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The Light Side of Sarah Palin

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Palin should be your pick

Palin Should be Your Pick

by Herb Huseland

Gold, they say, is where you find it. I struck gold when I discovered that Bayview fire chief Jack Krill, one time Wasilla, Alaska fire chief, was very close to the family of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former mayor of Wasilla and currently the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States.

During Krill’s junior high school days, he and his family lived next door to Chuck and Sally Heath, parents of Sarah. The Heaths still live in that house. Asked his take on the ascendency of Palin as John McCain’s running mate, Krill shared some insights. One point he made was that while the core city of Wasilla currently has less than 8,000 citizens, Greater Wasilla, encompassing the entire fire district of 150 square miles, boasts a population of 36,000. It is served in many areas by the city of Wasilla, since most of the area is rural.

One of the key acts Krill witnessed during his tenure as fire chief was Palin’s rooting out of several state legislators who had allegedly taken bribes the year before from several oil companies. This occurred the year after Palin was elected Governor. These bribes were allegedly for the purpose of the then-enacted sweetheart law regarding taxation or royalties on oil and natural gas production. One such legislator was from Jack Krill’s own district in Wasilla. State Representative Vic Kohring is currently serving time in prison for these acts. Krill indicated this is an ongoing investigation, possibly involving more legislators. Most, if not all of these perpetrators, were also Republicans.

Krill went on to say that Palin’s negotiation of the “Alaska Gas line Inducement Act,” was one of her largest contributions to the state, with construction in the near future. AGIA, as its known, was designed to promote the quick construction of a gas pipeline, and to ensure the opening of the North Slope basin to long-term gas exploration and development, by offering incentives to potential pipe line builders and to North Slope gas producers .

“Palin’s reputation for raising taxes apparently stemmed from the Governor’s successful attempts to right the crooked negotiations from the year before she took office. Governor Palin renegotiated the tainted contracts after she gained the Governor’s office.” He also praised her decision to provide approximately $1,200 for energy relief to each Alaska citizen out of record revenues due to increases in the cost of oil and gas. “Rather than enriching the state coffers, Governor Palin awarded the windfall to the citizens of Alaska, amounting to over $1,200 per person. She is a reformer,” Jack said. “She instituted an ethics reform law for state employees, including legislators.”

As Mayor, Palin served two three-year terms and, according to Krill, inherited a just three-year-old city police department. Prior to 1992, when Palin took office as a Wasilla city council member, all police duties fell to the state police, the county not having any such force. Krill said, “Sarah funded [the police department] through a two percent sales tax during the time she was a member of the city council. She believed strongly in reducing the mill rate,” he said, referring to the reduction in mill rate under Palin from two mills to half a mill. He went on to say, “One of her huge contributions as mayor was to build the new sport complex in Wasilla.”

When asked about the relationship of the fire department with the mayor, he replied, ”We both had a high degree of accountability as public officials. A great degree of self-discipline. She was, as we were, fiscally prudent with public funds.” Krill believes this prudence on Palin’s part might “account for some of the personnel changes during that period,” he said.

After college and before being hired by the fire department, Krill hired on with the oil companies up on the North Slope. He served as an engineer and consultant. When asked about the controversial drilling in ANWAR, he replied, “I’ve been there both in summer and winter. When you see Prudhoe Bay, it’s kind of trashed around Dead Horse (the original project area). But when you go out to the satellite fields like Alpine, located near the National Reserve area to the west, they make such a smaller footprint that they are hardly noticeable. This was all made possible by more modern technology.” He went on to suggest that the ANWAR oil deposits were primarily five to six miles from the coast and away from coastal migratory routes.

“The oil companies on the North Slope are very environmentally conscious and rigorously enforce rules to prevent spills,” said Krill. He indicated the staff of these companies are so environmentally conscious that anything spilled on the ground, even water, or dumping your coffee cup out, is considered a spill and is immediately cleaned up. Repeated offenders are fired for such acts.

“As far as wildlife is concerned, the caribou herds have actually increased substantially since Prudhoe Bay was first developed. I can’t see any impediment that would affect wildlife. In fact, I can remember that when I was up there, the caribou herds actually increased substantially due to the severe restrictions on hunting or harassing wildlife,” he said. Krill went on to point out, “One such phenomenon was that caribou would often climb up on the large gravel pads at a well site to get up out of the tundra and the swarms of mosquitoes.”

It is obvious that Chief Krill is a great admirer of both Sarah Palin and her husband Todd, as well as the rest of the family. He also said, “When you are a reformer fighting corruption, you are going to make enemies from those that are holding public positions of trust that may have been betrayed. It is natural that when you fire someone, they aren’t going to like you very much,” Krill said, and pointed out that many times “the aggrieved party” will attack “those who caused the firings to take place,” he said.

Jack Krill says, “I know she will make a great vice president. She does what’s right for the people first and I wouldn’t have any reservations as to her ability to do that job. I was her fire chief, now I’m Bayview’s fire chief.”

Asked about criticism of her experience level based on the small population of the areas she comes from, Krill replied, “Most of our country is made up of small towns. I would trust Sarah Palin to make good decisions. She’s a very sharp person.”

Calvin Nolan, another Bayview, Idaho resident, said he raced snowmobiles in Alaska with Todd Palin. He relates an Iron Dog sled race in which Todd broke his arm in a spill 600 miles before the end of the race. “He drove that sled 400 miles one-handed. Then, at the last checkpoint, his engine blew up. Sarah handed him lunch, then his partner towed him the last two hundred miles and he still came in fourth.” Calvin points out that both Todd and Sarah “have no quit in them. They are persistent, gutsy people.” Asked whether he thought she would make a good vice president, Calvin replied, “I’m kind of old fashioned and I can’t imagine a woman vice president, or for that matter, president. Having said that, if any woman should be either, I would pick Sarah Palin.”


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Herb Huseland Herb Huseland Herb Huseland is known as "Bayview Herb" by fans of the Spokesman-Review's "Huckleberries Online," (www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo) and of Herb's own "Bay Views" blog (www.bayviews.blogspot.com). He is also a periodic columnist for the Spokesman Review

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