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Eph Pundit: Rape Kits

UPDATE: I am answering in bold my own questions below, Thanks to links/comments from JG, Rory and other readers.

When someone as smart as Ken Thomas ’93 gets tricked by this rape kits nonsense, it is time to devote a thread to the topic.

A more important question to me would be: did any soul choose not to have a test, or not even to call or show up to the hospital, because of Wasilla’s exceptional policy?

Ms. Palin chose to use State power to disempower women, based on her religious beliefs. Period. And tip of the iceberg.

Please. I have not had time to investigate this properly, but this gibberish — that Sarah Palin originated a policy to charge rape victims for the forensic kits used to gather evidence — seems, on its face, totally implausible. Why on earth would she do this? Conservatives like to arrest/prosecute/jail rapists. They are, if nothing else, law-and-order folks. Why would Palin, or any conservative, do this?

So, consider this a thread where the anti-Palin’s among the Ephs might substantiate, with quotes and links, this charge. My questions:

1) What was the policy before Palin became mayor? If the policy was in place before she showed up then, obviously, she bears less blame for it?

Unclear. The available evidence suggests that, in at least some parts of Alaska, the same policy held prior to 2000. We have no direct evidence on Wasilla prior to 1996.

2) Did anyone complain about the policy while she was mayor and, therefore, in a position to do something about it? If no one complained, then I would suspect that Palin did not even know about it.

There were widespread complains in 2000, at least.

3) Was Palin in a position to change the policy, even if she was informed of it? Not all mayors control the hospitals in their jurisdiction. If you have a problem with, say, Mass General Hospital, there is little point in going to Boston Mayor Meninno, since the city does not run/control MGH?

Palin seems to have control over at least one hospital. The key contemporay article is from 2000.

While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.

In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.

Ultimately it is the criminal who should bear the burden of the added costs, Fannon said.

The forensic exam is just one part of the equation. Id like to see the courts make these people pay restitution for these things, Fannon said.

Fannon said he intends to include the cost of exams required to collect evidence in a restitution request as a part of a criminals sentencing.

4) Did the policy ever impact anyone? (HWC has asked this question before.) Now obviously neither HWC or I want the name of a specific rape victim. We just want to know this actually happened in the hospital that Palin is responsible for. Was an actual (unnamed) rape victim charged for the kit or not? (I have seen evidence that this happened in Alaska and, perhaps, in the part of Alaska near Wasilla, but you can’t blame the mayor of Wasilla for things that happen outside her jurisdiction.

The Wasilla police department seems to have charged the insurance companies, at least. We have no evidence on what it did if the victim did not have insurance or the insurance company would not pay.

5) Could someone place this issue in a larger national context? Consider this pre-Palin post from US News.

It’s tough enough for rape victims to come forward. Now there’s another reason for them to think twice about reporting the crime: They may get stuck with a hefty bill for the rape kit used to collect evidence against their attacker.

Talk about adding insult to injury. In a story last week in the Raleigh News & Observer, reporter Mandy Locke described the situation in North Carolina, where “the vast majority of the 3,000 or so emergency room patients examined for sexual assaults each year shoulder some of the cost of a rape kit test.” A state victims compensation fund intended to help cover the bills is woefully underfunded and had capped payouts for the $1,600 test at $1,000. Since Locke’s story ran, “The cap has been lifted,” says North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety spokesperson Patty McQuillan, though she noted that the legislature would still have to provide the additional funds.

Unless you think that every elected official in North Carolina should be barred from the Vice Presidency, then you have little to complain about Palin (at least on this issue). Or is all of North Carolina “us[ing] State power to disempower women?” Just asking!

6) It seems obvious to me that what we have here is the usual bureaucratic stupidity and health care funding problems. Someone has to pay the nurse who treats the rape victim. Who is it going to be? The obvious place to start is the victim’s insurance company. Does anyone object to that? And (assuming no one does) then we are all Palins since most health care plans have deductibles.

Comments welcome.

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#1 Comment By Ronit On September 14, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

You are ridiculous, David.

#2 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

First of all, nothing to do with rape kits is “nonsense,” whether you think the criticism of Gov. Palin is true or not.

Now to address your talking points, some of which are nearly identical to an article in the National Review from Thursday – coincidence?

1) From McClatchy:

A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla’s newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.

“(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests,” the newspaper reported.

It also quoted Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon objecting to the law. Fannon was appointed to his position by Palin after her dismissal of the previous police chief. He said it would cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 a year if the city had to foot the bill for rape exams.

“In the past we’ve charged the cost of exams to the victims’ insurance company when possible,” Fannon told the newspaper. “I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer.”

So the police chief she hired after firing the previous one put this policy in place (if I am reading the above correctly). Since her confidence in firing people all over the place is well-documented, I’d say she could obviously change the policy. This is framed as the police having to pay versus the victims. I guess this goes to “point” (3) as well.

2) While she was mayor enough people complained to raise the profile of the issue to the state legislature. Clearly the issue was also addressed in her small town newspaper (see above). If she didn’t know about it, she wasn’t very good at her job. I think reading the local paper would be a pretty minimal requirement for a mayor to keep up with local issues. So pick your argument, was she incompetent or did she think charging victims for rape kits was a good policy decision and therefore she kept her police chief and/or didn’t take steps to change the policy?

4) Has been asked and answered several times now. Jeez. The victim’s rights advocate testified in front of the legislature that victims had been forced to pay and had complained. What other source do you want? I’m confused as to why that isn’t sufficient.

And here is an article from the Anchorage Daily News (a local source who probably knows a lot) summarizing this whole issue. You should try Google, it is helpful.

#3 Comment By rory On September 14, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

as they say in other forums: dts.

cmon david, it’s been substantiated and explained in the other comment thread. every single point you make is already in the comment thread. it is a matter of public record that wasilia was alone in this policy, that the state house actively passed a bill to override wasilia’s policy, and that rape victims did complain about it.

christ.

#4 Comment By Ronit On September 14, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

My previous comment was too personal, so let me rephrase: Your pathetic attempt to rationalize this away while ignoring all of the substantial facts that were presented in the previous thread is ridiculous, David. It would be a wise thing indeed for you to actually read some of the articles on this topic before you dismiss any of it preemptively as ‘nonsense’. This post makes you look lazy and ignorant.

#5 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On September 14, 2008 @ 7:02 pm

David,

Palin fired the previous police chief for what seem to be personal reasons, hired the new one and micromanaged him (in quite questionable ways), and, with her husband, reviewed the budget that cut rape kit funding line-by-line making her own cuts and adjustments.

Now about what she did to city government…

#6 Comment By PTC On September 14, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

So many do not realize that we are one or two votes away me a bzd change. I m nor kidding. m not kidding, we are talking sabot my wife and my niece here, it is a womans choice. We have to ptoect Roe V Wade!!!!

#7 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

1) JG claims that some of my post “is nearly identical to an article in the National Review from Thursday – coincidence?” Are you accusing me of plagiarism? If so, why not just go ahead and do so? And why not link to the article that you claim I stole from?

2) Rory claims that “it is a matter of public record that wasilia was alone in this policy.” Well, for starters, this is obviously wrong. I provide a link to US News claiming that this happened to 3,000 women in North Carolina. Are you claiming that Wasilla is the only town in Alaska that did this? If so, provide a link. I have seen nothing like that. In fact, JG quotes “most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams.” “Most” is not the same thing as “every one but Wasilla.”

3) Ken writes:

Palin fired the previous police chief for what seem to be personal reason

Is the mayor of Wasilla allowed to fire the police chief? If so, then what is the problem? And, please provide a link if possible.

hired the new one and micromanaged him (in quite questionable ways)

Details please. If she hired the new one and he is a good police chief then that would be a point in her favor. And “questionable” micromanagement is in the eyes of the beholder. All we bosses have had employees who thought our management of them was questionable micromanagement.

and, with her husband, reviewed the budget that cut rape kit funding line-by-line making her own cuts and adjustments

Well, if that is true, the case is closed. But surely the budget of the town of Wasilla is a public document. Surely someone has tracked it down and scanned it.

If there is a budget item for rape kits from the year before Palin took over and she zeroed it out as mayor and then intended to charge victims, then that would be damning evidence indeed. So, provide a link to someone making that claim.

#8 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

Now obviously neither HWC or I want the name of a specific rape victim.

We’ve already given all the evidence a fair-minded person would want shy of an actual name, so I wouldn’t go so heavy on the bold.

As for David’s points Nos. 5 and 6, they are beneath him. No. 6 evinces a clear disregard for what a rape kit actually is. Here’s a hint: a kit is not a “nurse.” It’s not a human being of any kind. It’s a set of materials used to collect forensic evidence from a victim; in other words, it’s a law enforcement tool, much like a fingerprint brush or crime scene tape or a pair of handcuffs. Read all about them at the link. This is not something that victims should be paying for under any circumstances.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_kit

As to David’s point No. 5, he is certainly correct that Wasila, Alaska, was not the only place in the country that victims were billed for rape kits. According to the Violence Against Women Act, of course (author: Joe Biden), states are supposed to foot the bill in order to qualify for federal funding. But some have been dropping the ball, and they’re not off the hook either.

