Archive for the 'Carlson' Category

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
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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
CARLSON

 
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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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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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

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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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Aug 20 2014

Crapo’s message to Labrador

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Republican Senator Mike Crapo, and his political advisors, lost little time this past week in reading and reacting to First District Congressman Raul Labrador’s hiring of Idaho Statesman ace political reporter Dan Popkey as his press secretary.

Some pundits speculated the move indicated Labrador was contemplating a possible run for the United States Senate. The next Senate election is in two years with Senator Crapo presumably standing for re-election to a fourth term, but there has been additional speculation that Crapo might retire and stay in D.C. to earn some big bucks like his former Senate colleague, Dirk Kempthorne.

The message to Labrador was unequivocally clear: “If you think this is going to be an open seat you can just waltz into, you’re whistling past the graveyard.” The senior Idaho senator’s move is considered somewhat unusual in that his current colleague, Senator Jim Risch, is up for re-election this year. One’s colleague normally waits until the other’s race is finished before declaring his intentions.

Crapo wants there to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he intends to serve a fourth term. His announcement specified unfinished work on addressing major national issues such as coming up with an acceptable formula for reducing the debt and federal spending with a plan that will put the nation’s fiscal house in order without itself becoming a catalyst for furthering economic doldrums.

Despite the Senator’s staunch conservative credentials, his willingness to include tax reform and even some possible “revenue-enhancers” as part of a solution package is one of the reasons Labrador may challenge the incumbent. Labrador of course has signed the Grover Norquist “no new taxes will I ever vote for” pledge, whereas Crapo, to his great credit, endorsed the Simpson/Bowles Commission approach to resolving the national debt crisis.

One presumes that Labrador can read the message. Whether it scares him off or not is another issue.

It does, however, draw additional attention to his hiring of Popkey. Normally, a congressional delegation in which all seats are filled by one party, would be expected to work in some degree of harmony.

Labrador’ hiring of Popkey, though, is going to cause both the congressman and his new press secretay some real problems for the simple reason that neither is going to be trusted. Harmony in the delegation will disappear and in particular Popkey is going to find out that the many mainstream Republicans from Idaho who have remained in D.C. are never going to include him on the inside. Continue Reading »

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Aug 18 2014

Flawed giant

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
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Idaho has produced its share of congressional mavericks – folks who because of their character and style, were colorful and quotable. In the language of the time, they were “good copy.”

Senator Glen Taylor, the “Singing Cowboy,” who reported for duty in 1944 by riding a horse up the Capitol steps all decked out in his cowboy regalia, stands out. His autobiography also is remarkable for its candor. The first chapters cover his work as a youth in a north Idaho house of ill-repute and his loss of his virginity therein.

If any other Idaho political figure could match Taylor for generating questionable publicity, and being a character, it has to be Second District Congressman George V. Hansen, who passed away last week at the age of 83. “Big George” stood six foot six and weighed two ninety-five (Yes, think of the hit song from the 60’s, Big John). His ego and ambition matched his size. His flair for publicity included a one-man mission to Tehran to try to free the American hostages.

He had an uncanny ability though to inspire blind loyalty in voters not because he was a gifted speaker (He wasn’t), but like only one other Idaho political figure, Cecil Andrus, he looked you in the eye and even if just for 30 seconds, made one think they were the most important person in a room. And like Andrus, he had an incredible memory for names and faces.

That combination made the two of them hands down the two most formidable one-on-one campaigners in Idaho political history. To watch either working those attending a must-do event like the Eastern Idaho Fair was to watch two consummate professionals at the peak of their game.

Hansen rose quickly in Second District politics, first as the Mayor of Alameda before it merged with Pocatello, and after an abortive run for the Senate in 1962, won the Second District House seat in 1964 by knocking off incumbent Ralph Harding in the year of the Lyndon B. Johnson landslide.

That race though revealed early Hansen’s penchant for shamelessly exploiting his Mormon faith on the alter of his ambitions. Harding had rightly criticized Church President Ezra Taft Benson on the floor of the House for Benson’s questioning the loyalty of President Dwight D. Eisenhower for whom Benson had served as the Secretary of Agriculture. Benson was playing footsy with the ultra-right John Birch Society at the time.

