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Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24, 2009 Synopsis of Governor Palin's Accomplishments

Governor Palin requested preliminary damage assessments from FEMA to prepare for a federal disaster declaration for Alaska's flooded interior.

Governor Palin announced seven winners of the North Star Award for International Excellence -- an award she created in 2008 to honor excellence in these nine categories: trade (export of goods), trade (export of services), foreign investment, education, tourism, transportation, cultural exchange, humanitarian exchange or scientific exchange.

The Governor vetoed $28.6 million in stimulus money that would have involved federal interference with the state of Alaska.

Governor Palin signed bills removing experience caps on teacher's salaries and extending boat safety programs.

Governor Palin supported congressional provision permitting the carrying of guns in National Parks.

The Governor issued a statement on the Obama presidency and his interference with free markets.

A federal ethics complaint against Governor Palin pertaining to the borrowed clothes she wore during the McCain campaign was dismissed.

Governor Palin visited flood-damaged Tanana.

Governor Palin met with the U.S. Pacific Air Force Commander for a briefing on USAF Assets in Alaska.

An indirect accomplishment: Alaska State employees mediated a long-running dispute about allowing continued export of Cook Inlet gas while also ensuring gas supplies are made available for local utilities.

Complete stories at:


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Drill! Drill! Drill! - Governor Sarah Palin's Interview with Larry Kudlow

This is fifth in a series of early articles following Governor Sarah Palin as she emerged as a national political figure.

My Interview with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin [Larry Kudlow]

National Review Online
Published August 01, 2008

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has exactly the high energy, political toughness, and conservative reform message that would boost Sen. John McCain’s presidential run if Big Mac were to put her on the ticket. In an interview last evening on CNBC, Palin was very clear on her drill, drill, drill message for Alaska and the rest of the U.S., along with her strong supply-side tax-cutting and free-market economic views. She did not shirk from questions about an investigation of her firing the state’s safety commissioner. She told us she has nothing to hide — let them bring it on.

Kudlow: All right, now we’re pleased to welcome back to the program the much talked about rising Republican star Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Welcome back Governor.
Palin is dealing with Alaska’s culture of corruption by supporting all manner of reform and investigation. She basically dissed Ted Stevens, calling him a distraction. She then talked about cleansing the Republican party of all the pork-barrel corruption that cost it the congressional election of November 2006.

Palin’s response to all the vice-presidential talk is fascinating. It was a point of view I have never heard before and it underscored her independence. I have interviewed all the veep prospects, and I still have Gov. Palin at the top of my list.

I hope readers will enjoy this interview:

Palin: Thank you so much Larry.

Kudlow: Here’s the bad news. The Congress is going to take their summer recess without a vote — not even a vote — on rolling back the moratorium on drilling onshore and offshore. Not even a vote. Nothing on ANWR. Nothing on shale. Nothing on the Outer Continental Shelf. What’s your reaction to this?

Palin: Well with all due respect to Congress, it’s pretty pathetic, that action they’ve taken. I appreciate the President’s call to lift the moratorium. I appreciate the President’s call to drill in ANWR, to do all those things for American production opportunities. Very, very disappointed in Congress though.

Kudlow: You know we talked about a month ago, or last time you were on the program, you told me you were going to persuade Senator McCain to drill in ANWR. Now actually, McCain’s come a long way on drilling Outer Continental Shelf. Have you yet talked him into ANWR?

Palin: I have not talked him into ANWR yet. But yeah, aren’t you appreciative though that his mind has evolved into being open enough to say yes to that offshore? Obama certainly hasn’t gone there. So, you know, for me it’s all the more reason to support the Republican ticket heading into the next era in American economy here. We certainly need this. We need it for American security, for energy independence. All those things we talked about last time. I think we need McCain in that White House despite, still, the close-mindedness on ANWR. I think he’s going to get there though.

Kudlow: All right, well we need you to persuade him. Now you’re fighting a battle in the state. You want to get a new natural gas pipeline, as I understand it. You’ve got to get it through your state legislature. You’re going to run that up from the North Slope down through Canada and eventually to the lower forty-eight. What’s the state of play on that? Are you winning or losing on your new gas pipeline?

