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The Latest Accusation on the Left Wing Blogs and Media: Palin is a “Book Banner” and She Spent the City Into the Ground as Mayor… (but what’s the truth?)

Posted by iusbvision on September 5, 2008

This site is getting a massive amount of traffic and some people are asking me to address this issue. I am going through a stack of press accounts, documents, and blog posts and the Time article and so far I must say this story is very thin. This analysis is a tad long and complex but a compelling read. First I explain generally what happened, than I give you a tangent analysis, and than I parse the evidence and documents with some detail.

I also go through Wasilla city budgets and finances and give you a short but solid status report as to what shape Palin left Wasilla in.

*****

While it is no secret that I am an admirer of Palin and have been for months since I started examining her record when her name appeared on a list of possible VP choices. It is also no secret that I am a VERY strident supporter of free speech and conscience and I bear scars from several battles standing up for those ideals. Rest assured if I become convinced that Palin is a would be book banner I will not be afraid to say so. Period.

So far the two sources of this story are the former Mayor of Wasilla, John Stien, who lost a series of bitter campaigns against Palin. This same former mayor tried to get Palin recalled and lost. Palin then won reelection by landslide. Palin did more than merely defeat this man, she smoked him repeatedly and as a result it is likely that he was humiliated. After reading this man’s statements online, its safe to say that for him it is personal.

The other source is just a citizen in Wasilla who is a rather strident, partisan leftist named Anne Kilkenny. After seeing what this person has written (see link below) there seems little doubt of this and that its personal. Many of the statements she has made about Palin are half truths and obviously unfair when the facts are examined. I will be posting this stuff in detail as this post gets updated.

The only two people who are saying they heard Palin ask this are the two aforementioned people. The librarian was an active supporter of the former Mayor (John Stien) who Palin vanquished in the election. Now this does not automatically mean that these people are lying or not giving us the whole truth, but it does raise the standard of proof some and cause one to be cautious.

What have I found so far (and keep checking back as I will be posting the documents for the next several hours) is that when a book is challenged in the Wasilla Library there is a procedure for review of that title and that title stays on the shelf during that procedure and a title may only be challenged once every 12 months.

The allegation is that Palin moved to fire the Wasilla Librarian because she would not ban books.

Tangent analysis:

Now let us get one thing clear, any wise mayor who is new blood would be wise to start replacing anyone who shows a residue of bureaucratic resistance that serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Why? It is not unusual for city employees to resist an elected officials plans, it is not unusual for such employees to funnel documents to opposition, to undermine projects, start rumors, interfere with contracts, and politic against that mayor while on the city payroll. The Anchorage Daily News (see link below) says that Palin fired a number of people when she took office.

Palin’s record shows that she unusually pit-bullish on eliminating bureaucratic resistance and has shown no fear of going after people in her own party. If McCain/Palin is elected you can expect to see firings of federal employees. Those fired will fight and sue and the press will have a field day with it, so expect it. Every one of those fired employees will have a “Sarah is corrupt” story. Having studied Palin I am coming to the conclusion that she plays hardball, smash-mouth politics better than anyone I have ever studied since LBJ and maybe even better.

“It’s what former journalist Bill McAllister, who now works for Palin’s press staff, used to call “Sarah-dipity” – that uncanny gift of knowing exactly what voters are looking for at a particular moment. And, of course, the political will to give them what they want.” – Time Magazine

Democrats should fear her, but Republicans should fear her more. If you are a Republican who puts self over country or who tries to prevent the McCain/Palin team from meeting their vision of that goal McCain/Palin will put your political/bureaucratic career through the proverbial shredder. She is that bold. If you are a Bush appointee and you don’t have your ethical act together and McCain wins I suggest you resign by January. All politicians talk about reform on this level and we don’t see any follow through. McCain has tried but is almost always outvoted. After what I have learned with Palin having studied her career, she is dead serious.

McCain said last night that those who send him pork-laden bills and who violate the public trust will be “made famous” because McCain said that he WILL name names. McCain/Palin have said that they intend to take government by the neck and shake it up, until now I have always laughed at politicians who have said similar things, but this team is not kidding. I never thought I would come to this conclusion about elected officials in my lifetime.

What you don’t see is people who work for Sarah resign in disgust because of ethics violations as Palin resigned from the Alaska Energy Commission when she started to bring that whole corruption ring down.

Back to the books. The Wasilla Library’s list of titles that have been challenged ads up to four, and all of those challenged still sit on the shelf. So this long list of 50 or so books Palin wanted banned that is being circulated the blogosphere is false. The Alaska Library Association also tracks every title in every library in the state and no books have been banned from Wasilla Library.

The librarian Mary Ellen baker has had no comment.

