See also: Palin learns quick: torture is American
Below, a few newsbytes from Sarah Palin's two terms (1997-2002) as Mayor of Wasilla AK (pop.9780, up 66% since 2000). A small town outside Anchorage is such alien territory that I would not presume to interpret/judge the facts retailed below. A bit of context though: 1) the local outlook is strongly libertarian, which means not only pro-gun but hostile to pesky regulations such as designated bar closing times); and 2) Palin ran as an insurgent on a tax-cutting platform and had to deal at the outset with city officials loyal to her opponent. Plainly she's not afraid of conflict or decisive action, and she seems to have an authoritarian streak; she reminds me a little of Rudy Giuliani. I'd like (okay, fear) to hear what she has to say about torture, suspension of habeas, and FISA.
Of course, Palin was running a town with less than 1/1000 the population of Giuliani's New York (and later moved up to run a state with less the 1/10 of NYC's population).
The source for all the information below is the Anchorage Daily News (ADN).
1. In her first run for Mayor of Wasilla , Palin won by a 616-413 margin, beating an eight-year incumbent (ADN, 10/3/96). She said that she knocked on the door of every registered voter, except a few with vicious dogs, and sent a handwritten letter to every “supervoter,” those who had voted consistently in prior elections. She won reelection in 1999 by a 826 to 255 margin. Her approval rating as governor was in the high sixties at the time of her selection as McCain’s running mate. It would seem that Alaska voters have consistently seen her as an able executive.
2. Having run an insurgent campaign against a longtime incumbent, Palin began her tenure by asking all four of the city’s top managers, all presumed loyalists to the outgoing mayor,to 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)
3. Shortly thereafter, she fired the police chief and the head of the library, asserting that they did not support her goals for the city. Both claimed that they had previously hashed out differences with her and thought they had established willingness to work with her. The police chief, Irl Stambaugh, sued for wrongful termination, claiming that he was fired at the behest of bar owners and the NRA, the former because he favored earlier bar closings as a way to combat alcohol-related traffic accidents,"and the later because he opposed a concealed gun law (ADN 2/22/97). The suit was dismissed on grounds that city officials serve at the Mayor's pleasure.
4. Palin was elected on a platform of cutting taxes and eliminating wasteful spending. In her first year in office, she took aim at the local museum, which three women had been running for more than 15 years on a total budget of $200,000, or about $25 per town resident. Palin cut the budget by $32,000, which meant that the staff of three would have to choose one who would lose her job. All three quit in protest. One of three “gray-haired matrons” Ann Meyers, 65, said, “If the city were broke, it would be different,” but the city was flush with $4 million in reserves at the time. Palin countered that the museum could be run more efficiently and that voters wanted their tax dollars spent on road repair and extending sewer lines. The museum showcases mining material, homestead memorabilia and early Wasilla history (ADN, 8/6/97).
5. Palin is not indiscriminately anti-tax. She began her career on the Wasilla city council by supporting a sales tax to create a police department. As mayor, she upped the sales tax to pay for a new hockey rink and sports complex.
6. A radio clip has been circulating online in which Palin, during her tenure as governor, titters in response to a radio shock jock’s assertion that her political rival, state senate president Lyda Green, a cancer survivor, is “a cancer on the progress of the State of Alaska" and "a bitch." Apparently, Palin’s fondness for far-right broadcast demagoguery goes way back. In 1998, the owner of a local TV station discontinued an independently produced, shoestring-budget local news show notorious for slanted coverage of local politics, because she feared that continuing to air the show would expose her to liability. According to the ADN (10/14/98), "[Station owner] Schatz said she has received complaints that the election coverage is one-sided and has had concerns of her own about particular shows. She cited a New Year's Day spoof newscast that included a skit with a white man dressed up as a pimp pretending to speak like a black man." Palin reacted to the closing of Valley News with disappointment. "She said it presented a conservative view that balanced out more liberal coverage elsewhere."
Win or lose, I suspect that Palin will always have Fox.