Every once in awhile Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter says or does something profound or meaningful - so much so one wishes to see much more of this side of his persona. He will always deserve credit, for example, for courageously standing up against the Bush Administration’s assault on personal liberties contained in the Patriot Act.
In late April, Governor Otter was touring the newly completed and much needed Northern Idaho Crisis Center. According to the account in the Coeur d’Alene Press the Governor asked good, probing questions and heard testimony from numerous supporters regarding timely crisis intervention. Local law enforcement was especially supportive.
At some point, noting all the support for the Center, a reporter asked the Governor what he thought about why most of the Kootenai county legislative delegation had voted against any state funding for the facility.
Mincing no words, the Governor hit the nail squarely on the head. “They are stupified by the cost and totally incapable of seeing the value. For a public servant that is almost unforgivable.” Otter then added, “It shouldn’t be acceptable to anybody, anymore just to hear the answer to a public policy question as “No.”
Chief among the always vote no crowd from Kootenai county is three term Second District Republican State Representative Vito Barbieri, from Dalton Gardens, who was clearly the object of Otter’s pointed comments.
Barbieri is one of those Tea Party nay-sayers who apparently believes there is virtue in voting no on any state spending. He votes no on most spending bills for the State Constitutional directed support for public schools. He voted no last session on a bill to crack down further on dead-beat Dads because the Legislature had not accepted an amendment prohibiting any teaching anywhere of Islam’s Sharia law.
Barbieri often votes no on budgets comprised entirely of federal funds or, for example, he voted no on that portion of the Fish & Game Department’s budget comprised entirely of fees and fines. According to the Lewiston Tribune, he voted against bills totaling $6.4 billion this past session. Go figure.
Barbieri may think he is a tremendous tiger on the budget because of the phony A+ rating he receives from Wayne Hoffman’s Freedom Foundation, a “political action committee” that masquerades as a non-political, advocacy public policy think tank. The truth is Barbieri’s votes are costing his patrons real money.
First, every time he votes against a public schools budget he is indirectly foisting another proerty tax increase on the patrons of the schools in his district inasmuch as the school districts have to seek passage of over-ride levies to replace lost or reduced state funding.
Secondly, he voted to cap the homeowner exemption at $200,000 which for the vast majority of his constituents will mean an additional property tax increase.
Third, he does not seem to understand the concept of “pay me now, or pay me more later,” which Butch clearly does understand.
Neither Barbieri nor his patron, Mr. Hoffman, want to acknowledge that their futile fight against government spending was lost years ago in the 1930s when the nation opted for President Franklin Roosevelt’s “government is the solution not the problem” approach to addressing the nation’s ills. The country rejected Herbert Hoover’s “the free market is the answer” approach.
In the interest of full disclosure I reside in the second district. When Barbieri referenced a woman having a gynecological exam by lowering a miniature camera into her stomach, that set me on the path of finding and recruiting an opponent. I did not have to go too far - in fact, just next door to talk a former student of mine, Kathy Kahn, into running.
Mrs. Kahn is smart, hard-workng (She’s already doorbelling), and charming. Furthermore, I recruited former Idaho State Senator Mike Blackbird to manage her campaign. They have a winnble strategy and her fund-raising is going well.
Trust me on this - Kathy will send the three-term, 65-year-old transplanted Californian into retirement despite the district being 2:1 Republican. One of the reasons was on display last week when the two them met at the Medimont Grange.
The format was the “town hall” and by all accounts Kathy did well. For his part, Barbieri displayed his condescending side, talking down to Kathy about what a tough, demanding job it was to be a legislator. He strongly implied the little lady was not up to the challenge.
Come November he’ll find out that Kathy Kahn can win and can do.