Palin: We’re winning and I’m glad that you asked that question. It’s so timely because it could be today that our lawmakers vote yay or nay on the TransCanada pipeline, natural gas pipeline being built 1,700 miles. This is North America’s largest, most expensive, private sector infrastructure project in our history. It’s $30 to $40 billion dollars to deal with the energy crisis—get this safe, stable, clean domestic supply of energy and natural gas flowing from our rich reserves up in Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope of Alaska, into the hungry markets in the Midwest especially.

Kudlow: Now you’re fighting with the legislature. You may get a vote this evening. Have you gone out and done a poll? Have you talked to the polar bears, and the caribou, and the large black flies? Are you sure? I want everyone on board here.

Palin: Well we do want everyone on board there. And as for the wildlife, you know, they’re doing just fine under the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline of course that has been up and running for thirty years in Alaska. So we think that even they will be on our side also, as we build this next economic lifeline for Alaska and for the rest of the U.S.

Kudlow: All right, let me go to some tougher issues up in Alaska, the so-called culture of corruption, this energy services company Veco, buying favors for state and federal contracts. I guess people linked to Veco, a couple of state legislators have been convicted, a couple more investigations, a couple more being indicted, and Senator Ted Stevens has now been caught in that loop. What can you tell us about Senator Stevens? Have you spoken to him since his seven criminal charges?

Palin: No, I haven’t spoken to him yet. And you know, it was very dismaying. It was like an earthquake that hit up here in Alaska the other day with that indictment. Very sad. Hopefully though, this won’t be a distraction and get people’s minds off what has to be done in the grand scheme of things here. And it’s like what you’re talking about all the time Larry, it is energy independence that is needed for this country. And we need folks in Congress, in the Senate, who understand that we do have to drill, that we have to unlock the lands here in Alaska, and allow, through competition, entities competing for the right to tap these resources and flow energy sources into hungry markets.

So hopefully, the Ted Stevens issues won’t be a distraction. But yeah, lots and lots of damage has been done by this oil industry service company, Veco. You know we have some local lawmakers who are serving prison time right now for their undue influence, their corruption, their bribery that was involved in this oil services company. Now Ted Stevens, as you mentioned, is embroiled in this also. Not good for Alaska. But hopefully…

Kudlow: Well what about the Republican Party in general? I mean, it seems to me the GOP has just got to cleanse itself of all the pork barrel corruption, lobbying, cash-for-favors that cost them the Congress back in November 2006. And for better or worse, Mr. Stevens has served for a very long time, I’m not here to judge him. I’m merely here to report the fact that he’s in a heap of trouble. I mean, shouldn’t he resign for example? Shouldn’t leaders like yourself and elsewhere just say, “Senator, all right, clean break, please resign?”

Palin: Well, I thought that it would be my job as governor working on the state level with those who were indicted for the corruption and bribery, to call for their stepping down. And that’s what I did. And for the most part they have stepped down. And again, some of them are facing prison terms now and are in prison. But as for Senator Stevens, still not knowing enough about that indictment yet. I think that two days later it would be premature for me to chime in and say whether he has to step down or not.

But you’re absolutely right on the cleansing that’s needed in our party, in the Republican Party. And you know I think Senator McCain is on the right track with the earmark reform that he is so adamant about. I’m right there with him. We for instance here in Alaska, our administration, we cancelled that Bridge to Nowhere. You know, we know that that earmark was not in Alaska’s, it wasn’t in the nation’s best interest. So we’re going to be a part of that reform also. It’s absolutely necessary, or the Republican agenda, which I do believe is the right agenda for Alaska and for…

[Technical disruption]

Kudlow: …Governor Palin you’re back. Okay. You see that? I’m going to call it divine intervention, trumping the technological difficulties. I appreciate your comments on Senator Stevens and the rest. Let me ask you this. Wall Street Journal today is running a story about yourself. The possibility of a state probe, “Alaska’s Palin Faces Probe.” It’s I guess an independent prosecutor. You [allegedly] tried to get your former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper. Now the legislature is trying to come after you. What’s this about? What can you tell us here?

