Archive for the 'Carlson' Category

Apr 13 2014

Abuse of officials

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Why do we abuse our public servants?

What is it about so many Idaho voters who seem to enjoy abusing those they have elected to public office?

Over the last 65 years the Gem State has produced some real gems, fine public servants in the highest sense who see public service as a calling, people who revere the public trust they hold, and would literally die rather than bring disgrace to their office – people like Cecil Andrus, Jim McClure¸ John Evans, Len Jordan, Marguerite McLaughlin, Edith Miller Klein, to name but a few.

Idaho has also had some real turkeys – some corrupt, some who make a fence post look intelligent. Others were scoundrels, drunkards, skirt-chasers. Eventually they are defeated but are seldom subject to the abuse the fine ones endure.

It was common knowledge, especially among the media, that Steve Symms, Idaho’s First District Congressman in 1980, had a roving eye and liked a well-turned ankle and/or an ample endowment. Steve, though, was a good ole boy, quick with a quip, easy-going, and had the gambit of taking a bite out of an apple (he was an apple farmer) to symbolize the bite he would take out of government.

His opponent in the 1980 Senate race was Idaho’s distinguished four-term Senator Frank Church, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and a man of probity and virtue who had brought nothing but distinction and honor to Idaho during his 24 years of service.

Guess which one had a St. Maries dogcatcher mount a recall campaign against him? Guess which one was the subject of a series of nasty, “hit ads” a full year before the election? Yup. Senator Church, who was not surprisingly defeated by the “beloved infidel,” Steve Symms, in that 1980 Senate race.

Idaho’s Second District voters displayed unusual loyalty to their gad-fly congressman (two stints totaling fourteen years) “Big George” Hansen, and despite serious allegations of fraud and income tax evasion, stayed loyal to him until he was actually convicted. Go figure.

All of this history came to mind as I listened to and read accounts of the incredible abuse endured earlier this month by one of Idaho’s fine State Senators, Shawn Keough, from Sandpoint, at public forums in Blanchard and Sandpoint. She has served 18 years with distinction, is an incredibly hard-working public servant, and is vice-chair of the powerful Senate Finance committee and thus vice-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. She does her homework, is thoughtful and pays attention to her constituents. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

No responses yet

Apr 05 2014

“The most dangerous man in Britain”

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

It must have been sometime in early 1979. The Interior Secretary and I had just finished our morning review of public and government affairs matters. Andrus turned and asked, “What can you tell me about a member of the British Parliament, Anthony Wedgewood Benn? The British Embassy called to set up a meeting for him with me.”

“All I know is the conservative press has called him “the most dangerous man in Britain,” I replied, adding “I don’t know why but I’ll do a briefing page for you before you see him.” Andrus added the Embassy had not said why, they had just asked for the meeting.

A week later one of the more fascinating figures Andrus ever met was sitting in his office. Memories of the meeting came back to me as I read the news of Benn’s death on March 14th at the age of 88.

A voluminous writer and speechifyer, Benn was long-time member of Britain’s Labour party, but a more apt description was that he was a true socialist. He waged an eight-year battle to renounce his peerage because rather than take his father’s seat in the House of Lords he wanted to sit in Parliament where the action and power really were.

He won a seat from the Bristol Southeast and Chesterfield riding and his native intelligence soon captured the attention of his party’s leadership. He first served as Minister for Industry in the Labour government of Harold Wilson, then as Minister for Energy for Prime Minister Jim Callaghan.

His reason for visiting Andrus ostensibly was to discuss energy policy in the United States under Carter and since Interior oversaw offshore oil leasing and onshore coal leasing, programs that generated through royalties considerable income for the U.S. Treasury, he wanted to probe Andrus’ views. I couldn’t help thinking though that Benn was trying to take the measure of Andrus, that the Brits knew the former Idaho governor was one of the very few stars in the Carter Administration.

By the time he came to see Andrus critics were charging that he had almost single-handedly destroyed the Labour Party (And thereby helped to clear the path for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party’s rise to power), and Rupert Murdock’s press was calling him “bonkers.” Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 31 2014

“Make my day”

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Anyone who has watched a Clint Eastwood western is familiar with the line he utters to a bad guy who is thinking of drawing his gun. Steel blue eyes, taut jaw, usually a toothpick in the corner of his mouth, a look of undeterred force and with a growly voice he dares his opponent to be dumb enough to try.

