Blue-shifting the Gem State, one blog entry at a time.

Well, You Asked . . .

What the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation Doesn't Want You to Know about Charter Schools, Hedge Funds, Tax Breaks, and Andy Smarick

by Kevin S. Wilson

For nearly two years, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation has been a primary sponsor and promoter of the ED SESSIONS, a monthly speaker series featuring what the foundation bills as “national / international education reformers who are promoters of civil discourse about school improvement and wholesale reform.” Advertised at various times as “an invitation to begin a dialogue” and as “a conversation,” the ED SESSIONS are aimed at “parents, educators, policymakers, and everyone in Idaho”—unless, apparently, you are a parent, educator, policymaker, or an anyone in Idaho who asks inconvenient questions.

If you are, then you’re likely to find that your questions receive no answers, but elicit only the sound of chirping crickets. Ask enough inconvenient questions, and you may find yourself banned from the ED SESSIONS page on Facebook and find that all of your inconvenient questions have been deleted.

That’s what happened to me, after the social-networking social engineers at the ED SESSIONS solicited questions for an upcoming speaker, Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the conservative think-tank the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Adjunct Fellow at the equally conservative American Enterprise Institute, and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Though he’s never taught and has no academic background in education, Mr. Smarick has emerged as one of what the Albertson Foundation describes as “thought leaders” in education reform, with his thoughts these days focused on tearing down so-called “failing” schools and replacing them with chains of public-funded charter schools, in a process described in his latest book, The Urban School System of the Future: Applying the Principles and Lessons of Chartering.  read more »

Idaho lawmaker's wife had 'inappropriate' relationship with convicted murderer/rapist

Crossposted on Daily Kos

"Has somebody been doing the horizontal mambo in the state hoosegow? More shenanigans from Idaho's arbiters of moral decency? Bring forth the popcorn!" writes 43rd State Blues Blogger Serephin.

H/T to Silly Rabbit for this relevant video: (insert smile)

Move over Larry Craig, John McGee, and the rest. Idaho has made national headlines yet again.

Guess which political party is responsible ....

BOISE -- A federal judge has ruled that a state senator's wife overstepped her role as a legal assistant and had an "inappropriate" relationship with a convicted murderer who is suing the Idaho Department of Correction for sexual harassment.

In November, Renee McKenzie, wife of Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie of Nampa, was appointed by a federal court to help Lance Wood, who was imprisoned for life for his role in the 1988 kidnapping and torture slaying of a gay man in Utah. ...They had intercepted a letter the inmate wrote to McKenzie, which they determined was "clearly of a personal nature."

according to the Associated Press.

While not an attorney, she presented herself to prison guards as, “Renee McKenzie of McKenzie Law Offices” and was granted “unfettered access” with convicted murderer, kidnapper, and rapist Lance Wood, according to the Boise Guardian.

Wood is being housed at the Idaho Department of Corrections facility south of Boise and represents himself with no attorney in a civil case against a DOC worker before Winmill. He is a Utah inmate, serving his time in Idaho which is common when security issues arise.

Under these circumstances, prison officials determined that, at the very least, there was a strong infatuation between Wood and Ms. McKenzie, and that it would be dangerous for them to meet in isolation as they had been mistakenly allowed to do previously.

Here is my editorial analysis of the matter ...


A conservative case for an assault weapons ban, at Northwest Nazarene University tonight

"If we can't find a way to draw sensible lines with guns that balance individual rights and the public interest, we may as well call the experiment with American democracy a failure." - Judge Larry Burns A conservative case for an assault weapons ban

The Alumni Association of
Northwest Nazarene University
invites you as our guest to a presentation by
The Honorable Larry Burns
U.S. Federal Judge for the Southern District of California
and alumnus of Northwest Nazarene University
Tuesday, the ninth of April, at 7:00 p.m.
in the N.N.U. Little Theatre
512 Holly Street
Judge Burns will share his perspective on the judicial confirmation process and how his faith influences his job.

He will also cover topics of interest likely including his most recent case that involves the mass shooting in Tucson.

Judge Burns will share his perspective on the judicial confirmation process and how his faith influences his job. He will also cover topics of interest likely including his most recent case that involves the mass shooting in Tucson.

Judge Burns attended NNU 1972-74 then transferred to Pt. Loma. He was appointed to office by President George W. Bush.

Born in Pasadena, California, Burns received a B.A. from Point Loma College in 1976 and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1979. He was a Deputy district attorney of San Diego County, California from 1979 to 1985. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of California from 1985 to 1997.

