Archive for the 'Carlson' Category

Nov 21 2014

Shortchanging Idaho education

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Supporters of better state support for public education, both K thru 12 and higher education, awoke the day after the election, to the stunning news that Jana Jones, a former deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction under Marilyn Howard, had lost the SPI race by some 5000 votes to Sherri Ybarra, a Mountain Home educator/administrator.

Ms. Ybarra had committed gaff after gaff, all disclosed in excruciating detail by Spokesman Review capitol reporter Betsy Russell. The mistakes ranged from outright plagiarism of information on her website taken from Jana Jone’s website, to misleading reporters on how long she’d been in the state, how many marraiges she had been in and her failure to vote in any election in the last ten years.

Yet, because she had the R behind her name, said little of substance during the election, generally avoided the press, and stayed away from State conventions like those held by a state’s district superintendents and by school board direcrtors, she won.

That conclusion begs to be restated, and those who know Idaho has to increase public support for education have every right to be angry about this: Jana Jones lost the election that was hers to lose for a variety of reasons. She should stand up and be accountable. She really let down those who have worked so hard for so many years to put education on a better footing.

It’s not just that she ran a lousy campaign, she ran no campaign. She had just one person working with her and supposedly staffing the campaign. She refused to make fund-raising calls, even when friends like the former SPI, Marilyn Howard, would have her over, give her a list of people just waiting to hear from her before they opened their checkbooks, and she would still refuse to make the calls.

Despite this aversion to fund-raising she somehow collected and spent $125,000 on her “campaign.” Still, that was apparently five times more than the $25,000 that Ms. Ybarra reports having spent. That has to be close to a modern day record in low spending per vote – about 11 and ½ cents per vote. By comparison millionaire gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff spent approximately $16.00 per vote received.

Without any evidence, Ms. Jones apparently believed the National Education Association and the Idaho Education Association were going to step in and run an independent campaign for her election. She guessed wrong.

This may sound petty, but even supporters were non-plussed to see how uncombed her hair looked in the statewide televised debate. A photo of the debate that went over the wire made her literally look scatter-brained. There is ample evidence verifying a UCLA study that says 80% of a viewer’s conclusion on who won a debate is related to appearance and non-verbal signals.

What they say is seldom a factor unless there is a real mistake. Ms. Ybarra understood the importance of visuals. Her hair was neat, she dressed with some “power red” in her attire and remained cool and calm. She won the encounter going away despite media coverage saying she had lost. Continue Reading »

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Nov 17 2014

The long arm of AIPAC

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

The concensus among most political pundits in and around Washington, D.C., is that the most powerful, influential political action committee is the American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Most members of Congress think twice before crossing it.

It rewards its supporters with lavish contributions generated from its many members across the nation and is quick to punish those who vote against what they define as the best interests of Israel. Even Greg Casey, the talented Idahoan who once was Senator Larry Craig’s chief of staff and then Sergeant of Arms of the Senate, and is now president of BIPAC (Business and Industry Political Action Committee) would concede his powerful PAC is Avis to the pro-Israel Hertz.

With the leadership of the pro-Israel PAC, one is either for or against them. There’s no middle ground; their issues are black or white, and if you don’t vote with them 100% of the time, then you are suspected of harboring anti-Semetic views, as any who question how the Israelis have been treating the Palestinians soon find out.

Recently, well known Idahoan Marty Peterson, who retired from public service over a year ago, visited Israel. Marty’s last post was that of vice president for government affairs and lead lobbyist for the University of Idaho. Prior to that he served in a variety of posts including service as budget director for Governor John Evans, executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, and executive director of the Idaho Centennial Commission.

Marty is a history buff and a keen observer of political affairs so he shared his take on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with a column posted on Randy Stapilus’ widely read blog, Ridenbaugh Press/Northwest. Like most Americans, he flew to Israel thinking he was pretty pro-Israel. Unlike most though, he saw through the propaganda and ended up expressing great sympathy for the Palestinians whom he observed are being treated by Israel much as Jewish people have been mistreated over the centuries.

