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24Sep/080

Hockey Mom, Hooky Governor

Politico looks into Sarah Palin's attendance record as Governor. Of the 397 workdays in her Governorship (578 if you include weekends and holidays), Palin was in Juneau for at most 85 days. We can only say "at most" because this assumes she never traveled anywhere other than her home and the capital (which would make the total days in the capital even less).

We know she was at home for 312 days because she billed per diem to the state of Alaska for her time spent at home. You read that right: she made the government pay her to work from home.

Why does the governor of Alaska need to be in the state capital? There are two big reasons — and probably many smaller ones. The first big reason is that she appoints most of the people who manage the 15 departments of Alaska’s state government, containing more than 100 divisions and employing more than 50,000 people. Nearly all the department heads and division directors are headquartered in Juneau. E-mails and telephone calls alone are not effective for the governor to get advice, give directions and follow up to ensure that appropriate policy is being implemented. It is obvious that the ability to fully monitor the performance of the bureaucracies any governor has chosen to lead is greatly restricted if the governor does not spend significant time on the ground where the operations of government are housed.

But also of great importance is the governor’s ability to work with the legislature to update state policies and offer new programs for improving governance. Any effective governor must work on an ongoing basis with not only the leadership of both houses in the state legislature to build consensus and draft the governor’s proposals into language that both houses can accept, but also committee chairmen and recalcitrant members whose votes are needed to support key portions of the governor agenda.

Heckuva job there, Palin. Must be hard to run a state with a built in surplus from oil taxes.

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