MeAndG's blog

Toward Dismantling America's Incarceration Fixation


Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA)


Many states can no longer afford to support public education, public benefits, public services without doing something about the exorbitant costs that mass incarceration have created.
- Bryan Stevenson founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A few years ago, the NAACP released a new report, Misplaced Priorities, that examines America's escalating levels of prison spending and its impact on state budgets and our nation’s children, according to naacp.org.

Misplaced Priorities tracks the steady shift of state funds away from education and toward the criminal justice system. Researchers have found that over-incarceration most often impacts vulnerable and minority populations, and that it destabilizes communities.

The report includes these startling facts:

• The majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are people of color, people with mental health issues and drug addiction, people with low levels of educational attainment, and people with a history of unemployment or underemployment.

• The nation’s reliance on incarceration to respond to social and behavioral health issues is evidenced by the large numbers of people who are incarcerated for drug offenses. Among people in federal prisons, people in local jails, and young people held in the nation’s detention centers and local secure facilities, more than 500,000 people— nearly a quarter of all those incarcerated—are incarcerated as the result of a drug conviction.

• During the last two decades, as the criminal justice system came to assume a larger proportion of state discretionary dollars, state spending on prisons grew at six times the rate of state spending on higher education.

Thus, I was pleased to see Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), authors of H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act, commending the Senate Judiciary Committee for approving S. 1410, the Senate version of the bill.

The Smarter Sentencing Act would reform criminal sentencing laws, empowering judges to make individualized assessments in nonviolent drug cases. This would ensure that limited resources are focused on the most serious offenders, while maintaining public safety.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of the bill today is a step forward on this important legislation," said Scott.

“Granting federal judges more discretion in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses is the right thing to do. Studies of mandatory minimums conclude that they fail to reduce crime, they waste the taxpayers’ money, and they often require the imposition of sentences that violate common sense. This bipartisan, bicameral bill targets particularly egregious mandatory minimums and returns discretion to federal judges in an incremental manner," Scott continued.

"While the Senate Judiciary Committee's action today is an important step in updating sentencing policies that are not working, the amended bill, unfortunately, includes three new mandatory minimums," Scott added.

"If this amended bill passes, we will end up with more mandatory minimums than we started with. The primary purpose of this legislation was to reduce the negative impact of mandatory minimums since they cost taxpayers too much and do nothing to make our families and communities safer. I hope the House Judiciary Committee will act on the original version of the bill."


Raul Labrador (R-ID)

Labrador said he was pleased that momentum continues to build for this common-sense bipartisan legislation.

“There is a growing realization that the ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ to criminal sentencing has tied the hands of judges, hurt the cause of justice, and increased the burden on taxpayers, without making us safer. I appreciate the Senate Judiciary Committee for acting quickly and effectively, and I will keep working with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to get this bill passed through Congress and become the law of the land.”

During the past 30 years, the number of inmates in federal custody has grown by 500 percent, with nearly half of them serving sentences for drug offenses. Spending on federal incarceration has grown by more than 1100 percent. Today, it costs about $29,000 per year to house just one federal inmate. The Smarter Sentencing Act could save up to $1 billion in incarceration costs.

The House-version of the Smarter Sentencing Act would do the following:

Increase individualized review for certain drug sentences

It would lower certain drug mandatory sentences, allowing judges to determine, based on individual circumstances, when the harshest penalties should apply (while not repealing any mandatory minimum sentences or lowering the maximum sentences for these offenses).

Promote sentencing consistent with the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act

It would allow certain inmates sentenced under the pre-Fair Sentencing Act sentencing regime to petition for sentence reductions consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act and current law, while not automatically reducing a single sentence.

Expand the existing federal “safety valve”

The legislative “safety valve” has been effective in allowing federal judges to appropriately sentence certain non-violent drug offenders below existing mandatory minimums. Today’s bill would modestly broaden criteria for eligibility.

The Smarter Sentencing Act is endorsed by Heritage Action; Justice Fellowship of Prison Fellowship Ministries; ACLU; American Correctional Association; American Bar Association; NAACP; Constitution Project; and other organizations across the ideological spectrum.

SOURCE: Official Website of Robert C. "Bobby" Scott.

Dear Angry Democrat

Crossposted on Daily Kos

The Idaho Democratic Party receives some very negative messages from those who call themselves supporters.

Here is a suggested response to these missives:

Dear Angry Democrat,

We received your reply to our fundraising solicitation. While we appreciate the time it took for you pen a handwritten note, it still lacked specifics that we can use to better evaluate our progress and make adjustments

You said you would be willing to donate if “we got off our dead asses, and started doing something.” In fact, we have been running an aggressive program to recruit excellent candidates, raise the funding needed to assist them in their campaigns, and help grow local Idaho Democratic parties.

You saw this work at play with very competitive candidates we fielded for statewide seats this past year. Though we are also dissatisfied with the results of the election, we in fact weathered a national pro-Republican wave that hurt candidates in every state.

Idaho is one of only seven states NOT to lose seats in the Legislature—in fact, we bucked that trend by gaining a seat. We also expanded, by 15, the number of county seats now held by Idaho Democrats.

Yes. It is extremely disappointing to see that close race for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction go to a demonstrably unqualified Republican politician. But we are well on our way to becoming far more competitive in the years to come with a consistent, smart, data-based effort.

We are pleased that you have not entirely ruled out the possibility of helping fund our organization, which works to put families, small businesses and communities first in Idaho. We are also encouraged that you care enough to send an angry note. We hope that you will engage with us more fully to learn that we are in fact growing the Idaho Democratic Party and are growing stronger.

We invite you to work with us to make Idaho a better, balanced place.

Sincerely,

Positive Idaho Democrats  read more »

Young People's Pavilion: 'Death Coming Up the Hill' tackles racism, war, family through verse

hill

Here is my latest review in Deseret News:

"DEATH COMING UP THE HILL," by Chris Crowe, HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 208 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

This gritty tale in Haiku-like poetry takes place in 1968 — a year that saw the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and many other legacies of fear and violence.

