Writings and observations

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Dear Governor Otter:

I want to thank you for your letter of September 17, letting me be one of the first to know you are running for re-election, seeking a third term as Idaho’s governor.

Since I have never contributed a dime to any of your campaigns I am puzzled as to how I ended up on one of your numerous mailing lists, but nonetheless am flattered you would seek my support both personal and financial.

Before I would even consider either signing the statement of support you enclosed or contributing a dime, I do have a few questions to ask the answers to which would help this voter decide whether you have truly earned the rare tribute of a third term.

Let me preface these questions by saying from a personal standpoint I cannot help liking you. You can be disarmingly charming, you have a fine sense of self-deprecating humor, and I will always give you great credit for almost standing alone in the well of the U.S. House fighting against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act with all its incredible trampling on a citizen’s right to privacy and due process.

I have said it before, and will say it again: that courageous stand merits a modern profile in any updating of John Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage.

That aside, Governor, let me ask if you really expect voters to swallow claims in your solicitation. You state the most important role in ensuring future economic growth is building and maintaining a responsive, effective education system. True enough.

You go on to write: “I’m going to keep striving to improve our schools because I know how important an educated work force is to our success as a state. That means world-class instructional opportunities for our kids everywhere in Idaho, and a strong accessible postsecondary education system for our workforce.”

Governor, with all due respect your actions belie your words. How do you square those statements with facts documented by your former state economist, Mike Ferguson, that on your watch state support for public and higher education has declined by 25% of average gross income?

Idaho is now last among the 50 states in per pupil support. Is that putting your money where your mouth is?

Your own Education Reform Task Force called first and foremost for a restoration of almost $300 million in cuts that occurred on your watch.

You endorsed its conclusions, tacitly admitting that public education had been on rations trying to survive on a starvation budget.

Incredibly, you then publicly stated you were going to support further “tax relief” for the large corporations and a few of your wealthy friends who clearly don’t need it. You know darn good and well you cannot do both but you are still trying to have it both ways.

This is disingenuous at best and downright deceptive at worst. It does not become you.

You also know governors are elected to solve problems. Yet you have sat idly by while two matters crying out for executive leadership festered and worsened to the point where a Federal judge is now basically running the private prison outside of Boise and another Federal judge is running the State’s transportation department in an effort to resolve the “mega-loads” dispute. Are you proud of that?

Your letter is full of nice platitudes, but when one looks for substantive accomplishments backed up by facts, there is little you can truly claim to have achieved during your two terms. Your and Tom Luna’s anti-teacher “education reforms” were rightly rejected by the voters. Yet you passively stood by and let a defiant legislature pass piece-meal elements of the rejected legislation with nary a contrary word from your office.

On the critical issue of Idaho importing a limited amount of new nuclear waste in the form of spent fuel rods, you almost abrogated the Batt/Andrus agreement that requires removal of all waste from above the Snake Plain aquifer by 2035. To pacify Idaho Nuclear Lab proponents in eastern Idaho, you put together a thinly-disguised Chamber of Commerce cheering group that barely pays lip service to the careful work of Governor Phil Batt.

In all candor, Governor, there is little you have done to warrant re-election. Despite this paucity of any meaningful achievements, odds are you’ll easily cruise to re-election in part because Idaho’s Democrats have yet to offer the voters a viable alternative.

I hope you understand my hesitancy in responding to your solicitation.

You are a lucky man, Governor.

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Carlson