Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Alaska Progressive Blog Roundup - Another Death Panel

The Sarah Palin Death Panel:
Blackberry addict, annoying blogger, town crank and effete chap
Friday's All Things Considered on National Public Radio featured this little gem:

ROBERT SIEGEL: ..... I guess, my question for you is which one of those two women will be - we will be talking about more in 2012, Oprah Winfrey or Sarah Palin?

E.J. DIONNE: I think Oprah Winfrey but you just mentioned Sarah Palin, which increased the ratings of this show by 50 percent. You mention Palin, Web site traffic goes up. So that's why she is getting so much attention.

The Alaska bloggers have known this for some time. So does pretty much all Alaska media, electronic, print, audio and video.

I. Shannyn Moore's KYES Channel 5 television program, Moore Up North, broadcasting today at 4:00 Alaska Time, will feature a hilarious comedy skit by Alice Welling, about when Levi Johnston goes to the Palins for Thanksgiving, and an extended interview with University of Alaska Professor Rick Steiner about the unprecedented attempt at muzzling him by UA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

After that, there will be Sarah Palin's Death Panel, composed of people Palin has attempted to throw under her bus, but have managed to survive and thrive.

II. This past week, Moore continued to write the most effective articles about the continuing attempts to make the budget shortfalls that the Municipality of Anchorage is enduring into something they simply are not. Back on September 23rd, when Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan began his "poor me - nasty, mean Mark!" screed, Moore questioned his motives in an essay titled, "Is Dan Sullivan Running for Senate?" This past week, upon the issuance of the Wheeler Report, Moore wrote "Mayor Sully's Wah-Wah Moment." In the article, Moore observed:

If the city is in such financial disarray from the previous administration, why did Dan Sullivan take a mayoral paycheck for the weeks BEFORE he was mayor? Matt Claman was already being paid to be the acting mayor. Because of Sully, the good taxpayers of Anchorage had to cough up an extra
$12,115.20. There is no record of any [previous] mayor EVER taking a paycheck between election certification and the swearing-in ceremony. The legal loophole Sullivan took advantage of ought to be closed.

I heard dapper Dan on some right-wing talk radio program Thursday afternoon. The host was constantly and incorrectly referring to the $1,215.00 Sullivan got. Sullivan didn't bother to correct the $10,920.20 computational error. Not once. It made me pause and think, "How can you trust this guy on other peoples' money, when he is so willing to let the truth about his own be so falsely portrayed to his own benefit?"

Some of the right-wing Anchiorage radio programs are calling for a special investigator, a special prosecutor or indictments. This is just plain nuts. And as Moore observes about the findings of the Wheeler Report:

According to the Wheeler report, it is important to note that former Mayor Mark Begich DID NOT violate the city charter. AND, the union contracts that have been under constant fire are VALID and PERFECTLY LEGAL!

AK Muckraker chose to cover the meretricious approach to governing by Dapper Dan differently. She told the story as parable, in an article titled "The Witch Hunt - A Parable."

The mayor of the town sat with his feet on the desk, sucking on a chicken bone and looking out the window, surveying his kingdom. OK, it wasn’t really a kingdom, but that would come. He tossed the chicken bone in the trash can and it landed with a clang as he enjoyed the view from his window. This was a very comfortable chair.

The man who previously sat in the comfy chair didn’t like this new mayor, and the new mayor didn’t like him. The new mayor didn’t like the old mayor especially because now the old mayor had left the little town and lived far away, and had an even better chair, and a bigger office and the people liked him. He thought about the former mayor and his success as he sucked a piece of gristle from between his teeth. Nope, he didn’t like that guy one little bit.

Into the office came minions. The mayor smiled. He liked having minions. Even though the minions were smarter than the mayor, they tried not to let him know that. A minion spoke. The minion was slick and he had an ironed shirt and a nice belt, and he used hair products. “The city is in debt,” he said grinning from ear to ear. “This is going to be great.”

“How is it great?” wondered the mayor aloud. The mayor was gazing out the window wondering what the view was like from that other office far away, so he didn’t see the minion roll his eyes. “It’s great because we can blame Mr. Bigpants the Senator just like we planned, you idiot!” He didn’t say “you idiot” out loud, but he thought it.

“But, didn’t he inherit a giant debt when he became mayor too? I don’t remember him blaming that other guy, did he? How will we get away with that?” The minion’s patience was wearing thin. He took a deep breath and decided to explain this to the mayor like he was an 8-year old.

“Look. We don’t LIKE this guy. It doesn’t matter what he did, and it doesn’t matter what history looks like, and it doesn’t matter about the actual facts. We’re going to make him LOOK bad. He’s on the other side, and people are starting to figure out that the other side is better than we are, and if this guy does well then it’s going to be bad news for us. Bad news here, and bad news there.” He gestured in the general direction of the big office on the east coast. “If we can get him out of there, then one of us can take his job!” The minion looked at the mayor for a long time to make sure he understood, and finally a little spark lit up his eyes.

