Alaskans Assess Palin's Leadership and Follow-Through

The LA Times reports on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's leadership style and follow-through, based on interviews of individuals involved in Alaskan politics and Government. While she's praised for some things, she's raked up criticism in many areas. Key points those interviewed made:

She often failed to follow through on her initiatives, including ethics reform.

Yet a strange thing happened on the ethics issue once Palin became governor: She appeared to lose interest in completing the task of legislating comprehensive reform, some who supported the cleanup say.

The ethics bill she offered was so incomplete that its supporters had to undertake a significant rewrite. Moreover, when it came to building support for the bill, politicians in both parties say the new governor was often unaccountably absent from the fray.

A similar criticism was levied against her on the oil rebate checks: [More...]

Some lawmakers were so perplexed by her absence from a recent debate over sending oil rebate checks to Alaskans, for example, that they sported buttons at the state Capitol reading "Where's Sarah?"

Another legislator, Rep. Les Gara, told the Times:

"When it comes to the real work of crafting policy, she's often not there," Gara said. He acknowledged her broad accomplishments, but added: "I don't know if she's disinterested in details or not comfortable with them, but the bottom line is: She is not truly a hands-on governor."

A Republican state legislator added:

Republican state Sen. Fred Dyson, a friend and fellow reformer who praises Palin for taking up the issue, acknowledged that she was not fully engaged in the details of the ethics bill and that some legislators had been rankled by her lack of engagement in other issues as well.

Another criticism include a lack of transparency in her administration:

Her administration has not been marked by the transparency she promised: She invoked executive privilege in refusing to disclose information about one ethics case, and last week she moved to hobble a legislative inquiry into her role in the firing of a state public safety official.

See Mother Jones for more on the hidden e-mails.

The LA Times also reports on Palin's lack of tolerance for dissent:

Several legislators also say the governor's office is not a place for open debate: Palin does not tolerate much dissent, they say, sometimes cutting off relations with those deemed unhelpful or critical.

There's been a lot of reporting on her numerous firings of employees. While they have not been found to be improper, the true motivation behind them has been called into question.

Her priorities and budget decisions have also been the target of criticism:

Other legislators say that the governor has been so focused on her own priorities that she has been unwilling to consider other significant matters -- including the state's poor ranking in providing health insurance to children. Alaska ranks near the bottom of the states in making children from lower-middle-income families eligible for a government insurance program.

She used the line-item veto this year to cut funding for $268 million in capital projects from spending bills, including money for a senior citizens center and batting cages for the Ketchikan Little League. At the same time, the Anchorage Daily News reported, she preserved $2 million for an academic conference highlighting arguments that global warming isn't threatening the survival of polar bears.

By way of explanation, Larry Persily, a former associate director of the governor's Washington office, says:

some of the governor's problems resulted from the fact that she "underestimated exponentially how much more complex state government is than the city of Wasilla."

Palin is smart but was "never deeply engaged," he said. While she had good instincts with the public, her approach to legislators and fellow elected officials was often counterproductive, he said.

Persily also criticized her communications with others.

For example, he said, when she made a four-day visit to Washington in February, she did not meet with any members of the congressional delegation.

Similarly, when she reversed her campaign decision and finally killed the "bridge to nowhere," the much-ridiculed project to connect Ketchikan with the island airport that serves it, neither the mayor of the town nor the congressional delegation was notified in advance.

The President of the Alaskan Senate had a big fallout with Palin:

Republican Lyda Green, president of the Alaska Senate, who has clashed frequently with the governor, said: "It has been very difficult for her to accept 'no,' and after a 'no' was spoken, going forward after that amicably was very difficult. After that, you didn't get in. No conversations. She would very much slam you in her next press conference."

Green, who represents the Wasilla area, is retiring from the Legislature at the end of this year, citing the conflict she has had with Palin as one reason she's stepping down.

Another legislator says Palin is learning from her mistakes:

State Rep. Andrea Doll of Juneau, a Democrat, says she thinks the governor is learning from her mistakes. "One thing she learned is that you are not a lone ranger -- you can't go marching off, ignoring the people at the legislative front lines," she said. "To get something done, you need more than just the public applauding wildly."

