Think Outside the Norm on Education Cuts
I found your most recent article "Boise Punished by Ed Cuts" (BW, citydesk, Feb. 11, 2009) alarming regarding Mr. Luna's proposed education budget cuts based on current guidance from our state leadership. I know I am not alone in my opinion that education is the driving force for Idaho's future and must be protected and consistently enhanced at all cost. Although I strongly agree with Mr. Luna's well-founded reluctance to move in this direction based on the hand he appears to have been dealt, it seems the "cut funds option" is reflective of a normal approach to budget issues. I wonder if these very challenging times point to potential solutions other than the standard fallbacks of cut funding or raise taxes.
Now, I am not advocating any specific agenda as I do not have our state leadership's insight nor experience, but maybe we, as Idahoans, are facing such severe fiscal challenges for the foreseeable future that it merits opening up the "option aperture" by our leadership other than cutting funding or increasing taxes. Have we actually explored all possibilities available to best assure sustained growth in educational opportunities, services and excellence? I don't believe so. For example, have we had the open discussion on establishing a school "user fee" for families with K-12 aged children of X number of dollars per child per year to assist in closing our current and projected budget shortfalls? What about re-looking at current business tax incentives established to bring new operations into Idaho as a possible means for educational funding? What about formally aligning the tobacco settlement fund with educational budget shortfalls as its primary utility. The "what if" list potentially grows and grows. Draconian—yes—but options none the less. My point is not to suggest we specifically pursue X, Y or Z, but that we have the open discussion as Idahoans about all the options, regardless of political persuasion, emotion, set perceptions, or "we've never done it that way before" philosophy. The stakes are too high not to explore every potential solution available to us in preserving our educational standards while enhancing our ability to better our future, which, by the way, is mostly in the hands of our educators and our children.
Realize that left-right politics is a derivative of the core governmental principles the overwhelming majority of humans all over the spectrum agree on. Government should at the very least be honest, accountable and transparent. The principles listed in the Bill of Rights such as free speech and religion, no unjust search and seizure (privacy), trial by jury, freedom to assemble peaceably, due process in the court of law, are the foundation of civil government.
If we can't even agree on legal governance at the basic level, then how can the debate even get to the point where the left and right become raging polarities? When the discussion gets to this level, the federal government has already out-stepped its proper constitutional boundaries.
Focus on the Federal Reserve Bank. Ask yourself if anyone wants the nation's money supply owned by a secret, unaccountable, private firm. Ask yourself if any American wants to be overtaxed to create and maintain a corrupt world empire, or see their civil liberties destroyed by martial laws. These are all entirely unconstitutional and yet pervasive. Will the new administration change any of these crimes, or is there simply a new face in front of the same old mob?
—Matthew Gustin, Boise
A couple of stories published in last week's edition of Boise Weekly lit up our Facebook page with some lively discussion. We've contacted the authors of some of those comments and asked each for permission to share their opinions beyond cyberspace. It's the first time we ever pulled comments from Facebook into print, but keep 'em coming so we can keep at it.
On "Liquor Lament," Scott Weaver's story about bar owners who are less than pleased with a draft of a bill that, if passed, will change the way liquor licenses are doled out and administered:
Katherine Corkill: "Leave it to the government to destroy the small business owner again. This article is disheartening and I am in agreement with those that hold state liquor licenses. Right now Otter is about collecting more state revenue any way he can to the detriment of the little guy. Good luck to those who will fight this."
The discussion was slightly more heated over Nathaniel Hoffman's story on the Idaho Human Rights Commission's decision not to back LGBT rights. Here's just a few of the dozen or so comments:
Katie McArthur: "I met with the Canyon Area Human Rights Task Force this evening and explained to them what happened last night with the HR Commission vote. I was directed to contact the Governor's Office as his office and the attorney general appoint the commissioners. I would strongly recommend everyone to do so. I don't think many of the folks on this commission have ever taken a diversity class."
Sue Latta: "Maybe they should change their name to Idaho Straight Human Rights Commission because they clearly aren't up to the task of protecting all the humans' rights ... or is it because they think we're not human?"
Jen Martinek: "Disgusting. It's sad that they think legislation protecting people from being fired for their sexuality will lead to gay marriage, and even worse that the second reason for not passing this is to protect the state from lawsuits. I hope a lawsuit is filed against the IHRC—why should we protect the state and not its citizens?"
If you have a few minutes to surf the Internet this week, check out the online discussion about Bill Cope's rants on Rush Limbaugh (BW, Opinion, "The Swine Within," Feb. 11, 2009).
Log onto boiseweekly.com, click on Opinion and then on "The Swine Within." Scroll down and follow the link to read the comments. Here are a few of the most entertaining:
bikeboy: "Already time for another 'Bad Stuff 'bout Rush Limbaugh' column? Time flies when yer havin' fun, huh, Bill? That's pretty funny—you being critical of a 'spittle-spewer,' and criticizing his tendency to name-call and do characterizations of the folks he disagrees with. (Do you ever read your columns? If so, maybe you, too, are stuck by the irony of such criticisms.)"
Mesamonk: "You obtuse brainwashed liberal. Please do me a favor, when they pass out the Kool-Aid, all liberals please drink it up. Of course that will bloat you and make you smell ... but I can live with that as it can't be any worse than your current state of existence."
"My only question is, when Boise Weekly has the fairness doctrine forced upon them, which of the two opinion writers will lose their jobs?"
nobozos: "C'mon Bill, tell us how you really feel. I laughed my ass off through the entire column, and no, telling it like it is has never offended me. Plus, I like great writing and you're damn good. John McCain was even more cruel to Chelsea in 1998. Q: Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? A: Because her father is Janet Reno. Both these men are pigs and it's nice to hear you say so."
"P.S. to Mesamonk: The Fairness Doctrine only applies to those holding a broadcasting license."
"It pleases me no end to tell you nothing the government can do, as long as we still have a first amendment in the Bill of Rights, can shut Cope up if the Boise Weekly keeps him on the payroll. Boise Weekly will never be forced to hire an opposing opinion writer. Boise Weekly can print [pretty] much whatever it damn well wants and you have a choice to read it or not read it."
Clarification & Correction
Illustrator Erin Ruiz was the genius behind last week's heart art in the main feature. On Steve Fulton and Audio Lab: The Soliz Peterson release No Welcome Mat Here was actually recorded at Cunningham Audio Production, and Pat Storey is now a full-time partner of Audiolab. And last but not least, Ben Wilson created his Josh Ritter poster for a Music from Stanley event.