UPDATE: Many thanks to Lisa Renee for a comment in this thread that supplies more information about and corrects the Washington Post story below which reports that Alaska Gov. and GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin cut funding to teen moms. Here is the link with the full story and here is the pertinent part, directly from the faith-based agency, Covenant House, itself:
“Covenant House Alaska is a multi-service agency serving homeless and runaway youth, including teen mothers. The majority of the agency’s annual operating budget is privately raised, with no more than 10 to 15 percent of funds coming from state grants in any given year. We are grateful for the support we have received from Governor Sarah Palin, the Alaska legislature and our Congressional delegation over the years.
Despite some press reports to the contrary, our operating budget was not reduced. Our $3.9 million appropriation is directed toward a multi-year capital project and it is our understanding that the state simply opted to phase in its support for this project over several years, rather than all at once in the current budget year.”
Last night, I watched Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Bill Moyers’ show make an excellent and pointed point about how the media is starting to run with items from blogs and e-mails without checking them fully:
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: …Here’s where I have a problem with the vetting analysis. The press is eager to say she may not have been properly vetted by Senator McCain. And there’s certainly evidence that she was vetted very, very quickly. How adequately we’re finding out now as the press reporting moves forward. But that doesn’t justify the press engaging in vetting which is also too quick and not properly informed. They actually seem to be vulnerable in some cases to the charge they’re investigating about Senator McCain.
Let me give you an example. On CNN earlier this week Soledad O’Brien picks up something apparently from e-mails, although perhaps from bloggers because it’s circulating in both places, and takes as fact that Governor Palin has cut special needs funding. Now, if she has, that evocative moment in the speech in which she promised to be the advocate for special needs children is an act of hypocrisy. So very important moment. However, it’s raised on the assumption that it’s true. It’s asserted as true by Soledad O’Brien. When Soledad O’Brien raises it, the McCain spokesperson responds by defending what the governor will do in the future, the reasonable viewer watches and says, “Well, the McCain spokesperson isn’t defending and saying she didn’t do it. Perhaps she did.”
Now you have a moment in which journalism has deceived its audience because in the rush to make this point about possible hypocrisy, a major commentator on a major network has asserted as fact something which doesn’t hold up. It took the FactCheck.org researcher that I called on my staff about four hours to get back to the primary research documents.
BILL MOYERS:And it said?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:That Sarah Palin had increased funding for special needs children. There was a change in the category in the budget in which it was housed. And as a result, there was some confusion. And some people had generalized from the budget proposed by the predecessor that she defeated.
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:And so the problem I have with some of the press coverage is that in the rush to vet, they made the mistake they were accusing the McCain campaign of. But I don’t think that has anything to do with gender. I think that has something to do with the nature of 24-hour-a-day journalism.
BILL MOYERS:One that…
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:But I think it’s problematic. However, in all of this, the press did something very important because it took another key claim that Governor Palin had made, that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere. Well, as reporters quickly pointed out and accurately pointed out, she opposed it pretty much after she’d favored it and after it was all but gone anyway and the state did take the money. Now, there’s an instance in which reporting was quick, but the reporting was accurate and the press performed its function effectively. None of that has to do with gender.
BILL MOYERS:So what does the, what do voters do? What do ordinary people out there who are not sure whether Sarah Palin really cut said one thing in her speech and then at home cut aid for needy children? Or the press that gets it right and the politicians say it’s wrong? What does any ordinary viewer do?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:Well, the ordinary viewer should be able to step back and trust that the media are looking carefully and offering a factual basis apart from the partisan spin.
BILL MOYERS:What media, though? Fox News? CNN? PBS? Bloggers on the left to the right, as you said? Rush Limbaugh? Rachel Maddow?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON:That’s the problem. The problem is that one can’t trust anymore from some of these sources that there’s going to be a fidelity to fact in the presence of contest. One of the things that we showed in 2004, from the National Annenberg Election Survey, was that those who are reliant on Rush Limbaugh and on Fox News accepted the Republican view of the facts.
Those reliant on NPR and CNN were more likely to accept the Democratic view of the contested facts. Now sometimes there’s legitimate contest. Sometimes, however, what you essentially had was spin and distortion on each side. Those who are relying on newspapers and traditional forms of news were still more likely to hold a non-contested view of those facts.
That’s the answer to your question. Journalism that tries to balance, tries to have fidelity to fact, when it makes a mistake, corrects often enough that the public catches the correction, is still the place that one goes or one reads and watches both sides and tries to filter them through.
