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Archive for the ‘Idaho Conservative’ Category

The Woman Who Could Topple Otter?

Posted by Adam Graham on June 1, 2009

Many conservatives feel Governor Butch Otter should be challenged in 2010’s Primary. I’ve heard very little belief in Rex Rammell as the candidate to do that  and that was before he filed Chapter 11.  The question is who could challenge Governor Otter and hope to prevail.

I’ve given this some thought and have an answer. I have no clue if she’d run or even I’d endorse her, but Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman occurs to me as a very likely candidate.

Conservatives complaints with Otter have centered around a couple of key issues: taxes and government arrogance with the Chris Pentico arrest epitomizing that. Ullman’s strength as an open government advocate and a budget hawk could answer those questions quite nicely.

The biggest knock on Ullman is the allegation that she doesn’t work well with others. Butch Otter doesn’t have much room to talk after the last session.

Ullman also has name recognition, money, and activist power that would form behind her well in Ada and Canyon County,  and her general sympathies would end up helping her in Rural Idaho.

Could she make a campaign in the first two years of her term on the Ada County Commission? Absolutely. Conrad Burns ran for the U.S. Senate in the middle of his first term as Yellowstone County Commission in Montana. So, it would not be unheard of.

One possible issue with Ullman is that her views on moral issues are unknown as they’ve not been relevant to any job she sought. If those aren’t traditionalists, many people who vote on the cultural  issues would choose Otter over her.

If Ullman’s views are in line with the conservative base then she would be a huge threat to Governor Otter, bringing anti-establishment credentials mixed with executive experience: a potent mix that I’m not sure Governor Otter could withstand.


Posted in Idaho Conservative | Leave a Comment »

Cheers and Boos

Posted by Adam Graham on May 31, 2009

Cheers to the Idaho Virtual Academy:  They had their first graduation this Saturday.  And somewhere an IEA board member cried. Hard. Well done IDVA, great work bringing innovation to public schools.

Cheers to the Obama Administration: For its plan to incentivize states adopting charter schools and lifting restrictions. If you’re going to have the federal government in education (which you shouldn’t.) then it should be supporting something responsible. The Obama Administration’s plan is more carrot and less stick. Wonder how our friends on the left feel about this.

Boos to Supporters of a big new tax to fund a library in Canyon County.  I love libraries as much as the next guy, but there’s a recession going on and people are truly taxed enough.

Posted in Idaho Conservative | Leave a Comment »

Cheers and Boos: April 26

Posted by Adam Graham on April 26, 2009

Boos to 11 of the Idaho House  Democrats for their votes to accept the Senate Amendments to H0096 and raise the fuel tax 6 cents a gallon. If you’ll remember, a couple weeks before, the entire Democratic Caucus voted against two cents a gallon increase because it would put too much burden on Idaho families. So let me get this straight, a two cent increase is too much, but a six cent increase is just right? Is it too much to ask for legislators to be consistent.

Cheers to the Five Treasury Valley Democrats who cast logically consistent votes. My Representatives, Durst and King both voted against the increase as did District 17 Representatives Bill Killen and Sue Chew, while Freshman Brian Cronin chose logic unlike his more senior colleague.  In District 16, both Democrats voted for the tax increase.

Boos to the Idaho Democrats for holding their second closed caucus of the year.  Senator Nicole LeFavour (D-19) explains part of the reason and suggests that Dan Popkey could learn a lesson or two on proper reporter procedure from Jean-Luc Picard:

Of course this open caucus thing got a bit out of control this year. In the House, Dan Popkey, whom I like, apparently sat in on an open Democratic strategy discussion and then went off and asked a Republican chair woman what she thought of the strategy before the strategy could be put to use. Call me wierd but when I was a reporter I think I did see myself a bit like the starship Enterprise exploring the galaxy under the prime directive. Report but don’t interfere or do anything that would change the outcome of the news.

Well, as it’s a totally open caucus. In theory, I could also sit down, listen in and report what happened in the Caucus to Speaker Denney. Or am I considered one of the crew of Dan Popkey’s starship?

My stance is that Caucuses ought to be closed. They represent internal strategy sessions. What the Democrats have done is make a big deal about having open caucuses and then begun to back off in a way that’s pretentious and hypocritical. The issue means nada to the average Idahoan and it’s time for Dems to stop the sanctimony.

Boos to Rep. Tom Trail (R-6) for writing regarding reforming and consolidating election laws:

The election reform measure which would have limited most Idaho elections to two days a year, in May and November down from four dates now, has re-emerged as a bargaining chip. The new bill proposes giving $3 million to cities and counties to pay their share of new costs. The new bill would come up with the needed funds. Frankly, I think this bill can wait.

Tom Trail’s motto, “Citizen involvement can wait.”

Boos to Governor Butch Otter (R-Id.) for deploying Bruce Newcombe to help with his tax increase effort. Dan Popkeyw writes:

House Assistant Republican Leader Scott Bedke said Newcomb’s approach was a gentle reminder that Otter is the GOP standard bearer and deserves a break. “Mostly, it was ‘He’s your friend; call him,’ ” Bedke said.

