Tag Archives: Wasilla City Council

Palin Slings Ethnic Slurs at Former Alaskan Friend Andree McLeod in ‘Going Rogue’

Andree McLeod sits during opening arguments in an Anchorage, Alaska court room Tuesday Aug. 4, 2009, in a lawsuit brought by McLeod challenging former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's use of private e-mail accounts for official business.

Andree McLeod sits during opening arguments in an Anchorage, Alaska court room Tuesday Aug. 4, 2009, in a lawsuit brought by McLeod challenging former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's use of private e-mail accounts for official business.

It’s tough getting up to the front of the line of those wanting to call Sarah Palin for the truckload of lies spewed in Going Rogue. Even John McCain has gotten into the act by charging Palin with fabricating a $50,000 bill she claimed she got stuck with for her “vetting” and by praising the two aides targeted by Palin, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace.

Up in Alaska, the line is just as contentious. Everyone from Palin’s first years on the Wasilla City Council to her gubernatorial aides have challenged Palin’s rendition of her political career in the Last Frontier.

But perhaps the nastiest and most duplicitous passages of all in Going Rogue are those directed at Andree McLeod, the longtime Republican watchdog out of Anchorage who filed many of the Alaska Ethics Act complaints that, by Palin’s own admission, hounded her from office.

Palin’s venom directed at McLeod is both racist and viciously inaccurate. Perhaps a court will one day determine if it’s also libelous.

McLeod, now in her mid-50s and who is of Armenian descent by way of Lebanon, is referred to as the “falafel lady” repeatedly by Palin throughout her book. It’s an intended slur of ethnic derision, loaded with all of Palin’s adolescent fury. It’s also reminiscent of those members of Palin’s “Team Sarah” who referred to Barack and Michelle Obama’s Inaugural Dance as the “Watermelon Roll.” The phrase is as appalling as it is infantile.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Ooooooh, Barracuda! Sarah Palin Set To Throw John McCain Under The Bus

GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin

GOP vice presidential candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

As previously discussed here on the Sarah Palin Truth Squad in Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” – Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient as well as Barracuda Sarah: Palin’s Resentments of the Educated Started in Wasilla, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has a clearly documented history of manipulating people to gain their friendship and support for her personal and political agendas.  Then when Gov. Palin no longer needs those benefactors to advance her purposes she tosses them under the nearest bus and climbs over their bloodied careers while marching off in search of fresh prey. 

Continue reading

Palin’s Notes On Mayoral Campaign Themes; Campaign Pamphlets

The New Republic has published various documents from Sarah Palin’s political years in Wasilla, Alaska which provide a window into the Republican vice presidential candidate’s early campaigning strategies.

Sarah Palin’s Notes On Mayoral Campaign Themes (PDF file)

Sarah Palin’s Campaign Pamphlet, Page 1 (PDF file)

Sarah Palin’s Campaign Pamphlet, Page 2 (PDF file)

Sarah Palin’s Campaign Pamphlet, Page 3 (PDF file)

Sarah Palin’s Campaign Pamphlet, Page 4 (PDF file)

How Local Teens Beat Mayor Sarah Palin In The Battle Of The Wasilla Skate Park

Although this controversy of teens taking on Mayor Sarah Palin in an effort to build a local skateboard park is a minor story which took place in Wasilla, Alaska ten years ago, it’s a window into her resceptiveness to support the needs of all citizens she governs.  Published on MTV.com, the interview with indie-rocker Zach Carothers on his interactions with Mayor Palin speaks volumes on her openness to govern people with varying issues in an open, sensitive manner.

Maybe you’ve never heard of the wild indie-rock band Portugal. The Man. But chances are good you’ve heard of their hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. And when we found out that the band, which just released its third album, Censored Colors, was from the same town as Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, we figured it’s a small enough burg that they’d have some good stories to tell.

Last month, singer/guitarist John Baldwin Gourley – who grew up in a remote generator-powered log cabin with no telephone outside Wasilla – wrote a passionate essay on his feelings about his former mayor’s ascension to the national stage, but it was bassist Zach Carothers’ story about his battle with Palin over a skate park that really caught our attention. We asked him to recount his tale for us.

The Saga Of Sarah Palin, A Bunch Of Alaskan Small-Town Teenagers, And The Wasilla Skate Park

Growing up in Wasilla, Alaska, was not the most exciting time. Out of all the thousands of things there are to do in a land as beautiful as that, there is a lot of downtime. My family brought me up to love the outdoors. Almost every weekend, we were fishing, hiking, camping or snowboarding. I loved all of it.

