Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002. Her record during that time can tell us a lot about her. The biggest deal during her tenure is perhaps the construction of the sports complex that was built on someone else's land. She had to raise sales taxes to pay for it. The whole episode of incompetence, arrogance, and lack of respect for the law is exactly the style of governance that we've seen from Bush and co in the past seven years.
The $15 million multi-use indoor ice arena was supposed to be her legacy as the mayor. This was a very big deal for a city that had a budget of $3.9 million in 96 (increased to $5.8 million in 2002). Although the city subsidy has gone down from the initial $600k per year to about $125k per year, the sports complex still does not break even.
The biggest problem, however, was the process of how the land was acquired. The whole thing was handled with exceptional incompetence and arrogance, ultimately costing the city an extra $1.7 million in settlement and court cost for a piece of land that would have costed only $125k if they had handled it right from the beginning in 1998.
This involved a developer by the name of Gary Lundgren. Here is the whole scoop:
Lundgren negotiated with the national office of The Nature Conservancy to buy the land. Meanwhile, Wasilla city officials decided they wanted the land too, and began negotiating with the Alaska office of The Nature Conservancy. Offers were extended to both parties. Lundgren closed the deal.
Without the title in their hands, the city went ahead with the sales tax increase and started the construction. Then in typical Bush fashion, as Palin was leaving office in 2002,
Wasilla sued both Lundgren and The Nature Conservancy for title to the land. The case went to a federal appeals court, where Lundgren won rights to the property.
The court case was finally settled several years after Palin left.
The real legacy is, that the city is still paying for this today, while having to cut budget in library service, postponing capital improvement projects, and raising fees.
Can we afford this kind of incompetence on the national level?