Archive for the 'Carlson' Category

Jul 29 2014

Idaho Falls tea leaves

Published by under Carlson,Idaho

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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Jul 14 2014

Governor JVE, RIP

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CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Think of it this way: without a John V. Evans there never would have been an Interior Secretary named Cecil D. Andrus.

Why? Because Cece never would have left Idaho and given up the governor’s chair to a Republican Lieutenant Governor, especially one named Vernon Ravenscroft.

Idaho’s 27th governor passed away last week at the age of 89. Most of the media accounts dutifully noted the former Mayor and State Senator from Malad, who had defeated Ravenscroft in the 1974 general election, did a solid job in the governorship. He was twice re-elected in his own right and his ten years in the governorship is the third longest service of any Idaho governor.

Some noted that this fine record, however, has been forgotten because Evans had the misfortune of being the meat between the two fine slices of bread represented by Cece’s first stint as governor (1971-1977) and his return engagement (1987-1995).

In death though, Evans received some of his overdue “due.” Most newspapers around the state did note some of his major accomplishments, for example, during tougher economic times than Andrus experienced he maintained strong support for public education by slashing state spending elsewhere and having the courage to support some reasonable tax increase.

He also along with then Attorney General and now Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones, negotiated the precedent setting agreement with Idaho Power which established minimum stream flows on the Snake River for power generation and required the basin-wide adjudication of Snake River water rights.

Evans further marshalled all the state resources one could muster to assist the Silver Valley when it suffered the devastating loss of 2200 jobs when the Bunker Hill Mine and Smelter in Kellogg shut down. Evans was one of those rare public office holders who truly cared about people and the daily challenges most must meet.

He considerably expanded the “Capital for A Day” program which Cece had initiated in 1973.

Under the Andrus model it was just Cece and I walking Main Street of a county seat. Usually we stopped by the Main Street Drug, the busiest looking café, the local super market, a gas station or two—we’d even walk into a bar or two.

Then we’d speak to a local Kiwanis Club or Rotary at noon. In the afternoon we’d drop by the local newspaper and the local radio station to report on what we’d heard from their friends and neighbors. If it was a weekly we’d meet with the publisher. If it was a daily we’d meet with their ed board and Boise Statehouse reporter.

Evans began the practice of taking selected state agency directors and added the component of a town hall meeting to the format. It is the Evans model that current Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter adopted. Continue Reading »

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Jul 08 2014

An October surprise?

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CARLSON

 
Carlson
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Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter conveys an image of serenity and certainty as he goes from political events like the “God and Country” rally held in Nampa to the 4th of July parade in Idaho Falls where he and wife Lori, dressed in matching outfits, display their horsemanship skills.

Beneath that façade of confidence that Idahoans will still reward his lackluster record by electing him to a third term there has to be a heart full of anxiety that the chickens will come home to roost regarding his disastrous venture into the private management of a state prison facility. A worst case scenario that some Democrats pine for is if not Butch, several people close to him may be charged with obstruction of justice before the November election.

In political parlance it is called an “October surprise”—-an event that breaks into the news just before the voters cast ballots. Overnight it can change the electoral dynamic. Often campaigns will try to innoculate themselves against such events with pre-emptive statements to the media that their desperate opponent may launch a baseless “October surprise” charge that the media should disregard.

It is a completely different matter, though, if it is the Federal government through a U.S. Attorneys’ office, that brings charges before an election and that is what Governor Otter may be sweating. Much as the Governor wants folks to think he is on cruise control to re-election, there are many folks deeply troubled by how badly the Governor’s signature trademark venture into private management of a traditional public function, the management of state prisons, has been bungled.

What the public does know is damning enough. Start with the fact that on July 1st the state took back over management of the prison outside of Boise constructed and managed by Corrections Corporation of America. Throw into the mix that credible evidence came out that CCA was billing the State for work never performed but no one knows just how much because the Governor announced a million dollar settlement with CCA that closed the books.
Some believe this was a thinly disguised effort to stymie any further release of other embarassisng information indicating further negligence by the state to conduct any responsible oversight.