The official document’s show that only four times have there been a challenge to a title at the library: one challenge pre-1986, one in 1986, one in 2005 and one in 2007. All remained on the shelf.

The Anchorage Daily News, while reporting John Stien’s allegations as fact with glee, towards the bottom of the article had this to say (knowing that most people don’t read a newspaper article past paragraph four or five):

June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984, checked her files Wednesday and came up empty-handed.

The article continues to report, again at the bottom of the story, that Palin fired several people in city government so to say that the librarian, who had actively campaigned for her opponent, was singled out and targeted is proven wrong by the facts. The article also fails to point out the series of landslide, humiliating defeats that Palin delivered to Stien and his plans.

The LA Times Blog also reported these allegations with glee without taking just a little time to to just check the stories of the people making the claims.

If Palin wanted books banned, there is no record of it at all in the library system to support such an allegation. The evidence shows that there was never an attempt by Palin or the city to ban any books and no attempts by anyone period during the time alleged. This gives much weight to Palin’s statement that she asked the Librarian about banning books as a new mayor making inquiries about policy. If a mayor was new to running city services including a library it only makes sense to ask all sorts of “what if” questions. I know I would and people who know me will tell you that I am a very aggressive opponent of illegal censorship.

Palin has made a great deal of political enemies, she has stepped on toes and did it with everyone looking. She has cost those who’s toes she has stepped on thousands to millions in wages and/or corruption money. So I expected accusations from some of those people.

*******************

So here we go with the Time Magazine piece HERE. There is no question that this is a hit piece. Most of the magazines quotes and statements of facts are from her known enemies and the article is written from her critics point of view. Most journalists actually “write to each other” when they write so Christianity is used almost as a pejorative here. As are references to hunting, guns and her church. The unspoken narrative screams “radical Christian fundy” which is clearly designed to make elite secular leftists freak out.

The photo at the top of the article is unflattering and as no one can deny how truly lovely Palin is. It likely  took some work to get it that way. I doubt that the original picture was in black and white. The allegations made by her political enemies are presented as fact. Time made no real attempt to fact check these allegations of book banning and all the rest of it, after a few hours of digging I was able to find the documents in pretty short order and Time Magazine has vast resources. Unfortunately this is the kind of journalism I have come to expect form Time and Newsweek since 1985.

*******************

Here is the Ann Kilkenny statement HERE. After giving it a good read it is clear that while she understands some of Palin’s capabilities, she does not like her at all and presents many “facts” about Palin’s tenure as Wasilla Mayor with half truth’s and insinuations that took mere minutes to show as ridiculous. As you can see several press outfits have reported her statements but few have gone to the level of fact checking this blog is engaging in at this moment.

Lilkenny’s other statements outside of the “book banning” allegation are that Palin spent too much money, spent recklessly and was not fiscally conservative, she spent too much on city hall, a sports complex and preparing infrastructure to bring in some box stores such as Target, all of which she objects to. Kilkenny complains that Palin put Wasilla in excessive debt and has “regressive taxes” when she lowered “progressive property taxes” and passed a higher “regressive city sales tax”.

Here is what Kilkenny and Slate.com and the other outfits that have reported these things 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.

http://www.cityofwasilla.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=6

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.

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 the sports center and some other projects. With the growth of the city and the exponential growth of city revenue paying this bond over time is not a problem at all. 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 Kilkenny is just that.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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.

3 Responses to “The Latest Accusation on the Left Wing Blogs and Media: Palin is a “Book Banner” and She Spent the City Into the Ground as Mayor… (but what’s the truth?)”

  1. Lola Getz said

    As to the rest of what you wrote, the notion that anyone (male or female) who was the mayor of a town of fewer than 10,000 people, with a stint of less than two years as governor of one of the least-populated states in the union, is somehow qualified to be the second-in-line to the US Presidency – or even the President – is ludicrous. The mental image of Sarah Palin facing down Vladimir Putin or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be amusing if it weren’t so frightening.

    [Hi Lola, you mean like how Palin stared down the former GOP Governor and vanquished him, the now former Alaska Attorney General and vanquished him, a former two term Democrat Governor and vanquished him, Lyda Green and vanquished her, the former Chairman of her own party – fined and humiliated and vanquished, Exxon-Mobile and BP in regards to their unethical pipeline bids and corruption and whipped them into line? Ummmhmm – Just checkin’

    Palin held elective office for 5 years before Obama ran for anything and as Mayor and Governor was not afforded the option to vote “present” 130 times as Obama did. Obama has all of zero significant legislative accomplishments in state or federal office. I see lots of bloggers and journalists drawing an equivilency between Obama’s experience and Palin’s. When the truth is told there is no equivilency.