That response should be the model for President Barack Obama’s response to the many Republicans who think they can make a politically-winning issue out of the President using his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to declare the Boulder/White Clouds a National Monument.

Recently, the Republican-led House passed by a narrow margin (222 to 201) a bill designed to prevent the President from issuing such a declaration without first conducting a complete Endangered Species Act review of the action as well as holding hearings in the local area and conferring with a state’s governor and its congressional delegation before he could utilize the Antiquities Act’s power to withdraw lands from the federal domain. They conveniently ignore the fact that after a presidential declaration the law itself requires public hearings to establish the rules and regulations which will govern the set-aside.

Republicans are making two bad assumptions. First, they assume that requiring a strong showing of local support will set the bar too high for any President to even think of using the redefined Act. Second, they assume that local sentiment will always oppose turning an area into another land-restricting Federal entity.

Ever since the law was passed, most places where a President has used this authority have opposed the initial designation. In fact, local sentiment against protecting a national treasure in the national interest almost always comes about in spite of public sentiment, not because of local, public support.

According to the Idaho Statesman writer Rocky Barker, Interior Secretary Sally Jewel has made the mistake of assuming that a public meeting in Stanley will result in hundreds turning out to talk against the Monument designation. She sees such a hearing, controversial as it may be, giving Interior a better chance at selling a change in status. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 29 2014

The governor and gaming

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter may have to decide down the road one of these days whether to go with his libertarian free market instincts or pay the piper that has orchestrated so much gaming money for his re-election effort. Stick with his principles or go with the dough? Which will it be? A safe bet is he opts to dance to the tune played by the money interests.

The issue is Internet gaming, which is currently the subject of a raging, bitter debate within gaming circles. On the one side is billionaire Sheldon Adelson who chairs Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian and the Palazzo on the Vegas strip. He believes allowing Internet gaming will doom the entire industry.

In particular he sees major Internet interests like Google and Facebook expanding into Internet gaming because of their huge customer bases. He believes such a move would doom current gambling set-ups and there are many who agree with him.

Others of course just see more players, a bigger market and more money to be made. Plus, they believe present law allows individuals states to decide the matter. Adelson and his allies are pushing federal legislation that would ban Internet gaming by closing a three-year-old loophole in the law.

Adelson is reportedly worth $38 billion and during the last election cycle without batting an eye poured $100 million into various Republican campaigns. He is fully prepared to battle the issue out state-by-state, but closing the loophole in Federal law is the easier path to pursue and Adelson has recruited not only top talent like former New York Governor George Pataki, he also has canny South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on his side.

Adelson also successfully neutralized the industry’s powerful trade group, the American Gaming Association, by threatening to withdraw and bank-roll a rival organization if the group weighed in for Internet gaming as it appeared inclined to do.

Opposing casinos and online poker companies have formed their own lobbying group, which calls itself the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection. Two of their chief lobbyists are former Republican members of Congress Michael Oxley of Ohio, and Mary Bono of California. The group also has reportedly retained Boise-raised, Capital High graduate and Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, as well as former Mississippi Governor and uber-Republican lobbyist Haley Barbour. Politics does make for strange bedfellows at times. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 21 2014

Hyperventilating over Putin

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Media hypocrisy and hysteria never cease to amaze. One should not be surprised to learn what low regard the general public has these days for journalists who all too often the public sees as editorializing instead of reporting. The bully pulpit the media has had for several generations is endangered because its practitioners see the sliver in the eyes of others but fail to see the log in their own eye.

Coverage of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine is a classic example where the media, which thrives on conflict, has been little more than a propaganda perpetuator of the State Department and the President’s angst over the Russian move.

Tortured analogies of President Vladimir Putin acting like Hitler in his annexation of Austria, and the German-speaking areas of the Czech Republic as well as the Sudetenland, have been all over the media.
It is disgraceful and Putin has every right to be angered by it.

The plain fact is that were the roles reversed virtually every president since James Monroe would have done exactly what Putin has done, and no amount of finger-pointing nor imposition of sanctions is going to change it.