Add to the mix that a member of the Idaho State Police and one who reports directly to the governor, led the media, whether willfully or unintentionally is not clear, to believe that the ISP was conducting a state investigation into CCA and its handling of the state contract (Worth reportedly about $30 million annually). A year later when a reporter asked for the report or its status the official revealed no investigation had ever been conducted. Continue Reading »

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Jul 02 2014

A transformative governor

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Carlson
Chronicles

July 20 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of a governor never elected by the people of Idaho who nonetheless had a more profound and lasting impact upon Idahoans than many of its elected governors. His name was Forrest H. Anderson, the 17th governor of Montana who in one-term, 1968-1972, not only transformed Montana but indirectly helped his colleague, Cecil D. Andrus, to transform Idaho.

Born in Helena on January 30, 1913, he died tragically by his own hand at the age of 76 in Helena on July 20th, 1989. He had been in ill health for years in part due to a hard life consumming too much alcohol (A functioning alcoholic he allegedly quit drinking during his second term as Montana attorney general, 1960-1964) and too much tobacco whether cigarettes, a pipe or a cigar.

A short, almost pixie-like figure, he nonetheless towers over most other Montana governors in terms of ability to change the state and turn its government into true and efficient public servants. He could be brusque with people and caustic. He often swore like a lumberjack and had little use for the press. A very private person he was often accused of acting in secret (He did). A humble man, he eschewed all the trappings of high office.

Montanans, however, loved him. He was elected three times as attorney general (1956, 1960, 1964), served a term early in his career from Lewis and Clark County in the Montana Legislature (1945-47), and was twice elected as an associate justice of Montana’s State Supreme Court. He is the only person to ever serve in all three branches of government in Montana.

He could have easily been re-elected governor but his declining health compelled him to step aside after but one term – one however which saw Montana’s government truly changed. Two of the three major changes he brought about in Montana had their “successors” in Idaho. Continue Reading »

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Jun 26 2014

Family values

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carlson CHRIS
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Carlson
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A steadily growing trend in political television advertising is the appearance of a candidate’s mother, spouse, daughter, son or his entire immediate family, all testifying to what a good person the candidate is. And yes, almost always it is a male candidate running these family testimonials.

Even the family dog can get drawn into the net. A few years back in the neighboring Fifth congressional district (Spokane), Congressman George Nethercutt prominently featured the family dog in his television commercials.

It used to be that just a picture of the candidate’s family would appear in a print ad or a brochure. Such pictures were designed to help the voter identify with the candidate. “See, I’m a normal person with a spouse, kids, pets, an old beater of a car, a mortgage and bills, just like you,” the ad would imply. Therefore vote for me because I know your challenges and I can feel your pain (As Bill Clinton famously said).

Such family testimonials must work at some level because media consultants would not be utilizing them if polling didn’t tell them that many voters accept such ads at face value. This is a classic case of myth-making overcoming reality.

It is also a classic case of a political aspirant using loved ones as props to feed the candidate’s ego and ambition. Often it is unseemly and demeaning, especially when the long-suffering spouse is asked to stand behind her man despite his blatant infidelity and is expected to look into the camera and testify that she still loves her spouse and please give them a zone of privacy to work through their difficulty.

Most of us recoil at such maudlin scenes and instinctively feel sorry for the spouse being asked to endure the public humiliation. Deep down most of us know also there is no such entity as a normal person nor a normal family nor a normal marriage.

We know that every marriage has its challenges. Couples have to work through these challenges together if they are to keep growing together. To pretend that maintaining the appearance of a normal family is somehow proof that if one can manage a fmaily they can manage a state is patently absurd.

Families and relationships are dynamic entities full of divegent, ever-changing personalities, and truth be told, most families have their dysfunctional aspects.

One thing we do know for sure is a spouse knows our weaknesses better than anyone else. We also know that it is just plain wrong for one spouse to expect the other to sacrifice their self-esteem, goals and ambitions on the altar of the other’s ambitions.