Read the full review here.

Chris Crowe, a professor of English at Brigham Young University, has published award-winning fiction and nonfiction for teenagers, poetry, essays, books, and many articles for academic and popular magazines. He married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth, and they are the parents of four children and grandparents of two beautiful granddaughters. They live in Provo, Utah.

From the publisher:

It’s 1968, and war is not foreign to seventeen-year-old Ashe. His dogmatic, racist father married his passionate peace-activist mother when she became pregnant with him, and ever since, the couple, like the situation in Vietnam, has been engaged in a “senseless war that could have been prevented.”

When his high school history teacher dares to teach the political realities of the war, Ashe grows to better understand the situation in Vietnam, his family, and the wider world around him. But when a new crisis hits his parents’ marriage, Ashe finds himself trapped, with no options before him but to enter the fray.

Chris Crowe was born in Danville, Illinois, and attended schools in Illinois, New Mexico, and California before his parents settled down in Tempe, Arizona, where he graduated from McKemy Junior High and McClintock High School. He attended Brigham Young University on a football scholarship (and played in the 1974 Fiesta Bowl) and earned a BA in English. He taught English at McClintock High for 10 years while attending Arizona State University part-time, earning his masters and doctorate degrees.

He is the author of several books, most notably MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955, which won several awards, including the 2003 International Reading Association's Young Adult Novel Award. His nonfiction book, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE, was an Jane Addams Honor book. His first children's book, JUST AS GOOD: HOW LARRY DOBY CHANGED AMERICA'S GAME, appeared in 2012. His newest book is a historical novel DEATH COMING UP THE HILL, scheduled to be released in October 2014.

Chris married his high school sweetheart, and they live in Provo, Utah, where he works in the English department at BYU. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of two lovely girls and three handsome boys.  read more »

Will GOP Gov. Butch Otter Serve His Full Third Term?

Crossposted on Daily Kos


Brad Little: Sneaking in?

Is somebody trying to tell us something? We just reelected Gov. Otter for four more years earlier this month. Why are we suddenly being reassured that it'll be just fine if he steps down? - Sharon Fisher

Why thank you, Sharon.

Just three weeks after the eloection, we receive this report in Idaho news media:

Idaho Lt. Gov. Little prepared to take on role of governor

Uh.

OK.

Why aren't we being reassured, at this time, that one of the Boise State University assistant football coaches is ready to take over for head coach Bryan Harsin, just in case he can't coach?

Or ... isn't that supposed to be obvious?

The report, by Betsy Russel of the Spokesman Review, goes on to, somewhat arbitrarily, pound what should be obvious and already understood ...

BOISE – If newly re-elected 72-year-old Idaho Gov. Butch Otter didn’t complete his full third term, Idaho’s new governor would be Brad Little, the second-term lieutenant governor, rancher and former state senator who’s been toiling full-time in the part-time, low-paid post since Otter appointed him to it in 2009.

... That call already has come on a short-term basis: Little has served as acting governor on 247 days since he took office on Jan. 6, 2009, with the days per year sharply increasing over his time in office. In addition to serving as acting governor when the governor is out of state or incapacitated, Idaho’s lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, where he breaks ties, and takes on other duties as assigned by the governor.

Certainly, there is as much, if not more interest in the Broncos high paid state officials, as there is in Butch.

So what Fisher pointed out is something that had popped in my mind when reading this, too.

In journalism terms, there is a classic -- Grand Canyon-sized -- "hole in the story."

There are lots of newly elected and appointed, very important officials around Idaho and the nation at this time.

The stable and well established Little, replacing the Otter in his equally comfortable position, seems to be one of the least worrisome scenarios.

Why this official?

Why now?

Talk of Butch stepping aside to allow Brad his turn at Governor has been around since the affable cowboy first became Idaho's chief executive.

In politics, timing is critical. Congressman Raul Labrador is in a great position to run from the right against Otter's Main Street establishment Republicans next time around.

Wouldn't it be great to give Little a year or two as a sitting Governor for organizing, name-recognition, and the many benefits of running as an incumbent?

Is somebody trying to tell us something?  read more »

Election 2014: Ybarra skipped at least 15 of 17 state elections

Crossposted on Daily Kos


Idaho's Sarah Palin?

Here is another reason why I Support Jana Jones for Idaho state superintendent of public instruction.

As Kevin Wilson wrote in the 123 Vote No group:

"Idaho Education News has already reported that Ybarra did not vote in the 2012 general election, when voters overturned Propositions 1,2 and 3 after a contentious statewide debate over K-12 policy."

Any self-proclaimed educator who failed to vote in 2012 cannot continue to claim that title, must less declare herself "passionate about education." Ms. Ybarra's failure to vote in that election is an insult to those who worked hard to see the democratic process through to its end, with many of them putting their jobs and professional reputations on the line while doing so.

***

Below is Clark Corbin's story from yesterday's Idaho Education News:

If state superintendent hopeful Sherri Ybarra votes on Election Day, it will be the first time the Republican has cast a ballot in a November general election while living in Mountain Home.

According to Elmore County election records, Ybarra has not voted for a governor, a state superintendent, a president or a state legislator in a general election since moving to Mountain Home in 1996.  read more »

Election 2014: Richard Stallings is the Right Choice For Congress

Crossposted on Daily Kos


Richard Stallings

" ... when I go into some rural counties, I hear people say they just hate Congress, yet they'll still vote for [his opponent]," writes Richard Stallings.

I fist met Richard Stallings during a dinner/talk at the Unitarian Fellowship in Pocatello, Idaho about 10 years ago. I have positive memories of his warm style and profound grasp of the issues that matter.

Former U.S. Representative Stallings has devoted much of his career to public service and to improving the lives and prosperity of Idaho families. He served in Congress from 1984 to 1992.