In 1997, Burns was appointed to serve as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Burns was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003, to a new seat on the Southern District of California created by 116 Stat. 1758. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 24, 2003 by a vote of 91-0. Burns received his commission on September 25, 2003.

On January 12, 2011, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit selected Burns to be the presiding judge for the trial of Jared Lee Loughner. Burns was selected, in part, for his prior experience with cases involving the federal death penalty. A judge from outside of Arizona was sought when all judges in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona recused themselves from the case due to their ties to the late John Roll, a federal judge who had been killed in the shooting.

On December 20, 2012; Burns wrote an op-ed column in the Los Angeles Times calling for a reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban. In the article, Burns described himself as an ardent conservative and gun owner who nonetheless felt there was no "social utility" for high-capacity clips. Besides the 31-round magazine Loughner used in his Glock, Burns cited as examples the 100-round drum allegedly used by James Eagan Holmes in the 2012 Aurora shooting and the 30-round magazine used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Burns called for Congress to reinstate the ban without the grandfather clause of the original ban, which allowed those who already owned a weapon on the banned list to keep it. "If we can't find a way to draw sensible lines with guns that balance individual rights and the public interest," Burns wrote, "we may as well call the experiment with American democracy a failure."

Questions may be directed to the Alumni Office or 208.467.8841  read more »

Why we should end the "War on Drugs"

This was shared on the Facebook Page of the NAACP

Shades of Black Show at Boise State University 4/27/13 - Free Admission

Crossposted on Daily Kos

On Saturday, April 27th, 2013 the most anticipated cultural showcase in the Pacific Northwest returns to Boise State University. Considered to be one of the most dynamic, entertaining, and intellectually potent cultural showcases in the region, the Shades of Black Show continues to live up to its billing as a phenomenon.

This live performance explores the issues of culture and identity within the black experience through dance, spoken word and poetry, skits, stepping and song.

Created in 2003 at the University of Idaho by Kwapi Vengesayi and making its debut in January of 2004, the Shades of Black Show has become a cultural phenomenon bringing together campuses and communities from across the region.

The Shades of Black Show is a celebration of the different textures and dimensions of the black experience through the performing arts, a showcase that attempts to explore culture and identity through mediums of expression such as dance, spoken word/poetry, skits, stepping and song. This show has found a way to merge entertainment with education, tradition with contemporary values; an insightful and energetic blend of elements that has not only enriched the experience of those performing, but also the experience of those in the in attendance.

The Shades of Black Show is a celebration of a culture, not a race -

showcasing 'diversity' is one of our objectives and this is done by ensuring that each show has a universal message, and a diverse cast of participants, from performers to organizers.

Moreover, what makes this show unique is how it dedicates a lot of its efforts into ensuring that the talent showcased is a reflection of the area or campus that is hosting it.

This is done by devoting a lot of time and energy into creating a program that has strong local participation - this is could be in the form of performers, volunteer organizers, or local business sponsors.

From Boise State University to the University of Idaho, from Washington State University to Eastern Washington University and beyond, this show has enriched the multicultural experience of those who chose to participate or simply attend. In addition to this, it has not only helped highlight diversity on the campuses that host it, but has been a helpful ingredient with regards recruitment and retention objectives for those schools.

The show has had success throughout the Northwest as a way to build bridges with surrounding communities and has allowed the diversity within that same culture to inspire a sense of community within themselves.

Simplot Ballroom | Doors Open at 5pm (Seriously) | Free Admission

Shades of Black Show on Youtube |
Shades of Black Show on Twitter |
Shades of Black Show on Soundcloud |

Hosted by Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity Inc. and Sponsored by the MLK Committee.

For more information, visit or send an email to

Re-elect TJ Thomson to Boise City Council

I first met TJ Thomson at an AFL-CIO labor day picnic in Boise a few years ago. I had felt disillusioned with the hostility and narrow-mindedness of many elected officials in Idaho's majority party.

So meeting this poised, balanced progressive was a silver lining in Idaho's cloudy sea of bad leadership.

TJ is well known throughout Idaho as an engaged citizen and respected policy analyst, program evaluator, and community organizer.