But the reason his point is incoherent is that it ignores the directionality of the policies we’re talking about. If we have a municipality that isn’t paying completely for rape kits, but then passes legislation mandating that they be paid for … that’s not the same as a municipality that previously paid for kits reversing field and then charging for them. Those two policies are, in fact, each other’s opposite.

Which is why it’s no type of smear to say Palin was notable for making rape victims pay for their own protection — it’s just what happened.

#9 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

JG seems to be referring to this when she writes “The victim’s rights advocate testified in front of the legislature that victims had been forced to pay and had complained. What other source do you want?”

Is this the quote she is talking about?

Rape victims in several areas of Alaska, including the Matanuska-Susitna Valley where Wasilla is, complained about being charged for the tests, victims’ advocate Lauree Hugonin, of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, told state House committees, records show.

I am happy to believe that rape victims all over Alaska were being forced to pay for “tests.” That is happening today in North Carolina. But, first, I do not care about what was happening all over Alaska. I want evidence about Wasilla while Palin was mayor. I am not denying that this happened. I just want some direct evidence.

Just because Alaska (or North Carolina) is a messed up state does not mean that Wasilla (or Durham) is a messed up town.

#10 Comment By rory On September 14, 2008 @ 7:55 pm

id turn it around and say you give a reason to doubt people like ken who have generally been extremely reliable, but that’s not your way.

alone in alaska, btw, which was implied in describing the “state house” doing something.

as JG told you to do, use google. here’s the website from the anchorage daily news: http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/523708.html. it says wasilla was alone in the policy.

#11 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 8:09 pm

Ben claims that “We’ve already given all the evidence a fair-minded person would want shy of an actual name, so I wouldn’t go so heavy on the bold.”

Well, if it is not too much trouble, please provide it again. And note that there is a difference between charging someone’s insurance company and charging the victim herself, if the insurance company should decline pay.

Ben is wrong to claim:

No. 6 evinces a clear disregard for what a rape kit actually is. Here’s a hint: a kit is not a “nurse.” It’s not a human being of any kind. It’s a set of materials used to collect forensic evidence from a victim; in other words, it’s a law enforcement tool, much like a fingerprint brush or crime scene tape or a pair of handcuffs. Read all about them at the link. This is not something that victims should be paying for under any circumstances.

No. Did you bother to read the link to US News? The reporter there claims:

The rape kit itself generally contains bags to collect clothing, test tubes for collecting blood, swabs for fluid, and a comb to collect pubic hair. Small-change stuff. But exams also involve administering tests for pregnancy, HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and that’s where the costs add up, says Randall Brown, medical director for the Baton Rouge Rape Crisis Center in Louisiana.

Now, obviously, rape victims should be tested for HIV, syphilis and what not. If they have no money, the government should pay for those tests. But, if they have health insurance, then the insurance company should pay for the tests, right?

Ben is simply wrong to claim that “rape kits” (or at least the exams associated with them) only include material to investigate the crime of rape. They also include (if you believe US News) medical tests that have nothing to do with investigating/prosecuting the crime, but are absolutely necessary to the victims health and treatment.

Why is Palin’s police chief a monster for wanting to charge those expenses to the victim’s insurance company?

Now, perhaps we have a semantic dispute. We all agree (?) that victims (of rape or robbery) should not pay for the tool police use to investigate crimes. We all agree (?) that crime victims should have their insurance companies (or programs like Medicaid) pay for the health consequences of a crime. If someone mugs me, then neither I nor more insurance company should have to pay for the evidence bag the police use. But I, or my insurance company, should have to pay for the medical care I receive as a result of the crime.

As best I can tell, it is unclear what was happening in Wasilla.

As a side note, do police/governments ever charge anything else to crime victims? I assumed not, but you never know.

#12 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

Not plagiarism David, being a mouthpiece for RNC talking points. It was the first thing that came up when I Googled. It was a 6-point list of items why the rape kit story should not be believed. I just found the similarity odd more than anything.

As far as your other questions, read the article I linked, and that Rory re-linked. It answers most of your questions, although most of those had already been answered.

#13 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

Rory claims that “it says wasilla was alone in the policy.” Does the “it” refer to the “anchorage daily news?” If so, then Rory isn’t bothering to read his own links. Allow me to quote.

Then-Gov. Tony Knowles said Thursday that Wasilla was unique in the state in charging rape victims for the cost of doing the law enforcement necessary for solving the crime.

The Anchorage Daily News is making no claims about whether or not Wasilla was unique. Instead, we have the word today of the Democrat who lost to Palin in the 2006 election.

A perfectly unbiased source!

And, even better, that directly contradicts JGs quote about “Rape victims in several areas of Alaska . . .”

Either this was unique to Wasilla (which I doubt) or it was true of ” several areas of Alaska” (which I believe). It can’t be both.

#14 Comment By hwc On September 14, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

The so-called authoritative Anchorage Daily News article you people keep citing is, in actuality, an Associated Press story.

Again. This is a very simple question. Has any alleged rape victim ever been personally charged for the collection of evidence at the Palmer hospital serving Wasilla? It’s a yes or no answer just like the question, “have any books ever been banned at the Wasilla Library?”

We don’t want opinions expressed by a legislative aid to a state legislator or any other hummina, hummina answer. If the answer is yes, then provide authoritative evidence.

#15 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

The quote I referred to had no time limit to it. It could have been from years before. The quotes in the ADN article referred to the time when the legislation was passed. They are not automatically contradictory. And one would think such a flat out statement of fact would be checked? Perhaps? But you only question the truth of statements by Democrats quoted in newspapers and not Republicans, so I’m wasting my breath, er…my text.

And HIV and other STD tests actually can have vital law enforcement purpose, if they can connect it to the perpetrator who also has the same STDs. The Rape Kit is tests, not treatment. There is a difference.

#16 Comment By JeffZ On September 14, 2008 @ 8:34 pm

Let’s not lose sight of the big picture here. Of the 50 problematic things about Palin, about 45 are verified, confirmed, pretty much undisputed, starting with the bridge to nowhere history and her history of requesting earmarks for items that McCain himself has mocked and denigrated. As well as her troubling history of vindictive firing of people who do not support her politically and cronyistic hiring (I’d say we’ve had enough of both the last eight years …). The radical right wing basically ignores the 45 uncontroversial truths about Palin, and harps on the 5 that are arguable as evidence of some sort of liberal conspiracy against her. But the ratio of truth to rumor is far, far, far high for Palin then it is for the hundreds of completely bogus smears continuously circulated against Obama by the right.

I swear, if Obama wins this election it will almost put Jon Stewart out of business — the right and its rampant, non-stop, completely obvious and unapologetic hypocrisy knows no limits or bounds (which is great fodder for late night TV, but, apparently, not for the mainstream press). HWC is particularly disgusting — he blindly asserts as truth, constantly, the most base and vile unsubstantiated (and usually totally debunked) rumors about Obama, while ignoring the ever-growing, massive record of Palin’s corruption, hypocrisy, poor judgment, and nepotism. What’s most amazing is that, in such a short career, that Palin could have already screwed up in so many very serious ways … she has a record of incompetence and disturbing decisions that would be impressive for a career politician.

#17 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

Minor points to JG.

But you only question the truth of statements by Democrats quoted in newspapers and not Republicans, so I’m wasting my breath, er…my text.

Give me more credit than this. One of the many reasons that I will not vote for McCain is because so much he says is not true. But, although I mistrust all politicians, I especially mistrust politicians when they make claims about the person who beat them in a recent election. Call my cynical!

And HIV and other STD tests actually can have vital law enforcement purpose, if they can connect it to the perpetrator who also has the same STDs

I am always eager to learn more about CSI-type stuff. Could you give some details on this? A rapist have been convicted because he had HIV and then transmitted to his victim? Did that involve sequencing the specific strain of the HIV so that the link could be made? (I assume that a rapist would not be convicted if the only/main evidence was that he and the victim had the same STD.)

And, just to be clear, the US News Reporter mentioned pregnancy tests, which I assume do not have a law enforcement purpose.

By the way, thanks for the links and commentary? I will edit my initial questions above to reflect what I have learned so far.

#18 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

No. hwc, how about you prove to me that no rape victims were charged. People have gone on record stating that Wasilla was the only town that did it, it was not challenged by anyone (feel free to prove me wrong on that with a link if you have one). People have also said that it happened. So you refute the available evidence.

#19 Comment By nuts On September 14, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

Alaska pols: Wasilla charged victims for rape kits
By George Bryson / Anchorage Daily News
Thursday, September 11, 2008

#20 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 8:41 pm

I don’t know of someone being convicted on the particular strain, etc. But it is the kind of thing that helps circumstantially (aka bolstering the case), and it could also be helpful I would think for getting warrants, etc. if they could show a suspect had a particular type of STD.

I would still like to register my objection to you calling this discussion “nonsense” – see your initial post. It demeans a serious issue. And while I hope you don’t consider the topic silly, it conveys a level of disrespect for the issue.

#21 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

This 2000 article seems to be one of the key sources for all the subsequent stories. I certainly put more faith in contemporary news stories than in testimony from Palin’s political opponents today.

