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Posts published in “Carlson”

Coeur’s shuck and jive

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. (more…)

What doesn’t he understand?

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Shame on State Senator Bob Nonini. It was bad enough that the ethically-challenged state senator from District 3 went unpunished by the Senate Leadership for his role in helping to secure contributions and contributing himself to Tea Party challengers to Republican incumbent state senators like Shawn Keough from Sandpoint and Dean Cameron from Rupert.

The latter two are two of the hardest working members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee and are veteran, reasonable, caring listening legislators. Nonini last year, in an apparent effort to curry favor with the then House Speaker Lawrence Denny, and the Tea Party types conspired with among others Avista lobbyist Neil Colwell to secure and send some substantial contributions to challengers to incumbents in his party.

Nonini had to know he was putting at risk his ability work with his future colleagues should he fail, but apparently didn’t care. Colwell at least received a dressing down from his superiors at Avista and CEO Scott Morris drove to Sandpoint to meet personally with and apologize to Senator Keough and Representatives Erik Anderson and George Eskridge for the perfidy and stupidity of their lobbyist.

Rumors circulated before the session that the GOP Senate Leadership, capably led by Senate Pro Tempore Brent Hill and Majority Leader Bart Davis, planned to deny Nonini any committee assignments and ban him from the Republican caucus. Nothing of the sort happened, however. (more…)

Honor

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

(Editors note: The following is condensed from remarks delivered at the retirement of the author’s cousin, Colonel F. Paul Briggs, from the U.S. Marine Corps, ten years ago.)

Thirty years ago the Briggs family turned over to the Corps a young boy. Today the Corps is handing back to us the man, and what a fine man he is. All too often in this too-fixated-on-political-correctness society we’ve become there is a tendency to denigrate the whole notion of manhood, to disparage the idea that one of life’s noblest goals is to become a real man, or a real woman, responsible and accountable for one’s actions, able to meet life’s challenges with bravery not fear, able to chart a course in a life that is worth living because it is lived for others, not just self.

Thank God the Corps understands still that one of its missions is to mold young boys, and young girls, into men and women, proud of who they are, proud of what they accomplish, proud of their country; people who know it is better to serve than be served, people who recognize that the freedoms we have are worth fighting, and yes, dying for; people who cherish notions that should never become old-fashioned, like duty and honor.

The Colonel personifies all that a Marine is and should be. He exemplifies each day the three “D’s”: Dedication, discipline and devotion.

He dedicated himself when young to becoming a Marine. I can still see him running seven to ten miles a day wherever he had to go in Pocatello, while attending Idaho State University, eschewing the notion of driving a car because he had decided he was going to be a Marine and he knew Marines are incredibly fit. And even today rather than drive to work he still eschews a car and bikes the ten miles from his home to the Pentagon. That’s dedication.

He’s always been incredibly disciplined. When backpacking in Idaho’s rugged Sawtooths, or the White Clouds, or the Bighorn Crags, each morning the routine was the same: rise early, wash up, brush and floss the teeth, shave, do your calisthenics, maintain the right appearance---no matter how far back in the wilderness we were, no matter how hot and dusty the trails had been. That’s discipline. (more…)

Phoenix

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Former Idaho Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor David Leroy is garnering deserved accolades for his efforts to educate Idahoans regarding the state’s historical role under the guidance of President Abraham Lincoln in thwarting southern efforts to bring slavery into the territories west of the Mississippi.

A successful attorney and a dedicated Abraham Lincoln historical buff, he has traveled Idaho with a refined presentation on Lincoln’s role in the formation of the Idaho territory 150 years ago. He and his wife, Nancy, have also collected numerous Lincoln memorabilia which they intend to donate to the State‘s historical museum.

He also fills in the background against which one can measure a mistaken view promulgated by his party’s Tea Party types regarding “nullification.” Leroy’s presentation reminds audiences this nation fought a Civil War led by a beloved President who was saying to hell with this nonsense about a state being able to nullify laws passed by Congress they don’t like.

For Lincoln and Leroy, the operative phrase is “one nation, under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty and justice for all,” as we all recite in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Civil War settled the issue of nullification.

