With the recent Judge Kavanaugh debacle in the US Senate it’s worth reflecting on this process here in Idaho.
The Idaho Senate confirms many gubernatorial appointments as required by law. Some appointments and the boards they serve on have statutory (legal) requirements. Appointees come before an assigned committee and are interviewed. Then the appointment is carried by a Senator to the floor of the Idaho Senate for confirmation.
The legal requirements for serving on a Boards or Commission, or as Director of a department usually had to do with qualifying experience, but often, in statute the makeup of the board was required to have a partisan balance. Statute might read “no more than two members may be of the same party”. That’s what the statute for the Board of Corrections says. Is this legal requirement for partisan balance important? You bet it is.
Without it, cronyism would be more rampant than it is. More, it could affect your vote for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Cindy Wilson has been active in Idaho government well beyond her classroom work as a teacher. She is a strong leader and a powerful voice. So, I can’t figure out why she got appointed to the Board of Corrections unless Brad Little stood up for her.
Governor Otter has used these appointments as a partisan tool. Brad advocates for good people. But he keeps a political eye on the landscape. Some Fish and Game Commissioners have gone on to the legislature. Some appointments are rewards to moderate Republicans beat by Tea Party republicans. If the statute requires it, they become “unaffiliated”. Butch knows how to stack the deck. Brad has a better eye for the common good.
What better place to see the need for improvement in our public schools than in our prisons? As a Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee member, I toured many Idaho prisons. Not to mention I worked there as a physician. On one tour we observed a classroom working on personal accountability. As we started to leave our Chairman (Dean Cameron) asked the class how many had graduated from high school. He did it politely, with a purpose. One hand of the thirty inmates went up. As we went out to the bus I stood next to him and complemented him for the question.
Legislators need to know these things. “Were you pushing for funding pre-K education?” I asked. He rolled his eyes. He wanted his committee members to make the connections; I might have taken that a bit too far.
Cindy Wilson served on the Governor’s Task Force after the Luna Laws got shot down. Now she serves on the Board of Corrections. Connecting the dots on how our citizens thrive may seem simple to some. A local candidate suggests “getting rid of the dead beats”. Does he mean a deep trench and a firing squad?
I believe Cindy Wilson has watched classroom performance, has watched our corrections system struggle and now balloon, and understands the connection. But if Butch Otter (or Brad Little) wanted to make Idaho safe from Democrats, he never would have offered her for such a position. He did. Thanks Butch (or Brad).