Sarah Palin and the Gray-Haired Museum Ladies

The young VP pick has a history of unflinching authority.

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Sarah Palin would likely be a tough boss—her sense of authority seems to have been rarely obscured by her relative youthfulness. Gen Y managers take note: Palin's fiscal conservatism took no prisoners back in Wasilla, Alaska, where even the three "gray-haired matrons" of the city's museum found their longevity no match for her budget cuts.

From the Aug. 6, 1997 edition of the Anchorage Daily News:

Opal Toomey, Esther West and Ann Meyers don't seem like politically active types. There are no bumper stickers on their cars, no pins on their lapels.

But the three gray-haired matrons of Wasilla's city museum decided to take a stand. Faced with a $32,000 budget cut and the prospect of choosing who would lose her job, the three 15-year-plus employees decided instead to quit en masse at the end of July, leaving the museum without a staff.

"We hate to leave," said Meyers, who at 65 is the youngest of the three. "We've been together a long time. But this is enough."

If the city were broke, it would be different, she said. Instead, the city is flush with $4 million in reserves. There is no reason the museum's budget should be cut, Meyers said.

But the mayor and City Council members who supported the cut say the surplus is beside the point. They were elected to minimize government and concentrate on infrastructure—paving roads and extending sewer lines.

The museum, which had an annual budget of more than $200,000, was costing roughly $25 per visitor, said Mayor Sarah Palin. Museum supporters say losing the women will be a blow to this city north of Anchorage. The three have run the two-story building since the early 1980s.

A lot of young, newly minted managers tend to tread lightly, particularly when it comes to the older workers on the payroll. Palin seems to have had none of that self-consciousness.

Palin, Sarah