab your favorite evening-time beverage, and click HERE

It isn’t often that good people resist political pressure and do the right thing.  I’ve seen things like this go the wrong way, time and time again.  Today renewed my faith in the political process.  I think I’m going to send out one more set of 12 emails saying, “Thank you.”





What is McCain Thinking? One Alaskan’s Perspective.

29 08 2008

Downtown Wasilla, Alaska

“Is this a joke?”  That seemed to be the question du jour when my phone started ringing off the hook at 6:45am here in Alaska.  I mean, we’re sort of excited that our humble state has gotten some kind of national ‘nod’….but seriously?  Sarah Palin for Vice President?  Yes, she’s a popular governor.  Her all time high approval rating hovered around 90% at one point.  But bear in mind that the 90% approval rating came from one of the most conservative, and reddest-of-the-red states out there.  And that approval rating came before a series of events that have lead many Alaskans to question the governor’s once pristine image.

There is no doubt in my mind that many Alaskans are feeling pretty excited about this.  But we live in our own little bubble up here, and most of the attention we get is because of The Bridge to Nowhere, polar bears, the indictment of Ted Stevens, and the ongoing investigation and conviction of the string of legislators and oil executives who literally called themselves “The Corrupt Bastards Club”.

So seeing our governor out there in the national spotlight accepting the nomination for Vice Presidential candidate is just downright surreal.  Just months ago, when rumors surfaced that she was on the long version of the short list, she was questioned if she’d be interested in the position.  She said she couldn’t answer,

“until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day. I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here….”

There is no doubt that Palin has fierce territorial loyalties.  When elected governor there was much concern because she came right out and said she would favor her own home town of Wasilla (where she was mayor) and its surrounding environs collectively known as “the Valley” while leading the state.  And it’s obvious from her statement that Alaska was on her mind when accepting the VP nod (see my emphasis above).

So what is it that we’re “trying to accomplish up here”?

  • Palin is currently in the middle of a controversial gas pipeline project in Alaska.  She’s favored the ‘Trans Canada’ proposal that will run the pipeline through Canada, in effect shipping US jobs over the border.  Many Alaskans, including former governors, have favored the “All Alaska Route”.
  • She is also suing the federal government over listing the polar bears as a threatened species.  The science was even compelling enough to convince the Secretary of the Interior that the bears needed to be listed.  But acknowledgement of this issue, and the potential disruption to development on Alaska’s oil-rich north slope spurred Palin to attempt to stop the listing.
  • Does she want to open ANWR?  Yes.  Every politician in Alaska wants to open ANWR.  It’s basically a requirement if you ever hope to get elected for anything.  Even Mark Begich, the progressive Democrat running against the indicted Senator and Alaskan institution Ted Stevens, is pro-drilling.  That’s the sea we swim in up here.  There are a few anti-drilling folks, but you have to look hard to find them, and work hard to have them admit it.

Will all this wash with voters in the ‘Lower 48’?  Time will tell.

18 Million Cracks in the Glass Ceiling

It was obvious anyway, but became beat-you-over-the-head-with-a-two-by-four obvious when Palin referenced the ‘glass ceiling’ line, that this choice is a blatant pander to women.  I would like to believe that women will actually feel insulted by this.  Yes, it would have been historic if Hillary had gotten the nomination.  It was historic that she made it as far as she did.  Yes, it would be great to have a woman in the oval office, or in the VP slot if they are the right woman…a woman who got there with her own drive, grit, determination, intelligence, skill and merits.  When you’re hand-picked by a man to win votes simply because you are a woman, that doesn’t count, and it doesn’t break any kind of ceiling.  Would we have had a Stan Palin as our VP pick?  No.  So choosing a woman because you think her gender will get votes is insulting.

Governor “Squeakyclean”….or not.

Another focus of Palin’s introduction today was her reform image.  Listen to John McCain and you’ll hear about a maverick reformer who took on big oil, took on corrupt Alaska politicians, and whose ethics are unquestioned.

Alaskans really want to like Sarah Palin.  In a state where corruption is the rule, and the same faces keep recycling over and over and over again like a bad dream, a new face, with a promise of reform seemed like a breath of fresh air.  Palin defeated incumbent governor Frank Murkowski (father of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski who he appointed to his own Senate seat when he was elected governor) because he was such an obnoxious, bloviating, downright BAD politician.  This staunchly republican state voted with relief, not having to cross over and vote Democratic, but still able to get Murkowski the hell out of office.  In the general election Palin swept into office running against a former Democratic governor, Tony Knowles, who was capable but came with baggage.  And he represented to Alaskans more of the same, tired old-style politics, and special interests that we have come to loathe.