The smartest move I ever made was to marry my wife. On June 12th we will celebrate 44 years of marriage. We met when I was teaching at Kootenai High School and she was in Nursing school at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. The daughter of a hard-working, sometimes hard drinking north Idaho gyppo logger, she is one of nine children. Continue Reading »

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Jun 20 2014

An Idaho gem

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Carlson
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Somewhere down the road a future Idaho governor is going to take a page from a President’s Book of Plays, and is going to create, maybe even endow, an annual award to an Idaho writer, artist, composer, or outstanding college teacher.

Let’s call it the “Gem” Award, and attach a cash component of say $100,000. Ask the Idaho Humanities Council (The Council has established a similar award, but no money) to submit three names to the Governor.

Yes, Idaho already has the “Esto Perpetua” award that goes annually to the person or organization that during the previous year has best promoted Idaho heritage. It is awarded by the Idaho State Historical Society. While prestigious it too carries no monetary award.

My nominee for the First Gem Award would hands down be Idaho’s State Historian, and one of the state’s finest writers, Keith Petersen. Born in Vancouver, Washington in 1951 and a graduate of Washington State University, Keith has immersed himself in Idaho history like no other Idahoan.

His ability to relate fascinating details and place them in a meaningful context is superb. It is also the product of meticulous research and an innate curiousity that asks “what else was going on then that could have impacted this event or shaped people’s perceptions?”

Did you know that Father DeSmet, one of the first Jesuit missionaries to come to Idaho and the inspiration behind the state’s oldest structure, the Cataldo Mission, was a confident of Northwest road builder John Mullan? Mullan first came west in 1853 as part of a Pacific Railroad survey expedition headed by Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, who “negotiated” (read dictated) the famous treaty of 1855 the effects of which we are still living with today.

If you did not know those facts then read Keith’s most recent endeavor, a biography of Captain John Mullan, who engineered the Mullan Road that started at Fort Walla Walla and ended up at Fort Benton in Montana on the Missouri River. Much of Interstate 90 today follows the road that he mapped and engineered over 150 years ago. Even if one is not a reader of history or biographies, this book is well worth one’s time.

The book is entitled John Mullan: The Tumultuous Life of a Western Road Builder and is published by WSU Press.

Keith begins the book with Captain Mullan’s delivery of a speech in New York City in 1863 at the height of his fame for his explorations, mapping and road building in the west. Mullan is actually the warm up act at the speech forum but drones on and on for a couple hours.

Keith portrays this as the apogee, the high point of Mullan’s story, for at age 36 it is bascially all downhill for the intrepid but ambitious Mullan from there to the end of his life. While Mullan displayed incredible discipline in his younger years, was a diligent and obedient student while mastering the intricacies of engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and clearly an exceptional leader of his map-making and road building crews he appears to have had a classic fatal flaw. Continue Reading »

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Jun 12 2014

Speaker Simpson, revisited

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Idaho’s Second District congressman, Mike Simpson, has to be one of the nation’s few prominent non-Tea Party Republicans not shedding any tears over the stunning upset and defeat of Virginia congressman and Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this week.

Indeed, he has to be smiling like a Chesire cat.

Without having to lift a finger, or stab a colleague in the back, a major hurdle was eliminated in a possible path to the Speakership by the wily yet charming Idahoan. Historically, a party’s majority leader often becomes the Speaker, a powerful post in our system of checks and balances government, and second in line of succession to the Presidency.

Simpson is thought to aspire to the office but early on he must have recognized that it would be difficult to pursue the traditional path wherein an aspirant first runs for either the number three leadership post, that of Party whip, currently held by California congressman Kevin McCarthy, or the number four post, caucus secretary, held by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington state’s Fifth Congressional District (Spokane).

A member of the leadership then bides his or her time until a Speaker retires and in theory everyone moves up a slot. That’s the theory, but of course the reality often leads to some nasty internal fights not always soothed over after the results are known.

