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

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 »

Vandersloot Sues Mother Jones in State Court

As was widely anticipated, news broke that Frank and Belinda Vandersloot, together with Melaleuca, Inc. filed suit for defamation regarding a February, 2012 article which Plaintiffs allege depicted them as "gay bashing". Apparently Plaintiffs are confining their claims to Mother Jones and the individual writers and editors. But for context you need to read the Salon piece (first link above) by Glenn Greenwald. Idaho Agenda has some background links and my pieces on the subject are here, here, here,and here. So far I've not heard of any Defendants outside of Mother Jones.

The action is filed in Bonneville County, in the seventh judicial district for the State of Idaho and caps the damage claim at $74,999, despite Vandersloot's assertion in the press that Plaintiffs lost millions. Vandersloot asserts that: “It’s not about (money). It’s about clearing my reputation.” Questionable, but clearly Vandersloot likes his chances in state court in Idaho Falls rather than risking have it removed to federal court and a less friendly venue. $75,000 just happens to be the required amount in controversy which must be pleaded in order to remove a case to federal court for diversity jurisdiction. The pleaded amount was no accident. Vandersloot doesn't want the case anywhere but Idaho Falls.

The jury pool in Idaho Falls is a stacked deck for Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs reside there, employ thousands in call centers, are name throwing philanthropists, routinely buy full page ads in the region's largest newspaper,and finance multiple causes sympathetic to the right wing politics of the area. When pitted in a court room against the liberal Mother Jones, Defendants will have an uphill battle, or as the legal profession puts it, they'll be home towned. Just as significant is a sympathetic judiciary. Vandersloot's history is set forth in this well sourced Wiki entry:

VanderSloot has generally been a major donor to Idaho Republicans,according to Popkey, who described him as the state's "most boisterous conservative financier” and by America Online’s Eamon Murphy, who called him "perhaps the single most influential campaign donor" in the state of Idaho.  read more »

Updates from Rep. Sue Chew


Susan  B.  Chew (D)     

Legislative Term: 4
Born in Oakland, CA; bachelor's degree in biology & natural resources, UC Berkeley; Pharm.D., UC San Francisco; professor; member United Vision for Idaho and Women in Government; 2003 Women Making History Award, 2006 Cultural Center Service Award.

From her Facebook page:

"There is testimony before the Joint Education Committees this Friday from 8-10am. Please come and listen. Please share far and wide. Testimony accepted. 3 minute max. If submit written, will be added to the record. Am checking to see if emailed and otherwise sent can be added as well."

From her website:

It was my pleasure this month to attend the American Heart Association’s Youth Lobby Day - and to search with five Filer high school students for solutions to the health problems facing Idaho children. Budget cuts to schools and social services have limited the opportunities our youth have to develop life-long, healthy habits. Children may be resilient, but their health issues shouldn’t be treated lightly. “Several studies,” warns the American Heart association, “have indicated that this generation of youth may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.”

Read Chew's full story Health Problems Facing Idaho's Youth

E-mail Sue Chew  read more »

Swan Lake to grace the Nampa Civic Center

Perhaps the most famous ballet in the world, Swan Lake is elegant, exciting, and breathtakingly beautiful. Along with its music, the choreography has been recognized as a masterpiece of the ballet world.

With museum-quality costumes and the perfection of classical choreography, Swan Lake has earned a reputation for being a production distinct to this company. On Feb. 28, the Eugene Ballet company will bring this beautiful choreography and musical score to the Nampa Civic Center Brandt Auditorium.

A story of rivalry for love as the black swan, Odile, tricks Prince Siegfried into being unfaithful to the white swan, Odette. Powerful and passionate dancing exposes the sorcery of Von Rothbart the evil mastermind behind the mystery.

Swan Lake was composed in 1875–1876 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales. The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, billed as The Lake of the Swans. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their stagings both choreographically and musically on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, first staged for the Imperial Ballet in 1895.

About this production, Deen Speer of Ballet Dance Magazine wrote that Eugene Ballet's Artistic Director Toni Pimble:

is to be praised for pulling a small ballet miracle, as this ballet is typically done by much larger companies, yet Eugene Ballet never seemed spare or bare – either in terms of numbers or of quality. ... Excellent and tight ensemble work cut through all levels – from the 12 corps and “big” swans of Act II’s lakeside scene to the character dances of the ballroom setting of Act III. One staging difference to note is the entrance of the swans. In many productions they come on in a limpid way, low hopping their arabesque, emboité motif but in this one, they employed a full-out flying sauté arabesque with a very vigorous jump for the emboité.

