Writings and observations

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

One of the guiding principles for legislators and other elected officials is often summed up by the phrase “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

Elected officials are lobbied by a variety of special interests who seek advantage for their respective enterprise by seeing a law or regulation passed that will give them a competitive advantage although it is sold to lawmakers as increasing efficiency or a new and better way to generate tax revenue.

Lawmakers listen, deliberate and then say yeah or nay with the guiding thought of what is the greatest good for the greatest number.

Another guiding principle is the need for laws to protect the lives of people.

The first law of the social contract is that people band together to protect life, especially the weak, young, elderly, and disabled from the strong, the greedy, the selfish who exploit weakness wherever it is seen.

For Idahoans these two guiding principles should be kept in mind as the public is asked to comment in hearings before the Idaho Transportation Board on regulations needed for the implementation of a new law passed by the Legislature at the behest of Idaho Forest Group, Potlatch and Clearwater Paper to allow on north Idaho roads the weight of trucks to be increased from a limit of 106,000 pounds to 129,000 pounds.

Dear reader, this quite simply is not in the public interest nor would it be safe, especially in wintertime. It is a classic case of corporate interests rationalizing their desire to maximize their profits regardless of the increased risk to the driving public.

Look at a map of north Idaho and note the facilities owned by Idaho Forest Group. From Moyie Springs to Laclede to Grangeville to Lewiston, to Chilcoe, the firm, the result of a merger several years ago, has its mills in disparate locations. Someone, somewhere within the company no doubt did a study that showed if they could increase the weight of whatever they hauled between these facilities they could reduce operating expenses and make a few bucks more.

But at what price? Some critics cite the increased weight doing more damage to roads and bridges, but a ten year study in southern Idaho supposedly showed that not to be the case. That’s not really the issue, though.

The issue is and the only question that matters is will this extra bit of profit come at the expense of more risk to and the eventual loss of human life. The fact that only one hauler was brave enough to testify against the bill should be telling, and yes, off the record the major haulers in the region reportedly said they had gotten the word to keep quiet their reservations.

The lone brave hauler expressed genuine concern about how unsafe he and all twenty of his drivers felt the increased weight would be.

Here’s the other kicker to keep in mind. If in the wintertime a 129,000 pound truck going down the Winchester grade on Highway 95, starts to slide in an icy spot and the second oft-times smaller trailer starts to swing into the oncoming lane, and hits an oncoming vehicle that results in serious injury or death, guess who is most liable?

You guessed it – the hauler, even though he may be hauling product for Idaho Forest Group under contract, IFG does not have to concern itself with the safety issue because they don’t own the trucks. The safety issue is the haulers’ concern not theirs. So the north Idaho ‘big three” get all the benefit and none of the new risk. Isn’t that interesting?

Fortunately, even Governor Butch Otter when signing a special interest bill he should have vetoed, underscored that the rulemaking process had to operate on the principle of safety first, of protecting life not putting it at risk, of reflecting the greatest good for the greatest number.

Let’s hope the public reinforces that message and that this piece of special interest legislation gives way to the public interest.

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medimont


Medimont Reflections with shipping




Ridenbaugh Press has a number of books scheduled for release in the next few months, and today we’re pleased to lead off with a book of reflection and analysis by one of our regular columnists, Chris Carlson.

Chris’ Medimont Reflections, available now from this site (and soon locally around the Northwest), is a followup on his last book, a biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson’s take on Idaho politics over the years, the Northwest energy planning council, top environmental issues and much more.

The first review, from Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman, is out today. Popkey called it “a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho…. Carlson, who lives in the Kootenai County hamlet of Medimont, writes a newspaper column and has larded his 13 chapters with opinions. He says the council should be abolished because of its failure to revive salmon and steelhead; advocates breaching four dams on the lower Snake River; and offers his ideas on nuclear waste, the LDS influence on Idaho politics, gun control, abortion and end-of-life ethics. His behind-the-scenes accounts of the creation of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area include lovely details.”

