Archive for the 'Malloy' Category

Aug 25 2014

On supporting higher education

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MALLOY

 
In Idaho

I am a University of Idaho alum who enjoys following Boise State sports. My golf clubs have “Vandal” headcovers and occasionally I’ll wear a “Bronco” shirt on the course – just to mess with people’s minds and give myself a mental edge. Of course, when I hit a series of errant shots and missed putts, the edge is gone and I become this crazy old guy with a Bronco shirt and Vandal headcovers.

The point I try to make is there is no rivalry. The football rivalry was cooking pretty well for three decades, but ended when Boise State decided to go big time. So, let’s realize that Idaho needs both schools – the land grant university in Moscow and the urban-based university in Boise – to go anywhere with higher education. Idaho also needs strong systems at Idaho State and Lewis-Clark State College to provide higher education opportunities to Idahoans.

As Mike Rush, the executive director of the State Board of Education, tells me – and he’s absolutely correct – we need more opportunities for higher education, not fewer. A strong higher education system is crucial for pulling Idaho out of the dumps in terms of wages.

Now, if Rush can only convince the politicians. Higher education should be a bellwether issue in political campaigns, but it isn’t. Candidates for state offices will talk plenty about the public schools, because Idaho has a constitutional requirement to provide a public education for children. But there is no such requirement for higher education.

“That, combined with the fact that higher education has other sources of funding, has made higher education across the nation a tempting target for balancing the budget,” Rush said.

The decrease in state support for higher education has caused sharp increases in fee and tuition costs. And while higher education is still a bargain in Idaho, compared to other states, it has priced many Idahoans out of the market – to the detriment of the economy.

“We can’t keep going in this direction,” Rush said. “If we keep withdrawing support, our higher education system simply will not be able to deliver the punch that we need to drive our economy for the next 30 years.”

Rush says numerous studies about the relationship between post-secondary education and economic prosperity are clear. “You’ve got to get more people with post-secondary experience,” he said. “That may be a four-year degree, or that may be a two-year degree. Or, maybe it’s an industry certificate that proves additional and specific skills.”

The bottom line is more years of a post-secondary education equal higher salaries. The quality of a higher education system so often is a make-it, or break-it factor for providing businesses and industries that pay higher salaries. Boise State, for example, has upgraded its computer science offerings at the request of high-tech industries. The College of Southern Idaho played an instrumental role in providing a workforce for the Chobani Yogurt Factory in Twin Falls.

Community colleges are designed to provide a relatively quick source of training while higher education focuses more on the long-term needs. “I think higher education gets it, although it can always be better,” Rush said.

Working four years as communications adviser with Idaho House Republicans, I did not sense an appreciation of the value for higher education. Some of the questions I heard asked: Why do we need three universities and, especially, a four-year school in Lewiston? Why do we need four presidents and four layers of administration? Could the state save money by closing down one or two universities? Continue Reading »

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Aug 19 2014

Finishing the debate

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malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Gov. Butch Otter, the longtime “Happy Warrior” of Idaho politics, who prides himself on running “positive campaigns,” has taken on a far different approach against his Democratic challenger, A.J. Balukoff. And Otter is going against political scripture in the process.

Republicans are supposed to cater to the rich while Democrats promote class warfare. What we’re seeing here is a wealthy Republican governor attacking his challenger, a successful businessman, for having too much money and spending large sums to finance his campaign.

“Help us beat our multi-million dollar Democratic opponent,” Otter says in a fund-raising appeal. “(Balukoff) has already started radio and television ads spending roughly $625,000 in the month of August. We need to stop him from buying this election with his self-funding campaign.”

Otter raises much of his campaign funds the old fashioned way – through lobbyists. Otter’s head cheerleader is the powerful Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, which bills itself as non-partisan and usually caters to rich businessmen like Balukoff. But in this campaign, IACI has opened a website (LiberalAJ.com) that lashes Balukoff for standing with President Obama and liberal Democrats.

There’s one big flaw with the premise. Balukoff says he supported Mitt Romney in the last presidential election and contributed generously to his campaign. That hardly makes sense for Idaho’s leading Democratic torch carrier at the moment, but as Balukoff says, he doesn’t care much for partisan politics.

