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Sarah Palin Got Zoning Aid, Gifts


Sarah Palin

Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual, an Associated Press investigation shows.

When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception β€” and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard.

She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free “awesome facial” she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The “absolutely gorgeous flowers” she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.

She also stepped in to help friends or neighbors with City Hall dealings. She asked the City Council to add a friend to the list of speakers at a 2002 meeting β€” and then the friend got up and asked them to give his radio station advertising business.

That year, records show, she tried to help a neighbor and political contributor fighting City Hall over his small lakeside development. Palin wanted the city to refund some of the man’s fees, but the city attorney told the mayor she didn’t have the authority.

Palin claims she has more executive experience than her opponent and the two presidential candidates, but most of those years were spent running a city with a population of less than 7,000.

Some of her first actions after being elected mayor in 1996 raised possible ethical red flags: She cast the tie-breaking vote to propose a tax exemption on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one, and backed the city’s repeal of all taxes a year later on planes, snow machines and other personal property. She also asked the council to consider looser rules for snow machine races. Palin and her husband, Todd, a champion racer, co-owned a snow machine store at the time.

Palin often told the City Council of her personal involvement in such issues, but that didn’t stop her from pressing them, according to minutes of council meetings.

She sometimes followed a cautious path in the face of real or potential conflicts β€” for example, stepping away from the table in 1997 when the council considered a grant for the Iron Dog snow machine race in which her husband competes.

But mostly, like other Wasilla elected officials at the time, she took an active role on issues that directly affected and sometimes benefited her. Her efforts to clear the way for the $327,000 sale of the Palin family home on Lake Wasilla is an example.

Two months before Palin‘s tenure as mayor ended in 2002, she asked city planning officials to forgive zoning violations so she could sell her house. Palin had a buyer, but he wouldn’t close the deal unless she persuaded the city to waive the violations with a code variance.

The Palins, who were finishing work on a new waterfront house on Lake Lucille about two miles away, asked the city for the variance. The request was opposed by one planning official and some neighbors.

Sarah Palin Got Zoning Aid, Gifts

September 29, 2008 - Posted by | Genaral | , , , , , ,

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