In particular, Marty noted the defiant extension of law-breaking Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory and the unilateral appropriation of water for these illegal settlements taken from the Palestinian owners. He also had a long visit with the recently retired Catholic Archbishop for Galilee, Elias Chacour. Continue Reading »

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Nov 12 2014

To be or not to be

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Dear CH—

You commented recently on your Facebook page how courageous you thought the young 29-year-old California woman was that moved to Oregon and availed herself of Oregon’s Doctor assisted suicide law on November 1st.

With all due respect to your right to hold a differing view, you could not be more wrong. It does not take courage to opt out of life prematurely. It is an an act motivated by fear, a desire to control the end of one’s life, and when glamorized by the former Hemlock Society, now rebranded as Compassion and Choices, a publicity stunt that sends the wrong signal to our youth.

Always it is by definition a selfish act that passes one’s pain onto their loved ones. It is an act of cowardness and the furthest thing away from courage.

What is the true act of courage is to look death in the eye and fight valiantly to one’s natural end

As you know, nine years ago I was diagnosed with a rare and always fatal form of a carcinoid neuroendocrine cancer. I was in stage IV and given the proverbial six months. I sent all my tests, my CT’s, my MRI’s, my blood work, x-rays and body scans to M.D. Anderson, the world renowned Cancer Care center in Houston, Texas.

They refused to see me. It was hopeless, they said and they did not want to waste their time or resources. If Washington’s Initiative 1000 had been passed into law at that time, I would have easily qualified.

Instead, I worked with my team of doctors, developed an attack strategy and I’m still here. I fought like hell, and I still fight. There isn’t a day that has gone by in the last nine years that I haven’t felt pain. Initially, I lost 75 pounds, looked like death warmed over and most were sure I was gone. Gradually, though, between the experimental radioactive particles placed on my liver and the monthly “golden “rear”” shot I take of a sandostatin that is my chemotherapy, the tide started to turn.

Here I am nine years later. In that time I’ve seen the births and watched with joy the growth of our grandchildren. I had built my wife’s dream retirement home in north Idaho and was able to watch with tears in my eyes as our Marine Corps captain, our son, was wed to a wonderful daughter-in-law at the Botanical Gardens outside San Diego.

Such events have made the pain and suffering truly manageable. There are thousands like me who fight on against all odds and while most of us are never cured we can and do reach a period of stasis in which we manage the disease for a number of years and move on.

To think that I might have missed such events because I’d opt out of life early out of fear is just unthinkable.

I don’t argue with the notion that one can take their life if they wish to do so. The ability to purchase sleeping pills and turn on a car in an enclosed garage is virtually pain free and doesn’t need the assistance of a doctor nor does it bring the state into the matter.

I believe there are issues at the beginning of life and at the end of life that should be left to the person, their family, their doctor, and their spiritual counselors. I firmly believe that we will never be able to legislate fair , equitable and balanced laws respectful of everone’s rights on all life issues. Continue Reading »

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Nov 10 2014

The real Idaho winner from 2014

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Someone who was not even on the November 4th ballot: Idaho’s senior U.S. Senator, Mike Crapo. The reasons are many.

With Republicans gaining control of the Senate, the Senator’s seniority places him in a position to exert ever more influence on America’s fiscal policies, its huge debt, its subsidy-riven hodge-podge of tax loopholes otherwise known as incentives, and its financial institutions..

Because of some quirks in the Senate’s arcain seniority system the former Idaho Falls State senator will have to wait two years before becoming a full committee chair. Republicans actually term limit senators who become committee chairs to six years in holding the chairmanship of a committee.and they can only chair one major committtee at a time.

So even though Senator Crapo is the ranking Minority Member on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions has more seniority and has two years of being a chairman of some committee left on his tenure sheet.

Senator Crapo’s growing power is the result both of his intelligence and his hard work. His other committees include the Budget, Environment and Public Works committee as well as the Finance committee. These committees place him at the very vortex of an issue he rightly feels is still to be address—-controlling the nation’s profligate spending and laying out a path to reduce the debt and eventually put the country back on a pay as you go basis.

Crapo played a critical non-partisan negotiating role while serving on the Presidential Task Force headed up by former Clinton Chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson that listened to all sorts of experts and then cobbled together recommendations that would stave off fiscal disaster.

