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Posts published in June 2015

A cancerous national attitude

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Two disparate story lines in our living rooms these days seem - at least to me - twin warnings about one of the most dangerous failures occurring in our society. Ignoring fact, while believing lies. Maybe you’ve put it together, too. It’s a seeming connection between Benghazi and police shootings.

The dangerous commonality is this: in both cases, hardcore groups have - without fact or even in the face of fact - determined an outcome and will accept no other. Until either faction sees headlines supporting their view - accurate or flat earth crazy - neither will surrender to any other reality.

In the case of Benghazi, there’s that kamikaze mentality among Republican loons that they’ve been lied to from the get-go. They absolutely “know” they’ve been deliberately deceived by Democrats who’ve “destroyed evidence” while creating a Satanic lie about what happened that fateful night in Libya. They “know” “murders” of American heroes have been covered up to save face for the Obama administration. They’ll accept nothing less - not one penny short - of the full “truth” they and they alone have seen since the shots were fired. Benghazi was treason!

And facts? Well, facts be damned! But FACTS there are. And if you know none of the others by which to make a rational, informed decision about Benghazi, all you need to know is ONE fact: there have been six - six - full-on, quite independent investigations costing tens of millions of dollars. The same event has been microscopically examined - beginning-to-end - by a State Department team - another by the Defense Department - a bi-partisan congressional oversight committee - an independent blue-ribbon group given total access to all information held by anyone - two exclusively by Republicans in one guise or another - and the seventh - another Republican witch hunt is currently working feverishly with spades in hand.

But it’s that sixth top-to-bottom scouring by Republicans - led by one of the most Democrat-hating GOPers - that should have buried Benghazi once and for all: the Issa committee. After two years trying to find something - a shred of incriminating evidence against anyone not of the Republican cloth - this last effort to find proof of a foregone belief of “treachery and treason” should have slammed the door. No evidence. Against anyone. Of any political persuasion. None. Zip. Nada. Officially. In writing!

No. No, now there’s yet another GOP-led group going at it again. No matter Issa and his minions have contaminated any future finding from this new bunch. The sounds of shovels can still be heard in the night coming from the GOP caucus room. Supporters - Limbaugh, Beck, Lindsey Graham and others - wait outside in the dark - pitchforks at hand and torches ready to light. They - and only they - know the Benghazi “truth.”

Then Ferguson. And Boston. And Cincinnati. And New York. Nowhere can you find better “how-not-to” examples of ignorant police administration and conduct. Nor a more treacherous display of prosecutorial abuse of office than we’ve witnessed in Ferguson. Conduct of local authorities that’s plainly outrageous. Some will be - and some are- the focus of outside investigations and there’ll be more than a few prosecutions.

And that Benghazi link? As in the case of those determined to create “facts” to justify their absolute certainties of what happened in Libya, so too, in these police shootings, many folks simply decided what “really happened” and will accept nothing less than support for what they “know.” Nothing.

The Benghazi-like similarity I see is with those in the Missouri, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania streets who - like the D.C. witch-hunters and others with conspiratorial mentalities - will not accept any outcome of any case differing one iota from “facts” they alone know. “Truths” they alone “understand.” Many - far too many - of these folks are unable or unwilling to deal with reality.

When people are determined to disbelieve, they will disbelieve. No amount of fact - no amount of evidence - no amount of truth will alter perceptions. All that can be done is for reasonable people to make reasonable efforts and, when that is done, move on. Talk time is over.

With unlimited resources and the power of federal subpoenas in both hands, Darrell Issa could not overcome the true facts of Benghazi. A superhuman effort in pursuit of an outcome that didn’t exist was a monumental waste of time and money. The destructive crowds in city streets are on a similar fool’s errand.

Issa had only the court of public opinion left. He lost there. Credibility. Integrity. Worthiness. Any residual value to his constituency. He’s a liar and a fool and will have to console himself with just being the richest member of Congress.

Protestors of police actions - if their protests are legitimate - have at least state and federal laws to stand upon and can attract other, more informed and more honest government and private support to their side. They still have a future in which they can prevail. And, maybe change some minds.

But not if they continue to follow other “Issa” delusionists and hold to “facts” legitimately discredited by truth. Reality is not Fox “News.”