Carlson and Ridenbaugh Press’ Randy Stapilus will take a circumnavigation tour through all the regions and most of the larger cities of Idaho starting a week from now. More information about that (inclulding what is meant by a “circumnavigation tour”) will be available here soon.

Carlson was the first member of the Northwest Power Planning Council (since renamed, but very much active), and in the book he calls for elimination of the council – though he suggests that a different structure be followed up afterward to replace what he considers to have been a toothless tiger.

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

“Where have you gone. . . .?

Hum these lines to the tune of the Simon & Garfunkel song that became the theme music to that 60’s classic movie, The Graduate:

“Where have you gone Junketing Jim?/

Idaho turns its needy eyes to you?/

What’s that you say, Junketing Jim?/

Hard workers have up and gone away/

So those that stay might as well play?

Heh, heh, heh; heh, heh heh.

That, my friends, is essentially what Idaho’s junior senator, Jim Risch, told Idaho Statesman political reporter Dan Popkey in a story that appeared May 6: nothing gets done in the nation’s capital, and everything is stalemated, a senator may as well sit back, not work hard, enjoy international travel, and coast along.

And, oh, by the way, that seven months he was governor, now that was hard work, especially shifting more tax burden to those that pay the sales tax but providing additional property tax relief to his big corporate supporters. I’ll grant you that Risch did do more in seven months than Dirk Kempthorne did in seven years, but apparently being a U.S. senator is so much easier it makes you wonder why he didn’t skip being Lt. Governor or Governor and run for the Senate years ago.

Most senators and congressman catch “Potomac fever” eventually. As Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger wrote in an article in the Saturday Evening Post in the late 50s, “they never go back to Pocatello.” Most get captured by that “inside the beltway” mentality which falsely believes they live in the center of the universe and everything that is important takes place inside the beltway that surrounds the nation capital.

Even after they leave office, many do not return home but stay and become lobbyists or join prestigious law firms or ideological think tanks for which they are paid handsomely. Truth be told, two of the five highest per capita income counties in the nation are just outside Washington, D.C. It’s the money that captures many, but it is also the money that serves to create the huge disconnect between those within the beltway and those outside.

Money, however, is not the reason Senator Risch and wife Vickie have so quickly been captured, and so quickly lost touch. Senator Risch is already one of the wealthiest members of Congress with a net worth that may be as much as $50 million.

No, in Senator Risch’s case he has fallen for the siren song of foreign travel, paid for either by the taxpayer or by special interests. Rather than travel home to Idaho for most of a congressional recess he is off to places all over the globe.

Sometimes he travels with Vickie, sometimes with chief of staff, John Sandy, who also appears to travel overseas by himself as well.

Senator Risch, though, you see, is the second ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and it’s important that he get around the world. And he is an important man in a city that does nothing but still try and get an appointment to see him either when on the rare occasion he’s actually in the state or when he is D.C. It is nigh on impossible I’m told.

Curious as to just what all his foreign travel entailed I pulled at random a trip the Senator and Vickie took to Israel in 2011 and one his chief of staff took to Erbil, the capital city of the semi-autonomous province of Kurdistan in northern Iraq in 2012.

Granted the trip may have tangentially had something to do with the subcommittee he chairs on near eastern affairs but the itinerary had plenty of nice meals and time for sightseeing. The expenses appear to have been paid for by the American Israeli Education Foundation, an off-shoot of AIPAC, one of the most influential lobbying groups in the city.

Total cost for the five day trip was $8,000 for the two of them, so obviously first class all the way. More troubling was the sponsor certifying that there was no relation between them and any registered lobbyist or any agent of a foreign government. If Senator Risch believes AIEF is not a wholly controlled subsidiary of AIPAC and that the Mossad was not monitoring his trip every step of the way, he doesn’t belong in Congress. Why the Senate Ethics committee insists on this fiction is beyond me.

As to John Sandy’s trip to Erbil, let’s just say the fact that it was sponsored by something called the Humpty Dumpty Institute (seriously) and some company called Aspect Energy says it all. One really does have to ask just what is in these trips for the citizens of Idaho.

