Just a couple of quick notes, have you heard yet? Jim Messina (an Obama insider) will be the speaker at the 2009 Frank Church Banquet.
Our Gov has been getting some air time lately it seems, and I hear he has been doing great. Anyone hear him and have a comment? I hear he was on 670 KBOI and also was a guest on Glenn Beck.
And the temporary Capitol also known as the old Ada County Courthouse has some amazing murals. That said some of the art is less then politically correct; including showing men preparing to hang a male Indian. I understand that there has been a decision made to place some plaques under/with some of the murals to explain.
Anyone here know the details or have thoughts? As I understand it (and could be wrong) the tribes had input and everyone agreed on wording and such?
OH! and I almost forgot, any comments on shoes as weapons or statements?
(The following is a press release from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus in response to Governor Otter's call for budget holdbacks.)
News release from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus
For immediate release
Democratic lawmakers respond to governor’s call for additional cuts
BOISE – The Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus leadership responded to Gov. Butch Otter’s order of a possible total of 6 percent in budget holdbacks with a call for responsible, targeted cuts that protect critical services to middle-class Idaho families.
“Times are hard and the state clearly is facing a bleak budget picture,” House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet said after speaking with Otter and Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett early Monday, before the cuts were made public.
“We need to be as prudent and fiscally responsible as possible. The holdbacks give us all an opportunity to look at what we’re doing and how we are spending and whether we ought to do things differently,” Jaquet said. “But we also need to cut carefully. For example, Idahoans who’ve recently been laid off need opportunities to retrain for new jobs, so this is no time for drastic cuts to vocational and secondary education programs.”
Stennett said the Democratic leadership appreciated the chance to talk with the governor before his public announcement. “We are grateful that we have reserve funds set aside for education and retraining, given the tough economic times we are facing. Tough economies give us a chance to trim where we can, and look for additional savings,” Stennett added. “However, we need to be thoughtful and prudent in our approach to budget cuts.”
At his news conference, Otter indicated that cuts to K-12 public education would be offset through money from the Public Education Stabilization Fund. But Democratic caucus leaders said the anticipated $61 million total K-12 education budget holdback would take more than half of the fund’s reserves, leaving it largely depleted for FY 2010 and beyond.
“We realize that times are tough and that the state needs to tighten its belt just like Idaho families,” said state Sen. Elliot Werk, echoing a statement Otter made in his press conference. “But Democrats will work hard to ensure the efficient delivery of critical services to our citizens and protect middle-class families from any further tax shifting.”
Talk about trickle-down economics: The national financial crisis hit home in Idaho today as Gov. Butch Otter ordered statewide budget hold backs and cautioned all state agencies to reserve another 1.5 percent of their budget for possible further cuts. Jill has more at New West.
Meanwhile, a McClatchy Newspapers article in the Idaho Statesman today noted how Barack Obama wants to provide $25 billion in relief to state and local governments to be used on whatever the states and municipalities need most, along with another $25 billion for public works projects like roads and bridges. Whatever Idaho's share, it would go a long way toward relieving our current budget gaps and infrastructure needs, wouldn't it?
John McCain calls it a gimmick, and of course he of all people should know a gimmick when he sees one. But maybe Otter and his fellow Republicans ought to consider whether voting GOP is the best move this fall, or whether it's time to give Democrats a chance to put the country together again.
How often does someone from Idaho win an Olympic gold medal? How often do Idaho universities land a $15 million research grant - our state's largest ever - from the National Science Foundation? You'd think such things would be worth a personal high-five from the governor, right? But Butch Otter has repeatedly ceded the spotlight in such recent high-profile media events to Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
As you can see from this media advisory (still posted on the governor's website as of this afternoon and preserved here for posterity; click it to enlarge), Otter was scheduled to attend a press conference last Friday to announce the NSF grant, but he backed out and let Risch do it. And last month when the city of Boise welcomed champion cyclist Kristin Armstrong home from Beijing, it was Risch - not Otter - who joined her on the podium on the state's behalf.
