"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.


There’s an old political saying that when asked to choose between two good friends running for the same office, the answer is, “I’m with my friend.” That means you’re not about to choose, nor are you going to say who you might opt for in the privacy of the balloting booth.

One might even contribute the same amount of money to each campaign. Such a stance risks the loss of both because they’d rather that you choose, but the smart and prudent person stays neutral.

If Bruce Reed is anything, he is smart and prudent. The Coeur d’Alene native and 1978 Coeur d’Alene High graduate went onto Princeton, graduating with honors in 1982, thence onto Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, and obtained an MA in English Literature. Despite being a rather quiet and unassuming person his classmates could tell he was destined for good things.

A family friend, Tony Stewart, a professor at North Idaho College for many years, and a co-founder along with Bruce’s parents, attorney Scott Reed and State Senator Mary Lou Reed, of north Idaho’s Human Rights Foundation, would play tennis with the younger Reed. If Stewart was the least bit late he would find Reed patiently waiting but also always reading a book.

Early in his public career Reed encountered presidential politics as his services were sought by two young and intelligent senators, Tennessee’s Al Gore and Delaware’s Joe Biden. Reed had gone to work for Gore as a speechwriter in 1985.

As the 1988 election drew closer Biden asked Reed to work for his 1988 presidential bid. Reed was astute enough to ask Gore whether he planned to run. When told by Gore that he was going to run Reed politely declined Biden’s offer without burning any bridges and did work on Gore’s 1988 campaign.

In an amicable parting he left Gore in 1989 to work for the Democratic Leadership Group in 1990, where his talents and ability soon caught the eye of young Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. He joined Clinton’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1992 and when Clinton won Reed went to work first as a deputy domestic policy advisor, and two years later as the chief domestic policy advisor.

His relationship with both Clinton and Gore remained strong and in 2000 he left the White House for two months to help Gore with his debate preparation. Despite being close to the seat of power one seldom saw Reed quoted. He preferred to remain in the background and did not play the game of being a “high placed source” for the media.

When 2008 rolled around Reed’s loyalty to the Clintons’ trumped all others and he supported Hillary’s bid for the presidency. Once elected president, Illinois Senator Barack Obama let bygones be bygones and named Reed to be the executive director of the Simpson/Bowles Commission, a group of distinguished elected officials as well as private sector folks charged with restoring fiscal sanity to a budget process gone awry and with curbing excessive federal spending.

Reed, by all accounts, did a masterful job of helping hammer out a decent, doable set of compromises that could, if adopted by Congress, have met the challenge the commission was given. Following this Reed accepted an invitation from old friend Joe Biden, now Obama’s vice president, to become Biden’s chief of staff, which he did for two years.

Reed has many talents, one of which is to look down the road and over the horizon. It is fair to speculate that unlike many in the political game Reed saw the real possibility of being caught in the middle between friends with Mrs. Clinton again making a bid and his friend and current employer, the vice president, also deciding to run.

Reed’s answer, like the old political saying, is not to choose between friends. On November 13th, 2013, he announced he and his equally talented wife, Bonnie (Also a Coeur d’Alene High graduate), were leaving the nation’s capitol for Santa Monica where he would be the president of the Ely and Edythe Broad Foundation whose primary purpose is to facilitate meaningful reform in public education.

It was a wise move by a loyal soldier. My personal preference would have been for him to leave his job with Biden to run for the Democratic presidential nomination himself. At 55 years of age he’s at the right age to take on the rigors of the office. It’s time for the baby boomer generation to step aside and pass the torch to the next generation. Mrs. Clinton, Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden – all will be in their 70’s should they take the oath in Janaury of 2017. Candidly, that’s just too damn old.

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Two recent columns have elicited two different responses which demonstrate, on the one hand, the skill of a smart communicator, and on the other, the nit-picking approach too often taken by amateurs to divert attention from a column’s major point.

The first example comes from the column questioning whether there really is a cure for cancer, and suggesting that recent television ads seen frequently on CNN by M.D. Anderson, the huge Houston-based cancer care center affiliated with the University of Texas, were in fact over-promising with an apparent claim that MDA had conquered the dread disease.

The column also referenced an incident ten years ago in which they refused to see a potential patient and turned down the request for a second opinion. The column listed its outlets and invited MDA to submit a rebuttal if they felt injured.