As boys become teenagers, we get bored. And, in a small town such as ours, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in bad habits. I was lucky enough to discover skateboarding. My parents bought me my first skateboard in Santa Cruz, California, while we were on a family vacation when I was 12. I returned home and talked most of my friends into getting skateboards as well. Honestly, my Think deck, Independent trucks and Alien Workshop wheels saved my life. Starting the summer before eighth grade, my friends and I would do nothing but ride into town and skate all day.

As we got older and more skilled, we were quite limited on where we could practice our hobby. Businesses were obviously not too fond of anyone hurting themselves for hours a day on their stairs or handrails, and those who have been to Wasilla know there is a general lack of pavement.

Being extremely jealous of the skate parks that we’d seen in movies and magazines, we decided to make some of our “California dreaming” a reality. We started small. During my sophomore year of high school, I talked a few friends into signing up for wood shop. The five of us earned our grades by building all sorts of ramps and rails that we carried across the school parking lot to the outdoor basketball courts that never really got used. We had the time of our lives, skating all day in a place where no one would bother us and we wouldn’t bother anyone else.

This didn’t last long. Several times, we showed up after school to see most of our ramps ruined either by guys who didn’t like us or by kids trying to jump four-wheelers and dirt bikes off our ramps. After fixing our little park a few times, we decided we needed a more permanent – and safer – solution to our boredom.

Our parents brought up the idea of going to the city to ask about the chances of getting a real, concrete skate park built. The number of kids skating was growing like crazy, and with all the baseball diamonds, hockey rinks, and tennis courts around, it seemed like a reasonable request.

Apparently, the City of Wasilla did not agree with us. Bummer. Sarah Palin, the mayor of our small town, informed us that a skate park simply would not fit in the budget.

Oddly enough, a few years later, we heard rumors of a multimillion-dollar hockey rink that was going to fit in the budget. Now, I don’t have anything against hockey, I played my whole life, but there were already several places to play hockey in Wasilla. Of course, us dumb kids wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. A few of my friends and our parents attended city hall meetings every week. Eventually, our persistence paid off. Mayor Palin made what could be considered a “safe bet” when she suggested that if we could raise half the money, the city would match it and we would start construction. We were very happy and very determined.

The “Wasilla Skate Park Committee” went to work immediately. Over the next few months, we held bake sales, car washes, raffles and six or seven benefit concerts. We convinced local businesses to donate goods, services or labor to help support us. We even put up one of those giant, lame thermometers in city hall and colored in every $5,000 we made. And, incredibly enough, we raised roughly $42,000. Not too bad for some punk kids in a small town in Alaska.

I really don’t think that Palin thought we could do it. She was certainly surprised when we filled in the red ball at the top of that stupid thermometer. And boy, did she have a surprise for us.

After all of our hard work, she informed us that the project was going to have to be delayed … indefinitely. That slippery little skate park had gone off and slipped right out of the city budget again. The Wasilla Skate Park Committee was not too pleased, and once again, we were back at city council meetings every week. Overall, the demeanor of the council was not a kind one. We felt looked down upon and generally not taken seriously. As we loved to skate, they probably thought of us as hoodlums. They may have thought we all did drugs, skipped school and defaced public property – and, you know, some of us did. But that is what I tried to explain to them. Wasilla’s youth needed a place to go. We needed activities that would keep us from getting into trouble. Skateboarding is a sport. If kids were constantly playing football in front of the grocery store, the city would have had a problem with that as well. Eventually, and after jumping through numerous hoops, our persistence paid off.

Over a year and a half later, the project was finally under way.

Now, 10 years later, the Wasilla Skate Park I fought for as a 15-year-old boy is still functioning and as busy as ever – and celebrated its 10th anniversary on October 10. Despite the hoops that Mayor Palin and the city council made us jump through, I think the city agrees it was a very worthwhile investment and that it’s done much more good than bad. I’m proud of myself and everyone who helped the Wasilla Skate Park come to be. All in all, I’m very grateful to have been part of the experience.

How Local Teens Beat Mayor Sarah Palin In The Battle Of The Wasilla Skate Park

Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals – Extremists Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll

Gov. Sarah Palin in North Olmsted, OhioWe have survived another week of Gov. Sarah Palin’s dangerous character assassinations against presidential candidate Barack Obama in which she whipped up McCain supporters to the point where some in the crowds were even shouting “terrorist” and “kill him” in reference to Sen. Obama.  Tremendous mainstream media coverage has been spent debating Barack Obama’s past “extremists” connections, while virtually little if any attention is given to Gov. Palin’s own personal and political extremists associations.