Speer continues:  read more »

More from Cherie Buckner Webb

Hello All,

Committees have been diligently engaged in rules review the last couple of weeks. JFAC has been hearing budget requests, legislators have been preparing personal bills for submission and I am pleased to say that legislators have been devoting considerable time to listening to stakeholders. Following a predictably slower start, the pace is picking up rapidly.

Education Week

Institutions of higher education presented their budgets and shared visions for the futures of their institutions:

Education Committee presentations:

University of Idaho - President Duane Nellis
Idaho State University - President Arthur Vailas
Lewis and Clark State College - President Tony Fernandez
Education Update - Tom Luna, Supt. Public Instruction
Workforce Issues Affecting Public School Teachers -
Rakesh Mohan, Dir. Office of Performance Eval.

Superintendent Luna announced his request for a 3% increase for the public schools budget for 2013-14, which equals about $38 million more than the previous year. The devil is in the details though, as $33.9 million of that is going to unspecified changes to the education system. He expressed interest in continuing to funnel funds into technology, but this is not unheard of as money has been appropriated toward technology since the 1950s in Idaho’s public schools budget.

On February 1st from 8:00-10:30 a.m. the Senate and House Education Committees will be conducting a joint hearing in the Senate auditorium. The session will provide the community with the opportunity to share their suggestions on the next steps for education in Idaho. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per person. You may submit more detailed comments to the committee in writing via email to Committee members will have access to all written comments. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, I look forward to hearing from you.

One highlight of the week was a visit by the fourth grade class from St. Joseph’s School. The students were a delight; very knowledgeable about Idaho history, they asked and answered great questions and beautifully executed an impromptu musical selection calling out all of the counties in Idaho. These amazing kids provided a poignant reminder of the importance of the work we do today and its impact on tomorrow.

Human Rights

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Human Rights celebration at the Capitol rotunda kicked off the week on January 21st. I was honored to unite with folks from every walk of life to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Most of you know that the day is of major significance for me. And as I stood with my granddaughter in my arms, I was overwhelmed by the importance that it holds for generations to come. Our children and our children’s children must not forget the struggle and unwavering perseverance of those who came before us to obtain basic equal rights. And yet there is much work to do. Many Idahoans are still denied basic human rights. And so it is that Representative Grant Burgoyne and I are hosting a Human Rights Act Education Panel on February 6th from 12:00 -1:00 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium. The panel will be moderated by David Adler of the Andrus Center for Public Policy. Panelists include:

· Pam Parks, Executive Director, Idaho Commission on Human Rights

· Maryann Jordan, Boise City Council

· Rev. Marci Glass, Pastor, Southminster Presbyterian Church

· Kevin Settles, Idaho Business Owner

· John Reuter, Former Sandpoint City Council President

Please join us.

Gun Violence

Gun violence is top of mind for many Idahoans. The tragedies of recent events touched the hearts and souls of us all. And while I will continue to defend 2nd Amendment rights, I support responsible gun ownership and policies that serve to protect the safety of our citizens. I join the Democratic caucus in committing to give cautious consideration to any proposed legislation on this topic.

Additionally the State of Idaho must be aggressive in attending to the needs or those with mental illness. We reaffirm our pledge to take proactive leadership in support of appropriate care for those with mental illness.

Increasing Voter Access

In response to the concerns from members of our communities, the Democratic Caucus is pleased to present a package of bills that is crafted to protect fundamental voting rights. This collection of bills, the Voting Opportunity and Trustworthy Elections (VOTE) initiative, was developed to encourage participatory government and increase access to the voting process.

· The Motor Voter Act

· The Online Voter Registration Act

· The Early Voter Opportunity Act

· The Voter Convenience Act

· The Private Election Taxpayer Compensation Act

Details of the VOTE Initiative will be presented at a press conference on Tuesday, January 29th, at 10:30 a.m. in Room WW-17 at the Capitol. You may access the audio via Idaho Public Television (click on the WW-17 link under “notices”).

