Press "Enter" to skip to content

Give thanks

It was over six years ago I asked for a spot on this medium. The editor looked through my blog and said I could slip into the Thursday slot. He was aware of my political past. Maybe he thought I had something to offer. I am thankful for his generosity. But I had no concept back then that the Thursday slot meant Thanksgiving, year after year.

I needed to have an annual Thanksgiving post.

I have not always observed the holiday in my posts. I have mixed feelings about both the holiday and large family gatherings. So, some of my fourth Thursday of November posts have not mentioned Pilgrims.

Not that anybody reads this when they are thawing turkeys or greeting relatives. But I have taken this task to heart. So, I post today for your and my Idaho Thanksgiving.

I don’t really know if those east coast Pilgrims were thankful. Lincoln made it a national Holiday 200 years after the Mayflower landed. He had a wise political mind. National Holidays in the midst of a brutal civil war might have just been him playing a public sentiment chip when his hand was weak after the Second Bull Run. And it really boosted the turkey farmers.

It is said the Pilgrims ate turkey and corn and shared a table with their fellow settlers and the natives they were soon to displace. It sure sounds like a wonderful scene, and we all grew up with that image, didn’t we?

But our Idaho natives did not share turkey and corn with the whites with the guns. The Nez Perce shared camas and salmon with the starving Corps of Discovery as they stumbled out of the North Idaho wilderness. These welcoming natives saved the Corps’ lives. And then we displaced them from their lands, despite a treaty. And they have not pursued their war against us. I am thankful for their generous nature and troubled to be living on their land.

So out of reverence for the concept, the worthiness of such a wholesome and spiritual practice as these indigenous people demonstrated, I give thanks. May we all be so welcoming, and forgiving.

I offer thanks to my family, that they tolerate my odd moods and thoughtless behaviors. I can be hard to live with. But they have not kicked me out yet. I am thankful.

This beautiful land, this place I live, I appreciate deeply. I give thanks. I don't mind the dark, the cold, the rain or snow. I know it triggers life in the seeds as they lie awaiting warmth and the sun of a new season. The blazing red-purple sunset, the golden low light of autumn carries me through the gray days and chill nights. I can abide and do so with gratitude.

But the newcomers and the traffic have me perplexed. I greatly appreciate solitude. That is part of what drew me to Idaho. Though I have come to understand I needed more than myself to be healthy. So, I live in community.

It is hard to accept this change, though all of you might not feel it. Some of Idaho is exploding, some stays about the same. A few communities shrink. I should be as welcoming as the Nez Perce were. But then…

I hope these newcomers too have gratitude for this place. Despite the fact that one of the things that made Idaho wonderful for me was that they hadn’t moved here yet. But then, I did. I moved here from another too-crowded place.

This is a wonderful place, this state. We are made up of the leftovers of the states around us as they were carving out their borders. I love leftovers, don’t you? Happy national holiday to you and yours. May you be blessed with gratitude.



House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel of Boise has an invitation for those who are fed up with right-wing politics, or the continued divisions within the Republican Party.

“Join the Idaho Democratic Party,” she says. “We are the party of common sense. The goal of our leadership is to be the adults in the room.”

Well … let’s be honest. Idaho is not about to become a blue state, or even the lightest shade of purple, anytime soon. Former Gov. Cecil Andrus made serious inroads in the power structure, helping the Democrats to a tie for control of the Idaho Senate in the early ‘90s, but the Gem State quickly swung back to the Republican side after that. The Republican stronghold seems secure, with the new people moving to Idaho being at least as conservative as those who live here.

But with the constant strife within the GOP – between the libertarian wing and those traditional Republicans who are not viewed as “not conservative enough,” it shouldn’t be surprising to see Democrats trying to attract those who are more centrist in their political thinking.

“People who were Reagan Republicans or Romney Republicans should be thinking hard about whether they should be switching over to support Idaho Democrats,” Rubel says.

Today’s Republican Party is not the GOP that existed 30 years ago, she says. “Republicans used to stand against government overreach … you don’t have the government micromanaging every aspect of your life – telling you how to raise your kids, what clothes to wear or what books to read. The Democratic Party is opposed to all of that. We’re very much in favor of freedom of choice.”

She chides Republicans for spending so much time on issues such as banning drag shows and certain library books. Democrats, she says, are more focused on the basics – such as making sure bridges are safe, that roads are repaired, that schools are providing a good education and that teachers are being decently paid.