In an excellent in-depth examination by Max Blumenthal and David Neiwert, and with research support by the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, Salon.com published yesterday a lengthy article for voters’ consideration on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ties to “radical” right wing leaders.

On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the “traditional family” and secede from the United States.

So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. “This here is my attack dog,” he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. “Her name is Suzy.” Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol — once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops — out of his glove compartment. “I’ve got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement,” he said, clutching the gun in his palm. “Then again, so do most Alaskans.” But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call “the 48.” “We want to go our separate ways,” he said, “but we are not going to kill you.”

Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin. An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin’s campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.

Palin backed Chryson as he successfully advanced a host of anti-tax, pro-gun initiatives, including one that altered the state Constitution’s language to better facilitate the formation of anti-government militias. She joined in their vendetta against several local officials they disliked, and listened to their advice about hiring. She attempted to name Stoll, a John Birch Society activist known in the Mat-Su Valley as “Black Helicopter Steve,” to an empty Wasilla City Council seat. “Every time I showed up her door was open,” said Chryson. “And that policy continued when she became governor.”

When Chryson first met Sarah Palin, however, he didn’t really trust her politically. It was the early 1990s, when he was a member of a local libertarian pressure group called SAGE, or Standing Against Government Excess. (SAGE’s founder, Tammy McGraw, was Palin’s birth coach.) Palin was a leader in a pro-sales-tax citizens group called WOW, or Watch Over Wasilla, earning a political credential before her 1992 campaign for City Council. Though he was impressed by her interpersonal skills, Chryson greeted Palin’s election warily, thinking she was too close to the Democrats on the council and too pro-tax.

But soon, Palin and Chryson discovered they could be useful to each other. Palin would be running for mayor, while Chryson was about to take over the chairmanship of the Alaska Independence Party, which at its peak in 1990 had managed to elect a governor.

The AIP was born of the vision of “Old Joe” Vogler, a hard-bitten former gold miner who hated the government of the United States almost as much as he hated wolves and environmentalists. His resentment peaked during the early 1970s when the federal government began installing Alaska’s oil and gas pipeline. Fueled by raw rage — “The United States has made a colony of Alaska,” he told author John McPhee in 1977 — Vogler declared a maverick candidacy for the governorship in 1982. Though he lost, Old Joe became a force to be reckoned with, as well as a constant source of amusement for Alaska’s political class. During a gubernatorial debate in 1982, Vogler proposed using nuclear weapons to obliterate the glaciers blocking roadways to Juneau. “There’s gold under there!” he exclaimed.

Vogler made another failed run for the governor’s mansion in 1986. But the AIP’s fortunes shifted suddenly four years later when Vogler convinced Richard Nixon’s former interior secretary, Wally Hickel, to run for governor under his party’s banner. Hickel coasted to victory, outflanking a moderate Republican and a centrist Democrat. An archconservative Republican running under the AIP candidate, Jack Coghill, was elected lieutenant governor.

Hickel’s subsequent failure as governor to press for a vote on Alaskan independence rankled Old Joe. With sponsorship from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vogler was scheduled to present his case for Alaskan secession before the United Nations General Assembly in the late spring of 1993. But before he could, Old Joe’s long, strange political career ended tragically that May when he was murdered by a fellow secessionist.

Hickel rejoined the Republican Party the year after Vogler’s death and didn’t run for reelection. Lt. Gov. Coghill’s campaign to succeed him as the AIP candidate for governor ended in disaster; he peeled away just enough votes from the Republican, Jim Campbell, to throw the gubernatorial election to Democrat Tony Knowles.

Despite the disaster, Coghill hung on as AIP chairman for three more years. When he was asked to resign in 1997, Mark Chryson replaced him. Chryson pursued a dual policy of cozying up to secessionist and right-wing groups in Alaska and elsewhere while also attempting to replicate the AIP’s success with Hickel in infiltrating the mainstream.

Unlike some radical right-wingers, Chryson doesn’t put forward his ideas  freighted with anger or paranoia. And in a state where defense of gun and property rights often takes on a real religious fervor, Chryson was able to present himself  as a typical Alaskan.

He rose through party ranks by reducing the AIP’s platform to a single page that “90 percent of Alaskans could agree with.” This meant scrubbing the old platform of what Chryson called “racist language” while accommodating the state’s growing Christian right movement by emphasizing the AIP’s commitment to the “traditional family.”

“The AIP is very family-oriented,” Chryson explained. “We’re for the traditional family — daddy, mommy, kids — because we all know that it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. And we don’t care if Heather has two mommies. That’s not a traditional family.”

