Nick Carney's observations carry strong weight. He has known Sarah Palin nearly all his adult life, and his own daughter attended Wasilla High School with Palin. And he says he's the one who led Sarah Palin into politics. In 1992, Carney, who was then president of the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce, worked in alliance with other business owners worked to enact a two percent sales tax to create a police department, and ran for city council to make sure the department got funded.
To help the cause, he recruited Palin, then 28, to run for the city council. Both Carney and Palin were elected to council seats, and the sales tax narrowly passed. For the first 18 months, Palin did a fine job, then, according to Carney, she began harsh attacks on Mayor John Stein. In 1996, she took on Stein in a race that Carney said was unlike any the town had seen.
"I termed it the end of the innocence for the city," he [Carney] said. She injected party loyalty into the race for the first time, campaigned against the sales tax she had supported, and worked for endorsements from the National Rifle Association and a national anti-abortion advocacy group, Carney said.
Palin won the race, and in her first year remodeled her office. According to Carney, she broke the law by spending $55,000 of road maintenance funds without the council's permission. And when Carney confronted her, Palin's alleged response was, "I'm the mayor and I can do anything I want until the courts say I can't".
In addition, Palin not only fired many of the long-serving city employees, but also publicly feuded with the librarian, the then-police chief Irl Stambaugh (eventually fired), and the museum manager, publicly questioning their personal loyalty to her. The complaint by many of her detractors was that she placed loyalty to her ahead of loyalty to the job's requirements. Carney claims that Palin's first question was always, "How is this decision going to affect me and my administration?", instead of, "Is this the best thing for the city of Wasilla?"
Sounds like a dress rehearsal for Troopergate, doesn't it?
The McCain campaign fired back, defending Palin's tenure as mayor and boasting of her accomplishments. "Governor Palin wanted to change Wasilla for the better so it could be a place you can raise a family, have a quality job and be part of the community. She did exactly what you need to do to lay the foundation for lasting, sustainable economic growth she cut taxes, made key infrastructural improvements that brought in business and created new opportunities," said McCain spokeswoman Maria Comella.
And Sarah Palin herself previously acknowledged a "bumpy" relationship with Nick Carney. In a 2006 profile published by the Anchorage Daily News, Palin, who was then running for governor, said, "I couldn't do anything without Nick Carney griping about it. That was the nature of our relationship... I could have walked across Lake Lucille on the water, and he would have griped about me splashing". This is further corroborated by Wasilla City Council Member Judy Patrick, who is quoted in the new biography of Palin entitled "Sarah". Carney was accused of trying to launch a recall effort against Palin at the time, but he denies it.
But Carney claims that his objection to Sarah Palin on the ticket has nothing to do with his bumpy personal and political relationship with her. Instead, he's concerned about her lack of national experience; specifically, her lack of foreign experience, weak economic literacy, and over-exaggerated experience in energy issues.
A local Utah state lawmaker also weighed in. District 75 Rep. Steve Urquhart (R-St. George), has heard the criticism of Palin and said it doesn't change his unabashed support. "What really intrigues me in Governor Palin is her quick rise and how she did it. You don't just go from where she was to governor of the manliest state in the nation rolling over the top of the establishment unless you really have political skills," Urquhart said. Urquhart appears to be a card-carrying Palinbot; he's published numerous posts about her on his personal blog. In a September 15th Deseret News story, Urquhart is rated amongst the more conservative lawmakers in Utah, although not an ultra-conservative like Margaret Dayton.
Ironically, the Carneys decided to move to Ivins, Utah four years ago after passing through St. George enroute to Mesquite, Nevada for a golf outing and becoming captivated by the area. And who did they play golf with? Todd Palin's parents.
Small world, eh?
Nick Carney spills his guts on Palin's mayoral tenure even more in Salon.com.
Commentary: There seems to be a repetitive pattern of governance on Sarah Palin's part. At every stop, she starts out well, inaugurating an era of "good feelings". Then, 12 to 18 months into her tenure, it begins to unravel. Loyalty checks are conducted, personal insinuations and attacks begin and build. People who disagree with Palin become portrayed as heretics. Palin also has a recurring tendency to surround herself exclusively with acolytes and loyalists, rather than recruiting at least one or two "devil's advocates" to provide some balance.
I suggest the problem is that Sarah Palin wants to run her political stewardship at any given moment the same way she runs her family. But what works for a family does not necessarily work in political office. Thus what should have been an orderly termination of Walt Monegan has escalated into the full-blown Troopergate scandal. Monegan's principled opposition was interpreted as personal disloyalty.