Within 24 hours an associate director of external communications, Julie Penne , e-mailed back a truly responsive response reflecting the fact tht she had obviously mastered easily Public Relations 101, and that MDA, huge though it is, knows how important smart communications is for their national image.

First, she addressed the personal, and sincerely offered congratulations for holding my cancer at bay for almost ten years. Next, though it was ten years ago since they had refused to see me, my column and cover note had been forwarded to the clinic’s leadership team and someone would be calling shortly.

Third, she thanked me for sending the contact information for the media that carry my column should they wish to produce a rebuttal.

Fourth, she sent the critique of the ads to their marketing team for a review. This past weekend there were script changes in the “talking head ads.” They substituted for language like “cancer, you lose” and inserted a phrase I have often used, and one that was in my cover note: “I’m still here.” That’s all they have to say—-a straight forward, indisputable fact.

A good guess is they arrived at the need for some slight changes based on reactions from ad “focus groups.” It clicked with them when several of the participants said the same thing. Still, it is nice to think just maybe I influenced the decision a wee bit.

Contrast that response now with Craig Gehrke’s letter to all my media clients in which the field director for the Wilderness Society took exception to my column expressing disappointment in supporters of the new Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness settling for less than half a loaf in this wonderful part of Idaho, rather than holding out for President Obama to invoke the Antiquities Act to protect more acreage while restricting more motorized vehicle use.

Gehrke believes the National Monument designation would have been a hope and a prayer that let the perfect be the enemy of the good and risked gaining nothing at all. However, it is incontestable that all the Risch/Simpson legislation really does is preserve the current status quo.

Gehrke engages in a classic false syllogism whereby he cites my factual error on a minor point in the column and hopes then to invalidate in a reader’s mind everything else I wrote. His nit-pick was to challenge my statement that the Andrus/McClure comprehensive statewide wilderness bill in the late 1980’s would have placed more acreage into wilderness than does Congressman Simpson’s legislation.

He is correct. My memory was faulty on the amount of wilderness (157,000 acres) in the Boulder/White Clouds wilderness proposed by the duo, as opposed to the 275,000 acres of wilderness in the new law. I’d thought the two major political players in the late 80’s had proposed 300,000 acres.

That error, however, does not belie the column’s major point that the land itself, and more of it, would have been better protected by designation as a National Monument.

Nor does Gehrke acknowledge the many areas not included in Simpson’s bill because of increaseed motorized vehicle use over the last 25 years that invalidated the ground from being considered for wilderness—areas like Champion Lakes, Washington Peak, Little Redfish Lake and lower lands of the Big Boulder and Little Boulder Creeks and the area south of the Pole Creek/Germania Creek trails. These areas left out are why all the Simpson bill really does is to place into law what is the current status quo.

Ask yourself what is truly best for the resource and an honest answer has to be a National Monument. Preserving the status quo is no cause for celebration.

His nit-picking response is disappointing, and it should be clear which response, his or MDA’s, warrants acclaim.

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A few years back the Vail Symposium (A gathering of the rich and famous to mull over the BIG issues) had an artsy poster given to all the conference participants, attendees and the media. At the bottom of the poster were some lines from a Grateful Dead song:

The trouble with you/Is the trouble with me;
You got two eyes/But you still don’t see!

Those lines came back to me as I sat pondering the bazaar phenomena of Donald Trump leading all the other Republicans running for president. This is just mind-boggling. It defies logic and common sense. What don’t I see that apparently a fifth of self-identified Republican voters see and are captivated by?

Then several other questions popped up: The old question about does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Put in a more modern context, is politics becoming more and more entertainment and thus less relevant? Is the body politic starting to gravitate towards entertainers because politics is no longer an honorable calling and there are no political leaders today we feel we can trust?

Did Ronald Reagan start a trend? By most accounts he was seen as a successful leader, who kept California together, dared the Russians to take down the Berlin Wall, reversed America’s declining stature in the world and rebuilt our military. He was also an entertainer.

So, since there’s no one we trust and no officeholder we believe, we might as well pick someone who can keep us entertained. Correct? If that’s the criteria, then, let’s throw some other names out and urge them to run also. Kevin Spacey is doing an excellent job of portraying the ruthless, win at any cost President Frank Underwood in the current series House of Cards. Martin Sheen also did an excellent job of portraying President Joshia Bartlett in the award-winning series West Wing that ran from 1999 to 2006.