Crapo, along with fellow Senators Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma chose couragiously to brave the wrath of the Republican hard core right by acknowledging that a part of the path forward would have to include some small amount of revenue enhancements. To Grover Norquist that spelled a tax increase and no matter how critical some amount would be needed along with the spending cuts as part of the “we all have to swallow some castor oil and sacrifice something” plan, all three were heavily criticized for putting the nation’s interests ahead of a party interest. Can you imagine that?

All three deserve their own chapter in a new edition of Profiles in Courage. Continue Reading »

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Nov 04 2014

Remembering Henry ‘Hank’ Day

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

On an August weekend this past summer I took our two grandchildren to visit the nearby Cataldo Mission. We toured the visitor center and museum before visiting the Jesuit Mission that is the oldest building in Idaho, having been constructed by Father DeSmet in the 1830’s.

There were various plaques in and around the State Park with names of patrons but nowhere did I see the name of the gruff, Irish pixie, Hank Day, who led a fund-raising campaign that saved the Mission from irrevocable deterioration and led to its restoration.

Hank, and his friend, Harry Magnuson, were two of the wealthiest people to ever be born into and grow up in the Silver Valley. They both made fortunes with shrewd investments in penny stocks and a canny knack for investing in mines that provided regular returns. In turn, often quietly and with little fanfare, they reinvested in a vast array of civic and community projects.

As Judge Dick Magnuson told the Spokesman-Review in an article on Hank’s passing in the March 22, 1985 edition, “Few are aware of how much he really gave to the community.” The same can be said for the Judge’s brother, Harry.

Magnuson, however, is named on a plaque for being a significant supporter of the restoration project. Hank is not. He was more than content to let Harry get the lion’s share of credit for projects and causes they worked on together.

Saving and restoring the Cataldo Mission was just such a project. Both were devout Roman Catholics and both were financial boosters for Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Prep. Both recognized the importance of preserving the Old Mission as the visible symbol of the Jesuits extensive role in the early history of the inland northwest.

Both also played a critical role in providing Gonzaga University a line of credit that staved off bankruptcy in the early 60’s.

Hank was born on October 4th, 1902 and his first home was up the gulch just outside of Wallace that constituted the community of Burke. When he was five the family moved to Wallace just in time to survive the monstrous and devastating 1910 forest fire that destroyed part of Wallace and consumed hundreds of thousands of surrounding acres of forest.

Few realized how well educated Hank was. He received his degree in mining engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He did advance studies in Economic Geology and wrote his thesis on the underground geology of the Tamarack Mine where he worked during a couple of college summers.

His father was a co-founder of the Hercules Mine which over a number of years paid out $200 million to investors. Hank helped found the Day Mine in 1947, and remained an officer and ultimately board chiar until he retired in 1972. One of the bitter moments in his life was when his beloved mine was the object of a successful hostile take-over by Hecla in 1981.

Hank also was a director of the Coeur d’Alenes Company until 1966 when the steel fabricating and mining supply firm was acquired by Jimmy Coulson. During his career, Hank participated in almost all the civic activities going in the area, not to mention his legendary support for the University of Idaho and his fund-raising efforts to establish a College of Mines school at the university. Continue Reading »

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Oct 28 2014

A question

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Some Idaho political reporters have pointed out that if Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is elected to a third consecutive term on November 4th he will be only the second governor in state history to accomplish that feat.

The first was Robert E. Smylie, who served 12 years from 1955 to 1967. Over the years since Statehood (July 3rd, 1890) the Idaho Legislature has gone back and forth on the issue of term limits for a governor and how long a term was to be.

In the state’s early history governors were elected just to two year terms and at times could run as often as they liked. In the mid-1940’s, however, it was decided that a governor should serve only one four year term. This might have been a delayed reaction to Governor C. Ben Ross, who won three consecutive two-year terms in the 1930’s.

The first governor the change applied to was C.A. “Doc” Robins, a medical doctor from St. Maries and the first governor from north Idaho. He served from 1947 to 1951 and his tenure saw implementation of many progressive reforms.

He was succeeded by a Grangeville legislator, car dealer and former Hells Canyon sheep rancher named Len. B. Jordan, who served from 1951 to 1955. During his tenure the Legislature decided to lift term limits on the governor’s term altogether.

Jordan then could have run for several more terms but in an unusual act of integrity declined to do so. He told the media of that day that the people of Idaho had elected him thinking he would serve just the one term. He said it would violate the bond of trust he had with the voters and he would not do that.