Leroy is quintessentially political to his core. He has disarming charm, an ability to tell good stories and to laugh at himself. He also is one of the most calculating, Machiavellian, shrewd, insightful and instinctive politicians to move across the Idaho stage in years.

A rising GOP star in his youth, there seemed no limit to his potential. A Republican version of Minnesota Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, he was the “happy warrior” exuding energy and joy as he went about fulfilling expectations as a competent attorney general and then lieutenant governor.

When I returned in 1981 to Idaho from four years of exile serving with former Governor Cecil Andrus at the Department of the Interior, Leroy and I became good friends. We often jogged daily and talked politics as we ran.

Then the attorney general, it was clear he aimed to be governor and then a senator someday. A fan of former Governor and Senator Len Jordan, and his wife, Grace, Leroy and his first spouse, Helen, named their daughter Jordan after his hero. He delivered an eloquent and moving eulogy on the occasion of Grace’s passing.

Candidly, I told Leroy if he wanted to be governor he had best contest Phil Batt for the 1982 Republican nomination to challenge Andrus successor John Evans. I thought he could defeat Batt and would have a 50/50 shot at beating Evans who one had to concede was doing a solid job in the governor’s chair. (more…)

A parting gift

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis left a parting gift for Governor Otter, his State Board of Education and all those Republican legislators who have consistently underfunded higher education as well as public education during his four years at the helm of the State’s major research university.

The message was contained in one word in Nellis’ terse statement that he would be leaving to take the helm of Texas Tech University , a school three times the size of the University of Idaho. The dunderheads who robotic-like sign off on the Republican’s slow strangulation of state support for higher and public education will undoubtedly miss the word. It was too subtle for them.

Boise State University President Bob Kustra and his government affairs aide, former House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, won’t miss the word, however, since it was aimed directly at them.

So what’s the word that symbolizes the entire message of Nellis’ disgust?

Flagship.

As in Idaho’s “flagship” university, a modifier stripped from the University of Idaho ’s mission statement last year with malice aforethought by Bob Kustra who wanted to drive home the message that Boise State was now the true flagship university in Idaho. A gullible, naïve, asleep at the switch, compliant, lazy board of education bought Kustra’s orchestration of this symbolic demotion of the University of Idaho hook, line and sinker.

Notice how Nellis’ farewell statement (Don’t hold your breath waiting for a longer statement when it is official in three weeks) referred to Idaho ’s “flagship” research university?

Read between the lines, folks. That one word said it all. Bob Kustra will get the message that his hubris and vanity contributed to a solid if not spectacular colleague leaving the state. University of Idaho boosters, both on campus and off campus, will get it. Current University of Idaho students, paying an ever higher percentage of their college costs, will understand it.

Whether Governor Otter and his hand-picked set of pawns that has been rubber-stamping declining state support for all of public education and pretends to be a Board of Education gets it is highly debatable.

One can hardly blame Nellis for leaving and I have to doff my hat for the clever way he sent the message as to why.

Abdications

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Pope Benedict XVI should be commended for acknowledging he is not up to the demands of his job and is stepping down.

Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter should take a lesson and follow suit.

The Idaho “ship of state” is adrift with no firm hand on the tiller. There is no real captain, just a figurehead as wooden as the figureheads on the old sailing ships.

The evidence is abundant and appalling. Just a few of many examples:

· The Governor’s fiscally irresponsible support of an unfunded property tax shift that benefits only several major corporations that don’t need it. Follow the numbers carefully. There’s $140 million in “relief” which will come at the expense of smaller counties, school districts and other taxing districts.

The governor says the state will cover $90 million but that has to be new money coming out of the existing general fund which means there is a “bow wave” effect going through future budgets. Bottom line is there will be even less general fund dollars available for an already woefully underfunded commitment to public education.

Furthermore, school districts and other taxing districts providing basic needed services will have to seek replacement funding at the local level through more over-ride levies. Many Idahoans will get hit by another tax increase thanks to a governor and Republican legislators who look you in the eye and flat lie by saying with a straight face they once again did not vote to increase your taxes. Pure hogwash.