“Ohhhh. I get it.”

“Good. So here’s the plan......”

Linda Kellen at Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis, in her coverage of the Wheeler Report, notes:

What it really comes down to: The Assembly already had all the financial information that the Mayor had. The Conservative's beef: the then-mayor asked for a spreadsheet from then City Finance Officer Sharon Weddleton, where she combined the information everyone already had and inserted some "risk factors" the city might face. As she said, "Most of that information has been disclosed in the footnotes of the financial statements for years." (As it stands, most of these "risk factors" never came to pass.)

I guess the Assembly doesn't read their footnotes. Then, they fired Ms. Weddleton as soon as Mayor Begich left to become Senator and before the Budget was completed. Ooops...

Mudflats explains all of this in an EXTREMELY entertaining way and alludes to some of the information that...well...quite frankly required more research before it could be discussed at any depth.

Coverage of this issue by Anchorage's print, radio and television media has been somewhat spotty.
Don Hunter's series of ADN articles are good. KTUU's coverage has been scant, with only one video clip of "he said-she said" shallow reporting showing up in their video cache.

III. In the same article covering the Wheeler report, Celtic Diva provided an update on the status of her public records request that was paid for in large part by contributions from readers at Alaska's progressive blogs.

Since Attorney General Talis Colberg set up the structure for what has become the least transparent executive department in Alaska history, it has been extremely difficult to get information from the state on a variety of subjects. The Anchorage Daily News, The Alaska Democratic Party, scientist and professor Rick Steiner, Linda Kellen and dozens of others, have all had vexing encounters with the stone wall that has become access to the citizens' rights to know about conduct of government in Alaska.

Linda had been asked by the state to "either agree to an extension or risk losing if I treated all of this as non-responsive and appealed to the Governor. The other option, the court option, isn't really feasible at this time.

"So, I said I'd agree to the third have the Governor belatedly ask the Attorney General to grant an extension."

Here's her letter:

According to your October 9th extension request, you have stated that I have three options:

1) I could agree to an extension request.

You did not state how long that extension would be. I cannot agree to it if I do not know the length of time of that extension. Also, there have been a few weeks between your letter and my response. I would assume that should considerably reduce the length of the extension if not make it unnecessary. For me to agree to #1, the length of the extension must be identified and it must be of reasonable length for the small number of emails I have requested. Besides, as a result of my research and experience with this process, I believe you have already had plenty of time.

2) I could treat this as a denial of my request and appeal to Governor Parnell or Superior Court.

My understanding is that: a) your letter alleges that the services for which the $5,552.62 was covering have already been rendered (i.e. the email search and filtering-see attached June 5th modified request and June 17th additional questions). b) We are now waiting for the lawyers at DoL to go through and see if anything needs to be redacted-services for which Alaska Statute specifically states I cannot be charged.

I am not financially able to either pay the money again for the same search (if Governor Parnell denies the appeal) or afford an appeal to the Superior Court. Therefore, I would not choose this option. (As an aside, since you now know how many emails are being analyzed as the result of the search specific to my records request, I would like to know the number. You should now be able to answer that question as the search process is completed.)

3) The Governor could belatedly request an extension from Attorney General Sullivan.

I think this would be my first choice, as long as my request is in no way penalized for it. In other words, no matter what happens, this process moves forward.

My ultimate goal, after all, is to obtain these emails.

So, in conclusion, I would request number three as long as the above conditions apply.

I believe that the $5,552.62 we paid was for the inefficiency and poor management of those inflated rates even one time as this is information guaranteed by Alaska Statute and Federal Law to be accessible to the public, much less pay for them again. If any action you are about to take could lead to that as a possibility, I expect that you will contact me and await a response before acting.

Thank you for your attention

Linda Kellen Biegel

IV. Once Again - All Sarah - All the Time. Good grief!

Where to begin. As you've noticed almost all of the progressive Alaskan blogs have been wall-to-wall Palin since late last week. Even though I intended to close down the Saradise Lost series after the Crazy Woman's abdication, I brought it back this past week, with Book 4. We're now up to 327 chapters.

First of all, PA should note that one of the mainstream media programs that went wall-to-wall Sarah this week was KSKA/KAKM's Anchorage Edition. I'm noting this mostly because this week's panel, hosted by Michael Carey from the ADN, was comprised of Rebecca Braun from the Alaska Budget Report, Jill Burke from The Alaska Dispatch, and Julia O'Malley, from the ADN. Carey, whose writings on Palin have sometimes been far too laudatory and at others have been spot-on, moderated a good discussion featuring some new voices in Alaska media - at least for this weekly program. A welcome sign of life.

Also, PA welcomed further evidence - from Palin herself - that my claim about Palin's creationist beliefs, made last year, and based on three conversations I had with her over an 8-year period, wasn't just plain "made up," as some right-wing blogs have asserted.

The national exposure Palin received this past week is quite unprecedented for any book release in American history. I can't help but wonder how different national perception of what Palin represents would be, had it not been for the Alaska progressive blogging community.

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