“That has been our agenda all along,” she says. “Of course, that’s tough to penetrate through the right wing, because they have a much bigger megaphone. What we’re bringing is middle-of-the-road stuff that just about every Idahoan would support – providing hearing aids for deaf kids, sealing court records for non-violent minor offenses so people can get jobs and housing, loan forgiveness for teachers to go to rural areas and dental coverage for those in extreme poverty.”

Rubel suggested this year’s session would have been more productive if the Legislature approved Gov. Brad Little’s budget in January, then gone home. Of course, nothing like that was going to happen. And the drama is continuing with Republican central committees calling out legislators for actions that violate the party’s platform.

Rubel says such activity does not happen on the Democratic side.

“It’s profoundly inappropriate,” she says. “These folks were elected by the people in their districts, not the central committees. Who needs to have elected officials if all they are supposed to do is be a rubber stamp for the party central committee, or the state chair? You might as well have a robot there.”

Democrats get called out by pro-life advocates for “extreme” positions on abortions. But Rubel argues that people, at least on that issue, would be better served under Democratic policies. Idaho women, and fetuses, are not served well by Republican-led bans on abortions, which already have driven some doctors and specialists out of the state.

“The perception is that Democrats want abortions through the eighth month, and that’s total nonsense,” Rubel says. “Even with that, there are extreme health conditions that even the most pro-life of people would support for an abortion – finding out there is no skull or brain, or no possibility of a fetus surviving. But they have the microphone. They control talk radio and the right-wing news outlets, and we get very few opportunities to defend ourselves.”

And those dynamics won’t change at any point soon; the culture is on the side of Republicans, regardless of the brand. But Rubel makes convincing points to folks who are more in the center of the political spectrum – the ones who do not have the loudest voice in the political process.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


Pay attention

We're under attack.  Make that, renewed attack.

From the right.  Make that, far-right.  And the battleground is not some far off place where their blathering can go unheard.

No, they're local.  As local as meetings of your school board.  Or city fathers.  Or county fathers and mothers.  Folks you've elected to guide your schools.  Or, community.

One such small group of dissenters is "Mothers for Liberty."  Another is "City Fathers."  And, there are more.  All positioning themselves to "bring down" whatever goes against their way of "thinking."  In other words, to counter your way of thinking when you voted to fill those elected leadership positions.

The far-right angst so prevalent in Congress, at the moment, has long roots going back to wherever you live.  They've become like ants at a picnic.

The "Mom's" group, for instance.  Opposed to some of the books your kids read, put in their hands by wiser people on school boards or citizen committees of the local library after much study and discussion.  You may already have such a noisy bunch in your backyard.  And, if they've been sort of "under cover," the season for their "hatching" is now.

Rather than propose something new, they come empty-handed.  They come to "destroy" what they see as "wrong" in classrooms or other operations of local school districts.  They want to "cleanse" but offer no replacement curriculum or plan for your consideration.

That seems to be the way with anything or any group coming from the rightward "fringes."  Break, obliterate, blowup what they don't like without offering substitution of any replacement materials.

From the U.S. Congress down to your school board or city hall.  We seem to be under constant attack about something.  Go to any school board meeting these days.  City council sessions.  County commission gatherings.  Chances are you'll hear voices raised against this, that and the other.

Voices seeking not to join the discussion, but to overpower it. Voices not wanting to join in conversation, but to silence it.  To drown out any voice but their own.

I've been to city council and school board meetings over the years.  Hundreds and hundreds of 'em.  And, what I've witnessed, time and again, is whoever is in charge will usually be open to listening to the voices for awhile.  Will be patient with diversion from the printed agenda.  Will let interveners  have their "say."

That was then. This is now.  Folks like "Mothers for Liberty" have their own agendas.  Somewhere, someone - unidentified at the moment - is cranking out those agendas.  And, marching orders.  "Moms" groups in Florida or Arizona or Portland are being told what to say, how to say it and what to do if they meet resistance.

People who don't like what these groups stand for - which is often far-right thought and destruction - may have to start attending some meetings of their local governing boards and councils.

And, they may have to organize some sort of resistance to said groups because their kids' education is on the line.  Governance of their own communities is under attack.  In subtle ways, lifestyles are being challenged.