A few things brought up by the Otter campaign are true. Balukoff is a multi-millionaire who plans to spend “what it takes” to get his name and message out statewide. If it takes more than $1 million out of pocket, then so be it.

“I am in this campaign to win,” he said.

Balukoff is taking the right path in this political environment in which money means everything. He cannot rely on the “free media” to run his press releases or cover town hall meetings – as Sen. Russ Fulcher found out in his unsuccessful challenge to Otter in the GOP primary. Balukoff is making many of the same points as Fulcher did regarding the economy and lack of leadership. The difference is Fulcher didn’t have the money to flood the airwaves with his message; Balukoff does.

It’s odd that IACI is putting so much effort into this race, because Balukoff is on the organization’s side on several issues – even more than Otter in some cases. Balukoff says he supports IACI’s positions on a constitutional amendment to reduce the two-thirds voter approval for passage of school board levies, Medicaid expansion and the state health exchange. He stands with IACI in support of Congressman Mike Simpson’s proposal for the Boulder White Clouds wilderness. Otter, by contrast, firmly stands with IACI on only one of those issues – the state health exchange. Continue Reading »

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Aug 12 2014

Stallings’ problem

Published by under Malloy

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MALLOY

 
In Idaho

The other day in Twin Falls, former 2nd District Congressman Richard Stallings approached a 24-year-old waitress and talked about this year’s congressional campaign. As any good politician, he saw an opportunity to win over a potential voter. What she saw was a man who was old enough to be her great-grandfather, which presents a problem for Stallings.

His mind is sharp, he has good health overall, but the 73-year-old Stallings looks every bit of his age – which does little to attract 20-somethings who already are detached from politics. The waitress was just more than a year old when Stallings left Congress in 1993. There’s a whole generation of new voters who were not even born when Stallings served in Congress.

He has other challenges that are even more daunting. Rep. Mike Simpson, seeking his ninth term, is fresh off a resounding victory over tea party candidate Byron Smith in the primary election – proving the 2nd District is not the bastion for conservatism as it was during George Hansen’s heyday in Congress. Simpson’s membership on the Appropriations Committee gives him clout and access to hefty campaign donations. Stallings has little more than a past history and around $17,000 in the bank.

“I have no illusions,” Stallings said. “When I ran before (1984) and was running against someone who had four felony convictions and I barely won. That is not the case now.”

But Stallings says he sees a “path to victory” by pushing for raising the federal minimum wage and immigration reform – issues that tend to attract women and Latinos. He welcomes support from disgruntled conservatives who are bruised from the primary campaign. As for everybody else, Stallings has two major platforms:

1. Throw the bums out.

2. All Republicans are bums – especially House Speaker John Boehner and Simpson, who is one of Boehner’s leading lieutenants. Stallings thinks any Democrat, including California’s Nancy Pelosi, could do a better job leading the House.

“I tell people that if you like Congress – and only about 12 percent of the people do – then stay with Simpson, because he will give you two more years of nothing,” Stallings said. “I am running against the worst Congress in the nation’s history. Simpson is one of the leaders of that Congress and he should be held accountable.” Continue Reading »

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Jul 29 2014

As an example

Published by under Malloy

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MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Don’t look at me to handicap the Miss America Pageant in September. I do a lousy enough job picking winners of sporting events and political elections and I can’t remember the last time I saw a Miss America Pageant.

I will make an exception this year and make a point to watch the competition on television on Sept. 14. And I will go out on a limb and say that Miss Idaho, Sierra Anne Sandison of Twin Falls, has a decent shot at winning. No, she does not hail from the South, or Midwest, which produce long lines of past winners. A Miss Idaho has never won. But Sierra has something that few others have – a compelling story. And all she had to do was walk on stage during the swimsuit competition of the Miss Idaho Pageant with an insulin pump attached to her side.

BOOM! The social media exploded with a photo of this gorgeous 20-year-old woman confidently walking with her beautiful smile and perfect body. Her insulin pump suddenly became a fashion statement and she has encouraged others to “Show Your Pump.” Sierra has become an inspiration to 26 million people living in the United States who have diabetes and the nearly 80 million people who have pre-diabetes. She is proof that diabetes can be managed, the harmful effects can be reversed and diabetes does not stop people from living their dreams. The late Ron Santo, a Hall of Fame baseball player, had the disease and Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler has it.