In the parlance of international geo-politics, President Putin acted to protect what the Henry Kissinger’s and the Brent Scowcroft’s of the world would call “Russia’s soft underbelly.” Set aside that the vast majority of the people of Crimea are Russian-speaking, and that under Communist rule Soviet leaders like Nikita Khrushchev used to spend their summer vacation on the shores of the Black Sea.

Focus instead on the concentration of what’s left of the Russian Naval fleet, as well as a variety of other military installations in Crimea and one can begin to see where in the interests of future Russian security President Putin could not let the area fall into unfriendly hands.

A more appropriate analogy is our own “Monroe Doctrine,” promulgated by our fifth president, James Monroe. He served notice that the America’s, north and south, were for Americans, not Europeans. Hence, naval and military forces from Europe and elsewhere were to butt out and stay the hell away. And this is mostly what occurred.

Another analogy would be that of New Mexico deciding to align with Mexico, throw out the Border Patrol and open the border to any Hispanic or Central American immigrant or migrant worker to flood into the southwest. It’s a safe bet the President would declare martial law and send the Army to resecure the border. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 17 2014

The siren call

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

There’s an old saying that politics is a disease cured only by six feet of dirt. It seems especially true for those who have served in high public office, even those who fulfill the classic prediction that headlined an article written in the 1950s by Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger for The Saturday Evening Post: “They Never Go Back to Pocatello!”

Even those who stay inside the beltway to become high-paid lobbyists will sometimes forsake money because they miss the subliminal joy derived from the exercise of power, and the deference received from those courting their favor.

The itch to serve by a former holder of high office saw its latest manifestation on the last day for filing in Idaho on March 14th. Former Second District congressman Richard Stallings (1984-1992), the only Democrat to hold the seat in recent years, filed to reclaim his old job—again.

The now 73-year-old former history professor at BYU-Idaho attempted to move from the House to the Senate in 1992, but lost to the non-Mormon Republican, then Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne, by a 57% to 43% margin. Kempthorne’s victory largely lay to rest the false notion that a good Mormon Democrat would draw better in Idaho’s Mormon counties than a non-Mormon Republican.

Stallings wisely chose not to challenge the hugely popular Mike Crapo, a former Senate Pro Tempore and a successful Idaho Falls attorney, who easily won the Stallings-held seat in 1992. However, when after one term in the Senate, Kempthorne decided he would rather be governor, Stallings thought he had a fairly clear path for returning. Unfortunately for Richard, he ended up facing the talented Speaker of the Idaho House, Blackfoot dentist Mike Simpson. Richard went down to defeat by a narrow 52% to 48% margin.

Simpson has held the seat ever since and will be seeking his ninth term in November if he can dispatch Tea-bag Idaho Falls Republican attorney Bryan Smith who is mounting a serious challenge that will be decided in the May primary. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 12 2014

Salmon and steelhead, still surviving

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

It was one of those bitterly cold January days, though the skies were cloudless and the sun shone brightly on a blessedly windless blue day.
The temperature hovered at 6 degrees as we put the boat out onto the Clearwater just as the sun was rising.

My longtime fishing bud, Father Steve Dublinski, and I had decided to see if we could catch some of the river’s “B run” steelhead though odds were against us. We had an excellent guide¸ James Hollingshead, of Hells Canyon Sport Fishery, who had guided us before.

We put in at The Pink House just outside of Orofino. I knew it was one of Governor Cecil Andrus’ favorite spots because my former boss and I had discussed fishing holes when we drove the Clearwater to various events during the nine years I worked for him.

The river gods were with us for shortly before noon we started pulling in almost lunker-sized steelhead. Between us we caught, and released six magnificent steelhead—none smaller than 30 inches or ten pounds. The largest was close to 36 inches and 15 pounds.

Two were hatchery steelhead, and had they been between 20 and 27 inches, Steve could have kept one and I could have kept one. Because of their size back they went along with the other four fine fish. It was a great day on the Clearwater.