All of that by folks who don't think the way you do.  Don't have the same values you have.  And, who don't seem to care that they offer nothing to replace what they want to destroy.

Yes, we are under small attacks.  But, taken together, they represent a war of sorts.  A war on our thinking - on our values - on the way we live.  And, how we live.

Time to pay attention.


Dorothy’s star chamber

In his dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell introduced us to the “Thought Police” who were assigned by their autocratic leader, “Big Brother,” to root out and punish unapproved thoughts. I read Orwell’s book back in the early 1960s when I was a rather right-wing Young Republican studying political science at the University of Oregon. At the time, I believed Orwell was warning against a future radical-left government that would stifle thought, usurping the free will of the people. That did not happen, but it seems to be occurring now, right before our eyes, in Dorothy Moon’s radical-right branch of the Republican Party.

This came to mind as I was reading a 51-page, 16 count draft “indictment” issued by the Legislative District 32 GOP Committee against Representative Stephanie Mickelsen for alleged violations of the Republican platform. Mickelsen has been a thoughtful, reliably conservative legislator, which apparently does not count with Moon’s extremists.

Mickelsen has been notified to appear for a grilling by party functionaries to answer charges of straying from the party line and, get this, failing to follow the dictates of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), which thrives upon dark-money funding from out of state. Article XX of Moon’s platform, the Thought Police provision, authorizes party bosses to interrogate those accused of failing to follow the party line and “provide censure and/or guidance.” Those who think for themselves can be stripped of the party label for not toeing the line. It is not clear whether the inquisitors have given the indictment to Mickelsen, but a good soul provided me with a copy of the draft document.

The indictment charges Mickelsen with a variety of violations of the Moon platform and IFF policy positions. Allegation 13 claims that Mickelsen violated the platform by voting for S1176, the higher education funding bill. Everyone knows that the IFF is dead set against public education, so it is no surprise that the Moonies would oppose funding it. What is puzzling is that the platform says: “We recognize the importance of Idaho’s higher education system in continuing the education of our citizens.” That may be why Mickelsen and 29 other House Republicans supported paying the bill for educating Idaho’s college students. Apparently, the IFF position overrules the GOP platform.

Mickelsen was chastised for supporting H0024, Governor Little’s Idaho Launch program providing education grants for career training of high school graduates. The IFF strongly opposed this bill, which obligated the Moonies to discipline any who favored it.

Because medical doctors and veterinarians are in critically short supply in rural Idaho, Mickelsen supported Idaho’s long-standing program to finance the out-of-state education of Idahoans who will come home to fill those needs. IFF and the Moon crowd thought otherwise so they panned her vote for S1147 to fund that program. They must think farm folks should have to Google for cures of sick cows and family members.

The indictment rakes Mickelsen over the coals for voting against an unconstitutional bill, H0314, targeting school and municipal libraries. The terms in the bill were vague, it would have clogged the courts with frivolous lawsuits and Idaho librarians don’t hand out filth to kids. Governor Little vetoed the bill, which caused the Moonies to go ballistic and censure him. The bill violated the GOP platform, which says “government is best that governs least” and “the most effective, responsible, responsive government is government closest to the people.” Local elected school boards and library district boards can handle the job of library oversight. IFF and Moon should keep out of it.

H013, which would have required schools to provide feminine hygiene products to female students in grades 6-12, died on a tie vote in the House. Most female legislators supported it to save girls from embarrassment. That was not a great concern to the IFF and Moon crowd, who fault Mickelsen for doing the right thing. Shame on the uncaring.

There are other baseless allegations in the indictment and many other responsible, caring and pragmatic Republicans are being called on the carpet by the Moon and IFF crowd. They want to chastise those who use their own brains and moral values to represent their constituents. These thought policemen should settle down and allow legislators to serve their people as they see fit. If the voters don’t like it, they can exercise a right set out in the GOP platform--“to vote for the candidate of their choice.” Mickelsen is an open door to her constituents and makes every effort to meet and communicate with them. But she rightfully thinks that Idaho legislators and voters do not need a “Big Brother” telling them what to think, say or do.


Going its own way

Is Oregon’s largest private-sector union going its own way politically?

