Opinion » Mail

October 26 — November 1

Dems: No, Really, Hansen's OK

In his article "The Other Race" (BW, News, October 25) Shea Andersen wrote about the second district congressional campaign. Shea interviewed me at some length for this article; however, only a single sentence quote--unrepresentative of the tenor of my overall remarks--appeared in print. That solitary quote suggests that I doubt the efficacy of Jim Hansen's campaign. That is not the case.

When asked if I would discourage a candidate from running the kind of person-to-person, small donation campaign that Jim is waging, I responded that I would not discourage Jim Hansen from doing so because Jim is an exceptionally strong candidate and does retail politics extremely well. I also mentioned Jim's ability to clearly articulate a progressive message and his personal integrity. I noted that Jim's candidacy addresses very important issues regarding the often corrosive influence of money in politics.

Moreover, I would not have given Jim $100 in the primary election and another $100 in the general election (the maximum Jim will accept) unless I completely respected Jim--which I do--and had confidence in his campaign. As I told Shea, if anyone can be successful running an unconventional campaign, it is Jim Hansen--and this is the year to do it.

Thus, I enthusiastically and unequivocally support Jim Hansen's candidacy and applaud him for running a campaign where he not only "talks the talk," but also "walks the walk." If Shea's article left any other impression, this letter should set the record straight.

After reading the article concerning Jim Hansen's campaign for Congress, I felt it necessary to write this letter to clear the misrepresentation attributed to me in the story. Mr. Andersen asked me how I felt about Mr. Hansen's decision to take only $100 contributions. I explained to him that I wish Jim would take more and that it scares me since other campaigns take much more, but, that he is doing the right thing and I respect him for it. Money needs to stop driving politics. Mr. Andersen stated that it appears Jim is looking to make a point rather than to win this election. My reply was that I "totally disagree" and that he is absolutely campaigning to win this election and he intends to do it the right way--that he will not sell out on his principles. Only a part of my response was used, implying that I do not support Jim's campaign strategy, which is incorrect.

I also explained that Jim has taken the time to visit my community on several occasions. He has sat in the coffee shop, toured buildings, and really listened to the citizens. I find this refreshing and I am happy to see a candidate who is so willing to represent my community's concerns and take the time to learn what those are. I have had many occasions over the last two years to be interviewed by three different TV stations and several newspapers and I have not had this situation occur before. I am very disappointed that my positive statements and enthusiasm were taken out of context.

--Amy W. Wynn, mayor

American Falls

Shea Andersen should procure a calculator and learn to use it when he cites FEC data in his writing. Congressman Simpson may have raised more total dollars from individual donors than Jim Hansen, but let's look beyond the totals, shall we?

Since Hansen has set a self-imposed limit of $100 per person, for each election cycle, his total of $110,888 represent the commitment of over 1,000 individuals, the vast majority of whom are Idaho citizens.

According to his FEC report, as of October 26, Congressman Simpson's total of $126,755 comes from just 160 donors, only 54 of which live in Idaho. Of those, 24 are Idaho Power or Micron executives. Most others are likewise employed. There was one self-identified farmer among his donors.

More money has been contributed to Simpson's campaign from individuals with zip codes from the Washington, D.C., area than here in Idaho. These donors have contributed $44,650, over 35 percent of the total compared to the 22 percent from Idaho individuals. And while Simpson eschews contributions from the ICL, he's not quite as picky about money from convicted felon Jack Abramoff's former associates at the DC lobbying firms who are among his top 10 donors.

Unilateral campaign finance reform may be viewed by a few Democrats as a potential bullet in the foot of any candidate idealistic enough to embrace it. Those folks may not be excited by this campaign, but apparently there are over 1,000 people willing to provide financial support for the effort, which is not typical for the average Idaho voter.

Jim Hansen has tremendous courage to turn away from the status quo. I'm betting his "gamble" will pay off better than expected on Election Day.

--Elizabeth Wasson,


One more thing...

I want to make a quick but important clarification to Shea Andersen's story on the Mike Simpson/Jim Hansen race in the Second Congressional District. Shea says Simpson "declined any money from Johnson or his group." This might suggest the Idaho Conservation League, the organization I direct, was attempting to make a contribution. We most certainly did not; as a charitable organization, we never engage in candidate elections. Years ago, I founded a small political action committee, White Clouds PAC, and this organization offered a contribution in order to attend an event, and this was declined by Simpson's office.

