Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back when Palin was Stalin

An account of Palin's early experiences as mayor of Wasilla published in today's Boston Globe makes for a chilling read. Here is an excerpt:
The day Palin took office, she told Stambaugh [the police chief] she wanted him to stay on provided he would support her as mayor, his notes say. He agreed. She also asked him to drop the issue of bar hours. He agreed to that, too. On this day, Palin fired the city’s museum director, one of the department heads. 
Ten days later, Palin wrote to all the department heads, including Stambaugh, asking for letters of resignation. She said she would then decide which to accept. When Stambaugh declined to provide one — pointing to his contract — Palin replied in a letter: "I will expect your loyalty."
The article continues:
For Palin, the firing of Stambaugh was only part of the drama that unfolded in her first months as mayor. The Frontiersman and Anchorage Daily News wrote one story after another about the turmoil. 
After notifying the librarian that she was fired, Palin backtracked and decided to keep her on. Palin had twice asked this librarian what she thought about banning books, to which the librarian responded it was a lousy idea, one she wouldn’t go along with. Later, Palin told the local paper that any questions she’d raised about censorship were only "rhetorical." 
Palin put in place what the local paper called a gag order, prohibiting top city employees from talking to reporters unless she cleared it first. 
After Stambaugh and the museum director were fired, two of the four remaining department heads quit. One, the public-works director, accused Palin of undermining him by meeting secretly with contractors and employees. 
When three women who worked at the city’s museum were asked to decide among themselves which one should be let go, all three quit. 
Palin tried to fill two vacancies on the City Council herself, even though an ordinance said that wasn’t her prerogative. It was the council’s. After the city attorney stopped Palin, the mayor said she’d merely engaged in a ploy. "It was brilliant maneuvering I had to do to deal with the impasse," she told the Frontiersman. 
The Frontiersman ran blistering editorials, condemning Palin’s philosophy "that either we are with her or against her." The newspaper accused Palin of mistaking the 616 votes she received as a "coronation." 
"Wasilla residents have been subjected to attempts to unlawfully appoint council members, statements that have been shown to be patently untrue, unrepentant backpedaling, and incessant whining that her only enemies are the press and a few disgruntled supporters of Mayor Stein. ... Palin promised to change the status quo, but at every turn we find hints of cronyism and political maneuvering. We see a woman who has long since surrendered her ideals to a political machine."
The police chief she fired, Stambaugh, comes across in the article like a great guy. Before being fired, he had argued before the town council that bars ought to close before 5:30am -- a measure that seemed likely to reduce traffic fatalities (Palin had opposed this idea). The article notes that after Palin fired him, "Stambaugh spent a year in Bosnia, training police officers under the auspices of the United Nations." So Alaska's loss was Bosnia's gain.

Palin claims to have changed a lot since her early days as mayor of Wasilla. She said: "I grew tremendously in my early months as mayor, managing the fastest-growing city in the state, and I turned my critics around."

Has she changed? Decide for yourself. The I have updated the timeline.

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