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It’s official. Tomorrow, former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan will file his paperwork, and throw his hat in the ring as a candidate for the Anchorage mayoral seat about to be vacated by current Mayor Mark Begich.

Begich will head to Washington D.C. as Alaskas Junior Senator and leave the Chair of the Anchorage Assembly, Matt Claman in the role of Acting Mayor until the election in the spring.

Matt Claman has been unwilling to say whether he will run for the seat he will temporarily occupy between January and April, or not. My guess is that he will not. His wishy-washiness to date has been aggravating, and the fact that there are already two strong progressive candidates in Croft and Selkregg means that the addition of Claman and the potential splitting of the vote could feasibly result in Dan Sullivan being elected, which many would consider disastrous.

The mayoral field is crowded. Monegan will be running against Anchorage Assembly member Sheila Selkregg, former legislator Eric Croft, former Assembly member Dan Sullivan, and former police spokesman Paul Honeman.

Monegan has recently spoken at the Bartlett Democratic Club Luncheon, and also at the University of Alaska. The theme for his talks was “ethics in government.” Alaskans are generally not familiar with that term.

And what does he have to say about the ethics of our current Governor?

“I think there could be improvement. Let me put it that way.”

Monegan is not giving details of his campaign until the paperwork is filed tomorrow.

His ouster at the hands of Sarah Palin, and the ensuing ethics investigation which found her guilty of abuse of power had the effect of catapulting Monegan into the national spotlight. His support in Anchorage is widespread both among law enforcement personnel and the public at large. He will be a formidable opponent.

Let the games begin!

Source: Mudflats

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The censored version has already been added to OFKR – but for posterity’s sake we had to add this uncut version – of what will be a classic Sarah Palin.

Palin told Alaska reporters the Republican ticket could not overcome the headwinds.

Palin told Alaska reporters the Republican ticket could not overcome the headwinds.

(CNN) – Sarah Palin told local reporters in Alaska that unhappiness with the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy and spending record were responsible for the GOP ticket’s defeat this year.

“I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration?” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska’s KTUU Channel 2.

“How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we’re talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing. So people desiring change I think went as far from the administration that is presently seated as they could. It’s amazing that we did as well as we did.”

Palin returned to Alaska last week amid growing speculation about her political future. The Alaska governor is slated to attend the Republican Governors Association’s meeting in Miami this week.

Source: CNN

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ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin has returned to Alaska fully recast and amplified.

Adored by many national conservatives, Ms. Palin is a prospect for a presidential run in 2012, supporters say. Caricatured by opponents, she is a candidate for political oblivion, say others.

Regardless, Ms. Palin told reporters the day after Election Day, “This has been all positive for me.”

Alaska, too, has been recast and amplified in the 10 weeks since Ms. Palin soared to national prominence as the Republican nominee for vice president, and the process has not necessarily been all positive.

Oil prices, which provide the bulk of state revenue, were well over $100 a barrel in late August when Ms. Palin left to campaign with Senator John McCain. Now they are slumming south of $60 a barrel, below the level required to balance the state budget. Increased scrutiny of Ms. Palin’s time as governor often painted an unflattering portrait of her administration. Investigative news reports have portrayed Ms. Palin as being consumed with personal matters and vindictiveness, particularly in the controversy over the firing of her public safety commissioner in what has become known as Troopergate.

Many Democrats, her allies in passing key legislation to raise taxes on oil companies and spur development of a natural gas pipeline, are outraged by her partisan attacks on now President-elect Barack Obama and on the tactics of the McCain-Palin campaign here at home.

Within the state’s Republican establishment — never Ms. Palin’s comfort zone — there is tension over the fate of Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted last month of failing to disclose gifts and free home renovations he received. Ms. Palin called on Mr. Stevens to resign even as state Republicans urged his re-election. A preliminary vote count suggests he could win a seventh full term.

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Even if Mr. Stevens wins, he could still be forced to resign, and Ms. Palin is widely viewed as a strong candidate to win his seat in the special election that would have to be held to replace him.

Ms. Palin has largely dodged questions about her long-term political future, and as she gets back to governing full time, few people know what to expect from her in the immediate future.