#22 Comment By nuts On September 14, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

Wasilla rape victims billed when Palin was the mayor
KITS AND EXAMS: State lawmakers passed a bill in 2000 to ban the practice.
By MARY PEMBERTON
The Associated Press
Published: September 12th, 2008 01:24 AM
Last Modified: September 12th, 2008 09:57 AM
link
____________________

That would be a really funny title for the article if it weren’t true.

#23 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

I hope it is obvious that I do not consider rape kits themselves to be nonsense. Please, why not assume good faith? I have a wife, daughters and so on. I just think (still) that the claim that, to quote my original post, “Sarah Palin originated a policy to charge rape victims for the forensic kits used to gather evidence” is nonsense. Again, I could be wrong about that. Time for more googling!

#24 Comment By hwc On September 14, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

People have gone on record stating that Wasilla was the only town that did it, it was not challenged by anyone (feel free to prove me wrong on that with a link if you have one). People have also said that it happened. So you refute the available evidence.

“People” have also said that Gov. Palin faked her pregnancy. “People” have said that her only qualification for office is that she didn’t have an abortion. “People” have said that she didn’t stop the Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she zero’d the budget item as Governor. “People” have said that she “left Wasilla in debt” refering to the municipal bond offerings that every city and town uses to pay for long-term infrastructure. “People” are saying lots of things.

I expect “people” to provide proof for their claims. In this case, “people” are saying that Palin charged alleged rape victims for health services and testing. I want a simple yes or no answer. Were any alleged rape victims (not Medicare or insurance companies)actually charged.

The only quote from a Wasilla official was in the 2000 Frontiersman article (which I have read, have you?) which quote the police chief as saying that the town has billed insurance companies.

If you read the minutes of the committee hearings on the issue in the 2000 Alaska State Legislature, the bill was actually focused on Medicare billing. If course, “people” with an agenda (like the former Democrat Gov. beaten by Sarah Palin in 2006, can’t be counted on to provide the full truth.

In an ideal world, we would expect the media to seek the truth. But, in this case, the media is clearing in the “people” category.

#25 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 8:55 pm

JG claims that:

The quote I referred to had no time limit to it. It could have been from years before. The quotes in the ADN article referred to the time when the legislation was passed. They are not automatically contradictory

This seems clearly wrong to me. Here is the first quote.

Until the 2000 legislation, local law enforcement agencies in Alaska could pass along the cost of the exams, which are needed to obtain an attacker’s DNA evidence. Rape victims in several areas of Alaska, including the Matanuska-Susitna Valley where Wasilla is, complained about being charged for the tests, victims’ advocate Lauree Hugonin, of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, told state House committees, records show.

In cases when insurance companies are billed, the victims pay a deductible.

Although there is no date associated with Hugonin’s testimony, do you really believe that it is from 1955? The entire context makes it obvious that Hungonin’s testimony occurred and was about the years near to 2000. (Palin became mayor in 1996.)

I believe that Hungonin is telling us about a problem that was going on during 1996 to 2000 (and probably before). And I believe her when she says that this involved “several areas of Alaska.” Does anyone doubt that?

Given that (and his incentives), I bet that Tony Knowles is just making stuff up when he claims that “Wasilla was unique in the state.” How could he possibly know what was happening in every other town, with hundreds of rapes a year?

Again, this is a small point, but I do love these details.

#26 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 9:05 pm

I said I would hope you consider rape a serious issue, I’m glad to know that you do. It is not just about wives and daughters, but that is an entirely separate and less patronizing issue to discuss later. I am glad you did not intend to demean the issue, but I still find that framing and phrasing to be making light of the topic. Your intent does not mean that my perception is wrong.

And by “on record” hwc, I was referring to testimony before the Alaska legislature and quotes presumably fact-checked by reputable news sources, not some nut on a blog somewhere. Sheesh.

#27 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 9:06 pm

Okay, I don’t really blame you for being confused, as the U.S. News link contains bad reporting, and the reporter here has completely got the details wrong. Nevertheless, here’s the salient point from the article.

No one I spoke with tried to defend the practice of billing rape victims for their exams.

So, no, we’re not all on the same page.

As for your point about nurses, here’s what the link says:

The rape kit itself generally contains bags to collect clothing, test tubes for collecting blood, swabs for fluid, and a comb to collect pubic hair. Small-change stuff. But exams also involve administering tests for pregnancy, HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and that’s where the costs add up, says Randall Brown, medical director for the Baton Rouge Rape Crisis Center in Louisiana.

The reporter here either got the quote wrong or talked to someone who had the details wrong. It makes no medical sense even on its face. Think of it this way — how does one test for pregnancy, HIV, syphilis and the like? One tests blood, which, according to the reporter, has already been drawn for forensic purposes. (“Test tubes” [plural] for collecting blood.”) One doesn’t administer a different examination to test for STDs; our mythical cost-busting nurse doesn’t spend any additional time examining the patient. They’re tests on a different vial of blood drawn, at about 100 percent likelihood, during the same examination. An HIV test costs something like $40 to run, and the other STDs cost less.

The overwhelming bulk of the cost of the rape kit procedure is in the actual forensic exam, which takes a long time. The Raleigh News & Observer article linked in your U.S. News link pegs the exam time at four hours, which is a huge amount of expert time to take up; I know not all exams take this long, which accounts for the variability in cost. But the presence of the medical professional is the decisive factor in the total bill. Just so you know, running an HIV test on a blood sample takes 15 minutes, and is not labor-intensive.

To sum up, the cost of a rape kit is not in the non-forensic elements, and the entire line of reasoning stemming from the supposition is invalid.

#28 Comment By JG On September 14, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

Sorry – and to David’s timing issue: I know the quote itself is from that time. What I meant was that when she said rape victims from areas of Alaska including the Wasilla area complained, I don’t know what time she was referencing. Could have been 1980-2000, could have been 1996-2000, so all complaints may not have been from the Palin era.

#29 Comment By Kirsten On September 14, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

Okay, so insurance companies were billed, when Wasilla could do so. But young women 12-22 years old are the most at-risk group for rape. How many young Alaskans are uninsured? How many of them are on their parents’ insurance plan, but didn’t want to tell their parents they had been raped for fear of judgment? And those particular young women aren’t likely to have a couple hundred dollars to pay for an exam either.

#30 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

The only quote from a Wasilla official was in the 2000 Frontiersman article (which I have read, have you?) which quote the police chief as saying that the town has billed insurance companies.

What he actually said:

In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

As was mentioned previously, the clear inference is that there were occasions when it was not “possible” to charge the insurance company. Short of showing you the invoice, I don’t know what else you’re looking for.

#31 Comment By Another ’05 Eph On September 14, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

Wow. So glad we got this EphPundit thing off the ground.

Both David and Ben are right about what an evidence collection kit is, although Ben is more right and David is not right in the ways he thinks.

The evidence collection kit contains the collection and storage items needed to collect DNA evidence that can be used in the prosecution of a rape or sexual assault case. However, most states have specially-trained nurses through a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or forensic nursing programs. These nurses have additional certification and training around forensic interviewing, evidence collection, and other law enforcement-related tasks outside of an ER doctor or nurse’s normal purview.

Alaska has the Forensic Nurse Association of Alaska. The nearest one is in Anchorage, about 45 minutes from Wasilla, so without knowing what their policy is, they probably have a SANE on call that goes to Wasilla weather- and caseload- permitting. Otherwise kits are done by ER staff.

There are various sorts of tests and prophylaxes (for HIV, other STIs, and pregnancy) that can be given to assault survivors. The policy varies by state and hospital as to whether the costs for these are included as part of the kit process or charged separately as part of an ER visit.

Law Enforcement Technology magazine—hopefully a source unbiased enough for David—does a more thorough job of detailing the myriad reasons why it would be good for municipalities to pay for the kits. And, as of the 2005 VAWA reauthorization, it’s also federal law. (There goes that line item deduction.) The article also indicates that, at least in MA, the cost of the actual kit materials is about $26, but the administration of the kit in the hospital context averages about $800.

From the figures quoted in all the articles cited ($300-$1200), it is clear to me, David, that Wasilla was charging for the kit itself, not the ER care, not the prophylaxes, not follow-up care or meds, but the actual kit.

The issue that I have with Palin’s position on this is thus: the outside estimates that I had heard were that the cost to Wasilla residents for the kits would be $14,000 per year. Let’s say, conservatively, that there are 2000 taxpaying residents of Wasilla. Then-Mayor Palin saved the good taxpayers of Wasilla…$7 a year.

Now, just because Wasilla might not have been the only place in Alaska (although it was certainly one of the only places in AK) or the only place in the country with this practice at the time doesn’t make it a good practice. Her insistence on it indicates to me that she has a poor understanding of the balance between law enforcement needs and victim services, and was willing to sacrifice both of those things for a savings of a few dollars.

#32 Comment By Anon ’89er On September 14, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

“People” have also said that Gov. Palin faked her pregnancy. “People” have said that her only qualification for office is that she didn’t have an abortion. “People” have said that she didn’t stop the Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she zero’d the budget item as Governor. “People” have said that she “left Wasilla in debt” refering to the municipal bond offerings that every city and town uses to pay for long-term infrastructure. “People” are saying lots of things.

