The attack went like this:
The comments were his harshest attack yet on Palin, who sought millions of dollars in earmarks as mayor of Wasilla but later began criticizing them as governor. The Obama campaign has been searching for an effective line of attack against Palin since she burst onto the national scene a week ago as John McCain’s running mate.
Now before we dive into Wasilla something needs to be said. Most federal earmarks are just pork for votes and influence, but some are very necessary and completely appropriate inrastucture projects. My best guess is that approximately 15-20% of federal earmark spending is genuinely legit. Over the weekend I have read all of the City of Wasilla’s budgets which include tax revenue, expenditures, grants, the city’s expectation for growth, forseeable problems, debt and infrastructure projects.
As I have stated in previous posts, the media and the Obama campaign have taken accusations from Palin’s die-hard political enemies and published them as true without checking the publically available facts.
The allegations are that Palin spent too much money, spent recklessly and was not fiscally conservative, put Wasilla in excessive debt, she spent too much on city hall, a sports complex, hypocritically asking for federal earmark funds, and preparing infrastructure to bring in some box stores such as Target, all of which Palin’s opponents object to. One opponent complains that Palin and is “regressive” when she lowered “progressive property taxes” and passed a higher “regressive city sales tax”.
Here is what the media such as [NBC-Washington Post's-Newsweek's] Slate.com the Obama Campaign didn’t tell you:
The City of Wasilla is one of the fastest growing communities in the State of Alaska and the United States. The City of Wasilla’s population has grown by approximately 82 percent since 1992. Along with this population growth has come dramatic economic expansion. An indication of this expansion is the growth in sales tax revenue over the last eleven years. It is projected that sales tax revenue has grown by over 238 percent since fiscal year 1994. Based on projections from state and local sources, these population and economic trends are predicted to continue into the foreseeable future.
Along with this expansion have come unique challenges for the City of Wasilla. It is the commitment of the City of Wasilla to ensure that the City meets these challenges and to ensure that the necessary services will be available when the citizens and businesses need them in the future to meet the dynamic growth that the City of Wasilla will continue to experience.
The 2007 Census Estimate gives Wasilla a population of 9,780 which makes it the 4th largest city in Alaska. Wasilla was just a blip of a town a few years ago but has seen monumental growth in the last 15 years for several reasons.
Wasilla is located at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 3 which has became a major traffic thoroughfare. People who live in Anchorage who wish to travel North, West, or East must go through Wasilla. Those coming from East like the Yukon to Anchorage or traveling from Anchorage to Fairbanks are going through that junction. For local readers, imagine what Osceola would do if it became the location of two of the states major road routes in a state with growing population and became the crossroads of most travel between major cities in the state.
Wasilla faced a fast growing population, tourist industry, and attractions including a hockey team, the Alaska Avalanche. The city lacked enough shopping, motel, tourist services and other facilities. One of those projects to meet this need was the sports facility that so many have read about.
Wasilla has seen continued growth in service industries that maintained Wasilla’s position as the trade center of the Matanuska-Sistina Valley.
In 1994 a statewide referendum to move the capital of Alaska to Wasilla lost by only 10,000 votes.
So what does this mean?
It means that you have a city that is exploding and did not at the time have the tax base to prepare the infrastructure for this level of growth. So what did Mayor Palin do, she did what ALL cities do when they need major expenditures in a hurry. She floated a bond to finance infrastructure projects and city services. With the growth of the city and the exponential growth of city revenue paying this bond over time has proven to not be a problem. This is what almost all cities do for expenditures like this. It is debt but it is debt that is very intelligently managed and will be paid off.
The city could not afford these infrastruycture improvements alone. Palin hired a lobbiest to lobby the federal government for help. With the growing travel infrastructure needed, Wasilla got federal funds to begin to build that infrastructure.
