Opinion » Mail

April 19 — April 25 ONLINE LETTERS


There are an estimated 12 million refugees in the world today. Even more staggering is the reality that there are more than 21 million internally displaced persons, suffering the loss of their homes and country. All are victims of war or oppression, persecuted for their race, religion, political beliefs, or membership in a social group. The fortunate ones make their way to camps established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in neighboring countries.  There they find shelter, bare living necessities, and maybe, but not always, safety.  Often times their persecutors prowl the perimeter, continuing a rampage of killing, rape and abduction. 

Homeless, stateless, wounded by unimaginable loss, refugees and displaced persons remain trapped in a visionless, forgotten world marked by idleness and despair. Days turn into months, and months into years.  The shared dream of all is to one day return home-to familiar places and old friends, to regain lost identities, and hopefully find the self worth and human pride that was violently torn from their lives.

For a very, very, few, where the luck of the draw presents itself, life in new country, permanent resettlement, becomes a possibility. For them desperation and courage come together, and a trek of a different kind begins.  After enduring war, harrowing escapes, untold loss of home and family, new fears and formidable challenges begin.

Imagine leaving Boise, leaving the United States, and permanently relocating to a country in Africa, Asia, or South America. Imagine having to not only come to understand, but forced to survive, function, and yes, eventually assimilate yourself and your family into a new culture. You are different, and everyone knows it. Yet somehow you must find a way "to belong."

Fortunately there are agencies and organizations offering assistance to these brave "new Americans" struggling to assimilate, to belong.  The International Rescue Committee (IRC), inspired and founded by  Dr. Albert Einstein, has been assisting refugees since 1933 in all aspects of their long, difficult journey of relocation. IRC has 24 regional offices and is among the few humanitarian organizations with an emergency response mechanism to respond to refugee emergencies worldwide within 72 hours. Its global responsive presence has gained not only international praise, but attracted some of the most recognized business, political, religious, and educational leaders from around the world to embrace its humanitarian work.

In January 2006 the International Rescue Committee opened a refugee resettlement office in Boise. Because of its relatively low cost of living, solid economy, and growing diversity, Boise has become an increasingly attractive destination.  As IRC extends its hand across oceans and distant lands to those ravaged by violence and oppression, it also offers its hand to  Boise, hoping to be welcomed and received by the community for its work, and the cultural enrichment these new residents will bring. With their unique perspective, over time, they will inevitably make remarkable contributions to business, politics, education and the arts, further enriching the diverse fabric of our treasure valley.

--Keziah Sullivan,

the IRC, Boise 

CIEDRA: Preserves Multiple-Use

A greater percentage of Idahoans participate in non-motorized outdoor recreation than residents of any other state. Eighty-seven percent of us get beyond the road to enjoy hunting, hiking and camping, fishing, and rafting. Many out-of-state visitors seek these same recreation opportunities, and that's good news for our local economies.  I am a small business owner. My shop in old town Pocatello sells equipment and clothing for everything from a simple day hike to a month long trek. I also sell mountain bikes. I personally like to mountain bike and I ride dirtbikes when I have the time. I'm a member of the BlueRibbon Coalition and a supporter of multiple-use management of our public lands. I am also an enthusiastic advocate for protecting the Boulder-White Clouds region as wilderness, as proposed in Rep. Mike Simpson's Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act. This bill, known as CIEDRA, is a common sense response to user conflicts and resource protection issues that have been debated for too long.  Under CIEDRA, 300,000 acres of existing federal land would be protected as wilderness. Equally important, a 520,000 acre special management area would be established on lands surrounding the wilderness. New motorized trails would not be allowed within this management area, but it would protect every mile of existing motorized trail from being closed in the future.   As a firm believer in multiple use management, I think CIEDRA is a fair bargain for the people of Idaho. It will protect some of our most scenic trails for motorized recreation and mountain biking, while also protecting world-class wilderness and quiet recreation opportunities. I like this compromise, for it assures by law that the areas in the Boulder-White Clouds where I enjoy hiking and biking will remain largely the same as they are today. I want my six-year-old daughter to have the chance to enjoy the same experiences I have in this amazing Idaho wonderland.   Over 150 business men and women from around the state have endorsed wilderness protection for the Boulder-White Clouds.  You can be sure that none of us would be lending our support if we felt this plan would curtail our business in any way. We know that protecting the best of Idaho's wild lands makes good business sense. Our support for CIEDRA is based on hard facts and years of experience behind our cash registers. Protecting Idaho's special places helps fuel economic growth and stability for rural counties. "Lifestyle amenities," including outdoor recreation and proximity to wildlands, are a primary reason businesses are relocating to the West and baby boomers are looking to the West for retirement or second homes.    I've read Mike Simpson's bill and I encourage others to do so. After taking a close look at it, it seems to me like the most affected parties--the local communities, ranchers, motorized recreation lovers, and wilderness enthusiasts--all come away with a good deal. Nobody gets everything they want, but nobody's left out in the cold.  Like I said before, this seems like a fair bargain.--Brad Chilton,


Political Letters! Yay!