Chryson further streamlined the AIP’s platform by softening its secessionist language. Instead of calling for immediate separation from the United States, the platform now demands a vote on independence.

Yet Chryson maintains that his party remains committed to full independence. “The Alaskan Independence Party has got links to almost every independence-minded movement in the world,” Chryson exclaimed. “And Alaska is not the only place that’s about separation. There’s at least 30 different states that are talking about some type of separation from the United States.”

This has meant rubbing shoulders and forging alliances with outright white supremacists and far-right theocrats, particularly those who dominate the proceedings at such gatherings as the North American Secessionist conventions, which AIP delegates have attended in recent years. The AIP’s affiliation with neo-Confederate organizations is motivated as much by ideological affinity as by organizational convenience. Indeed, Chryson makes no secret of his sympathy for the Lost Cause. “Should the Confederate states have been allowed to separate and go their peaceful ways?” Chryson asked rhetorically. “Yes. The War of Northern Aggression, or the Civil War, or the War Between the States — however you want to refer to it — was not about slavery, it was about states’ rights.”

Another far-right organization with whom the AIP has long been aligned is Howard Phillips’ militia-minded Constitution Party. The AIP has been listed as the Constitution Party’s state affiliate since the late 1990s, and it has endorsed the Constitution Party’s presidential candidates (Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin) in the past two elections.

The Constitution Party boasts an openly theocratic platform that reads, “It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations.” In its 1990s incarnation as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, it was on the front lines in promoting the “militia” movement, and a significant portion of its membership comprises former and current militia members.

At its 1992 convention, the AIP hosted both Phillips — the USTP’s presidential candidate — and militia-movement leader Col. James “Bo” Gritz, who was campaigning for president under the banner of the far-right Populist Party. According to Chryson, AIP regulars heavily supported Gritz, but the party deferred to Phillips’ presence and issued no official endorsements.

In Wasilla, the AIP became powerful by proxy — because of Chryson and Stoll’s alliance with Sarah Palin. Chryson and Stoll had found themselves in constant opposition to policies of Wasilla’s Democratic mayor, who started his three-term, nine-year tenure in 1987. By 1992, Chryson and Stoll had begun convening regular protests outside City Council. Their demonstrations invariably involved grievances against any and all forms of “socialist government,” from city planning to public education. Stoll shared Chryson’s conspiratorial views: “The rumor was that he had wrapped his guns in plastic and buried them in his yard so he could get them after the New World Order took over,” Stein told a reporter.

Chryson did not trust Palin when she joined the City Council in 1992. He claimed that she was handpicked by Democratic City Council leaders and by Wasilla’s Democratic mayor, John Stein, to rubber-stamp their tax hike proposals. “When I first met her,” he said, “I thought she was extremely left. But I’ve watched her slowly as she’s become more pronounced in her conservative ideology.”

Palin was well aware of Chryson’s views. “She knew my beliefs,” Chryson said. “The entire state knew my beliefs. I wasn’t afraid of being on the news, on camera speaking my views.”

But Chryson believes she trusted his judgment because he accurately predicted what life on the City Council would be like. “We were telling her, ‘This is probably what’s going to happen,'” he said. “‘The city is going to give this many people raises, they’re going to pave everybody’s roads, and they’re going to pave the City Council members’ roads.’ We couldn’t have scripted it better because everything we predicted came true.”

After intense evangelizing by Chryson and his allies, they claimed Palin as a convert. “When she started taking her job seriously,” Chryson said, “the people who put her in as the rubber stamp found out the hard way that she was not going to go their way.” In 1994, Sarah Palin attended the AIP’s statewide convention. In 1995, her husband, Todd, changed his voter registration to AIP. Except for an interruption of a few months, he would remain registered was an AIP member until 2002, when he changed his registration to undeclared.

In  1996, Palin decided to run against John Stein as the Republican candidate for mayor of Wasilla. While Palin pushed back against Stein’s policies, particularly those related to funding public works, Chryson said he and Steve Stoll prepared the groundwork for her mayoral campaign.

Chryson and Stoll viewed Palin’s ascendancy as a vehicle for their own political ambitions. “She got support from these guys,” Stein remarked. “I think smart politicians never utter those kind of radical things, but they let other people do it for them. I never recall Sarah saying she supported the militia or taking a public stand like that. But these guys were definitely behind Sarah, thinking she was the more conservative choice.”

They worked behind the scenes,” said Stein. “I think they had a lot of influence in terms of helping with the back-scatter negative campaigning.”

