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Carlson: This really smells

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s self-congratulatory Thanksgiving Day column (The New Normal) claiming a number of highly debatable “successes” for Idaho on his watch reminds one of a story his idol, former President Ronald Reagan, liked to tell.

It’s the story about the guy digging madly through a huge pile of horse manure convinced that there has to be a pony in there someplace because there’s so much horse s___. With all due respect to the office he holds, Butch is just plain wrong in almost all he claims.

It’s hard to believe he can look at his mismanagement of so much and claim success. This goes beyond rose-colored glasses, beyond the normal p.r. spin one has come to expect of so many of today’s officeholders. This is pure, unadulterated horse manure which anyone with an understanding of factual information can smell from far away.

Here’s just a sample of what smells on his watch:

*Governor Otter deliberately underestimated revenue this past fiscal year by $100 million so he could rationalize real cuts in state support for public education across the board, creating chaos in many school district budgets, necessitating over-ride levies to make up the difference and then had the unmitigated gall to claim he held the line on taxes. All he did was shift the tax increase for many from a state tax to a local levy.

*Governor Otter came within an eyelash of having the federal government impose a one-size fits all health insurance exchange by political posturing against the mandates within the Obama Health Care legislative reforms. He could have cost the state the loss of a billion dollars in federal funds in needed programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Only the sleight of hand of granting exemptions kept Idaho from a folly that would have constituted a gubernatorial dereliction of duty.

Governor Otter and State Superintendent Tom Luna, after not saying word one about educational reforms as part of their re-election agendas in the fall of 2010, showed contempt for the voters by rushing a series of ill-conceived reforms through their one-party legislature that lined the pockets of firms, particularly purveyors of computers and computer programs, who were campaign contributors. They appear to seriously believe computers can replace teachers which is simply mind-boggling.

The governor-appointed State Tax Commission has engaged in a pattern of giving targeted tax relief, thereby decreasing revenues to the general fund, to firms and individuals many of whom are contributors to the Governor’s campaigns and other Republican coffers.
As the titular head of the state’s Republican party Governor Otter has remained silent in the face of what can only be described as a series of sad, embarrassing incidents that warrant at minimum condemnation if not an actual call on the perpetrators to either resign or be expelled from office. His silence creates the appearance of condoning tax scofflaw Coeur d’Alene State Rep. Phil Harts’ failure to pay a variety of taxes and his theft of state timber to build his log home. Does the governor also condone Caldwell State Senator John McGee’s dui and the mysterious disappearance of the car theft charges? Does he condone State Party chair Norm Semanko’s borrowing of an association’s funds for personal uses?

Governor Otter has yet to explain just what Idaho has received in exchange for his unconscionable agreement to abrogate Idaho’s compact with the Department of Energy and the U.S. Navy to allow the Idaho National Laboratory to receive (allegedly for research) almost a thousands pounds of spent fuel rods annually from commercial nuclear power plants for the next 20 years. These rods will remain here far past the 2035 date for removal of all nuclear waste above Idaho’s aquifer because as he well knows with the death of Yucca Mountain as the final repository there is no other place these rods can be shipped. So they will be stored above ground in Idaho over the aquifer in holding ponds similar to those that were ruptured by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this year. Such a deal, Governor, such a deal.

Finally, there is no polite way to say this, Governor Otter knows and those close to him know he is engaging in what’s called “mailing it in.” He is not showing up for work very often, his schedule of public appointments has decreased dramatically, he spends only minimal time when he does make public appearances with the exception of the occasional capitol for a day. He seldom makes himself available to the press.

One could make a case he ought to turn the job over to Lt. Governor Brad Little. In a bit of contrarian thinking, though, I’m glad to see him mailing it in given the amount of damage he has done to this great state just working at it part-time.

But, please, don’t shovel all that horse manure at me and try to convince me it is potting soil full of roses.

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