As you ought to mention here, nearly all of the ‘People’ you are talking about are Republicans. The testimony by the victim rights advocate, which I assume was made under oath, although it may not have been, was not rumour mongering by political enemies of Palin.

It is really a false comparison that you are making here, and the burden is on you to show why we should not credit the advocate’s testimony as highly as the committee that heard it live.

#33 Comment By hwc On September 14, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

How many young Alaskans are uninsured? How many of them are on their parents’ insurance plan, but didn’t want to tell their parents they had been raped for fear of judgment? And those particular young women aren’t likely to have a couple hundred dollars to pay for an exam either.

Which begs a simple yes or no question. Were any uninsured alleged rape victims in Wasilla ever billed for their rape kit exams?

It’s really a simple question and one that “people” attempting to smear Sarah Palin should answer.

Now, we can debate whether or not hospitals should attempt to bill Medicare or insurance companies. But, that is hardly the same as forcing some alleged rape victim to pony up cash money.

The refusal of the Palin bashers to answer such a simple “yes” or “no” question speaks volumes.

#34 Comment By Jeff S On September 14, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

As one who can use intemperate language when advocating a point of view, I think David might have undermined his point via the choice of the word “nonsense.” Too harsh by far and unwarranted given the information that has emerged.

I am not unbiased, but there does appear to be ample contemporary and current reporting on the issue to suggest that Wasilla and its new mayor and the new police chief hired by that mayor introduced this policy.

If she is pleading ignorance, so much for small town mayors and their supposed accountability I guess.

Palin’s known prevarications about the BTN, Iraq and Ireland visits, her prior statements about global warming, linking Iraq and 911 (last week for god’s sake!), Troopergate and book banning suggest a pattern that should be troubling to her devotees.

#35 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

The refusal of the Palin bashers to answer such a simple “yes” or “no” question speaks volumes.

Yes. Now please find another tactic.

#36 Comment By Anon ’89er On September 14, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

Asked and answered. Move on.

#37 Comment By Anon ’89er On September 14, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

Which begs a simple yes or no question. Were any uninsured alleged rape victims in Wasilla ever billed for their rape kit exams?

Sorry. This is the question that has been repeatedly asked, and answered. Any further repetitions of the question should result in sanctions.

In other words, you got nothin’.

#38 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

Jeff S claims:

I am not unbiased, but there does appear to be ample contemporary and current reporting on the issue to suggest that Wasilla and its new mayor and the new police chief hired by that mayor introduced this policy.

Huh? What “ample contemporary” evidence are you talking about? I have seen exactly one contemporary article, linked to above. Have you seen any others? Links please.

Also, I have seen no claims that this policy was “introduced” by Palin and/or her new chief. Evidence?

It is beyond dispute that there was a policy to seek payment from insurance companies. The police chief says as much. But where is the evidence that this policy is new?

The most interesting thing about this and other controversies, for me, is the process by which we discover the truth. The most amusing thing is how many people, on both sides, seem to “know” the truth without any evidence.

#39 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

Perhaps I am missing something (and I do wish that HWC would be nicer to his fellow Ephs) but he asked:

Were any uninsured alleged rape victims in Wasilla ever billed for their rape kit exams?

Several readers seem to think that the answer to this is Yes. Ben Fleming (quoting a contemporary news article) writes:

What he actually said:

In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

As was mentioned previously, the clear inference is that there were occasions when it was not “possible” to charge the insurance company. Short of showing you the invoice, I don’t know what else you’re looking for.

Let me explain. I am looking for someone, anyone, claiming that an uninsured victim was presented with a bill for a rape kit. I don’t need to know the person’s name. I do not need a quote from her. I just want someone to confirm that, “Yes. This happened.”

Just because the department had a policy of billing insurance companies does not mean that they had a policy of billing uninsured victims. They may have. I don’t know. But I have seen no evidence either way.

Moreover, a policy of billing insurance companies (but not uninsured victims) seems perfectly sensible. If I were a mayor, I would try to get insurance companies (and everyone else: the State Government, the Feds, charities) to pay for everything I could. That way I have more of my money left to pay for other stuff.

#40 Comment By rory On September 14, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

god you’re bad at google, david:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacob-alperinsheriff/sarah-palin-instituted-ra_b_125833.html.

i’m not going to bother going through hundreds of pages of budgets of wasilla. in the budget, the line is called “contingency”. there’s a dramatic drop in the year 1999–the year that the rape kit policy changed.

#41 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

Nice article.

#42 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 11:43 pm

Some of this silliness has spread to WSO.

If you were raped in Wasilla, Alaska (as at least five people were) under Mayor Sarah Palin, and used a rape kit, guess who was billed? You. Guess how many towns in Alaska forced rape victims to pay for such kits? Just one.

You have to be an idiot to think that only one town in Alaska did this and, what do you know?, that town just happened to have a mayor that became the Republican VP candidate.

The more that I think about this, the more obvious it becomes that the whole issue started with the one Frontiersman article that was linked to above.

1) Palin is nominated.

2) Opponents start digging like crazy, calling people and using the Google.

3) People find this article and then spin some crazy story around it that is inconsistent with lots of other stuff we know.

4) Hacks like Knowles back it up as best they can.

Eventually, the truth will come out. (Reporters are filing Freedom of Information Act requests all around Alaska.) My best guess is that, in Alaska, lots of towns sought reimburse from insurance companies and that Wasilla was one. The policy pre-dated Palin’s term as mayor. She changed nothing.

Democratic partisans will still think that this is the horriblest horribleness, but independents will find that the truth is way better then they were led to believe by the initial wave of over-the-top attacks. They will think better of Palin because so many of her critics (not necessarily anyone here) are so unhinged.

#43 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

The policy pre-dated Palin’s term as mayor. She changed nothing.

Fail.

#44 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On September 14, 2008 @ 11:52 pm

David,

You raise a number of legitimate points– and I share your concern about partisan bias and deception, as well as “how we know what we think we know.”

In this case, most of the details are out there on Huffington Post and elsewhere– and while one has to make an attempt to read through the bias, and sort events out, I’m confident in the position I take– and willing to retract if proven wrong. The budgetary change comes in 1999 and is posted in several articles– sorry, I simply have too many other things to do (and examine) to play the role of summarizing this incident here. Perhaps someone else will.

It also looks to me that there’s a lot more out there– such as Palin’s flight expenses and what they were for– that are going to produce some hard questions. I’m not going to say more about that precisely because I don’t want to get caught up in the feeding frenzy that’s happening among the Democratic HQ partisans I know.

Partisanship and bias do not mean there’s not a reality out there, as I’m sure you know. And the nature of unfolding events, is simply that we cannot have certainly– we have to evaluate poor, unreliable and often contradictory evidence, and the value of the sources voice, make judgments, and– sometimes– come to conclusions and take action.

P.S. One core issue here is not that other Alaska towns may have sought reimbursement for kits– which I find plausible– but that Palin’s administration looks to be the only one to have reversed course– which I find to fit the vast preponderance of the evidence in front of me. Surely someone in the McCain camp could refute that, if it is not true?

#45 Comment By David Kane On September 14, 2008 @ 11:55 pm

Forgive me for my sins!

I have now gone through the article that Rory cites and Ben likes. Just what is proven there? Nothing meaningful that I can see.

1) There are claims (which I am happy to grant) that the “contingency fund” dropped once Palin became mayor. So what? One person’s contingency is another person’s slush. You can tell almost nothing about a budget by looking at one line item. It could easily be that rape kits were never included in this item and/or were moved elsewhere.

And did any of you even read the article?

Mayor Stein told OffTheBus that he didn’t “think victims were billed while [he] was mayor,” but that he wasn’t certain.

So the previous mayor, defeated by Palin and perhaps not her Number One Fan, is not certain what the policy was. Now, there is nothing wrong his not remembering, but how can the Huffington Post go from that direct testimony to writing that it is “clear the policy was put in place as a direct result of Palin’s leadership.”

Do you consider that good journalism, Ben?

#46 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 14, 2008 @ 11:59 pm

From the article:

It turns out that Wasilla did not bill sexual assault victims for the cost of rape exams while Irl Stambaugh was chief of police. As chief, he had included a line item in the budget to pay for the cost of such exams. He had only just heard about the Mayor Palin/Chief Fannon policy today, and was just as shocked to hear about it as I was.

So….

#47 Comment By Ben Fleming On September 15, 2008 @ 12:01 am

In case it’s not clear, yes, I consider the previous police chief to be a pretty good source here.

And you’re right about FOIL requests, which are all over the place and will be coming back in the coming weeks.

#48 Comment By David Kane On September 15, 2008 @ 12:02 am

Ken, reasonable as always, writes:

The budgetary change comes in 1999 and is posted in several articles

Palin’s administration looks to be the only one to have reversed course

How can you think that Palin “reversed course” when we have zero evidence of that? In fact, we have testimony from the former mayor that he “wasn’t certain” what the previous policy was?

And don’t you think that the HuffPo writer tried everything possible to get the former mayor to say something more damning?

