Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Case Study No. 0239: Mary Ellen Baker (nee Emmons)

Report on Sarah Palin trying to ban library books in Wasilla
ABC News' Brian Ross' report on how John McCain's VP candidate Sarah Palin bullied and fired the town librarian in Wasilla, Alaska after she refused to ban three books. This is pretty damning stuff. Do you want this vengeful and censorious woman a heartbeat away from the presidency?

ABC article here: Blotter/ story?id=5766173
Tags: sarah palin banning ban banned books library librarian censorship john mccain barack obama wasilla alaska ak brian ross abc homophobic homophobia republican vp governor vice president
Added: 3 years ago
From: TooneyReed
Views: 40,346

["Brian Ross Investigates" appears on screen]
BRIAN ROSS: As the mayor of the town of Wasilla, Sarah Palin raised questions about removing books in the public library, and then tried to fire the town librarian. She says the two are not connected.
[cut to footage of the town of Wasilla]
BRIAN ROSS: [in voice over] Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the town of Wasilla in 1996, with the strong backing of her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God.
[cut to Reverend Howard Bess, from the Church of the Covenant]
HOWARD BESS: It wasn't just simply a matter of her using the religious right to get elected ... She was one of them.
["ABC News Investigation: Palin and the Librarian, Did Palin Try to Ban Books?" appears on screen]
BRIAN ROSS: [in voice over] Palin has since changed churches. But Assembly of God ministers are well known in Wasilla for taking strong positions on moral issues, including this recent sermon by the current pastor.
[cut to footage of Reverend Ed Kalnin speaking before his congregation]
ED KALNIN: Everybody in the world has a guilty conscience! That's why homosexuals want laws of the land to justify their sin, because they have a guilty conscience!
[cut to footage of inside the Wasilla library]
BRIAN ROSS: Around the time Palin became mayor, the church and other conservative Christians began to focus on certain books available in local stores and in the town library, including one called "Go Ask Alice," and another written by a local pastor, Howard Bess, called "Pastor, I am Gay."
HOWARD BESS: This whole thing of controlling information, censorship ... Yeah, that's a part of this scene.
BRIAN ROSS: [in voice over] Not long after taking office, Palin raised the issue at a city counsel meeting of how books might be banned, according to news accounts and a local resident, a Democrat who was there.
[cut to Wasilla resident Anne Kilkenny]
ANNE KILKENNY: Mayor Palin asked the librarian, "What is your response if I ask you to remove some books from the collection of the Wasilla Public Library?"
BRIAN ROSS: [in voice over] The Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, the then-president of the Alaska Library Association, responded with only a short hesitation.
ANNE KILKENNY: The librarian took a deep breath and said, "The books in the collection were purchased in accordance with national standards and professional guidelines, and I would absolutely not allow you to remove any books from the collection."
BRIAN ROSS: [in voice over] A former town official and Palin ally, says Palin's questions were only rhetorical.
[cut to former Wasilla deputy mayor Judy Patrick]
JUDY PATRICK: There were no specific books that were ever banned from the city. Mayor Palin did inquire of the librarian about the policy of removing books from the library.
BRIAN ROSS: [in voice over] A few weeks after the counsel meeting, the mayor fired the librarian, although she was reinstated after a community uproar.
[cut to Alaska Library Association member June Pinnel-Stephens]
JUNE PINNEL-STEPHENS: You'd like to hope that elected officials understand the role of the library in a democracy, that is to provide access to information to everybody in the community.
[cut to live footage of Ross speaking with Robin Roberts]
BRIAN ROSS: The Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, left two years later, and according to friends, because it was just too hard working for Sarah Palin. In a conversation with me yesterday, the librarian said she could not recall Palin ever asking for specific book titles to be removed from the shelves, but she acknowledged her treatment by Palin had been very rough. "I just don't care to revist that time of my life," she told me. Robin.
ROBIN ROBERTS: I'm sure, Brian. You know, there's so much out there on the internet, and much of the information is wrong.
[she begins leafing through some papers on the desk]
ROBIN ROBERTS: In fact, in response to your story right there, the McCain campaign sent out this three pages to us, and they're trying to shoot down as much as they can. In fact, there was on the internet, about a list, a long list of books which just wasn't true.
BRIAN ROSS: That's not true, that long list of books that some may have seen on the internet, that's simply made up. That was not part of this discussion. They mayor did raise the question of how to get books off the shelf, if people were picketing the library if you'd take books off the shelf. The librarian was offended by that, as were members of the Alaska Library Association, who to this day remain very wary of Sarah Palin.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Alright, thank you for separating fact from fiction. Alright Brian, thank you.



The librarian at the center of a 1996 controversy with then-Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin says she can't recall any effort by Palin to ban specific books from the town library.

In her first public statement since Palin was named the GOP vice-presidential candidate, Mary Ellen Baker said today, "I simply do not recall a conversation with specific titles," Baker told

Palin has acknowledged she twice raised the issue in 1996 of how books could be removed from the shelves, but said it was only a "rhetorical question" and that she did not ask for any books to be banned.

Palin's church at the time, the Assembly of God, had been pushing for the removal a book called "Pastor I Am Gay" from local bookstores, according to the book's author Pastor Howard Bess, of the Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, Alaska.

"And she was one of them," said Bess, "this whole thing of controlling information, censorship, that's part of the scene," said Bess.

According to coverage in the local newspaper, the Frontiersman, Palin asked the librarian at a meeting "if she would object to censorship even if people were circling the library in protest about a book."

The report quotes the librarian as responding, "I told her clearly I will fight anyone who tries to indicate what books can go on the library shelves."

The same week that Palin raised the issue she fired Baker (then using her married name Emmons) as librarian, claiming she was not "loyal" to the new administration and had supported Palin's opponent in the election. She said the dismissal was not connected to questions of censorship, and that she had dismissed all city department heads and told them they could re-apply for their jobs.

After a public outcry, Palin rescinded the dismissal of the librarian.

The local newspaper reporter who covered the controversy, Paul Stuart, claims he was later told by the librarian that Palin wanted three specific books removed from the library.

In her statement to ABC News, the librarian said, "I am unable to dispute or substantiate the information Paul Stuart provided to you."

Stuart said he was confident of his memory. "She may have said that but that's not how it was."

After she got her job back, Baker spent two more years in Wasilla before leaving for a library job in Fairbanks.

She would not address her reasons for leaving Wasilla, but friends say she felt badly treated by Mayor Palin.

"I don't care to revisit that time in my life," Baker told ABC News.

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