Stallings is a candidate for the 2014 election. to again represent Idaho's Idaho's 2nd congressional district. Stallings also served in several other state and local political offices over the course of his 22-years of public service. To make a contribution please see this link.

When asked by Boise Weekly what he learned about his opponent from this latest GOP primary, Stallings said:

He's a coward. Even his supporters say he's a better legislator than what his voting record reflects. He's just afraid. He was terrified of [Bryan] Smith and, as a result, he was forced into some very bad decisions.

His refusal to deal with the minimum wage. That refusal keeps 100,000 Idahoans living in poverty. And it's costing the government more money because we end up providing more food stamps. It's an outrageous indignity, for no other reason than some political nastiness. It's the most inhumane thing I've ever seen done to the most vulnerable people in our society. Even Mitt Romney calls for an increase.

By not standing up to the Tea Party wing of his own party, he's become a lousy, lousy legislator. Another of his vulnerabilities is a lack of immigration reform. About 13 percent of Idaho's population is Hispanic, most of them documented. But they have undocumented friends and family that are hiding in the shadows, yet they're exploited by employers. I agree with Jeb Bush when he said many people had come to the United States illegally as an act of love. But his own party beat the tar out of him.

Your contribution will have an immediate impact on Richard Stallings's campaign.

Here is a useful discussion from his campaign website:

During the time I spent representing the Second District of Idaho in the U.S. Congress, the issue of a pay raise for members of Congress came up for a vote before the house. I had committed to Idaho that I would not take a pay raise for myself and voted against this bill. It passed without my vote. Then it became necessary to make a decision on what to do with said pay raise. A few members (none from Idaho) returned the money to the treasury but, after much contemplation, my wife and I made the decision to try to help people in Idaho.

At that time, many people were hurting financially. Farmers, students and families were struggling. We made the decision to provide scholarship money to non-traditional students. These were people who had been victims of the economy and were struggling for new opportunities in life. It seemed to us that there were lots of funding sources for 18 year-old students but were extremely scarce for older people facing the same life changing experiences. In retrospect, we are grateful we had this opportunity. I wanted to share a letter we received from a young woman at that time. Her full name has not been included because we have not been able to contact her to obtain her permission to do so. She should be extremely proud of her accomplishment, hence reprinting this letter:

Dear Mr. Stallings,

It is very hard for me to put into words how I am feeling at this time. This morning I got up, fed my four children, hurried them off to school and then hurried off to school myself. In my religion class, I received the message that the scholarship office wanted to see me as soon as possible. When I sat in that office, my prayers were answered. I still cannot believe that I was chosen to receive this scholarship.

Read the full discussion at http://democracy.com/Richard-Stallings/default.aspx

Idaho student Jacob Dorsey withdraws from Wisconsin State Assembly race after racist and anti-gay slurs

ALERT: HE IS RETURNING TO IDAHO

An Idaho college student withdrew from a political race in Wisconsin after a series of controversial comments.

Jacob Dorsey quit his campaign for the Wisconsin State Assembly after admitting to making offensive comments about gay and black people -- including using the "n word."

Dorsey took a break from BYU Idaho to run for the seat. He also made disparaging remarks about President Obama and President Lincoln. Dorsey was running as a Republican.

CLICK HERE to see images of Dorsey's offensive posts on Youtube and Twitter and for further details.

READ MORE about the Jacob Dorsey scandal.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel elaborated:

The 19-year-old, who was running against Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, issued an apology last week after bloggers discovered a December post on Twitter about a ruling in support of same-sex marriage in Utah that included a derogatory term.

This week, bloggers surfaced comments on YouTube videos that included derogatory statements about black people. Dorsey also used a curse word in a YouTube comment referencing Abraham Lincoln, the nation's first Republican president. ...

Dorsey's name will remain on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Republican Party of Rock County denounced Dorsey's comments and asked him to return a donation to his campaign, according to the Gazette.

Dorsey told news outlets that he plans to return to Idaho to finish school.

Idaho Press Tribune: Hixon's Actions "could be highly scandalous, clearly egregious lawbreaking."


Troubled Lawmaker Hixon

The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office is investigating Rep. Brandon Hixon (R-Caldwell) after questions were raised regarding his use of campaign funds.

Hixon’s campaign contributors and others noticed that Hixon’s Sunshine reports look like he could be spending his campaign dollars on personal expenses, which is against the law. For instance, he charged his campaign for enough fuel to drive 315 times from his Caldwell home to Boise, according to a complaint filed by the Canyon County Democratic Party with the Secretary of State’s Office.

According to the Idaho Press Tribune, Hixon's case:

... could be highly scandalous, clearly egregious lawbreaking. ... State law essentially allows him to use campaign money “in connection with the campaign for public office” ...

HOWEVER: Hixon’s opponents strongly imply his expenses for travel are excessive. He could help reassure skeptics with a detailed log of where he drove, when he drove there and the total mileage taken.

... Could he be operating under a loose interpretation of state law and funneling some of those expenses for non-campaign purposes? It’s possible.

Below is a repost of my 12/28/2013 blog entry on this topic:  read more »

Did You Know There Was An Idaho Statesman Website Archive?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

UPDATE: 9/15/14: An astute commenter on Sisyphus Facebook page added this: "According to a friend who inquired of the Statesman, articles over a year old are archived in a pay-to-view system, accessible by hovering over the search field and then clicking on "Search Print Archives." After doing so, a search for "Tom Luna" (minus the quotes) yields only 26 matches, but displays them on a page at nl.newsbank.com. A new search on that page yields 1300+ articles, including those from between 2007 and 2013.

So, no scandal, just another example of the Statesman making itself irrelevant."


Where;s Tom Luna?

We believe that we live in the 'age of information,' that there has been an information 'explosion,' an information 'revolution.' While in a certain narrow sense that is the case, in many more important ways just the opposite is true. We also live at a moment of deep ignorance, when vital knowledge that humans have always possessed about who we are and where we live seems beyond our reach. An unenlightenment. An age of missing information. - Bill McKibben, author of The Age of Missing Information.

