September 3, 2008

A Snapshot of Sarah Palin's Domestic Governing Experience

Carroll Andrew Morse

A review of Sarah Palin's administrative orders (what many other states call "executive orders") shows action taken on a range of statewide issues. In two years as Governor of Alaska, she has implemented policies in areas ranging from healthcare reform to housing policy to mental health reform to energy production. Here are the highlights.

Very soon after taking office, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 232 (February 15, 2007), establishing the Alaska Health Care Strategies Planning Council and giving it a broad mandate to create an action plan. By the end of 2007, the Council had reported back with an extensive set of proposals; Governor Palin had obviously selected commissioners who weren't afraid of detail. The first area the commission focused on -- even coming up with some proposals that are economically rational -- was lowering costs…

  • Increase the place of consumerism in health care purchasing by giving people control over their health care dollar – the foundations are accessible, transparent, evidence-based price/quality information about providers and services (short-term).
  • Create an easily accessible and constantly updated website containing evidence-based price and quality information about health care providers and services (short-term)
  • Increase community-based health care services, both public and private sector
  • Stabilize the costs of health care by reducing the rate of increase relative to other states (national increase is 6%, decrease Alaskan rate to 4% annual increase)
The report contains similar lists in six other areas; creating a sustainable health care workforce, guaranteeing clean and safe water and wastewater systems, making quality health care accessible to all Alaskans, making personal responsibility and prevention in health care a top priority, developing the statewide leadership necessary to develop and support a comprehensive health care policy, and increasing the number of Alaskans covered by health insurance.

Following the release of the report, Governor Palin introduced legislation to begin implementing of the recommendations. To facilitate an increase in community-based health services, she has proposed repealing Alaka's certificate-of-need (CON) program, which prohibits new health care facilities from being constructed unless the government determines that there is a "need" for a new facility in a given area. To make costs and prices more transparent, Governor Palin has proposed requiring that all health care facilities in Alaska make accurate and updated lists of the costs of their procedures available to the public. The Governor explains her initial legislation here, in an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News.

In response to the discovery of unexpected corrosion in Alaska's oil-pipeline system, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 234 (April 18, 2007), creating a Petroleum Systems Integrity Office to monitor and coordinate the maintenance of Alaska's oil infrastructure. The office was up and running quickly enough so that by July 6 of 2007, the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office Coordinator was the go-to person when the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce wanted detailed answers to questions on dangers to pipelines, for example...

1. Does the build-up of sediment in a pipeline send up a red flag, since bacteria can flourish under sediment and lead to aggressive microbial corrosion?

Yes. Sediment in a pipeline can cause or contribute to problems, including providing an environment in which corrosion-causing bacteria can grow, creating difficulties with intelligent pigging, and blocking of corrosion inhibitor interface with the pipe wall. The presence of sediment is therefore a red flag for consideration of these issues, and generally calls for measures to remove it and to prevent its build-up.

In the area of housing policy, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 236 (May 1, 2007), continuing the work of a commission created in 2004 by former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski. The major recommendation from Murkowski's commission had been the creation of a housing trust fund to assist people in need, but he never implemented it. Palin proposed $10 million dollars in her 2009 budget, to be overseen by a new body created through the administrative order, to be used to jump-start the trust fund. Her actions won plaudits from Alaska's housing advocates.

The Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet was created by Governor Palin through Administrative Order 238 (September 14, 2007). Among the areas where the sub-cabinet is to develop recommendations on are…

  • The assembly of scientific research, modeling, and mapping information in ways that will help the public and policymakers understand the actual and projected effects of climate change in Alaska, including the time frames in which those effects are likely to take place.
  • The prioritization of climate change research in Alaska to best meet the needs of the public and policymakers.
  • The policies and measures to reduce the likelihood or magnitude of damage to infrastructure in Alaska from the effects of climate change.
  • The potential benefits of Alaska participating in regional, national, and international climate policy agreements and greenhouse gas registries.
  • The opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Alaska sources, including the expanded use of alternative fuels, energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, land use management, and transportation planning.
The sub-cabinet has opened the civic dialogue about the science and the potential impacts of global warming to a broad cross-section of Alaskans.

Finally, Governor Palin reshuffled the governing board of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, "the only public inpatient psychiatric hospital" in Alaska, through Administrative Order 241 (July 1, 2008). What's interesting about this reshuffle is who the Governor added to the board…

Six members representing the general public; members appointed under this paragraph must be or have been consumers of behavioral health services and have been diagnosed with one of the mental disorders [defined elsewhere in law].
…or, as the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services described it…
The Alaska Psychiatric Institute is forming a new advisory board with a unique feature: at least seven seats will be held by people who have used the state’s mental health services.

The new board will focus on patient rights and responsibilities, as well as continuing the transformation of the hospital to a recovery-based organization. “To accomplish this, we need — at the table — the very people we serve,” API Chief Executive Officer Ron Adler said.

Let's cut to the chase now. Did Barack Obama get so many changes underway as a community organizer? How about as a United States Senator?

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When Palin became mayor of Wasilla, they had zero debt. She raised taxes, and left the town $20 million in debt. A town of only a few thousand people. Scary fiscal ineptitude.

Posted by: NoPalin at September 3, 2008 2:46 PM


Posted by: STEVEC at September 3, 2008 5:39 PM

LOL, 20 million in debt, what is your source? obama and his terrorist friend bill ayres spent over 160 million on the Annenberg challenge to improve education and it did nothing. where's his accountability?