Simpson appears to have adopted a different path. A good judge of horse flesh, he indirectly attached his political star to that of Ohio congressman John Boehner, becoming both a friend and a close personal advisor to the future Speaker and a member of the so-called “inner circle.” He carefully avoided running for any of the leadership posts because inevitably one makes a few enemies by becoming an overt rival.

The former Speaker of the Idaho House and former dentist from Blackfoot also instinctively understood that if one is a formal member of a Speaker’s leadership team, then he or she is identified with the bad as well as the good policies and positions that are taken by a Speaker. This can be both a blessing and a curse, but as Eric Cantor found out, it can lead to a muddled middle ground on a divisive issue like immigration reform that ends up alienating both sides.

By staying out of a formal leadership role Simpson can pick and choose carefully which national issues he may want to take a more visible stance on. Continue Reading »

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Jun 09 2014

Never cry wolf

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Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman ought to read Canadian author Farley Mowat’s book, Never Cry Wolf. He might learn a thing or two about animal behavior which all too often has application in the political arena.

For example, he will learn that nothing is simple, that everything is complex. As a charming and engaging propagandist, Hoffman loves to oversimplify complex situations and appear as some wise sage enlightening the uninformed about what’s really going on with and in the Idaho Legislature.

He will also relearn what he should know well given the years he has worked in the political arena: nothing is as it appears and there are no coincidences. These thoughts were prompted by reading his overly simplified, off-the-mark interpretation of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s campaign mailer and ads in the waning days of the May 20th primary which saw Republican State Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis go down in defeat.

Hoffman found it all too easy to accuse big business of smearing a true blue conservative for her vote against spending $200,000 for the creation of an Idaho Wolf Task Force. To reach this preconceived conclusion Hoffman had to ignore evidence that should have told him much more was at play. He apparently could not resist the temptation to bend the facts to his skewed view. He wants readers to believe that IACI got away with suckering the ill-informed voter by accusing Rep. Barrett of being “soft” on the eradication of introduced wolves.

Who is he trying to kid? Anyone who knows Rep. Barrett, who parlayed her time on the Challis City Council into 11 terms in the Idaho Legislature, knows where she stands on every issue – to the far right. They also know she is not soft about anything. She operates in a world of clear black and white and calls it as she sees it.

To say her style, after awhile, begins to rub some the wrong way, would be an understatement. Her age (well beyond 70) is another issue Hoffman chose to ignore.

The ground truth is the earth moved underneath her feet, i.e., she was redistricted into a much larger legislative district – District 8, which stretches from Wyoming on the east to Oregon on the west. For years she represented eastern Idaho counties like Jefferson and Fremont not to mention Custer and Lemhi. Want to wager Wayne that she didn’t spend much time in Valley, Boise and Gem counties getting acquainted with her new constituents?

Her antennae should have given her warning signals in 2012 when she won the four-way Republican primary with just 37.2% of the vote. In 2014, Rep. Barrett received 2,677 votes, which in a three-person race translates into 34.2% of the vote. No one should have been surprised.

There’s another tried and true political axiom: It takes someone to beat someone; in other words, you seldom defeat an incumbent with a nobody. My guess is that Merrill Beyelier, from Leadore, is a somebody. I’d wager, Wayne, that Beyelier is a member of the LDS Church ( Barrett is not), and that he had the backing of the locally politically powerful Ellsworth family, which, a few years back produced a Senate Pro Tempore, the late Senator Jim Ellsworth. Continue Reading »

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Jun 03 2014

Some unsolicited advice to A.J.

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Carlson
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Democratic gubernatorial nominee A. J. Bulakoff has a slim opportunity to connect with Idaho voters and make the case that he has the ability and skills necessary to lead Idaho forward into the future.

In C.L. “Butch” Otter, voters clearly see a tired and aging Republican governor who has done nothing to merit a third term , who has been around 40 years and one who plays fast and loose with facts that damn him for gutting public education and starving state government.