Also, to quote Rep. Simpson, "I'm glad Jim's in the race." Jim is a friend and has proven to be a great campaigner. But Simpson is providing leadership in ways not seen in many years in Idaho, not just to protect wilderness, but also on education and other matters, too. While I don't agree with all his votes, I respect his leadership and Idaho needs it. To quote Esquire Magazine, who endorsed Democrats in all Idaho top-of-ticket races yet still endorsed Simpson: "Simpson is the sort of representative America, and the sharply divided West in particular, needs: pragmatic, nonideological, and earnestly devoted to all-party negotiations on controversial issues."

But regardless of for whom, vote on November 7. If democracy becomes a spectator sport, we all lose. And to everyone who loves Idaho: Definitely vote against Proposition 2!

--Rick Johnson


Repeat: "Out of Context"

In the October 18, 2006 Boise Weekly article on the Ada County Commissioner races, my comments were taken so far out of context that my meaning was seriously altered.

The BW reporter made it sound like I regret the decisions I made when in office in 2001 and 2002. Not true. I have regrets that things happened the way they did in the Southwest Community some 30 years ago. I was not even in the area at that time. The conversation actually went something like this: 

Reporter: "You said while you were a commissioner you approved some of that growth but now later regret it, what is the ...?"

I interjected with a comment like this: "No, I don't regret it. It's a different circumstance than you have with some of the projects that are being proposed now. What I regret is that 30 years ago there wasn't a better vision for how the community would grow, in place then."

When my subdivision was developed in the mid- to late-1970s, and the rest of the older subdivisions were built in the Southwest Community, the homes were on septic tanks and therefore had relatively large lots of one-half to one acre. The residential subdivisions were scattered within the farmland, which set up a recipe for problems down the road because the farmers couldn't really farm anymore. The coexistence of intermingled farmland and residential subdivisions is uneasy, at best. 

Twenty years after the first subdivisions went in, some of the remaining farmers decided to sell off their land. The value of the land was these people's retirement fund. Developers were willing to pay for that land to put in subdivisions with three to four houses per acre, with water and sewer service. For the county to prevent the long-time farming families from selling off their land to be developed into subdivisions, between already existing residential subdivisions, would have been unreasonable and cruel. 

Why would we want to repeat the Southwest Community's troubles? I hope we can learn from that 30-year history. If planned communities like Avimor are approved and built, far away from existing growth, I foresee problems in the future just like those the Southwest Community has been facing for the past 10 or 15 years . 

--Sharon Ullman,


Hang up on Sali

Normally, I would support the Republican nominee. However, it is my opinion that Bill Sali is not competent to represent me in any political setting. I would be ashamed to say that I supported someone who made the types of statements he did regarding abortion and breast cancer while serving in the Idaho Legislature. 

Additionally, we have been receiving what we thought to be harrassing phone calls at all times of the day and evening from the number 208-000-0000.  For the past several weeks when this phone number would show on our phone and we answered, no one responded.  If we didn't answer the phone and the answering machine picked up, then over and over a mechanical voice would say "If you want to place a call hang up and call your local operator." 

We called our telephone service and reported the harrassing phone calls, which we received even though we are on the "Do Not Call" lists.  Finally we got a live person when we answered the phone and found out it was Sali's campaign that was doing the harrassing. Please do not cast your vote for Bill Sali.

--Elizabeth Miller,



For decades, corporate-driven, industry-controlled politics has given Americans whatever is fastest, cheapest, and easiest. Yet, while big business profits handsomely, this style of government continues to put America further and further up a creek. Even worse, our business-as-usual leaders plan only more of the same. If America ever hopes to change this failing political culture, its people need to stop electing the same traditional politicians.

Trailing in polls all summer, gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brady has steadily closed the gap on former Congressman Butch Otter. One recent poll even places Brady slightly ahead of Otter. Although this may surprise some Idahoans, Brady's momentum illuminates Idaho's thirst for a new type of leadership. While Butch Otter has long followed the well-worn path of traditional politics, Jerry Brady demonstrates intelligence, innovation, sincerity and conviction, both in his business career and throughout his campaign. Albert Einstein defined insanity as "expecting the same process to produce different results." Thus, don't vote for Butch Otter if you expect a leader of and for the people; we already know from Otter's track record that he'll deliver traditional lobbyist-led government. Yet, if you'd prefer that Idaho's governor answer to Idahoans first, help elect Jerry Brady.

--Laura Higdon,