Yep, it’s the good old boys watching out for each other.

The “He’s your friend” thing is bizarre. The tantrum of 35 vetoes was not a “friendly action” and you can bet bottom dollar that many Republicans are going to face primary challenges from Otter allies even if Otter doesn’t make a public show of challenging them. (I speak as someone who received a call from Idaho’s First lady urging me to vote for Gail Hartnett.)

As for Newcombe, it’s his good old boy status that even allows him to continue to have a place in state GOP politics. He intentionally tried to sabotage the Republican Candidate for Congress in 2006, but you get away with that if you’re a good old boy. Ironically, the same people who will be all cuddly with Newcombe will have a problem with Rex Rammell because of his Senate challenge to Jim Risch. Though, the main difference I see between what Rammell did and what Newcombe did is that Rammell was at least honest about it.

Three Cheers to the State House: The following Tweet was sent out last night by Wayne Hoffman:

idaho gas tax rally monday called off; organizers told tax plan is dead

Our representatives heard us.

Posted in Idaho Conservative | Leave a Comment »

It’s Our Government Too…

Posted by Adam Graham on April 25, 2009

Dave Frasier at the Boise Guardian reports:

In what can only be described as a legal atrocity, an official of the Republican Party was convicted Tuesday in Fourth District Court of trespass–in a public building.

The conviction of Christopher Pentico came because a State copper told him to leave the Capitol Annex last March after making some legislators “uncomfortable.” The State copper also told him to stay away from other offices, including that of Guv. Butch Otter.

There seems to be only a slight descrepency in stories, but days after the 2008 warning from the copper, Pentico visited the office of the Guv at the Borah Building located at 8th and Bannock. He dropped off some documents, inquired about an appointment and left.

That’s when ISP copper Jenes Pattis chased him down outside, handcuffed him and eventually issued a TRESPASSING ticket!
After a year of court appearances, a trial was held before Magistrate Kevin Swain who allowed little evidence, found Pentico guilty, and set sentencing for May 11.

Pentico, a district 22 Republican committeeman, is known in political circles as a conservative with continuing issues at Boise State University over issues relating to funding clubs with student fees. He favors giving equal funds to clubs with religious affiliation. He also claims there is a conflict of interest in some decision making because the deputy Attorney General assigned to the Borad of Ed is husband of a BSU dean at the college of engineering. 

The story is disgraceful and worse yet, no legislator or group of legislators has come forward to take responsibility for the action or explain what the heck it was that Pentico did to anger them. I’ve spoken to several people who know Pentico and they indicate he’s not of a threatening stature or nature. And as Frasier noted, he’s not rude or disorderly.

The best possible explanation I’ve received for what may have made people uncomfortable revolve around issue of physical appearance (he has long hair) and perhaps race, or perhaps more patently discomfort with the issues he was brought to the legislature. None of this is a good excuse for denying a citizen their right to be in the seat of government.

The government belongs to us all and while I’m sure I might make some legislators uncomfortable, as long as I’m not doing anything illegal or disruptive, as a citizen, I have a right to be there.  So do all citizens. So does Chris Pentico. We deserve an explanation and we need to make our voices heard with our legislators and with these prosecutors.

A citizen should not face six months in jail for trying to lobby their representatives.

Posted in Idaho Conservative | Leave a Comment »

Governorship in the Balance

Posted by Adam Graham on April 23, 2009

The events of the past few days have been stunning. Governor Butch Otter issued 35 vetoes of House legislation, 33 of which were vetoes of appropriations bills meant to keep the legislature in town to pass his vision of transportation funding.

After Otter vetoed eight bills to show the legislature he meant business, the State Senate amended a House bill removing the ethanol exemption and amended it to raise gas taxes six cents a gallon and raised registeration fees. The House sent a clear message by voting 55-15 to kill the bill, and then Otter issued his 25 vetoes.

Speaker Lawrence Denney (R-9) was trying to make progress and thought he had shot before Otter vetoed 25 more bills. Denny says Otter’s not helping:

“He’s setting in concrete the votes that were maybe – I mean, they’re not happy,” Denney said. “Truly yesterday we thought we had a way forward,” he said, involving the removal of the ethanol exemption, raising DMV fees, “and possibly a fuel tax with an economic trigger. We were starting to shop that around when he vetoed those bills – and the talk stopped. I would hope that he wouldn’t veto any more bills, and that we can start talking again.”

Otter has made his governorship around taking an all or nothing approach to transportation-and getting nothing.  Otter could have had $68 million for transportation had he accepted it back in 2008. Now, in the midst of the recession, Otter can’t even get that. He could have, however, had $13.2 million annually from getting rid of the Ethanol exemption, but his Senate allies had to foul up the bill by loading it up with a gas tax increase three times the amount that came closest to passing in the House.

Governor Otter this past week has shown all the diplomacy and tact of a run-away freight train this week. In addition, he has failed to grasp the times in which he’s governing. If there were an Out of Touch magazine, Otter would be the cover boy.

I was there when Bryan Fischer asked the crowd at the Boise Tea Party whether they consented to have their gas taxes increased and the “no” was resounding. The public isn’t in the mood for a tax increase, particularly on the order of what Otter is asking for.

