Writings and observations

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In politics there are rarely coincidences. Additionally, sometimes an event occurs which one can read much more into than just the surface appearance. It becomes a telltale indicator of something more significant than one at first glance would think.

One of these “more than meet the eyes” events happened in Idaho Falls on the evening of the 4th of July and went largely unnoticed by what Texas Senator and Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz calls the “chattering class”—the political pundits and commentators.

Multi-millionaire and Melaleuca founder Frank Vandersloot sponsors a well attended 4th of July fireworks show. Its his way of showing his patriotism as well as his appreciation for “the shining city on the hill” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently once put it when describing the still greatest country on the earth.

Vandersloot is justly proud of this event and he often has a special guest. His guest this year not surprisingly was an Idaho gubernatorial candidate. What was surprising was that the guest was neither Tea Party endorsed State Senator Russ Fulcher nor was it incumbent Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. It was none other than the Democratic nominee, Boise businessman A.J. Bulakoff.

The “chattering class” as well as the general voting public ought to sit up and take notice for this could portend more than Vandersloot just covering himself in case Bulakoff pulls off the upset. It could signal that the traditional Republican Latter Day Saint vote is starting a seismic shift away from the incumbent governor.

There is no question that most LDS voters mark their ballots for the Republican candidates, and in the past some Democratic strategists have made the mistake of assuming that Mormon voters would go for a Mormon Democrat in good standing over a non-Mormon Republican.

Otter himself disproved this gambit four years ago in dispatching Mormon gubernatorial nominee Keith Allred, as did then Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne when he won a race for a U.S. Senate seat by defeating Second District Congressman Richard Stallings.

A. J. Bulakoff though just may be an exception to this general rule that LDS voters vote party first and their religion second. While he is smart enough not to wear his religion on his sleeve, nor ever even to make a pitch to voters based on a common held set of beliefs, it is well known among the LDS community that he is a Saint in good standing, has the so-called “temple pass,” is a graduate of the “Y” (Brigham Young University in Provo), has a large and loving family, and is happily maried to Susie Skaggs, one of the heirs to the Skaggs Drugstore chain.

Additionally, A.J. is a largely self-made multi-millionaire who, like Vandersloot, has enjoyed considerable success in the business world.
Vandersloot is nobody’s fool and has adroitly played the political game for years. He recognizes that public policy is all about politics, whether local, state, or national. Thus, he takes an interest in races from local judgeships to presidential elections.

He was and is a prominent suppporter of fellow Mormon Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidency and was co-chair of Romney’s Finance committee. The list of Idaho contributors to Romney’s campaign reads like a “who’s who” not just of Idaho Republicans but also the Idaho LDS faithful. Vandersloot also employs Damond Watkins as a government affairs assistant.

Damond, son of former Idaho Falls State Senator Dane Watkins, is arguably one of the savviest and shrewdist political operatives in Idaho. Both he and his boss have to know that having A.J. as a guest is tantamount to giving a “testimonial” the Sunday before an election as to what a fine fellow Saint folks have in A. J. It a clear signal that its ok to vote for him if one agrees.

The question then is why would Vandersloot send such a mixed signal? Perhaps they’ve seen polls showing an electorate reluctant to reward Butch with a third term when he has done little to earn it. Or they could believe the governor shares culpability for the disarray in the State Republican Party.

Or it could be something as simple as Butch has allegedly never accepted Vandersloot’s invitation to be his guest at the Fireworks show. It did not escape notice that both the governor and Lori rode their horses in the 4th of July Parade earlier in the day¸but then did not stay for the show.

Former Congressman and political science professor at BYU-Idaho, Richard Stallings, thinks it is a foregone conclusion A.J. will win in November because many LDS voters, especially the younger ones, have decided its time for a change.

Those close to the Otter campaign no doubt will tag this as pure poppycock. They will correctly cite that both Frank and his wife have maxed out in their contributions to the governor’s campaign and that Otter has attended other events to which Vandersloot has invited him.

As one colleague put it: “Frank Vandersloot is first a Republican, second a millionaire and third a Mormon.” Time will tell.

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Carlson Idaho

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Don’t look at me to handicap the Miss America Pageant in September. I do a lousy enough job picking winners of sporting events and political elections and I can’t remember the last time I saw a Miss America Pageant.

I will make an exception this year and make a point to watch the competition on television on Sept. 14. And I will go out on a limb and say that Miss Idaho, Sierra Anne Sandison of Twin Falls, has a decent shot at winning. No, she does not hail from the South, or Midwest, which produce long lines of past winners. A Miss Idaho has never won. But Sierra has something that few others have – a compelling story. And all she had to do was walk on stage during the swimsuit competition of the Miss Idaho Pageant with an insulin pump attached to her side.

