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AKMuckraker

AKMuckraker

Posted: June 30, 2009 06:28 AM

"The Hell With Sarah Palin" -- How Do Rural Alaskans Really Feel?


~~Chum salmon drying.  Emmonak, Alaska June 2009

Last week Governor Sarah Palin sent a series of messages from her favorite communication tool: her Twitter account. We're often treated to little 140 character missives about the weather, or Trig's first hair cut, or the latest score from the Anchorage Aces hockey game.

But this series of three rapid-fire messages was regarding the subsistence fishing situation in Western Alaska. Let's face it. Not a subject that grabs the headlines like naughty monkey pumps, or the outrage du jour about somebody's idea of a joke. But this is one of those stories that will not go away, and is doing more to erode support for the governor in much of the state, than any of her other blunders.


Sarah Palin

AKGovSarahPalinGood update re Rural Advisor John Moller's recnt Emmonak trip, great news he reports; we'll twitter assuming press won't pick up good news.

The snark is unmistakable. She assumes the media won't report the "great news" simply because it's "great," and she knows and you know that the media has no interest in reporting the facts. They're just out to get her.

John Moller is Sarah Palin's rural advisor. He took over the role when her last rural advisor quit amid rumors that she couldn't get any face time with the governor. Moller was in the Western Alaskan village of Emmonak to discuss the topic on everyone's mind these days - salmon. Salmon are the primary subsistence food, and the commercial salmon fishery is the primary income source for residents of the villages of the Lower Yukon River.

Catastrophic problems exist, which start with the mismanagement of a fishery that allow tens of thousands of coveted king salmon to be tossed overboard as "bycatch" by large commercial pollock trawlers from Washington state. Not enough fish last summer meant not enough food last winter, and not enough income for heating and cooking fuel, supplemental food and supplies during the long, harsh winter. Luckily food drives, donations from around the country, support from churches and the blogging community were enough to keep the villages of the Lower Yukon from total disaster.

Palin, after almost eight weeks of inaction, and tons of media pressure, finally flew out to one of the villages. She arrived with two evangelical preachers, one of whom was Billy Graham's son Franklin Graham, boxes of private sector food with religious messages inside, and a plate of homemade cookies for effect.

Anchorage videographer Dennis Zaki, who contracts with CNN, visited the small village of Emmonak last winter, during the crisis, to document the plight of rural Alaskans that came as a direct result of last summer's disastrous fishing season. He wanted to go back this summer to follow up, and get a sense for how things might be looking for the winter ahead He made this trip on his own, funded entirely, as the last one was, by donations from private citizens. People were moved by the heartbreaking story of fellow Americans having to choose whether to keep their children and elders warm or fed, because they didn't have enough to do both.. They became informed of the situation and donated to send Zaki to Western Alaska through a host of Alaskan progressive blogs. Only because of these efforts, the story went from isolated Alaskan rural villages, to the national media. CNN picked up the story last winter.

Fishing season is upon us, and Alaskans were shocked to see what came across the Twitter wires just minutes after the previous tweet.


Sarah Palin

AKGovSarahPalinJohn Moller just returned from Emmonak, reports 50% of residents have subsistence needs met already, others confident they can do the same.