It’s too early to say conclusively, but as it’s said in journalism, three instances make a trend, and a string of instances this year suggest the organization is already there.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 represents more than 30,000 workers, the core working at grocery stores but many in other businesses as well. Over the years, its political activities usually have aligned with those of most other Northwest union organizations in generally supporting Democratic candidates. It has been going through some changes, including by expanding.. It has long covered Oregon and southwest Washington, but in 2021 it merged with the local in southern Idaho, so that it now reaches from the Pacific to Jackson, Wyoming.

It also has sought to expand into the legal cannabis business sector. Since Oregon’s legalization, the local has tried to organize its workers and has pressed legislation to mandate cannabis businesses sign “labor peace agreements” as a condition of licensure.

When the local took the idea to the Oregon Legislature as House Bill 3183 (Cannabis Workers Rights), it drew questions about whether it would survive a court challenge. Rep. Paul Holvey, who chaired the House Committee on Business and Labor where the measure was assigned, shared that concern and, with time running out in the session, diverted the rules committee, where it died.

That result came amidst what probably felt to the local like a reversal of fortunes. As one labor newspaper noted, “from 2015 to 2017, Local 555 was a big player in a string of wins in the Oregon Legislature, including the 2015 paid sick leave law, the 2016 minimum wage law and the 2017 fair scheduling law. But in the last few years, Local 555 has had a tough time getting its proposed legislation passed.”

After the cannabis measure failed, Local 555 officials struck back. They targeted Holvey, a Eugene Democrat long close to the strong labor organizations in his district, for recall. Local 555 cited “a long list of Holvey’s anti-worker actions and questionable conduct that warrant his removal, including Holvey’s dishonest framing of his opposition to pro-worker legislation, his long-standing double standard advantaging big business interests over those of working people, a chronic lack of engagement and other instances of poor conduct.”

But they got no real support among other labor organizations. While umbrella groups like the state AFL-CIO stayed out of the fight, 14 other labor organizations in the area – including the Ironworkers Local 29, Lane Professional Fire Fighters (IAFF Local 851), Oregon AFSCME, Oregon and Southern Idaho District Council of Laborers, Oregon Building Trades Council, Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs and the Oregon Nurses Association – sided with Holvey.

With the help of paid signature gatherers, Local 555 did get the recall on the ballot. But the voters supported Holvey by a stunning margin: About 90% voted not to recall him, a number far larger than that in most contested races.

But even before that election the local was back into ballot issues, saying on June 23 it would try to reverse the recently passed House Bill 2426, which opened the door to self-serve gasoline dispensing across the state.

Oregon was known for many years as one of two states – the other is New Jersey – requiring that attendants pump gas, a rule imposed in 1951 and long thought to be immutable. It has been eroded steadily in recent years, however, first with exemptions for rural areas and then broader pandemic-era allowances. Polling showed steadily growing support for self-serve gas.

HB 2426, passed and enacted this year, did away with the self-serve ban statewide, though it still requires businesses generally to provide a staff-service option. That latter provision may keep some service positions intact. Advocates also point out that Oregon has been experiencing a labor shortage in recent years.

Local 555 does have an interest in this issue, since it said it represents “nearly 800 workers at 63 grocery store fuel stations in Oregon,” though there’s little clear information on how many jobs have been lost through the law change, and in its statement on the initiative the local didn’t offer an estimate.

Local 555 spokesman Miles Eshaia said, “We have fuel stations within some of our bargaining units and we have seen not necessarily layoffs, but job loss to attrition so people who quit, they just don’t replace them because they don’t necessarily need to, because the new law allows for half of what they had before.”

Local 555 would need to collect about 117,000 signatures by next July to get a proposed reversal on the ballot. If it succeeds at that,  the odds of passage are not good, especially considering that other organizations haven’t jumped on board. While it probably would get more than 10% support, the measure seems to be trying to swim upstream.

The local also is taking on the statehouse with a series of other ballot proposals, which aim to revamp the ethics commission, end some closed door meetings, require some financial transparency for hospitals and pass into law a measure along the lines of the cannabis worker bill that failed in the last session.

Local 555 appears to be going its own way. Will others join in?

This column appeared originally in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

Max Black

Max Black, who was an Idaho state representative from 1992 to 2006, and who died at Boise on November 10, was a good state legislator.

I knew at the time, as I watched him at the Statehouse, that  he was a good legislator, but only years after he served did I piece together some of the important reasons why, and those reasons had nothing to do with the legislature as such.

