Friday, September 5, 2008

The View From Wasilla - God Help Us if Sarah Palin is Elected

The Huffington Post, 9-5-08

I got a fascinating e-mail from a Wasilla, Alaska resident who was witness to Sarah Palin's tenure as mayor. Except for a New York Times article this week that explored how Palin ran as an anti-abortion candidate of the Christian right, I haven't yet seen much detailed reporting of exactly what she did as a local government official in Wasilla. How did Palin handle the "actual responsibilities" of a small-town mayor that she bragged about to the nation on Wednesday night, when she was officially nominated as John McCain's VP?



For starters, Palin "turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots" while lowering taxes for businesses and increasing the sales tax burden on residents. Far from being a fiscal conservative, she "oversaw the greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history." Palin borrowed taxpayers' money to fund an unprofitable sports complex "in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system," and "built streets to early 20th century standards."

This account lays it all out, from an observer who says she "attended more City Council meetings during (Palin's) administration than about 99% of the residents of the city." She was one of roughly 100 Wasilla citizens who stood up for the city librarian when Palin tried to fire her in 1996, early in her first term as mayor.

But what really struck me was the picture this author paints of Palin's ruthless, unbridled ambition, and willingness to try and fire or destroy anyone who stands in her way. Even though national reporters are hunkering down in Alaska, the details of Palin's life and political career emerging from her hometown will probably be distorted and whitewashed. Her own neighbors are afraid to speak out about what they've witnessed during her quick rise to power, scared to cross her, fearful of retribution.

If this side of Sarah Palin was more widely known, it would frighten and disgust most of the U.S. voting public. Haven't we had enough of incompetent, crony-driven leadership from George W. Bush over the past eight years? Do we really want someone in national office who believes rabidly partisan, personal political loyalty tests should continue to be the sole qualification for government employment? Someone who keeps enemies lists, and surrounds herself with appointees who are "loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda"?

Here's more excerpts from the e-mail...

(UPDATE 9/8: This e-mail is no hoax. Its author is Anne Kilkenny, a homemaker and education advocate from Wasilla, Alaska. She wrote it on August 31 and sent it out to friends and family, but asked that it not be posted online with her name attached. It went viral anyway. Later in the week, with her permission, it was published online by various media outlets including the Anchorage Daily News, Crosscut Seattle, and The Nation. Yesterday Anne herself posted the full text of her e-mail on HuffPo.)



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