“She’s coming back to a whole different world from when she left,” said State Representative John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole who is chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “If she comes back with a puffed up ego there’s going to be problems. But if she comes back ready to work, that will be better.”

Ms. Palin, in an interview in her office on Friday, said she was ready to work.

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“Now we kick in that fiscal conservativeness that needs to be engaged, and we progress this state with $57-a-barrel oil,” Ms. Palin said. She said the state would have to “be prudent with public dollars and provide services more efficiently than have ever been provided in the state of Alaska before.”

The price and production of oil determines state finances: taxes on oil bring in about 85 percent of state revenue. To balance the budget for the 2008-9 fiscal year, the price of oil needs to average $74 over the 12 months, said Karen J. Rehfeld, director of the state office of management and budget. If it falls below that average, the state could have to make emergency cuts or dip into a reserve account that contains several billion dollars. High prices early in the fiscal year may help keep the average up this year, but next year is another matter.

Ms. Palin, first elected governor in 2006, has governed only in times of budget surpluses, and lawmakers said they had many questions about how she would lead now.

“I just don’t know what kind of philosophy she’s going to have when she comes back,” said State Representative John Harris, a Republican and the departing House speaker.

Noting that his chief of staff, John Bitney, was once the governor’s legislative director, Mr. Harris added, “We were just trying to figure out what kind of policy things the governor may want to address and we were kind of scratching our heads, because we don’t know.”

Mr. Harris was among several lawmakers who questioned whether Ms. Palin would spend the rest of her term, which ends in 2010, positioning herself to run for national office. Would she pursue a socially conservative agenda, promoting bills to restrict abortion or gay rights, issues she largely passed on in her first two years in office because she was trying to win support from Democrats on other issues? Would she move to the center? Would she continue to rail against “the old boy network,” stoking her reformist image at the expense of her fellow Republicans, whose party has been tarnished by corruption scandals, including that of Mr. Stevens?

Ms. Palin rejected the idea that she would be playing to a larger audience.

“My actions will continue to be first and foremost in good service to the state of Alaska,” she said in the interview.

But other than suggesting that cost cuts were to come, Ms. Palin did not hint at a broader agenda.

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The governor is due to submit her 2009-10 budget next month, and neither she nor her aides offered specifics about what it might contain. The McCain-Palin campaign portrayed Ms. Palin as an energy expert, and one top priority Ms. Palin expressed well before she was selected to run for the vice presidency was to improve energy sources for different parts of the state. That includes finding cheaper sources of energy for rural villages, which often rely on inefficient diesel power, as well as for cities like Fairbanks, the state’s second largest, where utilities rely on oil and coal.

The state also faces questions over issues like financing Medicaid, increasing mining in environmentally sensitive areas and spending on transportation projects, as well as the complex negotiations involved in trying to develop the gas pipeline with the cooperation of the same oil companies whose taxes Ms. Palin has raised.

Ms. Palin’s partisanship on the campaign trail may be what most surprised people at home.

“She’s coming back to a divided state, where Democrats had supported her but they watched her for two months call the president-elect of the United States a terrorist sympathizer,” said State Representative Les Gara, Democratic of Anchorage. “She called him a socialist.”

Her partisanship also surprised some conservative Republicans, who were accustomed to feeling ignored while Ms. Palin nurtured alliances with Democrats and moderate Republicans. Now, some Republicans who have been at odds with Ms. Palin in the past are wondering if her partisan tone on the campaign trail might mean they will have her ear more than before.

“It appears that way,” said Mr. Coghill, the Republican from North Pole. Mr. Coghill said Ms. Palin’s emphasis on socially conservative issues on the campaign trail has helped persuade him that now is the time to ask Ms. Palin to actively support a bill that would require minors seeking abortions to notify their parents in advance.

“There are some people in our caucus who are skeptical” that Ms. Palin might ally herself more with Republicans now, Mr. Coghill said. “But they’re willing to take the chance, to step up and play.”

Ms. Palin suggested in the interview that how she ran for vice president would not shape how she governs Alaska.

“If anybody wants to try to criticize and say, ‘Oh, all of a sudden she’s an obsessive partisan,’ they’re wrong,” she said.