First take

There'll be a lot more of this to come, but I found today's Charles Krauthammer column of some interest (and that's not so typically the case) as a differentiator of the many Republican candidates: Who's in the top rank, who's just below that, etc. Krauthammer's take: On top - Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, based on polling and money; Second rank - Rand Paul ("high floor, low ceiling"), Ben Carson; Third rank but prospects for growth - Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina; and, seeking divine intervention - Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee. Best line: That Perry is on "24-hour gaffe watch." My take: all of these candidacies are built on sand but I'd especially down-rank Carson and Fiorina. One other thought: With Iowa Republicans cancelling the summer straw poll this year, the off-the-top-of-your-head analysis like these surely will proliferate.

The number of people answering "none" to the question of "what's your religion" has been growing rapidly in just the last few years and is picking up steam. After many years in which the "nones" were reported in mid-single digit percentages, the number has been shooting upward of late, reaching - in the new Pew Research Center poll - about 23%. That happens to be more than the number of Roman Catholics in the United States. Speculation here is that this reflects not so much a change of attitude or belief as it does a willingness to give the "none" answer: In many places across the country, being unchurched is just socially unacceptable. Maybe not so much any more, and the numbers may indicate the approach of a tipping point. If so, it could be in line with the way several other social questions have gone in the last decade or so.

Where Native voters weigh in

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The first ballots for the 2016 presidential election will be cast in a little more than seven months. That means between now and January there will be a rush of candidates, a winnowing of those who fail to raise money or attention, and, if we are lucky, a philosophical and practical debate about the challenges facing the United States.

In an ideal world that discussion would include American Indian and Alaska Native concerns. But that never happens (unless you read between the lines).
So the Democrats — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and the newest entrant, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (who once was a “liberal” Republican) — campaign on issues ranging from protecting and expanding voting rights to switching the U.S. to the metric system.

And the Republicans? Well, just listing the candidates is kind of like making sure you get all the names right when reporting about a school play. There are so many, you’re bound to miss someone. But here goes (in order of recent polling by Real Clear Politics): Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Donald Trump, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. And that’s only the 15 “major” candidates. So in order to make noise in that large a field some of those would-be presidents rode Harley’s across Iowa this weekend, revving up their engines and their rhetoric. Hardly the right atmosphere for a discussion about tribal sovereignty.

The early primary campaign season is not ideal for a serious discussion about Indian Country’s issues. The election calendar starts with Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in late January.

Nevada will be the fourth state to vote — and the first state with a significant tribal population. There are more than thirty reservation communities, urban residents, and a total Native American population of about 1.6 percent. More important, Nevada remains a caucus state. So if a large number of Native Americans show up in the right locations, well, all bets are off. (Only 33,000 Republicans voted in the last Nevada caucus out of some 400,000 G.O.P. voters.)

And what if there was a Native candidate as a draw? This ought to be the year to make that so.

A Native American candidate could take advantage of a nasty, undemocratic (but legal) structure. The law allows secret donors to spend unlimited sums of money to benefit a single candidate. So what if a few of the wealthy tribes, and, yes, I do mean casino tribes, raised a lot of money for such a super PAC? (Even though the money cannot go directly to a candidate, it still has been used to boost candidates. In 2012, for example, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was on the receiving end of more than $15 million from casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife.)

Coming up with a super PAC candidate from Indian Country is a tough sell for Democrats. Even though there are many folks who could (and should) be candidates, there are too few with a large enough political footprint. And taking that much money from a single source runs against what many grassroots type candidates believe anyway.
But on the Republican side, there is someone who has that credibility right now, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the Chickasaw Tribe.

Cole is as conservative as his Oklahoma voters yet he is often the voice of reason in the House of Representatives. He’s said that new revenue — meaning taxes — might be needed to get past the sequester and that repealing the Affordable Care Act might not be possible as long as a Democrat is in the White House. This alone distinguishes him from the other fifteen Republican candidates running for president.

He’s championed tribal sovereignty and was a key player in the House vote for the Violence Against Women Act. Let me be clear here: Cole fits the orthodoxy of the Republican Party. He supports pipeline construction and increasing oil and gas production. Cole also wants less federal spending and votes for budgets that would have negative impact on tribal communities. But for a Republican primary, and for a Republican candidate, Indian Country would still come out ahead, if he were running and raised the issues in Indian Country that call out for a larger debate.

