Features

Spuds and Duds 2007: The Rundown

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Dud

quotas for Boise State speakers

Shortly after Al Gore made such a splash in Boise last winter with his Taco Bell Arena "Inconvenient Truth" presentation, those who make a living sniveling about everything they don't want to hear started complaining that Boise State relies too heavily on left-leaning speakers. Jesus's own in-town PR rep Brandi Swindell and Sen. Monte Pearce (R-New Plymouth), among others, demanded Boise State install a quota system for poor, neglected right-wing mouthpieces. We suggest that, instead of bringing several conservative speakers to campus, they just get one conservative speaker and let him talk several times. It would undoubtedly be cheaper that way, and we're certain none of the conservative message would go unheard—seeing as how they all say the same tired crud, anyway.

Spud

Ada County Commission

We all know what a pain in the tush it has been to have business at the Ada County Courthouse, if for no other reason than the parking situation. But life in the big city got a skosh more tolerable this fall when the Ada County Commission acted to extend one-hour free parking to the courthouse lot and adjacent garage. Better yet—since nobody goes to the Ada County Courthouse unless they absolutely have to, and since it belongs to us, anyway—would have been to extend the free parking period to always. But we suppose we should be grateful for small favors.

Dud

Idaho Association of Realtors

Trying to sway an election is a time-honored tradition in the United States, but when the Idaho Association of Realtors failed to disclose its contributions in the Eagle mayor's race, it crossed a line. It's easy to understand why a group of realtors would want to promote the growth-friendly Phil Bandy, but its failure to file the appropriate documents in a timely manner makes the whole process seem a little fishy. The association, a registered PAC, said the Eagle Clerk's Office said no disclosure was required, but one has to think that any legitimate political group would know the basic rules of the game. Especially if one of the leaders of your group, John Eaton, happens to teach a workshop on "How to Run A Political Action Committee," something he did earlier this year. Ignorance? We think not. In this case, we suspect it's something much less admirable.

Spud

Ian Johnson and Chrissy Popadics

While we do feel a strange need to randomly say "Go Broncos" whenever there's an awkward pause in a conversation, we want to make it clear that we're not falling prey to peer pressure when we give this spud to Boise State football hero Ian Johnson and his cheerleader wife, Chrissy Popadics. No, it's not for any sports prowess or their aw-shucks, all-American love story. Instead, it's for the honorable way in which they conducted their wedding despite the actions of some seriously backwards people. Just before the two tied the knot this summer, they were inundated with hateful calls and mail, threatening them because of their interracial marriage. What did they do? They simply hired a little extra security and went on with their plans.

Dud

Politicos turned lobbyists

When Jeff Malmen, long-time slavey to several Idaho GOP pols, left his gig as Otter's chief of staff and moved directly into the office of senior manager of government affairs at the Idaho Power cover company, Idacorp, we had to ask ourselves, "How long will it take for Idaho's lawmakers to jam a stick in this revolving door policy between public service and corporate largesse, especially since everyone with a conscience knows it's unethical (at the least), undoubtedly immoral (since it could do the general citizenry no possible good), and illegal at the federal level and in over half the other states. Oh. We forgot. Our mistake. If it weren't for the revolving door policy, how would Idaho lawmakers make a living when they get voted out of office?

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Spud

Kate Kelly

Boise Sen. Kate Kelly, a Democrat, has been working all year on measures that would give Idaho its first ever tool to control the "revolving door" practice. We wish her luck ... and brother, will she need it. Any such measures would have to meet the approval of those very people the new rules would seek to regulate. And as we have seen from past experience, those people don't mind dishing it out, but they aren't very good at taking it.

Dud

Prison Privatization

There's often talk of a smell test in determining the quality of any business or political deal. Simply put, if it smells rotten, it probably is. That's the case with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's push to allow privately owned and operated prisons in Idaho. Currently, the state owns all prisons, although the Idaho Correctional Center is managed by the Corrections Corporation of America, a national private prison operator. But if Otter gets his way, the door would be opened for these private prison companies to build their own facilities, and most likely turn a higher profit by housing overflow prisoners from other states. Idaho has already had experience with shipping prisoners around the country, with awful results that include poor conditions, mistreatment and even a suicide. These private facilities have been a focal point of controversy across the nation, and many say that turning a profit by keeping a criminal locked up as cheaply as possible is unethical. Some have even accused two of the largest private prison companies in the country of trying to buy their way into Idaho. Both CCA and GEO Group donated $5,000 each to Otter's 2006 campaign for governor. And while there's little doubt that the Idaho corrections system is dealing with a tough situation as prison populations grow and funding flattens out, we can't help but think there's got to be a better solution.