But she did allow that she thinks beyond her current role.

“Around every corner is something new,” Ms. Palin said, “so I look forward to seeing what happens next. But for now, it’s great to be back in the governor’s office.”

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Well as Palin predicted here’s the Russians – though not for war but to take part in building a gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada. And there is even a sprinkle of K.G.B in there to excite McCain. I think these Russians were saying WE COME IN PEACE !! PLEASE DON’T NUKE US !!

MOSCOW — A high-level delegation from the Russian energy company Gazprom met in Anchorage with state officials on Monday to talk about investing in Alaskan energy projects. The meeting came nearly three weeks after Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska talked in a television interview about her expertise in energy matters and took a hard line with Russia.

Senior officials of Gazprom said at a shareholder meeting in Moscow in June that the company was seeking to take part in a consortium that is building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada. The company is also interested in investing in other energy initiatives in the state, according to a statement released by Gazprom on Tuesday about the meeting in Anchorage.

“Gazprom has accumulated great experience in exploring hydrocarbon deposits, building and using gas pipelines in the far north environment,” the company said in the statement. “Gazprom’s experience will be relevant in realization of similar projects in Alaska.” 

Senior officials of Gazprom said at a shareholder meeting in Moscow in June that the company was seeking to take part in a consortium that is building a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Canada.

The Russian delegation at the meeting on Monday in Anchorage unexpectedly included several close associates of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin. The executives presented a slide show about the company’s business that lasted about an hour.

Eight senior Gazprom officials attended the session, including the company’s chief executive, Aleksei B. Miller, a longtime Putin ally, and Aleksandr V. Golubyev, a deputy director who, like Mr. Putin, is a veteran of the K.G.B. and who has worked with Mr. Putin for at least 17 years, according to a biography posted on the Gazprom Web site.

“We had thought initially that only one or two people would be coming,” Marty Rutherford, a deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, said in a telephone interview. “But it turned out to be about a dozen.”

Aleksandr V. Golubyev, a deputy director who, like Mr. Putin, is a veteran of the K.G.B. and who has worked with Mr. Putin for at least 17 years

The delegation met with Tom Irwin, the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, who was appointed by Ms. Palin, and with James J. Mulva, the chief executive of ConocoPhillips, a Texas oil company. Gazprom has been in talks with Conoco, which does business in Russia, about joining the Alaskan pipeline consortium.

A Gazprom official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the visit said it was rare for such a large delegation of senior executives to travel together.

Mr. Irwin said in a telephone interview that the Gazprom executives never mentioned Ms. Palin during the meeting. Nor was the company’s desire to join in the natural gas pipeline discussed, said Mr. Rutherford, the deputy commissioner.

State officials often meet with foreign energy companies that are interested in the state’s reserves, Mr. Irwin said. “A lot of companies come to Alaska because of the resources we have here,” he said.

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska,”

He characterized the Gazprom presentation as an overview of the company’s global business. “This was a very professional, well-done overview,” he said. The governor’s office was notified of the meeting, he said.

In an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News last month, Ms. Palin, in response to a question about her foreign policy expertise, explained why she thought that Alaska’s proximity to Russia had contributed to her international experience.

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska,” she said. A spokesman for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign said the governor was referring to flights by Russian Air Force planes near the state’s borders.

Gazprom is exceptionally close to the Russian government, and political and energy analysts think its international business activities are closely coordinated with the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda. The company, the world’s largest gas producer, has been eager to enter the North American market. Earlier this year, Gazprom bought capacity at a planned liquefied-natural-gas plant in Canada.

Gazprom is so close to the Russian government that top officials move seamlessly from the boardroom to the Kremlin and back. When Dmitri A. Medvedev replaced Mr. Putin as president in May, he resigned as chairman of Gazprom. He was replaced at the company’s helm by Viktor A. Zubkov, who stepped down as prime minister. Mr. Putin then became prime minister.

Source: NYT

Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show

Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show

When Palin says something – it’s better to – go and double check!

SHARE Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fought to protest atrocities in Sudan by dropping assets tied to the country’s brutal regime from the state’s multi-billion-dollar investment fund, she claimed during Thursday’s vice presidential debate.