So, if McCain had made his selection six months ago, the squeaky-clean governor meme would have made a little more sense.  But, Sarah Palin is currently under an ethics investigation by the Alaska state legislature.  The details of this investigation read like a trashy novel, and I suspect that the players will soon have new found celebrity on the national stage.  I’ll try to explain for all you non-Alaskans who suddenly have good reason to want to know more about Sarah Palin.  For those of you not interested in trashy novels, feel free to skip ahead.  Here it is…what we in Alaska call “TrooperGate”.

Sarah Palin’s sister Molly married a guy named Mike Wooten who is an Alaska State Trooper.  Mike and Molly had a rocky marriage.  When the marriage broke up, there was a bitter custody fight that is still ongoing.  During the custody investigation, all sorts of things were brought up about Wooten including the fact that he had illegally shot a moose (yes folks this is Alaska), driven drunk, and used a taser (on the test setting, he reminds us) on his 11-year old stepson, who supposedly had asked to see what it felt like.  While Wooten has turned out to be a less than stellar figure, the fact that Palin’s father accompanied him on the infamous moose hunt, and that many of the dozens of charges brought up by the Palin family happened long before they were ever reported smacked of desperate custody fight.  Wooten’s story is that he was basically stalked by the family.

After all this, Wooten was investigated and disciplined on two counts and allowed to kept his position with the troopers.  Enter Walt Monegan, Palin’s appointed new chief of the Department of Public Safety and head of the troopers.  Monegan was beloved by the troopers, did a bang-up job with minimal funding and suddenly got axed.  Palin was out of town and Monegan got “offered another job” (aka fired) with no explanation to Alaskans.  Pressure was put on the governor to give details, because rumors started to swirl around the fact that the highly respected Monegan was fired because he refused to fire the aforementioned Mike Wooten.  Palin vehemently denied ever talking to Monegan or pressuring Monegan in any way to fire Wooten, or that anyone on her staff did.  Over the weeks it has come out that not only was pressure applied, there were literally dozens of conversations in which pressure was applied to fire him.  Monegan has testified to this fact, spurring an ongoing investigation by the Alaska State Legislature.  But, before this investigation got underway, Palin sent the Alaska State Attorney General out to do some investigative work of his own, so she could find out in advance what the real investigation was going to find.  (No, I’m not making this up).  The AG interviewed several people, unbeknownst to the actual appointed investigator or the Legislature! Palin’s investigation of herself uncovered a recorded phone call retained by the Alaska State Troopers from Frank Bailey, a Palin underling, putting pressure on a trooper about the Wooten non-firing.  Todd Palin (governor’s husband) even talked to Monegan himself in Palin’s office while she was away.  Bailey is now on paid administrative leave.

As if this weren’t enough, Monegan’s appointed replacement Chuck Kopp, turns out to have been the center of his own little scandal.  He received a letter of reprimand and was reassigned after sexual harassment allegations by a former coworker who didn’t like all the unwanted kissing and hugging in the office.  Was he vetted?  Obviously not.  When he was questioned about all this, his comment was that no one had asked him and he thought they all knew.  Kopp, defiant, still claimed to have done nothing wrong and said to the press that there was no way he was stepping down from his new position.  Twenty four hours later, he stepped down.  Later it was uncovered that he received a $10,000 severance package for his two weeks on the job from Palin.  Monegan got nothing.

After extensive news coverage about all this nasty behind-the-scenes scandal, which is definitely NOT squeaky clean, Palin’s approval ratings fell to 67%, still high, but a far cry from the 90% number that’s being thrown around so glibly by the Republicans today.  Alaskans are quickly becoming disillusioned once again.