I also support TJ because he has kept his promises to you, helping to strengthen our area over the last 4 years. The list of accomplishments includes:

Added thousands of acres of open space to the protected column in our beautiful foothills.
Increased park space, including additional dog parks and expanded off-leash hours.
Expanded recreational opportunities, including the new Whitewater River Park.
Protected worker’s safety by eliminating smoking in bars.
Crime rates are at historic lows in the City of Boise.
Our bus system will soon expand services – accomplished during difficult economic times.
A strengthened recycling program, to include no-sort recycling and a glass pick-up option.
Implemented the vast majority of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategies, as recommended for climate protection.
Protected all citizens from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Improved sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Increased cyclist safety on our streets.
Worked to attract new businesses to the area. Boise maintains one of Idaho's lowest unemployment rates.
Spear-headed first Living Wage Policy in Idaho. Setting a standard for local businesses to follow.
Check out all the great recognition Boise has received in recent years here: BOISE

A proud Idaho native and Air Force veteran, TJ Thomson has built over a decade of experience as a steward of fiscal responsibility at the federal, state, and private levels. TJ works for Idaho Power as a Certified Internal Auditor, promoting ethical and open business practices and efficient use of resources. As a former NASA policy analyst and program evaluator with the Idaho Legislature, TJ has valuable experience finding improvements and taxpayer savings in government programs and initiatives. An engaged citizen and active community organizer, TJ lives in West Boise with his wife Alisha, to whom he has been happily married for over a decade.

TJ has been happily married for over a decade to his wife, Alisha. Together, they enjoy the many wonderful aspects of living in Idaho, including: fishing, skiing, boating, biking and hiking in Boise’s beautiful foothills.

Read more at TJ's new campaign website.

The Idaho Senate's New Right Wing

The Idaho State Senate changed control last election. The change did not manifest itself overtly or immediately. The change evolved with the session, with a couple self serving factions coming together for mutual gain in tapping majority power. The change happened recently by way of a a turf battle championed by Senator John Goedde, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and joined by Idaho's extreme wing of the Republican Party. And to celebrate the event, many of them gathered at a downtown Boise bar on the eve of a delayed sine die.

When the secretary took the roll, Senators Hagedorn, Bayer, Goedde, and Nuxoll were in attendance plus Rep. Anderson from Priest Lake. Each of these senators voted nay on the education budget forcing the extended session. The connection between Goedde and Anderson is well known, but Goedde and Hagedorn don't often hang, yet shared a private conversation at the arrival of Goedde and Anderson. Like Anderson, Goedde is reviewed typically as a moderate but no stranger to ideological extremism, especially when education is concerned. Of major interest was Taliban Barbie who dominated the center of the group. Yet the ring leader appeared to be Phil Hardy, who once famously said that "regressive is the new progressive". Mr. Hardy was recently let go after an unfortunate tweet on his boss's twitter account (Congressman Raul Labrador) which stated "Me likey Broke Girls" during the Super Bowl which was airing a risque ad.  read more »

Words are buzzing about Idaho Democrats!

Crossposted on Daily Kos

"Did you see the Statesman article about our Democratic lawmakers?" asks Marie Hattaway

Here is an excerpt:

Forget FDR's "Happy Days are Here Again" and Bill Clinton's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow." ... Nearing the end of the best session in years for Idaho's legislative Democrats, their new anthem is Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

A center-right divide in the Idaho GOP has made minority votes pivotal on key issues, including the signature accomplishment for Republican Gov. Butch Otter, the state-run online insurance marketplace he signed into law Thursday. ... House Minority Leader John Rusche plotted a pragmatic strategy. He resisted a faction in his caucus that sought to trade votes on the health exchange for rejection of two bills hostile to the party's most important backer, the teachers union.

Rusche argues that his realism will bring dividends as Democrats work with the GOP's centrists, including 14 House freshmen who risked primary challenges for sidling up to Obamacare. "Those guys were pretty brave, stepping out in front of the TV cameras. It's not wise to cut their knees off," he said. ... Added the Lewiston lawmaker, "I expect it to pay off with a health exchange that's a better deal; in relationships with the governor and with our compadres here in the Legislature; and in relationships and trust with the large number of supporters of the alliance" backing the exchange bill.They have been a powerful force in the Idaho Legislature this year. Guided by the pledge to weigh decisions by the benefit to communities, businesses and families, they have been able to join forces against the extreme faction growing within the GOP.

To be "players" in a supermajority that controls 80 percent of the Legislature is huge accomplishment. Idaho Democrats take innumerable meetings, hold many town halls, travel the state, involve constituents, research issues, reach out to media and surrender sleep.