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks duringa vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008.

Not quite, according to a review of the public record – and according to the recollections of a legislator and others who pushed a measure to divest Alaskan holdings in Sudan-linked investments.

“The [Palin] administration killed our bill,” said Alaska state representative Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Gara and state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, co-sponsored a resolution early this year to force the Alaska Permanent Fund – a $40 billion investment fund, a portion of whose dividends are distributed annually to state residents – to divest millions of dollars in holdings tied to the Sudanese government.

In Thursday’s debate, Palin said she had advocated the state divest from Sudan. “When I and others in the legislature found out that we had some millions of dollars [of Permanent Fund investments] in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars,” Palin said.

But a search of news clips and transcripts from the time do not turn up an instance in which Palin mentioned the Sudanese crisis or concerns about Alaska’s investments tied to the ruling regime. Moreover, Palin’s administration openly opposed the bill, and stated its opposition in a public hearing on the measure.

“The legislation is well-intended, and the desire to make a difference is noble, but mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens’ financial security is not a good combination,” testified Brian Andrews, Palin’s deputy treasury commissioner, before a hearing on the Gara-Lynn Sudan divestment bill in February. Minutes from the meeting are posted online by the legislature.

Gara says the lack of support from Palin’s administration helped kill the measure.

“I walked out of that hearing livid,” Gara recalled of the February meeting. Because of the Palin administration’s opposition to the bill, “We could not get a vote in that committee,” he explained. At no point did Palin come out in support of the effort, Gara said.

Gara said that after it was clear the bill had stalled, he and others pressed the administration directly on Sudan divestment.

“We were outraged,” Gara recounted. “We went to the Commissioner of Revenue and said, ‘What the hell are you guys doing? This is genocide. We’re going to keep pushing this until we divest.”

Two months later, at the end of the legislative session, the administration softened its position. Appearing before a Senate committee which was considering a companion measure to Gara’s bill, Palin’s Treasury commissioner, Patrick Galvin, stated the administration supported such a measure, though it hoped to amend the bill to allow for investments held indirectly, for example in index funds.

“At the last minute they showed up” and supported the divestment effort, Gara said. But by then the legislative session was almost over, and there wasn’t enough time to get it passed.

The Alaska Permanent Fund currently holds $22 million in Sudan-linked investments, according to the non-profit Sudan Divestment Task Force. Divestment advocates say the fund does not need an act of the state legislature to divest itself of those holdings.

The McCain-Palin campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been a strong supporter of Sudan divestment efforts, and has urged Americans to liquidate their holdings in companies who do business there. He was criticized for that position when it was revealed in May his wife Cindy held $2 million in investment funds owning shares of Sudan-linked companies. She sold those holdings following a reporter’s inquiries.

Source: ABC

Will looking good be enough!! Without a teleprompter how will Palin communicate the facts?

She’s clearly good at making up a story or two – perhaps this might be one of her solutions.

But we should all look to getting behind Joe Biden – so far every reporter that Palin has had an interview with has been accused of beating her up – it’s the workman who blames his tools for the Republican spin artists.

Joe Biden when asked how would he deal with Palin – he said “respectful” – what more can she hope for – but this in no way should mean he should give her an easy ride.

The only easy ride she should get is from McCain!!

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Not since Dan Quayle took the stage in 1988 have debate expectations for a major party candidate been as low as they will be on Thursday for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

A newcomer to the national scene, Ms. Palin has given little indication that she has been engaged in a serious way in the pressing national and international issues of the day.

But a review of a handful of her debate performances in the race for governor in 2006 shows a somewhat different persona from the one that has emerged since Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, named Ms. Palin as the vice-presidential nominee a month ago.

Ms. Palin, a former mayor who had become a whistle-blower about ethical misconduct in state government, held her own in those debates. (There were almost two dozen in the general election alone; she skipped some, and not all were recorded.)

She staked out a populist stance against oil companies and projected a fresh, down-to-earth face at a time when voters wanted change. That helped her soundly defeat Frank H. Murkowski, the unpopular Republican governor, in the primary and former Gov. Tony Knowles in the general election.

