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A non-pregnancy related Palin scandal.

Apparently, as Wasilla's mayor, Sarah Palin immediately fired nearly all of the city officials loyal to her predecessor, then tried to get the local librarian to ban books and threatened to fire the woman for not complying, and then, when the local press began to criticize her, she told city department heads that they were not permitted to talk to any reporters without first getting her permission.


Do not want, do not want, do not want. Oh, sweet Jesus, do not want.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
It's reasonably common for newly elected politicians to replace the cronies of the previous administration with their own. I'm not fond of the practice, but it's not rare or generally considered corrupt -- unless you're one of the ousted and even then unless you sue and win (which doesn't appear to have happened here?) you're just whining because the guy who gave you a "favored person" job lost his job.

Sep. 4th, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
And if this weren't such a tiny community and that were the only issue, I might be able to wave that off as "how things are."
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
I don't understand the tendency to lump non-issues in with issues. Doesn't it distract from the meaningful criticism?
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
Like I said, though, I don't think in a town that small it is a non-issue (I just think it's certainly a less concerning issue than trying to ban book and threatening people for refusal). I grew up in a town about 4 times that size and we didn't do things that way, and even now, to be honest, in a town of a million you don't see that kind of turnover. It's just not that partisan, nor is it necessary or beneficial to the running of the city. People just do their jobs.
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Well, maybe I'm warped from my time in Maryland, but we certainly see it. There was a huge brouhaha when Ehrlich (R) did it because Maryland had been party-focussed (D) for so long they'd forgotten that there could be large-scale turn over when an "outsider" wins the job. Amusingly, when O'Malley (D) retook the state, there was another large round of job replacements ... even though it was wildly protested when it was done to them.

I'm not fond of the practice, but there's nothing in it that's against the rules. I don't think Palin should be singled out for that practice, rather I think the entire practice should be scrutinized and debated and possibly even wholly or partially done away with.

As for the library+book+banning thing, I'd really like more information. If she was throwing her weight around, why wasn't the book banned? Surely if it was, that information would be in the article? Why isn't *what* the book was mentioned? Who are the constituents who wanted the book banned? Was it a large group, or individuals? What is meant by "banning"? Is it restricting the readership? Removing it from some libraries in the area? All of them? Was Palin truly trying to ban a book, or was she seeking out information on how that would be done, at the request of some constituents? The article is far too vague and couple that with "how dare she fire people who serve at her pleasure and hire people she wanted to hire for those positions!" and it makes me question what information has been left out, and why.

Unfortunately, the media sources I run into are all either "she is awesome! YEAH!" or "she's the devil! BURN HER!" It's depressing.
Sep. 4th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
I'm starting to see the disconnect in what we're talking about. At a state level, where the issues, and, therefore, the government, tend to be more partisan, that is absolutely standard procedure with certain positions (although certain positions are popularly elected and therefore protected from that sort of thing). Like you, it's not one of my favorite things, but defenders of it make a decent point that, for the sake of getting anything done, it can be helpful to not be completely surrounded by people whose views are likely diametrically opposed to your own.

At a city level, however, especially at a small city level, where issues tend to be local and either less or non-patisan, that does not tend to be the case and therefore those kinds of tactics are typically unnecessary and potentially damaging to the community. Even in my city of a million, I could not tell you how my mayor feels about abortion or gay marriage or NATO, or even with 100% surety what party he belongs to. But I could tell you how he feels about trash collection contracts, local business and job development, naming of the local Viatnamese shopping center, and parks and recreation funding.

As far as the book banning, I cannot imagine an issue that would make it acceptable to attempt to ban a book, or a scenario in which a librarian's refusal to participate would be grounds for threatening to fire them (and as for why the book wasn't banned and why the woman wasn't fired, I'd imagine that it's because both actions would have been of questionable legality at best, and the negative national media attention and possible descent of the ACLU upon the community were probably undesirable). If you can think of such a reason, I'm happy to entertain it.
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
If, at any level, there exist people who serve at the pleasure of the elected official, then it doesn't make any sense to get upset about an elected official exercising that privilege. If it weren't to be done, then those positions wouldn't exist.