The down side of a Cole candidacy is that he would have to give up his seat in the House — and his seniority and influence. That’s probably too high a cost for an improbable presidential quest. But this might be the year to try something outrageous.

Mark Trahant is an independent journalist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for your smart phone or tablet.

First take

Whatever your religious views, this much about the Bible should be clear and broadly acceptable: It is great literature and full of flourishes of brilliant use of language. High profile atheists routinely have said as much. And for that reason there's a clear case for placing the Bible in schools as a reference. But it's not equally useful for everything. The Idaho Republican Party last weekend proposed the Bible be “expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, U.S. and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant.” Comparative religion? Okay. Comparative government? Debatable at best. Philosophy? As one source among others, could be. But astronomy? (Does anyone remember Galileo?) Geology? Biology? Music? You get the sense the agenda here runs something beyond what most of us think of as education.

Where did the early inhabitants of Europe come from? Apparently from Russia, around 3000 bc, and with a genetic switch that made cow milk drinking practical. Another piece of history filling in.

Transparency bill secrecy

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I’m a member of a small group of citizen activists in Washington County named the “Taxpayer Return on Investment Coalition”. We spent hours over the past 18 months drafting a bill we named the “Taxpayer Return on Investment Act” (TRIA).

The premise is pretty straight forward and a simplistic version is this: If any private business applies for and accepts tax credits, special tax reductions, government grants, or subsidized loans, it would be deemed an investment by the taxpayers (Isn’t that what businesses always tell us their tax breaks are?). The would have to promise that the taxpayer provided incentives would pay for themselves through job creation and more taxes collected form the increased economic activity. Again, that’s the rational for most business tax breaks. The State would audit the results (paid for by the businesses through a small fee based on the percent of the benefits received), and if the business didn’t substantially meet their goals, the business would have to refund the grants or incentives or they could lose their special tax exemptions.

And we included transparency provisions. All of the information on the deals, taxes forgone, credits, SIP and enterprise zone benefits, jobs promised, audits, from any governemtn agency, whether a Port District the State, or a County, would all be on the State of Oregon government transparency website. So citizens could access the information. If someone wanted to know how many various tax dollars ABC Inc. received over the past three years from all sources, they could do a search and bingo! Or if someone wanted to know how many tax dollars the Hillsboro Enterprise zone cost the State, they could search by that parameter as well. Did you know that Daimler Chrysler received tax breaks, loans, and property from six different agancies? And that to find out the total they received one would have to ask for information from each individual agency? And that it promised different numbers of jobs to different agencies and no one knows if they promised the same jobs twice?

Under TRIA, There would be no secret special deals. Complete transparency on where tax breaks were going. And what the people received. No more simple statements such as: “Tax cuts create jobs”, or “Lower taxes and businesses will grow”. We would have data. And with that data, it could be that we’d find that some tax inventive programs worked better than others. And some were just a waste of money. Maybe we could expand those that work, and terminate those that didn’t. If people wanted to have government act more like a business, this is exactly what the TRIA did.

So what happened to TRIA? Nothing. We found no sponsors in Salem. And today the only “transparency” bill that’s still alive is barely on life support. The TRIA coalition reluctantly abandoned TRIA this session to help Rep. Ann Lininger’s pass HB 2077. That bill would require the 100 largest corporations doing business in Oregon to reveal how much they pay in taxes. The TRIA coalation hoped that HB2077 would be something for us to build on.

And as HB2077 went through committee, there was amazingly little opposition. However all the business lobbyists made sure to attend every hearing, they offered no testimony. It seemed that the bill could make it through. Then a fellow TRIA member Prof. Russ Dondero posted a story on his blog.

Russ ran into a CEO of a large business group on the golf course recently. Here’s the gist of their encounter:

His comment to me which I’m paraphrasing was “Russ what are you up to, still trying to hold business accountable?” My answer was “yes” but our transparency bill HB 2077 is stuck in the House Revenue committee. As he walked away from me headed to his tee box he said “that bill would destroy Oregon’s economy.” ….

