Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on May 7, 2009 traveled to the state’s Interior “to survey areas ravaged by the worst ice jam flooding in decades” (Flood, 2009, Â¶1). Ice jam is the restriction of water behind an accumulation of ice (Ice Jams, n.d. p. 1). The type of jam affecting Alaska’s Interior is a “break-up” jam, which occurs “during periods of thaw and are made up of broken pieces of ice from the breaking up of solid, surface ice“ (Ice Jams, n.d. p. 1). When water is forced out from under the ice and reaches the top, it can re-freeze resulting in more ice (Ice Jams, n.d. p. 1). Ice jams form in “flat stream slopes,” “narrowed channels,” “downstream of open water,” and “flood plains” (Ice Jams, n.d. p. 4).
”The governor was joined by Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director John Madden. Weather permitting, the governor will meet with village leaders at Fort Yukon, and fly over Eagle and Circle” (Flood, 2009, Â¶2).
”On [May 6, 2009], Governor Palin declared a disaster for the flooding event in the Interior of Alaska, including the drainages of the Yukon, Kuskokwim and Kobuk rivers” (Flood, 2009, Â¶3).
As with any state disaster declaration, the move permits “greater coordination among state agencies and [provides] easier access to state disaster relief funds.” State declaration is a prerequisite for federal funds generated by a federal disaster declaration (Flood, 2009, Â¶3).
Because of the severe flooding which is threatening lives and property, Governor Palin cancelled her attendance “at several events scheduled on the East Coast” (Flood, 2009, Â¶5).
“Alaska is experiencing the worst ice jam flooding in recent history,” Governor Palin said. “I am committed to do everything I can to help this region recover quickly. I appreciate the efforts of the Division of Homeland Security getting the necessary supplies to those in need” (Flood, 2009, Â¶6).
Governor Palin was to “promote Alaska’s Global Food Aid Program” in New York City. “The event promotes the use of Alaska seafood products to help feed millions of hungry people around the world. First Gentleman Todd Palin will attend in the governor’s place” (Flood, 2009, Â¶7).
”Governor Palin was also invited to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The First Gentleman will attend that event as well. Governor Palin also postponed numerous state meetings planned in Washington, D.C., including a scheduled [gas line] meeting” (Flood, 2009, Â¶8).
One of the true tests of leadership is crisis management. For instance, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was widely lauded for his leadership skills in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 and former President Bush was widely criticized for his handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Governor Palin’s actions pertaining to these floods were appropriate, professional and the hallmark of a skilled executive. She properly declared a disaster for the affected region and in so doing is marshalling the resources required to deal with it.
Just like at the end of February 2009, Governor Palin cancelled events that would have been politically beneficial to her – particularly the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and other meetings in Washington, D.C. She canceled these events to focus on serving her state’s people.
Of course, in the eyes of her critics, Governor Palin can never do anything right. If she leaves the state, it’s an ethics violation. If she stays in the state, she should have left and was “stupid” for staying home. The critics are howling about Todd Palin being sent to attend the Global Food Aid program and the Correspondent’s meeting. They’re railing about his travel expenses.
In case the critics forgot, Todd Palin is a commercial fisherman. Governor Palin was an employee on his boat. In fact, she still works for him occasionally. The Palins have over 20 years experience with commercial fishing. If not Governor Palin, who is more qualified than Todd Palin to discuss Alaskan seafood?
Now…Lt. Governor Sean Parnell might have been a better substitute for the Correspondent’s Dinner under ordinary circumstances, but why have two people travel to the same region to give speeches and presentations? Have any of the critics considered that maybe the state’s official resources need to stay where they are to address this flooding? Does anyone consider that Governor Palin does not have a particularly large staff? Indeed no Alaska governor has. Her husband is more than qualified to speak about a subject that has been his profession for over 20 years. Governor Palin’s husband has delivered speeches in her stead before and has been well-received.
Governor Palin as an executive is wisely allocating her resources. She and her staff cannot be in two places at once. While those of us who love and support Governor Palin regard her as a super hero of sorts, even super heroes cannot perform that feat reserved for a deity — which Governor Palin most decidedly is not. Since the Governor cannot split herself into two or more people, has not been cloned, teleportation has yet to be perfected, and has a small staff, she must prioritize and allocate resources. There is no heavy analysis to this conclusion. It is simple common sense.
Governor Palin wisely kept her staff where they are needed the most. She sent someone who is qualified to speak on subject matter to one event and who has delivered speeches before to another. She did this so that she would not snub the events’ sponsors or wreck what probably was months of planning. Anyone who coordinates even minor events knows that they require significant planning. Governor Palin’s critics have it wrong – like they usually do. Her actions are the work of a skilled executive with 17 years experience.
Alaska Interior Flooding Declaration of Disaster. (2009, May 6). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved May 8, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/pdf/FloodingDisasterDec_May7-2009.pdf
Governor Palin Surveys Flood Damage in Interior. (2009, May 7). State of Alaska, Governor. Retrieved May 8, 2009 from: http://www.gov.state.ak.us/news.php?id=1821
Ice jams. (n.d.). Montana Department of Military Affairs Disaster and Emergency Services Division. Retrieved May 8, 2009 from: http://dma.mt.gov/des/Library/Ice%20Jam.pdf