Indeed, Chryson boasted that he and his allies urged Palin to focus her campaign on slashing character-based attacks. For instance, Chryson advised Palin to paint Stein as a sexist who had told her “to just sit there and look pretty” while she served on Wasilla’s City Council. Though Palin never made this accusation, her 1996 campaign for mayor was the most negative Wasilla residents had ever witnessed.

While Palin played up her total opposition to the sales tax and gun control — the two hobgoblins of the AIP — mailers spread throughout the town portraying her as “the Christian candidate,” a subtle suggestion that Stein, who is Lutheran, might be Jewish. “I watched that campaign unfold, bringing a level of slime our community hadn’t seen until then,” recalled Phil Munger, a local music teacher who counts himself as a close friend of Stein.

This same group [Stoll and Chryson] also [publicly] challenged me on whether my wife and I were married because she had kept her maiden name,” Stein bitterly recalled. “So we literally had to produce a marriage certificate. And as I recall, they said, Well, you could have forged that.'”

When Palin won the election, the men who had once shouted anti-government slogans outside City Hall now had a foothold inside the mayor’s office. Palin attempted to pay back her newfound pals during her first City Council meeting as mayor. In that meeting, on Oct. 14, 1996, she appointed Stoll to one of the City Council’s two newly vacant seats. But Palin was blocked by the single vote of then-Councilman Nick Carney, who had endured countless rancorous confrontations with Stoll and considered him a “violent” influence on local politics. Though Palin considered consulting attorneys about finding another means of placing Stoll on the council, she was ultimately forced to back down and accept a compromise candidate.

Emboldened by his nomination by Mayor Palin, Stoll later demanded she fire Wasilla’s museum director, John Cooper, a personal enemy he longed to sabotage. Palin obliged, eliminating Cooper’s position in short order. “Gotcha, Cooper!” Stoll told the deposed museum director after his termination, as Cooper told a reporter for the New York Times. And it only cost me a campaign contribution.” Stoll, who donated $1,000 to Palin’s mayoral campaign, did not respond to numerous requests for an interview. Palin has blamed budget concerns for Cooper’s departure.

The following year, when Carney proposed a local gun-control measure, Palin organized with Chryson to smother the nascent plan in its cradle. Carney’s proposed ordinance would have prohibited residents from carrying guns into schools, bars, hospitals, government offices and playgrounds. Infuriated by the proposal that Carney viewed as a common-sense public-safety measure, Chryson and seven allies stormed a July 1997 council meeting.

With the bill still in its formative stages, Carney was not even ready to present it to the council, let alone conduct public hearings on it. He and other council members objected to the ad-hoc hearing as “a waste of time.” But Palin — in plain violation of council rules and norms — insisted that Chryson testify, stating, according to the minutes, that “she invites the public to speak on any issue at any time.”

When Carney tried later in the meeting to have the ordinance discussed officially at the following regular council meeting, he couldn’t even get a second. His proposal died that night, thanks to Palin and her extremist allies.

“A lot of it was the ultra-conservative far right that is against everything in government, including taxes,” recalled Carney. “A lot of it was a personal attack on me as being anti-gun, and a personal attack on anybody who deigned to threaten their authority to carry a loaded firearm wherever they pleased. That was the tenor of it. And it was being choreographed by Steve Stoll and the mayor.”

Asked if he thought it was Palin who had instigated the turnout, he replied: “I know it was.”

By Chryson’s account, he and Palin also worked hand-in-glove to slash property taxes and block a state proposal that would have taken money for public programs from the Permanent Fund Dividend, or the oil and gas fund that doles out annual payments to citizens of Alaska. Palin endorsed Chryson’s unsuccessful initiative to move the state Legislature from Juneau to Wasilla. She also lent her support to Chryson’s crusade to alter the Alaska Constitution’s language on gun rights so cities and counties could not impose their own restrictions. “It took over 10 years to get that language written in,” Chryson said. “But Sarah [Palin] was there supporting it.”

With Sarah as a mayor,” said Chryson, “there were a number of times when I just showed up at City Hall and said, ‘Hey, Sarah, we need help.’ I think there was only one time when I wasn’t able to talk to her and that was because she was in a meeting.

Chryson says the door remains open now that Palin is governor. (Palin’s office did not respond to Salon’s request for an interview.) While Palin has been more circumspect in her dealings with groups like the AIP as she has risen through the political ranks, she has stayed in touch.

