As I muttered the other day, the initial report that Palin tried to interfere with the local librarian when she was a mayor is what made me shift from ‘eh’ to ‘ok, no.’ Call me one to look out for specifics.
In terms of Alaska-based blogs, I’ve been mentioning Andrew Halcro’s blog a bit but it’s time to widen the net by mentioning Mudflats, which looks at everybody with a gimlet eye (rightly so), and has posted some more today on this — regrettably the details are still murky, but it’s the best we’ve gotten yet. He links to this story via what’s turning out to be another key resource, the Anchorage Daily News:
Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so.
According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn’t fully support her and had to go.
Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.
When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.
Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.
“Sarah said to Mary Ellen, ‘What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?” Kilkenny said.
“I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of, ‘The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'”
Palin didn’t mention specific books at that meeting, Kilkenny said.
Palin herself, questioned at the time, called her inquiries rhetorical and simply part of a policy discussion with a department head “about understanding and following administration agendas,” according to the Frontiersman article.
It has to be emphasized again that this is murky stuff still, and my bias in the matter is quite clear. Still, what is this meant to be? If there is something more troubling about the idea of banning books, it is the idea that a civil employee was going to be let go for not ‘supporting’ the mayor.
Another thing to wonder about — and I’m glad to see it’s getting some traction. As per my post below, is this the kind of thing that the McCain campaign is trying to keep Palin from answering any questions on?