… this brief 30 second “conversation” on a golf course sums up what one needs to know about Oregon politics these days. Basically, when you mess around with “corporate Oregon” don’t expect them to roll over the play dead. OK I never expected that to happen. But in the many hearings on various transparency bills which ask for disclosure of Oregon taxes corporations pay and how they use billions in state subsidies, the “corporate” suits aka lobbyists while in the room have been silent in the hearings.

But my fellow golfer now business leader let it out of the bag – the hired gun lobbyists and their legislator supporters are watching us and have no plans to let Oregonians know what state income (i.e. excise) taxes the likes of Nike, Intel et al pay nor do they intend to allow for an accounting of how they are using our SIP, enterprise zone and urban renewal subsidies.

And there you have it. Taxpayers trying to hold politicians and big business accountable for the special tax provisions, exemptions, grants, loans and giveaways of public property to big business (Small businesses simply don’t qualify for these programs). But you can’t have an open and transparent debate when the special interests have no interest in debating in public. Even when the issue is transparency.

Maybe especially when the issue is transparency.

First take

Two inquiries into state officials, and two responses from the state attorneys general. In Washington, state Auditor Troy Kelley - who is on unpaid leave though he still holds the job, turning aside many requests that he quit - has been for weeks at least under federal investigation on various finance-related issues. Yesterday, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he will launch a state investigation as well. South of the Columbia, former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been for several months under federal investigation (how much longer should that take, anyway?), but there state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum shut down an initially-launched state inquiry in deference to the federal. What's the difference? Maybe in Washington's case, the material under state investigation may be difference from what the feds are checking out, while in Oregon they more directly overlap.

On the web

Time moves on. So do websites - at least, as to look & feel.

A couple of months ago, the status was something like this:

We had one main web site (www.ridenbaugh.com) which included in a crammed-in space an extensive blog (accessible through the front page back to 2005), information and pictures of most of our books and those by myself, special notices and offers and a bunch of other stuff.

It had some appeal (I liked it, and I gather a number of other people did), but it was getting tooth-long, five years old or more. Ancient. More significantly, it wasn't keeping up technologically. In this case, that means keeping up with the newer versions accessing the web - tablets, smart phones and the like, which could read the old site but not optimally. (It wasn't "responsive.") New software was needed.

So that's largely been installed now. There's new site theme software (it's called "ignite") which is intended to highlight to through careful typography the writing on the site, while also keeping it light and well-illustrated. We've added sliders at the top, more frequent use of polls inside posts, and several other additions.

As this is written, the www.ridenbaugh.com site is oriented primarily toward writings - toward the blog and some other materials which our and some other writers contribute.

A second domain, www.ridenbaughpress.com, is concerned mainly with what Ridenbaugh Press produces and does - the books and other products, and services, we provide.

Through that second site, we'll connect a series of sites for our authors and their books. One of them, at www.ridenbaughpress.com/randystapilus/, is up now, though it's still a largely unstocked kitchen at the moment, We'll be filling it in, and adding as well sites for most of our other authors.

Whipping it all into shape will take a little while - a few weeks at least. But we should have a far better web presence when we're done than we've had before.

Dark horse Democrat

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One of my editors called last week with a question:

“If Hillary implodes who is your long-shot hunch to carry the Democratic banner into the fall?” This one is much easier than last week’s speculation on who might emerge from a brokered Republican National Convention.

First, though, is it possible that one of Mrs. Clinton’s currently declared (or about to declare) rivals could catch fire? The answer is no.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was not all that well-liked by Marylanders. As a former Baltimore mayor he also was one of the architects of the Baltimore Police Department’s “when in doubt arrest ‘em” policy even for the slightest of infractions, especially if one lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Hard to see him catching fire.

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Then there’s the mecurial former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee and then promptly dropped from view. As a former decorated Vietnam veteran Marine, the best selling author of Fields of Fire and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, Webb was expected by an eagerly hopeful media to tie Mrs. Clinton in knots if in a debate with her over defense policy.

While considered by some pundits to be a new, younger looking face for the electorate to contrast with .Mrs. Clinton, who, along with her husband Bill, aka “Slick Willie,” seems to have been around forever, Webb is in fact 69 years old as is Hillary. Thus, he will have a hard time making the case he represents a generational change.