The governor who has served the most time in office is of course Cecil Andrus, who was elected four times but the 14 years he served were not consecutive.

Idaho’s Constitution is one of those that gives a Lieutenant Governor all the powers of the elected governor when the governor is out of state. Not only can he exercise these powers he also is paid at the considerably higher pay level of a governor.

Butch Otter served 14 years in the post. Elected in 1986 when Andrus was elected to his third term, he and Andrus worked an arrangement whereby Butch pulled no fast ones when Andrus was out of state. On occasion Andrus would sanction Otter selecting a Republican to fill a vacancy in a legislative seat or county commission.

During his 14 year tenure Butch served 8 year under Andrus, 4 years under Batt and the first 2 years of Dirk Kempthorne’s tenure.

Curious to know how many days during those 14 years Butch filled in and was in reality the Governor, I asked current Lt. Governor Brad Little for the information.

Brad’s aide, Greg Wilson, was surprised at how challenging it was. He went to the Controller’s office which reviewed Otter’s pay slips to come up with the total hours. One then had to divide the total pay by the daily pay rate.

It would be a travesty if during those 14 years Butch had served as governor more than two years thus enabling him to claim (if elected to a third term) that upon completion of his third term, if one added the days he was “acting governor,” he, not Andrus was the longest serving governor.

Complicating this effort was the inability of the Controller’s office to provide the data for the first three years Butch filled the job. The only solution was to take the average of the 11 years add it to the missing years. Continue Reading »

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Oct 22 2014

Promises to keep

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

He’s 83 years young, still walks several miles twice a day, has bounced back from a lung cancer surgery earlier this year with no need for follow up radiation or chemotherapy, still loves to bird hunt and fly fish, and almost 20 years after leaving public office remains the most recognized, admired and respected bald headed politician in Idaho.

Always known for his candor and honesty, if anything with age he has become more feisty and outspoken. This past week he received The Frank and Bethine Church Public Service Award in honor of a lifetime of work on behalf of protecting the “crown jewels” of Idaho’s outdoors – the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the Owyhee Canyon Lands, and the Birds of Prey.

He reminded his audience in his brief acceptence remarks he has always striven for balance, that having a resource based economy could be and should be compatible with protecting the state’s environmental assets. He repeated his long-time mantra – “first you have to make a living but then you have to have a living that’s worthwhile.”

He also served notice that there is one last charge on his steed he is going to make before riding off into the sunset: the Boulder/White Clouds will receive the recognition it merits by President Barack Obama invoking his authority under the Antiquities Act to declare the area a National Monument.

Governor Andrus made his statement knowing full well that earlier in the day his good friend, second district Congressman Mike Simpson, who led a ten-year long effort to work out an acceptable piece of legislation only to be betrayed by then freshman Senator Jim Risch, had announced that he’d asked the Administration to give him eight months to achieve passage in the next Congress of a new version of his previous legislation. Continue Reading »

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Oct 14 2014

Three reasons for ‘no mas’

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

There are three solid reasons why the voters should reject Governor C.L.”Butch” Otter’s bid for a third term. They constitute major failures on his part to fulfill the basic “three E” requirements for anyone serving in the office.

A governor takes an oath to uphold the State’s constitution which clearly states the primary purpose of the state government is to provide for a uniform and equal public education of the state’s young. The governor has failed miserably as the record reflects nothing less than a deliberate evisceration of state support for both k thru 12 and higher education.

This evisceration has led over 80% of the state’s school districts to pass over-ride levies to increase one’s local property tax to replace what the state has taken away. For residents of those districts it is nothing less than a tax burden shift and a tax increase brought about by a govenor who claims he has decreased taxes. Facts say otherwise.

Idaho’s former state economist Mike Ferguson has presented irrefutable evidence showing that after decades of the state spending on education at roughly 4.4% of annual personal income starting in 2000 a steady decline began and accelerated under Governor Otter’s watch to where the figure is now 3.4%, a 20 percent cut under Otter and his Republican predecessors.