Melissa Clouthier had a piece warning that complacent Republicans had a lot to fear from tea parties in terms of primary challenges. It seems to me that Governor Otter is a prime example. He’s stumbled into a lose-lose situation.

If the legislature raises taxes in opposition to what is the popular will, particularly in the Republican Primary, Butch Otter will almost certainly face a stiff challenge. Even a total unknown could probably get 30% of the vote.

What if Otter fails, the Senate caves into the house and budgets are passed over the Governor’s veto without transportation funding? Simply, put, Butch Otter will be a failed governor. He’s made the focus of his administration: transportation and through his overbearing tactics, he’ll have gotten next to nothing and far less than he could have gotten with a better temperment.

Democrats have an opportunity in 2010 if they could find a good candidate, but they really don’t have anybody.  When they run the relic like Larry LaRocco in two consecutive elections, you know there’s just not much on the old bench.  A quick inventory of Democrats shows they have state legislators, most of which could not be elected outside of their own districts or who are too moderate (Mary Lou Shepherd, Branden Durst) to gain the favor of the Sun Valley-North End Democratic establishment. There’s Mayor Dave Bieter who really has no future outside of the City of Boise, and then Democrats are left with a few rural county commissioners and local officeholders scattered throughout the state, and not a whole lot else.

So, Otter’s governship will be tested in the Republican Primary. It’ll be close, and if Closed Primaries carry the day prior to the 2010 Primaries, Butch Otter will see his public career go down in inglorious defeat.

Posted in Idaho Conservative | 1 Comment »

Cheers and Boos: April 19

Posted by Adam Graham on April 20, 2009

Boos to: Jim Fisher, big government liberal for suggesting that what America needs to do is to crush opportunity and destroy the American dream with higher taxes and more government. Apparently, reforming entitlements is off the table.

Boos to Rep. Brian Cronin (D-19) who complains:

I find it real interesting, particularly as a freshman legislator, that you have House and Senate leadership – Republicans – as well as a Republican governor that can’t seem to compromise with each other. These are all elected Republican officials who have the supermajority in the Statehouse and yet they can’t even get on the same page on these issues, and thus we stay week after week without resolving some very fundamental issues

The House is run by Conservatives, the Senate is run by a more to the left Senate leadership, and the Governor doesn’t know what he believes. Republicanism pertains to a party not a philosophy. Blame voters for electing Senators who are far more liberal than State Representatives.

Democrats haven’t been concerned with legislating, they’ve been concerned with obstructing legislation. Don’t give me the whole, “We’re shocked, shocked I say that there hasn’t been more progress.”

Cheers to Senator Nicole LeFavour (D-19) for finally using her poetic powers for good rather than whine.

Boos to Former Senator Steve Symms (R-Id.) who is holding a fundraiser for Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) but like a scene from the Godfather, Symms tells us it’s only business:

Symms said he’s been hearing from Idaho Republicans concerned about Monday’s news that he’s holding a $1,000-a-plate breakfast for Minnick on April 23 at his Capitol Hill office.

“It’s just business,” said Symms, who served 20 years in Congress and held the 1st District seat Minnick won from GOP Rep. Bill Sali in November. By the end of Minnick’s two-year term, Republicans will have held the seat for all but six of the past 44 years. “I’m still Steve Symms. I haven’t changed my view of anything. I’m still the old libertarian Republican.”

“Don’t read too much into this,” Symms said. “I like Walt. He’s a friend. I’m willing to try to help him so he can be a successful congressman. But am I going to be voting for a Democrat for Congress? No. He knows that. I’m not going to be going out there making ads for Walt Minnick or anything like that.”

No,  something changed very much about Steve Symms, he’s been out of office for 17 years and he’s still part of the beltway crowd. It’s pure bull to say, “I’m going to raise funds for him, but I won’t for him.” What does Walt Minnick care about? $250,000 in campaign contributions or one lousy vote. This shows the corrosive, unprincipled culture of Washington and Symms is just a poster boy for it.

If Symms supports Minnick for Congress, fine, raise money for him. For Symms to say he won’t for the guy and then raise money to help re-elect someone who he won’t to re-elect smacks of political opportunism and influence games.

Cheers to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for its smoking cessation programs that are growing by leaps and bounds with 2,200 Idaho smokers signing up in March.

Boos to the Obama Administration for it’s predictably idiotic way to fund SCHIP expansion with a 62 cent Cigarette Tax increase that has led to people requesting the cessation kits. The good news about the new tax is that it will lead to less people smoking, more people kicking the habit, and less people starting. The bad news. The tax is going to end up quickly failing to pay for the expansion that it was supposed to finance because of less revenue. That’s when the tax will hit we, the non-smokers or be put on the national credit card. Nice work, Democrats.

Cheers to Trevor Hattabaugh, a 13-year old Comic headed to try out for America’s Got Talent after capturing the attention of Simon Cowell. His comedy is leftward, but I hope his dreams come true. I do hope he grows up to be a better person and make better use of comedy than has Jon Stewart.