Then there is the just announced former Rhode Island governor and senator, Lincoln Chaffee, who styles himself as an “internationalist” and is the son of long-time respected moderate Republican Senator John Chaffee. The younger Chaffee created a bit of a buzz in his announcement by saying he would work to have America truly adopt the metric system and join the rest of the world.

This falls under the rubric “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Most Americans are content with the system of measurements we have and there’s no feeling this is a problem in search of a solution. A platform item that advocates change when there is no crying need for the change hardly appears to be a winning formula.

So, if Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy implodes, and trust me on this one, there’s a national media salivating at the almost certain prospect that she’ll stumble or say something that flies in the face of conventional wisdom which will ignite the “blood in a pool of sharks” phenomenon. In other words, the media will generate a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Is there a dark horse waiting in the wings? The more liberal element of the Party is advancing Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She does have a captivating, up-by-the-bootstraps, divorced single Mom story and is unquestionably brilliant. On the other hand, she has a caustic style and does not exactly convey a warm, fuzzy feeling. She’s hard to like and most people want their president to be likeable (remember “I like Ike!).

That leaves only one other possibility for someone to pick up the pieces of a shattered Clinton candidacy who can quickly unite the Democratic Party with a plausible, possibly winning candidacy: Vice President Joe Biden.

No one watching this past Saturday the funeral of his 46-year-old son, Beau, a former two-term Delaware Attorney General, can fail not to have been deeply moved by the dignity and grace with which he met this latest tragedy in his star-crossed life. Nor can one have failed to have seen the incredible love of family manifesting itself.

Joe Biden is a survivor who has taken the worst of the slings and arrows of misfortune one can be handed---the loss of his first wife and daughter in an accident before he had even turned 30 and take the seat he had just won in the U.S. Senate. Sure, he is the quintessential, optimistic, back-slapping politician subject to an occasional verbal gaffe.

However, he’s the real deal and a rarety among office holders and seekers today. He’s truly the authentic person you see, an honest, compassionate human being who has always seen public service as a noble calling. President Obama’s fine eulogy underscored the loyalty that exists between the families and the two of them.

If Hillary stumbles and implodes, he will step up to the challenge with the most human of the competing narratives and will be a formidable candidate. If by chance you missed this past weekend’s coverage, find a copy of the best presidential politics book ever written, called What It Takes, and reread Richard Ben Cramer’s profile of Joe Biden. You’ll see why he will be a much better candidate than Mrs. Clinton.

First take

Well, of course, as Oregon state Senator Alan Olsen said, it's about people. Last week Olsen was in his office and his chest didn't feel right. He thought it might be heartburn, but it persisted. Unsure whether it was something serious, he sent a request for another senator, Alan Bates - who is a primary care physician. Bates and a lobbyist who happens to be an EMT came to Olsen's office and quickly diagnosed the ongoing heart attack, which was close to killing Olsen. They got him out to a nearby hospital, where Olsen recovered. He's now returned to the Senate. It happens that Olsen is a Republican and Bates a Democrat, and the two are nearly at opposite ends of most matters political. But as Olsen said, this is about people. And so it is. Politics actually can be like that too. (photo/Seattle hospital, 1973)

Another announcement of a campaign? Probably you could say that Hillary Clinton's first announcement she's running for president, a couple of months ago, didn't really include an announcement speech, which is ordinarily part of the announcement package. But she's been out there campaigning for weeks now. Isn't it a little late for an initial campaign announcement? On the other hand, calling the speech a "do-over," as it is being described in some places doesn't seem exactly right if it wasn't done once in the first place . . . - rs

Charter school fix

Another take on charter schools (see also a Washington state report last week), this time by Levi B Cavener, a special education teacher in Caldwell, Idaho. He also manages the education blog IdahosPromise.Org.

60 years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the High Court ruled unanimously that U.S. public schools must be desegregated, that separate school systems for blacks and whites are inherently unequal and a violation of the “equal protection clause” of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

It’s now more than a half century later. Here, we have Idaho.
On April 29, 2015, the Idaho Public Charter School Commission released their first ever Annual Report. A damning self-indictment, it paints a painfully grim picture for minority student enrollment in Idaho’s public charter schools. The Commission’s comprehensive report was unequivocal in its findings: Idaho charter schools are consistently and disproportionately unreflective of their surrounding communities' demographics.

