Saturday, 28 February 2009
Sarah Palin's buddies
If Sean Parnell could no longer serve as lieutenant governor, Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt would replace him. Gov. Sarah Palin recently appointed Schmidt to fall behind Parnell in the line of succession, said Bill McAllister, her director of communications.
If anything should happen to Parnell and Sarah Palin, Schmidt would become governor.
Who is Joe Schmidt? Joe and Sarah go way back. They went to high school together in Wasilla. She appointed him to the post of Corrections Commissioner when she became governor.
In Schmidt's first year as commissioner, in 2007, there were 49 internal investigations of prison guards. Half resulted in disciplinary action, four resulted in terminations and another four people left their jobs voluntarily. He would not give details about the problems, citing personnel rules.
"We are doing the right thing. We are going to be trustworthy. And, if I have to go through this until my last day, then that's what I'm going to do," he said of his efforts to make the department more accountable to the public. "Ethics and honesty is what we are about."
In April 2008 the Alaska Correctional Officers Association voted in favor of a “no confidence” measure. In a press release from her office, Sarah Palin said “Commissioner Schmidt has my full support as he and his team continue to bring remarkable reforms to the Department of Corrections, (...) Joe has my unconditional support.”
What do the staff have to say about Joe?
"I am a female and work at Alaska’s only maximum security prison. Sarah Palin appointed a good buddy of hers to be our Commissioner of Corrections. Joe Schmidt has deliberately made management decisions that have made our jobs, as correctional officers, more life threatening.
We tried going to Sarah Palin with our concerns but she wouldn’t listen to us. We then decided to submit a ‘no confidence’ vote in Schmidt. Out of the 733 correctional officers working in the state of Alaska over 500 of us voted. Out of those less than 20 said they had confidence in Schmidt. The rest of us voted ‘no confidence’ in his leadership. This was unprecedented. At no time, before Schmidt was appointed as our commissioner, had we ever initiated a ‘no confidence’ vote in one of our commissioners.
Surely now, we thought, our governor Sarah Palin will hear and investigate our concerns regarding Joe Schmidt. That didn’t happen. Rather she publicly said that she stood by Schmidt and that 97% of Alaska’s correctional officers are just a bunch of “disgruntled employees”.
MRSA is running rampant in our institutions and we are deliberately being understaffed. Joe Schmidt is not only allowing understaffing but is actively encouraging it.
Prisoners with MRSA are being treated but not officially diagnosed with the bacterium. By not having cultures done, to determine the presence of MRSA, they are then able to be released right back out into the general prisoner population. If they were officially diagnosed then they’d have to be medically isolated. Consequently other prisoners and staff members keep contracting MRSA.
When a staff member contracts it, we’ve had two new cases in the last month and a half alone at my facility, they are told to “pin point exactly” where in the institution they contracted it. It’s a bacterium that can only be seen under an electron microscope yet we’re supposed to say exactly where we got it???
The department, under Joe Schmidt’s leadership, will not pay medical costs or reimburse leave time used, for any staff members that come down with MRSA unless they can prove that they got it at work. The very same place that contagious prisoners are being treated and then sent back home to their cells to expose every other prisoner and staff member they come into contact with.
We are also constantly under staffed. Rather than calling officers in on overtime, when we’re under manned, we’re left short handed. There are many officers willing to come in and work. All the department has to do is ask.
We also have mandatory posts that are never to be left unmanned. They are being manned by “phantom” officers. Which is to say one officer assigned to two posts. The officer’s name will be filled in, on paper, as filling in a certain post when in actuality he or she is working another one as well.
Twice, in the last year, we’ve had “man down” alarms go off in the facility and not enough officers to be able to allow anyone to respond to the emergency. By the grace of God, both times, the alarms were accidentally set off and no officer’s life was in actual jeopardy. But we may not always be so fortunate. When that happens, whether an officer loses his or her life to MRSA or a prisoner assault, we’ll be able to credit Sarah Palin and Joe Schmidt with murder."
Joe Schmidt is the perfect guy to replace Sarah Palin, should circumstances warrant it. His qualifications are impressive. Joe is Sarah Palin in trousers. He thinks like her, talks like her...
Perish the thought!
Sarah Palin has a seemingly endless stream of extremely 'competent', 'well qualified' and 'talented' people from her church and her high school to fill every important position in the state of Alaska.
Way to go, Sarah!
Member of staff account of conditions found here, in the comments section.