It is the age old question: Scandal? ... or just ineptitude?

And does the latter necessarily vindicate responsible parties from the seriousness of the error?

I wonder why the Dan Popkey story, from Sept. 2012, about my blog entry "Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?" is no longer on the Idaho Statesman website.

Tom Luna is the current Superintendent of Public Instruction in Idaho. He is not seeking re-election after a profoundly flawed "Students Come First" initiative was trounced by Idaho voters.

Look at this Boise Weekly reference to the Popkey story. In it, click the hyperlink to the word "column" in the first sentence. Notice how this important story is no longer there.

Betsy Russell, who covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog for the Spokesman Review, had also included a link to the disappearing story. Her link is in the first sentence of the third paragraph.

Boise State Public Radio still has their story available, too ... a curious situation.

The same goes for D.F. Oliveria's Huckleberries Onlinee entry, "Luna Subject Of Wikipedia War," which also includes a link to the now-nonexistent Popkey story.

Luna's bio had been reworked by the Wikipedia editors after the controversy. But the key question here is why the story disappeared from the state's largest media outlet -- which has Popkey links going back as far as 2001 -- but not from other sources.

The story appeared on the front page of the Idaho Statesman print edition on Sept. 7, 2012.

Some concerned Idahoans weighed in:

The great media black out. Idahoans simply will not get the truth. At least we have Betsy. And you. I'll report. -Holly Imamovic

Another person said:

It's pretty stunning. You have to wonder if Luna leaned on the publisher or if Popkey himself had it removed, because of his own new political affiliations.

Popkey, a political reporter and columnist for the Idaho Statesman, left journalism in Late June after 30 years to become the press secretary for 1st District Congressman and Tea Party darling Raul Labrador.

But apparently, disappearing stories from Idahostatesman.com do not represent a new pattern:

Unbelievable but not surprising. They do it all the time. - Boise Weekly Publisher Sally Freeman

and ...

Statesman web archiving is crap. Some of Popkey's pieces on Luna back in 2011 we put on our Common Sense webpage in their entirety, and the same stories have disappeared off the Statesman site.... - Travis Manning

Scandal? Or just a lousy website?

Does either option make you more comfortable?

We have front page story from a state's largest media outlet. It was linked and discussed on multiple other sites. It discussed whether tax dollars should be spent to have the staffer for a statewide elected official clean up his Wikipedia biography.

The story now only exists for those who can get a hard copy of a two year-old newspaper edition.

Please offer your thoughts and suggestions.

Heidi Knittel for Senate Dist. 12 Endorsed by Idaho Education Association (IEA)

Nampa, Idaho — Heidi Knittel, Idaho State Senate Candidate, District 12, has been endorsed by the Idaho Education Association (IEA) and Nampa Education Association (NEA). “It is an honor to be recognized by this esteemed, 120-year strong organization.” Knittel said, referring to the Education Association.

Knittel supports IEA’s vision to deliver on their promise of a great public school for every Idaho student. “Public education is the gateway to opportunity. It is vital to prepare our students to succeed in a competitive and diverse world,” Knittel said, concurring with an IEA Core Values.

Knittel understands that, in order to meet their vision, education professionals must be championed at the Legislative level. As State Senator, Knittel plans to do just that. “I will continue to advocate for educator’s rights, including restored education funding, increased teacher base salary and more opportunities for professional development.”

Heidi Knittel is 42 years old, lives and works in Nampa and has a master’s degree in psychology. She is running for Idaho State Senate District 12. Her decision to run was born out of her experience as a program director at a small, Nampa business, where she speaks on behalf of Idaho’s most vulnerable citizens.

As a mental healthcare professional for more than a decade, Heidi has been a passionate advocate in the citizen legislative process to help her clients have better futures. She has navigated Idaho’s sometimes slow-moving bureaucracies to help Idaho’s vulnerable citizens. She has participated in public meetings impacting clients, sponsored by agencies such as Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare.

Heidi is a member of the Mental Health Providers Association of Idaho (MHPAI) and the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH). She serves on the committee of Idaho KIDS COUNT.

For more information, see: http://www.knittelforsenate.org

ID Election 2014: Congressman's Press Secretary: "It’s unclear what Labrador will do."

Crossposted on Daily Kos


Rep. Labrador's office has confirmed that he doesn't know what he is doing.

"Ever wonder exactly what our congressman, Raul Labrador, is planning?" says the Idaho Democratic Party.

Does he have an end game?

Raúl Rafael Labrador has been the U.S. Representative for Idaho's 1st congressional district since 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. His district is located in the northern and western portions of the state and includes the southern fourth of Boise as well as the cities of Meridian, Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Sandpoint, Lewiston, Bonners Ferry, McCall, Caldwell, Nampa, Emmett, Parma, Weiser, and Eagle. Labrador previously represented District 14B in the Idaho House of Representatives.

The young Congressman from our district, Rep. Raul Labrador, ran on a very idealistic platform that essentially boiled down to "America was a much better place in the 19th century, and we should return to that" -- basically, straight Tea Party doctrine.

The analysis above is from blogger Joel Kennedy, written in April of 2011: Idealism Meets Reality.

But does Labrador actually believe many of the thigs he says to get ... and to stay ... elected? Funny things can happen when idealism meets reality; and when opportunism runs into our rapidly changing world; especially when one's paycheck is based on a career in the ever-unpredictable Beltway.


Shirley Ringo has one clear goal:

Serve Idaho's people.

Check out this transcript excerpt from the Hugh Hewitt radio show, from June:

HEWITT: Big change in the race to succeed Eric Cantor as Majority Leader. Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho has thrown his hat into the ring to square off against Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California. I’m pleased to welcome Raul Labrador back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Congressman, good to talk to you, thanks for joining me.
LABRADOR: It’s great to be on your show, Hugh.
HEWITT: Are you going to win?
LABRADOR: I am going to win. You know, I’m already getting a lot of calls from people who are telling me that they’re switching their vote, that they’re excited about having a choice in this race, and that they want a different direction for the conference. They want more conservative leadership in the House.