I spent much of the day reflecting on how much Idaho’s sport fishers should be grateful to the former governor for his long fight not only to protect Idaho’s salmon and steelhead runs, but also enhance prospects for increasing the returns. Efforts such as his dogged support for dam drawdown to aid salmon and steelhead smolt migration to the ocean were crucial. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 11 2014

Reinvesting in their homeland

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Recently, Joe Pakootas announced his candidacy for the fifth congressional district seat in the state of Washington. Most experts think he has little chance against incumbent Cathy McMorris-Rodgers.

A member of Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team, she has served ten years and last time out defeated her Democratic opponent, 62% to 38%.

Besides, Pakootas is a Native American, a member of the Colville Nation and conventional wisdom is faux Americans do not elect first Americans to high public office. Occasionally there is a rare exception.
Coloradoans elected Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell to two terms in the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1993 to 2005. A member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation he eschewed pursuing a third term.

And voters in Idaho elected Larry Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee Nation, to the Attorney General’s office in 1990 and in 1994 he came within a whisker of becoming the first Native American to be elected governor of a state. Idaho was also one of the first western states to elect a Native American to its State Legislature with Chief Joseph Garry of the Coeur d’Alene Nation serving in the State Senate for the 1967 and 1968 sessions.

Another member of the Coeur d’Alene Nation, Jeanne Givens, was one of the first Native American females to be elected to a State House of Representatives, serving from 1985 through 1988. She left the Legislature to challenge then First District congressman Larry Craig, but was soundly defeated in the November, 1988 general election.

Pakootas should not be dismissed lightly. A former tribal chairman and now head of the Colville Tribal Enterprises, he has a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Washington. He took over the Tribal business operations when they were deeply in the red and within a year had the operations in the black.

He is smart, articulate and savvy. In his initial expression of candidacy he clearly lifted a page from Republican campaign uber-strategist Karl Rove that says go after your opponent’s chief area of strength. Pakootas said he would go after the congresswoman in farm country.

Smart move. All over this nation farmers are angry with their incumbent largely Republican representatives because of their so far abject failure to get together and pass a new Farm bill. It is especially true in Washington’s 5th. For years they were represented by Tom Foley who was thoroughly familiar with the most arcane parts of farm law. On his way to the Speakership he also served as chairman of the House Ag committee. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 07 2014

Cracks in the armor?

Published by under Carlson,Idaho

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Idaho Senator Jim Risch’s cruise to easy re-election just may not be the lock Republicans would like to think.

A poll of 773 Idaho voters (the margin of error is +/- 3.5%) during late February by Public Policy Polling revealed some potential problems for the often acerbic, staunchly conservative senator who is the 15th most wealthy member of Congress.

The numbers have to be heartening for Risch challenger Nels Mitchell, a successful Boise raised attorney seeking his first public office.

There are two key numbers that incumbents, pundits and lobbyists give careful scrutiny: the favorability number and the re-elect. Both in the case of Risch signal potential problems.

Risch’s favorability number was 47% (22% very favorable, 25% somewhat favorable). An old and venerable political rule of thumb is that anytime an incumbent’s number is below 50% there’s trouble on the horizon.

Even more troubling for Risch was the so-called re-elect number. The question can be posed several ways: “If the election for the U.S. Senate were held today, would you vote for Senator Risch?” Or, “Given what you know today regarding Senator Risch and his record, would you return him to office or would you consider someone else?”

According to the PPP, only 36% of Idaho voters are solidly committed to Risch while 48% think it is time to consider someone else. Like many Republicans, Risch is especially in trouble with women voters, particularly independent women voters, as well as Democratic women voters and pro-choice Republican women. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 04 2014

Day of reckoning

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Recently, the venerable New York Times ran an excellent article on the growing role, beyond the all important parenting, of women in the LDS Church in part because of the increasing number of women going on missions now that the age has been lowered from 21 to 18.

Like the young men who go on the two-year mission, many learn the importance of persistence in the face of rejection, acquire a sense of discipline, and understand the need to continue working in the face of adversity that carries over into their future endeavors.

Many of these young women, according to the Times, return with an expectation that they can be more than just a wife and a mother¸ that they can have a career and they want to be heard within the inner counsels of the LDS Church. The Times article credits LDS authorities with trying to be responsive, but like the Roman Catholic Church, another patriarchal oligarchy, it is just on the margins.

