Writings and observations

ridenbaugh Northwest
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After commenting a couple of weeks ago that the Idaho legislature was mistaken not to pass legislation to “add the words” to provide employment, housing and other other protections on the basis of sexual orientation or identity, Republican former Governor (1995-99) Phil Batt followed up with this opinion article widely reprinted in Idaho newspapers.

The Idaho Legislature has once again decided to take no action to include sexual orientation under our anti-discrimination statutes. Instead, lawmakers seriously considered state approval of anti-gay incidents if they are done because of religious convictions.

These procedures and the protests generated by them have attracted the attention of major news outlets in large cities and even that of London newspapers.

Idaho leaders have said this is of no interest to present or prospective business opportunities in our state. In my career as a legislative leader and as a governor, I found otherwise. Large Idaho corporations, and particularly Hewlett-Packard and Boise Cascade, were very much concerned about Idaho’s reputation regarding tolerance.

The long presence of practicing Nazis in North Idaho caused negative press coverage of our beloved state worldwide. HP executives and other Idaho businesspeople helped force these scumbags out. However, the main credit goes to North Idaho citizens, who detested their abominable presence.

When an Idaho congresswoman said people of color would not live in North Idaho because it was too cold for them, we got another wave of bad publicity. She recanted her views and our good name was again restored.

Our Idaho executives told me that the state’s reputation is important to their businesses. If it is damaged, sales are hurt. Perhaps more important, it becomes much more difficult to attract outstanding, well-qualified and forward-thinking people to apply for Idaho employment.

Such is the case for a couple of my grandchildren. Max is gay. He attended Boise schools. He felt marginalized and troubled by some of the treatment he received from students and teachers. Ultimately, he dropped out, obtained his GED and moved to San Francisco.

He waited tables and washed dishes until he became a legal California resident. He then obtained a fine arts degree from a leading design school.

Max achieved a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s degree. Even before he left school, he had several job offers in the computer design field. He accepted one at a high salary plus valuable options. He is now earning considerably more and has had numerous opportunities to advance further.

His sister, Anna, followed him to California, became a resident and entered the higher education system at Cal-Berkeley. She was a great student and was shepherded through her bachelor’s and master’s degrees by professors who took a special interest. She is now pursuing a doctorate degree in biochemistry at the University of Southern California.

These young folks love Idaho and I wish they lived here so that I could see them more. However, they will never make this their home again as long as we maintain our disdain for people who are “different.”

I would like to have somebody explain to me who is going to be harmed by adding the words to our civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination in housing and job opportunities for homosexuals.

Oh, I forgot, that might hurt the feelings of the gay bashers.

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Trader Joe’s coming Friday (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Closed talk on CCA prison agreement (Boise Statesman)
Legislature on advisory board for treasurer (Boise Statesman)
WA starts issuing pot permits next week (Lewiston Tribune)
JFAC OKs $1 million to fight gay marriage (Moscow News)
Board of Ed study on high wage jobs (Moscow News)
Obermayr tries again for Latah commission (Moscow News)
How Materne got to Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
School budget ‘flexibility’ reviewed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Treasury oversight board progresses (Nampa Press Tribune)
Children/faith healing bill gets no hearing (Nampa Press Tribune)
ISU’s hillside I to be replaced (Pocatello Journal)
Campus gun bill will raise security costs (Sandpoint Bee)
Gooding charter school sees mercury spill (TF Times News)
Idaho Youth Ranch will leave Rupert in 2016 (TF Times News)

Police, landlords working on issues (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Indian mascot bill goes to governor (Corvallis Gazette Times)
New Lane County administrator picked (Eugene Register Guard)
Homeless center Whoville closes this spring (Eugene Register Guard)
Eugene library branches could remain open (Eugene Register Guard)
Not enough money to accept Klamath Project bids (KF Herald & News)
Tribes in NW blasting pot legalization (KF Herald & News)
Dispute over gravel business at Gold Hill (Medford Tribune)
Southern ed service district loses Grants Pass (Medford Tribune)
Splits among Republicans at Dorchester (Medford Tribune)
Hermiston will oppose pot outlet (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Future of Hermiston ag station (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Oracles reduces its Cover Oregon staff (Portland Oregonian)
Wolf tracks found on Mount Hood (Portland Oregonian)
Lottery reform bill fails (Portland Oregonian)

New Snohomish precinct delayed (Everett Herald)
House Democrats: charge OR residents sales tax (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Plan to reduce liquor tax (Vancouver Columbian, Longview News)
Vancouver labor dispute tensions remain (Longview News)
Nippon Paper plant at PA idled (Post Angeles News)
Seattle considers universal pre-school (Seattle Times)
Seattle police misconduct cases reviewed (Seattle Times)
Spokane incinerator power bill fails (Spokane Spokesman)
Pro-death penalty advocates blast Inslee plan (Tacoma News Tribune)
Franciscan Health leader retires (Tacoma News Tribune)
Schools built by lottery money? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Yakima: share pot revenues with cities (Yakima Herald Republic)
Sunnyside plans center remodel (Yakima Herald Republic)

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