Dud

Boise Police Union

When you're a kid, you are (usually) taught things like "you can trust a police officer." They're the ones you're supposed to go to when you need help, and you can count on them to be honorable. That's why we, and many Boise residents, were so dismayed by the actions of the Boise Police Union during the group's most recent contract negotiations with the City of Boise. It seemed like a bad political campaign, complete with personal attacks and staged protests. Even more unfortunate was the reaction to any criticism of the union. People came out of the woodwork with blanket statements about the audacity of anyone even questioning the police. Let's make this clear: No one was questioning the police. Instead they were questioning the acts of a group which is supposed to represent the rank-and-file officers of the force. The overwhelming majority of the men and women in blue are deserving of our respect. That's why it was so sad the union failed to take the high road during negotiations and act with the same honor expected of a police officer.

super historic Spud and Dud

Larry Craig

On the one hand, Larry Craig has earned himself a huge "arrogance of power" dud by seemingly trying to intimidate Minneapolis Police Sgt. Dave Karsnia with his U.S. Senate credentials and the question "What do you think of that?" Not to mention that he was in a very public restroom seemingly soliciting sex when it happened. Not to mention that, seemingly, he tried to cover up his indiscretion for more than two months. Not to mention that, even now, he unwaveringly votes against the interests of Americans who are inclined to the same sexual preferences to which Sen. Craig is seemingly, inclined. Not to mention that when this episode became widely known, the excuses he came up with in denying that it's what it sure as hell seemingly looks like traveled such an absurd arc, even many of his most steadfast supporters were rolling their eyes and moaning, "You gotta be kidding me."

But he hung on. With his own Senate mates shunning him like 6-foot, 4-inches of bad meat ... with his staff diving for the life boats like Billy Zane in Titanic ... with homophobes back home in Idaho calling for his head ... he hangs on. And on. And on. Even after Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey dropped the other shoe earlier this month, there he is ... hanging on.

And with every passing day of him sitting stoically in his Senate corner, refusing to go to his well-deserved obscurity, our admiration for him grows. Yes, he may have compiled one of the most regressive records a public official can compile. Yes, for a quarter century, he may have been a busboy for the most rapacious of corporate interests. Yes, he may be a liar, a hypocrite, an adulterer, a pimp for the powerful, a self-loathing urinal cruiser, a pompous twit, a fake, a phony and a flaming jerk ... but he is doing something none of us believe we could do: In the glare of the most humiliating experience any Idaho politician has ever gone through, he hangs on. And that takes more guts than we ever thought possible from Larry Craig. Either that, or he can't think of another way to make a living.

Dud

Alan Shealy

Let's call this one "conduct unbecoming a councilor." That's not to say that Boise City Council Member Alan Shealy has acted in any way unethically, or that he's failed to do his duty as a council member. It has more to do with the fact that there seems to be an occasional disconnect between his brain and his mouth. Shealy is likely one of the most well-educated and thoughtful members to ever sit on the council—that's why it's so perplexing how he can come out with gems like the comment that the way the Boise Police Union leaders were acting made him think they were "on dope and dogfood." This little comment sent media outlets across the valley into a near frenzy and likely caused headaches for more than one city official. We know; we started the whole thing by quoting him in the first place.

Dud

carpenters union

Note to Carpenters Local 635: We love unions. We think there ought to be more of 'em. We think more people ought to belong to 'em.

But when word gets out that you were hiring homeless people to man picket lines at the Royal Plaza construction site because your members were too busy working other jobs, it makes you look bad. And there are already enough people who are trying to make unions look bad without you chipping in. On the other hand ...

Spud

carpenters union

... you deserve credit, Carpenters Local 635, for giving jobs to homeless people, and especially for paying them a pretty decent $12.50 an hour. Now, the next logical step would be to organize the fill-ins you've hired and represent them in negotiations with yourself. Call it "Substitute Picketers Local 1," maybe.

