Friday, September 05, 2008


[Update midnight: I'm taking down my original post. I heard a story from a person I trust and it was generally confirmed by a second person I trust. The first person said the rumors were on the internet. I found bits and pieces here, here , here , here , here, and here. When I posted this I thought the story was already out there and I was making comments about Palin based on the story. But as I read Philip at Progressive Alaska commenting on the post, I realize that the story isn't out there, just rumors. While I trust my sources, I don't have enough independent information to nail this. So I'll drop my editorial based on this and just offer the basic allegation.

Four high school students were arrested for vandalizing school buses in Wasilla in 2005.

Deryck Harris, 18, and the other three boys - ages 16, 17 and 17 - were each charged with third-degree criminal mischief, first-degree criminal trespass and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, troopers said. The 16-year-old was also charged with fourth-degree theft and furnishing alcohol to a minor, for allegedly stealing a bottle of vodka from the liquor store at Tesoro 2-Go in Wasilla.

“They stopped at a liquor store where he went in and stole a bottle of vodka and provided it to the others in the group,” Wilkinson said. “Three of the four boys consumed alcohol.”

Troopers did not release names of the juvenile suspects, but David Coon's mother confirmed her son was one of two Burchell High School students involved in the incident. The other two boys are Wasilla High School students.

We also have this story from Detroit's Free Press:

Her oldest son, Track, lived in Portage [Michigan] during most of his senior year in high school. He played junior major hockey. During an interview at the National Governors Association conference in 2007, she told a Free Press reporter that her son went back to Alaska in March to graduate with his class.

Thanks to Lavender Liberal for the previous two links.

The story I was told is that Track Palin was one of them and that he chose to enter the army rather than go to jail (or have a record?).

My original post assumed that this had been confirmed through other sources. I'm assuming the court records of a minor are sealed and that the family doesn't want to discuss this. But a lot of people know about this, including, one would assume, a certain ex-brother-in-law who is a state trooper. But releasing sealed information would surely be grounds for dismissal. Oh this gets curiouser and curiouser.

Discussing politician's children, as Obama has emphasized, should generally be off limits. But if Palin chooses to brag about her son's patriotism joining the military and going to Iraq to make herself a more attractive candidate, then she cannot legitimately say that her children's less flattering behaviors are off limits.

My main source is someone I trust and who is in a position to know something like this. That source discussed this as though it were well known. So I'll leave it at this. Others can pursue it further, but I'm taking down what I originally posted, which assumed this was a certainty.

I apologize to Anonymous (not sure if it was the same Anon twice) for taking down your comments that were based on the original post. Here is part of one of the comments that is Anon's own reflections:
...I have to laugh-- in Anchorage the kids I knew had a high contempt for their parents running for public office, but they all grew up an went to college-- none that I knew actually vandalized anything. We drank in their offices and would sneak wine from their cellars, but this is really classic.
Another later post by (another?) Anon adds documented, factual information and so I'll leave it.]

[UPDATE Sept 21, 2015:  This post today at Immoral Minority claims that yes, Track was part of the group that broke in, but he didn't cut the bus brakes lines.  I knew I'd written a post on this, so I came back here to say that it was reported he wasn't involved in cutting the brakes.  But as I look at this post, there is nothing here that mentions bus brakes.  Instead, this story, if correct, confirms what I wrote seven years ago about Track being part of the group of vandals.  It does not offer evidence of an agreement with the military to avoid jail.]


  1. Wow. I checked out Court View 2000 and thought a speeding ticket for Track Palin was really a dui or something...

  2. Steve, thank you for pulling out of this one. It just didn't rise to the level of your usual work.

  3. Funny how the press was all over Howard Dean's kid for doing something less stupid in 2003 (he was the driver of the car ridden in by some kids who snuck into a country club after hours and got into the liquor cabinet). Nobody was saying how unseemly it to be picking on Dean or his family.

  4. This whole thing is crazy, isn't it? What can we believe and not believe? Rumors abound everywhere.

  5. I've been looking into this for a while and everything seems to check out.

    Particularly the timing of the whole thing.

    The clincher is this story from last year.

    Money quotes:
    Gov. Palin has declined to comment. The Palin family wants to keep private some aspects of his decision, spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said.

    Track was adamant about not wanting publicity, according to a military spokesman.

    The young man's only public statement has been as follows: "Joining the military is something I've been considering for a while now. I've always been competitive and look forward to the challenges that will come as I answer the call and serve my country."
    And for furthe research...
    Young Palin will report to Fort Benning, GA, this week, along with John Bates, his friend and a fellow graduate of Wasilla High School.

    If Bates was one of those other three boys, this is pretty much fit to print.

  6. Well for a while I thought we were getting to know a dark spot from What-do-I-know-Steve's life? It would have been surprising.

