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Posts published in April 2015

“The Dummies”

carlson CHRIS


EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see below for a response by a reader referred to in this column; and a response from Carlson.

Hollywood has its Oscars; New York has its Emmies and its Pulitzers. Boston has its Eppies. As of today, Medimont has its “Dummies” - a ten inch lead question mark.

Dummies can be awarded anytime, anyplace for any reason at the sole discretion of the awards panel whose identity is kept secret to protect their lives from being ruined by an avalanche of nominations. Idaho has become such fertile ground.

While political in nature, that is not a requirement. The only condition is nominees have to live in Idaho.

The envelopes please.

The first ever winners of a “Dummie” are Idaho State Senators Maryanne Jordan of Boise and Grant Burgoyne of Boise---the two and only members of the Democratic Party on the Senate Judiciary committee. The prize is awarded because, as the Lewiston Tribune’s Marty Trillhaase put it, not only were Republican Senators like Majority Leader Bart Davis, asleep when Governor Otter’s nomination of State Police chief Colonel Ralph Powell to a second term came before them, the two Democrats had to be snoring.

There is no excuse for missing the opportunity to make the ISP Chief and his governor at least be embarassed if not downright ashamed of conduct unbecoming one serving such high offices. This is the police chief who told the media he would be conducting an investigation of Correction Corporation of America’s deliberately over-billing the State of Idaho 26,000 hours for supposed management of the maximum security prison outside of Boise.

A year later, when asked where things stood, he reveals that there was no investigation undertaken because he decided that over-billing was a civil matter, not criminal. Where was Senator Burgoyne, an attorney no less? Isn’t any theft over $500 a felony and by definition criminal? This theft was in the millions.

When did the chief make this decision? Was it ever discussed by he and the governor or any member of the governor’s staff? Did he discuss it with CCA’s lobbyist who just happens to be a former chief of staff for Otter? What did he know and when did he know it?

Why was his renomination not in the original package of Otter’s renomination of his cabinet sent in early January? Why should the public posit any further trust in an ISP Chief who if he truly acted of his own volition is worthy of nomination for a “Dummie” award himself, and if he was directed to do so, is covering for a governor who, like the chief himself, puts personal interests ahead of their public trust?

Some would excuse Senator Jordan as she was just appointed. Perhaps, but she reportedly has a lick of common sense. People wonder why Democrats are so few in number in Idaho and growing fewer? Look no further than this. They cannot take advantage of a golden opportunity even when it slaps them in the face. Snore on.

The second winner of a coveted “Dummie” is State Representative Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, serving her third term. Rarely does one see a legislator so brazeningly vote against the interests of their own district. She voted against funding for the Idaho Youth Ranch near Cottonwood, a facility on the military model that instills discipline and responsibility in wayward youth that can still be turned.

The ranch is a classic example of pay a little now or pay a lot more later - a concept she does not appear to understand. Also, she was one of only a handful of votes against increased funding for education and more pay for teachers. (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)

Otter reviews horse racing bill (Boise Statesman)
Renewed push for Craters of the Moon park (Boise Statesman)
College of Western Idaho looks for more tax funding (Boise Statesman)
Higher speed limits could cause big rig blowouts (IF Post Register)
Republican newsletter offends Muslims (IF Post Register, Pocatello Journal)
Lots of disputes in wake of horse racing bill (IF Post Register)
Lewiston children's home blocks new admissions (Lewiston Tribune)
Inslee signs bill allowing WSU med school (Lewiston Tribune)
Transportation bill alive with Otter out of way (Lewiston Tribune)
Canyon sheriff against expanding jail (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nafziger's men's store closing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Simpson, Labrador split on rural funding bill (Nampa Press Tribune)
Air rescue base opens at Portneuf Medical Center (Pocatello Journal)
New concealed carry bill goes to governor (Pocatello Journal)

School funding bill moves from House to Senate (Astorian)
New gun registration bill drawn much debate (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Medford reviews dispensary location rules (Medford Tribune)
New large brewpub planned for Medford (Medford Tribune)
Reviewing property taxes for local data centers (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Extended statute of limitations sought for race (Portland Oregonian)
Hayes looks for funding for legal battle (Portland Oregonian)
Salem Hospital and OHSU near deal (Salem Statesman Journal)

Allegiant Air strike stopped (Bellingham Herald)
Port Orchard cops for justified in shooting (Bremerton Sun)
Deal made for Harrison hospital (Bremerton Sun)
School cameras to be added at Edmonds (Everett Herald)
State auditor doesn't show at legislative hearing (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian, Longview News)
Sites considered for Manhattan Project Park (Kennewick Herald)
Inslee signs WSU med school bill (Spokane Spokesman, Kennewick Herald)
Snowpack still very low (Kennewick Herald)
Tenino residents march for ousted cop chief (Olympian)
Expedia expected to move from Bellevie to Seattle (Seattle Times)

Nothing new here

peterson MARTIN

Recent actions by some of Idaho’s politicos have attracted attention and comment both within Idaho and, in a couple of instances, in the national media. But the truth is that individuals who have followed Idaho politics over the years may not have liked what they saw, but certainly shouldn’t have been surprised.

