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Posts published in July 2014

John Evans

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. (more…)

Remembering Evans

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. (more…)

On the front pages

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)

Reasons for not going back

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. (more…)

An October surprise?

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. (more…)

On the front pages

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)

Records from St Luke's suit to be revealed (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Bench Sewer District absorbed by Boise city (Boise Statesman)
Lawsuit from veteran not buried with gay partner (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Pot sales in Washington underway (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Lochsa timber cut may be underway (Lewiston Tribune)
Pullman reviews recycling program (Moscow News)
Modest start to wildfire season (Moscow News)
Nampa won't change sanitation rates (Nampa Press Tribune)
Beck appears in Dayton (Pocatello Journal)
Massive wildfire near Hailey (TF Times News)
Filer dog shooting yields lawsuit (TF Times News)

Eugene water board considers development (Eugene Register Guard)
KF working on attracting airlines (KF Herald & News)
Henley Elementary work continues (KF Herald & News)
Hotter (to about 100) in OR (Portland Oregonian, Medfortd Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Rogue Transportation District may raise taxes (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
State ag officials say they have limited GMO authority (Medford Tribune, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Coal shipper seeks tribal agreements on fish (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Wildhorse Casino adds non-smoking bar (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Washington pot shops open (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Curry County sheriff quits over cuts, health (Portland Oregonian)

Pot shops open in Washington (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Port Angeles News)
Former aide to Reardon sentenced - evidence tampering (Everett Herald)
Aquatic recreation district may try tax (Port Angeles News)
Fare evasion on Seattle light rail (Seattle Times)
On battle for the Jan Angel House seat (Tacoma News Tribune)
New development for highway 502 (Vancouver Columbian)

In the briefings

otter at rally

 
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter speaks at the God and Country Festival of the Treasure Valley July 2 at the Idaho Center at Nampa. (image/Otter campaign)

 

The big story last week almost everywhere in the Northwest: The great weather surrounding the 4th of July holiday, and the local celebrations within. That became part of the political story too, as many candidates participated in Independence Day events. (Tougher activities will ensue in coming months.)

On the front pages

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)

A medical pot law debate stirring (Boise Statesman)
Washington prepares for pot sales (TF Times News, Moscow News)
Memorial set for hopistal 'forgotten souls' (Moscow News)
Education Tax Credit, sunsetting 2015, may be renewed (Nampa Press Tribune)
Wolf hunting funds begin to roll (TF Times News)

Memorial set for hospital 'forgotten souls' (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette)
Pot dispensary at Medford may hit ballot (Ashland Tidings)
Profiling Bergdahl (Portland Oregonian)

City administrator job going away at Mukilteo (Everett Herald)
Detailed cleanup work restarts near Oso (Everett Herald)
Washington prepares for pot sales (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Badger road fire controlled (Kennewick Herald)
Memorial set for hospital 'forgotten souls' (Longview News)
What about BPA power for marijuana grows? (Port Angeles News)
Elwha interpretive center planned (Port Angeles News)
First-time home buyers rebound in Spokane (Spokane Spokesman)

An unlikely state

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Idaho

This deep red state would not exist but for a Democratic president and a Democratic Idaho governor.
It might have been shaped like a square or a rectangle, the way most other western states are, or nearly are; in fact when Idaho Territory was first created in 1863, it was: It then included what is now Montana and most of Wyoming, which sounds ridiculously large but still is only a little larger than Texas. Montana and Wyoming were sloughed off after about a year.

What was left of Idaho did not look like promising state material. In some ways, the Nevada experience soured many people on remote, oddly-shaped and lightly populated states. Nevada had been admitted in a rush during the Civil War, after which its mining industry went crash and the state largely depopulated; it was so poorly run as to be called a “rotten borough.” Idaho as a territory was a little better than that after its first decade or so, but still more a collection of pieces than a logically coherent entity. The mountains in the center seemed to bar direct transportation and communication across its farther reaches, and even the relatively flat desert in the south was forbidding for travelers between its growing eastern and western reaches, where farming was taking hold. (The hospitable Magic Valley was still in the future.)
And the northern part of the state, which never got over losing the territorial capital, felt little connection to the south. Economically, socially, politically, the pieces were distinct.

So plans for splitting Idaho into pieces started early, and continued up to the advent of statehood.

It almost happened. The closest call came in the 1880s.

Nevada was still struggling, and among the ideas circulating there was a territorial expansion. It had few options. California and Oregon already were states, and unlikely to give up territory. Utah to the east was nearing statehood itself, but the Mormon identity of the area was holding it back in Congress; Nevada would never get approval for that annexation. But southwest Idaho was gaining in population and developing a stable economy. From Nevada's point of view, it looked scrumptious.
Washington territory was nearing statehood as well, and like other territories found that larger population bases always helped the case in Congress. Northern Idaho once had been part of Washington Territory, and even then Spokane was something a regional economic base. Why not a reunion?
And if those pieces were gone, the chances for Utah statehood would be improved if it gobbled eastern Idaho. (more…)