Among the reasons voters who like Trump tell pollsters why are the all too familiar phrases like “he’s not a politician,” “he tells it like it is, says what thinks and isn’t guided by polls,” “he’s rich enough he doesn’t need anyone else’s money,” “he can’t be bought,” “he’s a breath of fresh air,” and last but not least, “he tells the TRUTH!”

Really? The other night on one of this season’s last House of Cards episodes, Kevin Spacey as President Underwood, delivers a brief speech to the nation that begins “My fellow Americans, tonight I’m going to tell you something you don’t hear from politicians – I’m going to tell you the Truth!” Sound familiar? Is art imitating life, or life imitating art?

And what’s the Truth according to President Underwood? Well, folks, the truth is Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are bankrupt. Furthemore, the TRUTH is not one of us is entitled to any entitlement, according to Underwood. This does not sound like a winning platform but don’t be surprised if the Donald doesn’t adopt it.

Here’s the real Truth, my friends. This past weekend Trump in essence said Senator John McCain was NOT a true hero because he had been captured and heroes don’t get captured. In one fell swoop he insulted McCain, every veteran and every prisoner of war. Mitt Romney had it right when he said Trump had just shot himself down. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said he had disqualified himself to run for President and should drop out. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio agreed with Perry.

Asked if he ever asked God for forgiveness, being the true narcissistic egomaniac he is, Trump said “no.” He didn’t stop there, though. He went on to insult every believing Catholic and every Christian who believes communion is partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ. Trump referenced sipping a little bit of wine and eating the cracker.

Maybe I’m missing something and my two eyes really don’t see, but there is no way a majority of American voters is going to put such a loose cannon anywhere close to the nuclear codes.

What I do see, though, is Trump sucking air and media coverage away from the other Republican candidates, and Democrats thoroughly enjoying the consternation and disarray Trump is causing. It’s enough to make me wonder if Bill and Hillary Clinton didn’t put him up to having a little fun.

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On July 3rd some Idahoans celebrated the state’s 125th year since admittance to the union of states. Idaho’s star was the 43rd added to the flag. With each passing year though it seems fewer folks even know or care about this great state’s past or its future.

This is partly due to the incredible mobility of today’s society and the ability, often the necessity, of moving to where meaningful, decent-paying work can be found. Because of its relatively inexpensive cost-of-living, Idaho continues to attract in-migration from California, and many are retirees.

In little more than a decade these newcomers changed the political demographics of northern Idaho from staunchly lunch-bucket Democrats to staunchly conservative Republicans.

One used to be able to tell a native Idahoan from non-native. The native could tell what county a car was from by looking at the license plate.

Native Idahoans had memorized the alphabetical order of Idaho’s 44 counties, ten of which start with the letter B, when first exposed to state history in the 4th grade. They also learned the state song, and not just the chorus. In later life, if one were a member of a Rotary Club, following the pledge of allegiance, everyone remained standing and sang the state song.

Since returning to my native state five years ago I’ve been a guest speaker at five different Rotary Clubs. Only one, the Twin Falls Rotary, sang the state song. These are small things but they serve to unite the people of this state and establish a common identity.

I admit being a state chauvinist; Idaho hands down is the best state in the union, with unmatched beauty and a diverse mix of people who work hard for their pay, play hard in the state’s mountains and forest, and on her lakes and rivers, acknowledge their Creator, and care about their fellow citizens.

As Idaho grows increasingly urban, however, it won’t be long until over half the voters will reside in the two counties of Ada and Canyon. When Cecil Andrus was first elected governor in 1970 he captured only 14 of Idaho’s 44 counties, but those 14 represented a solid majority of the electorate and included a couple of north Idaho counties, Kootenai and Nez Perce.

Today, Nampa and Meridian compete to be second to Boise in population. For years it was Pocatello competing against Idaho Falls.

Andrus was the last governor to come out of north Idaho and he defeated an incumbent Republican governor, Don Samuelson, from Bonner County. That was the last time Idahoans had a choice for governor between two north Idahoans. In modern times besides Andrus and Samuelson, there has been only two other governors to call north Idaho home: C.A. “Doc” Robins, the first governor from north Idaho, was elected in 1946 and was from St. Maries. His successor, Len B. Jordan, came from Grangeville where he moved to after spending almost ten years raising sheep in Hells Canyon,.

