Writings and observations

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who hasn’t been a notably high-profile figure during his time in office – bearing in mind that his office automatically has some visibility – delivered two shockers, both in the form of highly useful lessons, last week. He got plenty of attention for both, attention sought out in one case and ruefully unsought in the other.

The first was his surprise appearance at Cannabis City, Seattle’s first (legal) shop catering to recreational marijuana sales, on its opening morning. He was there early, and became the store’s fourth customer, buying two small bags of product. His presence wasn’t stunning in an absolute sense, since Holmes had been a strong and clear advocate for marijuana legalization; but then, not all legalization advocates are necessarily going to be customers of Cannabis city and its bretheren. Holmes said that one of his purchases was intended to be a keepsake, and the other – he suggestion – was intended for consumption.

This brief incident was captured on film (television cameras were there), and a picture of Holmes making a buy illegal under law in 48 other states was promptly posted on his official city web page. It’s hard to imagine an image that more specifically or powerfully highlights how far the move toward legalization – and its social acceptability – has come.

Well, to a point.

Failing to think through (as an attorney should) the legal implications of what he was doing, a busy Holmes carried his bags back to his office at city hall. Soon after he was confronted with an unwelcome reality: Bringing marijuana into city hall (a “drug-free workplace”), and having it available during working hours, were contrary to city code. The code Holmes’ job is supposed to enforce.
He fessed up soon after, said his mea culpas and offered to donate $3,000 (which would equate to a hefty fine) to the Downtown Emergency Service Center as penance.

Thereby providing a demonstration that although Washington has legalized the bud, its use and possession still are not exactly a wide-open matter. And will not be, at least for some time to come.

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Washington Washington column

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)

Heavy construction ahead on I-84 (Boise Statesman)
Services for former Governor Evans (Boise Statesman)
IF youth developments gets $400k grant (IF Post Register)
Asotin sheriff quits August 1 (Lewiston Tribune)
UI installing more traffic calming projects (Lewiston Tribune)
Nampa taffic patterns will shift (Nampa Press Tribune)
New wineries in Caldwell business incubator (Nampa Press Tribune)
Boating limited at a lower Lake Lowell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Who plays for cleanup on sewer-backed houses? (Pocatello Journal)
TF seeks improved bicycle access (TF Times News)

About 45k visit Oregon Country Fair (Eugene Register Guard)
Hotter weather coming in next few days (Eugene Register Guard)
School’s sports field nearly done (KF Herald & News)
Low water worries lead to bottled water scam (Ashland Tidings)
Medford officials plan Vietnam memorial (Medford Tribune)
Proposed natural gas plants to stabilize juice (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Dentist regulators make discipline info less available (Portland Oregonian)
Walnut trees at state hospital dying (Salem Statesman Journal)

Temperatures in the 90s are ahead (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Bremerton Sun)
Starbucks approved for Bainbridge Island (Bremerton Sun)
Renovation funds could come for Mukilteo terminal (Everett Herald)
Inslee touts Washington at air show (Everett Herald)
District 4 congressional race turning ugly (Kennewick Herald)
Hastings urges protections on medical pot (Kennewick Herald)
More wildlfires in Washington (Vancouver Columbian, Kennewick Herald)
Pot shops have run out of pot (Longview News)
Employers still can impose pot limits (Seattle Times)
State’s first license pot grower selling out (Spokesman Review)
Overview of pot marketplace (Tacoma News Tribune)
Portland quit free parking for disabled (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

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)

New apartments planned for former trailer park (Boise Statesman)
Sugar-Salem schools may see cuts (IF Post Register)
New manager of transit in Pullman (Moscow News)
Charter school buys Caldwell land for auditorium (Nampa Press Tribune)
Democrats hold livable wage rally at Caldwell (Nampa Press Tribune)
Two legislative Democratic candidates drop out (Pocatello Journal)
Massive spontaneous explosion of alfalfa at Hansen (TF Times News)

Eugene cops kept list of disliked people? (Eugene Register Guard)
KF downtown getting bike corrals (KF Herald & News)
Oregon Caves monument may expand by 4,000 acres (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Reviewing the adult business collection at Umatilla (Pendleton E Oregonian)
New travel time reader boards set by ODOT (Portland Oregonian)

