Palin sends right-hand man home
By SCOTT CHRISTIANSEN-Frontiersman reporterWASILLA -- With seven weeks left before the end of her administration, Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin sent Deputy Administrator John Cramer home for good. The dismissal came on Aug. 9, just 18 days before Alaska's statewide primary election in which Palin is running for the Republican Party's nomination for lieutenant governor.
Published on Saturday, August 24, 2002 9:20 PM AKDT
Cramer said he had a previously scheduled vacation the week of Aug. 12-16. Sometime during the week prior to his vacation he received a notice dismissing him as of 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. He sent a farewell e-mail to an unknown number of city employees on Saturday, Aug. 10. The "To:" field in a copy of the e-mail forwarded to the Frontiersman has hidden addresses and simply says "Everyone.".. [Snip]
"I wasn't anticipating coming off of vacation and then not being employed by the city of Wasilla," Cramer said. "But certainly, that's her prerogative as mayor, and I understand that." [snip]
A week after his dismissal, Cramer said he thought he would have been able to assist in the upcoming transition, that he had been dismissed sooner than he expected, and that he wasn't given an explicit reason for his dismissal.
"My departure was ahead of when I would have liked to have made that decision," Cramer said, but added that political appointees are hired with the expectation of being dismissed at any time. Still, Cramer thinks he would have been valuable during the transition.
"Based on my experience over the last six years with the city, I certainly felt that I would have been valuable to the next person, whoever that may be," Cramer said.
Palin said Cramer was leaving specifically to make the transition to the next administration smoother.Palin claims that she acted to spare the next administration having to "go through what I had to go through." But the situations are not comparable. When Palin first ran for mayor, the town's six department heads supported the incumbent. When she took office, she demanded that all of them resign and re-apply for their jobs “in order to test their loyalty to her administration” (one had already resigned upon her election). She also issued a gag order, requiring them to obtain her approval before talking to reporters (ADN 10/26/96). She then fired two of them - police chief Irl Stambaugh, who sued for wrongful termination, and librarian Mary Ellen Emmons, whom Palin was forced to rehire after a public outcry and a threatened recall vote. Palin's successor Dianne Keller, in contrast, was a political ally who took office with Palin's best wishes. How exactly would keeping on her deputy administrator until her term expired have caused Keller any difficulties?
"The last thing I want to do is have the next administration go through what I had to go through," Palin said, referring to the transition from the administration of former mayor John Stein to her own administration six years ago.
"We worked wonderfully together, but that doesn't mean the next mayor is going to have the same experience," Palin said....
Both Cramer and Palin mentioned the rough transition six years ago.
"I think there's a little chaos if everything was done on the same day. I don't want to see that for my community," Palin said.
Asked if there were any recent issues that might have brought about his dismissal, Cramer couldn't come up with any.
"Not that I'm aware of. No. Not that I can put my finger on. I honestly can't say what it would be," Cramer said.
There seems to be an element of sadism in Palin's firings. John Bitney, a childhood friend and close aide whom she fired after he confessed to an affair with the wife of her husband's business partner, found out that he was out of a job when his Blackberry stopped working. As for Walt Monegan, Alaska's director of public security who claims he was fired because he refused to fire Palin's estranged ex brother-in-law, he told the Anchorage Daily News (reported 7/13/08) that the news of his firing "out of the blue," adding,"If the governor was upset with me for one thing or another, it had never been communicated to me."