When Palin ran for governor in 2006, marketing herself as a fresh-faced reformer determined to crush the GOP’s ossified power structure, she made certain to appear at the AIP’s state convention. To burnish her maverick image, she also tapped one-time AIP member and born-again Republican Walter Hickel as her campaign co-chair. Hickel barnstormed the state for Palin, hailing her support for an “all-Alaska” liquefied gas pipeline, a project first promoted in 2002 by an AIP gubernatorial candidate named Nels Anderson. When Palin delivered her victory speech on election night, Hickel stood beaming by her side. “I made her governor,” he boasted afterward. Two years later, Hickel has endorsed Palin’s bid for vice president.

Just months before Palin burst onto the national stage as McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, she delivered a videotaped address to the AIP’s annual convention. Her message was scrupulously free of secessionist rhetoric, but complementary nonetheless. “I share your party’s vision of upholding the Constitution of our great state,” Palin told the assembly of AIP delegates. “My administration remains focused on reining in government growth so individual liberty can expand. I know you agree with that … Keep up the good work and God bless you.”

When Palin became the Republican vice-presidential nominee, her attendance of the 1994 and 2006 AIP conventions and her husband’s membership in the party (as well as Palin’s videotaped welcome to the AIP’s 2008 convention) generated a minor controversy. Chryson claimed, however, that Sarah and Todd Palin never even played a minor role in his party’s internal affairs. “Sarah’s never been a member of the Alaskan Independence Party,” Chryson insisted. “Todd has, but most of rural Alaska has too. I never saw him at a meeting. They were at one meeting I was at. Sarah said hello, but I didn’t pay attention because I was taking care of business.”

But whether the Palins participated directly in shaping the AIP’s program is less relevant than the extent to which they will implement that program. Chryson and his allies have demonstrated just as much interest in grooming major party candidates as they have in putting forward their own people. At a national convention of secessionist groups in 2007, AIP vice chairman Dexter Clark announced that his party would seek to “infiltrate” the Democratic and Republican parties with candidates sympathetic to its hard-right, secessionist agenda. “You should use that tactic. You should infiltrate,” Clark told his audience of neo-Confederates, theocrats and libertarians. “Whichever party you think in that area you can get something done, get into that party. Even though that party has its problems, right now that is the only avenue.”

Clark pointed to Palin’s political career as the model of a successful infiltration. “There’s a lot of talk of her moving up,” Clark said of Palin. “She was a member [of the AIP] when she was mayor of a small town, that was a nonpartisan job. But to get along and to go along she switched to the Republican Party … She is pretty well sympathetic because of her membership.”

Clark’s assertion that Palin was once a card-carrying AIP member was swiftly discredited by the McCain campaign, which produced records showing she had been a registered Republican since 1988. But then why would Clark make such a statement? Why did he seem confident that Palin was a true-blue AIP activist burrowing within the Republican Party? The most salient answer is that Palin was once so thoroughly embedded with AIP figures like Chryson and Stoll and seemed so enthusiastic about their agenda, Clark may have simply assumed she belonged to his party.

Now, Palin is a household name and her every move is scrutinized by the Washington press corps. She can no longer afford to kibitz with secessionists, however instrumental they may have been to her meteoric ascendancy. This does not trouble her old AIP allies. Indeed, Chryson is hopeful that Palin’s inauguration will also represent the start of a new infiltration.

“I’ve had my issues but she’s still staying true to her core values,” Chryson concluded. “Sarah’s friends don’t all agree with her, but do they respect her? Do they respect her ideology and her values? Definitely.”

Meet Sarah Palin’s Radical Right-Wing Pals

Palin Gives First Lengthy Newspaper ‘Interview’ — To Hometown Weekly

Alaskan wilderness in winter

Alaskan wilderness in winter

This afternoon in the journal Editor & Publisher there is a report that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has FINALLY given an in-depth interview … with her hometown weekly newspaper, The Frontiersman, VIA EMAIL!!  Appearing on the front page of today’s edition, The Frontiersman ran the “interview” in its entirety with both the questions posed to Gov. Palin and the answers received by the newspaper.  The responses could have been written by anyone within the McCain campaign and consists of the usual vague Republican talking points the vice presidential candidate has given on her stump speeches and the very few interviews Gov. Palin has granted the media thus far in the campaign.

Sarah Palin has finally given a lengthy newspaper interview, but it was not with The New York Times, Washington Post or other large daily. Instead, it appears today in her hometown Wasilla, Alaska, weekly, The Frontiersman — and only via email.

The paper ran the interview on its front page today with the intro: “The responses here were not edited and are preceded by the verbatim questions posed to her.”