Palin: Well, a couple of lawmakers who were pretty angry with me for replacing… [Technical disruption]…at-will political appointment who was serving in my cabinet which every governor does, a couple lawmakers who were not happy with that decision certainly are looking at me as a kind of target right now, and wanting to probe and find out why I did replace this cabinet member. And it’s cool. I want them to ask me the questions. I don’t have anything to hide. And I didn’t do anything wrong there. And it is a governor’s prerogative, a right, to fill that cabinet with members whom she or he believes will do best for the people whom we are serving. So I look forward to any kind of investigation or questions being asked because I’ve got nothing to hide.

Kudlow: Governor Palin, people want to know why you did fire your police commissioner, or public safety commissioner Monegan. And is it because he stopped you from getting rid of your brother-in-law or what? People want to know if this is an ethical lapse on your part.

Palin: I’m glad that you’re asking, because I never tried to fire a former brother-in-law who’s been divorced from my sister for quite some time. No, it was the commissioner, that we were seeking more results, more action, to fill vacant trooper positions to deal with bootlegging and alcohol abuse problems in our rural villages especially. We just needed some new direction, a lot of new energy in that position. That is why the replacement took place there of the commissioner of public safety. It had nothing to do with an estranged former brother-in-law, a divorce that had happened some years ago.

Kudlow: All right. You have a legion of fans who want you to become Senator McCain’s vice-presidential candidate. In fact, on the world’s largest pay-to-play prediction market, betting parlor, called InTrade, you are in third place with a 20 percent support probability behind former Governor Romney and present Governor of Minnesota Pawlenty. Is this police flap, state investigation, going to disqualify you from becoming Senator McCain’s vice-presidential candidate?

Palin: Well it shouldn’t disqualify me from anything, including progressing the state’s agenda here towards more energy production so we can contribute more to the U.S. Nor should it dissuade any kind of agenda progress in any arena because again, I haven’t done anything wrong. And through an investigation of our lawmakers who are kind of looking at me as a target, we invite those questions so that we can truthfully answer the questions.

But as for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does everyday? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.

Kudlow: Well I worked in the White House during President Reagan’s first term, let me assure you, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the Bush White House as a journalist in meetings with interviews. It’s a pretty big job, Madame Governor. It’s a real big job. You’d be surprised by how big the veep job is these days!

Palin: Well this is a pretty cool job here too though as Governor of Alaska—the wealthiest state in the union in consideration of the natural resources that we have. Again, and we being in a position ready, willing and able to tap these resources, flow them into hungry markets across the U.S. to lead towards a more secure nation; to lead towards a more peaceful nation also and energy independence. All those things that Alaska should be contributing. I think that I can help do that as Governor of Alaska.

Kudlow: All right, last one. McCain is ahead in Alaska, but it’s only 45-40 over Obama. It’s a traditional Republican state. Why isn’t this a bigger lead for Mac? What’s he got to do up there to make sure you carry Alaska?

Palin: That’s a good question. And you did your homework, Larry. That’s impressive. Usually yes, such a red state up here. It’s a no-brainer that the “R” is going to take the cake up here. But this is a little bit different situation now with Obama’s message resonating, even with Alaskans.
That being change, a desire for no embracing of the status quo and politics as usual. But something different, something dynamic and charismatic. That does resonate well, that message of Obama’s. I still do believe of course McCain will take Alaska because he’s right on so many of the issues when it comes to — in my opinion — he’s right on war, he’s right on with energy independence measures that need to be taken. Wrong on ANWR, but we’re still working on that one.

Kudlow: Governor Sarah Palin, terrific stuff. We know you’re busy. Good luck on the pipeline vote coming up this evening. We appreciate your visiting with us very much.

Palin: Thank you so much sir.

08/01 01:31 PM


Unofficial transcript of the June 25, 2008 interview found at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/25394468/

Videoclip of the interview is found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ys4HGbiONY

Palin and Obama: Different Approaches on Energy

Governor Sarah Palin has an Op-Ed today at Newsminer which gives a very basic overview of the process by which her administration and the Legislature are searching for a way to bring affordable energy to as many Alaskans as possible. The op-ed mainly addresses the issue of an in-state gasline to help Alaskans see lower energy costs and offers information on the current step in the process, the review stage, which was funded by the Legislature per her request. The governor is also working toward an interstate gasline as well as development of the infrastructure necessary for gas liquefaction for purposes of export via shipping ports.