Three Cheers to Nampa Healthy Families:  I confess that I live a very Boise-centric life, rarely venturing beyond the gates of the City of Trees.  I’ve often thought something like a inter-denominational organization to preserve and strengthen families was needed as a positive action that I thought should be pursued.

Andrea and I went to Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage Conference (which I’d reccomend to any couple wanting to improve their marriage.) The conference was brought here by Nampa Healthy Families. This was my first up close and personal encounter with the organization and I have to admit that I’m impressed with their work, their dedication to preserving marriages.  (Note to potential critics: they make it clear, that the marriage initiative is not about keeping people in abusive marriages.)

In Oklahoma, the State started the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative to do many of the same thing as they’ve brought together a very wide coalition including businesses, civic groups, and religious groups (The Nampa Healthy Families Group includes Catholics, Protestants, and the local LDS Stakes.)

In Idaho, our politicians have taken no notice, but they’ve started a group that does a lot of good with minimal government assistance.

The good news is that they are expanding to Boise and Gem County. For doing good work that goes beyond politics and will alleviate many of the ills, politicians deal with, three cheers for the Healthy Families Network and may they expand around the state.

Posted in Idaho Conservative | Leave a Comment »

Do As I Say

Posted by Adam Graham on April 18, 2009

Tara Rowe writing at Political Game says:

In all the unnecessary bickering between those who attended tea parties and those who didn’t, we seem to have forgotten that we all have the same goal, we are all working toward the same end with whatever tools we have available to us. We all want a successful country, an economy on track, well-written and thoughtful laws that make every day a little easier than the last and we all want these things because we are Americans. That’s nothing to laugh or argue about.

First of all, there’s so much wrong with this post because in her original post, she said Tea Partiers were a laughing stock. She beat out the tired arguments of the worshipers of the State declaring that we hadn’t stopped using the services our taxes paid for. So to say there was nothing to laugh about and nothing to argue about when. In her original post (which she changed), she actually wrote:

Anybody else relieved the ridiculous tax day “tea parties” are behind us? Unfortunately, I don’t think those taking part in the national day of saying no to spending will ever grasp that we were all laughing at them, not with them, and that their national organizational effort wasn’t really a grassroots anything, unless being the laughing stock can be considered a grassroots effort.]

(Note I’ve got the screenshot from Bloglines, if she really wants to argue this.)

Today, she writes:

Some have suggested that I was recently laughing at the solidarity of Republican “tea parties” as a Democrat ultimately interested in the demise of the Republican party.

Well, where the heck would anybody get that idea, Tara? If you don’t like the words you wrote, then apologize for them, say, “I think I was too derisive and I’m sorry.” Don’t make some post suggesting that I misunderstood you, when your statements were plain as day.

Another thing about this whole, “We’re all Americans and we all want the same thing.” I’d agree on a broad level that you’re correct, however your actions seem to bely your rhetoric.

You’ve just spent several months engage in the Zeb Bell project of listening to Zeb Bell’s morning ranch show. You and MGR have been busily listening day after day to find some politically incorrect utterance to make hay about. And to what end?

In order to tar every conservative in the state as a wacky racist extremist who the left should hate and fear, and to form an argument as to why your fellow citizens’ freedom of speech based on an unelected radio host in extreme rural Idaho.  Heck, in some cases, they’ve even tried to tar conservatives based on what random listeners have said.

MGR and Tara have acted like the political martyrs of a new millennium for listening to a radio show and they’ve been lauded across the liberal blogosphere for doing their part to try and encourage the effort to regulate away conservative access to freedom of speech on the radio.

And tell me when will the left begin to respect that Bryan Fischer and Brandi Swindell are Americans motivated by positive motives.  Neither of these two are likely to retire rich. Neither of them needed Barack Obama to tell them life wasn’t about making money.

Bryan Fischer’s in his fight because he believes the policies the IVA pursues will make life better for Idaho families. He believes options in education and reduction in government is better to our state. Yet, he’s a theocratic Snidely Whiplash in the eyes of the left because he doesn’t mesh with the Teacher’s Union.

As for Brandi Swindell, she’s really spent most of her adult life trying to make a difference in the lives of others. Brandi Swindell would be hailed as a hero by the left if only she’d made the focus of her life saving garter snails rather than saving babies. Since her City Council campaign in 2005, she’s barely been seen in the news, she went more than 15 months without being the focal point of a Statesman Story, yet the moment she appears whether the story was of her making or not, she’s declared to be a media-seeking glory-hound.

In fact, she’s focused right now on her good work at Stanton Health Care, helping women in crisis pregnancies find life-alternatives to women in crisis pregnancy situations.  She’s walking with women through this difficult time of their lives, and it doesn’t make headlines anywhere on this Earth. Yet, we’re told she’s just a gloryhound.

And I won’t even get into the dehumanizing the attacks against Bill Sali. The politics of personal destruction including deceiving voters to try and make them that a tax lien that’d been satisfied nearly two decades ago was still oustanding and opening both Sali and his wife to identity theft.

I’m appalled.  And I’m tired. And I’m not going to accept hollow words from people who try and destroy good people and then claim “We’re all Americans,” and “we all want the same thing.” I’ll believe you believe it when you start acting like you do.