If I ask my elected representative to find out information, I expect them to find it for me. I can imagine her needing to find out how to get a book banned because constituents requested it. Personally, I think there's too much information missing in that episode to make it worth anything. It doesn't make sense, as written.
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
I have to completely disagree with the point in your first paragraph. Not all powers that exist are meant to be exercised indiscriminately. There is use of power, and there is abuse of power. If you think putting a bunch of people out of a job in a small town because they were friendly with your predecessor (especially when you yourself were also a friend of your predecessor) is an acceptable use of power, that's your prerogative. I think it's a clear abuse of power, and the idea that "because she can, it's okay" doesn't make sense to me. By that logic, it's perfectly okay for the President to veto or alter every act of Congress that comes across his or her desk.

As for the book banning, you can read more about it here http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/03/us/politics/03wasilla.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin
including a statement from a City Council attendee that Palin stated that she found certain unnamed books objectionable and wished to ban them, as well as information that the librarian responded that she would fight all attempts to ban books, at which point she was fired, only to be left on after the firing sparked community outrage.
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)
Why have positions that serve at the pleasure of the mayor or the governor if the mayor or the governor aren't supposed to appoint people to serve in them? Simply don't have those jobs serve at the pleasure of the elected official. Make them standard, ordinary jobs.

If someone is given the power to appoint people, It's not an abuse of the power to do what they were given the privilege of doing.

(It really sucked for the people of Maryland who were fired when Ehrlich took office, and it sucked for the new folks when O'Malley took office. But that's the peril of taking one of those positions. Unfortunately, when you've had a stable and entrenched system, you can forget that you serve at the pleasure of your elected official. It can be shocking to lose your job. Maybe that should be an incentive to change the system, rather than continue supporting it when your guy gets back into power.)

I'd found another article on the book banning thing too (http://www.adn.com/sarah-palin/story/515512.html is what I'd found), and was left with some answers and some more questions. It sounds like she asked if the librarian would ban any books, and asked a few times. She requested the librarian's resignation at the same time she requested other public servants resignations. (All part of the standard "serving at the pleasure of" thing. Sometimes, the resignation is accepted, sometimes it's not. It's a weird game and I don't really understand it.)

Those two different articles really show how small elements can affect what you read. Because your article didn't mention that Palin requested several resignations at the same time, it seemed like the librarian was being singled out. Heck, at least she got to keep her job, unlike the city museum director. If I hadn't read the article from the Anchorage Daily News before I read the piece from the New York Times, Palin's actions would have seemed horribly inexcusable. Having read the ADN story, I still have questions, but I find myself more frustrated with the level of reporting than with anything else. :/
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)
Again, certain powers exist so that they can be used when necessary, not so that they can be used indiscriminately by power-tripping newbies. And you keep drawing parallels to the partisan state system that do not exist (or didn't until she got involved) in a non-partisan city government for a town of 9,000.

For the record, the NYT piece absolutely did report that several other officials were issued pink slips, and that the librarian was one of the only ones to keep her job. They also reported that Palin later claimed that the banning requests were rhetorical. The whole scenario certainly does leave questions as to specifics, but, I repeat, I fail to come up with any scenario under which a librarian refusing to cooperate with the banning of books receiving a pink slip for "unwillingness to cooperate" and only being saved from termination by public outrage is excusable.
Sep. 6th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
Yes, certain powers like vetos aren't meant to be used on every bill. Since there are positions that serve at the pleasure, I have trouble believing they had never been used for patronage before. If it weren't needed or used, wouldn't those be regular jobs? Patronage doesn't have to be partisan.

Huh, I admit I read the NYT piece at work & not at home. I must have missed the mention they made of the general request of resignations. Sorry about that!

My scenario is easily imagined.

An elected official is asked by constituents "how would I ban a book?" The elected official attempts to find out. The librarian is outraged.

The librarian is asked to resign at the same time several other patronage positions (appointed by the previous mayor, who they supported in the election Palin won) were asked to resign.

IOW, it is not linked to the banned books question. There is nothing in the stories that requires the incidents be linked.
Sep. 6th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
They were regular jobs. At a city level, within reason, the mayor is the executor of city positions. It doesn't mean it's okay to indiscriminately hire and fire because people won't give you your way or like your predecessor, or any other issues unrealted to their proper execution of their job and service to the community, not the mayor.