Today not one statewide elected official nor any member of the congressional delegation comes from the ten northern counties.

Another characteristic of Idaho’s major office-holders is almost all have deep roots in the state. It used to be voters wanted to know that the candidate knew the state and many of its prominent citizens. Additionally, voters expected to and often did meet in person their elected representatives. They could size them up and with unfailing accuracy could spot the phonies. Today this kind of interactive sizing up is much tougher to do when an offficeholder can only be judged through the television medium.

Idaho voters in the past also felt better about voting for someone for higher office if they’d already been vetted by the voters for some lesser office—usually the State Legislature. All the members of Idaho’s congressional delegation today cut their teeth in the Idaho Legislature: Senators Crapo and Risch were in the State Senate and were in leadership; Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador were in the House where Simpson rose to the Speakership.

Three of the four know Idaho and her people well. They have built and nurtured relationships all across the state for years.

The exception is Labrador, who just may be the tip of the spear in the “Californication” of Idaho politics. There’s no question he is a talented , telegenic, articulate, ethical and a colorful member of Congress. However, he is relatively new to Idaho, was not viewed by fellow Republicans as much of a team player while here, and simply hasn’t had the time to get to know his own district well let alone the entire state.

There is speculation he may run for governor in 2018 which would set up a donnybrrok of a primary between he and Lt. Gov. Brad Little. If that happens, bet on Brad. He’s built his stock the traditional Idaho way traveling the state extensively and shaking hands. It is basic retail politics and it still beats wholesale, at least for a few more years.

When they debate, if challenged to name all 44 counties or sing all the state song, bet on Brad doing it easily while Raul struggles.

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Recent events and the upcoming 4th of July holiday should cause those following current events to focus attention on the word “union.” The United States Supreme Court, by an historic and precedent setting 5-4 decision, has now ruled that “union” in the context of state recognized marriage includes a “union” of same-sex couples who pledge fidelity and love to each other is legally on par with heterosexual couples pledging the same.

This virtually guarantees that the matter will be a major topic during the 2016 presidential cycle.

The other event creating debate centered, whether one recognizes it or not, on the concept of “union” is the debate around the display of the Confederate “Stars and Bars” flag and has come back to the forefront of the news because of the awful racially-motivated murder of nine Americans at an historic Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

America’s incredibly bloody Civil War was not just about eliminating slavery and emancipating African-Americans, it was also about preserving the “union” of states. It is no accident that northern forces were most often referred to as “union” troops. Abraham Lincoln is considered the greatest of our presidents because he both preserved the union and emancipated the slaves.

Display of the Confederate flag is covered by “free speech” guaranteed in the Constitution but that does not make it any less offensive to millions of Americans who rightly also see it as a symbol of state’s rights, and the concepts of secession and nullification.

For whatever reason the state of South Carolina and South Carolinians have historically been the greatest proponents of the belief that state’s rights trump federal law. Its no coincidence that it was the first state to try to secede and that the Civil War began with South Carolinians bombarding the union fort in Charleston harbor.

As Americans approach the great national holiday celebrating independence it might behoove all to recall the great words of Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster in 1830, who rose on the Senate floor to reply to South Carolina Senator Robert Haynes, who previously had advanced the notion that a state could nullify a federal law it did not agree with.

In closing his historic speech Webster turned to the notion of “union,” reminding his listeners that the Constitution’s first words were “We the people, not “we the states,” in order to form a more perfect UNION, hold these truths to be self-evident. . . that all are created EQUAL (the 14th amendment springs from this notion).

Our forefathers chose their words deliberately and carefully. In doing so they formed the most viable democracy the world has ever seen. It has survived because its founding principles and its founding statements radiate vitality in all times and ages, that they are in fact dynamic, on-going living documents. Our democracy should always be a work in progress as we strive for a more perfect union and more perfect unions.