Asked, for example, to name any mistakes she had made as mayor of the town she only came up with underestimating her opponents. She also deflected any blame in the “trooopergate” controversy, the book-banning charges and the allegations that she had something to do with rape victims having to pay for their own medical test.

“I’m not going to win over anyone in the media elite – I’m going to do my best for the American people,” she declared.

She also continued to say of the Bridge to Nowhere, “I cancelled the project,” even though this has been challenged by various fact-checking organizations.

Here are a few excerpts from the first three queries. The entire interview is at The Frontiersman:

1. Your name had been whispered as one of any number of potential Sen. John McCain running mates for months before the official announcement. At what time did you realize you had a legitimate chance to be that choice?

I first met John seven months ago in Washington. I was immediately impressed by the Senator’s candor, warmth and humor. We are both mavericks, and we hit it off right away. The idea of this being a possibility became real when I flew to Arizona three days before I was announced as his selection.

2. What successes did you have and what mistakes did you make during your time on Wasilla City Council and as Wasilla mayor?

Since my time as a city councilmember, mayor, and now, of course, as governor, I’ve been an active reformer. Right away, I think I saw that Wasilla’s government as a “good old boys network” – and knew we had an opportunity to change and progress this city. When I was elected mayor, I immediately took charge and shook things up, as you know. Our tax cuts and strategy for growth were big successes. The big mistake is always underestimating how much opposition you face as a real reformer, but I love the valley so much I was going to do what the city council staff and I felt was right for the people who live and work here.

3. We’re confident you were aware that being added to the presidential ticket would open up your personal life to public scrutiny. Were you prepared for the level of media and tabloid coverage of your past and family? Please explain how you and your family are dealing with this and whether you believe your family – and those of the other three candidates on the national ticket – are out of bounds, or does the public have a legitimate interest in the private lives of candidates?

Nothing really prepares you for hatred and made-up stories. But it’s nothing like the hard times of a family that’s lost a job, lost health insurance, or lost a son or daughter in battle. I would hope that the privacy of my children would be respected, as has been the tradition for the children of previous candidates. Obviously, it hasn’t been so far. I think part of the media frenzy is because I haven’t been a part of the Washington establishment and that I’m not as well known to the powers that be in Washington. I’m not going to win over anyone in the media elite – I’m going to do my best for the American people. And of course all candidates want to shield their children from the rancor and bitterness. My personal e-mails being hacked into really took the cake because of all the violation of confidence and privacy that others felt when they saw the e-mails they sent to me were posted on Web sites around the world. Concern for my family’s safety was also paramount because pictures and contact information for my kids were published and their receipt of all the harassing calls and messages has been very concerning.

Palin Gives First Lengthy Newspaper ‘Interview’ — To Hometown Weekly

Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” — Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Detroit Sept. 5, 2008.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Detroit Sept. 5, 2008.

Remember the beautiful, yet back-stabbing, bitchy girls in high school who were always able to twist the guys around their little finger and get whatever they wanted?  As more is revealed of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s character throughout her political career in Alaska, there seems to be too many parallels to those girls we all hoped to never deal with again after high school graduation.  In an excellent piece by Salon.com founder David Talbot published September 23, 2008, Gov. Sarah Palin’s behavior towards male political mentors and claims to shaking up the “old boys” network are turned upside down, leaving us all wondering, do we really want to go back to high school?

Before Sarah Palin decided to run for the Wasilla mayor’s office in 1996 against incumbent John Stein, the Palins and Steins were friends. John Stein had helped launch Palin’s political career, mentoring the hockey mom during her 1994 run for City Council, along with veteran council member Nick Carney. Stein’s wife, Karen Marie, went to aerobics classes with Palin.

But when she announced her candidacy for Stein’s seat, vowing to overturn the city’s “old boy” establishment, a different Sarah Palin emerged. “Things got very ugly,” recalled Naomi Tigner, a friend of the Steins. “Sarah became very mean-spirited.”

The Wasilla mayor’s seat is nonpartisan, and Mayor Stein, a former city planner who had held the post for nine years, ran a businesslike campaign that stressed his experience and competency. But Palin ignited the traditionally low-key race with scorching social issues, injecting “God, guns and abortion into the race — things that had nothing to do with being mayor of a small town,” according to Tigner.

Palin’s mayoral campaign rode the wave of conservative, evangelical fervor that was sweeping Alaska in the ’90s. Suddenly candidates’ social values, not their ability to manage the roads and sewer systems, were dominating the debate. “Sarah and I were both Republicans, but this was an entirely new slant to local politics — much more aggressive than anything I’d ever seen,” said Stein, looking back at the election that put Palin on the political map.