Kitsap library plans new Silverdale branch (Bremerton Sun)
BrewFest at Bremerton gets new location (Bremerton Sun)
Still searching for the last Oso victim (Everett Herald)
Everett says Kimberly Clark cleanup not yet done (Everett Herald)
Big wildfire growing fast near Entiat (Kennewick Herald)
Pot remains in short supply at stores (Seattle Times, Longview News)
High court: bicyclist box not subject to search (Longview News)
Inslee pushes increase in fish consumption (Port Angeles News)
STDs spreading more rapidly (Spokane Spokesman)
Sockeye salmon have record run at Bonneville (Spokane Spokesman)
Fire balloons at Lake Spokane (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver opens second pot store (Vancouver Columbian)
Heat rising quickly in region (Yakima Herald Republic)
Yakima council member proposed utility tax cut (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take Uncategorized

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

I’ve wanted to do a column under that headline for five years now. Even got to the keyboard a few times but held back. Really don’t know why. Lord knows she’s given any thinking person a pot full of reasons to tell her to “take a hike.” But now it appears she’s pissed off more than half the country and a majority just wants her to shut up and go away.

A new NBC/Wall Street/Annenberg poll has found 54-percent of voters – regardless of party – have heard enough of the Wasilla wastrel. Even four-in-ten Republicans don’t want to hear her uninformed babbling anymore. Among Democrats the margin is two-thirds.

But it’s not just the self-serving Alaskan opportunist the public is fed up with. More than half the respondents are tired of hearing Rev. Jesse Jackson’s opinions on this, that and the other. Nearly half would like former Vice President Cheney to put a sock in it and go silently back to Wyoming with about 43% saying “enough already” to Newt Gingrich.

Aside from being just plain without talent or knowledge enough to make any sort of meaningful contribution to the national dialogue, Palin’s problem – and to some extent the others – is the result of several things. First, none of those named has any legitimate public platform. All did at one time. But no more. They have no substance and nothing relevant to say. They’ve worn out their welcome.

Second, the media made them “personalities.” As such, they have nothing meaningful to contribute. No public office. No institutional connection. No platform of any kind. They’re just supposed to be opinionated, funny, crusty, say controversial things, be available and show up.

Think all the people you know. You know lots of folks. But are they all friends? Do you invite all these folks to your house? Do you even want all of them at your house? Probably not. Oh, you may work with some, socialize with some, go to church with some. But are they all people you want to hang out with all the time? Probably not. People come and go in our lives but few relationships stay. Those that do are based on something more than “personality.”

The media has “made” these people – Palin, Gingrich, Jackson et al. Not because they’re good, upstanding, honest folk with something important to say. No. They’ve made them “personalities” to fill long stretches of what would otherwise be “dead air” or empty pages because they can be counted on to be controversial or entertaining if not illuminating or meaningful. They’re creatures of the media and, when they no longer can bring ratings or subscriptions numbers, they’ll be discarded by that same media. Old news.

Palin, in particular, is nothing more than a media “personality.” She’s offered nothing positive or important to the national dialogue since you first heard her name six years ago. She’s a creation: partly by the media but mostly by her own hand. When the national spotlight accidentally shined on her in 2008 – at the behest of a confused John McCain – she was ready. Immediately ignoring McCain speech writers and political advisers much smarter than her, freelancing interviews without campaign approval, copywriting her name and image and signing a long-term contract with a major speaker’s bureau before the campaign was over, Palin grabbed the brass ring. The media loved her. Well, more like developed a case of heavy breathing.

But, like those people you know but don’t necessarily want in your home, Palin’s reliance on marketing rather than any real political knowledge, made her someone with no staying power: hot at the start but destined to burn out with the broad market. And she has. There’s never been any “there” – there.

Now, she seems unaware times have changed – that her popularity is only with a minority of people as totally uninformed about realities of the world as herself. Her books aren’t selling. Her TV show is gone. No political group with broad appeal is inviting her to the stage. The mainstream Republican Party is ignoring her. Were it not for Fox “News” she’d have no public forum at all but she’ll eventually lose that, too. Oh, she’s still making appearances at trade conventions and right-wing gatherings. But not for the large six-figure fees she got a couple of years ago. Now she’s signing autographs for fewer people and hawking books and bumper stickers out in the lobby.