When he challenges Speaker Boehner, the iconoclastic representative guarantees that Idaho will have no clout. When he then runs for the second spot without any support, he reminds other Republicans why they don’t like him.

In an interview with Boise State Public Radio, Labrador’s new press secretary, Dan Popkey, shed light on the baffling maneuvers of Labrador:

Popkey says it’s unclear what Labrador will do in the future; whether it’s run for governor, the U.S. Senate or a higher office. “I think I’m reading him correctly, he does not know what he’s going to do,” Popkey adds. “To suggest that working for Raul Labrador is an assurance of long term professional success, I think he’s a little too unpredictable for that.”

"Yes. Mr. Popkey looks like he’s reading him correctly," according to the IDP. "Labrador has never behaved like a man who knows what he’s going to do. He’s been so unpredictable that none of his constituents or his peers can trust him enough to work with him."

That doesn’t hurt Mr. Labrador. He’s doing fine as the Beltway’s favorite TV lightning rod – it just hurts Idaho.

Let’s send Mr. Labrador back to private life as an immigration lawyer where he can while away the years ineffectively like he did before he fell into Congress.

The IDP website encourages people to "Vote for Rep. Shirley Ringo and get someone in there who will make a plan with the interests of Idaho at heart … and stick to it."

ID Election 2014: Idaho Statesman Affirms Risch’s “Dilettante” Rep

Crossposted on Daily Kos


Sen. Jim Risch thinks "the job is easy."

Well … who wouldn’t like a high-paying job that gave you lots of clout and respect and perks without making you work for them?

That’s the job U.S. Sen. Risch has back in Washington, D.C..

Hard to believe? Well, Risch is the one who said it:

You know, I really enjoy this job. I really like this job,” Risch said last week, saying it’s a breeze compared to the seven months he served as governor in 2006. “Governor will wear you down. You can’t do that job permanently. This you can do ad infinitum.”

Home for a Senate recess that included a visit with the Statesman editorial board, Risch was remarkably passive about the failure of Congress to deal with the country’s problems, starting with a $16 trillion debt.

I can’t explain to you how dysfunctional it is back there,” Risch said, predicting it will take a catastrophe for the national legislature to tackle its responsibilities.”

U.S. Senate candidate Nels Mitchell used the column for an ad that ran this week in the Idaho Statesman. The columnist, Dan Popkey, who wrote the piece, confirmed that it’s accurate:

Democratic Nels Mitchell is using a column I wrote in May 2013 to make the case that Republican Sen. Jim Risch “sees the U.S. Senate as a place to relax, a perch from which to watch dysfunction and gridlock.”

“Idaho can’t afford a senator who thinks the job is easy,” Mitchell says in the ad, which cost $1,200. “Our country needs a working senate, and Idaho needs a working senator. Unlike Jim Risch, I won’t simply be a senator from Idaho; I will be a senator for Idaho.”

Mitchell’s ad reproduces excerpts from my May 6, 2013 column. When Mitchell announced for the job in January, he mentioned the article to me as evidence of Risch’s vulnerability despite the GOP’s strength.

Risch spoke volubly during a meeting with the Statesman editorial board about how much he loves the Washington social scene, his work on the Foreign Relations Committee and the collegiality of the Senate despite the institution’s “dysfunction.” He also said the job was a breeze compared to his seven-month stint as governor in 2006.

Mitchell’s campaign manager, Betty Richardson, said Tuesday that Risch’s comments have “staying power….So, we think more people should see it.”

Mitchell wrote:

Dear Idaho Voter,

I am running for the United States Senate to fulfill a childhood dream of serving others and to further the interests of fairness and justice for all Idahoans, indeed for all Americans.

Crossposted on Daily Kos

When I look at the United States Senate today, I see a body that has become dysfunctional. It is bogged down in gridlock, held hostage to extremist views, and peopled with career politicians who have abandoned the ideal of public service in favor of protecting the perks to which they believe they are entitled.

That kind of broken system is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Instead, they contemplated a Senate in which citizen legislators would step forward for a limited time in order to represent their states and serve the American people, before returning to their private lives. In so doing, they would make way for new leaders.

Surely, they did not conceive of career politicians – the kind of politician which Jim Risch epitomizes.

And our Founding Fathers did not imagine a Congress paralyzed by gridlock and partisan gamesmanship. Rather, they anticipated a true marketplace of ideas, one in which competing views would be deliberated in light of the very purpose of our Constitution:

... read more at http://www.nelsmitchellforidaho.com/whyimrunning/

Graphics used with permission.  read more »

Idaho GOP Fights for James Brown!

File:Jamesbrown4.jpg

Isn't he the Godfather of Soul?

Regarding the Idaho Republican Party fighting for soul:

“It is a fight, really, for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “Are you out there on that far edge, or are you rational? I certainly hope that the rational message comes forward.

James Brown sang some relevant lyrics:

HEY, fellas!
Sometimes your business is ALL messed up, yeah!
…sometimes you don't have your thing together, yeah, yeah, yeah, YEAH!
…and when your thing is ALL messed up… somebody will take that fire, yeah!

And look at these thoughts from Spokesman Review commenters:

"How could the GOP be fighting for something that doesn't exist?" - slamdunk

And a shot from Joel Kennedy:

"The official "Fulcher for Governor" Fact Check page says it all ..." http://russfulcher.com/fact-check/  read more »

Vote for Holli Woodings for Idaho Secretary of State

"I’m running for Secretary of State because your freedom to vote should not be infringed by anyone’s agenda at any time. Voting should be easy, fair and open, period. That’s what I signed up for when I registered to vote for the first time and that’s what I want for my children and my grand children. Easy, fair and open voting for all." - Holli Woodings

Biography
Holli Woodings grew up as the youngest of three sisters in a Southern Oregon logging family. Her mother, Julie, was a hairstylist and raised the girls in Eugene while her father, Chuck, was an auto parts salesman who settled in Boise. Spending holidays and summers with her father, Holli fell in love with Idaho and chose BSU after graduating from high school. She was the first in her family to graduate from college.