There was a knife-sharp, personal edge to Palin’s campaign that many locals found disturbing, particularly because of the warm relationship between Palin and Stein before the race.

“I called Sarah’s campaign for mayor the end of the age of innocence in Wasilla,” said Carney.

Even though Palin knew that Stein is a Protestant Christian, from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, her campaign began circulating the word that she would be “Wasilla’s first Christian mayor.” Some of Stein’s supporters interpreted this as an attempt to portray Stein as Jewish in the heavily evangelical community. Stein himself, an eminently reasonable and reflective man, thinks “they were redefining Christianity to mean born-agains.”

The Palin campaign also started another vicious whisper campaign, spreading the word that Stein and his wife — who had chosen to keep her own last name when they were married — were not legally wed. Again, Palin knew the truth, Stein said, but chose to muddy the waters. “We actually had to produce our marriage certificate,” recalled Stein, whose wife died of breast cancer in 2005 without ever reconciling with Palin.

“I had a hand in creating Sarah, but in the end she blew me out of the water,” Stein said, sounding more wearily ironic than bitter. “Sarah’s on a mission, she’s an opportunist.”

According to some political observers in Alaska, this pattern — exploiting “old-boy” mentors and then turning against them for her own advantage — defines Sarah Palin’s rise to power. Again and again, Palin has charmed powerful political patrons, and then rejected them when it suited her purposes. She has crafted a public image as a clean politics reformer, but in truth, she has only blown the whistle on political corruption when it was expedient for her to do so. Above all, Palin is a dynamo of ambition, shrewdly maneuvering her way through the notoriously compromised world of Alaska politics, making and breaking alliances along the way.

With its frontier political infrastructure and its geyser of oil money, Alaska has become as notorious as a third-world petro-kingdom. In recent years, scandal has seeped throughout the state’s political circles — and at the center of this widening spill is Alaska’s powerful patronage king, Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, and wealthy oil contractor Bill Allen.

Despite Palin’s reform reputation, she has maintained a delicate relationship with Stevens over the years — courting his endorsement for governor, then distancing herself after his 2007 federal indictment on corruption charges, and then cozying up again when it appeared he might survive politically. As for Allen — the former oil roughneck whose North Slope wealth has greased many a palm in Alaska — Palin found nothing wrong with his money when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2002.

Palin’s reputation as a reformer stems primarily from her headline-grabbing ouster of state GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for flagrant conflict-of-interest abuses. At the time, Palin was heralded in the press as a whistle-blower, but it was later revealed that she was guilty of the same charge that she had brought against Ruedrich — using state office equipment for partisan political business. (While still mayor of Wasilla, she sent out campaign fundraising appeals from her office during her race for lieutenant governor.)

Others suspect that Palin had self-serving reasons for taking on Ruedrich and resigning her seat on the commission. The state energy panel had ignited a public firestorm in Palin’s home base, Mat-Su Valley, by secretly leasing sub-surface drilling rights on thousands of residential lots to a Colorado-based gas producer. Outraged farmers and homeowners, who woke up one morning to find drilling equipment being hauled onto their land, were in open revolt against the commission. While Palin initially supported the leasing plan, she was shrewd enough to realize it was political suicide to alienate conservative property owners in her own district. According to some accounts, she was also growing tired of commuting to state offices in Anchorage and poring over dry, tedious technical manuals for her job. All in all, it seemed like the right move to jump ship — and going out a hero was an added plus.

In the end, Ruedrich admitted wrongdoing and settled the ethics case by paying $12,000 in civil fines. But Palin did not drive the well-connected Republican operative into exile. In fact, he remains the party’s state chairman and he could be seen on the floor of the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., hugging the newly crowned vice-presidential candidate and cheering her feisty speech against greedy old boys like, well, him.

“The idea that Sarah shook up the state’s old-boy network is one big fantasy, it’s complete bullshit,” Andrew Halcro said. “She got all this public acclaim for throwing people who backed her under the bus — but she only did it after they became expendable, when she no longer needed them.

“The good old boys in Alaska are still the good old boys — they’re alive and kicking. Randy is still running the Republican Party — he wasn’t happy about being turned into a national poster boy for corruption, but he went along with the program. Ted Stevens is still running for reelection. And [scandal-tainted Alaska Rep.] Don Young is, too. So where’s the new era of change that Palin supposedly brought to Alaska?”

Mean Girl: Sarah Palin Has a Way of Using “Old Boys” — Then Dumping Them When They Become Inconvenient.