Personality without talent – without smarts – without some sort of knowledgeable, serious core – has no staying power. Something newer and shinier will always replace it. Palin’s 15 minutes of fame are about gone. She offers nothing relevant to today’s discussions. Never has really. Only criticism and senseless carping. You can get that at any neighborhood bar.

So, along with a majority of you, I offer my own heartfelt advice to the former Wasilla mayor: shut the hell up and sit down.

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Rainey

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)

Nampa okays new traffic pattern and library (Boise Statesman)
Big new Broadway Ford building in IF (IF Post Register)
Iona in forced annexation battle (IF Post Register)
Simpson on stringer EPA arsenic standards (IF Post Register)
More time for ice skating rink lease (Lewiston Tribune)
Teacher shortage growing in Washington (Moscow News)
Pullman tries to use more green eneregy (Moscow News)
District court at Latah puts in budget request (Moscow News)
Searching for new College of Idaho president (Nampa Press Tribune)
Money heads into anti-wolf program (Nampa Press Tribune)
Road work leads to sewage overflows (Pocatello Journal)
School bond narrowly fails at North Gem (Pocatello Journal)
Hunters opposing White Clouds monument (TF Times News)
Transportation Department hit will asbestos fine (TF Times News)

Road work will worsen Eugene traffic (Eugene Register Guard)
Blue Mountain Recovery Center may be demolished (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Higher salary for new Cover Oregon leader (Portland Oregonian)

Port Orchards rejects pot sale restrictions (Bremerton Sun)
Inslee proposes new water quality plan (Spokane Spokesman, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic)
John Koster reviewing his county ombudsman role (Everett Herald)
Reynolds smelter buildings at Longview demolished (Longview News)
Mass of air samples tested at Hanford (Kennewick Herald)
Port Angeles business groups consider unity (Port Angeles News)
Short supply in pot stores (Seattle Times)
First Spokane pot buyer now without a job (Spokane Spokesman)
Shipping firm back at Tacoma after 31 years (Tacoma News Tribune)
Vancouver marijuana shop opens doors (Vancouver Columbian)
More complaints about fireworks this year (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

For a while after he became governor in 1977, John V. Evans became known among some Idaho political writers as the Rodney Dangerfield of governors: He couldn’t get no respect – and that was the headline of a column at the time.

Anecdotes flew around. He was the lieutenant governor who put gas in his car tank, forgot his wallet at home, and promised the attendant he would run right back and get it and pay. Not good enough: The lieutenant governor had to leave his watch as collateral. (Evans had a good enough sense of humor that none of this seemed to bother him.)

As governor, there was an optics issue too. He took the office not by election but by elevation, after the charismatic Cecil Andrus had been named interior secretary. Evans had a lot to live up to, and he lacked Andrus’ magnetism.

But by the time of Evans’ passing this week, perspectives changed – a lot. He gets a good deal of respect now and for good reason.

John Evans held office during one of Idaho’s tougher economic periods, and when much of the bigger picture of Idaho politics, on partisan, social and philosophical levels, was turning against him. He still won election to the job twice, the second time over a man (Phil Batt) who more than a decade later did become governor; he came very close to winning a race for the U.S. Senate. (All that followed a closely contested run for lieutenant governor in 1974.)

Evans could fairly be considered one of Idaho’s strongest governors. He was a highly skilled politician (first elected to the state Senate in the Republican year of 1952 from Republican Oneida County), a far better campaigner than many people credited him for, and he could be a partisan leader when occasion arose. Republicans long remembered how many previous governors would simply sign a veto of legislation, but Evans brought out a big red veto stamp to make his point.

My memories of his time in office come from another angle: Alongside the self-confidence (which any successful politician must have) was an evidently genuine humility and kindness. Few major public offices I have ever seen were as open as his; the door of his office was nearly always open, allowing for inquiring reporters or anyone else to see exactly what the governor was up to at any given moment.