The issue of energy is both critical and complex. It's refreshing to see that Governor Palin and the Alaska Legislature seem committed to making determinations about energy that are based on energy itself, actual data and the overall impact for Alaskan businesses and consumers, not politics, ideology and entangling interests as we see in Washington with Obama's "cap and trade".

While Obama promises skyrocketing electricity rates and creates a government slush fund that will result in government actually becoming dependent on pollution for the tax relief he promises to voters (I often wonder why so many voters bought that promise on tax cuts but ignored the promise on skyrocketing electricity), Sarah Palin and the Alaska Legislature are keeping it practical. The gasline agenda in Alaska will be implemented only after thorough review and in consideration of the long-term impact for Alaska's citizens and businesses. These projects will stand or fall on their own merits, even independently of each other in terms of policy.

Thanks for keeping it real, Alaska.

Dick And Liz Cheney, The Dynamic Duo

As we saw this week, the death of conservatism in America has been greatly exaggerated!

What America witnessed this week was a true American statesman at work. Actually, two great statesmen. The second being a woman, and daughter of the first.

This week, former Vice President Dick Cheney took on the President of the United States, Barack Obama, in a serious national security debate. And Mr Cheney made Mr Obama look small, and petty.

To fully grasp how Mr Cheney has changed the debate in America, one has to realize that his speech, which had been scheduled for some time, had the Obama team so flustered, they had to rush like a bunch of grade schoolers to try and preempt Mr Cheney!

Real rookie stuff!

By doing this, Mr Obama instantly made what Mr Cheney was doing just that much more important.

And the Obama team did it up right. They marched the President down to the National Archives, in front a copy of the Constitution, for goodness sakes! That back drop reminded me of the ridiculousness back in 2000, when Al Gore was trying to steal the Florida election, and every time he came out, he had more and more US flags staged around him, making sure he always had a greater number than George Bush did, when he spoke! Well, the echoing sounds of the National Archives aside, Mr Obama just looked small.

As always, Mr Obama can say absolutely nothing, better than any man alive, but, that’s exactly what he did say, absolutely nothing. Oh, he did his usual hand wringing and of course blamed everything on President Bush and others, something he pathologically does on a daily basis, But he said nothing else.

What Mr Obama, and the rest of the misguided left don’t seem to understand, is the “problem” with Guantanamo Bay, is all their fault! There is no sane reason on earth to close it, but, this rookie president, on his second day in office, stepped right in it, with both feet!

The far left in this country pretty much hates America, and everything about her. They perceive America as a bad place. A place that should be punished for her ills. The left, including President Obama see a moral equivalency between blood thirsty savages, who murder innocents at the drop of a hat, and American service men and women. In fact, the Obama cabal sees a moral equivalency between the terrorists, and average Americans.

Fast forward a few minutes, and Americans were treated to a speech given by an adult. A sober, calm, adult. No grandiose setting, no campaign style rhetoric. Just a good meat and potatoes speech that laid out Mr Cheney’s case, in terms that any red blooded American could understand, and appreciate.

Mr Cheney hit a home run. He won the debate, and totally knocked President Obama off the mound. Even the dishonest U.S. media couldn’t spin this one in Mr Obama’s favor!

But, Dick Cheney’s speech was just part of the excitement!

The most fun I’ve had in weeks, on the political observation front, was watching Liz Cheney, the former Vice President’s daughter.

Oh wow!

Liz Cheney has her fathers strength, her father’s guts, and her mother’s grace. Liz Cheney is a warrior!

Now, of course, she made the obligatory appearances on Fox News, where of course she was treated with respect. Not a hard job. But where Liz shined was by doing what she does best. She went into the belly of the beast, the most dishonest news group in America, NBC.

For those that haven’t figured it out, NBC, and MSNBC, are owned by General Electric, and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt is one of Barack Obama’s advisors. This of course, makes NBC/MSNBC wholly subservient to President Obama, and the DNC.