These high quality lawmakers could not succeed without the help of Idaho Democrats, and they can do even better if they have more Democrats working in the Legislature. Show your appreciation for our hard working Democrats, support the infrastructure that builds winning campaigns! Join the DEM Club today, click here! Your $10, $20 or $50 a month will fund the ongoing resources our hard working candidates depend on.

Winning campaign start early, winning campaigns started yesterday! Donate just a little every month to support winning campaigns now. Invest now, click here!

Thank you!

Marie Hattaway

Development Director| (208) 336-1815

p.s. If you cannot invest every month, consider making a one time donation, $25, 50 or $100! Click here.

The development of North Ada Co. and other stories

Spent way more effort than you'd imagine to come up with this little story about urban renewal, just because Mike Moyle weighed in on Dave Bieter's supposed "power grab." I didn't follow the urban renewal thing when it was hot in the 2011 legislature, and haven't kept close track of all the development ideas for N. Ada since the real estate bubble popped.

If there is more I should know (or say), tell me.

Remember the Luna Laws?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

We elect our leaders to protect our rights, not to limit them.

But just this week, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed a bill to limit our rights to petition the government with initiatives and referendums. Remember the Luna Laws? Those were rejected because of the initiative process. The bill, S1108, makes it much more difficult to get initiatives on the ballot.

Help us spread the word about this bill!

Contact your representatives in the House tell them to vote no on S1108!

Also please consider a contribution of $5, $25 or $50 to help us activate other Idahoans to preserve our rights!
Click here to donate today!

If S1108 passes, it will become that much easier for our lawmakers and government officials to ignore the will of the people. It will also make so hard to get an initiative on the ballot - only well-funded and highly organized groups could afford to engage in the initiative process.

Stop the GOP legislators and powerful interest groups from taking away our constitutional rights! Your contribution will help make a difference. Click here to donate today!

Larry Kenck


Idaho Democratic Party

You are invited! 2013 Connect the Pieces Gala

Marie Hattaway writes:

Dear Friends,

I am passing along an invitation to a great upcoming community event~ The 2nd Annual Connect the Pieces Gala, themed the Roaring 2020's: A Vision for the Future.

This event is put on by Supportive Housing and Innovative Partnerships (SHIP)* and proceeds from this event will benefit SHIP's Connect the Pieces campaign, which is shining a light on the dangers of prescription drugs in our communities.

Evening includes dinner, auction, live music, and interactive games!

When: Friday March 22, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM MDT

Where: Riverside Hotel, 900 W. Chinden Blvd, Boise, ID 83714 (Click here for map)

Tickets: Click here for more information or to purchase your ticket today

Inquiries: If you have any questions about tickets, donations or sponsorships, please contact,Chris Thomas, Connect the Pieces to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse ~ 208-914-3940

The Roaring 2020's: A Vision for the Future

You are cordially invited to join us at the Second Annual Connect the
Pieces Gala, which is themed the Roaring 2020’s: A Vision for the Future. Unlike the Roaring 1920’s of the Prohibition era, we are shining a bright light on the dangers of prescription drug abuse in our
community. We want to work together with all segments of the community to determine

how we can each do our part to eliminate this epidemic! Join us for  dinner, auction, live music, and interactive games.

Featured Speaker: Ada County Sherriff Gary Raney

Idaho Voices in Recovery is a group of persons in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, family, friends and allies coming together to insure that people in recovery have a voice! We want a say in policies and legislation that impacts our lives. Join us!

Public Health Crisis: Prescription Drug Abuse in Idaho

 read more »

Rape Survivor Demands House GOP Stop Blocking Protections for Women

Over 142,000 Join Petition Urging Congress to Pass the Violence Against Women Act Now

In a new petition on's online petition website, Sheila Thomas, a rape survivor from Dayton, Ohio urges Congress to extend the Violence Against Women Act. The Act was first introduced in 1994, and strengthened federal penalties for repeat sex offenders, mandated that women don’t have to pay for their own rape exams, and helped communities develop law enforcement units dedicated to violence against women. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was allowed to expire in 2011, but yesterday the Senate voted to reauthorize the bill. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives where Republican members of Congress have been holding up a vote.


In the petition, which has been signed by over 142,000 people so far, Sheila Thomas shares a very personal story about her experiences and the importance of reauthorizing VAWA.

“In 1983, I was a victim of rape at gunpoint,” explained Sheila. “My rapist had already raped four women in my community, I was his fifth victim. He has never been captured. At the time, I was a single mother of a five-year old daughter and attending a local community college."