    As always, thanks for reading The Vision – Chuck Norton, Editor]

  2. Arnold Friend said

    So Sarah Palin lobbied the federal government for infrastructure development funds at a time when the local economy was booming? About par for a state that receives $2 in federal funds for every $1 it contributes in taxes.

    [No, She lobbied the federal government for funds as it started to boom. It is important to read the article carefully. The city services both private and municipal were in no shape to handle the growth Wasilla was facing. Most of this federal help went to road, water and airport improvements and while the feds did not pay for 100% of the bill, it was important help because it wasn’t the people of Wasilla’s fault that their town was becoming the crossroads of the state.

    As far as Alaska getting more federal funds than it contributes, that number includes what the government buys from Alaska. Also Keep in mind that getting federal services to a sub-arctic area which is double the size if Texas is no cheap task. So should we cut those citizens off because they live in the Alaskan tundra? Should their small schools escape federal aid and mandates just because they may be hundreds of miles away from other civilization?

    Alaska also plays a large role in or strategic strike capability, missile defense, and other military and national security needs.

    But granted, Democrats have Robert Byrd and Republicans have Ted Stevens – the two undisputed masters of earmark pork legislation. Of course, John McCain opposes all earmark legislation because he opposes that entire system of appropriations.

    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 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.

    http://www.newsminer.com/news/2008/aug/29/palin-setting-earmarks-opinion-straight/

    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 $740 MILLION in earmarks himself. Obama and Biden also voted for the bridge to nowhere and now they want to go after Palin for reaching out to the feds when Wasilla had a legitimate need for help. McCain has always been opposed to all earmarks because he is not in favor if this system of spending.

    And now you know the rest of the story…

    Chuck Norton
    Editor, IUSB Vision Web Log]

  3. Arnold Friend said

    Alaska received a lower dollar amount earmarks in 2007 because the funding for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, (which Governor Palin supported until it became politically unpopular) was cut. In 2008, that number was back up to $346 million. That’s an average of $516 per capita. The national average is $51.19. That doesn’t even include federal contracting. Given that Alaska is one of the 12 wealthiest states in the U.S., it’s absurd to feed at the federal trough rather than raising in-state taxes to pay for infrastructure improvement. The rest of America should not have to subsidize the Alaskan lifestyle.

    When Gov. Palin was mayor of Wassila, she lobbied for and received $27 million in federal earmarks, an average of $6.7 million a year, which works out to roughly $1000 per capita. Considering Boise, Idaho, a town of around 190,000 people receives roughly $7 million on average from the federal government, the amount of money Wassila receives pushes the bounds of extravagance. The fact that some of this money contributed to the construction of a hockey rink is just a twist of the knife.

    Whatever happened to the fiscally conservative Republican party?

    [Arnold – Can you read for comprehension or are you too partisan to care about the facts that are printed right here and backed with evidence?

    First – Alaska did not take a lower dollar amount because they turned down the bridge, instead they used that money for other state projects with a transportation or federal purpose. So you got that wrong too.

    Second – If Wasilla had half the people, it would have still needed that money for those improvements because of its location and the demographic and economic changes that were happening there. You have had the evidence in front of you since you posted so why not read the article carefully?

    Your statement that Palin lobbied for and recieved 27 million in earmarks is just a lie. I know because I know where that stat comes from and that number includes regional improvements that the Wasilla area benefitted from but were not city lobbied earmarks at all.

    In fact the 15 million dollar amount for the commuter rail goes from Girdwood, through Anchorage and to the Mat-Su Valley where Wasilla and Palmer are. So we are talking about a huge area here. The Anchorage metro area contains about 360,000 people – so I guess your high per capita number just went out the window.

    Here are the sites with the links to the documents:

    http://www.jessicaswell.com/mt/archives/2008/09/washington-post-cites-gro.php

    http://realtime.sunlightprojects.org/2008/09/02/tcs-post-examine-palins-pursuit-of-earmarks/

    And about that “bridge to nowhere” You and the Obama campaign say that she turned against it only when the national spotlight was put on it, again that is just another lie and the Obama camp knows it.

    If you read this article on this site you would know that when Palin was campaigning she believed the project would cost $223 million. When she took office the revised estimates showed it would cost over $400 million so in 2006 – thats right in 2006 – Palin told that community that an alternative to the bridge may be in order. Palin then officially halted the project in 2007. Governor Palin has said that, the Anchorage Daily News has said that, and the Alaska Democratic Party said that in praise of Palin for being fiscally responsible. Again all the info is right in the link below.

    https://iusbvision.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/and-what-about-that-bridge-to-no-where/

    Care to try again Arnold or are you going to check your facts before you type from now on?

    P.S. What do you want to start posting about Obama’s and Biden’s earmarks?

    Chuck Norton
    Editor, IUSB Vision Web Log]

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