Given the Senator’s arrogant attitude I doubt he’ll bother to answer. One can only hope the Democrats come up with a credible alternative in 2014 for he and Vickie might just discover even in solidly Republican Idaho one cannot so take for granted an office bestowed by the people. They that give can taketh away.

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Noticed a few weeks back where you climbed Old Rag Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park on a Sunday with your press aide, a reporter from the New York Times, and some National Park Service personnel.

It certainly befit your image as a hard-charging executive into vigorous outdoor activity as one would expect a former REI president, banker and engineer to be. That you are successful, smart and talented cannot be questioned.

How attuned you are to the politics of the Interior Department, both internal
and external, is another question entirely. Candidly, your lack of any
experience in the political world would have disqualified you in my book,
but now that you’re there in the interests of you having a successful tenure
here is some unsolicited advice:

1. Pick the brains of your predecessors. There’s no substitute for experience and there is a wealth of it in your predecessors, both Republicans and Democrats. Look at former secretaries as a Club and a talent pool to be tapped and develop relationships with all of them. Bruce Babbitt, Cecil Andrus, Ken Salazar, Dirk Kempthorne, Gail Norton are all individuals who can and will give discreet counsel if asked.

2. Be aware of fiefdom agendas. Interior is a collection of fiefdoms all
fighting for your ear and your favor, especially at budget time. Many are in actuality run by career bureaucrats who have seen secretaries and political appointees come and go, but they remain and stay focused on their agency goals. You may have liked the symbolism of climbing Old Rag because of the image enhancement it conveyed to the public. I did not because it made me wonder if you were not already being entrapped by the Park Service.

There’s an old saying in politics, “it’s your friends, not your enemies,
whom most often do you in.” Governor Andrus was constantly running into “land mines” being laid for him by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one of the fiefdoms that simply decided he was not pure enough on their issues.

3. Fire someone right away and make it stick. There’ll be plenty of candidates but until you demonstrate to the bureaucracy that you know how to fire someone for incompetence and make it stick you’ll not really command respect. Real leaders are not just loved, they are also feared. It takes real skill to fire someone in the federal service given the layers of civil service rules and regulations. It’s easy in the private sector, almost impossible in the public sector.

4. Recognize and embrace Interior’s revenue generation activities. Interior is one of the few federal agencies that generates real money for the treasury – from grazing leases to off-shore oil and gas drilling activities, to coal production to Park fees – there’s a vast gamut of money generators, and a major part of your job is to keep the ka-ching going. Hence, decisions you make on tough issues from oil pipeline permits to the regulations governing “fracturing” on the public lands have to balance the environmental concerns against the economic necessities. Trying to strike the right balance is the challenge.

5. Cultivate western governors. Interior is the agency in many western states and you can make real allies out of western governors if you take time to learn about their concerns and keep in constant contact with them.

6. Develop a Critical Issues Management system and focus your time on just those top five issues. You decide what those five are to the extent the White House will let you and then focus on solving the challenges. Yes, current events, something like an especially bad fire season, can divert you, but try to minimize such diversions.

7. Get a handle on and reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs. President Obama is the most Native American friendly president in history. This gives you an unprecedented opportunity to sink your teeth into badly needed reforms in one of the historically most poorly run fiefdoms within the department. Virtually every Interior secretary in modern times has been aware of the many problems within the BIA and has chosen to take the “keep the lid on” approach rather than seek real reform. You and President Obama can change that to the benefit of both the taxpayer and the many poorly served Native American tribes. For starters take a look at the success of many of the Alaska Native Regional Corporations to see if that model cannot in a modified form be transferred to the Lower 48.

You do these seven, Secretary Jewell, and you’ll be a successful Interior
secretary. With respect and best wishes. . . .

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In April I listed ten suggested reforms that would assist learning by students from the student perspective. This week I’m offering thoughts on suggested reform actions from the standpoint of teachers and school administrators.