The first was Representative Vito Barbieri’s lack of understanding that the female reproductive and digestive systems are not one and the same. It was the statement that launched a thousand jokes across the country, making it one of the most far-reaching actions to take place in the Idaho Legislature this year.

But Barbieri wasn’t the first Idaho legislator to be confused about female reproduction. In the early 1980s, Bill Moore served a stint in the Idaho Senate. Like Barbieri, he was a California transplant who moved to Kootenai County and gained election to the Legislature. During debate on an abortion related bill, Moore famously stated that there was no reason for an exemption for cases of rape, since a woman who had really been raped couldn’t become pregnant. Given their similar backgrounds hopefully the fault lies with their California roots rather than being a reflection of the thinking of their Idaho constituents.

Next comes the outcry over Idaho’s two U.S. Senators, Crapo and Risch, affixing their signatures to a letter to Iran’s leadership concerning the Obama administration’s negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. The letter originated with Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas and was co-signed by 47 GOP Senators.

It’s not the first time that southern cotton has divided our country. But for Idahoans, there should be little surprise about members of Idaho congressional delegation being involved. The stage was set for this decades ago.
In 1977, Idaho Congressman Steve Symms, travelled to Libya to negotiate with Libyan dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Qaddafi was known as the “mad dog of the Middle East” and an enabler of international terrorism. Symms and Qaddafi both wanted things that they thought the other could help them get. Qaddafi wanted to gain access to a shipment of U.S. military planes for his armed forces. Symms wanted to gain access to Libyan markets for Idaho agricultural products. Both efforts failed.

Speaking of Iran, let’s not forget about Idaho Congressman George Hansen, and his solo diplomatic efforts with Iran. In 1979 revolutionaries took control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. Similar to the feeling of today’s 47 Republican Senators concerning executive branch negotiations with Iran, Hansen didn’t like what the Carter administration was doing to free the hostages. In fact he proposed that President Carter be impeached over the issue.

So Hansen made a solo trip to Iran to negotiate with the Iranian government for the release of the hostages. He wasn’t successful and, for the most part, was viewed as something of a nut, which shows how times have changed. Following in the footsteps of Idaho’s two congressmen, 47 Senators now see it as the role of Congress to get directly involved in executive branch negotiations with foreign governments. Who knew that eventually Symms and Hansen would be setting the stage for future actions in U.S. foreign policy?

And, finally, there is the refusal of three Idaho senators, Nuxoll, Vick and Hartog, to sit through a prayer offered by a Hindu cleric. Again, no surprise here. Religious intolerance is nothing new in Idaho. (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)

BLM heavily repairing fire-ravaged lands in west (Boise Statesman)
Supreme Court backs Idaho Medicaid reinbursement (Boise Statesman)
Legislature passes civics test bill (IF Post Register, Nampa Press Tribune)
House road tax bill dies in Senate (Nampa Press Tribune)
Tribes protesting cleanup by FMC when windy (Pocatello Journal)

IT project in state called understaffed (Astorian)
State school budget clears House (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Pendleton E Oregonian)
UO hires anti-assault officer (Eugene Register Guard)
National Guard units come home to KF (KF Herald & News)
Klamath Co's shortfall estimated at $2.4m (KF Herald & News)
Medford considers in-city historic district (Medford Tribune)
Tuition increased at SOU in Ashland (Medford Tribune)
AG files suit on subscription deal at White City (Medford Tribune)
Some electronic devices of Kitzhaber staff held (Portland Oregonian)
Planning for statehouse gun hearing (Salem Statesman Journal)

Bellingham port gives OK to developer (Bellingham Herald)
Ferndale considers rules for park district (Bellingham Herald)
State GOP includes no new taxes in budget (Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic, Bellingham Herald, Olympian)
Kitsap 911 first in WA to accept texts (Bremerton Sun)
Legislators now have conflicting budgets (Everett Herald)
Workers voting on KapStone dispute (Longview News)
Many vaccinations over measles (Seattle Times)
Seattle minimum wage law effective today (Seattle Times)
Tacoma's Clock broadband may be leased privately (Tacoma News Tribune)