· After taking the correct step following the rejection by the voters of all the proposed Luna Law reforms by forming a commission to take a year and come up with a set of consensus based recommendations for the 2014 Legislature to consider, he sits idly by while “we-know-best” legislators draft bills implementing parts of the rejected laws. (more…)

The desire to simplify

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

What is it about human nature that leads intelligent, usually sensible folks to fall into the trap of the “either/or?” Why do we have a horrible tendency to want to simplify the complex matters we face as individuals and a society? Will we ever learn that the false promises of simple solutions always ignore the law of unintended consequences?

These questions emerge as we witness the latest folly of Congress abdicating its responsibility to produce a preferably balanced budget which does not mortgage our children and grandchildren’s futures.

Unable to come to grips with our potentially crippling trillion -dollar debt by adopting a sensible program of reform, as advocated by the Simpson/Bowles Commission, Congress set a date in which mandatory, across-the-board spending cuts would be imposed if no agreement for fiscal responsibility was reached.

In effect, it is akin to placing a pistol to one’s head and saying if I haven’t quit drinking the toxic Kool-Aid of unbalanced spending by March 1,, I’m going to pull the trigger. It is fiscal insanity, but then so is the penchant to spend what we don’t have by continued borrowing.

The March 1 deadline is nearly here, yet Congress and the White House appear paralyzed, each pointing the finger at the other. Truth is, each share the blame, and each is playing high- stakes poker with the economy.

An $85 billion cut in a trillion dollar budget doesn’t seem catastrophic. Entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) are sacrosanct so the $85 billion comes from the Defense Department budget and from the rest of domestic spending. It equates to an 8 percent cut in the already existing Defense budget and a 5 percent reduction in the budgets of existing domestic spending. And it is across the board.

Its impact will be felt across Idaho, especially because we are one of the “net gainer” states. We receive $1.23 in federal spending for every $1 we hand over to Uncle Sam in fees and taxes. Just a few of the national impacts will be: 77,000 already enrolled children living in homes below the poverty line will be dropped from the valuable Head Start program that helps improve their educational opportunities; commodity food purchases for Aid for Dependent Children and hot lunch programs will be curtailed; and, contract employees of the Defense Department, half of whom are veterans, will be furloughed. (more…)

Third senator

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

In his wonderfully entertaining memoir, Joe Miller tells an incredible story about Bethine Church, the widow of Idaho’s four-term Democratic U.S. Senator Frank Church.

Miller was for 40 years a top lobbyist in Washington, D.C., but early in his career he was paid a then princely sum of $25,000 a year by the United Steelworkers of America to organize and run campaigns for the U.S. Senate. In his first outing, 1956, one of his winning “horses” was a young, political neophyte, Boise attorney Frank Church.

What Miller did not know but came to know, was the Senate and Idaho were getting two for the price of one. Had Miller known that he might not have crossed Bethine the first time he met her.

In his book Miller tells about flying to Boise shortly after Church had won a narrow victory in the August 6th primary over former U.S. Senator Glen Taylor, the singing cowboy. He recounts meeting in U.S. District Judge Chase Clark’s home. Judge Clark was Bethine’s father, Frank’s father-in-law, a former governor of Idaho and as Miller puts it “a shrewd old hand in Idaho politics.”

Also present was the Democratic national committeeman, Harry Wall, a movie theater owner from Lewiston; the state party chairman, George Greenfield; attorney Carl Burke, Church’s boyhood chum who managed all of the campaigns; and, Bethine. (more…)

Labrador probabilities

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

First District Congressman Raul Labrador is a smart, charming, articulate, up-by-the boot-strap, 45-year-old attorney known for his fearlessness in taking on the establishment within his Republican Party in Idaho as well as Washington, D.C.

A darling of the Tea Party types (those to the right of Attila the Hun) and the Club for Growth as well as the Grover Norquist never-support-a-tax-increase of any kind for any reason crowd, he is being urged to come home to seek the governorship.

Odds are, he will, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is a sincere desire to spend more time with his wife and the four of their five children still living at home in Meridian. Labrador and his wife are both devout members of the LDS Church, and family togetherness is a cherished value and tenet of their faith.