And even what he said about not billing the victims (as opposed to their insurance companies) is consistent with what we know (so far!) of Palin’s time.

All this reminds me of the Bush National Guard documents . . .

#49 Comment By Jeff S On September 15, 2008 @ 12:03 am

David –

Fair enough – the 2000 Frontiersman article does not state that Palin and her hand picked police chief introduced the policy. I should not have asserted the notion.

What the article does show is that her hand picked police chief opposed the state law to end the practice and publicly stated his opposition. A fellow police chief and municipality took a more “enlightened” stance and that fact is noted accordingly.

Presumably the ever accountable Mayor Palin would have exerted some influence or made some statement if she did not support her Police chief’s public stance against the bill? Is there such a statement from Palin at the time?

Her “hands on” style of threatening to fire librarians over banning books and actually firing law enforcement chiefs (one in Wasilla and one statewide) would seem to indicate tacit agreement with her police chief’s stance at that time. The question of when the policy was initiated is an important one that should be answered. What is strange is that accountable Mayor Palin is not quoted at all in the Frontiersman article. As you routinely (and insightfully) speculate on why some (WSJ)sources are quoted anonymously or not at all in media coverage, doesn’t it suprise you that Wasilla’s commander in chief, a valiant advocate for women everywhere, was silent on this issue at the time?

David – your assertion that to bill someone’s insurance company is not the same as billing the individual bears more scrutiny. I am fortunate to have very good insurance for myself and my family. However a recent trip to stitch up my son’s chin from a bathtub slip cost me $700 out of pocket. Even if someone has insurance – what is their out of pocket responsibility? I presume this would fall under ED services and lab work – all of which frequently have significant co pays. And of course this assumes that annual deductibles have been met to trigger coverage to begin with (alas, the annual deductable had not yet been met in my case).

For the record, Alaska’s uninsured rate for the non-elderly in 2005-2006 was 18-20% per Kaiser Family Foundation. I would assume, that like most crime victims, victims of rape are generally poorer that the overall population, hence more likely to be uninsured. It would seem reasonable that at least 1:5 rape victims in Wasilla would be uninsured – probably higher. The other 4:5 would have had economic exposure via holes in their healthcare coverage.

#50 Comment By David Kane On September 15, 2008 @ 12:17 am

1) I know enough about the WSJ and finance to have sensible things to say about who is quoted and why. I have no idea about the standards and usual practices in the Frontiersman.

2) I agree that testimony from former police chief Irl Stambaugh is relevant and important. I am glad that he remembers his budget details from 12 years ago, especially the structure and purpose of the contingency fund. But

a) Palin fired him. He was angry enough to sue (and lose). Do you think he might bear a grudge?

b) Just how did the mechanics work? Victim goes to hospital, is seen by nurse/doctor who use the rape kit. Who generates the bill? The hospital? Did the hospital order the rape kits or the police department? I assume the hospital.

Again, we need more details. And I like to think that I am open to persuasion.

It could easily be that, before Palin, the hospital issued a bill, passed it to the police and Stambaugh wrote a check. It could also be that, once he was fired, the new police chief tried to save money by telling the hospital that, “No. Don’t send that bill to us. Send it to the insurance company.” If that happened, and Palin knew about it (as I bet she would have) then there is really something to this issue, although HWC’s question remains unanswered.

Again, I don’t think that this happened but the details are sure to come out.

#51 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On September 15, 2008 @ 12:24 am

Another ’05 Eph:

Thanks for your post. I, and perhaps JG, went over these procedures as part of RASAN– in ’91-’93, in point of fact, quite a few of the details were still in discussion between the Berkshire County DA, local officers and authorities, and NARH and other facilities. This is not a point in time where I want to go over the details, though all the people mentioned above deserve some appreciation for their time, work, and the breadth of their openness and understanding.

No longer speaking towards you:

I do not know much of the details of the issues and conversations in Wasilla and surrounding areas. I wish I did, and I’ll try to get that kind of knowledge. I like to think that I generally err towards not speaking, without the insight it might give.

But that said– and looking at the wide breadth of information in front of me, and my experience in the Berkshires and Berkeley/San Francisco, as well as the mid-South and elsewhere, I am inclined to view this as a simple budgetary oversight or attempt at cost reduction.

Palin touts her fine-toothed-comb approach to budgets– something I respect– and I find it implausible not only that she was not aware, but that she didn’t make an active judgment.

I said “implausible.” Impossible is not the criterion of judgment in such matters.

My inclination is also to conclude that this was an intentional act– one act among many, and which has its meaning amid the pattern of those acts– meant to establish a certain situation and “regime.” I’m not prepared to fully argue that here– else I’d be truly a hack– and I indeed may be wrong– but my comparative perspective leads me to have strong doubts and worries.

Since I’m seeding fear, uncertainly and doubt– I’ll go so far as to claim this decision was about the triumph of a certain breed of fundamentalist beliefs over the rule of law and “pluralism.” And that this raises some damn serious and uncomfortable questions about who Sarah Palin is, and what her history and beliefs have been.

And as you raise the question of whether a mayor in Alaska can dismiss a police chief, “at will” and “without cause:” evidently, not before Sarah Palin. And that’s what scares me.

#52 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On September 15, 2008 @ 12:26 am

Ahem. “Not inclined to view this as a simple oversight….”

#53 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 12:32 am

All of this over a stinkin’ $5000 ccntingency fund in Wasilla, Alaska, yet the media doesn’t bat at eyelash at the fantastic claim by Barack Obama that he must have misplaced all of his records in the Illinois State Senate AND as a private attorney.

#54 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 12:37 am

Again, I don’t think that this happened but the details are sure to come out.

I doubt it.

a) That would require actual, you know, reporting by reporters instead of transcribing quotes from disgruntled political victims served on a platter at Obama press availabilities.

b) The American people don’t care about any of this nonsense. While the lefties and the media run around in full-fledged panic mode, the average American concluded a couple of weeks ago that this is nothing but a witchhunt.

#55 Comment By Soph Mom On September 15, 2008 @ 12:44 am

Leave it to HWC to completely miss any insight that may have resulted from such a discussion.

And of course his obnoxious comment (purposely) comes right at the crux…the precise moment when all others might give pause.

Ken @51:

Thanks for summing up beautifully…and for pointing out that which can be deduced.

#56 Comment By nuts On September 15, 2008 @ 1:11 am

Shorter Cry Baby Rape Victim @ 54
a) pivot and launch a strike on the press.
b) speak for all of the American people;
declare the opposition is ‘in panic mode’;
rest: nothing to see here, move along.

#57 Comment By JG On September 15, 2008 @ 7:36 am

Gosh, hwc, I’m an American person (part of the American people, or as a liberal do you discount me?) and I am very interested in this issue. As are the many other people commenting on this thread. So yes, people care. I don’t have a handy bullshit poll to cite with percentages though, so guess I can’t tell you how many people with a landline who happen to be home on a random Thursday night and have nothing better to do than answer annoying questions from a stranger actually care about this.

Which “American people” do you presume to speak for, and why is that you think they won’t care? Is rape not an important issue? How about the appointing of subordinate government officials (aka, how one governs)? I know, it must be the budgets, government expenditures, and health insurance billing aren’t important to “the American people”? You (and David) claim this discussion is “nonsense” and yet spend an awful lot of time responding to it. If it didn’t matter, why do you bother? Why not just ignore it?

#58 Comment By JeffZ On September 15, 2008 @ 7:54 am

Once again, this is HWC’s logic. If you follow his comments on various threads, he has made his views very clear. And as you can see, there is no way to argue with someone who believes this way. We need to have a woman on the ticket. Her views, integrity, qualifications, record, are all irrelevant. All that matters is her gender. Any scrutiny or critique of her life, record, qualifications, experience, knowledge are by definition a sexist witch-hunt, because unlike Barack Obama, it is wrong for the press and the citizens to care about whether The Woman (as he would call her) is fit to lead. So there really is no point. The Obama campaign, by the way, has never focused on the rape kit stuff, and has actively discouraged any focus on her family life (which, again, in my view is relevant since the GOP has listed her mothering skills as one of her qualifications, and she continues to use her kids as political props). The Obama campaign, unlike the McCain campaign, continues to take the high road, in stark contrast to the complete garbage Obama has had thrown at him by HWC and others on the right for years and years. Everything the Obama campaign focused on is 100 percent verifiable, pure policy matters, absolutely central to Palin’s entire (demonstrably false) campaign theme — she claims to be against earmarks when as governor she requested more earmarks per person than any governor in the nation (FACT); she has requested, time after time, the very earmarks (such as millions for DNA testing of seals and crabs) that McCain mocked in commercials this spring (FACT); she campaigned on platform seeking bridge to nowhere funds, lamented the fact that the feds would not give even MORE funds so she could build the bridge, and in stark contrast to saying thanks but no thanks, when the project died because the feds did not pony up even MORE money, she KEPT those funds for other earmark pet projects (FACT). Don’t folks get it, by trying to twist the narrative into a bullshit victimization of Sarah Palin because she is a woman, the right has successfully hidden the truth from the vast majority of the public — Palin’s entire central thesis about the one single thing she supposedly brings to the ticket other than experience, is a total sham — in fact, she is the OPPOSITE of a reformer. To the extent we discuss Palin at all, and really, this campaign should be about the policies the two tickets are espousing, we always have to have that backdrop in mind.