After graduation, Holli went to work as a project manager in Idaho’s renewable energy industry. She had a knack for wearing multiple hats within the industry; working development, public relations and public policy issues before founding Woodings Group, an energy development consultancy. Active as an organizer for TechBoise and co-founder of Energy Drinks (a networking group for energy development professionals), Holli developed a passion for the economic development issues facing Idaho. Community involvement was an inevitable choice from that point on.

Holli served three years as President of Boise’s oldest neighborhood association while starting a family with her husband, Ryan, founder and CEO of a local technology company. She helped grow the family business from 5 employees to 26 and win several “Idaho Best Places to Work” awards along the way. She helped pass the Yes! For Boise Schools supplemental levy and was elected to the State Legislature in 2012. In 2013, she was named an Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year.

Holli serves on the State Affairs, Energy, Environment and Technology, and Commerce and Human Resources committees. Her work focuses on providing high-quality education, growing innovative businesses, preserving personal freedoms, and increasing accountability in government. She has served on the Idaho Council on Industry and helped found the Idaho Clean Energy Association.

Holli lives in Boise with her husband and two children, Mary and Arthur. They enjoy hiking, camping and snowshoeing with friends and family.

Here are her positions on the issues:

Protecting the Freedom to Vote

We were very fortunate for many years to have strong non-partisan advocates—Democrat and Republican—as our Secretaries of State. They did a great job putting fairness and the interests of the people first because they recognized that voting is a fundamental freedom where partisan and special interest politics have no place. In their view, ensuring that our elections are easy, fair and open was a moral responsibility they were sworn to protect.

And that is exactly how I look at it too. I’m running for Secretary of State because your freedom to vote should not be infringed by anyone’s agenda at any time. Voting should be easy, fair and open, period. That’s what I signed up for when I registered to vote for the first time and that’s what I want for my children and my grand children. Easy, fair and open voting for all eligible voters.

Investing in Education

There is no more important issue than education in Idaho. We rank dead last in the country in education spending per child. Only 35% of our children have access to pre-school or educational daycare when the national average is almost 50%. Only one in ten of our high school freshmen eventually graduates from college. Which also makes us dead last in college attendance too. This is not putting us on track to fill or attract the skilled jobs our modern economy needs right now. And every year Idaho falls a little further behind.

That is nothing to be proud of. It’s an urgent problem that needs an even more urgent solution.

The Secretary of State is one of five members of the Idaho Land Board, which has a constitutional obligation to administer state lands for the long-term public good. One of the specific beneficiaries is our public schools—which over the years have been starved of millions of dollars from the Land Board. All of us are looking for ways to make our schools better That’s why as Secretary of State I will push to use excess revenue from the Land Board to reinvest in our schools so that we can attract more businesses and good-paying jobs to Idaho.

Growing the Economy

I deeply believe that the greatest investment Idaho can make in economic competitiveness is through education. Yet there is also much we can do to make our state more business friendly. Simplified business licensing, easy-to-navigate online filings and state agencies with a commitment to can-do, problem-solving business assistance are a low-cost way to start. Seamless partnerships with the Idaho Tax Commission, the Department of Commerce and Bureau of Occupational Licenses (just to name a few) will help small businesses navigate the system and get down to the business of serving customers faster. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need to help them in every way possible, every day. Less paperwork, more service.
Holding the Special Interests Accountable

One of the key responsibilities of the Secretary of State is monitoring lobbying activities in our state. I believe lobbying should be transparent, legal and ethical on every level, and I will fight to keep it that way. Safeguarding the openness of our political system, protecting your freedom to vote and ensuring that our lands are managed for the benefit of all will be my job description from Day 1.

UPDATE 10/5/14 Idaho Statesman Endorses Holli Woodings

Our concerns about Denney revolve around past partisan dealings and future plans to tinker with voting. Denney's failure as speaker to take action against former Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who stole state timber and refused to pay $600,000 in back state and federal taxes, has us questioning his impartiality.

His priority, if elected, "to work on measures to enhance the security of the election process, such as new technology that scans either signatures or fingerprints," is a solution in search of a problem. Denney seems too willing to spend money on phantom voter fraud and authorizing expensive second legal opinions that bolster the belief that Idaho has standing to take over federal lands through lawsuits.

Read more here:  read more »

Meet A.J. Balukoff, Candidate for Governor of Idaho

A.J. Balukoff’s honest, experienced leadership has helped make Idaho a better place.

Thirty-one years ago, A.J. and his wife Susie moved to Idaho because they believed it was the best place in the country to raise their 8 children. The accounting firm he started in his home was the start of a successful business career that helped build our economy and created hundreds of good Idaho jobs.

As one of Idaho’s educational leaders, A.J. helped deliver some of the best schools in the nation with high academic performance, financial responsibility and accountability to parents and taxpayers. He believes that every Idaho child and community deserves the same opportunities for success.

His campaign website says:

For March, we're launching a new campaign. We're calling it 'March Matchness'. As a demonstration of my commitment to making Idaho a better place for everyone and to this campaign, I will match every contribution that is made during the month of March, dollar for dollar. If you didn't have a chance to support my campaign in February, take advantage of March Matchness, and your contribution will have double the impact for Idaho. Please use the following form to contribute online. We can't thank you enough for your generosity.

A.J. has gotten results on the issues we need a governor to get right. As a Board Member of St. Luke’s, he helped improve the delivery of health care. He has worked to strengthen adult education and care for abused and neglected children. And as a leader in his church, he has lived the values of extending a helping hand to those in need.