Her debating style was rarely confrontational, and she appeared confident. In contrast to today, when she seems unversed on several important issues, she demonstrated fluency on certain subjects, particularly oil and gas development.

But just as she does now, Ms. Palin often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two. Her sentences were distinguished by their repetition of words, by the use of the phrase “here in Alaska” and for gaps. On paper, her sentences would have been difficult to diagram.

John Bitney, the policy director for her campaign for governor and the main person who helped prepare her for debates, said her repetition of words was “her way of running down the clock as her mind searches for where she wants to go.”

These tendencies could fuzz her meaning and lead her into linguistic cul-de-sacs. She often used less than her allotted time and ended her answers abruptly.

When questioned about the nuts and bolts of governing, Ms. Palin tended to avoid specifics and instead fell back on her core values: a broadly conservative philosophy and a can-do spirit.

“My attitude and my approaches towards dealing with the complexities of health care issues,” she said in an AARP debate in October 2006, “is a respectful and responsible approach, and it’s a positive approach. I don’t believe that the sky is falling here in Alaska.”

These patterns could help explain why the McCain campaign negotiated for less time for discussion in her debate Thursday with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware than the presidential candidates had in their debate last week.

Ms. Palin was not always at her best when questioned by her opponents in the governor’s race.

In the AARP debate, Mr. Knowles and Andrew Halcro, an independent, double-teamed her to press her about how she would pay for health care.

In response to Mr. Knowles, she mentioned “certificates of need” and said they had been inflexible, “creating an environment where a lot of folks are lacking the receiving of their health care that is needed in some of the areas, especially in some of our larger markets.” She added, “The State of Alaska needs to be looking specifically at that inflexibility that exists today in order to fill some of the market needs that are out there in Alaska in our larger markets.”

She then added, “I can’t tell you how much that will reduce monetarily our health care costs, but competition makes everyone better, it makes us work harder, it does allow reduction in costs, so addressing that is going to be a priority.”

Mr. Knowles was nonplussed, saying that he did not understand her answer and that Ms. Palin had missed the point.

Mr. Halcro asked how she would pay for critical health care programs.

“Well, the point there, Andrew,” she said, “is that these are critical, and again it’s a matter of prioritizing and it’s a matter of government understanding its proper role in public safety, is health care, so it’s a matter of priorities.”

Mr. Halcro called her answer “political gibberish.”

But other times, she gave direct answers that appealed directly to her audience. The candidates were asked in a debate on Aug. 17, 2006, by a rural resident via video whether they would restore a longevity bonus for senior citizens, a payment intended to keep them from leaving the state.

“No,” Mr. Murkowski said gruffly. John Binkley, a third candidate, said yes. Ms. Palin’s response was filled with emotion.

“Yes, our precious, precious elders,” she said, looking into the camera. “For those who were prematurely lopped off, I am so sorry that that has happened to you.”

But generally, her voice carried surprisingly little affect.

“In tone, manner and sometimes even language, she treated every issue exactly the same,” Michael Carey, the former editorial page editor of The Anchorage Daily News, wrote in an essay about Ms. Palin. “She gave no suggestion that some issues are of higher priority than others. Her voice was cheerful, up-tempo, optimistic, never off key but always in the same key.”

Perhaps her strength in debating was coming across like an average person who understood the average person’s needs and would not be expected to have detailed policy prescriptions.

She also neutralized some of her conservative social views. She said intelligent design should be taught in schools — along with evolution. She said she favored the teaching of abstinence — along with the teaching of sex education. “Let the kids debate both sides,” she said.

She was not a particularly aggressive debater, and she rarely took an opportunity to challenge her opponents. But when pressed, she could be tough. In a roundtable discussion in October on the “Bob and Mark Show,” Mr. Halcro suggested that Ms. Palin had not attended enough debates.

“It’s been a year today that I’ve been on the campaign trail,” Ms. Palin responded, “attending many, many more forums, more debates, than either one of you, Tony and Andrew, because I had a primary opponent. You know, you got to have the balls to take it on in the early part of a campaign, and not just go right to the big show.”

Source: NYT