Sheila continued,

"The failure of Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act makes me feel like I'm being victimized all over again; this time, by the very people we sent to Washington DC. I'm angered that those same people will have the audacity ask us to send them back in the upcoming elections. Well, I don't think so. No one asks to be raped. No one asks to be a victim of a violent crime. It feels like our rights as women--as human beings--are not being respected, and that we are being ignored."

Sheila, a Dayton resident, is also a Community College instructor and a proud mother and grandmother.

Ann Romney has not gotten over losing the election

"Fox News has bagged the first interview with the Romneys since President Obama's convincing victory in November, and the conservative-leaning network has offered a sneak preview to whet the appetite of political junkies and Romney fans," writes Ryan Spaeth. "In an interview with Politico, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace says Mitt has taken his defeat in stride, but his wife Ann "feels the pain and the what-ifs and the hurt more than he does." Wallace adds, "There's a lot of emotion that comes through in the interview, and she's more open about it — the 'what might have been.'"

Full story here from THE WEEK.  read more »

Waste Not, Want Not: Solid Waste Management and Wastewater Treatment

Changing regulations and the prospect of fewer federal dollars mean wastewater treatment and solid waste management are critical concerns for today’s city planners, commercial developers, elected officials and facilities operators nationwide. That’s why the University of Idaho’s President’s Sustainability Symposium is focusing on “Community Stewardship For Economic Benefits: Wastewater Treatment and Waste Management” on March 19-20.

Registration is now open for the two-day event, for which the University of Idaho is partnering with North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene and the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls to host the symposium on their campuses.

“Our goal is for people to leave the conference with new ideas and names of people to call for more information,” said Priscilla Salant, event organizer and director of the University of Idaho’s Office of Community Partnerships. “We want to connect communities with the resources that will help them make informed decisions.”

The symposium will be offered both in Coeur d’Alene and Twin Falls, which will be connected by video-conference. Participants can attend at either location, which allows for high quality presentations and networking opportunities for people across the state.

The main portion of the conference will occur on Wednesday, March 20 and is designed for local and state decision makers responsible for managing infrastructure and services. Attendees will explore upcoming wastewater treatment and solid-waste management trends, high- and low-tech solutions and financing options.  read more »

6 Reasons Why Prop 37 Is Not A Failure

Crossposted on Daily Kos

California voters rejected Prop 37, which would have required retailers and food companies to label products made with genetically modified ingredients, according to Huffington Post.

Millions of dollars, mostly from outside of California, were poured into campaigns both for and against Prop 37. But the donations that came in weighed heavily in favor of Prop 37's opponents.

Companies like Monsanto and The Hershey Co. contributed to what was eventually a $44 million windfall for "No on Prop 37," while proponents were only able to raise $7.3 million, reports California Watch.

Nontheless, Leslie Stoddard, co-founder of GMO Free Idaho, offers six "reasons why we are STILL winning!"

#1 – California Right to Know and Yes on Prop 37 raised $7.3 million in support of GM labeling. When you put into perspective that No on Prop 37 spent $45 million to defeat this initiative it makes you realize just how much everyone’s hard work really paid off. What would the “initial” results have looked like if Yes on Prop 37 had raised $45 million? It would have been a blow out! This my friends, is the power of grassroots! This is the power of TRUTH! And this is NOT defeat.

#2 – The entire country united for this cause, including many Idahoans who attended a screening of Genetic Roulette and helped to raise $400 for the Yes on Prop 37 campaign. States from the East and West did their part in raising GMO awareness and making contributions to this campaign by donating and phone banking. If only there was a way to count how many people heard the term GMO for the first time just because of this initiative. So, not only did the nation unite, but Prop 37 opened the eyes of countless individuals who will take into consideration what they are putting in their mouths. Big win here!

#3 – During the Yes on Prop 37 campaign a coalition of 23 states (and counting) was formed. This coalition is dedicated to providing support for each state that plans to pursue a legislative measure or ballot initiative (like Idaho plans to do). We have been sharing ideas, making calls to action, and helping to build the numbers in each state. I’d like to see Monsanto drop $8 million in 23 states at one time when each state decides to roll out their own labeling legislation. The labeling initiative in California was critical to the formation of this coalition…..Winning!

#4 - Two nationwide campaigns have been launched in lieu of Prop 37. The first is GMO Inside, a campaign to “show corporations that people will not complacently serve as lab rats for the testing of genetically engineered foods.” And to “ultimately boycott the companies that want to keep us from knowing what’s in our food. Hitting their bottom line is the only way we can collectively make a significant change to our food system without legislation.”