A.J. Balukoff applies the same basic values to everything he does. Work hard. Tell the truth. Put people first. Treat everyone with respect and fairness. It is why he has been able to make such a difference for Idaho, and why he will be able to do even more as our next governor.

Here is A.J. on the issues:

Education

After 20 years of the same politicians running state government, Idaho is at or near the bottom in every measure of student achievement. We are 47th in rate of graduates going to college. Only 5 of Idaho’s 70 largest high schools have more than 50% of their graduates prepared for college, according to Idaho’s own state standards. Many school districts are only in session 4 days a week. Classroom overcrowding is sending some of our best and brightest teachers out of state. Parents who already struggle to make ends meet are buried in extra fees. One reason: Idaho is now 50th in the nation for the amount of money we invest in each student. At the same time, politicians refuse to listen to parents and educators about what our schools need most. Education is the most important foundation of success, for our kids, our community and our economy. We need a governor whose actions reflect that.

Economy

Idaho’s middle class families and those who struggle to get by are being squeezed like never before. The rising cost of living and health care make it harder to make ends meet, while the governor’s and legislature’s policies have made Idaho #1 in minimum wage jobs. At the same time, the middle class is being forced to shoulder more and more of the tax burden while well-connected corporations and the wealthy get tax breaks. To create opportunity and success, we need a system that rewards hard work, fairness and freedom.

Accountability

Every tax dollar we send to state government is hard-earned. The politicians in the state capitol don’t seem to appreciate that. They can’t seem to spend our money responsibly, efficiently or effectively. At the same time, there is no accountability when government puts the interests of corporations and contributors before the needs of the people who elected them. The result is a “pay-to-play” culture that benefits campaign contributors and the powerful with contracts and tax breaks, but leaves Idahoans on the outside looking in. We need a governor that will make sure that the Idaho values of integrity, respect for others and putting people first become our government’s values as well.

Rough justice in America: Too many laws, too many prisoners, from The Economist

I found this interesting article which summarizes America's incarceration fixation:

Never in the civilized world have so many been locked up for so little
Jul 22nd 2010

Justice is harsher in America than in any other rich country. Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan. Overcrowding is the norm. Federal prisons house 60% more inmates than they were designed for. State lock-ups are only slightly less stuffed.

The system has three big flaws, say criminologists. First, it puts too many people away for too long. Second, it criminalises acts that need not be criminalised. Third, it is unpredictable. Many laws, especially federal ones, are so vaguely written that people cannot easily tell whether they have broken them.

In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today's one in 100. Since then, the voters, alarmed at a surge in violent crime, have demanded fiercer sentences. Politicians have obliged. New laws have removed from judges much of their discretion to set a sentence that takes full account of the circumstances of the offense. Since no politician wants to be tarred as soft on crime, such laws, mandating minimum sentences, are seldom softened. On the contrary, they tend to get harder.

Travis Manning to Announce 2014 Candidacy

Caldwell, ID – All are invited to attend the announcement of Travis Manning’s intentions to run for the Idaho Legislature for the 2014 election cycle. Staff from various statewide Democratic candidates will also be in attendance.

WHO: Travis Manning, previous candidate for the Idaho House in Legislative District 10 seat A, is eyeing one of two Idaho House seats.

WHAT: Press conference w/ Q & A afterward.

WHEN: Monday, February 17 (President’s Day) at 12 p.m.

WHERE: Caldwell High School, 3401 S. Indiana, Caldwell, Idaho.

Press packets will be available at the press event. We appreciate your interest and participation.

About Travis Manning,

Child Advocate

Travis Manning is currently an English teacher at Vallivue High School where he has taught for seven years. He is Executive Director of the Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho, an Idaho grassroots think tank formed in June 2011 in response to radical education reform measures in Idaho. He is a member of the Idaho Council of Teachers of English and active participant with the Boise State Writing Project. Travis is active in his local teacher’s association where he has led and been engaged in numerous committees. He supports all of his fellow teachers and all of the hard work they do. In 2011 he spoke out at the Idaho House and Senate Education Committee hearings in support of Idaho public schools, and has since published a number of editorials across the great state of Idaho supporting the voices of all Idaho citizens in the legislative process. He supports the needs of all learners in public schools and works hard in his teaching to reach out to help struggling students. He is an advocate for parents and teachers, believing they are critical stakeholders in the success of Idaho’s children.

Community Builder

Most recently, Travis gave up coaching high school wrestling, one of his passions, in order to advocate for parents, teachers and students in Idaho governmental affairs. Travis, an Eagle Scout himself, has recently been a Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop in Caldwell, Idaho, and has been involved in Scouting in some capacity or other his entire life. From being a Den Chief and Patrol Leader in his younger years, to being a merit badge counselor, district commissioner, Scout camp counselor or Scoutmaster, among many other duties, in later years. One of the highlights of his Scouting experiences was working on the media staff at the 2001 National Scout Jamboree in Fort AP Hill, Virginia, with his younger brother. Travis believes passionately that youth must understand their local environment — neighborhoods, city, people, culture and natural world — so they might become young ambassadors for the communities in which they live.

Man of Faith

Travis has been involved in numerous school, community and church sports leagues over the years. He takes the lessons he learned in sports and Scouting to heart and has been active in numerous political campaigns and community advocacy activities. He is a freelance writer, active in his church congregation, and has served in a variety of church leadership roles throughout his life. In college, he worked for his university newspaper as a beat reporter. His most recent athletic accomplishment was completing the Boise Half Ironman Triathlon in 2010. He served a two-year mission to Philadelphia in the early 90′s and enjoys traveling, camping, bicycling, reading, and spending time with his wife and three children, Eliza having been adopted from China in June 2012.

Happily Married

Travis is married to Ann Ellison, who stepped down as a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey when the family came along. They are avid supporters of the Caldwell YMCA and believe this partnership between an organization and its citizens greatly benefits the community in which they live. Ann currently serves on the Caldwell Bikeways and Pathways Committee which works to protect pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers, children attending school, and to encourage a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise.