My apologies to Tara on one point. I must have been mistaken. I’ve stricken the portions in question

Posted in Idaho Conservative | 3 Comments »

No Oceans Necessary: A Tea Party in the Heartland

Posted by Adam Graham on April 17, 2009

Pajamas Media ran my after action report on the Boise Tea Party.

Approximately 2,500 citizens marched from Julia Davis to Capitol Park in Boise, Idaho, as part of the national grassroots tea party movement.

Many signs focused on big spending, big taxes, the dangers of socialism, out-of-control government growth, term limits, and concerns with runaway government. Some signs focused on preserving gun rights, border security, honoring the Tenth Amendment, and protecting state sovereignty. An even smaller number of signs spoke out against the Federal Reserve, abortion, and global warming.

It was all good according to Nate Shellman, a 670 KBOI drive-time radio host who emceed the first leg of the tea party at Ann Morrison Park in Boise. He noted, “You all have signs expressing what’s on your mind.” Shellman hailed the cornucopia of messages as a cherished American moment.

Boise’s tea party was actually three rallies held in succession at Ann Morrison Park, Julia Davis Park, and Capitol Park, the latter being located across the street from Idaho’s capitol, which is under renovation. Each location drew an even larger crowd than the last rally.

Chilly weather and even light rain did not deter the marchers. At Julia Davis, Reverend Bryan Fischer of the Idaho Values Alliance joked that it was raining because, “God knows we need water for our tea.”

A spokesman for Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) forwarded along the senator’s best wishes for the event at Julia Davis via an official representative. Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID), who recently wrote an op-ed in the Idaho Statesman praising the numerous earmarks he brought home to Idaho, sent along a letter expressing his support for the tea party.

At the Capitol Park rally, former elk rancher and 2008 Independent U.S. Senate candidate Rex Rammel threw his hat into the ring to challenge Simpson in the 2010 Republican primary. He opened with a strong plea for state sovereignty. “Today, the battle to challenge the federal government’s usurpation of states’ rights begins.”

Read the rest here:

Posted in Idaho Conservative | Leave a Comment »

It’s Time for Us to Pay Our Dues

Posted by Adam Graham on April 16, 2009

The Idaho Statesman cut me to the quick with their editorial this morning as they excoriated the incongruities in us Tea Partiers:

Idahoans will march along taxpayer-funded streets and gather in taxpayer-funded Boise city parks to protest taxes. A small irony.

An ungrateful wretch am I!

Now, some will frown on our friends at the Idaho Statesman and suggest that they are doing a double logical fallacy, mixing a reductio ad absurdum (that people protesting high taxes and government debt must oppose all government taxes and spending) with an ad hominem tu quo quo (ah ha, the people who are against high taxes uses servics paid for by taxes.)

However, not everybody believes in logic and it is not a required course in every journalism program. As logic is not universally taught or believed, we have no right to impose logic on anyone else. Being illogical is a valid alternate view and is no better than being logical and its intolerant to think otherwise.

It appears from the Statesman Article, that we truly must be thankful to our government and we have not shown the proper thankfulness for it.  We should put aside the rhetoric of ungrateful people like George Washington who described government as being like fire, a “dangerous servant and a fearful master” and instead realize that government is our friend and the more of it we have, the better off we are.

A week from today, we need to hold the Boise Government Subserviance Party. The Boise Government Subserviance Party will begin with a prayer to FDR, thanking him for the untold manifold blessings of the New Deal and pledging our last penny to keep the Social Security program exactly as it was when he brought the bill down off Mount Sinai.

We’ll then proceed to offer burnt offerings of lambs of the first year on the barbeque to our benefactors: State Controller Donna Jones, County Treasuruer Cecil Ingraham, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and of course Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Id.) who is endorsed by the Statesman repeatedly for his ability to bring home pork in a long caravan of U-haul trucks.

We’ll then make a general offering to the gods of Government. We could either burn our money or we could buy copies of big Government’s prophet, the Idaho Statesman. Either way, I see us getting about the same return, so it’s equal in terms of sacrifice.

Then, as our great act of repentance, we will go down to the legislature and completely reverse ourselves on local option taxes. We’ll urge a revision to the current bill,  so that it takes a 2/3 majority to reject a local option tax proposal. Why should a simple majority stand in the way of progress, the future, and empty buses running from Greenleaf to Boise?

We’ll also make sure only the most wise and informed among us can vote by allowing elections to be held on Christmas Eve with city buses being the only polling places.

Also, we’ll make it so  that there’s no limitation on where a local option taxing district could include.  The idea that only real political divisions like cities and counties could be local option districts is so provincial and such a hindrance to our legislators who need to come up with money to pay for schemes that primarily benefit our county, but for which our county’s taxpayers cannot pay.

We would urge further divsions on this bill. Local options shouldn’t just allow Ada County to rope Canyon County into a local option district It should also include non-bordering counties.  For example, in order to pay for public transit in Ada County,  not only should we be able to draft Canyon County, but we should also be able to draft Clark County into our local option district. Most of the people in Ada County don’t know where Clark County is, but that’s okay. The Idaho Tax Commission will have no problem locating them.