The second is the Know GMO Project, a campaign that will “collectively create a GMO free society” by targeting local food producers to source non-GMO ingredients and by doing so in a positive manner. Many food producers, like many consumers, are completely unaware of GMOs. Many businesses don’t even know that they are sourcing GM ingredients. “By targeting “mid-level” food producers to enact these non-GMO changes, we can push GMOs off the market without necessarily having to purse labeling laws.” The Know GMO Project has launched phase 1 of 3 of their campaign and we are encouraged to use their non-GMO meme generator to spread awareness on social media sites.

These campaigns will continue the work of Prop 37 and contribute to the tipping point that will push GMOs off our plates and our consumer markets.

#5 – As you might have heard after viewing Genetic Roulette, the sales of Non-GMO Project Verified products have increased by 217% in just ONE year! Consumers have spoken and as of now 1.2 million signatures have been submitted to the FDA, through the Just Label It campaign, demanding that GMOs be labeled. I don’t think I have to tell you, it’s only a matter of time before we have GMO labeling in some way or another.

#6 – Even if Prop 37′s “final” results prove to not be enough for a victory, the “Right to Know” movement will not stop. Prop 37 was the start of something BIG and this initiative is proof that we cannot be bought and we cannot be broken. The truth will prevail and our consumer rights will be restored. The non-GMO movement is a holistic movement. It’s about preserving what is sacred. It’s about bringing communities together. It’s about nourishing our loved ones. And it’s about leaving a legacy for our future. We have our war paint on and what determined warriors we are! Is this battle easy? No. If it was, would it be worth fighting for?

As Woodrow Wilson said, “The history of liberty, is a history of resistance.” We are the resistance and history will be made, one way or another.

My heart goes out to everyone for their passion and hard work on Yes on Prop 37. Nothing is more fulfilling than being part of this movement and bringing our communities together. I thank each and everyone of you!

Here’s to being GMO free!

Leslie Stoddard

GMO Free Idaho, Co-Founder  read more »

Idaho Dems Call to Defend the Initiative Process

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Michelle Stennett

Idaho Democratic lawmakers are calling on all Idahoans to help stop Senate Bill 1108, which will weaken our constitutional right to petition our government.

S. 1108 comes just months after voters went to the polls and rejected the Luna Laws. This bill damages urban and rural areas alike by raising the bar to place initiatives or referenda on the ballot. Idaho voters need a voice. This tool allows voters to check legislative power. Idahoans have a history of using this power wisely. As Sen. Michelle Stennett said: “This bill is part of a troubling trend that makes it easier for lawmakers and government officials to ignore the will of the people.”

Call, write, email, or visit your legislators and tell them you didn’t send them to the Idaho Capitol to take your voice away!

Statement Regarding Voting Rights/Initiative Process Read at Feb. 20 Press Conference by Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett:

Idahoans only have a few ways to directly participate in the democratic process: testifying before committees, through an initiative or referendum, and by voting.

Idaho Democratic lawmakers are united in our strong opposition to any effort that will impede the People’s constitutional right to directly petition their state government. We stand aligned with the people of Idaho in protecting our constitutional voting and initiative rights.

Today, we call on Idahoans of all political affiliations to speak out against Senate bill 1108.

This bill is part of a troubling trend that makes it easier for lawmakers and government officials to ignore the will of the people.

Right now, this trend is playing out in the Legislature in a variety of ways.

Idaho Democrats have introduced a slate of bills, the VOTE Initiative, seeking to modernize and make our voting system easier for Idahaons to access. Four of those bills have been dismissed by the majority. Only two of those bills remain alive: the Online Registration Act awaits a hearing and the Early Voting Opportunity Act is being modified to create an incentive for counties to set up additional early voting centers.

We introduced the VOTE Initiative bills because Idaho Democrats listened to voters. They asked us to make voting more convenient for people who have to work. A new generation of voters asked us to utilize modern tools and allow Idahoans to register to vote online or register at the same time they get their driver’s licenses.

As you can see, those bills have received a chilly reception from the supermajority in the Legislature.

HB 176 would prevent Idahoans who are living overseas from voting in their local elections, unless they are servicemen and women. This bill discourages Idahoans from being active members of their communities and simply takes away their right to vote.

Last November, 370,000 Idahoans rejected the top-down education mandates commonly called the Luna Laws.