Max was cheerful, enthusiastic, seldom critical or downbeat (in my observation), and unlike many elected officials did not seem to be a great self-promoter. He was a well-regarded legislator, though, across the chamber and among people (such as lobbyists and reporters) around it. His reputation was made on the basis of careful work and maintaining good personal relationships. Throwing shade or red meat was nowhere near his style.

So what drove Max, if not the usually expected personal aggrandizement?

I got my first clue of that one day in 2012, years after his days in elected office, when my cell phone rang while I happened to be walking through the Idaho Statehouse. It was an out of the blue call from Max, who I hadn’t seen for some years. His reason for the call: Knowing that I published books, he wanted to talk about a book proposal he had.

(A disclaimer: I am the publisher of the book I’m about to describe.)

I’ve fielded a number of such book pitch calls over the years, but this one was different from most. After leaving the legislature, Max became deeply interested in regional history, to the point of taking extensive efforts to research it from original people and materials. He became captivated by the well-known southern Idaho murder case, from the late 19th century, of “Diamondfield” Jack Davis, who was convicted and nearly (and more than once) hanged for the killing of two sheepmen.

Books had been written before about Davis (I had even read one), and their writers included ample speculation but also lots of blank area when it came to important facts of the case and Davis’ life. I asked Max why he wanted to write a new one.

His answer was stunning. He had investigated the case from scratch, walking the desert landscape and visiting people in the region to find obscure clues. His persistence led him to the point of locating the firearm and one of the bullets involved in the murder case, and unlike anyone previously he had pieced together the evidence that Davis not only did not but could not have committed the crime - and he had developed nearly conclusive evidence about who did. He even unearthed new information about what became of Davis in his later years, and scotched a number of spurious stories.

He convinced me.

We brought the book, called “Diamondfield: Finding the Real Jack Davis,” into publication the next year, and from that year to this Max has been a tireless promoter of it: His enthusiasm for the work he does has been as great as anyone I’ve known.

He also has been doing ongoing research into other obscure corners of western history, and he often has shared unexpected tales from the old, and sometimes not so old, intermountain west.

His persistence and ingenuity, and ability to find help and leverage information, was remarkable.

That’s not all there was to him, of course. An obituary said that, “He found joy in creating pens, trains, violins, boxes and really almost anything out of wood and giving his creations away or donating them for others to enjoy.” That too would fit with the Max Black I saw in the context of his book.

His enthusiasm, persistence and refusal to accept anything less than the best evidence before deciding on what the story really is: These are useful qualities for a state legislator, or anyone in a position of public responsibility.


How? Just how?

I don’t know if we all agree that folks with disabilities or low income should have access to health care services. I’d love to have that discussion.

It seems that our nation thought this, and so the Medicaid program was passed into law in 1965. But those were different times. Don’t ask me what I was under the influence of back then.

Medicaid was built as a federal-state partnership. If a state chose to enroll and abide by the federal requirements, the federal government would agree to pay no less than half of the cost, but no more than 80% of the cost. The target population back then was folks with severe disabilities and those under the federal poverty level (FPL).

Idaho might have had a different soul back then, because our legislature signed us up to enroll in Medicaid in 1966. We were an early state to enroll. Maybe the Freedom Foundation wasn’t born then. I was just twelve. It was a long time ago.

So that matching/ shared payment program applied to the traditional Medicaid folks. That matching formula (called the FMAP) is calculated every year based on the average income of the state’s residents compared to the national average.

Idaho has had a generous FMAP match for many years, often 70% federal, 30% State, based on our lower incomes. Most states are 50/50. This year we get a bump. Our state income went up. This year we will now have to pay 2% more.

For those of you here in Idaho still burning about Medicaid Expansion, this is NOT a flag to wave. I know, this is complicated and confusing, and you probably don’t even care. But how, just how are we going to get this done? Please, pay attention and understand the details.

The Medicaid Expansion population will always be supported federally at 90%. The state will only have to pay 10% of that cost. This FMAP bump only applies to those below 100% FPL and the disabled. Believe me, those folks are expensive, but deserving of our care.

I write this to teach, but also to learn. I went to a forum tonight where my local legislators were talking to the crowd about their plans for the coming legislative session. I asked if they had any reaction to this FMAP change. NEITHER representative even knew what I was talking about. NEITHER knew how Medicaid is funded.

So, I wish to ask the crowd, should we be providing healthcare to the disabled and poor? If not, just say so, and a simple vote by you legislators who represent me could disenroll us from the Medicaid program. I can write the bill for you.