I, too, am living proof that diabetes is manageable – although I’m no match to Sierra in terms of beauty, grace and charm. Better management has allowed me to overcome blindness and open-heart surgery and keep a mild case of kidney disease in check. I’m 64 years old and never felt better. 
I enjoy hearing stories about people overcoming obstacles such as diabetes, so I was bowled over by Sierra’s story about winning the Miss Idaho Pageant and I’m sure many other people were, too. Continue Reading »

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Jul 23 2014

The speaker’s road

Published by under Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley will be doing more than watching the Election Day results in November. He’ll be keeping an eye on Republican winners, because his job depends on it.

Perhaps even more than the governor’s race, the state’s direction hinges on the outcome of the legislative races. Bedke, who won by a narrow margin in 2012, is no lock to win re-election. Critics – and there are plenty of them within the conservative wing of the GOP caucus – say he hasn’t done enough to bring opponents to his side.

“He’s leading with the D’s, and that’s no way to lead,” said one Republican House member.

For certain, Bedke could not have gotten through the implementation of a state-run health exchange without the help of Democrats.

“A majority of the Republican caucus voted against the exchange and the only way it passed was with the help of Democrats,” said Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens (Kootenai County). “That would not have happened under the previous speaker.”

Barbieri also opposes Bedke on Common Core education standards and fears that the speaker could push for Medicaid expansion. Barbieri isn’t alone with in his complaints about Bedke’s leadership. Earlier this month, the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey wrote an excellent piece, talking to two of Bedke’s leading critics from the conservative side – Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane of Nampa and Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude of rural Ada County.

But complaints against Bedke and the more moderate “Otter” Republicans are empty without a viable conservative alternative, and that’s a problem. The bench is thin. Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star has the resume, but he has told others that he is not interested in the speaker’s job because it would signify the beginning of the end of his legislative career. Rep. Tom Loertscher of Bone, the longtime chairman of the State Affairs Committee, also has the qualification. The question is whether he wants to stay on for another term or two. In Popkey’s article, Crane offered himself as a potential candidate for speaker. The question is whether he is ready for such an assignment. My guess is he is not.

Bedke, in many ways, has done a good job leading the House and a divided GOP caucus. He’s highly intelligent, engaged in the issues and has superior knowledge about budgeting. He’s also a superb communicator with the media, a trait not often found with Republicans.

Conservative members have a different view, as Popkey’s article outlined. Crane says that Bedke’s style has made the GOP divisions worse. Continue Reading »

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Jul 15 2014

A congressional success story

Published by under Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Congress is doing a great job, and this is not a joke. Sure, there’s a lot of gridlock in Washington and on many issues, Congress can’t seem to agree on the color of the sky, let alone reach agreement on anything of substance.

But when it comes to diabetes awareness, and appropriating funds to cover research and prevention programs, it’s a different story. Funding for diabetes research, which was about $320 million in 1997, is now in the billions of dollars.

Support of this nature is significant to me, because I’ve had diabetes for more than 15 years and have experienced many of the complications. If we do nothing, it’s projected that one in three people will have diabetes by 2050. For a society, that is unacceptable.

None of this is lost on the members of Congress – specifically, three of the four members of Idaho’s congressional delegation. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson clearly “get it” on this issue. They are not working alone; 345 House members and 42 senators are members of diabetes caucuses. They have a deep understanding of the issue and the role Congress can play in fighting this disease.

“I’m no fan of federal spending, or creating a bigger government, but there is an appropriate role when it comes to certain expenditures,” Risch said. The National Institute of Health is one of those areas in which government does have a proper funding role.

“I’m a big fan of the NIH,” Risch said. “They perform miracles – arresting cancer on kids who are living normal and productive lives. Twenty-five years ago, or even 20 years ago, they were destined to die at an early age.” Continue Reading »

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Jul 08 2014

Reasons for not going back

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malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

University of Idaho officials, from the president on down, have made it clear that the Vandal football program is about making money. Going “back” to the Big Sky Conference is OK for other sports, but not for football.

“The financial consequences make it not very attractive,” Idaho’s new president, Chuck Staben, said in a recent article by the Idaho Statesman’s Brian Murphy. Athletic Director Rob Spear said in the same article that returning to the Big Sky level (Football Championship Subdivision) would result in Idaho cutting other sports.