One day I asked to spend a day with the governor, from breakfast until he got home from work. That sort of story isn’t totally unique, but what was unusual was this: I wasn’t kicked out of anything, any meetings or deliberations at all, all day. That was not the kind of openness you saw in just about anyone else’s administration.

When he left the governor’s office, he did something else unusual. He didn’t retire or work as a lobbyist or do many of the things you usually expect ex-governors to do. Instead, he moved to Burley and took over the family business – the D.L. Evans Bank – and over the years exploded it from a small, reasonably successful business to Idaho’s largest locally-owned bank, with rapid growth year over year. It grew even more just a week ago when it swallowed another Idaho banking operation. After years as one of Idaho’s most successful political leaders, he worked his way up to become one of its top business leaders as well.

One more word, speaking as a publisher: John Evans is the only governor in the long reach from Len Jordan to Phil Batt whose story hasn’t been told in biography or memoir. Someone should get about it, soon. It would make a good story.

Randy Stapilus is a former Idaho newspaper reporter and editor, author of The Idaho Political Field Guide, edits the Idaho Weekly Briefing, and blogs at www.ridenbaugh.com. He can be reached at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

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Idaho Idaho column

peterson MARTIN
PETERSON
 

John Evans left the governorship in 1987 – 27 years ago. Roughly two-thirds of Idaho’s current population were either under the age of eighteen or not even born yet when he left office. Given Evans’ low public profile after leaving office, it isn’t surprising that many Idahoans don’t recall his many years of public service. Many of them probably associate him more closely as the face in advertisements for D.L. Evans Bank.

John Evans grew up in Malad. His grandfather David L. Evans served in the territorial legislature and, following statehood was Speaker of the House. Like his grandfather, John Evans was a Democrat and a banker. He was elected to the state senate in 1952, at the age of 27. In 1957, when the Democrats took control of the Senate, he became senate majority leader. He left the senate in 1959 and was elected mayor of Malad.

His years as a small town mayor, rancher and banker provided him with invaluable experience and skills that would serve him well when he returned to state government, again serving as a senator, then lieutenant governor and finally ten years as governor.

When Cecil Andrus resigned as governor to become Secretary of Interior in 1977, Evans became governor. His ten years as governor were during some of the most challenging times that Idaho has ever faced. In 1978 Idaho voters approved the 1% Initiative, which placed substantial restrictions on the ability of local governments to raise operating revenues. Then came the economic collapse. The state’s economy had little diversification and was heavily dependent upon natural resource based industries. In a perfect storm, the bottom dropped out of the timber, mining and agricultural industries. As a result, state tax revenues plummeted.

Using his experience as a mayor, Evans understood the need for basic governmental services at the state and local levels. As a mayor, he also understood the need for setting priorities and operating in a fiscally conservative manner. The result was a mixture of reducing non-essential services, cutting operating costs and increasing the flow of state revenues. He also created the Idaho Department of Commerce to help begin Idaho’s economic rebuilding. With a legislature heavily dominated by Republicans and led by staunch conservatives such as Tom Stivers in the house and Jim Risch in the senate, Evans had his work cut out for him. But he rose to the occasion, working with a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, he kept the ship afloat and laid the groundwork for an economic recovery that led to some of the best years that Idaho’s economy has ever seen. In many ways, his relationship with a Republican legislature was more productive than that of some Republican governors.

While many will remember that Evans successfully pushed for sales tax increases to help offset the decline in revenues, it is equally important to remember that he also ordered state employees work hour cur back to 32 hours a week to reduce operating costs.

After leaving office in 1987, Evans moved to Burley and took over the leadership of D.L. Evans Bank, his family owned banking concern with branches in Burley and Albion. It is a testament to John Evans abilities that he just may have been the most successful former governor that Idaho has ever had.

Evans had watched much of Idaho’s banking community swallowed up through mergers and acquisitions. Using his extensive experience of working directly with Idahoans as a legislator, mayor and governor, he recognized that there was a growing desire by many Idahoans to do business with a locally owned and operated bank that would provide personal service, rather than requiring customers to call a toll free number in some far away city. DL Evans Bank today is entirely family owned with twenty-one branches in thirteen cities and will soon expand with its $100-million acquisition of the Idaho Banking Co.