While the Catholic Church has a long record of women playing a more prominent role in Church affairs, from congregations of female orders to teaching, to Mother Teresa caring for the poor in India, it is a record of service, not that of shared power.

Both churches have their own rendezvous with destiny as circumstance will force change and adaptation towards a truly equal role for women in the governance as well as the administration of rites, rituals and sacraments.

Few of Idaho’s 1.5 million citizens who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have the perspective to form a real understanding of this uniquely American Church founded by Joseph Smith in the 1840s. Its growth though says that it has something going for it that many people find attractive. Today, it numbers over 15 million members in the United States, according to a recent nation-wide Gallup survey, and is the fastest growing church in the nation at a time when other churches record declining membership.

Almost one quarter of Idaho’s citizens acknowledge affiliation with the LDS Church, and though this includes so-called “Jacks” (non-practicing members), it is the second highest percentage outside of Utah, the only state where Mormons constitute a slight majority of the population.

The 2000 year old Roman Catholic Church and the relatively young LDS Church, however, are both on the cusp of having to redefine the role of women in their midst if they are going to continue to grow and thrive.

Neither church is addressing the fundamental issue, i.e., recognizing the female demand for full equality, which many believe will only come when both churches allow women to become priests. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Mar 01 2014

Do you see a pattern?

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Once again high officials in the administration of Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter have been caught misrepresenting “facts” and manipulating data in order to present a less than honest picture to the people of Idaho. It is intentional, done with malice aforethought, and it is deplorable as it is deceitful.

It is the latest issue in the long-playing saga surrounding the questionable award of a lucrative contract five years ago to a subsidiary of Qwest, the telecommunications giant and a contributor to Governor Otter over the years even though their bid was not the low bid. From e-mails produced in the subsequent lawsuit by the low-bidder, Syringa, which includes in its principals members of former Governor John V. Evans’ family, it was clear to Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones that the then head of the Department of Administration, “First Bud” Mike Gwartney, had predetermined that Qwest would win. Justice Jones denounced this fix in scathing language.

Purpose of the contract was to deliver broad band width primarily to most of Idaho’s many rural school districts so that they could offer their students dual credit courses, classes whereby students could get both high school and college credits for the class. Many states have these so called “running start” programs whereby a student can get a jump on going to college and earn early credits that reduce the cost of college for the student and save having to take heftier student loans out to finance a college curriculum. While nobly intended there is obviously something rotten in /Denmark that cries out or further examination: the cost!

Leave it to an enterprising reporter, Judd Wilson, for the St. Maries Gazette-Record, to ferret out the cost and ask the obvious questions on behalf of the taxpayer. Wilson looked at a press release put out by the Department of Administration last month which claimed that 5,010 students had earned 15,905 college credits through IEN, thereby saving families over $2 million in tuition at typical rates, thus saving Idaho families hard earned cash. Give Otter’s Department of Administration an F in Math if one is kind. Call it deliberately deceitful if you’re not so inclined.

Since its inception in 2009, the Idaho Education Network has cost federal and state taxpayers $28,552,670. Do the math yourself. It averages out to $1,795.20 in taxpayer dollars for each of the 15,905 college credits touted by the Department in the report – except of course that number isn’t there.

Hello! Is anybody there? How can this be justified? A dual credit at North Idaho College costs from $65 to $107 per credit. At Boise State the per credit cost is $260 and at the University of Idaho it is $311 per credit. So, can anyone explain why the IEN delivered dual credits cost almost six times as much as a Vandal credit?

Well apparently not. All one hears are vague statements about hard to measure intangibles that broadband brings to rural districts, such as – President Jimmy Carter appearing in some program presented to a government affairs class in some school like Kendrick? Give me a break. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 28 2014

What happened to common sense?

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

So now what do the governing bodies of Idaho’s private colleges— Northwest Nazarene University, the College of Idaho and BYU-Idaho— do? The Idaho Legislature, taking leave of all common sense, and abetted by a governor who approaches all issues from a purely ideological standpoint (One doesn’t have to think when ideology has all the answers.), swallowed whole hog the latest gambit by the National Rifle Association to make the Second Amendment an absolute right as opposed to the qualified right the Supreme Court has ruled it is.