Think about it, if you were mayor of a small city and found out that population, traffic and travel to and through your town was about to grow by exponential levels with almost no end in sight, your city government would ask for federal help too. Wasilla did not have storm water treatment, proper sidewalks and pedestrian ways, needed major road improvements, waste water treatment, an adequate septic system and had a small local airport that needed work. While many federal expenditures and earmarks are just pork projects to buy votes and influence, Wasilla needed help and Palin got the job done.
As far as lowering property taxes and raising the sales tax, since a great deal of sales tax revenue came from travelers and tourism from those who live outside the city, this was a wise course of action. It brought in “out of city money” to the city. The “regressive” & “progressive” ideological nonsense from Palin’s opponents is just that. Remember that Palin got this done in spite of contstant harassment form local political opponents and the city’s former mayor, however, Palin did enjoy near landslide popular support.
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Mayor Palin left office due to term limits in 2002. The candidate she endorsed, Diane Keller, has continued to run Wasilla with the same vision as her friend Sarah Palin.
Wasilla Won on Award for Superior Financial Reporting and as of FY 2005 carried an undesignated cash surplus of $5.5 million and carries a long term debt of $21.4 million and with the city’s income and continued increases in revenue this is very manageable. Major capital asset improvements include Storm drain additions, road and intersection construction, water reservoir construction, water and sewer line extensions and an airport apron expansion.
The city made an investment bond guarantee fund that by ordinance is untouchable except for the purpose of paying the bonds they have floated to pay for capital improvements.
Wasilla is a fast growing city that is enjoying fast growing revenue. That growth shows no sign of stopping any time soon, but nothing lasts forever so Wasilla government should stay vigilant.
Here is the clincher.
Imagine the bind Wasilla would have been into if Sarah Palin had not been so forward thinking, if she had not seen the growth that was coming and prepare the city financially for it. If her opponents, who she trounced in the elections, had gotten their way in opposing her agenda, Wasilla would have been caught flat footed without the services and infrastructure to handle the growth.
The evidence is overwhelming. Sarah Palin was a very good Mayor whose insight was nimble and had vision. It is no surprise that she enjoys such a high approval rating and that Mayor Keller has continued to govern with that same vision.
Here is the document that the media and the Obama Campaign is using to call Palin a hypocrite. All it shows is that Palin was successful at getting some federal help for the situation Wasilla was in, but think about the bogus narrative that they have created around this document.
Now that you understand the situation Wasilla found itself in, it makes perfect sense that Palin, while having a legitimate need for improvments caused by a situation that was not Wasilla’s fault in any way, would ask for federal help, and then as governor veto millions in wasteful spending and criticize the wasteful federal spending that is just pork. Anyone who spends a few hours just reading the public documents can see this. It tells you a great deal about the press and the Obama campaign to attack this part of Palin’s record in the manner they have.
Palin seems to take the same view on earmarks as I do. Much of it is pork, but some are needed and legit; and Congress and the states need to start weening themselves off of this bad system of federal spending. This is exactly the message Palin delivered in a March 5th newspaper column HERE. Click and learn. Here is an excerpt:
I recognize that Congress, which exercises the power of the purse, has the constitutional responsibility to put its mark on the federal budget, including adding funds that the president has not proposed.
Accordingly, my administration has recommended funding for specific projects and programs when there is an important federal purpose and strong citizen support.
This year, we have requested 31 earmarks, down from 54 in 2007. Of these, 27 involve continuing or previous appropriations and four are new requests. The total dollar amount of these requests has been reduced from approximately $550 million in the previous year to just less than $200 million.
Of course, if you want to talk about hypocrisy, Obama and Biden have actively participated in the earmark abuse pork spending system and that little fact is not in serious dispute. Obama is responsible for generating $935.7 MILLION in earmarks himself (link for proof HERE). McCain has always been opposed to all earmarks because he is not in favor if this system of spending.
Update: This new $27 million number is floating around the net and being pushed by the Washington Post and Alan Colmes. Well it’s just not true; click HERE.