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Posts published in “Day: October 7, 2014”

The gutting of government

rainey BARRETT


The time has come to say it. So here goes. Government employment - especially federal - has, in too many cases, become a haven from the unemployment lines for too damned many people. In addition, holding elective office - especially federal - has become a haven for too damned many idiots who’ve proven they should be unemployed.

Strong stuff? You bet! But sometimes the total incompetency in both classifications is so overpowering you can’t reach any other conclusion. What follows is my small offerings of proof(s).

Take Ebola. Within hours of the arrival in a Texas hospital of the first known case in this country, Gov. Ricky Perry - trying to boost his hopeless run for president - leaped before the cameras to claim “I’m proud Texas has become the location for this emergency. We’re the best equipped state in the nation to deal with this - we’ve the best medical resources and the best know-how to defeat this before it becomes a national disaster.” Oh, Hell yes.

Within 24 hours, we found out the “best medical resources” in Texas had seen the guy and turned him loose with some pills. Seems the nurses with the “best medical resources” had an intake computer program with the right questions but it didn’t “talk” to the one the doctors use.

Then, with four of the man’s relatives imprisoned in a small apartment, the State of Texas ordered them to move and a hazmat team activated to delouse the place. Except. The Texas health department could find no place in the whole damned state to relocate the people. And the hazmat team was stopped from acting because it had only a license to transport and dispose of the garbage but no Texas permit to remove it. A private citizen found a new “home” for the sequestered four and the hazmat folks waited 48 hours before a permit was issued. But the State of Texas? “Best equipped?” Hell yes. And Perry left for a weekend campaigning in Iowa.

CDC and Ebola. CDC top brass has been living on TV with complete assurances our health system “is the best in the world,” “it’s working” and “this will soon be behind us.” Guess they were too busy in front of the cameras to catch the Texas mess. They also weren’t truthful about those congressional jackasses who arbitrarily cut the CDC budget through “sequestration” and, since those carefully-designed-but-very-expensive CDC programs to handle emergencies like Ebola hadn’t been used, they were cut back or eliminated. Don’t need ‘em ‘cause they ain’t been used, according to the Louie Gomer (SHAZAM) - er Gohmert - School of Deep Think. Texas again. Hell yes.

VA health care. Anyone else want to jump in here? The billions we’ve spent have propped up a system rife with duplicitous civil “servants” who’ve been a cancer within. Too few medical professionals - too few programs to take care of the new medical and psychological problems veterans suffer from these days and an indifferent congress cutting budgets with no regard for the human suffering caused by their indifferent and arbitrary actions.

How about the IRS? A couple of offices of people targeting certain political groups (left and right) for special audits. Administrative perversion on that scale can’t survive without a lot of folks knowing what’s going on. Whether they participate or not.

The Pentagon. Hundreds of examples. But one will do nicely. No one in the Pentagon - NO ONE - can tell taxpayers how much equipment the military owns and where it is. Or whether it still exists. No one. The claim is inventory is too big to - wait for it - inventory. (more…)

The certain superintendent change

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Two things are certain to come from this year’s race for superintendent of public instruction. One, a woman will occupy one of Idaho’s constitutional offices since Donna Jones was elected controller in 2006. Secondly, Tom Luna will ride out of office after eight years – which is good news to a lot of “professional” educators.

The bad news is that Idaho will be losing one of its most aggressive advocates for public schools since Jerry Evans held the office. Luna and Evans disagreed sharply on viewpoints and approaches, but both took strong stands on education issues without worrying much about political fallouts.

Luna came into office promising to shake things up in education and he delivered with a series of “Students Come First” proposals – commonly known as “Luna Laws.” Many of the criticisms were justified. He didn’t bring up these proposals until after he won re-election and the process wasn’t as inclusive as it could have been. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter gave his full backing to these proposals and the Legislature voted them into law, which speaks well for Luna’s ability to navigate the political system. Voters had different ideas, sending the Luna Laws to a resounding defeat in 2012.