Is it too much to ask that she complete her learning curve before being nominated for the second highest office in the land? John McCain apparently thinks so.

The Times also interviewed Bill McAllister, Palin's press secretary, for the article. He says:

"She has always been sufficiently informed and engaged. . . . In just two years in office, she accomplished more than most governors in their entire careers."

He should have declined comment rather than give that insulting response.

John McCain promised he'd nominate the most experienced person for the job. He didn't. He touted her exceptional executive experience. The only thing he seems not to have mischaracterized is her high approval rating in her home state. And that appears to be the result of one thing she is good at: enhancing her own image.

In interviews, more than a dozen Alaska politicians described Palin as a master at burnishing her image and building a popular base.

Unfortunately for us, that often wins elections.

< McCain/Palin= Bush's Third Term | After Palin: How Obama Can Change The Game - It Starts With A C(linton) >
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  • Display: Sort:
    So, I guess a pol really is a pol. (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by oculus on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 01:21:19 AM EST
    BTW:  I'm really tired of hearing what Ms. Green has to say about Ms. Palin.  

    Yes. (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 01:51:56 AM EST
    Why is an arch-conservative legislator who has constantly tangled with Palin, and who is more conservative than Palin, continually used as a reliable source on Palin's abilities and demeanor? I guess a arch-conservative's opinion is valid as long as she's bashing Palin. On the other hand, if she was saying something nice about Palin, her opinion would  be used to bash Palin, because after all, if an arch conservative says something nice about Palin, that must reflect poorly on Palin. Catch 22.  Not so nice.

    you could read about (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 03:02:45 AM EST
    the other 11 Alaskan legislators interviewed for the article.

    Legislation (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by bickerstaff on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 01:57:28 AM EST
    is not the governor's job.  Why are the legislators complaining about Palin not doing their job?  What is stopping them from passing laws on their own for the governor to veto or not?

    As for the legislative inquiry into the trooper issue, just last week the head of the inquiry said that they didn't even need subpoenas because Palin was cooperating.  Now they're complaining that she's "hobbling" their investigation?

    Me smell a rat.

    What do Alaska's voters think? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by myiq2xu on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 02:44:22 AM EST
    Last I heard, most of them approved of their governor.

    About 2/3 of them, IIRC, which says a lot more than what a handful of her opponents think of her.

    The Permanent Fund (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by hlr on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 04:05:14 AM EST
    has existed since 1976. In 2000, the disbursement was $1963.86, so if you're implying that she's buying votes, I'd say she needs to up the ante.

    Yup (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by JAB on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:28:11 AM EST
    It was added as an amendment to the state Constitution in 1976,and is under the purview of the legislature.  This year Alaskans are getting a one-time extra rebate of $1200 to cover the rising costs of fuel costs (since gas in some places is $9 / gallon).



    Well (none / 0) (#42)
    by JAB on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 04:08:25 PM EST
    To put it in perspective, I posted an article here a few days ago (can't find it now), but one man in the way northern section, in talking about the rebates was saying that he had seen a whole chicken for $23.

    Faulty argument.. (none / 0) (#27)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:48:18 AM EST
    The "extraordinarily unpopular Frank Murkowski" gave the same kind of rebates(as did previous governors) and it didn't help his popularity.

    And are we going to argue that 1.5 years in a statewide office is not enough to judge someone by? You know where that leads.


    For the sake of accuracy and accountability... (5.00 / 0) (#11)
    by BrandingIron on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:51:10 AM EST

    ...I think transparency is an important thing to consider when analyzing a person's performance.

    Thus, if one wants to judge Palin's leadership and follow through as Mayor of Wasilla (and as well debunk rumors/innuendo about how much her state either saved or wasted), one must also take into consideration the documents released by the City of Wasilla.  Those documents are here.  Also included in those documents is an official word on that "banning books" rumor from the city library.

