by Andrew Crisp
During the lunch hour today, Cecil D. Andrus and his biographer Chris Carlson took the stage at the Boise City Club. Amid Chinese food and brownies, the audience drank up the color exuded from the 80-year-old former state senator, governor and secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter.
While Andrus regaled the crowd with stories, he was nothing short of candid about the current administration of the Gem State.
"It infuriates me what they're doing now, and what they're trying to do to sell it to you, the public," said Andrus, speaking of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reforms during the introduction. "I hope we get to that."
Later, when a student asked if he supported Luna's plans:
"No I do not. In no way, shape or form. The most important item in a classroom is the teacher. They puffed out their chests and said, 'We did not raise your taxes,'" said Andrus.
But for him, the local levies passed by school districts translated into a tax increase anyway.
"The taxes were raised," he said, "But our 'heroes' at the state level get to say, 'well, we didn’t cause it.'"
Earlier in the event, Andrus went on a lengthy vilification, highlighting Athol Rep. Phil Hart and his outstanding taxes, Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow's resignation over favoritism, and Canyon County Sen. John McGee's DUI and grand theft auto charges.
"There’s a lot of people behind bars for stealing a vehicle. … They didn’t have big strong political friends," said Andrus. "I said I was going to be candid," he laughed. "You have lesson No. 1."
The governor also took time to metaphorically tousle the hair of his biographer and former press secretary, Chris Carlson. Andrus recalled imploring Carlson to shine his shoes, cut his hair, and wear a tie before he would hire him at the age of 23.
The two remained after the event to sign copies of Carlson's Cecil Andrus: Idaho's Greatest Governor.