#59 Comment By JeffZ On September 15, 2008 @ 7:56 am

I meant other than gender, of course, towards the end of that post!

#60 Comment By David On September 15, 2008 @ 8:53 am

Minor comment to JG. I don’t think that the discussion we are having is nonsense. I like our discussion. I think that it is fun in and of itself, as well as an interesting example of how people of goodwill try to arrive at the truth.

I think that the claims that started the political debate — that Sarah Palin originated a policy to charge rape victims for the forensic kits used to gather evidence — is nonsense. But I am ready to be convinced otherwise. Certainly, the testimony provided by the former police chief gives me pause.

2) The more that I think about this, the more that I bet that the story here is one of basic bureaucratic infighting. I think it will prove key to know who bought the rape kits in the first place. Perhaps someone can clarify this for us.

To be specific, there are companies that make rape kits. (I assume, I could not find any after a brief search. Perhaps Another ’05 can educate us more on this topic.) Someone has to buy the kit. I could imagine that police departments would do so, just as they buy other tools for investigating crimes.

But I think it is much more likely that hospitals buy the kits. True? They write the initial check to the company, just as they do for all the other supplies they buy.

What happens then? A rape victim shows up. She is treated for all her injuries, both rape-related and otherwise. (Perhaps she requires stitches on her forehead from where she was stuck by her attacked.) The hospital keeps track of all (?) the supplies used (including the rape kit) and then, once she is released, tallies up the bill. (I bet that some (expensive) items are itemized on the bill while others (the gloves the nurse wore) are not; they are just included in some general overhead charge.

What happens to that bill, not just in Wasilla in 1997 but in your town today.

I am honestly curious. Does anyone know?

I bet that the hospital tries to get paid. It needs to stay in business. It sends the bill out to the victim’s insurance company, to Medicaid and, in some circumstances, to the victim herself. Deductibles are probably often sought.

Understanding the institutional details would probably provide much insight into this topic.

3) Some may find this background useful but, as always, consider the source.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign advisers organized a conference call Tuesday with former Alaskan Governor Knowles and Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein to do just that.

Knowles told reporters, “There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla, and the — the original police chief had been fired by Mayor Palin, and her replacement for that police chief was protesting it, and even when I signed the bill.”

Weinstein added, “Wasilla under Sarah Palin’s administration chose to charge sexual assault victims for the forensic kits, and that’s the choice they made. They easily could have made the other choice.”

Palin appointed Fannon as police chief in 1997. His predecessor was fired by Palin over his willingness to limit the town’s bar operating hours. Fannon was one of three candidates considered for the job and the City Council confirmed him in a 5-0 vote.

Palin later tangled with Fannon when he ran for Wasilla’s mayoral office during her gubernatorial race. Fannon created campaign ads containing a false endorsement from Palin. Palin did not support Fannon for mayor. She supported his rival, Curt Menard.

I think it is stupid for Obama’s “campaign advisers” to organize these sorts of conference calls.

#61 Comment By Ronit On September 15, 2008 @ 9:03 am

David, you’ve been disingenuous this entire thread. No one made the claim that Palin “originated” the policy. If you read the various articles, it is clear that Palin implemented the policy while she was mayor, but no one has made any claims about her originating it.

#62 Comment By David On September 15, 2008 @ 9:35 am

Ronit,

I am guilty of many sins, but disingenuousness is rarely among them. You think that “implemented” is clearly a better word than “originated?” Perhaps. First, I don’t see how it matters much. And, second, “implemented” is a poor choice since it leaves open the possibility that the policy was in place before Palin was elected. Every mayor “implements” stuff everyday, much of which predates her term.

Or are you saying that she was the first to implement it but that she did not think of the policy herself? I agree that it matters whether or not she was aware of it (the evidence suggests she was), but it hardly matters if she or her police chief or someone else was the first person to think of it. What matters is that the policy was new and that she was aware of it. I think “originated” captures that well enough.

And, by the way, are you even reading the articles that people like Rory are linking to?

Despite denials by the Palin campaign, new evidence proves that as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin had a direct hand in imposing fees to pay for post-sexual assault medical exams conducted by the city to gather evidence.

Palin’s role is now confirmed by Wasilla City budget documents available online.

Under Sarah Palin’s administration, Wasilla cut funds that had previously paid for the medical exams and began charging victims or their health insurers the $500 to $1200 fees.

You think that I am being disingenuous to summarize “direct hand” and “previously” with “originated?”

Feel free to question my facts and/or my inferences, but I would hope that you would have better reasons than this to question my good faith.

#63 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 9:35 am

I’m flabbergasted, really.

The absence of a strong denial was evidence that John Edwards did indeed have an affair (his denial was about the same as the spokesperson’s denial for Palin). The absence here of a strong denial is evidence of partisan bickering by the democrats?

what, huh?

We have a former police chief, a former governor, and public testimony stating that Palin’s mayoralty (and a budget that helps prove these public claims) implemented a policy to charge insurance and then the victim for rape kits.

Billing insurance, to me, is still a disagreeable act (there are co-pays still, and the victim shouldn’t be worried about “will my insurance cover this in its entirety?” after a possible rape). but its reasonable. The problem is the next step–I say the taxpayer should pay for rape kits if not insurance. Palin’s administration said the victim is the next bill payer.

Whether or not it ever happened is secondary to the policy itself which is a repugnant concept of “smaller government.” It is similar to the censorship claim–whether or not she actually censored the book in the library is secondary to the fact that she even believes that to be a reasonable comment for a mayor to make. Freedom of speech is absolute, right? I’m normally the one who asks to limit it at williams on this board–but never by a governmental force.

It was a savings of roughly $5000 (as the budget line shows. page 65 of the pdfs linked by the Huffington Post). Even at the upper limit of its cost, it was a cost of maybe $7 per taxpayer. Wasilla at the time got $200 per taxpayer in earmarks. That’s repugnant. It’s morally unambiguous.

(and, btw, that’s not f*cking public information, hwc. your question beyond the PUBLIC TESTIMONY IN FRONT OF THE LEGISLATURE cannot be proven unless a rape victim comes forward. How stigmatizing would that be? you’re asking the impossible. unsurprising from you, but a particularly despicable request)

#64 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 9:36 am

oh, and david, did you look at the budgets? basically, if you did, the question then becomes: do you believe the former police chief is a out and out liar about what went on in his town and his budget?

#65 Comment By PTC On September 15, 2008 @ 9:45 am

Beware of Rove. This team will float lies to take the focus off of the bigger picture. Like David said, this reminds us of those Bush National Guard Documents, which were floated by the Republicans to take the focus off of Bush’s service record. A lot more proof is needed.

#66 Comment By David On September 15, 2008 @ 9:48 am

Rory and I agree!

Billing insurance, to me, is still a disagreeable act (there are co-pays still, and the victim shouldn’t be worried about “will my insurance cover this in its entirety?” after a possible rape). but its reasonable. The problem is the next step–I say the taxpayer should pay for rape kits if not insurance.

Indeed! Now, all we need is some evidence on this point. The only relevant evidence I have seen is:

In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

Now, it is possible to read this as Fannon saying that they charged the victim when it was not “possible” to charge the insurance company. But that is not what he says, directly. If anything, this is evidence for Palin in that, back before 2000, we see that she was charging insurance companies. We not have any direct evidence about what happened when insurance companies did not pay or when the victim was uninsured.

By the way, does everyone agree with Rory that charging insurance companies is “reasonable?” (You may disagree with the policy but consider it within the bounds o acceptable choices a municipal government might make.)

#67 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 10:14 am

I thought Obama was all full of faux-outrage last week about gotcha politics instead of campaigning on issues of the economy and war?

Why is his campaign hosting conference calls about whether or not Wasilla Alaska billed insurance companies for a handful of rape kits a year a decade ago?

Do ya’ll think he is a liar or a hypocrit?

#68 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 10:19 am

BTW, I love how liberals say, “It’s only $7 per person. What’s the big deal if we spend their money for them….”

What we should be debating is how local governments are being crushed by unfunded mandates. If you want to know why public schools are hurtin’, look at the money that is wasted trying to meet regulations imposed by unaccountable “do-gooders” thousands of miles away.

#69 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On September 15, 2008 @ 10:32 am

I do not think billing “insurance companies” for the rape kits is reasonable. Nor is billing the victims reasonable. As I understand it, the kits are used for evidentiary purposes in the event there is a criminal prosecution. This is *core* governmental function, and should be paid for by the taxpayer. Do we charge burglary victims for the evidence bags used in investigating a burglary? No. Nor should we.

As for billing the insurance companies, the discussion makes it sound as though such a practice is “free.” As we all know, of course, it is not. I pay over $1200 per month for health insurance for me and my family (and my small firm kicks in another $450). This amount has risen steeply over the past few years, and I expect it to jump again in January. “Billing insurance companies” simply raises rates for everyone. Even those of you whose insurance is more heavily subsidized by your employer “pay” when additional demands are made on health insurance companies, as it tamps down your wages.