We hope these acts will appease the statist gods of the Idaho Statesman and that they find this attitude sufficiently pliant and abased.  And we will all look forward to the day when all of our paycheck goes to the government and it provides us with housing according to our needs, we no longer have cars, but are squeezed like cattle into public transit and are shuttled where the government says we need to go. The luxuries we receive will be according to the will of the all beneficient state who we ought not to question.

And hopefully over time,  we will forget about the nation that was founded by people who protested high taxes and feared the danger out of control government.  A day that many look forward to I’m sure.

Posted in Idaho Conservative | 1 Comment »

Cheers and Boos: Late Edition

Posted by Adam Graham on April 14, 2009

I’m a day and a half late, but with Easter and Google and Twitter turning on me, there’s reason for the delay.

Cheers…to Senator Nicole LeFavour (D-19) for getting her first “Conservative” vote on the Idaho Conservative scorecard in her entire legislative career. Right now she’s a 14% Conservative rating for the year, and a 5% Idaho Conservative rating for her career. This is the first “conservative” vote cast in the Senate from District 19 in the 3 years I’ve been doing the scorecard. The past 3 years, District 19 has a total 2.11% Conservative rating for its delegation.

Cheers…to Julie Fanselow of the Idaho Democratic Party. The Democrats are urging people to run for school board, reminding them the filing deadline is April 17. Julie’s doing her job. I’ll do mine and tell you that if you think having massive school agencies that negotiate with teacher’s unions being made up of people from the Party of Teacher’s Unions, or if you want to bring accountability to school systems, it may be time to consider a run, particularly with Democrats considering it.

BOOS to the Idaho Statesman for calling the legislature’s decision to vote for GARVEE “courageous.” The Statesman may agrees with the legislature’s decision. (I don’t.)  But does it really take courage to vote for a large debt the public doesn’t fully understand?

BOOS to Rep. Grant Burgoyne (D-16) for his hypocritical reader’s view calling for local option taxes. If Rep. Burgoyne truly believes in local control, then perhaps, he may wanto to support allowing all local voters to be able to have a fair chance vote on school board and tax issues. 

 Secondly, the issue is not local. The last State House approved a Constitutional Amendment on local option taxes. Thus the point of local control has been conceded. The remaining issues are whether the method and rules for local option should be written into the Constitution or subject to mission creep by allowing legislative revision; whether there should be taxpayer protections that requires a 2/3 majority when most citizens are voting or allows the occurrence of stealth elections where special interests favoring the passage of local option taxes can manipulate voter turnout while opponents are struggling to get an organization together; finally, whether this “local” control should have to be an actual locality like Ada County or Canyon County, or if we can start creating localities to excercise local control, letting large counties totally dominate smaller ones.

AdaCanyon County is an arbitrary district, and doesn’t feel like Local Option will preserve local control for Canyon County if it will allow Ada County to force Canyon County into a district that it doesn’t really want or benefit from.

These are the issues, let’s be honest about it.

Boos to Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho.) and other hard-working lawmakers who are working to bring back the Pioneer Train line. They may be nearing success. In the short-term, this is good news for the people of Boise and for me in particular. The presence of Amtrak would make it less expensive to travel the West, over to Portland, up to Montana, down to Utah.

Unfortunately, the effort is emblematic of what’s wrong with the country and it’s politics. Amtrak isn’t effecient. It’s not that great at being on time (the website used to boast of 67% on-time rating until someone figured out that wasn’t something to boast about.) It costs taxpayers billions of dollars of subsidies and as long as Uncle Sam subsidizes the thing it’s going to continue to be less competive. Rather than killing this Dinosaur Vampire, our politicians are feeding it.

Soon, I may be able to easily travel from Boise to Kalispell, but is it worth a bankrupt country? (Hat Tip: Ridenbaugh.)

Cheers to Senators Russ Fulcher (R-21) and John Goedde (R-4) for this nice piece of legislative handiwork:

Out of all the amendments proposed, just one set, sponsored by Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, and John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene and developed by Jason Hancock of the state Department of Education, has passed the Senate to amend HB 256, the bill to cut state reimbursements to school districts for their student busing costs. The amendments change the permanent cut-off of funding for busing for school field trips to a two-year moratorium, ending July 1, 2010; and temporarily remove a $1.4 million hit to the Boise School District, but impose a requirement for a special transportation audit by the state Department of Education, and if any of the audit’s money-saving recommendations aren’t followed, the district would see its funding cut by that amount next year, up to the full $1.4 million it would’ve lost under the original bill. The Lewiston school district faces a similar requirement, though its potential loss is less, around $30,000.

The need for some cuts, particularly on field trips was necessary during these tough economic times, but field trips themselves can be a good learning experience. Cheers to the good Senators for adding an appropriate sunset.

