Palin should stay in Juneau
and work with Legislature
Palin Says Political Adversaries
Allow Politics to Cloud Judgment in Final Week
April 13, 2009
Anchorage, AK With less than a week to go before the end
of the legislative session, local leaders today called on Governor
Sarah Palin to stay in Juneau and work with the Legislature until
the end of the session.
Palin is traveling to Indiana for a Vanderburgh County Right
to Life event in Evansville Thursday. The next day, Palin will
attend a breakfast in Evansville for S.M.I.L.E., a nonprofit
organization for people with family members who have Down syndrome,
according to media reports.
Meanwhile, unfinished business pending in Juneau includes legislation
to accept the federal stimulus money, the operating and capital
budgets, confirmation of Palin appointees, and selection of a
replacement senator for the seat vacated recently by Juneau Senator
Kim Elton. By law the 90-day session must end no later than Sunday,
April 19. Legislative leaders say the session may end a few days
earlier than that.
Patti Higgins, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party, said at
a news conference today that by choosing to be out of state during
the closing days of the legislative session, "Governor Palin
is again putting her national political ambitions ahead of the
needs of Alaskans and her responsibilities as Governor."
"With the economy in recession,
with Alaska's unemployment rate over 9 percent, and with these
important bills pending that affect our economy and people's
lives, where is Sarah Palin? She's half way across the country
at a Right to Life event. Alaska needs a full-time Governor who
is focused on the needs of Alaskans. We call on Gov. Palin to
stay in Juneau and work with the legislators," Higgins said.
Local Mat Su leaders Mary Kvalheim and Mike Chmielewski discussed
issues pending in the legislature affecting their communities,
and the implications of the Governor's absence.
"The Mat Su didn't get
anything in the capital budget," said Kvalheim, a former
member of the Mat Su Borough Assembly. "We have three of
the worst roads in the state for death and accidents, according
to the Department of Transportation. Sarah Palin needs to be
in Juneau fighting for a fair budget that addresses these problems."
"The issues we are dealing
with are hard and require hard work and focused attention,"
said Mike Chmielewski, a member of the Palmer City Council. "It's
important for people to meet face-to-face to work things out,
and Palin has to be present for that to happen."
Governor Sarah Palin acknowledged
she will attend the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in
Evansville, Indiana on Thursday as well as a breakfast the next
morning for S.M.I.L.E., a nonprofit organization for families
with members who have Down Syndrome. Governor Palin had previously
personally informed the legislative leadership of her upcoming
event and asked if legislators had any problem with her attendance
at an event outside the Capitol building. None expressed concerns
This event doesn't cost the
state a dime according to a news release - the governor has no
staff, not even state security, with her, though her predecessors
did travel with state security even on vacations.
"It is nothing more than a politically charged shot in the
dark," said Governor Palin's chief of staff, Mike Nizich.
"We view the legislative session as a very serious state
issue. This isn't politics for us; this is Alaska's future.
I have worked for seven governors. Every governor has traveled
during the legislative session. Had this group done its homework,
they would have realized that Governor Palin has had numerous
meetings with lawmakers this session and has been in constant
communication with them.
"During the final week of session, legislators rarely want
governors around stirring things up," Nizich said. "We
did not anticipate that the governor's political opponents would
want their hands held in the final hours of the session."
Thus far during the 26th Alaska Legislature, Governor Palin has
laid out a forward-looking agenda, including initiatives and
bills to progress such issues as an in-state natural gas pipeline
and a consolidation plan for Railbelt utilities. She also has
focused on reducing state spending and providing assistance to
cash-poor villages in Western Alaska that are facing high energy
costs. The governor has made her spending priorities clear, including
the use of federal stimulus dollars.
A historical review shows that Governor Palin has spent the vast
majority of time working in Juneau during the legislative session
especially when compared with other governors. Governor Knowles
traveled an average of 38 days during session and Governor Murkowski
traveled an average of 45 days during session. Governor Palin
has only been out of Juneau 14 days as she worked in other communities
around Alaska this session. Governor Palin has spent only two
days out of state.
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