1) Allow teachers to maintain discipline. Teachers are in the classroom to teach, not baby-sit. If a student is being disruptive and a teacher tosses the person from the class the supervisor or principal has to back the teacher up. Zero tolerance for disruptive behavior and no second chances. Teachers should instill in students that public education is a privilege not an entitlement.
2) Significantly decrease the load on teachers that comes from having to fill out too many “process forms.”
3) Provide teachers with more “prep time.”
4) Require teachers to take more pre-teaching college classes in history and the humanities and fewer classes in educational theory or psychology.
5) Since Idaho does not and probably never will pay its teachers a decent salary, mandate that every teacher, including coaches on the teaching faculty take a fully paid sabbatical every fifth year to recharge the batteries. Teaching, done correctly, is very demanding and draining. Burnout can occur frequently. This would at least give Idaho a unique offering with which to attract new teachers. Which leads to the next item;
6) Strengthen teacher recruiting and retention programs.
7) Require teachers to participate with each of their “homeroom” students in a semi-annual review of the student’s Planned Path to the Mastery of Common Core Knowledge.
8) Evaluation of a teacher’s skill and success in teaching should be based on extensive in-class observation and not on test results.
9) Evaluation of teachers should require above the 7th Grade a student evaluation component and allow for but not require parental input.
10) Campuses should be weapon-free environments except for police hired to provide security in their “spare time” or a hired and trained armed security force. Neither teachers nor students should be allowed to carry on a school campus.

Here are my suggestions for public school administrators:

1) Periodic rotation back to the classroom so as to keep abreast of the in-class challenges facing teachers today.
2) Taking the lead in advocating for teachers before school boards, PTA’s and the public, especially in support of enforcing discipline, adopting a performance based system instead of a time-oriented credit system, and supporting flexible learning time.
3) Require all administrators and principals to undergo media training so as to be better at conveying messages to the public through the media, especially if a school is in a crisis mode.
4) Support teacher mentoring programs.
5) Provide more but shorter “CLE” courses for teachers.
6) Integrate the non-teaching workforce into the system in each district and provide opportunities to expand their participation as teacher aides or additional resources for special projects. Some bus drivers, for example, in some districts, are well-educated themselves and represent an untapped resource.
7) Administrators should be required to attend a certain number of school board meetings each year so as to better understand the challenges a district is facing and to minimize the us vs. them atmosphere.
8) Administrators should have as part of their evaluation a “community participation” requirement – they should join and actively participate in at least one local organization, such as a Chamber, Kiwanis Club, Elk’s Club, American Legion, etc.
9) All administrators should support a no extra-curricular trip more than eight hours away from the school. It’s getting ridiculous seeing, for example, high school basketball teams entail the expense as well as discriminate against the students from less financially secure families by scheduling themselves into holiday tournaments in states like California or Texas.
10) Administrators should be required to conduct extensive background checks on any new hires recognizing that it is difficult due to privacy rules to really develop a profile of a new hire without professional assistance.

There you have it: ten rules for students, ten for teachers and ten for administrators. If all were adopted and integrated into each and every school district I guarantee more learning would take place.

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Saw a news item a few weeks ago that could be exhibit A regarding
what educators are calling a Common Core of Knowledge that a student
graduating from any high school in the country should have mastered.

The multi-millionaire superstar of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant,
was telling a reporter about the entire Lakers team having gone to see
Daniel Day Lewis’ exceptional performance in the movie Lincoln.
Asked to characterize his and the team’s reaction to the film, Bryant
said they all thought it was a pretty good movie but were shocked and
surprised by the ending.

Really? These gazillionaire basketball players, most of whom
supposedly are college graduates, none of them including Kobe, knew
that Lincoln had been the first president to be assassinated? That folks is
what developing a Common Core of Knowledge for students to master is
all about.

It is not a plot by the Federal government to usurp local control of
our public schools. It is not a conspiracy to brainwash our students
into becoming liberal leaning robots who will look to Big Brother for
everything. It is not a conspiracy.