When a practicing attorney he specialized in immigration law and has parlayed that expertise skillfully while in Congress. He is viewed by leadership as a credible Hispanic face who will lead the Republicans to the promised land of a larger slice of the future Hispanic vote as he works with Florida Senator Marco Rubio to fashion a fair and more reasonable Republican position on immigration reform.

What many pundits are overlooking is that for Labrador immigration
reform is a double-edged sword for him and in a different sense for his party.

For Labrador it is a classic case that any final reform no matter how it is phrased will ease the path to citizenship for the millions of illegal largely Hispanic immigrants within our borders. To critics of reform, especially the many in Labrador’s Tea Party base, anything that rewards the illegal immigrant for their scoff-law attitude is unfair to the many million others who played by the rules.

Sandy Patano, former Senator Larry Craig’s state chief of staff, once told me that no issue generated more mail including hate mail aimed at the Senator than immigration reform. In all her years working with the Senator she had never seen such outrage, down-right hate, and such raw emotion regarding any issue they had ever faced.

Labrador recognizes the volatility of the issue and that he is riding the proverbial tiger. What makes sense is what he is doing---getting the debate started, helping to frame the issues, but then getting out of town and back home to run for governor. He can capitalize on his notoriety but can also provide himself the ability the side-step the final product.

The reform issue is a two-edged sword for the Republican Party
nationallyas well. The reason is simple and was verified by recent
research from the renowned Pew Research Lab. Their analysis shows
that out of the pool of several million illegal immigrants expected to
benefit from reforms as many as six or seven out of every ten that
becomes a citizen will become also a Democratic voter.

Thus, in the global sense, the Republicans expect some modest gains in Hispanic ranks for votes for them because they finally got it and adopted progressive reform policies. The raw national political sense the reforms will create is several million more votes for the Democrats.

All this adds up to powerful incentives for Labrador to return home.

Nor will Labrador be afraid of taking on a sitting governor if Governor Otter decides to seek a third term. He has challenged Butch before, both over his transportation reform proposal during Otter’s first term and his support for a gas tax increase. He beat him both times. Doubtless he is not afraid of a third round with the governor.

Here is the clincher: it is even money bet that the funds to finance Labrador’s gubernatorial bid will be supplied by a fellow Mormon, Frank Vandersloot, the multi-millionaire owner of Idaho Falls-based Melaleuca Corporation. Don’t be surprised either if the campaign manager turns out to be Damon Watkins, the son of former Idaho Falls State Senator Dane Watkins, and the campaign chair of the Idaho Mitt Romney for President Campaign.

Cardinal sins

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

What are Roman Catholics to do these days? It certainly is not to “pray, pay and obey.” Every time one looks there is a news story about vulnerable children having been sexually abused by priests. These perversions are compounded by the pathetic efforts of cardinals and bishops to cover-up the crimes.

The latest manifestation is the release of extensive documents exposing and damning the role of former Los Angeles archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahoney.

As a former public affairs advisor (paid by a church benefactor) to Spokane’s previous bishop, William E. Skylstad, during the period he was vice-chair and then chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I became familiar with abuse issues as well as the growing chasm between liberals and conservatives within the conference that reflects society’s increasing polarization.

Unlike most bishops, Skylstad recognized the inadequacy of the church’s feeble, self-serving response, which 40 years ago was to send offending priests to a re-education monastery in New Mexico or have them undergo psychiatric counseling.

Skylstad acknowledged that as a young bishop in the Yakima (Washington) diocese, he moved one priest suspected of pedophilia to another parish, one closer to Seattle so the offending priest could more easily attend counseling. When the sessions did not work, he was removed from parish duties. Skylstad volunteered this information and expressed regrets in a heartfelt column he wrote for the diocesan newspaper years before other bishops assumed responsibility.

Skylstad’s openness increased his stature among colleagues as he led the charge for new protocols to protect the vulnerable including prompt reporting of any charge to the authorities. He was one of the first to go to each parish and publicly apologize for priestly misconduct. Ultimately, in order for the Spokane diocese to meet claims for compensation of past abuses, he led the diocese through a painful bankruptcy.

