Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Strange Priorities

It appears that Sarah Palin had no problem sacking Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan who, by the Governor's own admission, had been effectively combating alcohol abuse in rural Alaska.

But Sarah Palin already had fired another head of law enforcement. After being elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996, Palin fired its longtime police chief, Irl Stambaugh. Evidence suggests that Stambaugh was dismissed partly because of pressure upon the new mayor by two of her campaign contributors, the National Rifle Association and tavern owners. Stambaugh opposed legislation pending in the state which would have permitted carrying concealed weapons in banks and bars. And the chief, reacting to increased drunk driving arrests and accidents, advocated moving the closing time of bars from 5:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. (Stambaugh's breach of contract suit was dismissed when the court ruled that the police chief serves at the pleasure of the mayor.)

In May, 2000 Democratic Governor Tony Knowles of Alaska signed a bill preventing municipalities from charging victims of sexual assaults the $300-$1200 cost of a rape kit used to gather evidence of such offenses. Only one municipality in the entire state charged the alleged victim for the test.

As Jacob Alperin-Sheriff explains at The Huffington Post, that town would be Wasilla, with its mayor, Sarah Palin. The law pre-dated the administration of Mrs. Palin, who then replaced Stambaugh, who had submitted each year in his budget a line item to pay for the cost of exams. His replacement- handpicked by the new mayor- was Dwayne Charles Fannon, who began the policy (budget request can be downloaded here) of victim payment in the 1998-1999 fiscal year (and went on to oppose publicly the law signed by Governor Knowles). His budget request was signed by "Sarah Palin Mayor."

As we are continually told, Sarah Palin is charming, charismatic, attractive, well-spoken, savvy, conservative.... and tough. Tough on law enforcement- but soft on the NRA, alcohol abuse.... and crime.

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