So, it was great fun to watch Liz Cheney put on a clinic on how to take apart left wing talkers. I mean she was incredible. No matter what sort of insane, out in left field talking point these left wingers threw at her, she just did her own deal. She was tough, smart, and best of all, when they said something stupid, which was quite often, Liz simply refused to accept the premise of their question!

It was brilliant!

I’ve written before that one of the biggest problems with today’s Republicans, is they accept the democrat’s ideas, and then try to bring the “Republican way” to the table when they discuss them. The only way to describe this is sheer stupidity.

From total stupidity, like so called “global warming” and all of the schemes the liberals bring to the table surrounding that nonsense, to their attempts to destroy the best health care on earth, to their childishness on foreign affairs, Republicans could really learn something from Liz Cheney!

When liberals are saying dumb things, simply refuse to play!

Global warming? Simply use your brain, and explain to them what normal people already know: It’s a hoax, a hoax designed to make a lot of people, like Al Gore and General Electric, a lot of money.

The same tactics can be used when discussing health care, real energy exploration, illegal immigration, and so on.

The thing America saw this past week though, that really excites me, is this: America saw real leadership!

Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney are leaders, in every sense of the word.

The former Vice President, who is now a private citizen, saw a grave injustice being perpetrated on the American people, and as leaders do, stood up, and took the problem head on.

Even more exciting, Liz Cheney also took up the fight, and showed the world how it is done!

To paraphrase the great Ronald Reagan, it’s not that are moderate friends are ignorant, it’s just they know so much that isn’t so!

Folks that know me, know I have little use for moderates. I have even less use for the moderate “republicans”. I have written extensively about the damage the moderates have done to the party. I have written extensively about how moderates are incapable of winning national elections.

And yet, the Republican party is so bound and determined to commit suicide by moderate.

Of course, a lot of this is because moderates crave attention, and “love” from the media. And the media is more than happy to feed their egos. Your average democrat may not be all that bright, but the leaders of the party understand that a moderate is quite easy to beat. It’s why they were all John McCain’s best buddy, until he ran for President, that is!

Now we have the dishonest media trotting out people like Colon Powell, who endorsed, and voted for, Barack Obama, as well as people like Meghan McCain, who also generally votes democrat. The media is telling America that we must listen to democrats to tell us what the Republican party should be! It would be laugh out loud funny, if it weren’t for the fact that many in our party actually believe this nonsense.

Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, in one short week, have shown the rest of the Republican party what leadership is all about. Leadership is not becoming moderate, or “democrat lite”. True leadership is about being bold. True leadership is about actually believing in something, and willing to risk everything to see it through!

We have few members of our party who are willing to take the heat by standing up for something. For being a leader. Of course, for those who do, the rewards are there!

Who are some of the most respected people in the Republican party? Here’s a clue, they are all conservatives!

Dick Cheney has seen his personal approval numbers rise greatly by speaking up. Liz Cheney has been praised far and wide.

Then there is Governor Sarah Palin. Governor Palin never, ever backs down from a fight. Frankly, with the sort of dishonest harassment the democrat party, and the left wing crazies have put Governor Palin through, no one would blame her if she laid low. But leaders don’t do that. True leaders, who believe in themselves, and their cause, cannot, and will not be stopped!

No matter what they throw at Sarah Palin, she just slaps it away, like King Kong swatting airplanes from atop the Empire State Building!

Note to the GOP: This is what leadership looks like!

The Grand Old Party needs to wake up, and understand that the people of America want a leader!

Currently, America is leaderless. We have a prepackaged, store bought image, in the White House. We have a relative child running the country. Mr Obama has never run a city, never run a state, and never even run a lemonade stand before now. He’s never had a private sector job. He’s never had to make payroll. He’s never had to balance a budget.

Of course, all of this shows in the direction America is heading.

The majority of Americans are fed up with all politicians. They are fed up with President Obama, and even more fed up with Congress, and they are totally fed up with both political parties, because there are no real leaders.

For the first time in history, most people self identify as independents! The dishonest news loves to say that the number of self proclaimed Republicans is way down, but what they leave out, is the fact the democrat party is losing members twice as fast!

This is the time for the Republican party to go back to it’s conservative roots. This is a time for the Republican party to step back into it’s leadership role!

But you won’t do it with the milquetoast, country club blue blood, democrat lite, moderates!