“Executive Experience”

Before her meteoric rise to political success as governor, just two short years ago Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla.  I had a good chuckle at MSN.com’s claim that she had been the mayor of “Wasilla City”.  It is not a city.  Just Wasilla.  Wasilla is the heart of the Alaska “Bible belt” and Sarah was raised amongst the tribe that believes creationism should be taught in our public schools, homosexuality is a sin, and life begins at conception.  She’s a gun-toting, hang ’em high conservative.  Remember…this is where her approval ratings come from.  There is no doubt that McCain again is making a strategic choice to appeal to a particular demographic – fundamentalist right-wing gun-owning Christians.  And Republican bloggers are already gushing about how she has ‘more executive experience’ than Obama does!  Above is a picture of lovely downtown Wasilla, for those of you unfamiliar with the area.  Behind the Mug-Shot Saloon (the first bar I visited when I moved to Alaska long ago) is a little strip mall.  There are street signs in Wasilla with bullet holes in them.  Wasilla has a population of about 5500 people, and 1979 occupied housing units.  This is where your potential Vice President was two short years ago.  Can you imagine her negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty?  Discussing foreign policy?  Understanding non-Alaskan issues?  Frankly, I don’t even know if she’s ever been out of the country.  She may ‘get’ Alaska, but there are only a half a million people here.  Don’t get me wrong….I love Alaska with all my heart.  I’m just saying.

I, and all Alaskans will be interested to see how this whole process unfolds.  This is definitely a gamble for McCain, and in my humble opinion, a gift to Obama and to Joe Biden who just got thrown a big hunk of red meat for the vice presidential debate.

This is the wedge-issue, desperate ‘Hail Sarah’ pass of the McCain campaign.

Now I’m off to get some Jiffy Pop.





Palin’s Self-Investigation Bears Fruit!

13 08 2008

The governor lost no time today.  Mere hours after announcing that she had launched her own preemptive investigation of her own firing of Department of Public Safety Chief Walt Monegan, she also announced that she has discovered something!  Eureka!

It seems that despite the fact that Palin repeatedly claimed no one on her staff ever ever pressured anyone to fire her ex-brother-in-law Trooper Mike Wooten…er….they did.  Dozens of times.  As a matter of fact, (oh gosh this is SO embarrassing) one of the phone calls was tape recorded by the the DPS!  BUT, the governor tells us with a straight face, that she knew absolutely nothing at all about it.  Nothing.  Really.  Although she did know something about some of the other ones, which she forgot she did before, but now she remembers.  But not THIS one that was recorded.

The phone call “Pressurizer”, long term Palin staffer Frank Bailey, has even come out with a statement that says he acted alone.   He decided to pressurize all by himself.  He’s a lone wolf.  No direction from the governor.  None. Completely spontaneous.  AND, he “can’t stress it enough.”  Wow.  So he reeeeally must be telling the truth.

I don’t know whether Palin really thinks we are all that stupid, or whether her options are just running out.  I suppose the administration is thinking that it looks better to turn over the damning evidence themselves.  That sort of looks honest, right?   

ADN’s Kyle Hopkins’ notes from today’s press conference: (emphasis is mine)

— Palin and Attorney General Talis Colberg say there were at least two dozen phone calls from members of Palin’s staff asking about Wooten.

Colberg said he had a conversation with Monegan about Wooten.

— One of the calls came from Palin’s husband, Todd Palin.

Many came from Palin’s former Chief of Staff, Mike Tibbles.

— Palin says she didn’t know about Bailey’s phone calls, but did know about at least some of the other calls.

— Just after the press conference, Palin’s team was to meet with the independent investigator hired by the Legislature to look into Monegan’s firing.

— Palin said Monegan’s firing wasn’t about Wooten, who kept his job even as members of the governor’s staff kept asking about him. She says Monegan wasn’t “a team player” when it came to the budget, asked for more money while failing to fill vacant job positions, and wasn’t doing a good enough job combating alcohol issues such as rural bootlegging.

— Monegan turned down the governor’s offer to head up the Alcoholic Beverages Control Board.

— Monegan’s replacement, Chuck Kopp, was paid a “severance package” of $10,000, after quickly resigning.

— Palin said no decision has been made yet about what happens to Bailey.


So, we’ve gone from firm statements that nobody from the administration ever talked to Monegan about Wooten, to dozens of calls?  It’s amazing how recording devices and investigations can trigger the memory.

And she fired Walt Monegan in part because of his inadequacy in combatting alcohol issues, and then in the same breath offered him the head position of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Board?

And the other reason is because he wasn’t filling empty trooper positions, and also because he had the nerve to ask for money to do it?

Have we entered the Bush/Cheney Whitehouse at some point?  Black is white, and white is black.   2+2=5.  And it’s all lies, I tell you, LIES!