By over-whelming majorities they kissed the NRA’s ring and passed legislation allowing students over 21 who have taken an eight-hour enhanced training course to carry concealed weapons on a public college campus.

Even the patron saint of the NRA, Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion in the precedent-setting case (District of Columbia v. Heller) establishing the individual right to keep and bear arms in order to defend one’s home or self, and separated that right from the Constitutional language appearing to tie the right to keeping and maintaining a militia, even the great Scalia wrote that it was a qualified right. He then went on to state that government could in the interest of public safety restrict carrying and bearing arms from high use public places such as courts and schools.

So the NRA pooh-bahs decide to push legislation that will further restrict the “qualifications” Justice Scalia says government can impose in the interest of public safety even when it runs counter to another sacred belief, that of local control. You see NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre, sincerely believes that had their been an armed and trained in proper firearm use one individual in the building when a Virginia Tech student went on a killing rampage that took 38 lives, the perpetrator would have been shot dead and many lives saved.

One can neither prove nor disprove it. All those in Idaho charged with the in loco parentis role of providing a safe learning environment in our public colleges and all those charged with providing police protection in those places believe otherwise. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 24 2014

Whose Idaho values?

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Idaho Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter has lost all touch with reality. His slandering U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill at a Capitol for a Day in Craigmont by accusing this distinguished jurist of not being in touch with Idaho values goes beyond the pale. Sadly, it demonstrates the great degree to which the governor himself just doesn’t get what is going on in this world.

Otter is the one who doesn’t get Idaho values.

Idaho values education. Otter clearly does not. His eight years have seen educational support eviscerated by him and the Legislature. Idaho now ranks 50th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of per pupil spending on education. The Albertsons Foundation is running ads pleading with him and the Legislature not to fail Idaho. They ignore that a third of Idaho’s third graders can’t read at grade level and only one out of 10 Idaho high school graduates actually obtains a college degree.

Idahoans soundly rejected the Luna/Otter reform initiatives. Otter’s Pollyanish response was the people rejected the process not his proposals.

Idaho values honesty. Otter clearly does not. His shuck and jive on Corrections Corp. of America’s bilking the state of millions by falsifying pay stubs regarding its management of the Idaho Correctional Center outside Boise, and then settling for $1 million before the results of any investigation are known is patently deceitful and dishonest.

He claims not to have raised taxes but three-fourths of Idaho school districts have had to pass supplemental property tax levies to compensate for state decreases. That is a tax shift and a tax increase pure and simple. But go ahead and keep up the Big Lie that it isn’t, governor.

Idaho values its wilderness and its public lands with access to all. Otter does not. He has opposed fellow Republican Mike Simpson’s carefully crafted Boulder/White Clouds legislation on the simple grounds that there’s enough wilderness in Idaho.

He is supporting the stupidity of the state looking into taking over federal lands but, of course, there’ll be no new taxes needed.

Idaho values its children. Otter does not. Early childhood education benefits are well known, but Otter does not support the state providing funding for preschool classes.

Idaho values offering a helping hand to those need — a hand up, not a hand out. More than 100,000 Idahoans living at or near the poverty line would benefit from a Medicaid expansion, which would pay all the costs now absorbed by the state and county indigent funds. Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 19 2014

The importance of predictability

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

If you have ever wondered why so many business leaders say they cannot trust units of government, whether local, state or federal, to keep their word and deliver the sine qua non of heavy investment – a safe, secure, predictable business environment, look no further than Bonner County in north Idaho.

The County is currently in court with a high-end developer of upscale hangar-homes, which contain living quarters and private planes or helicopters, on property adjacent to the Sandpoint Airport. Called SilverWing at Sandpoint, the project developers have a legitimate beef with the county that falls under the umbrella of government providing a predictable business development environment.

While SilverWing is a client of my daughter Serena’s strategic communications business, as one who started and built a small business of my own, and as a taxpayer, this being jerked around by a governmental entity is the kind of inconsistent behavior that also truly angers me.

Like any prudent developer, SilverWing did their due diligence and acquired all the required permits from both the city of Sandpoint and Bonner County before building a model home, laying out the streets and putting in the required infrastructure for water, electricity and sewage.