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Innovation Delayed

Posted by Adam Graham on April 14, 2009

If you’ll recall, Rep. Marv Hagedorn (R-20) did something very rare in the annals of government. He proposed a real life genuine innovative idea that could raise tens of millions for transportation:

Hagedorn retired in 1994, after 20 years in the service. Now, during his second term in the Legislature, he’s hoping to turn Idaho into the U.S. Mint of commercial truck license plates.
Unlike personal vehicles, commercial trucks and tractor-trailers can be licensed and registered in any state, regardless of where a company is based. That, to Hagedorn, creates a marketing opportunity. He introduced a bill earlier this session that would encourage trucking firms to register their fleets here.
“I’ve been working on this for a few years,” he said. “My objective is to find a resource the state has that would help relieve the tax burden on citizens, without competing with private businesses – and this is a great opportunity.”

Idaho already offers a permanent plate that doesn’t require yearly registration renewals. For a company like Wal-Mart, which has more than 50,000 tractor-trailers, eliminating paperwork and the need to match specific trailers with specific renewal stickers represents a substantial cost-savings, Hagedorn said.

Idaho law, however, currently requires out-of-state truckers to pay sales tax on the price of the trailer before they can buy the permanent plate. That makes it cost-prohibitive.

Hagedorn’s bill would remove the sales tax requirement.

 Moreover, it authorizes the creation of special “business logo” license plates – meaning Wal-Mart or UPS or any other company could design their own plates, complete with corporate logo and marketing slogan.

“Everyone is looking to save a buck,” Hagedorn said. “We can make this simple for corporations and help save them money just by changing state law. It costs $3 to make a license plate, and we’d sell them for $112. There are 5.6 million semi-trailers in the United States. That’s a $627 million market.”

Add in Canadian trucks, he said, and the market potential climbs to $1 billion.

“Imagine if we get just 10 percent of that,” Hagedorn said. “In the past, we’ve looked at taxpayers within our border (to generate state revenue). This could bring in revenue from outside the state. There are opportunities out there. We just need to find them.”

Hagedorn’s bill was approved 64-0. Every member voting from Bob Nonini to Anna Pasley-Stuart said this was a good bill and sent it the Senate on March 23rd. That was 3 weeks ago.

Since then nothing has happened with this bill. Nada. Zip. Zero. While our state searches desperately for Transportation funds, Senator John McGee (R-10) the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Commitee sits on a bill that could bring tens of millions of dollars of revenue to Idaho roads with costing Idaho taxpayers anything.

When people are talking about raising our taxes, while sitting on funding that could raise funds without raising our taxes, it’s time for you and I to light a fire under our elected representatives.

I urge you to contact the members of the Senate Transportation Commitee and urge that a hearing be given on this vital bill. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 334-2222 or you can call the Transportation Committee at 332-1332 or you can use the Contact by Committee search on the Idaho Legislature website. 

Chair John McGee
Vice Chair James C. Hammond
Shawn Keough
Tim Corder
Leland G. Heinrich
Joyce M. Broadsword
Chuck Winder
Elliot Werk
Diane Bilyeu

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Garvee: That’s What It’s All About

Posted by Adam Graham on April 13, 2009

As I prepare my Idaho Conservative Scorecard, I’ve been asked whether I’ll include votes on the gas tax increases. The answer at this point is no. Conservatives are legitimately divided over whether to raise taxes to pay for needed infrastructure maintenance.

This does not mean the Transportation Issue will not be on the scorecard, but one vote will receive attention, S1186, the GARVEE bond bill. The scorecard will have an Idaho Conservative position of “no.”

First, understand how GARVEE works. GARVEE pays for big road construction projects now by borrowing against future infusions of gas tax revenue from the Federal Government. According to estimates, if Idaho took out the full $998 million that have been approved in GARVEE bonds, we’d owe $77 million a year in debt servicing for 20 years that would be taken out of our federal highway funds.

The GARVEE bonds have exacerbated our existing problems with falling behind on road maintenance. Right now, we have $584 million in GARVEE bonds out before the legislature added on $82 million more in GARVEE bonds. That would amount to 58% of the total, which would mean the cost of servicing that debt amouns to $45 million.

Each penny of Gas Tax increase produces $7.4 million in, so in essence, the money taken away from highway maintenance for Federal GARVEE payments is equal to six cents in Gasoline Tax. Issuing more GARVEE bonds is going to mean even more Federal Gas Tax Revenue diverted away from paying for the basic maintenance we need done.

There’s an old saying, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  Instead, facing short falls in basic maintenance, the legislature dug a little deeper, guaranteeing increasing shortfalls in our maintenance budget for the next two decades.

Rep. Leon Smith (R-24) compared GARVEE to building roads with a Credit Card. It’s even worse than that. GARVEE is like using a Credit Card to expand your House when you can’t pay your mortgage. As you continue to borrow money on your Credit Card, it takes more to make the minimum payment and you have even less to put on your mortgage.

GARVEE makes sense or would at least be a reasonable risk if the state were flush with Highway Revenue. Then the argument made by Rep. George Eskridge (R-3) that the state is saving a lot of money on inflation by spending money now rather than paying later at inflated prices would be feasible.

 Instead, we face a backlog of transportation maintenance and GARVEE is only deepening the problem. We have not come up with a reasonable way to fund Transportation, so we cannot afford to continue to borrow our future Federal Gas Tax payment. We need that money.