Let Senator Webster’s words speak for themselves and please ponder while having a safe and happy 4th of July. On January 26, 1830, Webster closed his rebuttal to Senator Haynes with these words:

“When my eyes shall be turned for the last time on the meridian sun, I hope I may see him shining brightly upon my united, free and happy Country. I hope I shall not live to see his beams falling upon the dispersed fragments of the structure of this once glorious Union. I hope I may not see the flag of my Country, with its stars separated or obliterated, torn by commotion, smoking with the blood of civil war. I hope I may not see the standard raised of separate states rights, star against star and stripe against stripe; but that the flag of the Union may keep its stars and its stripes corded and bound together in indisoluble ties. I hope I shall not see written, as its motto, first liberty and then Union. I hope I shall see no such delusion, and deluded motto on the flag of that Country. I hope to see spread all over it, blazoned in letters of light, and proudly floating over Land and Sea that other sentiment, dear to my heart, “Union and Liberty, now and forever, one and inseparable.” Amen, Senator.

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There was a period in my earlier years when one would have thought my name was ‘knucklehead.” Everything I did, I did incorrectly, or in an inefficient manner. This would prompt my uncle, Rolla (pronounced Rol-li) Briggs, to look up to heaven with a wry smile and say, “You knucklehead.”

Then, he explained how it should be done correctly. He had a knack for teaching, for imparting the lesson without making one feel stupid. Because of that wry smile one knew he was saying listen up and smarten up. He never berated in a manner that humiliated.

The summers I was 12, 13 and 14 years of age I worked for Uncle Rolla and his wife, Ardis, in Salmon at the family-owned National Laundry. The “home” plant, in Pocatello, was owned and operated by my grandfather, Fergus Briggs, Sr. (Troy Parisian bought them out a few years back).

There were four Briggs boys (Fergus P. Briggs, Jr.; Robert L. Briggs, Rolla and then Jack Briggs) plus my mother, Margaret, and a much younger sister, Mona. All spent many hours working in the laundry, folding towels, shaking sheets or driving delivery routes. The Depression as well as slim profit margins forced some consolidations, but business was good enough that three of the four boys were able to join the family enterprise.

“Junior” took over in Pocatello and Rolla started running the Salmon facility. Neither Rolla nor Jack went to college but both were blessed with a ton of common sense, country smarts and embodied an ideal work ethic. Additionally, they read assiduously.

They also married sisters; Rolla married Ardis Lowers of Pocatello on December 31st, 1946. Jack married Lois Lowers shortly thereafter. When Rolla passed away recently at the age of 87, he and Ardis had been together 68 years. Neither thought that as exceptional—-they had taken vows, kept those vows and grew closer together as they gracefully aged. Rarely did one hear them referred to separately—it was almost always, Rolla and Ardis.

Among their shared passions, besides their four children (Larry, Debra, Pamela and Freida) and their grandchildren, was a love for Idaho’s out-of-doors, especially the Salmon River back country; and, a love of flying. Both were pilots.

For 20 years they were stalwarts in the Salmon community—both were JayCee’s and Rolla belonged to the Elks, Rotary, Masons and the Knights of Columbus. He was voted the Distinguished Citizen of the Year and he was a volunteer fireman.

I will always remember the summer night the fire siren began to wail. Being close to the fire station, half-dressed Uncle Rolla went rushing over to the station only to discover it was the station itself that was on fire. Despite the fire already being well along he and several others were able to rescue the all important fire pump truck before the building collapsed to the sound of one long lasting final siren wail.

This knucklehead learned what hard work was, working mornings as the town dry cleaner, and in the afternoon feeding sheets into a large barrel press in heat that reached 130 degrees in August—-all for the princely sum of .75 cents per hour.

I rapidly concluded that hard labor was not the way to make a living. Nor were we done after work. Rolla would send us off to Williams Lake to assist in the construction of some A-frame summer cabins he and several friends were building. I learned just enough about carpentry to be dangerous.

Uncle Rolla also taught me how to drive before I was 14—-a young boy’s dream—-but somehow it was building materials I was carrying around, not hot young girls.

In the mid-60s he and Ardis bought into the fly-in only Selway Lodge deep in the heart of the Selway/Bitteroot Wilderness. Several Septembers, before returning to New York City and my undergraduate school, Columbia, Uncle Rolla or Syd Hinkle would fly me into the Lodge for a few days. Rolla knew my “mountain batteries” needed recharging.

Rolla was the first to recite to me a wise saying: “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. There are no old, bold pilots.” This may explain why he was able to walk away unscathed from the one mountain crash he ever had.

His eternal Co-Pilot called him home to the Backcountry airstrip in the Sky on April 23rd in Boise.