It is a long overdue effort by educators at all levels to define a basic
body of knowledge every student should master if they are going to be
awarded a high school degree and proceed out into the labor force to
become a responsible, accountable productive citizen able to function
reasonably well in a society full of those all too ready to exploit the
ignorant and the uninformed.

Put another way, it is just plain common sense for this country to
develop and require the mastery of a common core of knowledge.
Every state’s superintendent of public instruction is participating in
developing some aspect of this effort working with the U.S. Department of Education.

Idaho’s Tom Luna is a practicing member of the LDS Church and is
about as conservative as they come. He is as sensitive and as attuned to
guarding against infringements on “State’s rights” and “local control” as
the most ardent Tea Party type could wish. He has Idaho participating
in a coalition of states developing recommendations in math and the
language arts for what they believe should be the common core.

He still has his common sense about common core. As any reader of my
columns knows, I was highly critical of the proposed Luna Laws and the
top down process he and Governor Otter engaged in to foist their vision
of education reform off on the Idaho electorate.

Both learned from their mistake, however, and adopted the common
sense approach of putting together a task force of the interest groups
to travel the state and listen to the grass roots regarding what reforms
consensus can be built upon.

Capably led by State Board of Education member Richard Westerberg,
the task force has been traveling the state taking testimony. Despite
Westerberg’s thoughtful “scene-setting” presentation, some of the
hearings appear to have been hijacked by the conspiracy theorists of the
world that see a dastardly federal government plot of some sort in the
effort to define a common core of knowledge.

Do these conspiracy types not have a lick of common sense? Do
they not understand that Idaho’s high school and college graduates
are competing for future jobs in an international market place against
Chinese students, Indian students, Swedish students, all of whom have
mastered more knowledge than most American graduates?

Do they want to condemn their children to a new form of indentured
servitude to the worlds better educated? How do they expect employers
to differentiate and hire the best qualified for future jobs based in part
on the mastery of knowledge and the ability to be life-long learners
mastering ever more if not through some kind of national standardized
test?

It is just common sense to require a well defined common core of
required knowledge.

Every time I see one of these conspiracy types stand up and with great
zeal launch into their harangue I’m reminded of something I heard a
former Idaho State Superintendent, Roy Truby, once say: “I have a hard
time understanding these people who say they love their country but hate
their government.”

So do I, Roy. So do I.

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

A black-hearted Republican friend called recently and asked “are there any Republican governors in Idaho’s history, or anywhere for that matter, you thought did a good job?”

“Sure,” I responded.

“Then name them. I’m getting bored with your continuous haranguing about how lousy a job Butch is doing. You may be right, but say something positive about any Republican governor once in awhile,” he advised.

After pondering this advice for a bit, I decided my friend had a point.

During my 66 years there have been three exceptionally good, well-qualified, progressive and constructive Republican governors who left the state of Idaho in great shape. They did little harm and much good. C.A. “Doc” Robbins from St. Maries (1947 to 1951); Phil Batt from Wilder (1995-1999); and, Robert E. Smylie from Caldwell, (1955-1967).

Looking across the nation but understandably focusing more on the west, several others come to mind: Washington Governor Daniel J. Evans (1965 to 1977); Oregon’s Tom McCall (1967-1975); Utah’s Jon Huntsman, Jr., (2005 to 2009); Montana’s Marc Racicot (1993 to 2001); Nevada’s Paul Laxalt (1967 to 1971); California’s Pete Wilson (1991 to 1999); and, Alaska’s Jay Hammond (1974 to 1982).

Of that entire distinguished group, Hammond was my favorite. Here’s why.

An incredible ability to see over the horizon, down the road, into the future. From his first elected office as an independent in the House of Representatives in the very first session after Alaskabecame a state in 1959, Hammond recognized the need to conserve some revenue from the development of Alaska’s abundant resources not just for a “rainy day” fund but also to put it into a fund that the Legislature could not touch, a fund designed to give each Alaskan an annual payback for their commitment to the State.

His vision became the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Program with a percentage of the State’s take in taxes of the oil generated in Prudhoe Bay going into a permanent savings account from which only the interest could be spent, but spent on an annual dividend to every Alaska citizen.