So here is some unsolicited advice to A. J.

First, restoring adequate funding for public education is your number one issue, but deliver the message with passion and conviction once in awhile. A.J. clearly is not a politician. He is a successful businessman but voters have yet to hear the conviction in his voice that tells them he will figure out how to work with a still dominant Republican Legislature to improve funding when many voted for the original cuts.

Secondly, he has to focus on positive messages that people can unite around such as moves to expand the economic pie. Stay away from the divisive, polarizing social messages. The election is about Idaho’s future and whether its children will be eqipped to compete with the rest of the world. It is not about revisiting the abortion issue or gay marriage. The Supreme Court and other courts have ruled on those issues. The law is the law.

Republicans are so adept at getting Democrats off the “we’re better for the economy, education and environment” message by hitting them with “wrong” stances on social issues. Democrats have to make the Republicans respond to their messages and quit letting the R’s take them off message.

That’s not to say that A.J. should not weave key elements of some of the fundamental civil rights issues Democrats have always been in the forefront on because he should. Democrats are fundamentally corrrect on the immigration reform issue and many of Idaho’s farmers are far more in agreement with the Democratic position that will help Idaho farmers legally obtain needed field workers rather than the draconian Republican approach. Continue Reading »

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May 26 2014

Get mad, get even

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Alaska’s long-time senior senator, the late Ted Stevens (1968-2008), had a vicious temper. He could erupt in a split second. Turnover on his staff was constant for few folks would take his berating their competence for long.

He was demanding, would not accept excuses and expected one never to make the same mistake twice. His caustic criticism often was aimed at the press. He rarely hesitated to call a reporter and let them know how badly they’d screwed up.

Behind all the anger, bluff and bluster, though, there was one decent person who had a tender heart, truly cared for those less fortunate and was devoted to his wife, Ann, and their children. He was a man of his word, a tireless advocate for Alaskans and a formidable adversary. He rarely carried a grudge, with one major exception – his senatorial colleage, Alaska’s junior senator, Mike Gravel.

He hated Gravel, and with good reason Stevens truly believed, and it was plausible, that Gravel brought about the situation that led to the death of Ann.

Gravel, born in Massachusettts, went to Alaska with the not so secret desire to achieve high public office. He drove a cab for awhile but soon got into real estate and was successful enough to seek office. An intelligent, charming fellow, he was liked well enough by his House colleagues to be elected Speaker.

In 1966 he trried to parlay the Speaker post into election as Alaska’s sole member of the House but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Ralph Rivers.

In August of 1968, though, he shocked many Alaskans by upsetting the venerable Ernest Gruening, one of Alaska’s last territorial governors and, along with Bob Bartlett, one of the first two Alaskan senators. Gruening, who will forever be remembered as one of only two sagacious votes against LBJ’s Tonkin Gulf resolution authorizing the president to do whatever he had to do in Vietnam, was in his early 80’s. To his regret he ignored Gravel and did little campaigning. Gravel went on to win the first of two terms in November.

Twelve years later Gravel himself was knocked off in the August Democratic primary by Ernest Gruening’s grandson, State Rep. Clark Gruening. Gravel had by then alienated many Alaskans but the clincher was the move Stevens quietly organizned to have a massive Republican turnout vote in the open Democratic primary for young Gruening. Stevens exacted his revenge.

Had Gravel been resonsible for Anne Stevens’ death? You be the judge. Continue Reading »

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May 22 2014

The winners

Published by under Carlson,Idaho

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CARLSON

 
Carlson
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In looking at the results of the May 20 primary, the biggest winner was easily Second District incumbent Mike Simpson. He trounced Tea Party/Club for Growth primary challenger Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls attorney, by a 68% to 32% margin.

By educating second district voters to how weird some of the positions held by Tea Party adherents are, and how badly they will distort an incumbent’s record as a rock-solid conservative, Simpson undoubtedly saved Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter’s candidacy for a third term.