Idaho Democrats heard the message: Idahoans value their children’s futures. Idahoans do not believe their children get a World Class education when teachers are silenced and bullied. Idaho parents want a voice in the policies that shape education—they don’t want dictates from lawmakers.

Because we listen to voters, Idaho Democrats also endorsed Gov. Otter’s wise decision to create an education task force to look at those failed laws and to give parents, students, educators and local people a say in how our children are educated.

Just a couple months after voters soundly rejected them, the Luna Laws are back as a series of bills that resurrect Proposition 1. This is the same legislative process that the People rejected in November.

Not only is this Legislature ignoring the People, but Senate Bill 1108 seeks to restrict the People’s ability to reject bad legislation, such as the Luna Laws, and ensure that the majority Party need not face such a stunning rebuke of their process and policies in the future.

Idaho voters must be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to petition their government. They have every right to expect that their elected officials will listen to them or pay the price at the polls. They must have access to an initiative and referendum process that gives them a loud voice in the laws that they must live by.

Idaho Democrats will dedicate ours efforts to defeating these pieces of legislation and assure that the voice of the People is not stifled. But we cannot do this alone. We call on every citizen of our state to contact your legislators. Write letters, send emails, make phone calls, or come on over and meet with your legislators. Make your voice heard loud and clear. Tell your legislator that you do not want a handful of politicians to take away your rights to participate in the governance of our great state. Demand that they listen to you.

Idaho Democrats have heard you. We’re working for you. And we’re asking for your help to make sure your voice is not silenced.

Courtesy: Idaho Democratic Party

Retiring minds

Intrigued that Benedict is retiring. Maybe the Mormons'll notice.

Modern medical advances increasingly make lifetime appointments fade into leaders struggling to serve after they're able, but at least the Supreme Court and Pope can be selected from younger candidates. The Mormon automatic selection of whoever has the most seniority of the Council of Twelve statistically games the system toward geriatric woes.  read more »

Yo, Raul! Stop Using Twitter!

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Twitter Villan Raul Labrador

Idaho Republican Officials...

You can dress them up, but you can't take them out.

And keep them away from your daughter; or for that matter, your son too.

And never let one near a computer.


I may have to start a separate blog just to talk about Congressman Raul Labrador's porno-sex-stripper Tweets.

They just keep coming (no pun intended).

According to today's the Idaho Statesman:

Phil Hardy, Rep. Raul Labrador’s spokesman since his upset congressional win in 2010, has been fired for mistakenly tweeting in the name of his boss about his admiration for two actresses pole dancing in a Super Bowl ad,

The tweet, “Me likey Broke Girls,” was deleted after 14 seconds but is archived on a website that collects deleted tweets from politicians.

The Idaho Republican’s office apologized Monday for the tweet, which was Hardy’s take on a CBS promotional spot featuring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, the stars of “2 Broke Girls,” dancing in revealing clothing. The pair were depicted on the show’s set — a Brooklyn diner — gyrating to a Def Leppard pole-dancing tune “Pour Some Sugar On Me.”

-- Idaho's Raul Labrador is the Larry Craig-style laughing stock of social media.

The story also made Hollywood Reporter. Did you ever think you would say "Raul Labrador" and "Hollywood Reporter" in the same sentence?

How about "Me likey Broke Girls?"

"Me likey Broke Girls," wrote Phil Hardy after seeing the show's stars, Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, eat diner food seductively and hang from a stripper pole in skimpy waitress outfits.

Raul needs to just cancel his Twitter account, period.

I wish I was exaggerating. But unfortunately I also have had the distinct pleasure of writing these two blog entries:

On Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012: Congressman Labrador's Twitter Page Gets Naughty ... AGAIN!

and from Oct. 23 2012: Labrador Retweets Endorsement from Fictional 1960s TV Character.

Social media requires responsible use. Labrador's office has shown no ability to do this. He needs to cancel his Twitter account.

It is bad for Idaho.

Labrador's Hapless Rebellion Produces Otter and Simpson's "Uh oh" Moment

Leading the way?

In Idaho, the three-ring Republican circus featuring Butch, Mike and Raul looks more like this:

"Let’s review the evidence," writes Joshua Green in Business Week.

"Right-wing conservatives are furious at Boehner for agreeing to a deal raising taxes. Never mind that taxes were going up anyway—Boehner betrayed the Tea Party credo that saying no will eventually bring everybody else around. (It actually won’t.). So they decided to make an example of him by denying him the speakership."