#70 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 10:35 am

hwc,

you should read the first sentence i wrote before i deleted. get the f*ck out of here. don’t ever cherry pick a quote from me again. you little twerp. don’t use the term liberal like its a negative.

you are what is wrong with politics today. everything wrong with it. $185.

a low blow a day. oh, and how are the fundamentals of the economy today, hwc? you think they’re strong? your candidate who doesn’t understand the economy thinks they are.

pathetic.

David,

Fannon’s quote is much more vague than you make it seem. You claim there’s no evidence they charged victims. I pointed out two things:

1. the issue of a co-pay. a victim shouldn’t pay a cent for a rape kit and if insurance charges a co-pay, that needs to be covered for it to be morally feasible.
2. there are public statements from the former police chief AND FROM VICTIM’S ADVOCATES saying they were charged. How does insurance get charged by a hospital–by going through the individual victim.

Let’s think logically about the possibilities. Insurance gets charged. Victim has no insurance/insurance charges a co-pay. Victim goes to the police to get that covered, right? shouldn’t there be a form for that expenditure? wouldn’t the wasilla police remember ever filling it out? Why is this a less believable gap than the John Edwards gap for you?

Basically, what we have is you so surprised that they don’t cover it, that you refuse to believe it. Besides, the budget makes it pretty clear–the contingency line in 1999 got $200 used. that’s less than the cost of one rape kit. pretty suspicious, no? Unless, luckily, they didn’t have any rapes that year. Which would be pretty suspicious, since in the past 3 years, that budget line was at least $3000.

unless, of course, you don’t believe the former police chief about how he ran his budget.

#71 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 10:36 am

also, reading whitney’s point, i’d backtrack from the “reasonable” comment. it should be covered by the state, not your insurance.

#72 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 10:37 am

btw, hwc,

it’s only 3.2 million, why not spend the money on crab mating and seal dna? right?

FOH troll.

#73 Comment By JG On September 15, 2008 @ 10:41 am

I am guilty of many sins, but disingenuousness is rarely among them. You think that “implemented” is clearly a better word than “originated?” Perhaps. First, I don’t see how it matters much. And, second, “implemented” is a poor choice since it leaves open the possibility that the policy was in place before Palin was elected. Every mayor “implements” stuff everyday, much of which predates her term.

So many things to say about this little comment. First of all, many on this board have accused you of being disingenuous in your characterization of others’ arguments and your changed framing of issues in the comments versus your initial posts. You may not agree with us, but it happens. I think that this is a similar example. You took a discussion from the comments about whether Palin participated in/implemented/knew about a policy, and characterized it as a dispute over origination. Those are hugely different concepts.

Originating implies that she thought of the idea, brought it to whomever was needed to help it get under way, and then implemented it. Frankly, originating such a policy (at least in a way that leaves fingerprints) is a level of political incompetence that would surprise me coming from her. I haven’t seen any evidence that she thought it up, and therefore do not attribute any “origination” of the idea with her, but in true David fashion, I’d be quite happy to be proven wrong. I think she knew of the policy and either agreed with it or failed to do anything to change it (agreeing by default and implementing) or if she didn’t know about it she was therefore not doing her job to know the important issues in her police department (hello, small small town – smaller than Williamstown – this is a topic someone would notice if paying attention).

Mechanics of rape kits: it seems pretty obvious that hospitals have them and the medical personnel to administer them. There are many things that must be kept sterile, etc. The police get the evidence after it is collected according to protocols. I would assume the hospital then billed the expenses for the kit and administration of the kit to law enforcement. Does that not seem logical?

I guess I fundamentally just don’t understand why people would think the insurance company should pay. It belies a lack of understanding of how this works. Getting a rape kit done is a very humiliating experience in which there is an audience for the collection of highly embarassing potential evidence. If someone were only seeking medical attention, many of the more invasive elements would be omitted (pubic hair combings, some types of fluid samples, etc.) and there would not be an audience of strangers. I’m unsure how many of you out there would voluntarily have a strange police officer or two in the room while you spread your legs and had someone poking around? Yeah, I didn’t think so. This is not a pleasant topic, and most people don’t want to think about the yucky aspects. But the real aspects of what a rape kit is versus a medical exam illustrate why this matters so much. A rape kit has medical components, but it is done for the purposes of law enforcement.

It has taken a very long time to get both hospitals and law enforcement to understand the importance of rape kits and to make them universally available. Rape is a serious issue that requires serious tools to combat it.

#74 Comment By JG On September 15, 2008 @ 10:44 am

What we should be debating is how local governments are being crushed by unfunded mandates. If you want to know why public schools are hurtin’, look at the money that is wasted trying to meet regulations imposed by unaccountable “do-gooders” thousands of miles away.

Damn do-gooders wanting to be sure people don’t get away with rape. What are they thinking!

BTW, nice little “hurtin'” – is that your faux blue-collar accent? Excuse me while I vomit.

#75 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 10:54 am

what we should be debating is why my tax money is being spent on bridges to small towns in alaska for hundreds of millions of dollars, instead of on education, protecting homeowners, etc.

which is still happening, btw. its called knik arm.

#76 Comment By David Kane On September 15, 2008 @ 11:06 am

Thanks to Another ’05 Eph for links to this useful article. Consider:

DeAngelis explains that Massachusetts appropriates $120,000 annually for the ordering of kits. Each kit costs $26.40, but that figure does not include service or the implementation of the kit in a hospital setting. And with the exams estimated at $800 each, a spike in victims presenting at hospitals could become costly.

One of the reasons that I have always been suspicious of this story is that I think, on average, mayors want to get re-elected and are pretty smart about avoiding unpopular decisions. Charging victims for a rape kit seems like something a not-stupid mayor would avoid.

This is all the more true if rape kits themselves are only $26.40! (I assume that this figure is correct. See also the US News article discussed above.) Given that there were only a handful of rapes in Wasilla, why would Palin (or the police chief) go through the hassle of billing individual victims for the cost of the rape kit. All for a few hundred dollars? Never happened.

Now, as JG and others point out, the issue is not the cost of the rape kit. The issue is the cost of the exam, which is primarily the salary of the nurses/doctors and other hopsital overhead. Who pays for that?

Consider Jeff S’s story above.

David – your assertion that to bill someone’s insurance company is not the same as billing the individual bears more scrutiny. I am fortunate to have very good insurance for myself and my family. However a recent trip to stitch up my son’s chin from a bathtub slip cost me $700 out of pocket.

Now, imagine that instead of a bathtub slip, the cause of the injury was a mugging, that Jeff S’s son was the victim of a crime. Who pays then?

I think that we all agree (dissents welcome!) that the same thing happens. From the hospital’s point of view, it does not matter whether he bathtub or a criminal caused the cut, their costs are the same. Someone needs to pay. First, the insurance company. Second, the individual (either with co-pays or otherwise). Third, the government (hospitals need to care for the indigent).

I don’t have a specific point for this post. I just wanted to get the cost info out there and describe what happens (and should happen) to other crime victims.

#77 Comment By Whitney Wilson ’90 On September 15, 2008 @ 11:09 am

Rory,

You could probably make an argument that it a more appropriate governmental function to build and maintain infrastructure like bridges than to assist individual homeowners in meeting their mortgage obligations. The fact that the towns served by such bridges are sparsely populated shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Think about how much money was spent on “electrifying” rural America. I think most of us would agree that that was a good use of government money, even though the number of people served was relatively small.

#78 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 11:13 am

whitney,

while that’s fair, considering the major influence of federal policy in supporting homeownership, there seems to me to be a moral duty towards protecting those consumers led astray by a market that was poorly regulated and propped up in part by the government.

but that’s a debate for another time–the point is that hwc’s comments were unbelievably asinine. if i took away from that point, my apologies.

#79 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 11:20 am

It has taken a very long time to get both hospitals and law enforcement to understand the importance of rape kits and to make them universally available. Rape is a serious issue that requires serious tools to combat it.

Right. A very serious issue. And, you are correct. It is taking a very long time to get the entire country on board with the importance of rape kits. Which makes the Obama campaign’s use of this as a cynical political bludgeon despicable, wouldn’t you agree?

Turning an important issue into cheap gotcha politics while at the same time giving press conferences full of faux-outrage about the tone of the campaign.

I think we should turn to serious issues, such as Obama asking the Iraqis to delay a troop withdrawal agreement until after the election.

#80 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 11:27 am

Or, if you want real issues, let’s discuss this one. Why do state and federal legislators feel so strongly about issues until it’s time to pay for them?

If Joe Biden or Tony Knowles feels that paying for rape kits is so important, why don’t they have the fortitude to step up and have the US or Alaska pay for them? Oh, because then they would have to take the political heat for raising taxes. Instead, they “feel so strongly” that they mandate that the towns pay, thus taking the credit for their high-mindedness while forcing somebody else to take the heat for the higher taxes.

Where’s the accountablity? If it’s a good idea, then stand up, pay for it, and take the heat for higher taxes yourselves.