Hansen charged Harding with publicly exposing a family’s dirty laundry so to speak and cast himself as the Church and the Church president’s defender. Harding was history despite his own “good standing” within the LDS Church. Continue Reading »

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Aug 11 2014

Republican stumbles

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Senator Jim Risch, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, and Representative Raul Labrador all remain favorites to win re-election given the heavy Republican bent of the Idaho electorate. Risch and Otter though are showing evidence of an ability to lose their race.

Though recent polling shows each with a double-digit lead, the polls also indicate the proverbial mile wide but inch deep support. A Risch upset would be especially surprising whereas few would be surprised if Governor Otter’s bid for a third term was rejected by an electorate that recognizes he has done virtually nothing to warrant it.

Risch’s problem remains his arrogance and, candidly, his laziness. He takes for granted that he will be re-elected, is proud of his ranking as the most conservative senator by virtue of voting no on almost everything¸ and has never really repudiated remarks he made to the Idaho Statesman editorial board regarding how easy the job of senator is because nothing gets done due to partisanship paralyzing everything. Therefore one can just coast along and he clearly is coasting.

Even supporters and former staffers have been heard expressing their disappointment in the “coasting” senator. They cannot help contrasting his energetic seven months as governor when he seemed to be eveywhere pushing his agenda that included unfortunately the switch away from the property tax and to the sales tax.

Not only did this hit the middle class hard, it provided unneeded relief for large property owners, including Risch, who failed to disclose to anyone that he would pernonally benefit from this switch by an admittedly modest $4500. His failure to be transparent indicates at a minimum that he is ethically challenged, not to mention that it also resulted in further erosion of state support for public education by a cool $50 million.

Risch claimed that it would be revenue neutral, but proved to be wrong. Continue Reading »

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Aug 03 2014

Some friendly counsel

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carlson CHRIS
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Carlson
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Dear Dan:

As you begin your new career as press secretary to First District Congressman Raul Labrador, here is some advice that will help you succeed. I preface it by saying I will miss your excellent political reporting.

I hope you understand skills you polished in your distinguished reporting career are not all transferable to making for a successful career as a press secretary. Thus,this counsel:

1) There is only one name on the ballot. Your job of course is to promote your Boss’ name. Too many “flacks” make the mistake of allowing themselves to be quoted directly. As a general rule speak only on background and not for direct attribution so that the information your Boss wants out is delivered but the quote is something like “an aide close to Congressman Labrador said. . . . .”

2) Physical proximity to your horse is critical. If you want to be the “go to” person for the media you have to be where he is, which is D.C., most of the time, not Meridian. I know Senator Mike Crapo has his media staff largely in Boise, but he does not seek the national profile your Boss is well along the path of obtaining. Already, your Congressman has established a record of sorts for the number of appearances on Meet the Press for a sophomore member. You want the producers of that show to be calling you when they want him, not some D.C. assistant.

3) You were a somebody in Boise; you’re a nobody in D.C. Your Boss has a right to expect you to start developing good relations with national, D.C. based media, many of whom may know you from your award-winning journalistic career but none who know you in your new role. All they will be interested in is can you return phone calls promptly, can you speak for your Boss and when necessary can you deliver him quickly. You’ll also have to court the veteran press secretaries as well as pay homage to the media “stars” for the press has indeed become major influencers of events not just reporters. Read This Town by Mark Lebovich, if you haven’t already.

4) Take a media training course and run your Boss through one periodically. There is an art form to talking with the media and delivering your message, then staying on that message regardless of what the media may want. Every interview is as an opportunity to get your message out and you have to control the interview. Thus, you’ll master such devices as “block and bridge,” where one learns quickly to block the thrust of a reporter’s question and bridge to the message you want. Pull Florida Governor Rick Scott’s CNN interview off of You Tube when he was a candidate. His message was “jobs” and every question he took he turned back into “I’m all about creating jobs.” His interviewers were frustrated but he sure got his message across. Continue Reading »

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Jul 29 2014

Idaho Falls tea leaves

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In politics there are rarely coincidences. Additionally, sometimes an event occurs which one can read much more into than just the surface appearance. It becomes a telltale indicator of something more significant than one at first glance would think.