Now everyone knows that lieutenant governor is a largely ceremonial role, and Risch clearly needs something to do, especially since he's passing up most opportunities to debate his opponents. But it seems odd that Otter is consistently having Risch enjoy the best photo ops. It's especially ironic that Risch was asked to hail a grant to study the effects of climate change on the Snake and Salmon River watersheds.
Climate change?! Why, just two years ago when serving as our temporary governor, Risch told the Los Angeles Times he remained unconvinced that global warming is caused by humans. Less than two months before the election, he still hasn't posted anything on his website about where he stands on energy, never mind anything like the detailed plan Larry LaRocco presented on the issue back in spring 2007.
Update: Energy isn't the only issue on which Risch seems to have no position. Check out this side-by-side comparison from the LaRocco campaign on Risch's shocking lack of substance. As of today, Risch has approximately 300 words' worth of policy on his website. LaRocco has more than 2,000 words on energy alone, plus lengthy statements on health care, immigration, veterans, and the war in Iraq.
Heard on BSU Radio this morning: Idaho State Tax Commission whistle-blower Stan Howland sent lengthy letters to the media and to Gov. Butch Otter overnight, apparently alleging a botched job in the recent investigation over whether the state broke the law by striking secret deals with large, out-of-state corporations over tax-bill protests.
This isn't new news, but it sounds like Howland may have more damaging information against state officials which he shares in these letters. Look for further reports in the traditional media, and remember that it was a Democratic state senator, Kate Kelly, who pushed for an investigation into the issue. Don't you think we could use a few more like her in the statehouse next year?
Yesssssssss! Rasmussen Reports has a new poll showing Barack Obama leading John McCain 48-43 in our neighboring state. This is a flip of Rasmussen's previous poll in Montana, when McCain led Obama by the same margin in April. The same poll shows Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer with 64 percent approval among Montanans. (Take that, Butch!)
And in more news from the increasingly Democratic West, check out where Obama may make his acceptance speech on August 28.
Update via dKos: The Obamas are even spending the 4th of July in Butte, Montana. Can't you just see the red-and-blue map shifting beneath us? At this rate, it'll be sad (but great!) if Idaho (maybe), Utah, and Wyoming wind up the only three states that McCain manages to win. Mind you, I'm not counting those chickens just yet ...
Reacting to the Otter plan to raise vehicle registration taxes, Adam Graham writes that the Idaho Republican Party isn't representing the middle class. He writes:
I think Butch Otter cares about the rich, I think he also cares about the poor as evidenced by his grocery tax credit plan to bring the grocery tax credit to the extremely poor, and he cares about the rich and big business. But the middle class? Not so much. It’s the poor, the rich, and then special interests. Middle class not even on the list.
This is the big problem for the Idaho GOP, particularly on taxes. We’ve got an income tax code that makes no sense and hits middle class workers with high rates and is extremely complex. We have some of the highest gas taxes in the nation already and on top of this, Otter’s going to add a $155 vehicle registration fee. By my count, that’s about $118 extra per year for me.
Of course, the Democrats are more better. All we hear from them is that we need more taxes for more services and more government.
My response, in the comments at his post:
Adam, you say that all we Democrats want are “more taxes for more services and more government.”
You are right. More services and more government - for the middle class (and the poor, of course). It takes taxes, which Democrats believe aren’t some communist plot but a sound investment in a society that works for everyone, but especially “the least of these.” Unfortunately, in our free market society, the least of these include not just the most poor, but middle-class Americans, whom you and I agree are struggling mightily.
