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Pass It, I'm Gone

Proposition 2 proponent about to be a former Idahoan

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If his baby is successful at the polls, the leading proponent of Proposition 2 won't be around the enjoy the fruits of his labors.

Laird Maxwell, the Idaho front for the anti-takings initiative, is outta here. His reasons have to do with matters of the heart. First, with his relationship with his new wife, who lives in Arizona with her three children, and second, with what he says is the changing nature of his home state.

"Idaho's gone liberal," Maxwell said grumpily.

He said he plans to move south shortly after the election November 7, which he hopes will result in victory for the well-funded push to pass the land-use initiative, which would require Idaho governments to compensate property owners who perceive that government action is affecting their property values.

"Plus, a warmer winter sounds enticing," Maxwell said.

His impending departure was pounced upon by a new group that has formed to oppose the measure.

"Proposition 2 is going to harm Idaho counties, cost Idaho taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and Laird Maxwell doesn't even care because he's not even going to be in this state any more," said Justin Hayes, a spokesman for Neighbors Protecting Idaho, a new group that includes Tom Dale, Mayor of Nampa. Hayes regularly works for the Idaho Conservation League, but has taken a leave of absence to work on the anti-Proposition 2 initiative.

But if Proposition 2 passes, Maxwell said, it won't be because of the support of Idaho's political leadership. Down in Arizona, where a similar initiative is underway, Maxwell said, the political environment is different.

"You have your major heavyweight politicians down there supporting this," Maxwell said.

Maxwell said the arguments against Proposition 2--that it will cost Idaho money in legal challenges, that it discourages growth planning, that it is unnecessary--are "so bad and so false, I don't know how they can hold their heads up."

"Facts are stubborn things," Maxwell said. "And we've decimated every one of their arguments."

Recently, Gov. Jim Risch said that while he was not "a leader for or against it," he didn't support the measure's passage.

"I have grave reservations over Proposition 2," Risch said. In an interview with BW, he said the Idaho Legislature already addressed Proposition 2.

But the man who hopes to succeed him still hasn't made up his mind. Republican Butch Otter, currently serving as Congressman for Idaho's First District, told a City Club of Boise forum Monday he hadn't made up his mind on Prop 2.

"Quite frankly, I'm still confused because I don't know what it says," Otter said. "I haven't decided yet."

His Democratic opponent is more certain.

"I know my mind on this and I know what's in it," Brady said. "I'm against it."

Editor's Note: After BW went to press, the Otter campaign released a statement saying Otter was opposed to Proposition 2. His statement reads as follows: “The Idaho Legislature did a good job of addressing the eminent domain concerns raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo vs. New London, Connecticut. While Proposition 2 essentially restates the Legislature’s solution, the issue at the ballot measure’s heart is protecting private property from regulatory takings. I fully understand and even share many of its supporters’ concerns. Private property rights is one of my core values. Yet there are almost as many opinions about what Proposition 2 will actually do as there are people voicing those opinions. That seems like a recipe for lots of lawsuits, which makes it tough for me to recommend it. So I will vote against Proposition 2. My commitment to the measure’s supporters is that if problems such as they foresee do arise in Idaho, I will be front and center to see that those problems are addressed by whatever means necessary and in an equitable and constitutional manner.”

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