I wanted to offer a little deeper detail on the report in Salon that Max Blumenthal and I put together on Sarah Palin's radical-right friends in Wasilla and the extent to which they worked together -- partly because some of the details reveal a good deal about Palin's approach to governance.
As the story explains, when Palin was elected mayor in 1996, one of her first acts was to attempt to fill her former city council seat by appointing one of the leaders of the town's Bircherite faction, Steve Stoll. She was blocked in that effort by a single vote from former councilman Nick Carney.
Here's a PDF of the minutes from that meeting. What's particularly noteworthy is that Palin was on the verge of ramming the appointment through over Carney's head.
The situation was this: Wasilla's city council comprises six seats. Two of those had been vacated by the just-finished election -- Palin into the mayorship, and another councilman who'd been elected to the Mat-Su Borough Council. The city charter requires all votes to be a majority (that is, 4-2, 4-1, 5-1, 5-0, or 6-0) in order for a measure to pass, including council-seat appointments. Since there was no quorum of the council available, any of these seats had to be approved 4-0 by those council members remaining.
So when Carney refused to put Stoll on the council, it made the vote 3-1. The council minutes tell us that the situation lingered for a week, for a follow-up meeting on Oct. 21, and when they came back, Palin announced that she had some legal opinions saying she could proceed despite Carney's opposition:
Mayor Palin following consultation with several attorneys suggested that since there appeared to be an impasse, that Steve Stoll and Mrs. Dianne Keller be appointed to the vacant council seats based on a 3 to 1 vote previously made by the council.
Evidently, much wrangling then ensued, during which Palin ultimately backed down and nominated a compromise candidate, Darlene Langill, who was appointed to the seat.
It's also worth noting that, according to Carney, Palin also was hoping to appoint one of Stoll's right-wing cohorts, a man named Mike Chryst, to the second council seat. But the city clerk ruled him ineligible because he lived outside the city limits.
The other Wasilla City Council meeting of special note that we describe in the story involved Carney's attempt to pass a common-sense local gun-control ordinance (which you can read as a PDF here. It was this meeting to which Palin recruited a number of witnesses, led by Mark Chryson, to protest the proposal even before it had been completed, and certainly before any hearings were planned.
The minutes read:
Councilwoman Langill requested clarification whether or not the public hearing on Ordinance Serial No. 97-43 was being conducted at this time, as Council Policy was not being followed since people were being allowed to speak on a scheduled agenda item under persons to be heard. Mayor Palin stated that she invites the public to speak on any issue, at any time. Councilman Carney stated that he thought it was unfortunate that Mayor Palin was allowing discussion on Ordinance Serial No. 97-43 at this time. He stated that his intention in presenting this ordinance was to make Wasilla the safest community possible. He feels there are areas of Wasilla where offensive weapons should not be allowed. He never expected to get a second on the introduction of this ordinance, and since there is no support from the Council on the proposed ordinance, allowing discussion is a waste of time. He stated Mayor Palin is violating the meeting rules set for this Council.
Later on, when Carney did try to get a second to advance the ordinance for the next council meeting, he couldn't get one. And so it died then (though Carney did later introduce a resolution banning weapons from city offices, but that too went nowhere).
The picture of Palin's style of governance is eerily similar to what we've seen from the Bush White House the past eight years: When laws, rules, and policies stand in the way of getting what you want, simply ignore them away.
Moreover, what we also see is Palin's early willingness to use demagoguery and overt appeals to the paranoid, angry fringe of the right to get what she wants.
Pretty much what we're seeing on the campaign trail these days, don't you think?