Thursday, 3 February 2011

Dairygate refreshed

I promised to review some of original gates involving Sarah Palin and put them into the context of more recent events. Only her record as a politician would produce gates as such. The suffix entered the English language because the first of all gates, Watergate, involved a politician, not a celebrity. Celebrities may produce scandals, not gates and are not accountable to voters. That's why we can't have a Twittergate or a Facebookgate. Sarah Palin doesn't hold any political office at the moment. She was chosen by half a dozen people to do what she's doing now as a celebrity. But she was elected by the people of Alaska to be their governor and will remain accountable to them for a few more months. Let's take a trip down memory lane and shine a fresh light on some of her deeds.


"We took government out of the dairy business and put it back into private-sector hands - where it should be." From Sarah Palin's resignation speech, July 3, 2009.

Since her resignation, Sarah Palin has criticized every effort president Obama has made to get the economy back on track and preserve jobs in some important industries. Sarah Palin doesn't like goverment and doesn't like bailouts.

Matanuska Maid was a state run dairy. It was failing and the management board at the time had voted to close it down. Enter the governor, our very own Sarah Palin, to save the day. In a series of ambushes and staged media opportunities, she destroyed the reputation of the people who had been running the dairy for many years, fired all the members of the Board of Agriculture and Conservation (BAC) and replaced them with old friends from high school (including a woman whose sole qualification for the job was having a liking for cows when she was a child). The new board, chaired by Kristan Cole (Sarah Palin's legal fund sole trustee), immediately voted themselves as the operating board for the dairy business, eliminating a whole tier in the management chain. Money was pumped into the new venture in the form of several bailouts. After staging a dodgy auction to make some capital from the old equipment, the dairy turned private, now in the hands of assorted incompetent people who favoured a handful on dairy farmers from the Valley (one of them related to a member of the Board).

The shiny new private dairy couldn't make money and kept applying for some more, in the form of loans from the Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund. These loans are considered and approved by that lovely bunch of friends of the new owners. It couldn't be a more comfortable arragement for them. Some of the loans were taken without any collateral and some were loans to pay for earlier loans. One of the new managers was caught doing some dodgy cash deals and a nasty smell of fraud lingered around the place.

When searching for more recent news about Matanuska Creamery, I found two articles from the local the media. ADN and The Mat-Su Frontiersman interviewed Karen Olson, the CEO of the company, and the articles read as free PR for the creamery, with Olson waxing lyrical about their success. It seems to have been a trend throughout the fiasco. While we read Andrew Halcro's well documented articles about all the wrongdoings of these enterprising people and their inability to make ends meet, the media ran their success stories, marvelling at them for helping Alaskan children drink real Alaskan milk produced by real Alaskan cows from the Valley!

Back to Sarah Palin for a recap. She took a failing but honestly run state business and gave it to a bunch of incompetent people who happened to be her friends from high school or from the Valley. State and Federal money was poured into the new venture and it still failed to show any results despite obtaining generous (but somewhat suspect) loans on several occasions. Money and equipment were used in many fiddles and things were not properly accounted for. Dare I say that Sarah Palin made a bad situation worse for the state but a lot better for her cronies? Some fiscal conservative, ethical governor!

I'd like to make a parallel between Sarah Palin's actions to save her local dairy and Obama's bailout of the auto industry. I didn't read or hear anything about Obama replacing the management of any of the car factories with his high school buddies or appointing a director whose only qualification for the job was a passion for his Hot Wheels when he was a little boy...

Who would you rather have making decisions or giving opinions about the economy, the American industry and other equally important issues?


Previous posts about Dairygate, containing full details about all the people involved in the fiasco, their shady dealings and very useful links may be read HERE.

Should you wish to concentrate on different details of the case, bit by bit, instead of reading all four Dairygate posts at once, here's a guide to the contents of each post in the series:

Original Dairygate post: First overview.

First recap: Strange cash deals going on.

Second recap: The loans.

Third recap: Dodgy auctions, the loans and full cast of characters.

Andrew Halcro wrote extensively about this topic. The results of the search for Matanuska Creamery may be found HERE and the posts should help give you a good idea about the extent of the corruption going on over the years.

If you'd like to read the e-mails from the Crivella West database, click on THIS LINK, then click on search and enter the terms "dairy" and "mat-maid" in the search box. The database is still live and working, but searching it is not terribly intuitive.

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