    Very Informative Comment on Governors (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by liberalone on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:29:08 AM EST
    Donald, you are spot on in your comments regarding the role of governors and their work with legislators.  I think you might been a bit harsh.

    Palin  sounds like Bush-- lack of transparency, vindictiveness with respect to detractors, limiting access.  The Bush administration has done far too much to create a royal executive branch.  We cannot continue down that road.

    Got a link to the "official minutes?" (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 12:13:19 PM EST
    Office of the Mayor
    290 East Herning Avenue * Wasilla * Alaska * 99654 ·7091
    * Telephone 907·373·9055 * Fax 907·373·9096 *
    We at the City of Wasilla have received many emails and requests for information about "banned or censured" books at the Wasilla Library while former Mayor Palin was in office. We have no records of any books being "banned or censured" ever.

    ...and it's your fist post on TL, ever. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 12:18:46 PM EST
    Your stay here will be brief, I suspect.

    well, to be fair, (3.00 / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 06:30:40 AM EST
    gov. palin has a degree in communications/journalism, not poly sci or law, so expecting her to sink her teeth into actual details is asking perhaps a bit much. as well, it explains why she spends so much time burnishing her image, i believe that's what she was trained to do.

    to some extent, these sound like the mistakes of a rookie politician, which is what she is. acceptable perhaps, at the statehouse level, not at the oval office level.

    Not really (2.00 / 0) (#13)
    by befuddledvoter on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:17:30 AM EST
    I find #6 informative, responsive, and right on target.  Where are the insults??  

    How about this line at the end?: (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Angel on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:32:44 AM EST
    "This current crop of dysfunctional civic illiterates couldn't find their own rear ends in broad daylight with both hands, a mirror, and illustrated directions."

    gee angel, (none / 0) (#20)
    by cpinva on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:00:43 AM EST
    "This current crop of dysfunctional civic illiterates couldn't find their own rear ends in broad daylight with both hands, a mirror, and illustrated directions."

    you say that like it's a bad thing! lol

    sorry, but if it hits a little to close to home for you, that sounds like a personal problem to me.

    i'd say he's right on target, the site needs a better class of trolls.


    One of the (none / 0) (#25)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:42:28 AM EST
    hallmarks of this blog was its moderation and its policy of no name calling. If it gives up that, for the sake of pleasing those who agree with, or enjoy, the name calling, its well on its way to Kos-dom.

    The point could have easily been made without the name-calling, and led to more civil discussion. If you can't make a point without name-calling, try again. I don't think this site was set up just to let people vent their spleen at other posters. Maybe things have changed. I hope not.


    DItto (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by liberalone on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 08:35:39 AM EST
    As I posted upthread, I think that his response was spot on.  I also noted that the tone was a bit harsh, but I think the information and personal insight that he brings to the discussion is very helpful.  

    I hope the comment is not deleted.


    If you believe this you are delusional (none / 0) (#19)
    by Cards In 4 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 10:34:01 AM EST
    It started at librarian.net and even they have shot it down.

    Note some of those HP books weren't even written when she was mayor.

    could you be a little more specific? (none / 0) (#21)
    by cpinva on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:05:17 AM EST
    as i scanned that list, i noted that most of those books have been around for at least 10 years, long before gov. palin was a mayor.

    the majority of them have been around for far, far longer.


    Somehow I doubt Webster's dictionary (none / 0) (#22)
    by Cards In 4 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:11:50 AM EST
    was ever a problem for a mayor in AK.

    Well, (none / 0) (#39)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 01:09:31 PM EST
    Palin was elected in 1996, and that was the time of the alleged failed effort at book banning and librarian hoopla.

    pirate1 alleges that the list of books Palin wanted banned includes four Harry Potter books.

    However, according to wiki, none of the Harry Potter books had even been published at that time.