Idaho has 975,000 good reasons for opening this year’s season at Florida, which speaks more about the intelligence of Florida than Idaho. If the Gators are foolish enough to pay nearly $1 million for a non-competitive game, then Idaho is smart enough to take the cash and hope the players don’t have too many leg cramps from the humidity.

But should college football and athletics in general, be all about money? Sports should be enhancing a young person’s educational experience, and not making athletes mere tools of revenue production. Football, especially, should be about traditional rivalries and road trips to neighboring schools. A perspective that puts money first is a warped perspective.

“It’s always a negative,” says Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “When you play money games, two things happen. You accumulate losses and you’re away from home. Those things are deadly to an athletic program.”

In Vandal country, it’s easy to blame former Coach Rob Akey’s undisciplined approach for the football program being on NCAA probation for failure to meet academic standards. But top officials should carry some of the blame for creating a “money-first” environment that promotes recruitment of athletes who run fast in the 40-yard dash, but can’t spell “cat.”

As Fullerton sees it, branding is at least as important as money. Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington have strong brands from successful football programs. Those teams don’t win championships every year, but they are competitive and the programs are run well. Strong branding also promotes better recruiting.

“At Montana, you can’t buy a seat. I would ask the University of Idaho, is that happening on your campus? If the answer is no, then one of the problems may be how you are structuring your program. You are stretching too far to find the money,” Fullerton said. Continue Reading »

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Jun 30 2014

An Arkansas lesson

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malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Years ago, I bumped into my old boss on an elevator – former Arkansas Congressman Ed Bethune – and he was gushing about how nice it would be to live in Idaho, where Republicans receive such enthusiastic support.

At the time, he never saw such a level of support in Arkansas. Democrats held the kind of stronghold in Arkansas that Republicans have held for so long in Idaho. Bethune, who served three terms in the House of Representatives, was one of the few Republicans who managed to win elections in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

It’s no mystery why Democrats were so strong in Arkansas. Gov. Bill Clinton was the pride and joy of the Democratic Party and Hillary, as the first lady, was a rising star. Arguably, the most popular political figure at that time was then-Sen. David Pryor, who also was a former governor. Bethune decided to challenge Pryor for the Senate in 1984, and Pryor won convincingly.

At the time, Democrats seemed to have a dynasty that wouldn’t quit. Today, Arkansas is almost as red as Idaho. Republicans hold all four House seats, one Senate seat and majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Arkansas also has voted consistently for Republicans in recent presidential elections.

So can Idaho turn from a Republican state to a Democratic state? It’s far too early to take that leap, but there may be at least slight movement in that direction – and especially if Idaho Republicans continue to stumble over themselves. Back in the day, Arkansas Democrats were a pretty arrogant bunch and they took elections for granted. Democratic candidates always talked the conservative game, but their voting records didn’t match their rhetoric. So over time, Republicans became the party of choice in Arkansas. The pattern for Idaho Republicans is much the same. They’re arrogant and tend to take elections for granted. And in the eyes of some, policy records of the likes of Gov. Butch Otter and Rep. Mike Simpson don’t live up to their conservative campaign themes.

A sea change in Idaho wouldn’t be easy for Idaho Democrats. For one thing, Democrats will never out-conservative the GOP in the Gem State. But Democrats could make headway talking about how Idaho’s leadership formula has led to Idaho being near last in education and first in low wages – issues that Sen. Russ Fulcher raised during his narrow loss to Otter in the governor’s race. Continue Reading »

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Jun 15 2014

An opening for Balukoff?

Published by under Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate A.J. Balukoff won’t apply for membership into the tea party and there’s no chance of him being a featured speaker at an Idaho Freedom Foundation conference. But if wins the governor’s seat in November, the most conservative Idahoans could be the ones who will help put him there.

As Idaho Freedom Foundation Director Wayne Hoffman sees it, electing Balukoff over Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter makes sense from a conservative’s perspective. It may be one way to put the Republicans Party on track.

