Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ALASKA'S ABSENTEE GOVERNOR

Scott Lilly, Politico - Despite all of the discussion of Sarah Palin's performance as governor of Alaska, there has been little analysis of the simplest measure of performance: attendance. As Woody Allen said many years ago, "80 percent of success is just showing up."

The Washington Post recently reported that, in her first 19 months as governor, Palin billed the state of Alaska per diem charges for 312 days she spent at her home in Wasilla. Palin's staff has explained that it was appropriate to bill the state for expenses related to Palin staying in her own house because her "official duty station" was at the state capital of Juneau, where the governor's official office and mansion are located. But that argument raises a different question: How much time did that leave for her to spend at her "official duty station"?

Nineteen months totals 578 days, but after subtracting weekends and holidays, it is only about 397 workdays. Assuming Palin did not routinely bill the state for staying in her own home on weekends and holidays, she would have spent no more than 85 workdays in the state capital over the course of her 19 months in office, even if she traveled nowhere else in Alaska or outside of the state. That compares with 168 days that the Alaska Legislature was in session during the same period.

One of the state's leading papers, the Juneau Empire, described her attendance like this:

"Palin has spent little time in Juneau, rarely coming to the state capital except when the Legislature was in session, and sometimes not even then. During a recent special session called by Palin herself, she faced criticism from several legislators for not showing up personally to push for her agenda. Someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, 'Where's Sarah?'". . .

One member told the Juneau Empire, "At a time when [Palin's] leadership was truly needed, we didn't know where she was."

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