BOOM! The social media exploded with a photo of this gorgeous 20-year-old woman confidently walking with her beautiful smile and perfect body. Her insulin pump suddenly became a fashion statement and she has encouraged others to “Show Your Pump.” Sierra has become an inspiration to 26 million people living in the United States who have diabetes and the nearly 80 million people who have pre-diabetes. She is proof that diabetes can be managed, the harmful effects can be reversed and diabetes does not stop people from living their dreams. The late Ron Santo, a Hall of Fame baseball player, had the disease and Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler has it.

I, too, am living proof that diabetes is manageable – although I’m no match to Sierra in terms of beauty, grace and charm. Better management has allowed me to overcome blindness and open-heart surgery and keep a mild case of kidney disease in check. I’m 64 years old and never felt better. 
I enjoy hearing stories about people overcoming obstacles such as diabetes, so I was bowled over by Sierra’s story about winning the Miss Idaho Pageant and I’m sure many other people were, too.

Sierra, no doubt, will get some great coaching on her way to the Miss America competition. One of her supporters is Nicole Johnson, who knows a thing or two about winning pageants. She was Miss America in 1999 and won while wearing an insulin pump. Johnson has continued to stay involved with the American Diabetes Association and on the front lines of the war against this “silent killer.” Johnson’s story made Sierra realize it was OK to wear an insulin pump in competition and Sierra has inspired others, including 12-year-old McCall Salinas, Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Preteen. McCall, who has diabetes, was backstage during the Miss Idaho pageant, cheering on Sierra. After the event, McCall told her mom she was ready to get an insulin pump to better manage the disease.

“It brought me to tears,” Sierra wrote.

Seeing the photo of her walking the stage in the Miss Idaho contest doesn’t tell the story of the heartaches and challenges that came from being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – which means her pancreas cannot produce insulin. She tells it well in her official Miss Idaho blog.

“My world was flipped upside down by my diabetes diagnosis,” she wrote. For a while, I pretended that I didn’t have diabetes, hoping it would go away. That led to crazy blood sugars, of course, and a very sick, grumpy and discouraged Sierra.”

In her case, denial led to acceptance, which opened the door for this young woman to be the inspiration she is.

So, does she have a chance to win? Let’s review the criteria: “Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a combination of beauty, grace and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is the type which the American girl might well emulate.”

If this is the standard, then give her the crown now and play a clip of old Bert Parks belting out the tune, “Here she is …” No one could possibly argue that she isn’t “America’s ideal.”

But remember this if those stuffy judges give it to someone else. Sierra doesn’t need another crown to prove that she’s a winner in life.

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Malloy

news

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)

Idaho 16 extension opens August 15 (Boise Statesman)
Idaho Power, others moving into solar power (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston chief may be Asotin interim sheriff (Lewiston Tribune)
Ringo calls for raising the minimum wage (Lewiston Tribune)
Boise Co-op opens Nampa location (Nampa Press Tribune)
NNU library to open in October (Nampa Press Tribune)
Departments in Canyon County seek expansions (Nampa Press Tribune)
Research accelerators okayed for ISU (Pocatello Journal)

New fires after Beatty’s contained (KF Herald & News)
Eugene council okays rule on sick leave (Eugene Register Guard)
Mt Ashland regroups after ‘disastrous’ winter (Medford Tribune)
Ashland home prices rising (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton library struggles with budget (Pendleton E Oregonian)
$100 million gift sent to OHSU cancer center (Portland Oregonian)
Medicaid expansion hasn’t expanded doctors (Portland Oregonian)
PERS finances reported on stabler ground (Salem Statesman Journal)

Shellfish at Port Gamble found clean (Bremerton Sun)
Bethel Junction, Port Orchard, shopping center sold (Bremerton Sun)
Legislator considers bill to let police ping (Everett Herald)
Being employment falls by 20k since 90s (Everett Herald)
Boardman coal power plant use in decline (Kennewick Herald)
Protesters target animal rules in Forks (Port Angeles News)
Unified business group may fall apart (Port Angeles News)
Is there board-staff conflict at Seattle schools? (Seattle Times)
Will Spokane’s new downtown hotel draw? (Spokane Spokesman)
Riverfront bond issue at Spokane hits ballot (Spokane Spokesman)
Why is ‘In God We Trust’ on Pierce agenda? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Little Vancouver backing for new bridge plan (Vancouver Columbian)
Pot smoking tent illegal but shutdown unlikely (Vancouver Columbian)

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