For instance, Hoffman says, if a Gov. Balukoff were to push for Medicaid expansion, it would be dead on arrival in a Republican-dominated Legislature. If Otter were to propose Medicaid expansion, lawmakers would look more closely at the potential cost savings for counties. A Balukoff administration that proposes repeal of sales-tax exemptions likely would go nowhere in the Legislature. If Otter proposed the same thing, legislators could view it as a sound way to raise needed revenue.

Conservatives probably wouldn’t like him any better than two recent failed candidates, Jerry Brady and Keith Allred. But Otter is no beacon for conservative principles either. Otter’s poor showing in last month’s Republican primary election, in which almost half the people voted for someone else, makes him prime for election defeat.

“Butch is vulnerable,” Hoffman said. “He won against a no-name and under-funded candidate with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote. You have to think that’s problematic.”

Losing Ada, Canyon and Kootenai counties also is problematic for the governor – along with a disastrous Republican convention over the weekend that failed to elect a party chairman or approve a platform. “We have hit bottom,” said Congressman Raul Labrador, one of Idaho’s leading conservatives.
The Democratic challenger, as with Hoffman, hears dissatisfaction in the conservative ranks.

Balukoff’s philosophy overall is far different from Sen. Russ Fulcher, who took 44 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. But much of Balukoff’s rhetoric is the same as Fulcher’s.

“A lot of people think Otter has been in for a long time and not a lot of show for his tenure,” Balukoff said. “People recognize that our education system is not where it should be and per capita income is at the bottom of the nation. They are upset with the lack of accountability and cronyism in the governor’s office. People are dissatisfied with the lack of leadership and are ready for a change.” Continue Reading »

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May 31 2014

Exemptions on the table

Published by under Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

The popular notion is that public schools, which receive just over $1.3 billion, is the largest item in the state’s budget.

But there’s one other item that eats up $1.7 billion, and it does nothing to help schools, roads and state services. That’s the amount it takes to maintain the 80 or so sales tax exemptions, many of which have been in place since the sales tax was implemented almost 50 years ago.

It’s the elephant in the room that politicians don’t want to talk about. Several lawmakers have tried to tackle the issue over the years and all have failed. Sales tax exemptions should be an issue in this year’s election campaign, but it’s more likely that they won’t in the interest of political self-preservation.

Imagine what could be done with another $1.7 billion. Idaho could double what it spends for the public schools and have money left over. It could be enough to take Idaho out the race for the bottom in just about every funding category for education. Maybe some of that money could be used to take our universities off the road to mediocrity. Or maybe the quality of lives of Idahoans could be better with improved roads and social services.

Of course, the odds of winning the lottery probably are better than eliminating the sales tax exemptions. There is a strong constituency for every one of those exemptions. And there are lobbyists lined up to protect all of them. It would be easier to push for increases in the income and sales taxes than ending the exemptions.

Eliminating exemptions would be tax increase on the business world and business operators don’t like higher taxes any more than Republican legislators. Given the choice between improving state services and company profits, business operators will favor the bottom line. That doesn’t make business operators the bad guys. In some cases, a sales tax exemption could make the difference between a business surviving, or going under. Continue Reading »

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May 18 2014

Firing time

Published by under Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Early in his political career, Gov. Butch Otter would encourage people to view political campaigns as part of a job-application process.
 
As with any good applicant, he greeted voters as he would with a CEO of a company – a winning smile and firm handshake. He looked sharp, had a resume that didn’t quit, and was quick and confident with his responses. For good measure, he’d drown his face with after shave lotion – just to make sure nobody forgot who Butch Otter was.
 
That was 1986 and Otter was applying for Idaho’s lieutenant governor. He landed that job and two others he applied for during that 28-year stretch – 1st District congressman and governor of this great state. Now, he is applying for a third term in the state’s highest office.

At 72, Otter is much older than when he first applied in 1986. But he still looks and feels sharp, has that winning smile, firm handshake and is as friendly as your next-door neighbor – minus the layers of after shave lotion, thank goodness.
 
Otter has been an easy hire through the years. But for company CEOs, there comes a time when employees must be fired. It often comes when an employee does something egregious to embarrass the company. The CEOs in Otter’s life were able to overlook a couple of embarrassing moments – a drunken driving arrest and entry into a tight-jeans contest.
 
