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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin and Me

Sarah Palin is a conservative living in Alaska, and I am a progressive living in Alabama. It might seem that we are worlds apart.

But after reading numerous articles about Palin, the Alaska governor who is John McCain's choice as a running mate, I kept thinking, "I feel like I know this woman from somewhere."

How could that be? I think it's because Palin is cut from conservative central casting. And anyone who has come face to face with Republican-driven corruption, as I have, will recognize certain disturbing traits in Palin's up-from-obscurity story.

From Barrow to Boca Raton, from Walla Walla to Wedowee, corrupt conservative minds tend to think alike. When confronted with someone they perceive as a threat or an irritant, they rely on certain strategies. And one of the old chestnuts from the conservative playbook is to mess with someone's livelihood.

If the target is a "big fish"--say a Democrat who keeps winning elections in a Southern state (see Siegelman, D.) or a wealthy attorney who provides financial support to Democratic candidates (see Minor, P.)--this might take the form of a bogus criminal prosecution. It's hard to win or fund political campaigns from federal prison.

But if the target is a "smaller fish"--say a troublesome blogger in Alabama or a state trooper in Alaska--this takes the form of a stealth campaign against a person's job.

I know all about this tactic. Roughly five months after starting Legal Schnauzer, after the blog had been cited by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and been referenced by Scott Horton of Harper's magazine, my work life at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) took a dramatic change--for the worse.

I was winding up my 19th year as a UAB employee, so it was pretty well established that I knew how to do my job, follow university policy, and conduct myself according to UAB standards. I had known my supervisor, Pam Powell, for almost the entire 19 years at UAB and had worked directly under her for 12 years, so it was pretty well established that I knew how to get along with her and perform my job to her satisfaction.

But in a roughly five-month period that started in December 2007, I suddenly couldn't do the simplest things right. I couldn't fill out a vacation request properly. I couldn't keep job notes properly. I couldn't keep daily electronic time sheets properly. And university clients who had never complained to me about my performance--in fact, clients who had highly praised my work--suddenly were inundating Pam Powell with complaints.

Because I had written proof that a particular client was, in fact, very pleased with my work--in other words, I had proof that Pam Powell was lying about client complaints--I stood up for myself. First, I sent an e-mail to Powell, including a written document that refuted her claims of client unhappiness. I later would discover that five days after I sent this e-mail, Powell instigated an "investigation" of my computer usage at work.

Can we say "retaliation?"

But UAB was just warming up its retaliatory act. When I filed a formal grievance against Powell, which UAB policy says an employee can do without fear of penalty or reprisal, I was placed on administrative leave roughly two weeks later--and then fired on May 19.

Don't know about you, but I would call that a pretty stiff penalty.

Since leaving UAB, I've unearthed substantial evidence that suggests people connected to the Alabama Republican Party took steps to get me fired. Specifically, U.S. Attorney Alice Martin appears to have played a prominent role in an effort to pressure UAB into giving me the heave-ho. We will be presenting this evidence in the coming days and weeks at Legal Schnauzer.

For now, let's say the stories about Sarah Palin's "Troopergate" problems in Alaska have a familiar vibe. Not surprisingly, Palin appears to be a favorite of the Karl Rove Machine that runs the Republican Party--very much the way Martin is seen in Alabama.

Palin's ethical woes stem from her administration's efforts to get Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten fired. Wooten had been married to Palin's sister and was engaged in an ugly child-custody battle.

Palin fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, and several days later, Monegan said he had been pressured to fire Wooten

The governor first said no one from her staff had pressured Monegan to fire Wooten. But evidence then revealed that Monegan had received heavy pressure to get rid of the governor's former brother-in-law.

(By the way, Walt Monegan is a new hero of mine. I didn't know supervisors with spines still existed. I certainly haven't seen any around UAB recently.)

The Washington Post presents a compelling overview of the trooper story and shows how the Palin family, and their associates, were deeply engaged in trying to get Wooten fired--even though appropriate disciplinary action already had been taken against him.

So what have we learned about Sarah Palin in the past four or five days:

* When she feels threatened by someone (rightly or wrongly), she tries to cost that person their job;

* When she can't get that person fired, she fires their supervisor;

* She lies about her motives and the actions of those close to her;

* She abuses her public position, and wastes public resources, in an effort to extract personal revenge.

Sarah Palin might be a woman of the Great White North, but she would be an ideal fit in Karl Rove's Deep South.


Bay said...

But, flip this thing upside down. If McCain and Palin wanted to SHOW us they are in fact mavericks and they are serious about not being afraid to take on corruption even within their own party you know what that could do. Oh yeah, you know. THAT would get my attention! Don't forget what HE did to McCain..

Anonymous said...

I agree; in fact, I have been similar frustrations:

I experienced similar tactics when going through a recent divorce and custody battle with my ex and her her power family.

While going through a divorce, child custody dispute, and ever after, I have been:

accused of trying to illegally enter my ex's home, depsite a taxi driver, and my friend (now my wife), and my children being present. The ex was not even there and yet she brought the accusation made by the angry jilted ex-in-laws.

accused of hacking the family courts computers to get a judge that had been divorced before. The ex-ma-in-law had implied I was a bad person because I came from a divorced family, and that they hoped I might learn from being associated with thier family that has not seen divorce (even though her the ex-ma-in-law's sister was remarried).

accused of having an unsecured firearm in the presence of the children. The ex had just transfered the shotgun to my name, it was in a soft case /w a trigger lock on it, the only key I had was at a friends house because I did not want anyone having it during the divorce (at the request of my best friend who was concerned about my depression over having to file for one). The ex saw the case on the floor when she looked into my window while picking up the kids at my house. She knew there was always a trigger lock on it; she bought the gun, case, and lock for me.

accused of being unable to provide love and affection to my children.

accused of being addicted to porn since I did not want to have sex with my Ex any more.

accused of being being demon infested since I escaped by playing MMORPGs.

accused of being unable to care for my children despite the fact that I cared for them and church friends children while my ex and and her church friends left thier children in my care on a regular basis so they could do all manner of volunteer work and workshops.

...the list goes on

people who were family friends of my ex filed statements to the court saying they never liked me anyhow; but told me otherwise to my face when I was married to my ex.

Funny; not one person who was my friend before I met my wife had anything bad to say. They are all glad to have me back in thier lives now that I am out from under the thumb.

I don't usually post anonymous but I real do not care to endure more litigation for stating the truth.

The GTL™ said...

Go get 'em, Schnauzer!!!

This is exactly why I blog anonymously -- no tellin' what the "Good Ole' Boys" (and girls) are capable here in the Heart of Dixie, or in my case, LA (Lower Alabama)...

Anonymous said...

my heart goes out to you, from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

I hope you get a bit of luck these days.