Palin: Worse than We Thought
Perhaps restoring my faith in the mainstream media, The NY Times has a front-page story today on the style of politics Sarah Palin has practiced both as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska. It ain't pretty. It's actually worse than we thought. She fires professional people for personal reasons and hires unqualified friends in their place. Her cronyism makes George W. Bush look like a stern judge of character. Examples:
- When there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency. Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
Ms. Palin chose Talis Colberg, a borough assemblyman from the Matanuska valley, as her attorney general, provoking a bewildered question from the legal community: “Who?” Mr. Colberg, who did not return calls, moved from a one-room building in the valley to one of the most powerful offices in the state, supervising some 500 people. “I called him and asked, ‘Do you know how to supervise people?’ ” said a family friend, Kathy Wells. “He said, ‘No, but I think I’ll get some help.’ " The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government.
Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend. “I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.
The mayor quickly fired the town’s museum director, John Cooper. Later, she sent an aide to the museum to talk to the three remaining employees. “He told us they only wanted two,” recalled Esther West, one of the three, “and we had to pick who was going to be laid off.” The three quit as one.
In 1997, Ms. Palin fired the longtime city attorney, Richard Deuser, after he issued the stop-work order on a home being built by Don Showers, another of her campaign supporters.
And this doesn't even get into the firing of Wasilla's Police Chief, Irl Stambaugh, because he intimidated her, nor the 'Troopergate' scandal currently being investigated in Alaska, in which Palin and her husband allegedly pressured state officials into firing a state trooper who was divorcing her sister.
Some woman of the people.
More bad news. She "puts a premium on secrecy and loyalty" and "is overly reliant on a small inner circle that leaves her isolated" and unavailable. Again, she's out-Bushing Bush here:
- Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process. When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.
And this is the woman John McCain thinks is good enough to be a heartbeat away from the most important job in the world?? At a time when we need the smartest, most open and most diplomatic person possible to steer us through the various crises, both domestic and international, the Bush administration is leaving us??? You talk about bad judgment.
Let's hope the American electorate's judgment is better.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard