Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Deciding Which Public Information to Release

If you want to see the maturity of Alaskan bloggers, go look at Henkimaa's post "The 2 Million Dollar Meme." Mel writes a term paper on the Palin claim that $2 million has been spent on dealing with 'frivolous' ethics complaints. Mel pulls together ADN stories as well as posts from various blogs (yes, full disclosure, even this blog) which have covered the Personnel Review Board's report that only $300,000 has been spent on these, 2/3 of which was for Troopergate which Palin filed against herself. Mel posts a variety of charts.

Palin's counterclaim is that she's counting the cost of all the time others besides the Personnel Review Board spent. One line from a new ADN article from Sean Cockerham Mel quoted caught my eye:
It is a per-hour calculation that the Palin administration put together, involving time spent by state lawyers deciding which public information to release as a result of all public records requests, time spent by governor's office staffers responding to media inquiries about ethics complaints, and time technicians spend on retrieving requested e-mail, among other things.
This isn't in quotes in the article, so I'm not sure Palin actually said this or Sean has worded it this way, but as I understand it, no one should be deciding which public information to release. ALL public information should be released.

Palin is also quoted as saying she didn't take the filings personally, she's just concerned with all the money it's costing. Yeah right! This just doesn't square with how often and how emotionally she's mentioned it. Why was this mentioned, say, in her resignation speech? On the other hand, I have said that some of the complaints are pushing the line of what we consider acceptable. For instance, all politicians use their offices as stepping stones to higher office and campaign while in office. And for an Alaskan, physically so far away from DC, more time is required. But, ethics review offices, such as the Municipal Board of Ethics, have a pre-screening process with which they screen out 'frivolous' filings. It doesn't take that much time. I think she's taking her cue from the hate-radio guys - never back down from anything you say. She said two million and she's going to go with that no matter the contrary evidence.

Anyway, check out Henkimaa for one of the most indepth Alaskan blogger reports. As I say, this is a professionally prepared report on the topic. (OK, I said term paper above, but my grad students' term papers were often as good or better than reports the government pays for.)


  1. Thanks Steve, your review means a lot.

    I've been thinking about that "deciding which public info to release" thing too: what in fact is behind that? Is that why searching state servers for emails between, say, Eddie Burke & certain Palin admin officials is taking so long: because it's not just searching, but also deciding which posts to actually pass on to Celtic Diva in response to her public records request? If so, then sure, I could see where it could get overwhelming, b/c that's a lot of extra decisionmaking to do, to figure out what is or what is not politically advantageous -- b/c the job of govt. has been handed over completely to politics & ideologies, no longer to the good of all the people.

    Yep, would really like to know what's behind that statement.

  2. Well, first, we have to remember it wasn't in quotes, so we don't know if Palin actually said that or Sean paraphrased her that way.

    Second,some information is NOT public because it has personnel or other confidential information, so some deciding may be in order. But NOT for public information. And unlike the Feds, the state shouldn't have any national security issues to deal with.

    $2 million is a lot of hours. Either they are totally incompetent, billing fraudulently, or just making the number up.

  3. It is so ridiculous to count state employee time as part of the cost of these complaints. It's their job! Should be stop prosecuting DWIs because they take too much state employee time? Same difference.

  4. I've posted links to Mel's article and Steve's review at Firedoglake, where Bmaz is discussing this same subject.

    good work, both of you!

  5. I'd love to hear your opinion on publishing material that is known not to be vetted or properly sourced.

    That would be a hoot.

    “a criminal indictment is pending authorization.”

    - A source connected sometimes to CNN:

  6. Oops, I'll cross post this here too.

    If there's a story to be told about Governor Palin's background, this was it.

    But you guys are too busy chasing each others tales (sic) to go out and connect all of the dots. This has all been reported and commented on over the last couple of years, most notably at TPM, one of the lefty progressive sites that gets it right.


    It's a darn good thing ol' McCain didn't go through ALL of Jack Abramoff's little black book, otherwise he might have stumbled across the Steven Silver/Jack Abramoff connection through Greenberg Traurig.

    According to Senate lobbying disclosures from 2002 to 2004, former chief of staff to Ted Stevens, Steven W. Silver, listed Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig as a client.

    On Greenberg's behalf, Silver lobbied the federal government on "issues relating to Indian/Native American policy," "exploration for oil and gas" and "legislation relating to gaming issues" -- the very issues that Abramoff headed up for Greenberg at the time.

    There's additional evidence of ties between Silver and Abramoff. Emails released by a House committee in 2006 as part of a probe of Abramoff show the now-disgraced lobbyist scheduling a meeting with Silver in 2001.

    It Silver appears to have been a part of "Team Abramoff."

    One of Silver's partners in the law firm Robertson Monagle and Eastaugh was one James Clark, the convicted and yet to be sentenced Chief of Staff of former Governor of Alaska & US Senator Frank Murkowski.

    Clark recruited Silver when Silver left Uncle Ted's office.

    As mayor of Wasilla, Palin oversaw the hiring of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, an Anchorage-based law firm.

    The Wasilla account was handled by Steven Silver.

    Robertson, Monagle, and Eastaugh has close ties to Stevens, and Alaska Congressman Don Young, and let's not forget that Palin's name is listed on 2003 incorporation papers of the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors.

    How about a breakdown of all of those earmarks that Steven Silver has obtained for the City of Wasilla.

    These are not rumors, these are facts.

  7. Anon 4:07 - not completely sure what you're asking/saying. Just asking for a comment? Why not give your own, that's most likely to get one from us.

    Are you suggesting that we're dealing with suspect information? I wouldn't argue with you. And each blogger uses his/her on guidelines.

    But most of the local Alaska bloggers are not earning a living off blogging. We make the blogging fit into our lives as best we can. And I certainly try to couch my comments so that their lack of certainty is clear. But we also are sometimes just reporting on rumors floating about - as rumors - and others then have a chance to confirm or deny them or connect them to something else they are pursuing.

    And I think most of the bloggers only post rumors they hear over and over again, or where the source is known to be reliable.

    That said, I'd readily acknowledge that some of the blogs are really prose comic strips - they are loosely a combination of news and entertainment. But you can say that about a lot of tv news as well. I dare say some of the clearly defined 'humor' shows like the Daily Show have more accurate news than some of the news shows.

    Anon 4:41pm

    Ditto what I said about bloggers earning a living above. We can't do everything, and I readily agree we're doing way too much Palin trivia.

    But Palin stuff is so slippery that one has to use whatever hard details we can find to map the problems. And when they repeat the false meme, then we need to remind people why it's false. I'd say the blogs have been much better about proving their allegations than the Palin administration has been. They throw out numbers or memes and assume everyone will believe it as truth, even when we spell out in detail why it is not.

    You raise an interesting issue (why no link to the source?). But can you push it further to show that a connection suggests that something illegal happened? If the story has been sitting there for a couple of years, why hasn't TPM followe up on it or someone else? Maybe they did and couldn't find anything. Who knows?

    I think the big story will be Stevens' impact on the North Pacific fisheries. From what I'm hearing (more rumors,) his legacy may be what his legislation has done to the destroy the North Pacific fisheries.

    If ever you want to write a guest post here or on the other Alaska blogs, just let the blogger know. Most would love to have good contributions on stories they aren't able to cover themselves.



Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.