One thing that was positive in my mind was, at least Luna was trying to do something about an education system that has not fundamentally changed in 50 years.
Luna, a former member of the Nampa School Board, was not a professional educator. But he had something that few candidates running for the position ever had – the ability to communicate and articulate his vision about where he wanted to go and how to get there. Regardless of the audience – and even with editorial boards -- he came across as confident, strong and under control.

I don’t see any of those communication qualities in the two candidates running, Democrat Jana Jones and Republican Sherri Ybarra, both of whom have a stronger education resume than Luna. Neither candidate talks about grand ideas beyond supporting the governor’s education task force and Common Core.

Jones has more experience with office, having working with three superintendents and as chief deputy under Marilyn Howard, who was a capable educator but a horrible communicator. Jones thinks a Democrat can be effective in the superintendent’s office.

“Students don’t come to school with Ds and Rs on their foreheads,” Jones said in a debate in Twin Falls, covered by Idaho Education News. “We use politics to be elected, but once there, you need to put politics aside.”

Unfortunately, legislators do care about Ds and Rs and the reality is Republicans don’t pay attention to Democrats on big-ticket issues. If Jones talks about promoting an Internet sales tax, it will give Republicans even more reason to shoot it down.

Ybarra has a better chance of working with Republican lawmakers. But she also has stated repeatedly that she is not a politician, which is a terrible quality for a state superintendent. It takes a lot of political moxie to present budget proposals to the governor’s office and make a convincing case to the Legislature. Part of the job means sitting on the State Board of Education is not for the faint of heart, or non-politicians. She’s also not much for media interviews, as Jennifer Swindell of Idaho Education News discovered early on in a profile of Ybarra in May. (more…)

On the front pages


The biggest story on regional front pages today was the Supreme Court's decision not to decide a batch of appeals from various circuit courts on same-sex marriage; the tenor of headlines throughout was that the court had in effect set a nearly-inevitable path toward such marriages nationally. The impact was varied among the three northwest states. Washington allowed such marriages by law, so the court actions have not had significant effect there. Oregon's constitutional ban was thrown out by an appellate court whose decision was denied review, so the Supreme Court action provided additional confirmation of that action. The decision had no direct effect on Idaho, where the state's ban is being challenged in court but still is under review at the appellate level, and so was not considered by the Supreme Court.

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)

Working on repairing Table Rock at Boise (Boise Statesman)
Revieing student debt at BSU (Boise Statesman)
Overview of state treasurer's race (Boise Statesman)
Death in Lewiston may have resulted from flu (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow residents may be billed for tree trimming (Moscow News)
Governor candidates talk Medicaid expansion (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa considers police use of military vehicle (Nampa Press Tribune)
School tries master-level schooling (TF Times News)

300 more students at OSU this year (Corvallis Gazette)
Eugene sued by fired cop (Eugene Register Guard)
Warren visits Oregon for Merkley (Eugene Register Guard)
Teachers at Eugene agree to contract (Eugene Register Guard)
Fee to visit Crater Lake may double (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing Jackson commission race 3 (Medford Tribune)
Harry & David owner looks for employees (Medford Tribune)
Forming a Morrow County Democratic party (Pendleton E Oregonian)
SAT scores soft in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Employment claims cost state near $1 million (Salem Statesman Journal)

1st independent public tribal school opens (Bremerton Sun)
Washington prepares plan for ebola (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Bremerton Sun, Kennewick Herald)
Funds sought to studr slide (Everett Herald)
Stillagaumish tribe gets resource center (Everett Herald)
Colleges changing testing rules (Kennewick Herald)
Big pot farm planned near Longview (Longview News)
Thurston sheriff seeks restoration of budget (Olympian)
Clallam considers new pot law (Port Angeles News)
Vancouver considering new code for taxis (Vancouver Columbian)
ACLU seeks 2 Yakima latino majority districts (Yakima Herald Republic)