A few takeaways from the report: 55% of Idaho charters under enroll Special Education students; 77% of charters under enroll Free and Reduced Lunch students; 87% under enroll Limited English Proficiency students; and 90% under enroll non-white students. What does this mean? It means Idaho has reversed course and is heading back to 1955, back to the Civil Rights era, and back to schools that are both separate and unequal. It means, apparently, “white flight”?

Beyond a moral and legal argument to ensure equity in public charter schools, here's why every property owner in Idaho should care about the Commission’s recent findings: When public charter schools fail to share an equitable burden for providing expensive minority student services -- such as special education and English Language Learner instruction - local public schools end up enrolling a disproportionate number of these students. Local public schools are then forced to levy property owners to pay for expensive minority instruction and support.

While some may point to the current imbalance as merely a byproduct of so called “school choice,” the Commission’s findings should, at minimum, create pause to ensure that charter facilities are actually “a choice” for minority student populations. Remember, Jim Crow laws and segregated schools were also a product of active policy “choices” by lawmakers.

Remember, the bargain that charters made with Idaho is enhanced instructional freedom in order to experiment with new pedagogy and curriculum. However, that bargain also requires charters to provide equitable access and appropriate minority service instruction as required by civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Terry Ryan, President of the Idaho Charter School Network (the lobbying arm of Idaho's charters), recently wrote an op-ed declaring that the solution to this inequity problem is...wait for it...to build more charters! Said Mr. Ryan, “The best way to help charter schools serve more diverse populations is to help them grow.” Throw more money at the problem. Where have we heard this before?

Idaho Ed News reported that Idaho Charter Commission Chairman Alan Reed said of the report's findings, “Before approving new charters, we ask petitioners, ‘What are your strategies for reaching special and underserved populations?’”

Chairman Reed’s question should be modified: Before approving any new charters we need to fix the imbalance that exists today. After all, shouldn't minority students be entitled to the same freedom and legal opportunity “to choose” charters as any other kiddo?

It's time for a moratorium on any new charters until we address this chronic imbalance. It’s time we fully recognize that regular public schools are shouldering the heavy burden of educating special education, minority and low income student populations. And it’s past time that funding for Idaho charter schools be withheld until they can demonstrate they are following the law.

First take

Will this be a big fire year in Idaho and in the Northwest? Every year it seems to be a crap shoot, but the potential is there. A spate of recent rain in the state isn't enough to eliminate the basic dryness in the system; the state's snowpack remains low. And, while wildfire season still doesn't really kick in for a bit yet, there actually is a (mostly unheralded) wildfire in Idaho, one of only three in the west: the Celebration fire (odd name) covering 7,400 acres near Murphy.

Hot days for an early part of June: Record-breaking, in a number of places around the Northwest. Is this an indicator of things to come?

(photo by Boise National Forest. From front cover of today's edition of the Idaho Weekly Briefing.)

Make problem, pay to solve

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At the risk of yet another “negative GUARDIAN rant,” we feel compelled to comment on two developments which crossed our desk today.

The DAILY PAPER posted a story informing us the City Council approved a proposed 173-home development IN THE FOOT HILLS adjacent to the Harris Ranch subdivision east of downtown.

The current zoning is either “open space” or agricultural (grazing). Team Dave just announced a proposal to seek $10,000,000 through a serial levy to preserve open space and conservation areas.

Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper to simply deny the development and need for more schools, roads, sewers etc.? The deer and antelope could play without a discouraging word–as they do now in that area…no need to buy foot hills land to keep developers out.

The Vista Neighborhood is subject of a “do good rescue” project on the part of our City fathers (and mothers). Seems the area has a disproportionate number of poor folks, free lunches in the schools, (“title one”) and other problems which a Federal grant will supposedly help upgrade or cure.

At the same time, a new 300-resident development with “affordable housing” (which means subsidized for low income) is about to be approved for the big vacant lot along Federal Way by the Overland Trail Post Office. If they offer housing for low income residents, it would seem logical that more low income people will move into the neighborhood, causing more free lunches at Hawthorn School, increased traffic, etc. No telling if they will include 23 sex offenders like those at Canal and Vista in the City-owned motel.

Wouldn’t it be better to put a low-income project in Harris Ranch or on the ridges off Bogus Basin Road in an effort to disperse various economic classes? Just curious.