Idaho now ranks 51st in the country – dead last below even Mississippi – in state support for public education.. What was even more surprising to many was that the Governor endorsed his Education Task Force’s recommendation to ADD back $350 to $400 million dollars that had been drained away from education, then he turned around and in his next executive budget recommended even less, the equivalent of 3.3% of personal income.

That’s disingenuous at best and at worse blatant lying.

In the meantime the Governor spearheaded a number of measures he claimed were designed to stimulate the economy but were nothing more than general fund give aways to big business and they came at the cost of education.

Set aside that these incentives have developed few if any good paying jobs. Butch tries to make a virtue out of growth in minimum wage jobs while not acknowledging that these jobs cannot and do not provide a sustainable living wage for people.

Additionally, these incentives often come at the expense of Idaho’s existing business who both directly and indirectly end up subsidizing the new boys on the block. Continue Reading »

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Oct 06 2014

Who passed, who flunked debate

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Political debates are rarely enlightening or much of a factor in a voter’s thought process before voting. The October 3rd gubernatorial debate in the Coeur d’Alene Public Library was a delightful exception.

Ever since I read a UCLA study on debates (Among its major findings was that 80% of a viewer’s decision on who won is determined by the NON-VERBAL signals candidates convey), I’ve been a skeptic.

Granted, whether a candidate conveys “command presence” or a sense of humor, and can smile while sticking a metaphorical stiletto into an opponent’s argument, or wears a bow tie or bolo tie, as opposed to a power red tie, these are all part of image conveyance. To learn, though, that what they say and whether they can cogently convey their thoughts to the voter, has little to do with “who won” was a bit depressing.

When my former student, Kathy Kahn, who is an outstanding teacher at St. Maries High School, invited me to attend with her, I had to go.

This debate, the first between three major candidates, was a legitimate “test” for each..

The Democratic nominee, A.J. Bulakoff, a successful Boise businessman and a long-time leader on the Boise school board, had to convince teachers, like Kathy, that he was truly a supporter of education, that he was for restoring program funding and raising teachers’ salaries decimated by Governor Otter’s cuts.

Otter had to defend his rationale for the cuts by convincing voters that despite the cuts Idaho was still holding its own in national test scores and that Idaho’s educational system was producing employable graduates. Otter needed to shift the public focus away from education to his view that Idaho’s economy and its people are doing well.

The Libertarian candidate, former Republican and Canyon County prosecutor John Bujak, had to convince the audience that a third party candidate could succeed in winning the governorship and then actually leading the state without a party to support him.

Balukoff gets an A; Bujak gets a B; and, Otter gets an F.

In a polite but firm way “A.J.” went after Otter’s record on both education and the economy, citing the fact that Idaho general fund support for education on a per pupil cost basis had fallen to the point where Idaho now ranked 50th in the nation.

Otter’s lame excuse was to come back with the nonsensical “it’s not how much money you spend, its how you spend the money.” A.J. drove home the points that Idaho is not producing employable graduates nor are many of the system’s students actually graduating from college.

A.J. referenced a meeting he had recently with a firm that wanted to locate in Idaho but simply could not find enough workers who knew how to write computer code programs. Idaho does not teach the necessary class in its schools.

He won Kathy’s vote and achieved his goals for the debate. He demonstrated commendable knowledge of all the issues well covered by a panel of two businessmen asking the questions, whether it was the need to expand Medicaid funding or to create jobs by focusing on working with existing small businesses rather than employ more questionable tax giveaways.

John Bujak also did well both in making his case that he as a conservative could work successfully with Republican legislative leadership and in going after Otter’s deviance from basic Republican principles. He also hit hard at the number of scandals that have occurred on Otter’s watch. Continue Reading »

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Sep 30 2014

An origin story for Judge Lodge

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carlson CHRIS
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Carlson
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One might call it the equivalent of the quarterback sneak play, only in this case the quarterback, Ed Lodge, an All American at the position for Boise Junior College, and then a “Little” All American at the College of Idaho, knew nothing about the play.

Edward J. Lodge, who announced this past week he is moving to “senior status” on the 9th Federal District Bench as Idaho’s chief federal judge, is basking in an outporing of well deserved praise. He has presided over virtually every major, complicated Federal case in Idaho over the past 25 years: Two examples are the Ruby Ridge trial in which a jury, expertly guided by the fair and impartial Lodge, acquitted Randy Weaver; and, the murder trial of Claude Dallas, the self-styled survivalist and trapper who coldly killed two Idaho Fish and Game agents, Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, in the Owyhee Desert southwest of Boise.