Breaking: Idaho Supt. of Instruction Tom Luna will NOT seek re-election

This tweet just cam in from Idaho Statesman editor Vickie Gowler:


This opens the door even wider for a certain, exceptional Democratic candidate.


REPORT from KBOITV:

Luna made the surprise announcement Monday at the Statehouse.

"You will not see my name on any ballot in Idaho this year," Luna told reporters.

The top schools chief said things became too political and it was best to step aside. He still has 11 months left on the job.

REPORT from Boise State Public Radio:

Luna says he's talked with former Republican state Sen. Melinda Smyser, wife of a prominent Capitol lobbyist, about running if he doesn't.

But he said he's not yet ready to endorse anybody.

Republicans already in the race are Grangeville teacher John Eynon and American Falls principal Randy Jensen.

The lone Democratic candidate so far is Jana Jones, beaten by Luna in 2006.

_____

And for a good laugh, check out this early a.m. tweet from conservative "Watchdog"Dustin Hurst:



10:57 AM PT: "State schools chief Luna won't run for re-election" from the Idaho Statesman -
Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/...

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The First Democrat Ever: A letter from Jana Jones - Candidiate for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction

View it in your browser.

Dear 43sb Reader,

Two weeks ago I announced my candidacy for Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. I have been humbled by the outpouring of support I have received and energized by the enthusiasm Idahoans are expressing for restoring hope and optimism in their public schools and trust back in the Office of State Superintendent.

And I know Idaho voters are energized too.  Give this clip a listenit’s from a conservative talk radio show in Idaho Falls.

The host, Neal Larson, starts a poll at the 1:17:00 mark pitting me against Tom Luna.  I won that poll. In fact, I’m the first Democrat to ever do so in this history of the show.

But that energy alone won’t be enough to put me over the top. I know this is going to be a hard race and I’ll need your help along the way.

Will you help by contributing to the campaign online? Your contribution of $25, $50, $250, or whatever you can afford will allow
me to deliver my positive vision for Idaho’s public schools and show Tom Luna that it’s time to end Idaho’s free fall to the bottom, put our education system back on track, and get it moving forward again.

My favorite quote from the radio poll was from a Republican who said, “Jones. And I’ll even campaign for her.”

I think there are a lot more folks like that out there, but I’ll need your help to reach them.  Please take a minute to visit my website and help me send Tom Luna packing.

Sincerely,

Jana
_____


_____

WHO IS JANA JONES?
SOURCE: http://janajonesforidaho.com/

Jana Jones has spent her entire career as an educational leader Idahoans can trust to stand up for children and their families.

A fourth generation Idahoan and the first of Wayne and Janice Hammond’s 5 children, Jana was a born into the values that make Idaho great: honesty, hard work, and independence. She grew up in Bonneville County and attended Idaho Falls School District 91, where she would eventually teach after graduating from Skyline High School and earning her bachelor’s degree in Special Education at Utah State University.  read more »

Idaho U.S. Senate Candidate Nels Mitchell Charges Onto The Field


Nells Mitchell

Nels Mitchell came out strong in his campaign to become Idaho’s next United States Senator. At least, two important factors favor Mr. Mitchell: 1) James Risch has done virtually nothing in the past five years to help Idaho and 2) Mitchell is a tremendously well-qualified, hard-working, articulate person who will put Idaho families and businesses first.

Mitchell (Check out his Nels Mitchell for United States Senate website and like him on Facebook) made his announcement Monday before a crowd of supporters gathered at the Boise Train Depot. Since then, he has traveled to Twin Falls and sent out two press releases blasting Risch for his very bad case of Potomac Fever.

Here’s some coverage of Mitchell’s announcement in the Idaho Statesman:
Nels Mitchell vows to beat ‘career politician’ Idaho Sen. Risch

Posted on January 14, 2014 by Dan Popkey

Democrat Nels Mitchell blamed Republican Sen. Jim Risch for Idaho’s low-wage economy and said that after 37 years in elected office he puts perks ahead of the interests of Idaho.

“I run to replace a career politician with a citizen legislator,” said Mitchell, a first-time candidate who announced his campaign at the Boise Depot Tuesday. “I run to help restore the vision of our founding fathers. Jim Risch has lost touch with the concept of public service, and, more importantly, with the people of Idaho. It is time for him to retire.”

Mitchell, 60, said he would serve a single six-year term if elected. “I will be beholden to no one but the people of Idaho,” he said.

Mitchell faulted Risch for Idaho’s ranking highest in the country for the proportion of minimum-wage workers and ranking 50th in income. “Someone has not been minding the store and that someone is Jim Risch,” he said.

And Randy Stapilus recently wrote:

An echo came in May 2013 when (Risch) told the Idaho Statesman, “You know, I really enjoy this job. I really like this job. Governor will wear you down. You can’t do that job permanently. This you can do ad infinitum.” An accompanying news article described him as “remarkably passive about the failure of Congress to deal with the country’s problems,” and “to hear him wax eloquent about life in the Senate makes one wonder if he risks being branded as a dilettante.”

Repeated news articles about his and his staff’s regular trips abroad (he is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, so in his personal case there’s actually some call for them) and some talk that he’s not been spending a lot of time in Idaho or with his base, could be a basis for reviving some of those old critiques, on a larger scale.

Mitchell has a cool demeanor (though he’s been a federal litigator, which suggests something about what’s beneath that) and the positioning of an outsider, and he’s offered a promise to serve but one term. What appeal may that have?

There are politicians who develop a teflon surface, and those who don’t. The second kind can survive too. But put the wrong set of circumstances together, and surprises can happen.


Who is Nels Mitchell?

Nels Mitchell is a Westerner through and through. He was born in Seattle and raised in Idaho. His parents moved to Boise in 1968. Nels and his two brothers attended  read more »

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