John Evans legacy is one of success at every level at which he worked. While he may be unknown to many Idahoans, there are few who have not felt the beneficial impact of his leadership in both the public and private sectors.

Marty Peterson is a native of the Lewiston Clarkston Valley. He is retired and lives in Boise. He was state budget director under Governor John Evans.

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Peterson

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)

Recalling Governor John Evans (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune, TF Times News)
Owyhee building, hotel no longer, plans opening (Boise Statesman)
No pot sales in SE Washington for a month (Lewiston Tribune)
Poll finds favor for road repair, not fuel taxes (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Pot sales open in Washington (Moscow News)
Humanists show billboards with secular message (Moscow News)
Nampa gets new Wal Mart in a week (Nampa Press Tribune)
National Republicans back August 2 Idaho meeting (Pocatello Journal)
728-acre fire attributed to teen (TF Times News)
Snake River canyon jumpers still push for event (TF Times News)

Lane County pushed back on Eugene sick leave rule (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing effect of legal WA pot on Oregon (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Klamath schools want $36 million bond (KF Herald & News)
Hot weather has effect in southern OR (Ashland Tidings)
Scaling down Medford downtown intersection (Medford Tribune)
Considering barley options around Umatilla (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Report on oil trains generates protest (Salem Statesman Journal)

Harrison hospital could leave 2nd insurer (Bremerton Sun)
Debate held for 26th House district race (Bremerton Sun)
Big fee charged for driving on Oso private road (Everett Herald)
Officials now must be trained in public records (Everett Herald)
State plans warnings on fish consumption (Everett Herald)
Marijuana sales begin in WA (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News, Port Angeles News)
Longview port may trip propane export plan (Longview News)
Domestic violence shooting at Spokane hospital (Spokane Spokesman)
State working on new water quality rules (Tacoma News Tribune)
Clark planning for new bus system, gets grant (Vancouver Columbian)

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First Take

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

University of Idaho officials, from the president on down, have made it clear that the Vandal football program is about making money. Going “back” to the Big Sky Conference is OK for other sports, but not for football.

“The financial consequences make it not very attractive,” Idaho’s new president, Chuck Staben, said in a recent article by the Idaho Statesman’s Brian Murphy. Athletic Director Rob Spear said in the same article that returning to the Big Sky level (Football Championship Subdivision) would result in Idaho cutting other sports.

Idaho has 975,000 good reasons for opening this year’s season at Florida, which speaks more about the intelligence of Florida than Idaho. If the Gators are foolish enough to pay nearly $1 million for a non-competitive game, then Idaho is smart enough to take the cash and hope the players don’t have too many leg cramps from the humidity.

But should college football and athletics in general, be all about money? Sports should be enhancing a young person’s educational experience, and not making athletes mere tools of revenue production. Football, especially, should be about traditional rivalries and road trips to neighboring schools. A perspective that puts money first is a warped perspective.

“It’s always a negative,” says Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “When you play money games, two things happen. You accumulate losses and you’re away from home. Those things are deadly to an athletic program.”

In Vandal country, it’s easy to blame former Coach Rob Akey’s undisciplined approach for the football program being on NCAA probation for failure to meet academic standards. But top officials should carry some of the blame for creating a “money-first” environment that promotes recruitment of athletes who run fast in the 40-yard dash, but can’t spell “cat.”

As Fullerton sees it, branding is at least as important as money. Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington have strong brands from successful football programs. Those teams don’t win championships every year, but they are competitive and the programs are run well. Strong branding also promotes better recruiting.

“At Montana, you can’t buy a seat. I would ask the University of Idaho, is that happening on your campus? If the answer is no, then one of the problems may be how you are structuring your program. You are stretching too far to find the money,” Fullerton said.

Although Fullerton would like to welcome Idaho to the Big Sky, he understands why Idaho is not making the leap to his conference. It makes sense for Idaho to see what happens with the top five conferences of the Football Bowl Subdivision and the tiers below that. He also understands the politics that go with Idaho being in the same state as Boise State, which has had rousing success at football’s top level.