These are times that call for bold leadership. As Ronald Reagan would say, we need bright colors, no pale pastels! We need big ideas! Ideas that will put America back on top where she belongs.

We need a real economic plan that won’t destroy America forever, like Mr Obama’s plan.

We need to reduce the size of government, all government. Not create a socialist dreamland that Mr Obama and his minions are moving toward. In fact, there are many, many programs the federal government was never intended to be involved in. The number of out of control government agencies created in just my lifetime are staggering.

So, we need small government. We need to return the powers back to the states, as prescribed in the Constitution.

We need a real energy policy, one based on actually creating more energy, not some pie in the sky, scheme designed to make the dishonest warmongers money, and bankrupt the common man!

We have more oil and natural gas than we can use in several generations. We have more coal than the Middle East has oil. And we have completely forgotten about an incredibly efficient energy source, nuclear.

We need a real plan to save Social Security and Medicare.

We need a plan to make our health care, the best health care on earth, more affordable. One based on free market principles and tort reform.

We need a sane policy to stop illegal immigration. One that finally closes our borders, enforces the laws already on our books, and restores the rule of law.

All in all, this will take bold, solid leadership. This week two such leaders showed you the way!

If the GOP wants to survive, we need more leaders like Dick and Liz Cheney, and Governor Sarah Palin. Anything less, and we will remain a minority party forever!

It is a time for choosing.

Pelosi and Obama Meddling in Alaska's Affairs

The following two articles from the Alaska Daily News (ADN) indicate that Pelosi and Obama have found a way to meddle in Alaskan affairs through the pay-for-play appointment of Ken Elton. Pelosi stopped in Alaska on Saturday and met with Native Americans with no apparent by your leave to Governor Palin. It looks like the new administration is trying to milk the global warming farce for all it is worth to exert more government control. As if taking over the auto industry and the banking industry and next the health care industry isn't enough. Folks, we live in very scary times, and we need to wake up and defend our liberties while we still have them.

Through his appointment of Elton, Obama is also now trying to control road construction in Alaska. Governor Palin's instincts about the strings attached to the stimulus money were dead on. It's too bad for them that the people of Alaska (and other states as well) could only see dollar signs.

Sarah Palin is the one Republican with the combined star power, conservative principles, and integrity to successfully take Obama on in 2012 and return government to the people. Is this why Obama and his followers are trying so hard to marginalize her? Well, it won't work, because Sarah Palin has a grassroots army of dedicated followers who are already at work supporting and defending her and who are hoping she does decide to run for President in 2012. We can't wait to call her President Sarah Palin!

Pelosi and delegation stop in Alaska en route to China

MEET WITH NATIVES: Effects of climate change discussed.

The Associated Press

Published: May 23rd, 2009 02:33 PMLast Modified: May 23rd, 2009 09:12 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed to China Saturday after a quick stop in Alaska that included a discussion with Alaska Native representatives over the effects of global warming.

Pelosi staffers said the intent of the trip is to "focus on opportunities that will help create clean, sustainable energy policies."

Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, said the delegation left Anchorage on Saturday morning, departing from Elmendorf Air Force Base, where members had landed Friday. There was no public announcement of the delegation's mission until Saturday.

Hammill said for security reasons he could not divulge the China itinerary of the trip, which will last about a week.

According to Pelosi's office, the delegation met Friday with Alaska Natives, who said that climate change is affecting their culture and habitat and that villages are crumbling into the sea.

Traveling with Pelosi are Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., committee chairman; Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., ranking committee member; Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.; and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

Pelosi's office said the delegation was invited to engage with national and local government officials in China, as well as students, environmentalists and business leaders, there on topics including climate change, clean energy and international trade.

"The urgency of the global climate crisis requires that critical choices be made now that are bold and based on the clearest understanding of how to achieve our goals of preserving the planet and protecting the health of the world's people," Pelosi said in a prepared statement. "Climate change provides a crucial opportunity for dialogue between our two nations."


Report slams Indian Affairs

ALASKA: Allegations of mismanaged funds bring more oversight.