Dud

Rod Beck and Company

The way Rod Beck and 71 other disgruntled Republicans see it, cross-over voting in Idaho's primaries is an insidious plot by Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents to influence election results in a way that does not please Rod Beck and at least 71 other disgruntled Republicans. Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents see it as, uh, what's that stuff called? Oh, yeah, "democracy."

In the '07 Legislative session, an attempt to restrict primary voting to declared party members only was quashed, but that didn't stop Mr. Beck. Over the summer, he and 71 co-authors initiated a suit to close the Republican primary to block Dems from meddling in what should be, in their opinion, strictly a Rep's affair. The suit was dismissed in November, but Beck vowed to carry on. And as we all know, carrying on is what Rod Beck does best.

Dud

Craig Dumpers

It was like Mitt Romney and Bryan Fischer (of the teetering Idaho Values Alliance) were in a race to see who could dump Larry Craig first. Tell you what, the more we see of that "Christian charity" stuff, the happier we are that people like Fischer are on their side.

Dud

Idaho State Police

Somebody—somebody whose salary we're paying, by the way—is really, really, really concerned that booze and bare skin stay far, far away from one another. And to make matters worse, they work for the Idaho State Police Bureau of Alcohol Beverage Control. They spent six months going to strip clubs (eyes wide open, we're sure) waiting for something bad to happen, and in March they busted eight local joints for nudity, simulated sex acts and serving alcohol to minors. One of those joints was the Big Easy, busted for moral outrages that occurred during a show by an all-male, Chippendales-type show.

We readily admit that solving these crimes is a notch beyond breaking up wine-tasting gangs at First Thursday art exhibits and trying to make The Flicks a temperance-friendly theater—other crusades the State Police have undertaken lately. But every time some jerk dusts around us at 80 mph on the freeway, we must wonder if the trooper who might have radared his butt isn't sitting in some titty bar somewhere, waiting diligently to catch a nipple in the act.

Spud

Wildland Firefighters

Here's a "no-duh" spud if we've ever written one. What else can you say to the men and women who work the firelines each year to protect private property and public lands. Next time you see someone in the telltale yellow and green uniform, say "thank you." They've earned it.

Dud

Chicken-heart VIPS

ILPs (Important Local People) simply must get over the custom of running to the cushy embrace of KTVB every time they get into a little hot water. Brent Coles did it, Larry Craig did it, and even Steve Appleton did it when he was looking for a soft landing over last summer's layoffs at Micron. Appleton had been throwing a months-long snit over the Statesman because he didn't like it when they printed a story he didn't want known (about the extent of his injuries from a plane wreck), and in the midst of Micron's worst financial crisis—and by extension, a looming threat to Idaho's economic outlook—he refused to talk to the state's leading newspaper, opting instead to ply his charms on Dee Sarton. Now listen, Stevie ... if it's simply a matter of KTVB supplying pre-interview donuts or something like that, we assure you, BW will send an intern to Krispy Kreme as soon as we hear you're coming.

Dud

STEVE APPLETON

He said it. He really did. Micron mogul Steve Appleton, as quoted in Business Week magazine, said, "I don't have to hire one more person in the U.S. I don't have to invest one more dollar here, and we'll be just fine."

Now look, we understand that any business, when times are tough, may have to let some workers go, as Micron did this last summer. But for the CEO of Idaho's largest private employer to actually crow about how inconsequential the pasture in which his corporate thoroughbred was born and raised, especially when he probably knew at the time he said it that 1,100 of his neighbors would be out of a job by Labor Day ... especially when, not two years ago, he was prodding our plow horse Legislature into giving him a hefty tax break ... especially when last year, he announced the expansion of a $3-billion facility in Singapore ... well, we think it shows an astonishing lack of class. He may still be in Micron's saddle, but from our perspective, it's what follows slightly behind the saddle that best describes Mr. Appleton.

Four SPUDS AND TWO DUDS FOR THE GUV

#1

Dud

Technically speaking, the secret swearing-in of Butch Otter was the last dud of '06; it happened two days before the new year. He later repeated the ceremony in public. But for the official act, there were no cameras or reporting allowed. Wha'? Was he afraid Idahoans might change their minds before he officially got himself the title? Or was he just in a hurry to boot temp-guv Jim Risch out of his office?

