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Playing Politics

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Let it never be said that Boise Mayor Dave Bieter lacks chutzpah. Opening his 10th State of the City address June 12 with a joke about Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador jumping out of a burning airplane was good (or bad) enough, but it just got better (or worse) when hizzoner went on to tar both the Ada County Highway District and Idaho Legislature with the same brush, accusing them of souring the state's economy with onerous fees from the former and a generally backward philosophy from the latter.

Unusually political for a State of the City, Bieter went even further by zeroing in on Idaho's yawning urban-rural divide--going so far as to suggest that maybe it actually would be better if parts of the Treasure Valley broke away to form "The Great State of Ada."

That's strong stuff, considering tensions between country folk and city slickers run through the marrow of the state's political culture. Need proof? Check out the feature by High Country News writer Sierra Crane-Murdoch ("Reshaping the Right.")

In a nutshell: urban refugees flocked to the Panhandle in search of a backwoods Shangri-La. They brought money and a strain of conservatism that is pushing the Idaho GOP further and further to the right--a trend that was obvious at the GOP's state central committee meeting June 15.

The Repubs have not only reaffirmed their opposition to a state-based health insurance exchange--against Otter's wishes--but the party has officially proclaimed that it will block Add the Words legislation (even at the local level) and, though it dumped a proposal requiring candidates get the blessing of GOP leaders before inclusion on the ballot, a new loyalty oath has been included in the platform.

When political divisions are rife enough to require lock-step enforcement within a party as hegemonic as the Idaho GOP, you might as well just assume that when the state's ultraconservatives say "esto perpetua," they're talking about the chasm between the right wing and the "wrong wing."

But if you're sick of political infighting and just want to enjoy the hinterlands for their own sake, keep an eye out in next week's paper for Boise Weekly's Guide to McCall, which includes a calendar of events, plus profiles on topics related to the community on lovely Payette Lake. No politics required.

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