Meet Caitlin Lister, Attaché Extraordinaire

I am pleased to introduce my Senate Attaché, Caitlin Lister, a native of Washington with great skills and talents and an amazing professional background. Caitlin spent six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving two tours in Iraq as a helicopter mechanic and three years as a U.S. Embassy Guard. She moved to Idaho upon completion of her military service, and earned her BA in Political Science at Boise State University. Caitlin worked on Mayor Bieter’s campaign, managed Sen. Elliot Werk’s campaign and is now in her second year working for the Senate Minority Party. She was honored as the Idaho Young Democrat of the month in January. Caitlin and her husband, Dan, have a 10 year-old daughter and are expecting their first son in May. Caitlin is an invaluable asset and consummate professional who assists me with all aspects of my work at the Capitol and can reach me at any time. Please feel free to contact her at 208/332-1416 or

Town Hall Meetings

I invite you to join Representative Mat Erpelding, Representative Holli Woodings and me for upcoming District 19 Town Halls this session. The first will take place on February 19th at Longfellow Elementary School from 7-8:30 p.m. and the second is on March 13th, location to be announced in the near future. We will send out reminders as the events approach. Please join us – we want to hear from you (and share our perspectives).  read more »

Caldwell City Councilman David Clark Resigns

There will be an open seat on the Caldwell, Idaho City Council.

Since David Clark just announced this last night, it appears that the news outlets haven't picked up the story yet. (as of 9:50 a.m. MST)

From his Facebook page:

Dear friends and family, life is full of adventures and challenges and I am going though an adventure right now. For the past few months, I have been communicating with a company called They build websites, social media and SEO for businesses. It has been a great partnership and they have recently offered me a permanent position in their Houston, Texas office as a Sales Branch Manager, responsible for the entire Houston area. I will have many people under my wing and this is a big step for me.

Normally it would take a lot for me to tear up my Caldwell roots for a move like this, however delivered. The offer was too sweet to say no. Therefore, I accepted their offer and I am moving to Houston Feb 11. I know this is a shock to some of you, but this is a natural progression in my career right now. Life here in Idaho for the family will remain somewhat the same. Marcee will run the event center and the social media business will be ran out of Houston. Another major change for me is resigning from my passion, the Caldwell City Council. This was the most difficult decision to make, but it needed to be made in order for the Citizens of Caldwell to be served right. My last council meeting will be February 4th.

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Big party for Democrats, quiet reflection for GOP

For many Republicans, this is a good weekend to get away from it all.

With hundreds of thousands of Democrats traveling to nation's capital for President Barack Obama's inauguration activities, Republicans and supporters of last fall's GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, are leaving town, or staying put and trying to avoid the crowds.

After failing to recapture the White House for a second straight presidential election, many are not exactly in a partying mood.

"It's a good time to lay low," said John Feehery, the president of Quinn Gillespie Communications and a former top congressional aide.

As Democrats prepare to mark Obama's second inauguration on Monday by bundling up along the parade route or dressing up for balls, Republicans are spending the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend with quick vacation getaways, quiet time at home or trips to the movie theater.

Read the full story.

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"  read more »

God, Spoogeflower Seeds, Idaho GOP Lawmakers, Hookers, and Blastocysts

According to Biblical scholars, a man cannot ejaculate his penis if it is in the vagina of a prostitute. His penis will stop his hot creamy load of seed before it is "planted in the barren and cold soil of a harlot" (Corinthians 17:1).

So, using the Logic of God (All Rights Reserved) if man cannot cause an unwanted pregnancy (because a man cannot cause an abortion as abortions are the same as prostitution) then a man cannot cause an abortion. Thus, all abortions are pregnancies caused by the dark seed of Satan. Ipso facto and vis a vis, a woman who gains an abortion is a witch. And we shalt not brook witches. Well, we can "brook" witches if that means drowning them in brooks.

God has always had this figured out. It is our duty, not His, to live by His unerring code.


Idaho's Universities Celebrate Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King's message is ringing clearly through higher education in Idaho. To begin, Boise State University is hosting a Day of Greatness March and Rally, 9am, Jan. 21.

Stop in for poster making in the SUB Jordan Ballroom from 9-10:30 a.m. Meet representatives from local nonprofits and sign up to volunteer for future projects.