#2

Dud

In his seemingly bottomless desire to be considered "just one of the cowpokes," Otter, as virtually his first action as Idaho's new governor, stood on the Capitol steps before a crowd of outfitters and hunters—each and every one of them oh-so nervous there someday wouldn't be enough ungulates to shoot—and declared that he wanted to be the first in the state to get a permit to shoot a wolf, should such permits become available. Gosh Butch, at least Larry Craig tempers his allegedly predatory impulses with a "catch and release" policy.

#1Spud

Wait one gull-durned minute here. Could Idaho's most free-market-friendly governor since, well, ever, be on his way to becoming the most enviro-friendly governor since Cece? Butch is definitely stirring some paint in the green pot. In May, he issued an executive order directing the state Department of Environmental Quality to figure out how much greenhouse gas Idaho is pumping out, and to "serve as the central point of contact for coordination and implementation of greenhouse gas reduction efforts."

Here's what we think: We think Butch went to Al Gore's speech in January—probably disguised as a North Ender so nobody would recognize him—and was swept away by Gore's presentation.

#2Spud

Butch—so recently on record as wanting to be the first to bag himself a wascally woofie—has earned himself a big spuddly hug by proposing that online hunters—those intrepid adventurers who, from the comfort of their computer stations, can blow a 30-30 slug through a white tail's heart with the same effort it takes to order a pair of boots from L.L. Bean—will not be allowed to practice their ... uh ... "sport" in Idaho. Way to go, Butch. We expect you'll be getting a nice thank you note from real-time Bambi any day.

#3Spud

Turns out Butch was driving to work one morning, and all of a sudden, he notices there's a lot of cars on the road. "Shee-id," we can imagine Butch saying to himself. "There sure are a lot of cars on the road." So, what he did was, soon as he gets to work, Butch calls up Toni Hardesty (your head honcho down at the state's Department of Environmental Quality), and he says "Toni, hows about you come up with a plan that gets state ranchhands to do part o' their work back at their bunkhouses?"

"What's this about, Governor?" we imagine Ms. Hardesty asking, and Butch replies, maybe, "The thing is, Toni, there's a lot of cars on the road. I figure if more state boys'd do their chores on the Internet, and if more of 'em would double up in the saddle on the way downtown, well heck ... there wouldn't be so many cars on the road."

We're athinkin' he may have something there, so we'll be sendin' a good ol' spud his way, soon as traffic clears.

#4Spud

Anyone sincerely concerned with environmental issues knows all too well that when the Bush administration feigns concern for a critical environmental situation, it usually means watch out ... someone else is about to get screwed. Whether or not that was the governor's thinking when he opted to stay out of a "mercury pollution trading program" that the Bush people have been shilling as an environmental measure, we'll probably never know. But by steering Idaho clear of this program, it means Otter spared us the likelihood of mercury-vomiting coal-fired power plants sprouting up around the state.

SPUDS and DUDs For THE LEGISLATURE

Dud

Speaker Denney

As dictated by the Legislature's own rules, Democrats had earned an additional position on one of the key committees—that being the Joint Budget Committee—to reflect the gains they made in '06's election. But evidently, House Speaker Lawerence Denney (R-Midvale) marches to the beat of his own inner rule book. In spite of those Democratic gains—and we don't use the word "spite" accidentally—Denney denied the Dems an additional seat on the committee, thereby exhibiting much of the same sort of disdain for the legitimacy of elections we see from Republicans at the federal level.

Dud

Steve Thayn

When Rep. Steven Thayn (R-Emmett) announced his intentions as chairman of the Legislature's Family Task Force to seek out ways to keep Mom home with the kids while Pop sallies forth and does all the bread winning, you'd have thought he had suggested we revert back to strict 19h century gender roles, judging by the uproar it generated.

"No, no. You got me all wrong," protested Thayn, father of seven off-spring who haven't recently been charged with domestic violence, and one who has. "All I want to do is make it harder to get divorced and get the chil'uns out of them dang day-care centers and put 'em home where they can be homeschooled like mine were. That ain't 19th century. That's just the 1950s ... give 'r take."

To find the level of intellect at work in this "task force," we need look no further than a statement by another member of the team, Rep. Dick Harwood (R-St. Maries), who was actually quoted (as opposed to the entirely fabricated quotes we made up for Rep. Thayn) as saying, "Divorce is just terrible. It's one of Satan's best tools to kill America."

What else can we say but "Yikes."

