Palin's Museum Head Speaks Out

Geri McCann took over the Wasilla museum after Sarah Palin's budget cuts.

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Earlier this week, I posted some lines from an 11-year-old story about Sarah Palin's budget cuts as mayor of Wasilla and the trio of longtime museum employees who quit rather than slash their budget. (I was largely interested in the bold initiative and willingness to shake up the establishment shown by someone as young as Palin.)

A woman named Geri McCann left a lengthy comment about Palin's leadership. An excerpt:

For the record SARAH PALIN does appreciate and support historic preservation, culture and the arts, but with fiscal responsibility.

I was hired by Sarah Palin to replace the 'sweet gray haired' ladies who chose to all walk out on the Dorothy Page Museum when the $200,000 budget was reduced by $32,000. These ladies chose to walk out instead of exploring other solutions to the budget reduction; like seeking other funds to supplement the budget (as most museums do) or to work part time in order for all of them to stay, instead they chose to make a big scene and political statement by storming out.

Museum budgets get cut all the time, if all museum staff "walked" every time their budgets were cut then most of the museums in the nation would be closed!...

THE TRUTH—Sarah has a tender heart, and truly cared about those sweet ladies, it hurt her to see the harm caused to them by the cuts. As I recall she sincerely thought one of them might want to retire as they were in their mid-late 70's; yet, she left it up to them to decide the best way to reduce the budget. Cutting one of their positions was not required, only an option. Quitting was their choice as a "solution".

(Read the full comment here.)

I called McCann to double-check her identity before I reprinted the comment. Although she now runs an Alaska tour company, McCann still had plenty to say about Wasilla's former mayor and her former boss. The spirited and longtime Alaska resident says it's been difficult to hear what's been said about Palin since McCain named her to his ticket. "It's so hard to see her chewed up like she is," McCann says. "Alaska's like a big small town...I know her personally. It just hurts."

McCann was hired as Wasilla's museum registrar in October 1997, about two months after the three museum staffers quit. McCann talked about working with a tight budget and concedes her job required some stretching, but she says she was up for it—just like Palin. "That's what she's about—making a silk purse out of a sow's ear," McCann says. "She's got the whole inner fiber. That's how she was raised." The museum began holding community events, and the overall effect seemed to allay the community's fears, she says: "It healed it up. It's like—it's OK. We're not going to hell in a handbasket. We're all right."

Palin's leadership style and spirit is characteristic of other Alaska women who grow up hauling water, making fires, and hunting moose, McCann says. She's frustrated by the rap on Palin's wolf hunting because the wolves stalk residents as they walk their dogs. McCann says she's proud to see her state sending a leader to Washington and thinks Americans will appreciate what they find in Palin. "We're really grounded. She does shop at Wal-Mart, she does drive herself to work. I love that. And that's what America wants. Someone like them," she says.

As for the debate with Joe Biden: "We cannot wait.... She's cool as a cucumber."

Palin, Sarah