Butch ought to send Mike a box of fresh Idaho spuds every month for the next four years and he ought to offer to come by once a month to kiss Simpson’s ring while slicing, dicing and cooking up the hash browns.

Make no mistake about it, while Otter won on Tuesday, he was still the biggest loser. While voter turnout was abysmally low, something the Tea Party purists wanted (Only the pure of heart and only 100% God-fearing, gun-toting, government-hating, education-bashing, ObamaCare haters) were meant to vote in the GOP’s closed primary.

They got their wish, so to speak, by holding the primary vote totals statewide to between 20% and 25% of eligible voters. This enabled their favored candidates, especially gubernatorial challenger State Senator Russ Fulcher of Meridian, to mount a more effective challenge because the universe of votes needed to win was suddenly much, much smaller.

The day after Governor Otter must have been literally stunned to see that he lost not just rural counties where Tea Party organization was presumably
stronger, but he also lost Ada County, his home county of Canyon and Kootenai – in other words, he lost the urban/suburban vote in the First District as well. A challenge from his right also had to stun the self-proclaimed libertarian.

The results showed how well First District congressman Raul Labrador read his district and correctly calculated that endorsing Fulcher over Otter in the latter days of the campaign would not hurt him.

Where Otter pulled it out was in the urban areas of Bonneville, Bannock, Bingham and Twin Falls counties – the cities of Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Blackfoot and Twin Falls. Otter also narrowly carried the LDS vote in most of the Mormon counties of eastern Idaho.

The only conclusion one can draw when an incumbent sees only slightly more than half the voters voting to return him in his own party’s primary is that a lot of people don’t think he has done anything to merit a third term. Continue Reading »

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May 12 2014

Unreported Alaska land stories

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On June 28th former four-term Idaho governor and Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus will make a presentation in Vail, Colorado to the top donors to the The Carter Center on the how of achieving President Carter’s greatest legacy, the setting aside of 103 million acres of virgin Alaska lands into the four major preservation systems—national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges and new wild and scenic rivers.

With passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Areas (ANILCA) legislation on December 1st followed by an immediate signing into law by President Carter on December 2nd, 1980, Carter surpassed President Theodore Roosevelt as the greatest friend of conservation in the history of the White House.

As many Idahoans know, the key to the success was the then Interior Secretary convincing President Carter to use his powers under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to declare much of Alaska to be National Monuments in 1978. The President followed the advice which overnight literally forced opponents led by the Alaska Congressional delegation to stop opposing legislation and instead start supporting legislation to undo the much more restrictive national monument designation. The same tactic now appears necessary if the pristine alpine areas of the Boulder/White Clouds are to receive appropriate protection.

In helping to prepare his presentation I was reminded of two colorful stories that have gone largely unreported.

1) Gotcha. In the summer of 1978, Andrus put together and personally led 30 members of the nation’s media on a ten-day, once in a lifetime tour of many of the proposed set asides. It led to numerous supportive stories in media across the nation.

Alaska’s senior senator, Ted Stevens, was furious. He accused Andrus of lobbying with public money, something the Senator himself had been accused of years before when at the Interior department he had openly used public resources to campaign for Alaskan statehood.

Even though a Republican in the minority at that time, Majority Leader Robert Byrd let Stevens act as the de facto chair of the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee. Thus, in the fall, Stevens commanded Andrus to appear before the committee to defend the public affairs budget and the public costs of the tour. Continue Reading »

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May 07 2014

He also ran

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The passage of time has been good to him. His hair is now a distinguished white and there’s still plenty of it. His smile is still infectious, his voice still stentorian, his personality still charming, his intelligence obvious, and his ability to conduct solid political calculus still considerable.

Twenty-eight years ago he came within 3300 votes of being elected governor and knocking off the acknowledged heavy-weight champion, Cecil D. Andrus, in Andrus’ bid to return to the governorship after an absence of ten years.

Now 66, looking every inch the prosperous attorney he has become, he and I sat down recently over a three hour breakfast to catch up. It was just two old war-horses reminiscing, but both of us still feel youthful in spite of the challenges of advancing age.