But the other night, Otter did something that no CEO could ignore. He was responsible for making Idaho the nation’s laughingstock by insisting that Harley Brown and Walt Bayes be part of the only televised gubernatorial debate of this primary campaign. Brown and Bayes were total embarrassments, as Otter, debate organizers and everybody else knew they would be.

Otter’s political strategy worked to perfection. Brown and Bayes were sideshow distractions and the candidates didn’t even get around to talking about education. The message sent to industries, educators and others considering moving to Idaho is that this is a state of bikers and backward hicks and that people such as Harley Brown and Walt Bayes are worthy of consideration for the state’s highest office. If the head of the Department of Commerce were responsible for creating this kind of spectacle, he’d be fired – as he should be.
 
As a native Idahoan, I’m offended. And as one of the CEOs of this state, I am holding Butch Otter responsible for what he did to my state.
 
I’m going to fire him on Tuesday.

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May 14 2014

Defining a party

Published by under Idaho,Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Could this election define the heart and soul of Idaho’s Republican Party? Congressman Raul Labrador makes a case for those high stakes, which led to his endorsement of Sen. Russ Fulcher for governor and a host of tea party candidates.

“We need a new vision for Idaho,” Labrador said. “We need strong leaders that understand that business as usual is what should not be happening in Idaho. We should look for fresh ideas and for new ways to make Idaho what I believe should be the gem of the whole United States, rather than be at the bottom of all the different things.”

Labrador calls for leaders to “show a vision of what Idaho will be five years from now, 10 years from now and 20 years from now.”

Cecil Andrus could not have said it better. Of course, the Fulcher-Labrador crowd offers far different solutions than Andrus, but there at least is agreement on what some of the problems are. Idaho is last in the nation in wages, and first in the relative numbers of workers receiving minimum wage. It’s at the bottom, or near the bottom, in just about all measures for education and as stories by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey and others have revealed, Gov. Butch Otter’s Project 60 has been more of a campaign slogan than a formula for economic recovery.

When Labrador talks about things like “heart and soul,” he can start with the visual contrast between the young turks and the old guard. Fulcher and Labrador are two politically ambitious men who are in the prime of their lives. Otter, the leader of the old guard, is an example of an aging politician who has been there, done that and never wants to leave.

Yes, Fulcher and Labrador are about as conservative as politicians get. But in Idaho, that’s not a bad thing. Idaho is a poor state, and there is not a high threshold for new programs and more taxes. Idaho will never be among the big spenders for education, whether it’s the public schools or higher education. Paying the minimum wage will continue to be challenging enough for businesses.

This new brand of conservatives want what almost all Idahoans want – quality schools, good roads, safe communities and quality state services. But people such as Fulcher and Labrador think there are smarter and more effective ways to manage state government and boost the economy. Fulcher talks about natural gas exploration in the Payette area and Labrador talks about Idaho becoming the next Silicon Valley.

Both say that for Idaho to move forward, old leaders have to go. “Butch Otter has done a lot of things to admire in office. But after 40 years in government, he has lost his way,” Labrador says.

Labrador, especially, is what Otter was in his younger days – a firebrand conservative who challenges the old ways of doing business. Fulcher is more measured in his approach, but he has a similar resolve.

The question that Republicans will answer on May 20th is whether they are ready for a new heart and soul.

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May 09 2014

Never-ending?

Published by under Idaho,Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton

Sen. Russ Fulcher, fighting an uphill battle to end Gov. Butch Otter’s regime, should use this quote as his them for the stretch run of this primary election campaign.

This election is not about electing Fulcher as the Republican’s nominee for governor, or repealing Obamacare.

This race is about stopping a dictatorship.

No, it’s not the kind of dictatorship that produces oppression and mass killings. It’s about one man potentially holding power for a lifetime. Two terms – or at least two consecutive terms – is long enough for presidents and governors.

If Fulcher doesn’t take Otter out this year, then Idaho will be stuck with him – potentially for decades to come. Otter already has said he is not discounting running for a fourth term in 2018, which translates to this: He’ll run for a fourth term. Then a fifth term, a sixth term and beyond.

It’s not unusual for members of Congress to serve 12 years or more in office. But a senator or congressman is only one of 535 other members. They do not define the agenda, or the power structure, for the nation and states – as presidents and governors do.