I’d argue that the Democratic Party - which has been fighting to take the tax off groceries for years, but especially since (Jim) Risch increased it by 20 % in 2006 - advocates every day for the middle class. Someday, Idahoans who reflexively vote GOP are gonna wake up and say, “Wait a minute …"
Our fellow blogger Sara Anderson may be having surgery soon for the mass in her brain that she and her docs discovered just a week ago. Keep sending prayers and healing vibes to Sara and her husband Andy, who has been writing on her behalf at F-words. Hopefully, we'll have good news soon. In the meantime, I thought I'd post about a couple of stories that I suspect would irk Sara.
Did you see the Idaho Statesman piece today about the UCLA student magazine that performed what amounted to a sting operation on Planned Parenthood offices around the country, with a would-be donor at first masquerading as a person concerned about women of color, then morphing into a bigot who wants to abort black babies ("you know, the less black kids out there the better?") (Click here.) At least Planned Parenthood of Idaho has apologized for the incident, which - based on the transcript - really was handled horribly on the part of its employee. I don't expect the same from the zealots who proudly perpetrated this divisive stunt.
Note to The Advocate and others who would make abortion illegal: Without Planned Parenthood and its contraception services, there would be more abortions, not fewer, and more women and babies would die. If you really want to help black babies, stop electing extremist goons who won't fund health care and education for the ones already born, and who start unjust wars that are disproportionately fought by teens of color.
The Unequivocal Notion notes that the morality police are at it again in Nampa, trying to ban library books that the library board voted to keep just last year.
Finally, the news that Gov. Butch Otter wants to raise Idaho vehicle registration fees may or may not rile Sara, but her fellow Northern Idaho scribe D.F. Olivera (at the Spokesman-Review's Huckleberries Online) had this to say yesterday: "I can't believe that Butch Otter would on one hand refuse to cut or eliminate the sales tax for grocery while on the other suggest raising vehicle registration fees sixfold - to rebuild Boise-area roads. Rich guys like him just don't get it. The vast middle class in this state are getting hammered by the new stagflation. Dunno whether he's hard-headed or surrounded by numbskull advisers, but Otter continues to not impress."
Personally, I'm embarrassed to say my household of three people has three vehicles and this would hit us hard. On the other hand, I am happy to report that we drive those three rigs less than 15,000 miles a year, total. (We drive our two main cars - a '97 Camry and '99 Cavalier - far less than the national average and use our '88 Chevy truck strictly for hauling.) I'd like to see registration fees somehow be linked to miles driven. It makes sense that long-haul commuters ought to pay more than people who bike, walk, use public transit, and drive as little as possible.
Butch Otter appointed Caldwell Republican Curtis Bowers (at far right) as the new representative for District 10, Seat A - a replacement for Bob Ring, who was one of Canyon County's more moderate legislators. Based on his recent op-ed in the Idaho Press Tribune, Bowers is proving an ideological ally of Steve Thayn, not to mention an embarrassment to Otter and all mainstream Republicans. There's now an online petition asking Bowers to either apologize for his remarks or resign. Check it out.
Let's end Bowers' political career stat, before he someday winds up as Idaho's 1st District congressman. For much more coverage, be sure to see Chris' latest roundup at the Unequivocal Notion.
I'm in Spokane for a few days, and I saw this in the Spokesman-Review:
A state senator from Boise will introduce at the 2008 Idaho
Legislature a "revolving-door" bill to prevent state government
officials from jumping immediately into the private sector as lobbyists.
Senate Minority Caucus Chair Kate Kelly, D-Boise, said she is preparing
legislation that would require state government officials and their
staff members to wait one year before going to work as a lobbyist and
seek concessions from former colleagues. The law would include state
lawmakers and statewide elected officials, such as the governor or
superintendent of public instruction, and their staffs.
The issue resurfaced last week when Jeff Malmen, the chief of staff to
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and one of the state's mostly influential
Republicans, became a lobbyist for Idacorp, the holding company for
Idaho Power Co.
Here's the original story from The Times-News. As the sign says, "Idaho is NOT for sale." You tell 'em, Senator Kelly.