I first became acquainted with David when I returned to Idaho in 1981 to accept appointment to the newly formed Northwest Power Planning Council following my service with Andrus at the Interior Department. Leroy was the Attorney General. We started jogging together over the noon hour.

We shared a common interest in Idaho history and politics. We both admired former governor and senator Len B. Jordan, and his wife, Grace. Though we had obvious political differences, I liked Leroy, even though he was one of the more calculating political personalities I’d encountered.

Many thought he was ruthlessly ambitious. Critics would point out details such as naming his daughter Jordan. Or they would cite his cultivation of the behind-the-scenes political power broker, Bill Campbell, a Boise insurance executive.

Or they would note his even then growing interest in President Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln connection to Idaho. The passage of time has proven that interest to be truly sincere. He and Nancy have spent thousands of dollars acquiring Lincoln memrobilia which they have generously donated to the state. Proving he can still give a heck of a speech, he has traveled the length and breadth of Idaho talking about Lincoln’s tie to Idaho.

When one jogs with another, you talk about a variety of topics from family matters to beliefs and you begin to recognize the outlines of one’s strengths as well as weaknesses. There also is an implicit sanctity of the confessional.

Suffice it to say, I discerned as a “weakness” in Leroy what others would see as a strength – he was, and still is, loyal to a fault. As the 1982 election loomed there were those urging Leroy to run for governor against John Evans. To do so, though, would mean Leroy would have to run over Phil Batt who many in the GOP felt had earned an uncontested shot at Evans. Continue Reading »

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May 01 2014

On trust

Published by under Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Once lost, can trust ever be restored? That question lays at the heart of an increasingly polarized world in which contestants rarely argue whether one is correct or incorrect, but rather whether their view makes them good and your view makes you evil. The first victim in such conflicts is the truth and the second is trust.

There’s no question many institutions we once posited with our trust have forfeited and lost it. The Roman Catholic Church is a classic example. This bastion of supposed moral authority turns out to be populated with priests who prey on vulnerable children and don’t begin to practice the Gospel message of love they preach. They just don’t get it that there’s an obligation to the truth that comes with the territory.

When the truth began to emerge, from the canonized Pope John Paul II to cardinals to bishops of various dioceses, many engaged in covering up outright illegal, immoral behavior or at a minimum implicitly condoned reprehensible acts by moving offending priests to other parishes.

The Boise diocese’s own Bishop Mike Driscoll, while serving as an administrative Vicar General in Orange County, California, admitted to transferring several priests suspected of engaging in abusive behavior to new parishes. He later apologized and profusely asked for forgiveness. On April 27th, Bishop Driscoll hailed the “fast-track” canonization of John Paul II and of the beloved Pope John XXIII. The latter deserves it, the former does not.

Many Catholics, even the few still in the pews, rightly question the propriety of canonizing the pope who sat on the Throne of Peter and did little to address the priestly abuse of children. Such “see no evil” destroyed the laity’s trust in the Church hierarchy. Can anyone blame their cynical reaction to a “public relations” exercise to the dual canonization?

Likewise, too many Federal institutions have forfeited our trust by engaging in cover ups of unpleasant truths. Every large institution operates on a principle of survival first, even if that means lying to the public that pays their salary and rationalizing that the end justifies the means.

From lies about the health impacts of atomic bomb testing in the atmosphere in the 1950’s to lies about outright power grabs by agencies like EPA, which today seeks total control over all Idaho’s waters, not just navigable waters, it should come as no surprise that the public posits no trust.

Once trust is lost, whether it is between two people or between governors and the governed, like virtue itself, it is never totally restored. Not to over-generalize, but as a society we have little faith anymore in any level of government or any large institution. This is true whether the institution is private or public, or the media that supposedly is a watchdog, or the police agencies supposedly charged with protecting us. Continue Reading »

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Two bulls fire near Bend, and defensible space.

 

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.

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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)

 
 
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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
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WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
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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.
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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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