One of these “more than meet the eyes” events happened in Idaho Falls on the evening of the 4th of July and went largely unnoticed by what Texas Senator and Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz calls the “chattering class”—the political pundits and commentators.

Multi-millionaire and Melaleuca founder Frank Vandersloot sponsors a well attended 4th of July fireworks show. Its his way of showing his patriotism as well as his appreciation for “the shining city on the hill” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently once put it when describing the still greatest country on the earth.

Vandersloot is justly proud of this event and he often has a special guest. His guest this year not surprisingly was an Idaho gubernatorial candidate. What was surprising was that the guest was neither Tea Party endorsed State Senator Russ Fulcher nor was it incumbent Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. It was none other than the Democratic nominee, Boise businessman A.J. Bulakoff.

The “chattering class” as well as the general voting public ought to sit up and take notice for this could portend more than Vandersloot just covering himself in case Bulakoff pulls off the upset. It could signal that the traditional Republican Latter Day Saint vote is starting a seismic shift away from the incumbent governor.

There is no question that most LDS voters mark their ballots for the Republican candidates, and in the past some Democratic strategists have made the mistake of assuming that Mormon voters would go for a Mormon Democrat in good standing over a non-Mormon Republican.

Otter himself disproved this gambit four years ago in dispatching Mormon gubernatorial nominee Keith Allred, as did then Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne when he won a race for a U.S. Senate seat by defeating Second District Congressman Richard Stallings.

A. J. Bulakoff though just may be an exception to this general rule that LDS voters vote party first and their religion second. While he is smart enough not to wear his religion on his sleeve, nor ever even to make a pitch to voters based on a common held set of beliefs, it is well known among the LDS community that he is a Saint in good standing, has the so-called “temple pass,” is a graduate of the “Y” (Brigham Young University in Provo), has a large and loving family, and is happily maried to Susie Skaggs, one of the heirs to the Skaggs Drugstore chain.

Additionally, A.J. is a largely self-made multi-millionaire who, like Vandersloot, has enjoyed considerable success in the business world.
Vandersloot is nobody’s fool and has adroitly played the political game for years. He recognizes that public policy is all about politics, whether local, state, or national. Thus, he takes an interest in races from local judgeships to presidential elections. Continue Reading »

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Jul 21 2014

Campaigning on your dime

Published by under Carlson,Idaho

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter brought his “dog and pony” show called Capital For A Day to St. Maries on July 21st. My, oh my, how it has changed since Governor Cecil D. Andrus, who initiated the program in 1973, and I walked the streets of the temporary “capital” (usually a county seat).

No entourage. No security detail. No advance team. No “show and tell.” No setting up a town hall meeting and expecting the citizens to come to us.

Nope. Just Cece and I, popping in and out of various businesses on Main Street, chatting with the owner and asking if they were having any difficult issues with any facet of state government. The day’s agenda usually included a noon speech at a Rotary or a Kiwanis Club and in the afternoon drop by visits to the local paper and other media to report on what he was hearing.

My role was to take notes, handle any media that might want to tag along and pass out the “Capital for A Day” post cards wherein folks could write a brief description of their issue and their contact info.

When we got back to Boise the governor would deal the cards out to appropriate staff with instructions to have an interim report back to the constituent within two weeks and a definitive answer within four weeks.

There was another significant difference. Once the Republicans selected their nominee to challenge Andrus in the August primary, the governor suspended the program.

“Butch” should take note and follow the Andrus lead. No matter how one slices it, or rationalizes it, to continue Capital For A Day in an election year after your opponent is selected is to have the taxpayers underwriting a campaign-like endeavor.

It’s a clear “conflict of interest” and a clear illegal contribution to the governor’s re-election effort by the taxpayer. Frankly, I’m amazed that no one has called Governor Otter out on this matter. State senator Russ Fulcher from Meridian should have confronted Governor otter on this in his closely contested primary challenge. Continue Reading »

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