If the Sun Belt is demoted to the same level as the Big Sky, and Idaho has nowhere to go, then a return to the Big Sky could happen quickly. If nothing happens within a few years, and Idaho remains stuck in a conference that’s two or three time zones away from Moscow, then it might be time to evaluate whether Vandal football is even worth having.

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Malloy

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter conveys an image of serenity and certainty as he goes from political events like the “God and Country” rally held in Nampa to the 4th of July parade in Idaho Falls where he and wife Lori, dressed in matching outfits, display their horsemanship skills.

Beneath that façade of confidence that Idahoans will still reward his lackluster record by electing him to a third term there has to be a heart full of anxiety that the chickens will come home to roost regarding his disastrous venture into the private management of a state prison facility. A worst case scenario that some Democrats pine for is if not Butch, several people close to him may be charged with obstruction of justice before the November election.

In political parlance it is called an “October surprise”—-an event that breaks into the news just before the voters cast ballots. Overnight it can change the electoral dynamic. Often campaigns will try to innoculate themselves against such events with pre-emptive statements to the media that their desperate opponent may launch a baseless “October surprise” charge that the media should disregard.

It is a completely different matter, though, if it is the Federal government through a U.S. Attorneys’ office, that brings charges before an election and that is what Governor Otter may be sweating. Much as the Governor wants folks to think he is on cruise control to re-election, there are many folks deeply troubled by how badly the Governor’s signature trademark venture into private management of a traditional public function, the management of state prisons, has been bungled.

What the public does know is damning enough. Start with the fact that on July 1st the state took back over management of the prison outside of Boise constructed and managed by Corrections Corporation of America. Throw into the mix that credible evidence came out that CCA was billing the State for work never performed but no one knows just how much because the Governor announced a million dollar settlement with CCA that closed the books.
Some believe this was a thinly disguised effort to stymie any further release of other embarassisng information indicating further negligence by the state to conduct any responsible oversight.

Add to the mix that a member of the Idaho State Police and one who reports directly to the governor, led the media, whether willfully or unintentionally is not clear, to believe that the ISP was conducting a state investigation into CCA and its handling of the state contract (Worth reportedly about $30 million annually). A year later when a reporter asked for the report or its status the official revealed no investigation had ever been conducted.

Throw into the mix also that Governor Otter is reportedly the single largest recipient of campaign donations to any state governor in states where CCA conducts its business, and then add that the chief lobbyist for CCA is a former Otter chief of staff. One has the ingredients for a real stew.

Of course, asking the FBI or even U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson to look into what has been up to now a state contractual dispute may reflect the Democrats’ frustration. But who knows if the feds can establish jurisdiction in this case? They’d have to look first.

The federal government could have a compelling interest here. Of every dollar CCA earns, 43 cents comes from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Wouldn’t the feds want to know if CCA’s behavior in Idaho was part of a pattern that extends to the company’s facilities that house federal inmates?
Besides, it doesn’t appear to be a complicated case. All the FBI need do is pick up a copy of the KPMG audit, review the public record and then assemble CCA’s employees in one room.

Ask each one of them a simple question: Would you prefer to be a witness – or a defendant?

More than one U.S. attorney has made his or her reputation by bringing down a holder of high public office. Investigations are never announced and seldom confirmed until and unless charges are actually brought.

If there is an investigation of the Governor or his office another key question is “what did he know and when did he know it” and then “what did he do with the knowledge.” It is entirely possible an astute but overly protective member of the governor’s staff could easily have kept the governor in the dark which would allow so-called “plausible deniability.”

Nonetheless, even if charges are brought which cannot establish a direct tie to the governor, it still will all have transpired on Otter’s watch and he can expect the voters to hold him accountable.

A final key question is would Idaho’s U.S. Attorney, Wendy Olson, bring the charges before the election or wait until after? To bring charges before would invite a charge by the governor’s supporters that the Department of Justice, run by a key confidant of President Obama, was meddling in Idaho’s politics.

It would, however, be a disservice to the voters of Idaho if Justice were to sit on any kind of indictment, if one is indeed in the offing, until after the election. And if no charges are ever brought we will never know.

One suspects though that until the November election day has come and gone, Butch Otter will not be riding either easy or tall in his saddle. We shall see whether there is or is not an October surprise—that is for sure.

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Carlson