Until recently, I thought Cardinal Mahoney was, like Skylstad, a prelate who “got it,” who understood how badly the credibility of church authorities had been hit. He supported protocols put in place to protect the vulnerable going forward, grasped the importance of reporting allegations immediately and knew how deadly the inevitable exposure of cover-up and conspiracy could be.

I was terribly mistaken. Some say dioceses where abuse occurred are the exception, not the rule. I disagree. (more…)

Hypocrisy

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

The governor-elect handed me a letter as we were dining one December 1986 evening in Boise. Cecil Andrus had narrowly been returned to the governorship the previous month after an absence of ten years. The letter was from the regional representative of the National Rifle Association requesting a meeting at the governor’s earliest convenience.

Presumably, the NRA, recognized then as now as one of the most influential lobbying organization in the nation’s capital and in many state capitals, wanted a “kiss and make up” meeting with Andrus. Despite the incontestable fact that Andrus was a true sportsman, a fisherman and a hunter who went after his elk and his deer every fall, and filled the rest of the freezer with ducks, geese and pheasant, the NRA had endorsed Andrus’ opponent, the non-hunter, Lt. Governor David Leroy.

In responding to their endorsement questionnaire, Leroy had apparently gone right down the line endorsing every NRA position. Andrus, on the other hand, took exception and would not endorse the sale of “cop-killer” bullets or the elimination of waiting periods for background checks. Things he thought were just common-sense positions turned out to be litmus tests for purity. Leroy, despite not owning any firearms, therefore received the endorsement.

It was more than just an endorsement. My former business associate and the 1986 campaign press secretary detailed in his The Johnson Post blog this week the attempt by the NRA in the waning days of the campaign to tilt the election towards Leroy. Direct mail pieces as well as print and radio ads touting their endorsement of Leroy over Andrus suddenly mushroomed across the state. (more…)

A heavyweight bout that wasn’t

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

For years, the conventional wisdom among Idaho political insiders has been the state’s two best campaigners were Cecil Andrus, the Democrat, and George Hansen, the Republican. Each had the rare ability to walk into a room of strangers and leave a half hour later with everyone feeling they had personally connected with the candidate and liking him, regardless of party affiliation.

Each had charisma and command presence, in part because each was more than six feet tall. Each had a keen intellect that could reduce complex issues to digestible parts. Each used humor effectively, though Andrus was better at self-deprecation. Neither were great orators but each could speak in lay-man’s language with passion and listen with compassion.

Each had a great memory. They rarely forgot a name or the face. Both had the stamina to begin a day greeting Idaho National Lab bus riders at 4 a.m. and give a stem winder speech that night. They had intensely loyal followers for many years, and some are still around. Hansen and Andrus worked their way up in politics, Andrus starting as the state senator from Clearwater County in 1960 and Hansen as Mayor of Alameda, a suburb of Pocatello in 1960.

Hansen was the first to achieve higher office, knocking off then Democratic incumbent Second District Congressman Ralph Harding from Blackfoot in 1964 in spite of the landslide presidential election of Lyndon Baines Johnson (the last time a Democrat president took Idaho). Hansen quickly turned his sights on Frank Church’s Senate seat, but lost a hard fought race in 1968.

Andrus lost both the 1966 primary race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and then the general election to Republican Don Samuelson. Andrus defeated Samuelson in a rematch in 1970 and went on to win the governorship three more times.

The Second District seat was taken by Orval Hansen (no relation to George), an attorney and state senator from Idaho Falls who served in the House until 1974 when George Hansen decided to reclaim his old seat. He easily dispatched the other Hansen in the Republican primary. George Hansen served 10 controversy-filled years before narrowly losing the 1984 election to Richard Stallings, a history professor at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho).

Before returning to the House, though, George Hansen took one more run at the U.S. Senate seeking the seat being vacated by Len Jordan in 1972. Hansen lost the August primary in a four-way race to First District Congressman Jim McClure, who also defeated former three-term governor Robert E. Smylie and Glen Wegner, a young lawyer and doctor from Kendrick. (more…)