By SEAN COCKERHAMscockerham@adn.com

Published: May 23rd, 2009 12:35 AMLast Modified: May 23rd, 2009 12:35 AM

The Interior Department is tightening the flow of economic stimulus money to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Alaska roads program after a scathing inspector general's report alleged mismanagement and the waste of millions in tax dollars.

"Given the history, we are proceeding with an abundance of caution and additional oversight on all projects. Our plan has been and will continue to be that funds will only be distributed once we determine that there are sufficient controls over spending and accountability in place," Interior department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.

That's a result of a February report conducted by the Interior Department's inspector general, Earl Devaney.

"The Alaska regional office's consistent decision to ignore sound management practices has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars and left Native American citizens without needed infrastructure," the report concluded.

Niles Cesar, who has directed the BIA's Alaska regional office since 1990, did not return calls seeking comment.

The Interior department, of which the Bureau of Indian Affairs is a part, said a new team is now in place overseeing the roads program that was criticized in the report. The department also immediately imposed a "corrective action plan" that includes a reporting and monitoring program.


At issue is what's known as the BIA Alaska's "Indian Reservation Roads Program." In states like Alaska where tribes generally do not have reservations, public roads that serve Native communities are eligible for money through grant requests made by tribes.

Interior Department officials stressed that the misconduct identified in the inspector general's report dates from before the Obama administration came to office.

"This is a problem that we kind of inherited, and I'm very comfortable what we have a team in place that's going to do a great job with protecting our constituents and protecting the public's dollars," said Kim Elton, the Interior Secretary's special assistant on Alaska issues.

The inspector general's report found $32 million in program funding went to Alaska Native communities each year and only about $3 to $4 million in roads projects had any physical oversight or verification of work completed. The report conceded severe understaffing -- 12 of the 25 program positions were vacant -- but said that's long been a problem and the issues were not corrected despite the program apparently ending up with annual surplus operations money.
Devaney, the inspector general, wrote a memo to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar saying "the region's internal management controls have completely broken down, enabling wage-grade employees to earn over $100,000 in a given year without explanation."

The inspector's report said overtime pay claimed by unsupervised employees was approved with no verification and allowed a construction supervisor, for example, to make $130,000 in a year and a heavy-equipment mechanic to make more than $100,000 in the same year. The report said BIA Alaska road officials were unable "to explain or justify why employees would be paid such large amounts of overtime during the winter months (a slow time for road construction) and earn the large amount of wages shown in any given year."

The report also criticized specific projects. The inspector general said one investigation found a project in which more than $1.6 million was estimated to have been spent on unauthorized and unnecessary work. "Over six years later, this project is still considered dormant with the main road incomplete," the report said.

The inspector general also found "several other projects that indicated similar mismanagement and potential loss or theft of funds." The report listed two such examples -- although the Interior Department refused to say which tribes were at fault and revealed in interviews that the examples are actually more than a decade old.

In one case, the report said an Alaska Native community was advanced about $500,000 for a road project but instead "used those monies to purchase equipment and a restaurant/saloon." The road was apparently never designed and BIA took no perceptible action to get the money back, according to the report.

Another Alaska Native community was given an undisclosed amount of money for a project that was arbitrarily changed "from addressing the transportation needs of the community to creating an avenue of tourism revenue," the inspector general found.


Ron King, chief of surface transportation programs for the Alaska Department of Transportation, has read the report.

King said the many tribal transportation directors he's worked with over the past few years have been hard working and dedicated to improving transportation in their communities.

"The report does not reflect my personal experience," King said. "But of course there are 227 tribes and obviously someone may not have done everything right or at least did not have all of the checks and balances in place."

The inspector general's report urged caution in giving federal economic stimulus money to the program.

Interior department spokeswoman Barkoff said the BIA Alaska roads program will indeed receive stimulus funds, "but we are determining which projects in Alaska will receive money on a case by case basis."

More than $3 million in stimulus money has been lined up for BIA road and bridge work in Alaska, although it's not clear how much will end up given out through tribal applications to this program. Barkoff said none of the money has gone out to Alaska yet. "In the selection of specific road projects, we are proceeding with an abundance of caution and making sure there is strong oversight so to avoid the problems that the (inspector general) identified," she said.

Find Sean Cockerham online at adn.com/contact/scockerham or call him at 257-4344.