Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Yesterday, the Alaska legislature approved a $100,000 investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's motivations in firing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.
Palin has drawn criticism due to rumors that Monegan's firing was the result of his refusal to fire Mike Wooten, a trooper who is Palin's former brother-in-law. Palin has denied all this, but the way she's handled the whole matter was a demonstration of poor P.R. skills.
The story questioning Palin's motivations in firing Monegan was broken on a blog run by Andrew Halcro, a former political rival and continuing critic of the governor. It took on much greater currency after Monegan claimed he had been pressured by the governor's husband and members of her administration to fire Wooten.
Monegan then found other charges to hurl at Palin, saying she'd wanted to basically cover up a report that might make the administration look bad and that she'd rarely found time to meet with him.
Palin was able to demonstrate that those charges are false and of course denies peronal motivations regarding Wooten or Monegan. Nonetheless, it's clear that she hasn't known how to handle this situation.
For one thing, when you fire someone, it's smart to get them to agree to some kind of muzzle. Palin must have blindsided Monegan, which is a good way to make an enemy. She should have handled his firing more carefully, rather than complaining to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that people who serve at the pleasure of the governor should "diplomatically" leave when they are fired. That's asking too much from some people.
Palin compounded her errors with Monegan by the way she's handled news stories about Chuck Kopp, his replacement. It turns out that Kopp had faced a sexual harassment charge during his days in Kenai, which led to more embarrassing news coverage.
He was reprimanded for hugging her several times, he said, and on one occasion, when she was experiencing neck pain, applying direct pressure to her neck with his thumbs.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.