Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: December 13, 2014”

Some learning curve advice

idaho RANDY

In about three weeks new administrations will take over in two important Idaho offices – superintendent of public instruction and secretary of state. That means, or should mean, the incoming officials in those places will be busy right now getting prepared.

Offered for consideration a little advice, from an observer of transitions, for Idaho’s new statewide officials, SUPI Sherri Ybarra and Secretary Lawerence Denney.

1. Apart from maybe one or two personal advisors, keep the existing staff in place, for a while at least. Yes, you will have authority to replace them wholesale if you choose, and as you eventually find (as you will) people who ought to go, they can be shown the door. But for the moment, remember that they, not you, know how things work in this place, and by that I mean all the little bits and pieces which make these offices tick; both the formal procedures (and requirements) and the informal methods and pathways that help work get handled. In any office, governmental or not, these things take a while to suss out. You’re going to have a learning curve. Accept that and let your staff, which mostly will probably be eager to help inform you, guide you through the early steps.

No one coming in fresh from the outside will understand enough of that at first. But both state offices are empowered and restricted by a mass of laws, rules, legal decisions and more. Former Superintendent Jerry Evans, who probably understood the SUPI world better than anyone in recent decades, had a gift for explaining the inner workings of “the coalition” and “the formula” – central to the office’s operations – in startlingly clear fashion to people like legislators and reporters. But so complex was his subject that many people (such as me) could not maintain comprehension of it for more than a day or so; after that we’d have to go back for a refresher. The details of this stuff are more complex than they look from the outside. Respect that.

2. Spend as much time as you can in the office. Get a sense of the patterns, personalities and rhythms there before you have to run it yourself.

3. Find a few old hands and, if not bring them into the office, turn them into a kitchen cabinet, an advisory group. Collect some expertise you can trust, and some people who aren’t your natural allies so you’re not just entering an echo chamber, telling you what you want to hear. And then make use of what you hear. (more…)

On the front pages


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)

Park Price joins Federal Reserve at Salt Lake (IF Post Register)
Legal drug overdoses increasing in area (IF Post Register)
Federal timber payments uncertain (Lewiston Tribune)
Weather turns warm around Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow-Pullman airport could get federal funds (Moscow News)
Jim Boland named to Moscow council seat (Moscow News)
WSU Spokane health center design okayed (Moscow News)
Looking at local bans on pit bulls (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI opening a free legal clinic (Nampa Press Tribune)
West Trail Creek Road becoming a garbage dump (Pocatello Journal)
Too much selenium found in Upper Blackfoot River (TF Times News)

Eugene YMCA may buy school land (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath water settlement won't get presidential OK (KF Herald & News)
Reviewing dam funding, varied approvals (Medford Tribune)
Shooting reported near school, students hit (Portland Oregonian)
Reviewing Cylvia Hayes private and public (Portland Oregonian)
Oregon prison reforms saving money (Salem Statesman Journal)
Long-ago pesticides found, are being cleaned (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bainbridge Fire says it needs more funds (Bremerton Sun)
Big storm, massive power outages (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bremerton Sun, Olympian, Longview News)
Debate over tax cuts for Boeing (Everett Herald)
Stillaguamish prepares for new hotel (Everett Herald)
Vote on KapStone contract expected next week (Longview News)
Paseo Restaurant set to live again (Seattle Times)
Spokane's first police ombudsmann leaves (Spokane Spokesman)
Shots fired, 3 injured, near Portland school (Tacoma News Tribune)
Court sides with Cowlitz Tribe on casino (Vancouver Columbian)
Senator King will lead transport panel (Yakima Herald Republic)