Thursday, September 4, 2008

Everyone Knows Sarah

A note to all by Anne Kilkenny


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 was some sense of hesitation to inform the state she was even pregnant most of her first year as governor, however; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and ambitous. I've asked often who's taking care of the children? She regualy worksout at the local 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.

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. Than increased the profit tax rate to 87%. 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 a liberal Republican: no political maverick, no small government gal. The State party leaders dislike her petty and vindictive style. They don't trust her judgement because she has bit them in the back. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal and social 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). Governors traditionally are obligated to have declined campaigning for citizen initiaitive.

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.

•“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. Not un usual as an Alaskan.
•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. On the state level increase profit taxes on private industry 400%.
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history. On the state level she has added 1100 new government employees since 2007.


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.

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
August 31, 2008

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At September 4, 2008 at 8:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog
Like you I'm an Alaskan......

Yes, it's a small state, and that's why there are a lot of people who know a lot of things about Sarah Palin that have been very afraid to question her. First, the Daily News has an editor who is out of touch with Alaska and trying to impose McClatchy's California values on our state - and they love Palin's anti-oil stance because they are against any development. The Daily News has only done a few negative articles since the VP announcement because they are afraid the national media might scoop them. KTUU, for whatever reason, also failed to do any serious coverage of the Palin administration until scooped by Andrew Halcro on the Troopergate issue. Even the Juneau Empire, which can't possibly stand by a governor who doesn't even live in the capital city and has allowed most of her commissioners to telecommute, has treated this administration with kid gloves. Now that there is a real possibility that this woman will become the President of the United States, people who can vouch for Palin's lack of qualifications need to talk to the national media, call the McCain campaign, contact Andrew or Dan Fagan with information that can be verified. Here are some questions I'd like answered: How many cabinet meetings has Palin held since taking office? How many meetings with each commissioner (and that doesn't count "walk and talks" during Palin's many public appearances)? How much actual time does Palin spend on the job (and that doesn't count checking the blogs on the Blackberry)? What is in those redacted emails? And I'd like the national media to look at our bloated state budget - certainly people in states where taxes are high and government is facing deficits and budget cuts might want to know how easy it is to manage a budget when you have multi-billion dollar surpluses. Next, review the record of Palin's experience working with the legislative branch on the capital budget - the lack of direction, the surprise (and contradictory) budget cuts, the "school principal" meetings. How about her threats to campaign for democrats in the state legislature who supported her wacky tax and spend philosophy? All those questions are about things that have been at least partway in the public record - but I'm sure there are more serious issues with this administration that, until now, people have been reluctant to bring forward for fear of political retribution. There are about 60 days left. Now is the time to speak.

At September 5, 2008 at 2:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

siren is a haclronista. she is still upset about her arguement with Sarah and her sister Molly AND she is upset about her friend halcro being demolished in the wasn't even close.

If I recall, Alaskans still love Palin. Her ratings are the highest for any govenor AND above 70%. I guess you can't make everyone happy.

At September 7, 2008 at 3:22 PM , Blogger Syrin said...

Sarah Palin: The Real Dope (pun intended)
Now that McCain has selected Palin as his running mate it’s important to get out the real dope on her before she becomes one heart beat away from the Oval Office.

First of all take a look at her impressive resume from when she was a candidate for Governor of Alaska.*(see note) What should come to your attention is that she has never held a real job (outside of government). She has always been taken care of by her parents or her husband. She did some volunteer work and was elected mayor of a second class Alaska city. Not much more than a bedroom community of Anchorage. Even in that little fiefdom of hers, there were grumbling about her abuse of the office and misusing public resources for her personal gain.

So why would Alaskans elect such an obviously inexperienced, uneducated and ill-prepared candidate to be Governor you ask? It was a perfect storm of sorts that swept her into office, she didn’t even get the support of the majority of Alaskans.

In 2006 the corruption scandal was just getting public. It seemed like everyone (particularly Republicans) were either under investigation or under suspicion. The incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski had the lowest approval rating of any politician in the state. It would have been a major upset if he won the Republican primary. The ongoing battle with Exxon over the financial settlement for the devastating oil spill in 1989 along with a lack of progress of development of Alaska’s Natural Gas resources left Alaska looking for a fresh face untainted by the Oil Companies. The previous administration had negotiated a deal with the natural gas lease holders “behind closed doors”. A deal that many felt gave too much to the lease holders without requiring commitments from them to build the gas line. Those suspicions were confirmed with the conviction of Murkowski Chief of Staff Jim Clark. So Palin ran on the platform of “open and transparent” government and ethics. Even though throughout the campaign Palin showed a total lack of understanding of the issues, the media basically gave her a free ride. The more other candidates challenged her, the more sympathy she received from the voters. Anyone that was against Palin was characterized as being either in the pocket of “Big Oil” or accused of being a misogynist. Her “shucks, golly gee whiz” persona led to the highest approval rating of any Governor in the country. Alaskans were enamored with the small town girl who made the big time.

However there are cracks in the facade Palin presented to Alaskan voters . She is currently under investigation by the legislature for abuse of power involving the firing of her appointed Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. She’s backing away from her pledge of open and transparent government by saying that the public isn’t entitled to see emails concerning public business. She’s facing an ethics complaint from a former State employee. She has shown poor judgment by selecting a new Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety that had been reprimanded for sexual harassment in his previous position. He was forced to resign after two weeks in the position, but received $10,000.00 in severance pay. She is also well known for her favoritism and cronyism. During her campaign for Governor, Palin said to Alaskans “hold me accountable“, and yet no matter what happens in her administration she is never responsible, it’s always someone or something to blame, but never her.

Let me also dispel the myth that Palin is a fiscal conservative. Under her administration the operating budget has grown 23%. She gained some national press by cutting capital projects that would have put Alaskans to work on much needed community improvement. Looking at the cuts however shows she favored her home district or used the budget to punish or reward certain districts or legislators. While she is cutting community projects, she’s giving 500 million dollars to a Canadian firm to start a gas line to Canada but with no requirement to actually build the gas line. A gas line that will benefit and produce more jobs and industry to Canada than to Alaskans and the remainder of the US. Then to buy off Alaskans she appropriates an additional $1200 dollars to every Alaskan man, woman and child in addition the annual Permanent Fund Dividend.

She is however, a social conservative, which is most likely why McCain chose her. She will appeal to the radical far right Christian fundamentalists that believe the government should have the ability to coerce individuals to treat their bodies according to their closed minded dogma.

The national media should do a much better job of exposing Palin as nothing more than a small town hockey Mom that is in way over her head. The American people should do a better job getting past the phony “golly gee” facade Palin presents. She’s an empty vessel that will shatter when pressed for the hard answers if the media and voters do their jobs.

*Note: The Palin for Governor site that was hosted at was taken down as I was writing this post. This is typical of Palin, the Murkowski documents regarding his gas line proposal was taken down when people started comparing her AGIA with the Murkowski proposal. This is more of what is apparently meant by her empty promise of “open and transparent” Government.


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