Then at 10:40 a.m. there is a March down Capitol Blvd. followed by a rally at the statehouse. At noon the State of Idaho officially recognizes the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The speaker is Rev. Happy Watkins from New Hope Baptist Church, Spokane, WA. This is presented in part by the Idaho Commission on Human Rights.

The University of Idaho will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with an on-campus showing Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 12:30 p.m. of his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, filmed in 1963. The screening will take place in the Teaching and Learning Center, attached to the Idaho Commons, in its Student Diversity Center, room 229.

He delivered his stirring remarks on Aug. 28, 1963, before 200,000 civil rights marchers gathered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The marchers expected to hear strong words but likely never expected King’s speech to become a part of history that still echoes in today’s culture.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous ’I Have a Dream’ speech,” said Leathia Botello, program coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which is sponsoring the event. “Many students have heard it at least once but it is important that the words never die. We have made progress in the last 50 years, but it was hard fought. We need students to be inspired and keep up this important work for the generations to come.”

The celebration will continue with “The New Faces of America,” a one-woman show about how college students live and thrive in a multicultural America. It is set for Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Building Ballroom.

The stage show is part of a groundbreaking contemporary series that examines issues relating to people all across the country. It is based on interviews and research on today’s young Americans and the issues that concern them.

“This production covers a wide range of racial, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, ability and religious issues with monologues taken from interviews of college-aged students. We hope that the individuals who attend will be open-minded to the issues covered in the performance and how will begin to explore how these issues relate to them,” said Botello.

“The New Faces of America,” presents seven different characters from seven different backgrounds. The 65- minute live show will showcase the stories of a female biracial college student, a Southern gay minister, a young female Iraq War veteran, a Native American teenager, a young migrant worker, an Appalachian college student and a deaf African-American.

The show creates a multi-media experience merging video presentations with its live performer. Following the performance, a post-show discussion will provide audience members a chance to discuss the show’s themes and issues.

The show is written and performed by Will and Company. For more information, visit  read more »

A night in the ER without insurance.

Medically we are definitely a country of haves and have nots. My friend, who has no health insurance or job, slipped and fell on the ice. Some wonderful people took her to the ER. I was called because I was in the phone book and I am her friend. I went to the hospital and was at first told her bone was not broken. Then the doctor came in and he ordered more xrays. Turns out the bone was broken.  read more »

Why Idaho is a Political Bloggers' Dream State

Crossposted On Daily Kos

"Yeah, I you know when I drink alone/ I prefer to be by myself." - George Thorogood.

(NOTE: It could also be called a nightmare)

So you think you can blog?

You call yourself a progressive, a liberal, a Democrat or something along those lines?

Do you live and blog outside of Idaho?


Come join us.

Here's why:

As I wrote in my recent entry: UPDATED: Idaho Senator Mike Crapo charged with drunken driving:


One large land mass.

One small population.

One political party filled with more screw-ups than you can fit in an average class at the Betty Ford Center.

Nice going!

Great family values!

Way to set an example for our children! (triple snark)

Yeah, there is not much out here, except for one thing: a target rich environment to bust on Republicans!

Can your state beat our list of anti-GOP blogging topics?

Just when you thought it was safe (or if you were ready to be bored), Crapo, for example, recently plead guilty to drunk driving. The senator said he felt like he owed people a full explanation of his behavior and took questions outside the courthouse.

Idaho's GOP: the gift that keeps on giving.

Crapo gave an apologetic statement where he acknowledged that he been drinking alcohol on occasion for the past year or so, in violation of the tenets of his Mormon faith.

Crapo said he had been drinking vodka and tonic at his Washington home on the night of Dec. 22, became restless, couldn't sleep and went out for a drive.


Crapo said he was not with anyone at the time, was not going to see anyone and was not coming or going from seeing anybody.

Well that covers just about everybody (gay, straight, male female, and other) doesn't it?

"In recent months, and for less than a year, I have on occasion had alcoholic drinks in my apartment in Washington, DC. It was a poor choice to use alcohol to relieve stress—and one at odds with my personally-held religious beliefs. However, on the night of Saturday, December 22nd, I made another even worse decision to go for a drive to get out of my apartment and try to wind down. I left my apartment, driving out past the monuments. I was alone during this drive and never left my vehicle. After driving around for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, I realized what a mistake it had been for me to drive and decided to return to my apartment. I approached a multi-street intersection and mistakenly turned against a red light. It was at that time that the police pulled me over.