Non-murder cases that Lodge has presided over include the EPA managed Superfund settlement in Idaho’s Silver Valley and his over sight of the Nuclear Waste disposal agreement between the state and the U.S. Department of Energy.

President George H.W. Bush, sent Lodge’s name to the Senate Judiciary committee in 1989 at the behest of senior Republican Senator James A. McClure and a virtuallly united Idaho Congressional delegation that included Senator Steve Symms, Congressman Larry Craig from the First District, and the delegation’s lone Democrat, Second District Congressman Richard Stallings.

Even more remarkable for a nomination to the life-time position of a state’s federal district judge, Senator McClure carried in his pocket and read into the record a letter of unqualified endorsement by Idaho’s Democratic governor, Cecil D. Andrus. This bi-partisan support for a Federal judgship is almost unheard of in today’s bitterly partisan environment. Lodge received unanimous confirmation.

Ed Lodge, however, warranted this support. He already had established in Idaho a reputation for probity, common sense, intelligence and an excellent grasp of the law and how it relates to justice. Continue Reading »

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Sep 24 2014

You can run but you can’t hide

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Ron Crane has been the Idaho State Treasurer for 16 years. Most voters don’t have a clue who he is or what he does.

That’s a shame because his inexpertise at shifting investment accounts has cost the taxpayers at least $20 million dollars according to an independent audit. He is trying to cloud the picture by citing a legislative audit of office management that gives him a “clean” bill of health and included reviews of his questionable personal use of a state issued gas credit card and expense account reimbursements. However, he continues to refuse to disclose all the documents related to his inept management of the known $20 million loss.

Fortunately, for Idaho voters, there’s a lady bulldog after him, a tough minded, no nonsense accountant from Twin Falls named Deborah Silver who knows numbers and can keep the books balanced. She knows the job requires investing state tax collections wisely to always generate a return on investment.

Voters should take note of the fact that a vast majority of Idaho’s professional accountants, across party lines, are endorsing her candidacy.

She is down-to-earth, articulate, and passionate about doing the job correctly. She has thrown some nice jabs at Crane who is trying to avoid answering her relentless questions demanding true transparentcy and honesty from the incumbent. She nailed Crane’s renting a fancy limousine for he and his staff when on a bond sale trip to New York City with a simple statement that where she grew up the only “limousine” she ever saw was yellow and green with John Deere on the side.

She also cites Crane’s abuse of a state issued gas credit card to fill his personal vehicle as a classic example of greed by an elected official who comes to think he is entitled to all the perks he can grab at the public trough. Crane now buys his own gas, a tacit admission that he recognizes how cheesy such greed appears even if technically he was not in violation of state law.

Silver grew up in the Magic Valley and is a graduate of Jerome High School. Her thank you notes to contributors pictures her fly fishing with the Perrine Bridge in the background. She clearly knows how to handle a fly rod. Indeed, she is one of those folks all too rare, especially in public office, who projects competence and inspires confidence. She has easily attracted support from Republicans and Independents as well as Democrats.

There is a second-hand report of a poll, one which allocates those leaning and “undecideds,” along with those who have decided that has her closing in on Crane and she trails by only four points. Besides Crane’s questionable competency, she says when she tells voters he’s been there for 16 years, it almost always generates support for her because most Idahoans see public service as a temporary calling, not a lifetime tenured entitlement. Continue Reading »

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Sep 17 2014

Jeanne Buell’s ads

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carlson CHRIS
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Carlson
Chronicles

Few Idahoans know Jeanne Buell. She lives outside Worley, just off of Highway 95 as one heads south towards Plummer. She is the vice chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, has long labored in the trenches working hard to advance the principles that guide Democrats. She tells-it-like-it-is mincing no words, thereby endearing herself because of candor.

She has decided its time to hang up the bridle and put the saddle on a saw horse. She wants to spend more time with her grandchildren. As she exits, though, she is taking one last shot at the idiocy of Idaho Republicans who are being led down the path to mediocrity by a governor and a legislature unbelievably out-of-touch with the real world.