Spud

Dell Raybould

When then-Guv Dirk Kempthorne pushed through a generous tax break for big companies—or to be specific, Albertsons and Micron—it was done with the standard argument that more tax incentives would mean more jobs for Idahoans and a prosperous time would be had by all. That was, of course, before anyone knew Albertsons would be gobbled up by SuperValue or that Micron would be laying off Idahoans and hiring the Chinese.

Now, Rep. Dell Raybould (R-Rexburg), a member of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee in the Legislature, is suggesting that Kempthorne's tax treats might not be all they were cracked up to be and is indicating there should be revisions made. Sounds like a small step, but coming from an Idaho Republican, it's a giant leap.

Dud

Elk-Happy Wolf Shooters

"Hunters [envision] they can return to the same location year after year and have a positive experience with elk. Wolves threaten that." So said Nate Helm, executive director of the Idaho chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. (Not a single elk would return our calls when we tried to find out how this "positive experience" looked from their end of the barrel.)

You see, in spite of numbers that show the elk harvest has actually risen in recent years, some hunters are all distraught and chagrined that those re-introduced wolves are changing the behavior of elk populations, and that it's no longer as easy as it used to be to whip the 4X4 up to some alpine meadow and plug a trophy bull grazing fearlessly on the edelweiss. So they want as many wolves killed as can fit in the crosshairs of their phallic symbo ... er, their rifles.

We say, if hunters want their meat to come easy, we'll be more than happy to provide directions to the nearest Fred Meyers.

Dud

Anti-Transit Lawmakers

The same legislative hicks and hucksters who tried to deny us the right to vote for a community college also denied Boise and surrounding burgs the local option to impose a sales tax for a regional transit system. For such meddling maliciousness, the backcountry rubes who couldn't care less if the Treasure Valley ever heals itself should be forced to live here.

BLESS THE BEASTS SECTION

Spud

Boise Firefighters

We continue to marvel at the remarkable lengths to which some humans will go in order to rescue animals in distress. In November, at some danger to themselves, Boise firefighters took the time to extract a 7-week old puppy from a nasty abandoned well. At least, we were told it was a puppy. But when we looked closely, we thought we recognized the little critter from Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi.

Dud

Teton County Dog Shooter

On the other paw, there's Teton County Deputy Sheriff Joseph Gutierrez, who shot a dog in front of its family because, allegedly, it bit someone. Even more outrageous is that Deputy Gutierrez was allowed to keep his job. Incidentally, the dog lived. Shot in the head ... and the dog lived. And upon closer examination, we believe we recognize that pooch from one of George Romero's opuses. Dawn of the Dead, perhaps.

Spud

Interfaith Sanctuary

When it comes to hot-button topics, homelessness is one that only seems to get attention when it gets cold—outside that is. After two years of rotating between churches, Interfaith Sanctuary opened its first permanent home in November, giving men, women, couples and families a place to find shelter.

Old Ada County Courthouse Murals

The old Ada County Courthouse has seen some tough times in recent years. First, the Legislature wanted to tear down the historic building. Then, when work on underground wings to expand the Capitol got underway, the entire Legislature made the move to the once-condemed building It's at this point that the building's decor made headlines. A series of murals created in 1940 as part of the post-depression Works Progress Administration Artists Project, caught the attention of the public. Not for their historic or artistic value, but because of the decidedly politically incorrect scenes they portrayed. Topping the list of offenders is a panel depicting the lynching of an American Indian.Many calling for the murals to be removed or covered up. But, in the end, officials decided to preserve the murals, marking them with interpretive signs. We at BW applaud this decision. History isn't all grand battles and noble causes.

Dud

Dirk Kempthorne

Just because he's such become a D.C. hoity-toit doesn't mean Dirk Kempthorne is going to get off dud-less. In March, the Interior Department—of which Dirk is now top dog—announced it had plans to revamp the Endangered Species Act, something our slickly-coiffed Boise boy has been eager to do ever since he was first elected senator.

The worst part of the proposed changes would be to turn the powers to list endangered species over to the states. And if you don't believe that's a horrible idea, close your eyes and picture what Idaho would eventually look like, wildlife-wise, if all such decisions were made in Idaho's Legislature. We see plenty of free-range Herefords, a healthy population of grazing woolies, some caged deer and elk for the hunters and little else.

We suggest that Dirk quit trying so hard to fill Cecil Andrus' Secretary of the Interior shoes—a task we hardly think he's up to, anyway—and coast out the next year. In his case, doing nothing is better than doing anything at all.