Tom Luna is running for superintendent of public instruction, and let me assure you he is the only candidate who will move the public education system from status quo to exceptional. That is why he has the support of my group, Idahoans for Excellence in Education.Tom has a proven record of education improvement. He led the effort to bring the ISAT and Achievement Standards to our schools, giving teachers, parents and students new tools with which to measure performance and take action. Tom is a nationally-recognized expert in issues facing rural school districts.Some of Tom's opponents claim to be supporters of education reforms, such as giving parents a choice on where their children go to school. But I know they are in fact supporters of "business as usual." I am frankly amazed to listen to these other candidates. They sat silently on the sidelines while we pushed for education improvement. Now they suddenly act as though they are champions of innovation. They are not. They should also know that voting for a bill containing the word "charter," doesn't make them charter school advocates. Tom Luna has been active in the fight to make our schools better. I hope you will join me in supporting Tom Luna for Superintendent of Public Instruction on May 23. --Darrel Deide, ChairmanIdahoans for Excellence in Education,

Caldwell, ID

I'm a retired teacher and I think the federal government is off-base on the education issue. No Child Left Behind has devolved from a noble idea into a federal monstrosity that does more harm than good to our educational system in Idaho.

There is a role for the federal government to play in education. I agree with congressional candidate Sheila Sorensen that the U.S. Department of Education should set educational goals, not standards. There‚s a big difference, and what may work well in one school district may fail horribly in another. Sorensen has also talked about using the Department of Education as a clearing house for best practices ˆ a resource for educators to use to find out what is working for some teachers, and what isn‚t working for others. One thing is clear, cookie-cutter solutions won‚t prove effective in educating our children.

Sorensen has practical solutions in mind when it comes to improving education. Throughout her entire legislative career Sheila Sorensen sought out sensible solutions. If we send her to Congress, we can expect her to address federal legislation with this same approach.

--Jane Crase


The Idaho Legislature has graciously handed us a small property tax cut. But there's a better way to do it. Congressional candidate Sheila Sorensen has a better idea. Congress is always passing mandates which sound good but have hidden costs. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act are just a few. She believes Congress must work to reduce the burdens of unfunded federal mandates--which usually are paid from your property taxes. The time to start is now. A vote for Sorensen in next month's primary is a vote for lower property taxes.

--Scott Phillips,


I can think of no one better to represent the Republican party for the vacant Congressional District seat than Sheila Sorenson. She is a leader and consensus builder that has been demonstrated in her years of service in the ID legislature. During conversations with her about complicated issues concerning my profession I found her willing to understand sometimes confusing terms and investigate the nuances. She has always been honest and respectful to those she speaks with and about, a trait not always seen and followed in the policical arena. Although I do not agree with all of her positions I believe she respects differing opinions as part of our American political heritage and is willing to truly hear all sides of an issue. Please vote for Sheila Sorenson for Congress if you want to be proud of who we send to Washington as a decisive, honest and thoughtful legislature who will stand up for the people of ID.

--Dean Martin,



Now there's a word we rarely hear used in conjunction with political campaigns -- unless it's describing someone with the lack thereof.

When it comes to being true to what you know is right under ALL circumstances, I've found only one serious contender for 1st District Congress with the willingness and ability to live by their beliefs and commitments: Sheila Sorensen.

I imagine it's easy for political candidates to make promises to people -- things you will improve, tasks you will take on, opportunities that are guaranteed. However, the true test of a leader is your follow-through -- can you deliver on those promises in the actions you take?

Sheila Sorensen has strengthened our schools, toughened our laws against domestic violence and drugs, supported tax cuts and lowered health care burdens. Nobody else running for 1st District Congress this year can match that kind of record.

Promises made, promises delivered. To me, it's a simple equation. And it's a genuine characteristic all Idahoans appreciate. That's why this year, I'm supporting Sheila Sorensen for Congress.

--Karen Phillips,


I'm supporting Sheila Sorensen for a number of reasons: for supporting quality education for our children during her tenure in the State Senate and House, for supporting sportsman issues related to hunting and fishing, and for being financially responsible with our tax dollars.

But there is one reason that is vastly more important than all other reasons combined. It is her Integrity.

What I admire most about Sheila Sorensen is that for her, politics has never been business-as-usual. It has always been about doing what is right.

Sheila Sorensen earned the right to chair key committees and was elected to a top leadership post in the State Senate because her peers trusted her, they believed in her. She has always been honest and fair. I am certain that these leadership traits will continue on when we send her to Congress.

I'm going to vote for Sheila Sorensen in the Republican primary election in May. If you think that integrity, honesty, and fortitude are good qualities for a congressman, then you should vote for Sheila, too.

--Gordon Eccles,


During her 17 years in the state legislature, Sheila Sorensen consistently voted in support of education. Because of her outstanding record on education she's endorsed by former Republican Superintendent of Education Jerry Evans. Sheila understands that our future depends on how well we education our children today.

In addition to education there are many important issues on the table in this congressional race including promoting responsible government spending, limiting government intrusion in our lives, and creating jobs for Idahoans. Sheila Sorensen has a proven record on all of these issues. I'm supporting Sheila Sorensen for Congress, and hope that you will join me in voting for her in the Republican primary on May 23rd.

--Vicki Davis,


Aw, shucks.

Tom Luna should be elected superintendent of schools because he wants to let people choose the right schools for their children. I like my teacher a lot, but what if my school was not working out for me? I could switch to another school where it helped me learn better. Tom Luna would let parents be involved in the schools, like the teachers emailed their parents about their students' day so that they would always know about what their children did. But most of all, Tom Luna is a very nice person and he wants to give the best education to children. --Kira Hoffman2nd grade, Sherman ElementaryNampa