A commitment to protecting Alaska’s priceless environment. As a former backcountry trapper and guide, as well as a Bristol Bay fisherman, Hammond understood the need for balance in cultivating natural resources like fish and wildlife, and doing so without trashing the environment. He easily could have uttered Governor Cecil Andrus’ famous line: First you have to make a living. Then you have to have a living worthwhile.

An ability to articulate the complexity of most issues, to understand each side of an argument, explain the sides to an audience and then walk through sound reasoning as to the position he was taking. He never pandered to the public or special interest groups.

An ability to compromise and a recognition that governors are “hired” by the public to solve problems. His constructive role during the acrimonious debate that tore many Alaskans apart regarding just how much land would be preserved for posterity as national parks, wildernesses, wildlife refuges and wild and scenic rivers as required by section 17-d-2 of the Alaska Land Claims Settlement Act was a true profile in courage.

I will always remember the August morning in 1979 when he quietly flew his single engine Cessna 182 float plane into the fishing resort on Lake Iliamna where Andrus and a large press contingent he was taking on a tour of proposed d-2 lands was staying. The Interior secretary jumped aboard and the two of them flew off for a day of fishing as well as sitting on logs, spreading out the maps and reaching agreement on the boundaries of the various set asides.

A tremendous sense of self-deprecating humor. Hammond was a truly humble person who like Andrus appreciated the humor in situations and could laugh at life’s absurdities.

In fact that’s the bottom line: Jay Hammond was the Republican governor most like Cecil Andrus. Either one of them would have made terrific presidents of the United States.

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Every so often my publisher walks up to me with a challenge to get beyond blanket criticisms and propose constructive alternatives that will help resolve a contested matter. So it was with the so-called Luna Laws, all of which were criticized harshly by many writers as well as me.

As the son of two public school teachers, I have some opinions but by no means am I claiming to be an expert on educational reform.

The following reflects the Ten Carlson Rules for producing better Students:

Rule #1) Instill a writing discipline, starting in the 1st Grade. A student should have to write something each day. First graders have to write a sentence; sixth graders a paragraph; seventh and above a page a day.
a. Write, write, write—-there is no substitute.
b. Keep a daily diary.
c. Write complete sentences—no short cuts!

Rule #2) No cell phones, ipads, etc. should be permitted during the school day. It’s not just that they facilitate distracting behavior; it’s that they encourage the use of texting, which with all its abbreviations is going to be
the death of the English language yet. All parents should examine their kids text messages and odds are they will need an interpretation or a “texting” dictionary. The phones should be surrendered at the door of the school and returned at the end of the day.

Rule #3) From the 7th Grade on students should be part of a teacher’s evaluation. Students have a fair idea which teachers care and which are really teaching. Conversely, the proposed Luna law requirement that parents be part of the evaluation process should be dropped. Far too many parents
either don’t care or simply don’t have the time. To make them a mandatory part of a teacher’s evaluation would be counter-productive in many cases.

Rule #4) Better define the Core Body of Knowledge. As the nation shifts to more and more national standardized testing, in fairness to the student as well as parents wishing to help, the education establishment has to reach a consensus on what constitutes the Core that has to be mastered.

Rule #5) Incentivize extra-curricular reading of newspapers, periodicals and news magazines. Let students know they can boost a grade by extra reading with weekly testing to confirm they’ve done the reading. But read, read, read! College recruiters still will tell you that one of the sure-fired indicators of a high student who will do well at college is whether they read news periodicals as well as good books. Ivy League recruiters especially look for the student that reads the dictionary in their spare time.

Rule #6) Move away from the time-oriented credit system to a performance-based system grounded in the national standards for what constitutes the required Core Body of Knowledge to be mastered before they can graduate.
a. Adopt “flexible” learning time based on the individual student’s progress. This may mean some students have to attend school year round while others can still have the summer months off.
b. Increase the length of the school year but shorten the school day, regardless.

