SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


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.


Source of News:

Alaska Democrats

Office of the Governor


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Ketchikan, Alaska