And I'm sorry, I find it to be unlikely that immediately after being elected, the mayor managed to have two unrelated issues with the librarian, or that the position of local librarian, a relatively prestige-less position receiving mediocre pay that is typically staffed by the library itself or a board/council without input, let alone command, from the mayor, was a "patronage" position. The pink slip also specifically stated that it was because of her unwillingness to cooperate with Palin. For all of those reasons, I don't find that scenario to be of any reasonable likelihood.
Sep. 6th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
At least in Baltimore, it is not uncommon for a new mayor to replace those patronage positions when s/he comes in. It seems particularly common when the people being replaced were closely allied with a previous mayor. *Even* when (as is also common Baltimore) the new mayor is the same party as the old mayor.

So, how do you explain Palin asking for multiple resignations at the same time? (And actually firing someone else, but _not_ the librarian. And cutting one patronage position.) If she had just asked for the librarian's resignation, I could see your point. But she asked for everyone's resignation ... are you arguing that was just a cover up? And firing another person but not the librarian was part of the cover up? That seems quite far fetched...
Sep. 6th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
What are you qualifying as a patronage position? Because all city jobs operate under the mayor, but that doesn't make all of them patronage positions. City librarian =/= cabinet position.

I'm wondering if we read the same articles. The point of the firings was that they were a collection of people in department head positions who were loyal to her predecessor, or people who hadn't given her her way on early mayoral requests. I've known weak leaders/managers to do that to prove their authority/make an example. The librarian issue was one among many, but not directly related to any of the others, so I don't get what you're saying in most of that last paragraph.

As for why she wasn't fired, all of the articles state that it was because the community was outraged (and I'd also assume because a more informed and experienced local official informed her of the questionable legality of the firing, and that she was asking for a law suit, national media coverage, ACLU attention, etc.) and Palin withdrew the pink slip.
Sep. 7th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
The positions which may be appointed by the mayor are patronage positions. I think it's weird. I mean, sure, your chief of staff and such should be a political appointee. But for whatever reason, major department heads like chief of police, school superintendent, and can also be political appointees (and seem to be in this case).

You seemed to have been arguing that Palin requested the librarian's resignation because of the banning-a-book question. I'm asking why you believe that, when at the same time Palin requested the librarian's resignation, she requested the resignations of several other political appointees.

The resignations, asked for at the same time, appear to be related. Why do you not think they are?

(I googled on patronage positions and political appointees, and found a fascinating article where Mayor Newsom asked for resignations from positions _he'd_ appointed. I'd never heard of that before! :) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/11/BAUFS33BL.DTL for the reference)
Sep. 7th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
I think the firing rampage was related. I don't think the reasons for every specific individual were the same.

Gavin Newsom is an interesting cat, and I think there's very little he could do that would shock those of us in the Bay Area anymore, lol. But it doesn't surprise me that he'd do that. He has a history of doing the unexpected and unusual when approaching a problem, and while the results are mixed, I appreciate the school of thought he's coming from (I don't always agree with him, but stuff like the bottled water ban, for example, I think is great).
Sep. 8th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
I am having a grand old time googling this topic. Political appointees are such a flash point. I'd hate to be in one. Not that I'm ever likely to benefit from patronage anyway.

Since she asked for resignations from the folks who supported the person she was running against, all at the same time, that seems pretty self contained. It's internally consistent, and it makes sense.

IOW, I think it is possible that Palin had two separate issues with the librarian (1. the banning books question, 2. supporting her opponent) and there's no way of telling whether she asked for the resignation because of 1., 2., 1. and 2., or something entirely different.

The argument for 1. can be supported by the temporal proximity, though it can be argued against since no books were banned and unnamed constituents made the request.

The argument for 2. can be supported by logical and temporal consistency because of the other opponent-supporters needing to submit their resignations at that same time. Though it can be argued against because of the previous book issue, and because while she didn't accept everyone's resignation without the community outcry she might have accepted the librarian's.

I'm sure there are rumors about a 3rd or 4th possibility swirling around the internet somewhere. :)
Sep. 9th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
The arguments against 1 don't work for me since whether or not the attempt was successful is no indication whatsoever of whether or not it was made, and also because, as per the article linked, Palin was heard in city council to state that she wanted to ban the books. Also, a lack of named constituents doesn't seem to have any bearing on whether or not the request was made and denied, and that fact doesn't seem to be in question.

The argument for two doesn't work for me because I haven't seen anything indicating that the librarian was loyal to her predecessor, leaving the attempted banning the only known issue between them. Did you read that somewhere else in an article I haven't seen?
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
LAWDY she sucks more and more every fucking day.
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
That's what scares me. It's only been less than a week :/.
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