When the same people are in power for so long, some very friendly relationships develop over time.
Looking at Otter’s campaign staff, he makes no effort to hide those relationships. His staff includes a representative of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s most powerful business lobby. It also includes a lobbyist with Veritas Advisors; a representative of the scandal-plagued private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America; and a former lobbyist for the troubled school broadband provider, Education Networks of America.

It’s not illegal for money machines to be working on campaigns. But it shows there’s a lot of big money people and organizations who have an interest in keeping Otter in power. Continue Reading »

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May 06 2014

News reports

Published by under Idaho,Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Kevin Richert, who for more than a decade was one of the best editorial writers in Idaho, has a new bragging right. He’s also one of the Gem State’s reporters, earning the title of “Reporter of the Year” by the Idaho Press Club.

The award was richly deserved – and made more impressive by the fact that he beat out two high quality reporters from the Idaho Statesman, Sven Berg and Katy Moeller. It’s ironic that the top award goes to someone who does not work for the traditional print media. Idaho Education News is based online, but it’s the best place to find out what’s happening in education and Richert does a great job.

The Idaho Press Club also has proclaimed a new kingpin on the print side in the Treasure Valley. The Idaho Press-Tribune was given the top award for general excellence, beating out the Times-News of Twin Falls and the Idaho Statesman. That award is surprising, because the Press-Tribune was in the top three in only a a few categories. The Statesman, which has an outstanding reporting staff, has enough awards to decorate a wall. The Times-News also has a generous number of awards.

So, how does the Press-Tribune get first place and the Statesman get third? I suspect the difference is on the editorial page, which is the heart and soul of any newspaper. The Press-Tribune under Phil Bridges, another Statesman alum who is making good, produces editorials that are worth reading. At the Statesman, the in-house material on the editorial page is the newspaper’s weakest link.

No doubt, there are high fives going throughout the newsroom in Nampa. But I can’t take the Press-Tribune seriously for “general excellence” until it upgrades its political and Statehouse coverage. Nampa is Idaho’s second largest city, the politics in Canyon County are hot and heavy, and there’s no excuse to leaving coverage to a depleted Associated Press staff.

The top award in that editorial writing category went to Jon Alexander of the Times-News, who has shown that longevity is not the only criteria to producing quality material. Third place went to Michael O’Donnell with the Idaho State Journal, which over time has gone from one of the worst pages to one of the best. Continue Reading »

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Apr 25 2014

The mortgage fight

Published by under Malloy

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Sen. Mike Crapo’s legislative effort to shake up the mortgage industry is the tale of two bills – and an example of why nothing gets done in Washington.

This is the best of bills and it is the worst of bills. It places stability in the mortgage industry and it destroys the mortgage industry. It preserves the 30-year mortgage and it destroys the 30-year mortgage. It saves taxpayers from potential economic disaster and it smashes the American Dream to bits. That’s what the special interests and hired guns are saying from both sides of the debate, and it raises the question: Who’s right?

This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats, because Crapo has been working with Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., on the legislation that would phase out the two government mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This fight is between special interests, which are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, to either move the bill forward or kill it. Both sides say they are only out to protect the people, but I don’t buy it.

The intense lobbying effort tells me that the special interests are trying to protect themselves.
In this political dog fight, you have Crapo at odds with former Sen. Phil Gramm with a cast that includes the CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association weighing in against a member of the Securities Commission’s investor advisory board – all of whom are creating different levels of confusion.

The only clear and concise message I’ve seen has come from a group called 60 Plus, which has run a series of attack ads against Crapo. Are the ads totally accurate? Probably not; but who cares? Run the ad enough times and a new truth emerges. The effort by 60 Plus has Crapo scrambling to try to reverse the negative perception. Unfortunately for him, dull op-eds and long-winded statements don’t cut it.

The 60 Plus ad shows side-by-side photos of Obama and Crapo as partners in a scheme to take over the mortgage industry and drive a wrecking ball into the financial futures of millions of Americans who have their financial futures tied up with Fannie and Freddie. The ad says that “ordinary Americans,” such as teachers, police officers, firefighters, could have their retirement savings taken from them. “The federal government will seize all profits,” the ad claims. Continue Reading »

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Oregon State Highway film from 1966. A few changes since then.

 

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See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
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JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

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WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

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