Sarah Palin was a defender of property rights, and an opponent of zoning, during her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, much to the obvious disdain of Boston Globe reporter Sasha Issenberg, who turns this into another anti-Palin indictment in a story appearing Sunday. The piece is as revealing about the smug Eastern elitism of the author, and Globe editors, as it is about the governor.
The story has an anti-Palin, anti-property rights slant from beginning to end, but here's a key excerpt:
"Palin's property-rights agenda exploited a deep anger toward the expansion of local government, an attitude that had defined politics in the Matanuska Valley since its settlement 80 years earlier as a way station for gold miners heading north.
She used opposition to land-use restrictions to tap that vein of frontier libertarianism and a conspicuous display of her social views to connect with the new middle-class families who had suburbanized the valley in the 1980s. In doing so, Palin created a microcosm of the modern conservative coalition in Wasilla, exploiting a period of radical growth and progress while feeding off the resentment it created.
"That probably was the reason she was elected mayor," said David Chappel, who joined Palin as the only two of six council members to vote against the city plan and later became her deputy mayor.
As a vice presidential candidate, Palin has suggested that a similar attitude toward growth would prevail nationally if she were elected. "We will get out of the way of private-sector progress," Palin said last week at a Colorado rally. "It's the small business, the mom-and-pops, that are the cornerstone of America."
The municipality Palin repeatedly heralded as a classic "small town" in her convention speech has no discernible center and a Main Street in name only. To its critics, Wasilla has become a famously bad example of suburban growth even by the standards of Alaska, a place where city planners have long noted a dangerous combination of too much land and too few rules about how to build on it."
To a Bostonian, Wasilla's relatively free, open and unregimented ways seem as alien and incomprehensible as the planet Mars, judging from the following description, which oozes disapproval:
" . . Wasilla had few natural barriers to growth, and government did not add any hurdles. With no zoning or building code, a resident able to finance a house on his or her property could build without oversight. Despite the fact that the city sits in an earthquake zone with extreme weather conditions, Wasilla enforced no standards on building materials, methods, or dimensions - and no construction documents needed to be filed at city hall.
In return, government was truly hands-off: Most residents lived on gravel roads and off their own septic tanks. They paid no sales tax. State troopers were the only police presence. There was no trash collection and the only firefighters were volunteers.
In the mid-1980s, a borough manager who proposed a zoning plan was chased out of office after being burned in effigy. "The reaction was so vehement, and so widespread, that politicians were loath to propose any land-use planning that had any teeth to it," said Richard Deuser, a former Wasilla city attorney.
When Wal-Mart expressed interest in building a store in the Wasilla area, the company faced few restrictions. Residents, who had a smattering of small, locally owned stores but were used to driving into Anchorage for other purchases, appeared to be uninterested in dictating the terms of the development."
My god! How can people live like this? No planning? No restrictions on what they can build? No sales tax? No uprising against the big box store? No "smart growth," or "sustainability"? It boggles the mind.
These Alaskans really are a barbaric subspecies; a missing link to America's lawless past, who haven't evolved much beyond a frontier state of mind and existence. And now they have a chance to put one of their own, named Palin, a heart beat away from the oval office. If that happens, all America will come to look and operate like Wasilla, Alaska. It will be the greatest setback for Western Civilization since Alaric sacked Rome.
Or so say the Brahmans at The Boston Globe.