Palin in Wasilla

(Great compilation of a few reasons why Sarah Palin was a gift to Democrats. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

With all this Palin family drama, on top of the charges of sexism being thrown about all over the place…I thought I would offer an analysis of Palin that is completely free of those issues. Just a straight look at her career, facts and the numbers—starting with a look at her time in Wasilla.

Palin in Wasilla: City council 1992-1996; Mayor 1996-2002

About Wasilla:

pop 1990: 4,028

pop. 2000: 5,469

pop. 2007 (est): 9,780 (+66% since 2000)

83.9% White

FY 2007 budget: $9.9m 

Mayor's salary: $68,000

Wasilla average household income (2007 est): $47,900

(Sources: City Data, US Census Bureau, City of Wasilla)

Notable Events during Palin administration:

1996: Palin defeats incumbent mayor John Stein. Palin focuses the campaign on her ideology, her church service, and membership in the NRA. Anti-abortion flyers are circulated. The state Republican Party runs advertisements in the race, which has traditionally been non-partisan. Palin heavily emphasizes that she is a born-again Christian and that, with her, Wasilla will have “its first Christian mayor”.

Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ ” said Mr. Stein, who lost the election. “But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I’m not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: ‘We will have our first Christian mayor.’ ” “I thought: ‘Holy cow, what’s happening here? Does that mean she thinks I’m Jewish or Islamic?’ ” recalled Mr. Stein, who was raised Lutheran, and later went to work as the administrator for the city of Sitka in southeast Alaska. “The point was that she was a born-again Christian.”(New York Times article, linked below)

1996: Shortly after becoming Mayor, Palin approaches Wasilla city librarian Mary Ellen Emmons about banning some books at the local library. Palin never specifically mentions which book are to be banned. Emmons flatly refuses, and is fired. 

1997: Palin fires police chief Earl Stambaugh. No reason is given. Stambaugh and Emmons are both prominent local Democrats. Stambaugh had headed the police department since its creation in 1993. He is also a 22 year veteran of the Anchorage Police Department.

1997: Over 100 citizens attend a meeting to propose forcing a recall of Mayor Palin. In response, Palin re-instates Emmons (after Emmons agrees to Palin's plan to merge the local museum and library, with budget cuts for both). Stambaugh is not reinstated. The issue of library censorship is not pursued. Palin tells a local paper that the conversations about banning books she has had with local leaders were “rhetorical”.

Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. (New York Times article linked below)

1997-1999: The city's public works director, city planner and museum director are all fired, among others. Palin issues an edict: no city employee is to speak to the media without her permission.

“It was just things you don’t ever associate with a small town,” Victoria Naegele, then the managing editor of The Frontiersman, recalled of Ms. Palin’s first year in office. “It was like we were warped into real politics instead of just ‘Do you like Joe or Mary for the job?’ It was a strange time.” (New York Times article linked below)

1999: Palin wins re-election against Stein.

2000: Palin hires lobbyist Steven W. Silver (former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Stevens) of lobbying firm Robertson, Monagle and Eastaugh to secure federal earmarks for Wasilla. Silver is payed $24,000. In FY 2000, a $1m earmark for bus and rail service for Wasilla comes through as part of a transportation bill.

2001: Silver's fee increases to $36,000.

2002: Wasilla recieves $6.1m in federal earmarks, almost $1,000 for every resident.

2002: Palin, barred from seeking a third term by term limits, endorses her cousin, Dianne Keller for the mayorship. Keller defeats Palin's stepmother-in-law, Faye Palin in the election. Keller wins re-election in 2005.

2008 (post Palin): In a vote of 4-2, the Wasilla city council asks Keller to resign. Keller refuses, and narrowly survives a vote of no confidence. At issue is whether Keller illegally favored one company over others in contracting city work. Councilors also accuse Keller and her staff of coercion, a misdemeanor crime.

(Sources: Washington PostAnchorage Daily News (x2), New York Times)

  • Windsor Heights v. Wasilla

    Windsor Heights is about the same size as Wasilla, but Mayor Jerry Sullivan never got me no $1,000 in earmarks! I feel cheated.

    Seriously, it’s embarrassing that John McCain, who had more than six months to think about a running mate, so hastily chose Palin with no vetting. She didn’t even tell him the truth about her stand on the Bridge to Nowhere.

    This summary of Palin’s work as mayor doesn’t even take into account her questionable political judgments during that period, such as her support for Pat Buchanan and for the Alaska Independence Party.

    • Front page? Sweet!

      Exactly. Windsor Heights, Waukee and North Liberty are all comparable cities to Wasilla. And to be fair, she did preside over a time of huge growth for the city—built on earmarks and sprawl.

      I didn’t touch the AIP or Pat Buchanan stuff…although I might hit it in another diary. What amazes me is how she wants to be “the outsider”…but she wasn’t even an outsider when she was mayor!

      P.S. I split the article so it wouldn’t hog the page. Hope that works a little better.

  • according to Jonathan Singer at MyDD

    One of her issues with the police chief was that he moved last call at bars from 5 am to 2 am. She must have learned at her church that good Christians should stay out drinking until 5.…

  • Speech

    Anyone know what time her speech is tonight? I’m looking forward to seeing it. Agree with her or not, I bet it is the most interesting speech of the week. Certainly the one that will get the most attention. I’ll be interested to see if she will try to focus on abortion, etc. and energize the religious right or go toward the center to get a few swing votes.

  • Excellent collection of information here

    Thanks, 007.

    I think that American voters, right or wrong, will make judgements in their hearts/minds about the personal lives and qualities of politicians.  Digging into that is not the job of the media or opposition, but this certainly is.  Her record, her experiences, and the decisions she’s made as a public servant should tell us about how she would perform at a national level.  Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence thus far, does she?

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