If, as Governor Otter has stated we have a crisis in the maintenance of Idaho’s roads, we need to put GARVEE on hold until we’ve found a way to pay for transportation that is practical and sustainable. Until that time, future GARVEE obligations are not responsible fiscal policy.

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Free Market Education for Teacher

Posted by Adam Graham on January 22, 2008

From a recent Letter to the Editor by Heather Beutler:

First of all, I appreciate the intent behind Luna’s pay plan. I am a teacher myself and would love to see a pay raise. This is my eighth year teaching and my paycheck has changed by maybe $300. I guess I just don’t understand what giving up my contract rights has to do with student achievement. Can Luna answer that question for me? Am I going to try harder in my classroom every day because now I don’t have protection from being fired? I don’t understand why that component is in Luna’s plan.

In a word, yes. There are a lot of complacent teachers out there, in part because a good teachers makes as much as a bad teacher and they can never get fired. Giving up some contract rights has the effect of putting you in a fully incentivized situation, where you’re responsible for your performance and there are consequences for that.

I am a professional and I deserve to be treated as such.

That’s a two way street. Most professionals are much easier to fire if unsatisfactory results than are unionized teachers.

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Tax Increase With No Purpose Dies

Posted by Adam Graham on January 22, 2008

Hurrah to the Idaho Legislature for not voting for a senseless tax increase. It was senseless in that there was no point to the tax increase. There was no new program that would be funded, no taxes that would be cut, no comprehensive tax reform program, just eliminating some tax exemptions, just ‘cuz. Hey, I’m all for tax simplification, but it’s got to be part of a broader package. Simply removing exemptions with no reason isn’t going to fly.

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National Suicide

Posted by Adam Graham on January 17, 2008

Rep. Curtis Bowers (R-ID. 10) has gotten into trouble with an op-ed relating his experience going to a meeting of communists incommunicado. He writes that their agenda to bring down America that he heard back in 1992 is already in effect in our country:

Firstly, to destroy the family, they would promote co-habitation instead of marriage. They would also try to get children away from their mothers into government programs at the earliest age possible. They felt the best way to do this was to promote the feminist movement, which had been very effective at making women discontent with marriage and motherhood.

Secondly, to destroy businesses, they aimed to wipe out the profit potential that motivated people to start them. If people couldn’t make good money off their ideas and hard work, they would eventually be content working for someone else. They were sure the environmental movement (modest at the time) was the only vehicle capable of creating enough regulation and expense to discourage business growth.

Finally, to destroy our culture, they needed us to abandon our heritage of religion and morality. They believed the homosexual movement, if accepted, would begin to effectively extinguish these values.

At the time they laid out this strategy, I wasn’t overly impressed. It seemed very unrealistic and certainly not something to worry about in my lifetime. Yet as I sit in my office, recall their plan and consider where America is today, I am shocked.

Our first woman presidential candidate talks about how degrading it is to be a stay-at-home mom. Businesses are closing down or moving daily to other countries because environmental regulations are too excessive to make a profit. And legislation is being considered in Washington, D.C. that makes it a crime to discuss in public any opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. As the old advertisement said, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

When we see many mainstream politicians and activist judges with the same agenda that just 16 years ago was that of Communist strategists, it is time for patriotic Americans to wake up and get involved.

This has created a lot of guffaws in the blogosphere, some posting pictures of Bowers with a goatee (like he grew to infiltrate the communists.) Others choosing to believe a communist who disputes Bowers version of events at the meeting. Bowers’ for his part backs up his view by citing W. Cleon Skousen’s “The Naked Communist,” a popular text on the Cold War that lays out 45 goals of communists for America, most of which make sense from a Soviet perspective.

Our friends on the left downplay the influence of Communists in America, because some people who were not communists were accused, but there was a degee of influence, how much we can debate.

In the end, where I disagree with Bowers is that I don’t think the Communists after-Soviet Union plan was the key factor in what’s happened in recent years.  In 1992 when Bowers went to a Communist meeting, the die was already cast. The decline of the family, crippling regulation, and a tax code that doesn’t make sense and is anti-growth was already in place.

We now have people who insist illegitimacy be considered equally good to two parent homes despite the studies that show otherwise. We are gripped by a destructive tax code beause greedy special intersts (none of whom will end benefit it from it. The same tax code keeps mothers and fathers who might choose to be at home in the workforce.  Churches rarely challenge, rarely confront and tolerate sins of all sort ignoring the Bible’s call to holiness.

Yet, I don’t see the hands of Communist in this. I see our own. It’s the rampant apathy of those who identity themselves as Christians and Conservatives but refuse to challenge a culture gone mad. Perhaps, we’re afraid that like Rep. Bowers we’ll be castigated. Indeed, Bowers will have difficulty getting re-elected as he’s done something that politicians should never do if they want to enjoy a long time government: call our attention to the deteriorating shape of our culture.

The sad thing is that what Communists dreamt of and would have spent billions to make happen in the Cold War Days, we do at no charge in America. The destruction of the Family, run away entitlements, over-regulation of business. We’re destroying our own country. And the only hope is that we do exactly what Rep. Bowers said: Wake up.

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