She conceived and is the driving force behind four “generic” ads demonstrating how bad things are in Idaho. At her own expense she paid for the script writing and production of the ad concepts, had dozens of dvd’s made and sent them off to numerous political action committees (PAC’s) pointing out what an inexpensive media buy the markets that cover Idaho are.

Jeanne is inviting these PAC’s to “invest in Idaho” where a little bit of money can go a long ways, i.e., they’ll have a much better return on their investment and can really make a difference.

Working with her good friend, former Kootenai county State Senator MaryLou Reed, they came up with four generic ads lampooning and spearing several of the mind-boggling pieces of legislation passed in the last session and signed by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Following all the applicable rules, Jeanne is also making the generic ads available to Democratic candidates in Idaho who can easily “Idahoize” the ads and get them on the airwaves.

The first ad goes after the mentality that saw passage of the “Ag/Gag” law. Set aside that the courts will declare this one unconstitutional. Just imagine the reactions of others across this nation, especially the numerous dog and cat owners. It was easy to find on YouTube footage of a dog being beaten to death, a cat being tortured, a horse being starved. The narrator (a former North Idaho Collge prof) says “in Idaho the person filming this travesty is guilty of a greater crime than the one committing the travesty. Whose interests does this serve?” Continue Reading »

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Sep 12 2014

About a flaming hour

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Idaho has produced a number of officeholders and office-seekers who met untimely deaths, either in plane or auto crashes, or job accidents.

All had potential to grow and might have been quite successful. In two cases, that of Jim McClure’s and Cecil Andrus’, the deaths of their chief rivals cleared the way for them to become two of Idaho’s greatest office-holders, leaving one to wonder how the state’s political history might have changed.

In an odd quirk of fate, three of the *seven were from Kellogg: John Mattmiller, Vern Lannen and Jerry Blackbird. Mattmiller died in a plane crash while trying to land in the fog at the Kellogg airport in 1966. At the time he was the clear favorite to win the First District Republican Congressional nomination and would have probably won in November.

His death cleared the way for a Payette attorney named Jim McClure to win the primary and go on to a solid career that included 18 years in the Senate and chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources committee.

State Senator Vern Lannen, a big, gregarious logger who enjoyed working in north Idaho’s forests, died in a logging accident in 1986. He was appointed to fill the vacancy created in 1979 by the untimely death at the age of 34 of State Senator Jerry Blackbird.

Of the three from Shoshone County, Jerry Blackbird showed the most promise of achieving higher office. He was good, smart and charismatic. He was marked as a real comer when in his freshman session he authored and then shepherded through the Legislature a bill reforming log scaling to give the logger and the trucker a more fair share.

Needless to say, he defeated all the state’s major timber companies and their lobbbyists.

Several Boise observers saw the young Cecil Andrus in Jerry and thought he might easily win the Idaho governorship some day. Andrus has a saying about learning “through the school of hard knocks.” Jerry was certainly familiar with that.

Jerry is the subject of a loving yet unsparing and brutally honest memoir, One Flaming Hour, published this week by Ridenbaugh Press and written by his brother, Mike Blackbird, also a former Senator from Shoshone County (he succeeded Lannen and served three terms).

Jerry Blackbird was a true American hero. Over the course of 12 months in Vietnam he flew an incredible 1400 medivac emergency helicopter extraction missions. He won two Distinguish Flying Crosses and numerous other medals for valor and courage. Almost all his missions were “under fire’ especially in the landing zones.

He returned to an America that even in Kellogg was turning against the war and did not value his sacrifice. He started drinking heavily, his marriage failed, he couldn’t hold and keep jobs for long and candidly was well on the road to hell and self-destruction.

His letters home (which easily fill half the book) document his growing disgust with the war and the needless sacrifice of too many Marines and soldiers who gave their last full measure for a political war run by political generals and one of the most political presidents in American history, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was obsessed with body counts.

One early sub-zero morning he was hitch-hiking on I-90 in Montana trying to get back to his job in a mine near Kellogg. He experienced what brother Mike calls his “road to Damascus” moment (Alluding to St. Paul being blinded by Jesus Christ who is asking the then named Saul why is he persecuting the Lord’s followers.) Continue Reading »

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Sep 05 2014

Crapo and the veterans

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Idaho’s senior senator, Mike Crapo, spent a large part of the August Congressional recess listening to Idaho’s veterans. He deserves genuine kudos for doing so, especially when one realizes he is neither a veteran nor a member of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs committee.