Spud

Idaho Arts Commission

Art can sometimes seem elitist and unapproachable, but in the right hands, it can be used to bring out the best in all of us. Therefore, this spud goes to the Idaho Arts Commission for its work in bringing art to communities across the state. Under the leadership of new executive director Michael Faison, the agency has conducted meetings in towns large and small throughout the past year. It's more than just racking up some mileage to write off on the agency's next tax return. Turns out the Commission wants to know how it can best serve the state's diverse communities. Whether it's a focus on classes or youth programming, the group is actually trying to fit art into the lives of citizens in ways that are not only approachable, but much wanted. Art for real people. We love the concept.

and

Dud

Dog Fighting

There's a mixed bag when it comes to dog fighting laws in Idaho. The bad: Idaho is one of only two states where dog fighting is only considered a misdemeanor. Additionally, it is legal to attend dog fights. The good: After years of failed attempts to increase the penalty for dog fighting, it looks like there is finally enough momentum to get a bill through the state Legislature. Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, will introduce (for the fourth time) legislation to make dog fighting a felony. And while it's failed to gain much support in the past, we're guessing the former Atlanta Falcons player Michael Vick's very public conviction for running a dog fighting ring might give lawmakers the push they need. Already Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has thrown his support behind the effort, and Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett, is reportedly planning to introduce a bill in the Senate. Here's hoping Idaho becomes a little more dog-friendly in 2008.

Spud

University of Idaho

The school's Operation Education scholarship program gives wounded veterans a chance at an education and a new way to support themselves and their families. Those veterans with life-altering wounds are given comprehensive support, including tuition, books, transportation and even child care. Better yet, the spouses of wounded veterans are eligible as well. At least one scholarship recipient has already earned a degree through the program, and more are taking classes. The organizers are marketing Operation Education nationally, trying to get other universities and colleges to sign on to the project in an effort to give more veterans the chance to create a new life for themselves. For these efforts to make a difference through education, we throw our proverbal mortar boards in the air in honor of this selfless, forward-thinking idea.

cluster Duds; to Mr. Bill Sali

•Once he got to D.C., it didn't take U.S. Rep. Bill Sali long to embarrass the snot out of Idaho. In fact, he seems to be going for the record (previously held by Helen Chenoweth) of most duds compiled in one Congressional session by an Idaho politician. Following is a partial listing of Rep. Sali's impressive string of bone-headed moves. And as you wander through them, keep in mind, he hasn't even been there a full year.

When the newly-elected Democratic majority moved to raise the minimum wage, Sali stood before the assembly and ridiculed the bill by equating it with an attempt to cancel gravity. His position seems to be that the laws controlling economies are as immutable as those which control the universe, and we're certain Mr. Sali thought he was being awfully clever with his attempt at irony. We're not certain how he would explain, given that there has been a minimum wage since 1938, why neither the economy nor the universe have yet to fly to pieces.

•(This particular Sali dud must be shared with Congressman Simpson. ) Obviously, they believe they know all they need to know regarding the issue of saving Idaho salmon from extinction, since Reps. Bill Sali and Mike Simpson tried to squelch a bill (the Salmon Economic Analysis and Planning Act) which would require the National Academy of Sciences and General Accounting Office to study the entire question of salmon recovery and the cost—pro and con—of dam removal. In doing so, Sali and Simpson follow in the footsteps of Larry Craig, another devout believer in the axiom, "What you don't know is good for who put me here."

•Another DUD co-performed by that duo, Sali and Simpson: In November, when the U.S. House voted (244-166) to revise the 1872 Mining Law so that it might better reflect 21st century realities, guess who voted against it.

The ancient act contained absolutely no considerations for water preservation, environmental degradation or who cleans up the resulting mess, and it virtually gave away public land at prices set almost 30 years before Idaho was a state ($2.50 to $5 an acre). Yet Sali in particular (Simpson was a tad more reasonable on the matter) wanted to leave it as is. We know Bill doesn't believe in global warming, so is it possible he doesn't believe in cyanide, either? Or fish spawning grounds? Or environmental damage? Or fair market value? Or public lands remaining in the hands of the public?

•If the spirits of America's Founding Fathers were to decide it was time to speak through the mouth of a 21st century pol, would they really chose Bill Sali to do the channeling?