Rule #7) Require students to work with counselors and teachers to develop an annual Planned Path to Mastery of the Core Body of Knowledge and require a semi-annual review of the plan with necessary adaptations to reflect circumstances – adaptive management if you will.

Rule #8) Provide credit for “real world” experiences subject to review and approval by teachers and local school board. If a student travels to Scotland for two weeks during the summer, or is a counselor at a summer camp, or works in a hardware store there ought to be a way to award a few credits to reflect a different but still valuable form of learning.

Rule #9) Allow one on-line learning class for credit per semester, but one that is carefully monitored and has been pre-approved and one that has on-line tests along the way.

Rule #10) Every student regardless of where or how they are schooled will be required to take annually the national standardized test of the Core Body of Knowledge. No exceptions for home schooled, charter schooled or privately schooled.

These are ten simple, easily doable rules—wouldn’t you agree?

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carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Memo to Zagnation and Zagnauts: Your beloved Bulldogs are once again going for the money. Make no mistake, it’s just a matter of time before they officially accept an invitation from the “new” Big East to join the Catholic Seven non-football playing members of the “old” Big East conference.

Forget about tradition. Forget about rivalries. In the words of motor-mouth basketball commentator, Dick Vitale, “it’s all about the money, baby, it’s all about the money.” Don’t forget, Zag fans, this is the same guy that guaranteed the nation’s basketball watching television audience that Wichita State would defeat Gonzaga in the NCAA Round of 32.

Yes, Gonzaga’s success over the last 16 years has spurred growth in applications and enrollment, and has helped to secure Gonzaga’s financial future. It has also enabled the school to undertake expansion and new buildings. It has become a Harvard business school case study, no doubt, on how to leverage success on the hardwood into success and stature in the competitive world of academia.

Yes, too, Gonzaga has come a long ways from the days in the early 60s when only Board Chairman Harry F. Magnuson’s personal guarantee behind a line of credit kept the doors open and averted bankruptcy. If not for the deep devotion by the late Wallace millionaire and investor no one would even be talking about the Zags today.

So, how much more money are we talking about and is it enough to offset the travel expenses that would come with being so far geographically from the Catholic Seven? The answers are lots more money and yes.

The latest figures available are two years old but they show that the Bulldog basketball program spent $5.3 million and its revenue was $6.1 million. That would put them in the middle of the Catholic Seven——Marquette (which has one national title), Villanova (one national title), Georgetown (one national title), DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence and St. John’s.

Marquette, by contrast had $10.3 million in expenses, but revenue was a nice $15.6 million. Though Gonzaga’s numbers look middling to the new Big East, all these schools see great potential in games with the Zags generating much more revenue because the Zags national following would guarantee more television revenue for all.

Keep in mind that with the possible exception of St. Mary’s, no other school in the West Coast conference spends nearly as much as the Zags. Then there is the factor that coach Mark Few has reportedly wanted to leave the WCC for a number of years in no small part because the lower conference power ranking of the WCC compared to the Big East or the PAC-12 almost always presents a “strength of schedule” barrier that the Zags have to overcome to impress the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

A tougher conference schedule would mean that Few would not have to schedule quite so many tough non-conference opponents.

One suspects that the additional dollars from television will easily off-set and over-come the travel distance barrier. The Zags already charter a large private jet for all of their away games and most Zagnauts are well aware that in order to become a “mid-major” power the Zags already travel great distances for quality games against premier opponents.

There is also a queue forming of other Catholic schools in the mid-west clamoring to join which, with Few reportedly wanting to leave the WCC, means there is behind-the-scenes courting and lobbying going on for the Zags to be the first new addition and the eighth school to join.

Speculation is already rampant among basketball junkies that before the next season the new Big East will have expanded to ten members with Creighton and Xavier joining and the one non-Catholic university, Butler (which made the national championship game two years in a row just two short seasons back) also joining.

If, the Zags indeed do join it would make the most sense to do so quite soon and the “new” Big East might then invite St. Louis to join also, giving it 12 teams that could be divided into two divisions with another one of those lucrative conference tournaments also adding more dollars.