Posted by: Dennis K at September 3, 2008 5:57 PM

When Palin became mayor of Wasilla, they had $20 million in debt. She lowered taxes, and left the town with zero debt. Excellent fiscal eptitude.

Posted by: chris at September 3, 2008 6:01 PM

Sorry, NoPalin. But if you would have taken the time to look at the city of Wasillas's web site, ( you would have seen all of the fiscal reporting from 1994-2005. These reports show that when Mayor Palin left office in 2002 (due to term limits) the city had a surplus of revenue of almost $300K. In addition, they also had over $22 million dollars in a special fund account.

Posted by: getaClue at September 3, 2008 6:15 PM

The voters of Wasilla passed a $15 million bond intiative in 2002 to fund a sports complex plus a $5.5 million bond in 1998 for road construction.

Not sure how voter passed infrastructure bonds can be translated into fiscal ineptitude.

Posted by: chris at September 3, 2008 6:18 PM

P.S. the voters also passed a 0.5% sales tax increase in 2002 to specifically payoff the sports complex. This is all so terribly routine.

Posted by: chris at September 3, 2008 6:22 PM

there's a concerted effort to spread lies about palin. they'll tell so many lies, you don't know what's true and what's not. they'll repeat them so often, people might start to believe some of them

Posted by: perineumpirate at September 3, 2008 6:30 PM

What The New York Times wrote on July 3, 1984 after the selection of Geraldine Ferraro for VP in 1984:

"Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President?... Or where is it written that mere representatives aren’t qualified, like Geraldine Ferraro of Queens?... Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial?... Presidential candidates have always chosen their running mates for reasons of practical demography, not idealized democracy…. What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen.... Why shouldn’t a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow?... [T]he indispensable credential for a Woman Who [sic] is the same as for a Man Who [sic] – one who helps the ticket."

so who's reactionary and who's progressive?

Posted by: chris at September 3, 2008 6:51 PM


You left out:

1. Staring down the evil Russians from across the Bering Strait, caribou rifle in hand, as supreme commander of the 3,000 strong Alaska National Guard. Thank goodness she was there to stop the invasion! Such foreign policy expertise! Imagine, she even heard about the surge "on the news."

2. Troopergate -- her firing of the public safety commissioner after he refused to fire a state trooper who was at odds with a family member, and which is now the subject of a state investigation.

3. Her Lies About Troopergate -- first, she said that she and her staff had nothing to do with it; then when confronted with audio tape of staff interference with the state police, she admitted to multiple attempts to get the trooper fired.

4. The Bridge to Nowhere -- she loved it and campaigned in support of it, until it was politically inconvenient to be for it, so she switched positions.

5. Ted Stevens Fanclub -- she campaigned for him, until she thought she could score political points for herself by opposing him.

6. Book Banning -- she threatened to fire the town librarian because she refused to ban books the mayor thought indecent.

7. Earmark Lover -- before it became a convenient tactic to crusade against, she used a federal lobbyist to bring as much pork back to Wassila as possible.

If the Republicans were serious about promoting women to high office, why not elevate someone with real credentials: Rice, Hutchinson, Rell ...? Oh yeah, the Republican party is now run by the theocrats, that's why. And she can skin her own caribou!

Posted by: Pragamatist at September 3, 2008 8:09 PM

She created commissions, taskforces, and subcabinets to "open civic dialogue"? Surely no one person could achieve such astonishing policy accomplishments! Why it is a wonder she had any time at all to intimidate public safety officials. She truly is a blessing to the party.

Posted by: Pragmatist at September 3, 2008 8:14 PM

Thanks for this post. I referenced it in my post but Haloscan is being stupid again and the trackback is failing.

Posted by: Mark at September 3, 2008 8:39 PM

Pragamist-Rice is too closely associated with Bush,which would perpetuate the "Bush 3"warcry from the left.Hutchinson would be excellent,but she wants to advance in the Senate,so I believe she opted out.Rell-?.I don't know a thing about her.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 3, 2008 8:42 PM


In denigrating the reference to civic dialogue, I presume you believe that global warming policies should be set without any actual inputs from the community? Just get Al Gore on the hotline and do whatever he says, and the seas shall lower themselves?

And as to your describing the whole package as just creating boards and commissions and such, you may be right, but just to be sure, can you give us a few examples of how Barack Obama dealt with energy infrastructure deterioration in Illinois, so we can compare and contrast the approaches.

Posted by: Andrew at September 3, 2008 9:34 PM

she's a right wing nut job, she thinks jesus sent us to iraq because we're in the end times. she's not qualified to be governor nor even a mayor of a tiny town, she's vindictive and shallow and ambitious beyond her capabilities or intellect. she's exactly what we don't need.

Posted by: sam at September 3, 2008 10:26 PM

Got a link for any of that, Sam?

Posted by: Monique at September 3, 2008 11:34 PM


>>"Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President?... Or where is it written that mere representatives aren’t qualified, like Geraldine Ferraro of Queens?... Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial?

Apparently, it's written in the New York Times.

Posted by: Anthony at September 4, 2008 1:07 AM

Your "facts" about Sarah Palin are untrue. Do some real research on her.

Posted by: Eve Weiss at September 6, 2008 10:08 PM

Palin has the support of well over 80% of Alaskans (including 75% of state Democrats) while still fighting corruption and standing up to big oil. That says something to me that no other argument can. Do you know anyone else who has those credentials? She's doing something right!
Sounds like Wooten is a dangerous man with a gun and needed to be fired. Palin says she has nothing to hide and will answer all questions about it.

Posted by: lawhite at September 8, 2008 12:51 AM