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Posts published in “Carlson”

Salmon and steelhead, still surviving

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reinvesting in their homeland

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cracks in the armor?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day of reckoning

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you see a pattern?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened to common sense?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

Whose Idaho values?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The importance of predictability

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting on headlines

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Walshes

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Newly appointed Montana Senator John Walsh ought to build his campaign to be elected to finish the term of new U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus around the issues a famous namesake (Though not related), Montana Senator Thomas J. Walsh championed for the 20 years he held the seat (1913-1933).

John Walsh, a former Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard, is a true political novice. His prior political experience is slightly more than a year of service as Montana’s Lieutenant Governor. He ran and won in 2012 as the ticket mate for then Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock’s successful bid for the governorship.

Walsh worked well with Governor Bullock, and when the long-serving and never defeated Senator Max Baucus announced he was retiring, Walsh, with Bullock’s blessing, began campaigning for the Democratic nomination. Even if the popular and charismatic former Governor, Brian Schweitzer, had re-entered the Senate race he dropped out of before Baucus had announced his plans, Walsh indicated he was staying in the race.

Once another popular former Montana governor, Marc Racicot, made it clear he would not be a candidate for the Republican nomination, most pundits conceded the Senate seat to Schweitzer until the Billings Gazette ran a major feature article highlighting some questionable dealings by Schweitzer.

With Racicot and Schweitzer both taking a pass, Republicans, both in Montana and nationally, saw their hopes start to rise as they contemplated freshman Republican Congressman Steve Daines’ elevation to the Senate. With more name recognition and strong support from the Republican Senatorial Campaign committee who see this as a key “turn over” state in their desire to seize control of the Senate, Daines is favored.

Governor Bullock, though, by naming Walsh to the seat gives the Democrat a bit of an extra edge by making him the incumbent, and Walsh’s prospects should not be dismissed. For one, he not only has Bullock solidly behind him, he also has the likeable former teacher/farmer Senator Jon Tester working hard for his election.

Senator Walsh could do a lot worse than model his campaign around the issues that his famous namesake, Senator Thomas J. Walsh, so skillfully utilized to stay in office for 20 years.

The first Montana Senator Walsh was an Irish-Catholic native of Wisconsin who started out as a teacher but soon switched to law and graduated from the University of Wisconsin’s Law School. He migrated to Helena in 1890 where he set up a practice specializing in copper litigation and accidental injuries.

Politics drew him into a congressional race in 1906 which he lost but then was named a U.S. Senator by the Montana Legislature in 1913. With a sharp legal mind he quickly made a name for himself on the Senate Judiciary committee. He became a stalwart supporter of President Woodrow Wilson and was the Western Field Campaign manager for Wilson’s Re-Election campaign in 1916, which Wilson narrowly won over Justice Charles Evans Hughes. (more…)