Irvine’s Own Sarah Palin

Two years ago, as this blog was getting its footing on solid ground, I had lunch with someone close to the Orange County political scene who is actually very neutral.  We got on the subject of Irvine politics.  He questioned why there was such a rift between Council members Christina Shea and Larry Agran. noting the vast different in their political styles and intellects.  The answer was elusive but can likely be found in the high propensity of Republicans to Democrats in OC.

Shea is running for Mayor; if she loses, she’s termed out.  One might wonder how I can equate Shea with Alaska governor Sarah Palin.  Its pretty simple; she’s not afraid to use the power of her office to settle a personal grudge as this 1999 LA Times column details.

More after the jump:

From the story:

A City Council colleague has sought a district attorney investigation into whether Shea broke any laws by leaving voicemail messages threatening to get tough with the city’s Police Department over her daughter’s drug-related arrest. I say it’s not even a close call.

Arrogance, misuse of authority, disrespect for the criminal justice system, false accusations, pettiness and an old-fashioned I’ll-show-them-who’s-mayor attitude do not constitute criminal conduct.

But they sure leave the mayor with a lot of explaining to do. She has most of the Police Department mad as blazes at her, with good reason.

From a story about Palin in

 The former Alaska public safety commissioner who refused to fire a state trooper embroiled in a domestic dispute with Gov. Sarah Palin’s sister says he holds no grudge, but still believes the GOP vice presidential nominee is too thin-skinned for the job she hopes to fill.….

Back to the LA Times story on Shea:

The cops are also outraged that she took a swipe at all of them with a broad brush: “The Police Department and how they deal with people is really pathetic” … “If they lie about this they’ll certainly lie about everybody else over there” … “It doesn’t make me want to defend that department at all” … “The problem is [this case] is going to be a real attack on the Police Department and I’m not going to back down on it at all.”

City Councilman Larry Agran is upset too. Shea accuses him on the voicemail of leaking the news about her daughter’s arrest to the media. (He denies it.) The only “evidence” she provides in the voicemail, though, is her assertion that “this is his mode of operation.” But evidence or not, Shea vows to Christensen’s voicemail that “Larry Agran will meet my wrath.” And ” … he’s going to have to learn a lesson.”

All this strikes me as unfair, but not worthy of hanging the mayor in effigy. What is highly disturbing to me are voicemail comments where she appears to make threats that she could carry out only as an elected official of influence. Such as: ” … it’s just not going to go well for the chief [Brobeck] and Jim Blaylock [a top police commander]” and ” … I’m going to get very tough about this” and ” … we need to take this to task.”

When you see the four voicemail messages as a whole, you get a picture of a public official unafraid to use her clout if things don’t go her way.

Back to the SFGate article on Palin:

Shortly before McCain picked her as his running mate, Palin herself said she had fired Monegan because he wasn’t filling vacant trooper jobs quickly enough, wasn’t dealing with alcohol abuse among troopers and “did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues.”

No matter how it plays out, Monegan says that as far as he’s concerned, the trooper case has highlighted a character flaw in the would-be veep.

“Inside all of us, we have our likes and dislikes,” he said. “But when it comes time for doing official business, you put those back in the personal corner.

“Your motivator may be your heart, but your rudder should be your mind.”

In some respects, Shea’s behavior of “an upset mother” closely mimics the unhinged John McCain.  But still, there is no excuse for using the power of one’s office to settle a personal grudge.  And if Shea returns to the Mayor’s chair, I fear for the city staff that will have to deal with her mood swings.

“She apparently has difficulty compartmentalizing personal feelings from official acts,” said Walter Monegan, who spent 33 years in the Anchorage Police Department – five years as chief – before Palin named him as the state public safety commissioner late in 2006.

Monegan says that – contrary to the governor’s assertions – he believes his own firing by Palin in July was the result of his refusal to bow to pressure from her and her family to get rid of the trooper, Palin’s ex-brother-in-law Mike Wooten.