She is extremely correct in saying that we should all do better. If you don’t know, say so. If you haven’t verified it, say it. If it’s your opinion, label it opinion. But do not be the started or the spreader of the smear. Unless you like the idea of losing credibility.
In this particular post, I made it clear that I didn’t know what exactly had gone on with this item and now we know enough to know that while maybe other choices could have been made, the service provider indicates that the budget decision did not or does not appear to be impacting services already being provided.
…earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.
After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation — “SP” — Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.
According to Passage House’s web site, its purpose is to provide “young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives” and help teen moms “become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families.”
As I wrote at BlogHer, where I left a comment about this article, we don’t know why she slashed – was there a problem? Had their numbers declined? Other funding sources? We don’t know – hopefully that will get filled in. But you would think that if the legislature approved it, then she would too. I googled trying to find a reason but no luck yet.
From the KTUU, but in regard to the 2007 budget:
For many of those affected directly by the cuts made by Gov. Sarah Palin, today was not easy.
Parks, roads, and several youth facilities were hit hard and now many are already thinking about how they will fund their projects.
Covenant House executive director Deidre Cronin says Covenant House slept 65 kids last night. Her home for teens is busting at the seams. But after Gov. Palin vetoed $3.9 million for a new shelter, she’s going to have to come up with a new plan.
“The need did not go away because this money was vetoed, so it means, as a staff, we have to hunker down and find other solutions,” said Cronin.
She, like so many others today, knew the money might not come through. Still, to hear it was not one of the state’s priorities was tough.
“This is an essential need and we are the safety net for kids. There are kids in our community that do not have a family to go to tonight or a bed to sleep in. I think that’s pretty essential,” said Cronin.
In that same 2007 capital budget, there was a pet project that allocated $50,000 to a Christian school, called the Gateway grant:
Gara said that kind of a rushed, closed process led to an unconstitutional line item — a $50,000 grant to Gateway School and Learning Center in South Anchorage, which provides help for students with dyslexia and other language-processing challenges.
“It’s a very good school, but once the state gets in the business of funding private schools, you don’t have enough money for public schools. It is a good school, but also the constitution says you can’t fund private schools with state money,” said Gara, D-Anchorage.
In addition to being a private, non-profit corporation, Gateway describes its staff as committed Christians, another apparent constitutional problem with the grant.
This article says Palin left the 2007 operating budget intact but slashed the capital budget, though I can’t tell at 1am with only five hours left to sleep whether she cut that grant or not. Maybe tomorrow.
What I would like to know from Alaska: if each resident is getting $1200 a piece for windfalls from oil profits, which are leading to billions of dollars in Alaska budget surpluses, why were the 2007 and 2008 budgets slashed so severely? I do not know much at all about Alaska, but I imagine I’m going to be learning a lot more, soon.
Upon one last google to get an answer, I found this article from the Anchorage Daily News May 2008 that discusses how and what Palin cut. You will see, as other news articles have highlighted, she saves projects in her home area and other rural areas, but social services and infrastructure? Not so much. There are also accusations that she makes promises and goes back on them.
First, about the surplus:
Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman said the state has a surplus that could expand by $9 billion over the coming year if oil prices stay at these heights.
“There’s no fiscal reason for these heavy vetoes,” said Stedman, who was the main architect of the capital budget in the Senate.
Stedman said there’s also a good argument that projects are needed to stimulate the slowing economy and expand the labor pool to get ready for a natural gas pipeline.
“This is just politics,” he said.
Anchorage Republican Rep. Kevin Meyer, Stedman’s counterpart in the House, said Palin vetoed things she told legislators were safe.
Then, about going back on promises:
The vetoes are heightening the tension between Palin and legislators. Legislators particularly complained she vetoed projects she said she wouldn’t. They also said she axed things that met her own criteria, such as improving safety, and didn’t consult legislators enough about the vetoes.
“If you have a gentleman’s agreement and one party doesn’t carry forward with it, the agreement isn’t that good,” Meyer said.
Palin insisted she was always clear with legislators that nothing was veto-proof. She said she expected pushback from legislators.
“It’s never big enough for some lawmakers, it’s never big enough for some local officials,” Palin said.
I suppose you can call that not politics as usual. But I’m also not sure that it’s much different than the idea of a unitary executive, favored by many Republicans.