    The first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,[15] was published by Bloomsbury, the publisher of all Harry Potter books in the United Kingdom, on June 30, 1997.
    Sounds like our new friend pirate1 is FOS.

    list deleted (none / 0) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 05:49:30 PM EST
    no verification of its accuracy

    This campaign changes things. If you say (none / 0) (#23)
    by Christy1947 on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:22:28 AM EST
    it came from the official minutes, please either type out or link a copy of the minutes or tell us where we can find them. I downloaded from another link in todays posts the City of Wasilla note on Responses to Requests to remove books, which does not list this. While some of us are horrible at the technology of getting links into a text (me for example), you can type out the link so somebody else can find it, like this "See www.doodahdoodah.com. under article titled XYZ". If you haven't got a scanner and haven't got a link, identify the document, City of Wasilla, Library Board, minutes dated xyz, page q. and quote from the text.

    I note in passing how different it is this year from prior years, where people like us are digging and digging and posting documents and articles, because good old MSM is not. And stuff is getting found. So, if you have it, find a way to post those minutes. If not, shhhhhhh.  

    Hmm. (none / 0) (#24)
    by bickerstaff on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:25:22 AM EST
    Well I'm sorry that we're not all geniuses like you are, Donald.  I wasn't defending Palin, I was asking a question.  My understanding of how the government works, never having worked for government before (except teach physics and engineering at a state university), is the idea of separation of powers.  I thought that's why we have we have the legislature and the executive branches (and judicial) working more or less independently, but not in a vacuum.  

    Your name-calling is totally uncalled for.  I registered at talkleft.com because I found the discussions compelling and informative.  Your abusive, although otherwise informative, diatribe and the defenses on your behalf just turned me off of this website.  Granted I lean right, but I'm not close-minded and would have welcomed a healthy exchange of ideas.

    Honestly, I think you have to stop being so defensive and maybe grow up a little.  Good luck with that.

    If you want to make points, (none / 0) (#29)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 11:57:08 AM EST
    then do that without name calling. Its unnecessary and a violation of the site rules. It also cuts off dialog unnecessarily. You don't convince people of anything but your own nastimess by calling them stupid.

    That last comment by Donald was deleted (none / 0) (#43)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 05:45:14 PM EST
    and he is warned not to call other commenters ignorant or any other name. Everyone is entitled to their views and to express them consistent with the comments policy free of ridicule.and personal attacks.

    Jeralyn also has a (none / 0) (#33)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 12:28:27 PM EST
    strong stand against name calling. I don't see where name calling bickerstaff did anything other than raise hackles unnecessarily. You can make your point without name calling. If you simply erased the name calling, your post would have had much more force behind it. If you help contribute to the toxic atmosphere there is no guarantee that you can turn it off "when the Democrats re-take control". The toxic atmosphere is not necessary. Make your points without them. If you are angry and can't do it, take a count of ten and then try again. Don't stop commenting, just stop name calling.

    You did a good job yourself (none / 0) (#41)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 02:41:39 PM EST
    replying to the point make. You just negated its value by making nasty comments. You have more expertise on this issue than I. Next time, try this: If you feel compelled to write a nasty remark do so, but then co back and edit yourself, asking yourself if you would listen to someone who addressed you the way you addressed the other commenter. If not, then delete the nasty comments yourself before you hit post. You can't make a good point if you turn off people before they get a chance to read what you say.

    This thread seems bent on proving that (none / 0) (#35)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 12:37:41 PM EST
    Palin is a "big picture" person. Not a bad quality in a top executive in my experience.

    End of times (none / 0) (#37)
    by Wayneybcty on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 12:51:15 PM EST
    Sarah Palin  is the last thing that our country needs. Her ties to her church in Wasilla( assembly of god) puts her out there with tom cruise. What if McCain is elected,( I hope not} and dies in office, it's not beyond the realm of possibility at his age.Now we will have a nut case in charge of our country that talks in tongues and believes that the end times are upon us and god will come back and make everything right again.there is a reason the our founding fathers said that there needed to be a separation of church and state. bush hasn't done it and neither will palin.

    Her church is not Assembly of God (none / 0) (#40)
    by tree on Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 01:11:02 PM EST
    She left that church because it got too way out for her. Her church for the last six or seven years has been the Wasilla Bible Church, which is nondenominational and does not promote talking in tongues. Please check your facts before posting.