September 25, 2009

Masek = naive village girl?

A columnist provides dueling views of a Native woman: naive village girl or experienced legislator?

Masek excuses sound hollow, sentence disappoints

By Julia O'MalleyBeverly Masek's sentencing Thursday morning was a chance for her to take responsibility for pocketing $4,000 from an oil services company executive in exchange for her vote. And she told the judge she did. But what I heard in the courtroom was a long list of reasons why it wasn't really her fault.

The five-time elected member of the Alaska House of Representatives took a bribe in 2003 from Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen because she was depressed and going through a divorce, her attorney, Rich Curtner, explained to the judge. She was cash-strapped and desperate and drinking too much. The defense sentencing document--built on letters from public figures and a psychiatric evaluation--painted a picture of her that seemed fragile, like a besotted Victorian heroine wandering the halls of the capitol.

Masek was vulnerable and prone to relationships with domineering people, it said, a passive, dependent personality. She was unsophisticated and from a village, childlike, overwhelmed and adrift in Juneau when she had no one to tell her what to do. She was powerless to the pull of the Legislature's culture of corruption. Not to mention she had a habit of drinking too much. Reading all that, one might have expected her to faint right there in the courtroom. But instead she just sniffled, dabbing her eyes with a wadded Kleenex.

Masek was looking at 18 to 24 months under federal sentencing guidelines. But she didn't want to go to jail, her lawyer told the judge. She wanted to go to alcohol treatment.

In my seat in the front row, I was unmoved. Masek navigated the Iditarod Trail four times. Did she really have such a hard time, no matter how stressed or broke or hung-over she might have been, navigating the difference between right and wrong in Juneau? She had taken the oath of office five times, and been in the Legislature nearly 10 years when she deposited Allen's money in her bank account. The defense was reaching for heart-strings, playing a cloying victim tune. But it relied on a musty stereotype about Native women I don't buy. Masek was no naive village girl. She was an adult and an elected official. It seemed reasonable, even if she had an alcohol problem, that she should be expected to act like one.
More on the story:

Judge shows leniency in Masek sentence for corruption

Corruption:  Former state representative must serve 3 years' probation after prison.

By Richard Mauer
Masek said she has "hurt, embarrassed and humiliated" herself and let her friends down.

"I know I have done things I should not have done. I know I need help. I'm ready to get back on track and get off this cliff that I fell off of," she said.

In a sentencing memo filed on behalf of Masek, Curtner said Masek accepted responsibility for her actions, but also blamed her ex-husband for being controlling and abusive and the environment in Juneau for depressing and confusing her.
If she fell off a cliff, she doesn't need to get off the cliff, but never mind.

Then there's this: "She start drinking in Juneau, with nice Republican rednecks," he added.

Beistline, from the bench, acknowledged that Masek may have been a "pawn in the hands of several legislators (and) her husband," but it didn't excuse her conduct. He said the idea that a legislator incapable of acting on her own and frequently drunk was "kind of scary, when you think about it."

Beistline said he was hopeful Masek could conquer her alcohol problems and become a useful member of society. But he also expressed skepticism because she hadn't gotten treatment despite her heavy drinking over the last decade and a driving while intoxicated charge. Under court supervision since her guilty plea in March, she's still been drinking to excess, the judge said.
Plus this note about the situation in general:Masek was the sixth state lawmaker and 12th person overall charged in the wide-ranging FBI investigation of corruption in Alaska politics. The investigation, while still ongoing, has been on hold while the Justice Department and a special prosecutor in Washington investigates the conduct of prosecutors and the FBI as a result of the collapse of its biggest case, the corruption trial of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.Comment:  Note the culture of corruption that happened under Republican governor Sarah Palin. Before she quit, I think an informal survey rated her Alaska one of the most corrupt states in the Union.

For more on the subject, see How Alaskan Natives Get Drunk.


Stephen said...

Yeah Palin personified not only ignorance but also corruption, adios governor gidget you will not be missed. Also I highly recommend reading this article:

Apart from the fact that her speech is pure fiction, it reads like a second grader's book report. Plus this part is downright disturbing:

"Um, by the way, sure wish folks could ever, ever understand that we ALL could learn so much from someone like Trig - I know he needs me, but I need him even more... what a child can offer to set priorities RIGHT - that time is precious... the world needs more "Trigs", not fewer."

Say all you want about Beverly Masek but I doubt she thinks the world needs more retarded children. Not to mention I'm somewhat convinced that Masek wouldn't be in any of this trouble if she had been White (just look at what Palin got away with). Since I've spent time in Alaska I know that it's a primarily white state, (if it ranks high in corruption it ranks amazingly low in diversity) apart from a few tack totem poles in anchorage Natives are more or less invisible.

Stephen said...

Also claiming that Palin is a typical American is a bit insulting, besides to most Americans she's a punchline with a pulse.

dmarks said...

"Say all you want about Beverly Masek but I doubt she thinks the world needs more retarded children."

Kill 'em all, right Stephen?

Fits in with the idea that the world needs fewer Jews, gays, etc. Fire the ovens.

Actually, the Nazis started with the "retarded" before they started killing the Jews, gays, and others.

Stephen said...

"Kill 'em all, right Stephen?"

I really hope you're joking.

"Fits in with the idea that the world needs fewer Jews, gays, etc. Fire the ovens."

Wow we got to godwin's law in no time.

"Actually, the Nazis started with the "retarded" before they started killing the Jews, gays, and others."

I know, please point out where exactly I advocated killing retarded children in my post.

dmarks said...

Yup. Because the Nazis did indeed specifically start getting rid of "inferior" people by targetting the disabled first.