Asked if there was something in particular that had motivated the interest, such as a member of his extended family who was ill-served by the VA, an aide replied “nope.” The aide said it was a function more of the senator having encountered too many stories of average citizens who had served their country not being treated in a manner consistent with their service and sacrifice.

Additionally, with national attention focusing on the deficiencies of many VA hospitals around the country, the senator saw Congress typically reacting with a “just throw more money at the problem approach.”

Not necessarily doubting that in some instances more money might help, the senator, who soon may be in a position to chair the Finance committee when (not if, folks) the Republicans take over the Senate, nonetheless wants to know if the tax dollar is being spent wisely, efficiently and is effectively bringing about the changes many veterans say the overly bureaucratic, paper-heavy system needs.

(Somewhat surprisingly, Senator Crapo’s colleague, Senator Jim “No” Risch, also voted yes on the final funding increase bill for the VA .)

A good way to do that is to establish a baseline poll and then measure the audience a year or two down the road. Thus, Senator Crapo has on his website a short six question survey which can be filled out online or by folks who obtain a copy at the various town hall meetings he held as he traveled around the state.

Taking proper care of veterans should not be a partisan issue, either, the senator rightly says. For a number of years the committee chair was Washington state’s senior senator, Patty Murray. The ranking minority member was Idaho’s Larry Craig. He and Murray did work well together.

Murray was especially eloquent when speaking about the heavy emotional toll the Iraq and Afghan engagements were having on families. The divorce rate among those serving overseas was an astronomical 75%. Few marriages survived and the toll on children as well as spouses was devastating and costly.

What Senator Crapo has astutely done is establish a grass roots focus group and baseline of over a thousand veterans and/or family members. When he next surveys them he will have a good idea whether reform has really come to the VA and services are uniformly being delivered efficiently and effectively. Continue Reading »

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Sep 01 2014

Jim Risch could lose

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Most voters start to pay attention to November elections after Labor Day. Here’s a gut guess that by mid-October Jim Risch will recognize that many voters have figured out he’s done nothing but vote no on everything, has been “mailing it in,” and is taking re-election for granted.

In addition, with virtually no television advertising, voters will have learned Risch has a worthy opponent who, if elected, will work for the people of Idaho. Yes, a perfect storm and a lucky break may have to happen to put Boise attorney Nels Mitchell in position to pull off the upset, but it could happen.

One key will be the phenomenal success Mitchell’s social media strategist, Morgan Hill, will enjoy. He convincingly can demonstrate his strategy is well on its way to penetrating homes of all voters who have computers.

Hill’s credentials are impeccable. Some credit him with the succcessful repeal of the “Luna Laws” because of his skill at using the Facebook connections of teachers and administrators to get out the repeal message. Republicans, with all their money, have nothing to match it.

Nels Mitchell is also demonstrating an ability to adapt as he campaigns. Initially, he talked only about Risch’s negatives. Now he skillfully weaves in a personal narrative that is starting to resonate.

And Risch is reacting. Mitchell has hit Risch hard in a newspaper ad that he will be a “working senator,” as opposed to the “coasting senator” Risch is. In an August appearance on a southeast Idaho radio station the friendly interviewer repeated a half dozen times how hard Risch is working for the people of Idaho.

It just ain’t so, but as Risch knows, you repeat the Big Lie often enough most people will believe it. However, in his case recent polling still shows his automatic re-elect to be well below the 50% number. For whatever reason, a lot of voters have doubts.

Mitchell’s challenge is to let voters know there is a worthy opponent without having virtually any money to build his name identification in the traditional way. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has from the very beginning written Mitchell off. This has led the traditional Labor PACS to follow suit and not contribute either. The advantage is Mitchell will arrive in D.C. beholden virtually to no one other than the people who elected him.

Since Mitchell, from his first day, also said he would only serve one term he will not have to spend time dialing for dollars begging special interest groups to contribute. Continue Reading »

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A truly down-home ad for Oregon Senator Merkley.

 

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and 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?

 
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)

 
 
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.


 

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    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