In many respects he was your typical, common sense, hard-working Idahoan. He thoroughly enjoyed Idaho’s bounteous beauties and was always grateful for his blessings. He had that wonderful wry smile and sometimes a witty comment to go with it when calling me knucklehead.

I knew though he saw some potential and was proud of my accomplishments in later years. I hope he knew how proud of him I was for no matter how you say it, he was also a rarity in this old world—a real man’s man. As Will Rogers once said of mother earth, they just ain’t makin’ ‘em anymore. Rest in Peace, my uncle. Your old knuckleheaded nephew, Chris.

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The most successful university president in Idaho history, Boise State University’s Bob Kustra, is rapidly approaching retirement. He is 72 years young, and has accomplished more in his 12 years than all other Idaho public university presidents combined, with the possible exception of former Idaho State University President William E. “Bud” Davis.

Many factors combined fortuitiously to generate his success, but one key is from day one Kustra understood the job is primarily one of mastering the politics. To succeed a university president must concede they are a politician—-not an academician, not a researcher, not a teacher, not a scientist.

Kustra came to his job almost straight from the jungle of Illinois politics where it is truly a contact sport riven with internecine fights and plagued with a history of corruption. He served two years in the State House, eight years in the State Senate and seven years as the Lt. Governor working with one of the few, competent, ethical and untainted governors in modern Illinois history, Republican Jim Edgar.

Kustra resigned his office in 1998 to go into higher education, a long-time secondary avocation of his (he holds a Ph.D in political science), to accept the presidency of Eastern Kentucky University and by 2003 was named the 6th president of Boise State.

Credit Kustra with understanding both the potential for dynamic growth at BSU and the importance of putting together and implementing strategic plans. As the man with a plan he quickly converted all the multiple constituencies from alumni to faculty to students. All recognized they had in Kustra a smart, tactical leader who knew how to make decisions, win over critics and unite diverse interests around goals beneficial to all.

Kustra also intuitively understood that everyone loves being associated with a winner, especially in the game of football. Boise State was already moving in the direction and had achieved real success on the gridiron but credit Kustra with understanding how crucial football success is to generous alumni giving and substantial funding from state legislators. Credit him also with ensuring that the minor sports were well supported as well as womens sports in full compliance with Title IX.

Kustra, working with his athletic director, deserves credit for elevating a fine football coach like Chris Peterson and hiring Leon Rice as head basketball coach. They took Boise State to the top tier of college football and basketball. Neither was he afraid to leave a rival like the University of Idaho, which couldn’t keep up, behind.

Credit Kustra also for hiring as his director of government affairs former House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, one of Idaho’s saviest political practitioners. Only one University of Idaho president, Tim White, working in conjunction with the Vandal’s equally adept government affairs director, Marty Peterson, could have possibly matched the Kustra/Newcomb combination.

White got fed up with continual harassment by Ed Board member Blake Hall from Idaho Falls and walked away. He landed in California where today he is Chancellor of the entire University of California Higher Education System. It didn’t take Kustra long after White was gone to not so subtly have removed from the University of Idaho’s mission statement the characterization of the U of I as the “flagship university.”

Kustra understnds the importance of perception. Too smart to appropriate that title directly, he knows today Boise State, though it describes itself as a “metropolitcan research university of distinction,” is nonetheless Idaho’s flagship university.

During Kustra’s tenure BSU has grown into the state’s largest public university. It grants over 40% of the bachelor degrees awarded in Idaho each year. Yes, the U of I for a while longer may continue to lead in research dollars and be considered academically better, but Kustra knows reality often follows perception and it is only a matter of time until BSU leads in those arenas also.

Like all successful politicians, Kustra has his detractors. He can be imperious and downright arrogant at times, and more than one person has called him a jerk when he acts less than his capability to charm. Decisive people though can often alienate those who dislike their decisions. Kustra knows success can cover a multitude of sins.

It appears the University of Idaho’s new president, Chuck Staben, doesn’t begin to understand the nature of the challenge Kustra’s aggressive leadership has created for him and his university. One example, is indicative. After being in office over a year he has yet to meet with the editorial board of the largest daily newspaper in his own backyard, the Lewiston Tribune. Vandal boosters better wake up..

When Bob Kustra hangs up his spurs he’ll do so secure in the knowledge that he is retiring as the uindisputed champion of the title “best university president,” bar none, in the history of Idaho.

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