Someone somewhere though should be asking just how much more “success” can the Zags absorb and will there ever be enough? What are the added costs to the student athletes in more long-distance travel? You can also bet that the price of those already expensive seats in the Zags arena will take another exponential jump.

After all, it really is about all the additional money. And by the way, look for the WCC to quickly tender an offer to Seattle University to take the Zags place.

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Carlson

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Pure unadulterated balderdash. Pure B.S. That’s the only way to describe the baloney Coeur – the Precious Metals Company – is serving up as its excuse for relocating its corporate headquarters from Coeur d’Alene to Chicago later this year.

It’s bad enough that most corporate Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Presidents are grossly overpaid by compliant boards, even when the CEO has failed miserably but is still given the proverbial golden parachute. When boards though give way and acquiesce to pure CEO vanity, shareholders ought to sue.

Make no mistake, folks, this move is an exercise in personal vanity by Coeur’s president and chief executive officer, Mitchell Krebs. He and his wife both hail from the Chicago area and want to get closer to home.
So let’s just pick up the corporate headquarters and move, ma!

What does it matter that 45 of their 65 employees will not be moving and will lose their jobs? After all, the company offered to relocate any one that wanted to keep their job by moving. Such a deal. So what then if a supportive community loses 45 good-paying jobs? And add 90 more secondary jobs (2 to 1 economic multiplier) for a total of 135 lost jobs.

So let’s examine the proposed rationales. Chicago supposedly provides improved access to key stakeholders. Just what does that mean? Krebs can more frequently have lunch at a downtown club with a shareholder who if he really wanted to talk face-to-face could be in his corporate jet and in Coeur d’Alene within three hours?

More and easier access to your operations? Come again. Presumably he must mean commercial air access since Coeur does not have its own jet. To get to their Kensington Mine outside of Juneau one has to go through Seattle. Last time I checked Coeur d’Alene and Spokane’s airports are closer than Chicago to Seattle.

Or their Chilean property. Best way to go is through Los Angeles. I think Spokane is closer than Chicago to LA’s Airport.

Where the B.S. really starts to get thick is Krebs parroting Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s propaganda about Chicago being a totally pro-business city.

Really? More so than Coeur d’Alene? Extremely doubtful. Chicago has one of the worst public school systems in the country. Chicago is very much a union town and make no mistake the historic patronage system is still alive and well.

Oh, but Coeur will also have access to a larger talent pool? Really? In this age of the internet that is doubtful. Besides, when mining companies go shopping for talent they tend to look where there are still vital schools of mines such as the Colorado School of Mines, or Montana Tech in Butte, or the University of Nevada at Reno or the University of Arizona.

Indeed, if one really did need to move for most of the trumped up reasons Krebs mentioned, most industry observers say that Phoenix or Denver would make much more sense.

What really tells that this is a vanity move is Krebs’ ego being so big as to insist that the Mayor personally announce this bit of community raiding and chicanery and that the Illinois governor’s office also weigh in. Give us a break.

Idaho’s Job Plus, under the capable leadership of Steve Griffitts, did everything it reasonably could to try to get Coeur to stay. To its credit Governor Butch Otter’s office also did what it could. However, they never stood a chance.

This move is not about logic or facts. It’s all about ego, vanity and selfishness. It’s not really rational, it is purely emotional. Longtime Coeur supporters and board members like former four-term Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus have to wonder now about all the times they went to bat to help Coeur overcome bureaucratic problems in Alaska and Nevada.

There was an implied commitment that he, and another board member, the late Senator Jim McClure, were assisting an Idaho, Coeur d’Alene based company, not an Illinois, Chicago based firm. That comes under the category of loyalty, a concept apparently foreign to Mitchell Krebs.

By the way, be sure and tell your shareholders how much this vanity move is going to really cost. One hopes current Idaho related board members Michael Bogart and Jim Curran are at least asking that question.

Chris Carlson is a former journalist who served as press secretary to Gov. Cecil Andrus. He lives in Medimont.

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