#81 Comment By Soph Mom On September 15, 2008 @ 11:38 am

Rory,

I better check with you on the amount the Fund has reached. I can see after scanning this thread that it has skyrocketed.

It is a good thing that the criteria wasn’t based on ‘hateful, sick, and selfish’, or indeed I would need to mortgage my home.

#82 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 11:46 am

ummm…Knowles did, you jackass. it was in 2000 (only one year after the change in wasilla) that the state passed legislation requiring that people not be charged.

oh, and the federal government? fun tidbit:
“This despite the fact that in order to qualify for federal grants under the Violence Against Women Act, states are supposed to pick up the entire tab.” That legislation in 2000 was a key motivator in Alaska acting against Wasilla’s policy.

the violence against women act…hmm…i wonder who voted which way on that?

I swear I didn’t know this until now: Joe Biden’s office wrote it and John McCain…OPPOSED IT. LMAO.

and you got a source for your latest smear of Obama? and you mean the timeline that obama supports and maliki openly supported? that one? smh.

#83 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 11:47 am

soph mom,

i’ve given up. it’s reached $195 by my last count, but my eyes hurt reading hwc’s lies.

again, hwc, i ask: do you think the fundamentals of our economy are strong? what exactly are those fundamentals, then?

#84 Comment By Soph Mom On September 15, 2008 @ 11:52 am

Also, How come HWC has gone all Southern?

I see “Ya’ll”…and “hurtin”…

Explain that bit of condescencion…(as if your ‘content’, tone, and general outlook weren’t insulting enough).

#85 Comment By hwc On September 15, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

That’s my point. Knowles signes state legislation saying that insurance companies cannot be billed for rape exams, but doesn’t pony up a dime to pay for the tests.

Joe Biden passes federal legislation, but doesn’t pony up a dime to pay for the testing.

These are “unfunded mandates”. They are enacted by politicians who are happy to spend the money of towns and cities across America, but not willing to stand up and take the political heat for higher taxes themselves.

#86 Comment By Ronit On September 15, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

Might it be pertinent at all that Alaska is the biggest net recipient of federal largesse in the country? Or would that get in the way of our narrative, whereby evil Joe “DC” Biden personally comes and takes money away from hardworking Alaskan police officers trying to investigate a rape, after committing the rapes himself?

#87 Comment By Rory On September 15, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

Your point is wrong, and its short-sighted. VAWA gives a lot more money to the states in grants than the cost of rape kits. so in the end, the state gets a lot more money if it covers the rape exam.

nice spin effort.

and again, if fiscal prudency is a key issue, it boggles my mind that you could support a republican who says the fundamentals of the economy are strong and chose an earmark seeking mayor and governor for his VP.

#88 Comment By JeffZ On September 15, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

Hell, even Alan Greenspan, who rarely gives any opinion that could be interpreted as partisan, said that the McCain/Bush tax cuts on the rich are ill-advised.

#89 Comment By Trak On September 15, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

I am coming into this (long) thread late, so maybe I missed something. But I think I can answer a question that dkane posed in the beginning, and which no one seems to have addressed:

“Conservatives like to arrest/prosecute/jail rapists. They are, if nothing else, law-and-order folks. Why would Palin, or any conservative, do this?”

There are many conservatives, possibly including dkane, who wouldn’t do this. But to many other conservatives, the policy would in fact make sense. Here’s why:

A rape kit includes a battery of medical tests, including a pregnancy test. If a rape victim learns, shortly after the event, that she has been impregnated by a rapist, what will she do? In all probability, she will call an abortion clinic.

To devout pro-life conservatives, this is unacceptable. They believe that the embryo is an innocent human life that deserves as much protection as any other, regardless of the circumstances of conception. That’s exactly why many pro-lifers (including Gov. Palin) maintain that abortion should be banned completely, *without* exceptions for rape or incest.

If you want to discourage rape victims from having abortions, then of course you should discourage them from getting early pregnancy tests. Obviously the victim, if pregnant, will find out sooner or later. But the longer she waits, the more difficult it will be (both medically and emotionally) to have an abortion, and the more likely that the fetus will not be murdered. Rape is bad, but murder is worse.

I personally don’t agree with this line of reasoning, and I doubt that most Ephs would either. In fact, I doubt that even dkane sees it this way — a real pro-lifer would have automatically realized the answer to the question he posed. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the city officials in a fundie town like Wasilla saw it differently.

If you want to discourage rape victims from getting abortions – as Gov. Palin does – then you should also discourage them from getting free early pregnancy tests. If preventing abortion is an overriding concern (and for many conservatives, it is) then the Wasilla policy makes sense.

#90 Comment By Another ’05 Eph On September 15, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

Just to clarify a couple of things:

Although there are a number of tests (HIV, STI, pregnancy) that can be performed at the time of the evidence collection, these are NOT included in the kit, either procedurally or cost-wise.

While I, as a voter, might be troubled by Palin’s stance on prohibiting abortion even in cases of rape or incest, the actual kit process is or should be immune to that particular political viewpoint.

Policy varies from state to state and even hospital to hospital as to what patients will be charged for. The kits themselves are given to the hospitals by the state, so for the actual raw materials, there is no cost to the hospital itself. Costs start to add up for the ER visit itself, any medical care that might need to be given before the kit process begins, any kind of prophylaxes, etc. Some patients will walk out of the hospital with $0 in bills, some could walk out with upwards of $2,000.

Someone in an earlier comment (Jeff S?) made a point that perhaps this is an issue because sexual violence occurs disproportionately in uninsured or underinsured populations. This is not actually the case, it’s surprisingly even across all SES levels. Where the statistics might come into play in Wasilla are that, for one thing, 54% of assaults of women and 75% of assaults of men occur before the age of 18. Children are most likely to be under their parents’ insurance, if they are insured at all. Further, Native American and Alaskan Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the U.S. in general, and in 86% of reported cases in that population, the perpetrators are non-Native men (whereas 80-90% of assaults of women of other ethnicities are by someone with the same ethnicity as the victim).

#91 Comment By Soph Mom On September 15, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

“Further, Native American and Alaskan Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the U.S. in general, and in 86% of reported cases in that population, the perpetrators are non-Native men (whereas 80-90% of assaults of women of other ethnicities are by someone with the same ethnicity as the victim).

This puts an even uglier spin on the whole story.

(Thanks, A ’05 eph, for your very informative posts)

#92 Comment By Trak On September 15, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

We can separate the rape kits and the associated exams if you like. However, according to the Associated Press, Wasilla billed rape victims for the *both* the rape kit and the associated exams, until state legislation was passed to bar this practice. So I’m not sure that it matters.

#93 Comment By David Broadband On September 15, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

McCain Palin will be our next ticket, your histrionics notwithstanding.

Go McCain Go Palin.

Your alleged attacks will not remain within the context of memory.

You have lost.

Accept your new ticket with optimism and an outward spirit of change towards governmental reform.

McCain & Palin are outstanding characters who deserve our support and acclaim.

#94 Comment By David Kane On September 16, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

The Washington Post reports.

But a visit to this former mining supply post 40 miles north of Anchorage shows the extent to which Palin’s mayoralty was also defined by what it did not include. The universe of the mayor of Wasilla is sharply circumscribed even by the standards of small towns, which limited Palin’s exposure to issues such as health care, social services, the environment and education.

Firefighting and schools, two of the main elements of local governance, are handled by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the regional government for a huge swath of central Alaska. The state has jurisdiction over social services and environmental regulations such as stormwater management for building projects.

Arriving in office, Palin herself played down the demands of the job in response to residents who worried that her move to oust veteran officials would leave the town in the lurch. “It’s not rocket science,” Palin said, according to the town newspaper, the Frontiersman. “It’s $6 million and 53 employees.”

I read this as meaning that the Mayor of Wassila has no control over the local hospital.

Despite the city’s flush accounts, the police department under the chief Palin hired to replace Stambaugh required women who said they had been raped to pay for examination kits themselves, a policy Palin now says she rejects. State legislation passed a year later required the town to pay for the kits.

Pretty damning for my claim that the whole issue is “nonsense.” I stand corrected!

Since I am a Wikipedian reliable sources kind of Eph, I have to agree that this is a real issue. Note how the Post doesn’t even feel the need to quote anyone on this. They just assert it as fact, of the same epistemological standing as the population of the town.

But, still, all my (faulty?) BS detectors are going nuts. Did the police in Wasilla hand a bill to every rape victim? Did they accept cash and credit cards? What was the mechanism by which the town of Wasilla charged anybody anything?

Back when I though that the hospital was controlled by the town, this story still made sense. Hospitals provide itemized bills. A rape kit is an item. I could imagine it being in a bill. This all made sense, especially in conjunction with the comments above explaining the rape kits would be stored at the hospital, along with other medical supplies.

But if the hospital had nothing to do with the town, then why would the town bill the victim for a rape kit that the town never bought in the first place? Was the hospital sending bills to the town and then expecting the town to pay?

The whole thing makes no sense. Still, given the Post story, my initial claim that this is “nonsense” needs to be retracted.

#95 Pingback By Eph Pundit: Rape Kit Debunking » EphBlog On September 25, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

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