Evidently, Bill thinks so. In August, he announced (in an interview with a Christian news outlet) that the vaunted founders would never have envisioned the election of a Muslim congressman (Keith Ellison-Minn.) or the reading of a Hindu prayer to kick off a Senate session.

We expect that our Hindu neighbors will chalk the episode up to Sali's personal karmic destiny (of having to go through several life cycles as a mouthy buffoon), but we worry that our Muslim brothers and sisters might take undue offense. We implore them to keep in mind that it was only Sali talking, after all. What can you expect?

This—"Families can only spend what they collect in earnings; in the same way, government should never spend more than it collects from taxpayers."—coming from one of the most eager supporters of Bush's trillion-dollar war ... ah, now that's irony.

•Still, Sali puts on quite a show for the folks back home. He voted consistently against funding for measures like the SCHIP program and the Idaho Special Olympic Games, against a "shield law" that would protect journalists from having to reveal anonymous sources, against increasing protection for government whistleblowers, against reducing interest rates on college loans, ending subsidies to oil giants, negotiating for lower prices on prescription drugs ... in essence, against any and everything that would be a relief to the middle class in Idaho or anywhere else.

Then he writes guest opinions for Idaho papers—invoking Thomas Jefferson, of all people—explaining how he so nobly defended the pocketbooks and wallets of his constituents. Frankly, Mr. Sali, we don't believe the Founding Fathers envisioned anyone like you.

Dud

Craig, Otter and Crapo

Bad year for wildfires ... no one's going to argue with that. But more super-heated air from the likes of Larry Craig, Butch Otter and Mike Crapo isn't going to alleviate those conditions—years of drought and global-warming induced temperatures—that led to millions of Idaho acres going up in flames this summer. The smoke hadn't even cleared before the three aforementioned fed-bashers called a news conference and used the catastrophic Murphy Complex Fire to attack Bureau of Land Management environmental policies having to do with grazing and species preservation. Said Crapo, "We haven't asked ourselves what are the costs (of protecting some species)."

That may be true, Sen. Crapo. But the more relevant question far too many Idahoans haven't asked is what are the costs of electing to high office the sort of soulless drip who would prefer the entire high desert to be teeming with welfare-ranching campaign contributors rather than sage grouse and slickspot peppergrass. We also thank our stars that there are agencies around such as the BLM—as slow and bureaucratic as it may be—to put some measure of hot air retardant on smoldering self-servers like these three.

Dud

Jim Tibbs' Campaign for Mayor

Never before has the word "dud" been more appropriate. Boise City Council Member Jim Tibbs may be a nice guy with a lovely family and a long and distinguished history in Boise, but his ill-conceived campaign was D.O.A. If there is one rule when challenging an incumbent—especially one that is relatively popular—it is to set yourself apart from said incumbent and give the voters something to vote for. Tibbs' campaign failed to do this on any level. His voting record during his two years on the council didn't do him any favors. The vast majority of the time, he fell in line with the rest of the council and Bieter. The few attempts made to create some kind of controversy were sad at best and contrived at worst. From seemingly trumped-up ethics charges against Mayor Dave Bieter to lashing out at fellow council member Maryann Jordan for speaking out against the action, Tibbs didn't win himself any converts with his actions, especially since he was trying to cast himself as the friendly candidate who would improve relationships with other agencies. The campaign failed to gain any traction, a fact that showed in the fact that Tibbs raised a quarter of the campaign contributions that Bieter pulled in. We'll say it again, this campaign was a dud.

Dud

Butch Otter vs. the Generation of the Child

Maybe Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter took the Pink Floyd song "Another Brick in the Wall" a little too seriously when he quietly began cutting funding for early childhood education programs. Otter didn't so much cut the programs which had been started as part of former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's Generation of the Child initiative, as he just let them die by not assigning them to a staff member to oversee. Otter pointed to frustration over a lack of clear accountability for the programs in question, as well as questions over the appropriateness of using federal funding as his reason for ending the programs. But because of his actions, hundreds of families across the state were tossed out of programs like the widely successful Parents as Teachers, and 40 people lost their jobs. Otter told the Spokesman-Review that he had nothing against the program, and in fact didn't know enough about it to have an opinion. Here's an idea; learn about something before axing it. We're all for using taxpayer money responsibly and efficiently, but not in such an uninformed way that has such a profound impact on Idaho's children.

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