Altogether the owners spent over $5 million developing the site, which may very well be the last of its kind in the United States because the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to adopt a policy recommending against such developments at public airports. The FAA however, well aware of SilverWing, in effect grandfathered it in prior to the adoption of this policy.

So what’s the problem? For reasons hard to fathom, the Bonner County Commission reversed field and has effectively placed a cloud over further sales of these ever-increasingly valuable hangar home-sites by publicly speculating that they might not grant homeowners access to the main runway from the development.

Of course, if the County persists in this stance, it would also be blocking missionary and backcountry high-performance plane builder Quest its access to the main runway because Quest uses SilverWing’s taxi­way and runway access.

Thus far, Bonner County has spent in excess of $1 million taxpayer dollars trying to defend this indefensible mid-stream shift. SilverWing understandably is trying to protect their investment but has made it clear that they would welcome a negotiated settlement that allows them to remove the cloud the county has placed over their project and to proceed. Thus far, Bonner County, through its high priced California law firm, has rebuffed any overtures, despite having so far lost every motion they’ve made for summary judgment or any other legal maneuvering.

SilverWing, for its part, is utilizing the legal services of Boise-based Givens Pursley. When depositions are held, SilverWing sends one attorney, but Bonner County’s team can and often does consist of five or more attorneys and county employees. I’m sure the California attorneys are enjoying cutting the fat hog they think they see in their government contract with Bonner County.

Here’s a prediction though from a non-lawyer, though: The county is holding a losing hand and, when it comes time to pay the piper, the cash-strapped county may be facing bankruptcy if it has no insurance that will cover it in case it loses.

Someone, somewhere in that Bonner County courthouse better start reining in the county’s spendy ways and better start thinking through some “what-if” scenarios.

A little common sense should lead all parties to the conference table and a negotiated settlement fair to all. In the meantime, the next time you hear some businessman say one can’t trust any level of government to keep its word, recount to them this classic example being perpetrated in Bonner County.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Feb 18 2014

Reflecting on headlines

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Every so often there are a series of news items and headlines that inevitably bring forth from the memory bank an appropriate “Andrusism” – an expression of Cece’s that encapsulated and often simplified while educating one about the particular situation.

Example #1: Cece would often say “when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” University of Idaho vice president for government affairs and communications, Chris Murray, should reacquaint himself with this one. First, one suspects he inadvisably counseled the University’s next president, Dr. Chuck Staben, to grant his first introduction to a broader Idaho audience through a lengthy telephone interview with the Boise-based Idaho Statesman.

One would think he would have granted that honor to a newspaper in the University’s back yard, like the Moscow-Pullman Daily News or the Lewiston Tribune, but no, it’s the Statesman. If one read the transcript of the ensuing interview, the error was further compounded by not adequately preparing Dr. Staben to provide a more nuanced answer to the obvious question that would be coming on Idaho’s use of the expression “Idaho’s flagship university.”

It would have been easy to duck the entire interview by simply saying “Idaho currently is represented by President Don Burnett. I don’t take over until March 1st.”

The University, not having learned its lesson, then announces it is kicking off its year-long 125th in Boise. The Tribune again twits the University for this blindness to taking care of one’s home base first which elicits a long, loud largely irrelevant and personal vent by Mr. Murray against the Tribune.

Andrus has another expression Murray should heed: “Don’t get in a p________ contest with folks that buy ink by the barrel.”

Until then, “Mr. Burnett speaks for the university.”

Example #2. Andrus called it his “no surprises” rule. If you worked for him and there was bad news coming you’d better let him know before he read it in the newspaper. Theresa Luna, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s sister, recently testified before the Legislature’s JFAC and in the course of her testimony revealed that the State might have to come up with another $14.5 million to pay some educational vendors because reimbursement from the Feds was not forthcoming.

Why do I think this came as a surprise to Governor Butch Otter? And why hasn’t Butch fired her? And could this issue waiting to explode have had anything to do with the SPI’s sudden decision not to run for re-election? Continue Reading »

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Next »

 


Pike Place's plans for a new waterfront entrance.

 

THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and how they're dealing with the day of the Internet. New Editions tells you where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

    Top-Story-graphic-300x200_topstory8
    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here