Raul Labrador

Dan Popkey wrote about the Idaho fallout from this silliness, today:

After their highly publicized dustup over whether Rep. Raul Labrador was disloyal and compromised his effectiveness by refusing to vote for the leader of his party and Rep. Mike Simpson's pal, Speaker John Boehner, Idaho's only House members have met face-to-face.

"I have talked to him," Labrador told Popkey Thursday night after his town meeting on immigration at Meridian City Hall.

Did you mend fences? Pokey asked.

"I don't talk about private discussions," replied a chilly Labrador, keeping the lid on his simmer.

Mike Simpson

Popkey continues:

Simpson, meanwhile, was the only member of the four-man, all-GOP delegation to duck an interview on a story I'm working on for Monday about the prospects for immigration reform. ... My guess: After Simpson's blowup in the face of counsel to the contrary, he doesn't want to risk saying anything that might be seen as a knock on Labrador, whose expertise is immigration. Despite his snub of Boehner, Labrador got the Judiciary Committee assignments he sought, where he can play the delegation's most significant role on immigration.

Green gives more background on the attempt to oust Boehner as House Speaker. He says that the first step for them was finding an alternative. It’s a lousy job. Eric Cantor didn’t want it. Paul Ryan didn’t want it. But the Washington, DC Tea Party rebels decided not to let that fact get in the way of their plans.

Next step: Plotting. This one didn’t go too well either. On Wednesday night, an amused Republican staffer called me to report that Representatives Jim Jordan, Paul Gosar, Raul Labrador, and Steve Southerland were gathered at Bullfeathers, a Capitol Hill bar, openly plotting their coup. Not exactly the Roman Senate scheming to dispatch Caesar.  read more »

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Larry Grant Resigns

Larry Grant

In an email today from the desk of Sally Boyton Brown, executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, Grant wrote:

When I was elected Chair in 2011, nobody wanted the job. 2010 had been a terrible year for Democrats in Idaho. We had lost three seats in the state legislature and a Congressional seat. We were, quite frankly, a pretty dismal bunch.

But that has changed. The day I was elected I outlined my plan for the Party. The first phase, running from the Frank Church weekend in February, 2011 to the State Central Committee meeting in October, was the time to get the staff in place, do strategic planning, and reach out to those organizations and individuals who have traditionally supported the Democratic Party but were no longer fully participating in our organization.

I am pleased to say that, with regard to staff, Sally, Marie, Dean, Matt, and Jill have done a great job. Nobody could ever do it alone and all the things that I did get done at the state level over the last couple of years are primarily due to their time, effort and enthusiasm. But I do take credit for recruiting and directing one of the most effective state party staffs we have ever had.

On strategic planning, to be honest, I wasn't as concerned with what the outcome would be as I was with simply getting people to participate. Fortunately, as we held planning sessions across the state, folks begin to understand that the state party is exactly what we make of it and, more importantly, that we all need to be pretty much in agreement as to what our mission is in order to be effective.

The second phase of my plan, which ran from the October meeting in 2011 to the Frank Church weekend in February, 2012, was to help get the county organizations functioning at the level necessary to recruit and elect Democratic candidates. This is difficult for the State Party to do because organizing the counties really is something that can only be done by people on the local level. All the state can really do is help, advise, encourage and support. This is one of the most important aspects of the Party, since, when it comes to elections, it is the people and candidates at the local level who identify voters and get out the vote. I can't say that we are fully organized at the county level, but I do think we are further along than we have been in a long time.

The third phase of my plan was the campaign season itself. It included recruiting, training, and supporting candidates. Considering that we had more candidates running than anyone can remember in a long time, I think we did pretty well. We protected every Democratic incumbent who was running. That's not bad for Democrats in Idaho in a Presidential election year. Of great significance, of course, is that we managed to get through redistricting without getting run over by the other side. In fact, we were able to protect all our traditional Democratic areas. More importantly, we were able to consolidate almost every core urban area into legislative districts that should become more Democratic over the next few years.

Did I get everything done that I wanted to? Of course not. But I do think we accomplished a lot and that we are positioned to accomplish even more in the next few years. With that, I am satisfied I have done my part and that it is time for someone new to lead us from this point forward.

Nominations for the position are currently being accepted by and the election will be held at our annual Frank Church State Central Committee meeting Feb. 23rd 2013.


Chairman Larry Grant

Idaho Democratic Party  read more »

Syndicate content