But if not, if you think people with disabilities and those who don’t get health insurance from their work should have access to health care, then how, just how are we going to do this?

I have read many other plans. The Idaho Freedom Foundation foisted one a few years back when they were opposing Medicaid Expansion. It proposed everybody have a health savings account. I guess they hadn’t read that 60% of us couldn’t finance a blown transmission let alone cancer.

Paul Ryan, remember him? He quit being Speaker of the House right after he got the Trump Tax Cuts through. Maybe he saw the folly. Maybe he saw a more stable job. But his argument was to replace the Medicaid formula with block grants.

I was just entering state politics at the time. I saw the value in his proposal. Look carefully at the formula. If Idaho figures out how to save a ton of money on Medicaid, we only get 30% of the savings. Block grants would build in more incentive.

But then I spent some time in the Idaho legislature. Sorry. I was not impressed.


Anti-burn it down

It wasn’t long ago when now-Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke was part of a House leadership team that was widely viewed as one of the most conservative in Idaho’s history. Across the rotunda, there was now-Gov. Brad Little who generally was preaching the same conservative gospel in the Senate.

I worked as communication adviser with the House GOP caucus at the time, with Lawerence Denney as speaker, Mike Moyle as majority leader, Ken Roberts as caucus chair and Bedke as assistant majority leader. And there was never a question about their conservative credentials. The mild-mannered Denney was labeled as “Boss Denney” by some media outlets for supposedly forcing through his conservative ways. Bedke, who later served 10 years as speaker, was a good fit for that group.

“And now we’re not viewed as conservative enough? Give me a break,” Bedke told me in a recent visit at his Statehouse office.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation, the Legislature’s Freedom Caucus and others to the right will say that Bedke – and Little’s administration as a whole -- is not conservative enough. They’ll say that government spending and taxes are too high, and at least some conservatives go as far as labeling “establishment” Republicans as RINOs.

Bedke will be hearing plenty of “RINO talk” in a few years if he ends up running for governor. For now, he’s not shy about defending what Republicans have accomplished over the last three decades and gives props to Little’s leadership.

“He’s a good administrator and a good governor who cares deeply about the state,” Bedke says. “The proof is in the pudding. We’ve had decades of traditional conservative leadership here in the state and created a state where everybody wants to move to. Our economy is unrivaled; it’s the fastest-growing state and quickest to recover (from downturns). And now we criticize the people in the offices that have been integral in making Idaho the success that it is. That doesn’t make sense to me.”

In Bedke’s eyes, policies have reflected Idaho values. “It’s hard work. It’s pay as you go. It’s being careful with the taxpayers’ money. And we’ve been discovered. That turns out to be a pretty dang good way to manage the state. It’s a good place to raise a family, a great place to have a business and the quality of life is unmatched. That’s not to say there are things that we can’t improve on, but the success that we enjoy now is directly attributable to the decades of traditional conservative approach to government. And now that’s not good enough?”

As for his personal “conservative” values, he said, “there’s no question where I stand, and there’s no question where I stand on guns. Do I wear it on my sleeve? No. Do I demagogue that for short-term political gain? No. But don’t take my guns away and stay out of my family life. If the indicator is going to be my position on God and country, or Second Amendment, or lightest touch of government … those are Republican values that I will not deviate from and never have. I believe I can match my Republican credentials with anyone in the state.”

The state Republican Party, which once served as cheerleaders for GOP officeholders, is now calling out incumbents to not adhering to certain standards.

“The paint job is ‘Idaho GOP,’ but the mechanics are burn-it-down libertarian and I think Idahoans will see through that,” Bedke says. “They are criticizing arguably one of the most successful systems of states out there.”

Since taking office in January, Bedke has kept a relatively low profile – at least compared to his predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin. Bedke has been traveling to all parts of the Gem State and taking some time off to manage affairs at his Oakley ranch. He talks to groups about Idaho’s success story, while giving a friendly plug to Idaho’s “LAUNCH” grants aimed at helping Idaho high school students get into trade programs.

Critics label the program as “socialistic,” but Bedke says, “I’m a big fan.” He says it’s one way that students can learn a trade, find a job and stay in Idaho – opposed to fleeing the state after graduation.

As Bedke sees it, that’s a winning formula for all – and from a conservative standpoint, a wise return on the state’s investment.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at