    To be more serious it wouldn't have been such a great issue if he wasn't the son of the vice president candidate. I mean consuming alcohol before you are 18 is a normal thing here. It is rather weird if you didn't. I also drank alcohol before my 18th birthday but never been drunk so I don't think I deserve jail for it. A drunk 20 years old person can cause as much harm as a drunk kid.

    I have a classmate who does field hockey and he never drank alcohol because a sportsman does not drink and smoke. I respect him for that.

    I have an other classmate who does soccer/football but when he goes to clubs he smokes and drinks "a bit". When we talk about it I always tell him that he shouldn't especially if he does sport. His reply is that he doesn't drink and smoke only in clubs. I found it quite weird but he knows.

  7. Could the hockey stock be true or is this just a truly vile rumour?

  8. Never underestimate people like Sarah palin to believe that they are above the law. If this doesn't pan out, there's sure to be much, much more that will.

  9. Why don't you try and show some decency and leave the children of the candidates alone?

  10. Anon2 - I agree the children shouldn't be dragged into this. But it was Sarah Palin who brought them in. She used Track's enlistment to boost her candidacy.

    She can't use them for her own benefit only and then say their less positive behaviors are off limits.

    Sorry, that's how I see it.

  11. Plus many of her supporters, particularly some of the religious nuts, claim that raising five children is important experience and one of her strong qualifications. The fact that she's apparently done such a poor job undercuts this argument badly

  12. What a mature statement of 'noble' values from an immature little shit.

    Sounds to me like they called Karl Rove in the middle of the night to piece this one together, to put an ideological slant on a vulgar act of vandalism, and to mask Track's vandalism with the usual brand of Neocon hypocrisy. It is all so lamentably predictable... All we need now is a reference to Track's "wide stance" while saluting the American flag to complete a rosy picture.

    "Challenges" and "serve the call of my country" my ass. It is an insult to the memory all of those who really did make sacrifices for a higher cause.

    Why doesn't Track (is is my imagination, or is that a truly absurd name to give a child)just admit his past and say that he is now paying the price for it? We might have respected his new-found honesty then, and gotten off his case.

  13. You people really need to learn to do some research.

    Fact: You can't join the Army to avoid jail time. Once upon a time you could, but this ain't the 1960's.

    Fact: You can't join the Army if you've been hooked on Oxycontin (or any other controlled substance.)

    "If this doesn't pan out, there's sure to be much, much more that will."

    The quote above is just so telling about the baseless, stupid rumors people are making up. And I thought liberals pretended to be about real issues.

  14. James, To the extent that this still lacks absolute proof, you are right to say that it is inconclusive. But the research we need to still complete is not easy to do - the records for juveniles are not public. I should have offered you a link to alternative sentencing which is a relatively common practice where defendants are given an options short of jail time such as home detention and/or public service in lieu of jail time.

    "The Alternative Sentencing Program keeps eligible and suitable (16 years and up) non-violent defendants who have been convicted or who have pled out criminal cases. They are referred to perform community service in lieu of jail, as a condition of a conditional discharge, or in lieu of a fine. This sentencing option allows defendants to remain employed and to preserve community ties. This provides positive community action and is a deterrent as powerful as incarceration." (from here.)
    Here is another reference.

    However, you offer no evidence whatsover about your "facts" about not being able to join the army to avoid jail time.

    Here's an excerpt from an interview with
    "Eli Flyer [who] retired as a Pentagon senior military analyst in 1979 and has since served as a consultant to U.S. armed forces on personnel issues. He has spent the last fifty years analyzing the relationship between military recruiting and military misconduct; of note is his 2003 report to the Pentagon, “Reducing the Threat of Destructive Behavior by Military Personnel” (PDF)"

    "2. Don't the military services weed out applicants with criminal offense records who are more likely to get in trouble while on active duty?
    Many applicants who are accepted for service have committed serious misdemeanors, and some even have felony convictions, even though the evidence is clear that these recruits are more likely than those with "clean" records to show be behavior problems while on active duty. To enlist with a conviction for a criminal offense, an applicant must receive a "moral" waiver. The process involved in issuing a waiver—evaluating reference recommendations for enlistment—is a weak one that has little value for screening purposes. It needs to be fixed. Since recruits who enlist with a moral waiver generally have higher discharge rates than other recruits, they should certainly receive more intensive screening for enlistment than they do now. A number of the men who have been accused of abuses against civilians in Iraq had histories that should have raised red flags."

    I didn't write anything about Track being addicted to drugs in my post, you brought that in from somewhere else.

    Here's another article, this time from the SF Chronicle on military recruiting:

    U.S. is recruiting misfits for army
    "Felons, racists, gang members fill in the ranks

    Nick Turse

    Sunday, October 1, 2006"

    You can go to the link for the whole article.

    James, you accuse "You people" of needing to do research, but you offer no evidence for your points.

    By the way, in the 60s it was much harder to get into the military. There was a draft and they had plenty of qualified people to fill the ranks.


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