Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin hires Commissioner Number Three

The world could be righting itself, just a little.

The new Public Safety Commissioner was announced today, former Trooper Joe Masters. From Palin's statement that Celtic Diva sent me:

September 12, 2008, Anchorage, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin today named Joseph A. Masters, security director of Doyon Universal Services and affiliate professor at University of Alaska Southeast, as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety...

...Masters, 44, of Anchorage, has 24 years of public safety experience. He has more than 20 years of service with the Department of Public Safety in various roles including supervising trooper recruitment and training. Masters served as deputy director of the Alaska State Troopers from June 2003 through May 2005. Prior to his service with the Troopers, Masters was a commander in Fish & Wildlife Protection...

...He serves on the board of directors for the Alaska Native Justice Center, the Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers and other organizations, and serves on working groups of the Alaska Rural Justice Commission..."

This is a great guy (and no, not just because he's Alaska Native... 'course, that doesn't hurt...) I think he'll really get some things done for Alaska, and spend real time on the incredibly high rates of crime in Rural Alaska. Now they just have to let him DO it...

I doubt that appointing a commissioner of public safety would be of national interest if this was not one of the continuing chapters of the "Troopergate" investigation Palin is involved in.

As a refresher:

The only reason a governor hiring a public safety commissioner could be of any national interest is that this is just another chapter in the whole Troopergate investigation. (Some things really heated up in that investigation today, by the way.)

The first commissioner she hired, Walt Monegan, was a great guy and did his job well. It came as a surprise to him and to pretty much everyone else when he was abruptly fired. Rumors, and the facts, came forward to show Palin may have fired him because he would not fire her Trooper former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten.

An important fact in this is that she first tried to hire him for another position - her assertions now that she was actually letting him go because he wasn't doing a good job either means she's lying (my vote) or she was willing to put a guy in another job that she thought was doing a bad job. Her assertions aren't making believers of anyone, anyways.

So Palin immediately hired Chuck "I am not a sex harrasser" Kopp, a sex harrasser. Claims that he had sexually harrassed his assistant were substantiated years before, and he was only Commissioner for about two seconds before he "resigned" with a $10,000 check in his pocket from the state. The McCain/Palin vetting team's less highlighted first failure.

Kopp as a Commissioner was truly a fear during his short stint - my concern for abuse and violence in Native Alaska - especially against women - is always present, and a guy who sexually harrasses women does not inspire confidence that he will aggressively go after this issue.

More and more has come out about this, including - after her statements that her administration never pressured Monegan about Wooten - proof in the form of audio tapes that her administration had pressured Monegan about Wooten.

My concern during this time was that she had fired a guy who was really getting involved in the high rate of abuse and violence in Rural Alaska. He had literally just returned from checking out how things were going on in Rural Alaska, overseeing operations in some of the hardest hit areas, when he was called in and fired - because Palin wanted to go in a "new direction". She's never said what that new direction is.

Fortunately she has hired someone who can really go after these issues, as long as she gives him the time and resources to do so. Unfortunately, it came after some major screw ups on her part, and no small amount of community pressure.

I'm really rooting for this one, and hoping that we can see some real change in our public safety.