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Palin emails to be available outside Juneau

Sen. Dennis Egan steps in to head off capital move talk

Posted: June 6, 2011 - 8:33pm

Gov. Sean Parnell is backing off plans to only make the Sarah Palin email release available to those in Juneau or who paid hundreds of dollars in photocopying and printing charges.

The change in policy came after Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, got involved, prompted by calls for moving the capital from Juneau by the Anchorage Daily News editorial page Monday and Anchorage activist Andree McLeod in the Juneau Empire

Friday.

“To insist that any citizen must go to Juneau to review state records is a slap in the face. It shows contempt for citizens and the law — and raises troubling questions about why the governor’s office is choosing to do so,” the state’s largest paper wrote.

The paper called that position “A bad joke and a good argument for moving the capital.”

That got the attention of Juneau residents.

“Alaskans expect government to deliver public information in a timely and effective manner,” Egan said, and volunteered to pay for the copies.

Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said sets of the documents would now be provided to Egan, and to Reps. Mike Doogan and Berta Gardner, both Anchorage Democrats, who also sought them.

They will be delivered to legislative offices, and it will be up to legislators to make them available to the public.

“They won’t be made public in the governor’s office,” Leighow said.

The governor’s office will provide copies of the records, which number 24,199 pages after the electronic documents were converted to paper for legislators in Anchorage and Juneau, Leighow said.

A few thousand more pages are being withheld under various exemptions to the Alaska Public Records Act, the governor’s office said.

The records will begin to be released publicly Friday, but not everyone who has requested them will get them immediately, and Egan said he is not sure how long it will take to get the legislative copies.

Egan also questioned why the emails are only being made available on paper, and weren’t simply scanned and distributed by email.

“The Governor’s Office doesn’t have the software to do that,” Leighow said, but that might change.

“We’re looking at a purchase of software,” she said.

Three news organizations, Mother Jones magazine, msnbc.com and ProPublica are obtaining copies of the emails and will be converting them into a searchable online archive, said reporter Bill Dedman of msnbc.com.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneuaempire.com.

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