On Daily Kos, I asked: You think you can have more fun blogging about Republicans in your state?

Take at look at these jabs:

Sisyphus Idaho:

I'm feeling restless. I think I'll go for a drive. --not said by a drunk 61 year old at night ever.


... Interesting that he was now drinking vodka tonics. So let me get this straight. The senate adjourned on December 21 due to return December 26. His family is in (Idaho Falls). He's still in DC 48 hours later, drinking, alone and restless. Not passing the smell test.


So you think your Republicans are more twisted, demented, and downright backwards that ours here in Idaho?

Who is your Larry Craig, your John McGee?

Where is your Rex Rammell and your Bill Sali?

In about a month we are going to have another topic which is sure to disconnect readers from any imaginable reality.


You're it!
 read more »

A motley cast of characters rule the world

Crossposted on Daily Kos

News recently broke that Senator Mike Crapo will not contest his DUI:

Police have said Crapo registered a blood alcohol level of 0.11 percent when he was pulled over early Sunday in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va., after running a red light. But a secondary test performed after Crapo was brought to the jailhouse - the one that will be used in court - registered at 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit ... .

The Idaho Statesman goes on to report that the 61-year-old's arrest two days before Christmas stunned colleagues and constituents alike, not only because of his squeaky-clean image but also because the senator, a Mormon, had said previously he abstains from alcohol, in accordance with his church's practices.

While no one will ever mistake Bill Clinton for a leader held up on a Holy Roller pedestal, I am reminded of this book by George Stephanopoulos during this quasi-epic fall of Crapo:

All Too Human is a new-generation political memoir, written from the refreshing perspective of one who got his hands on the levers of awesome power at an early age. At thirty, the author was at Bill Clinton's side during the presidential campaign of 1992, & for the next five years he was rarely more than a step away from the president & his other advisers at every important moment of the first term. What Liar's Poker did to Wall Street, this book will do to politics. It is an irreverent & intimate portrait of how the nation's weighty business is conducted by people whose egos & idiosyncrasies are no sturdier than anyone else's.

I like what reviewer Rebekah Warren said about Stephonapolous book:

Written with the jittery cadence of a bookie, All Too Human is a lively look at the complex and motley cast of characters who rule the world.

Crapo's "arrest two days before Christmas stunned colleagues and constituents alike."

Which brings me to a fundamental question.

Why are we surprised?

Rumours swirled around Larry Craig for years. One day, he got caught. Did it really matter, or was it just fun to knock him off the pedestal?

Trivia question: How many DUIs exist between George W. Bush, Idaho Governor Butch Otter, and former Vice President Dick Cheney?


Disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner is:

... sitting on a $4.5 million campaign war chest — is mulling a bid for citywide office next year and “seriously considering” a mayoral run, multiple sources told The Post.

I hope he wins.

While DUI is a serious crime and perpetrators deserve all the resulting hits that come with it, there is a separate dialogue that needs to be addressed.

The excerpt below, by Nampa, Idaho blogger Amy Larson, speaks to her experience on the editorial board of the Idaho Press Tribune.

I loved going to the Editorial Board meetings on Thursdays. ... The Editor was a savvy, strong woman who knew who she was and offered no excuses. A great role model for me. I observed how she masterfully cut off comments that droned on for too long, changed the subject when necessary, and her overall leadership of the group. I enjoyed the members of the Board, too, how each one of them brought a different perspective to the items of discussion.

We got to meet VIP's, politicians, and other newsmakers. For the most part, I was surprised to find myself unimpressed. One or two politicians stood out here and there, due to their seeming rather genuine, but I thought I would be more wowed by those in the public eye. It was a bit of a let-down. They were ordinary people, just like me. Many of them lost track of their tone when they got overly-passionate about a topic. Some of them talked too much. One very well-known public figure showed up wearing a shirt that looked as if it had been slept in. It being an election year, we were invited to the paper-hosted public forum. This is where I had my eyes opened when it came to how imperfect we all are, with few exceptions. Tempers flared, basic rules were ignored, and the Editor/ Moderator had to quite forcefully demand that a man in the audience sit down and remain silent.

Those on the stand who retained their maturity level made an impact, but they were the minority. I'd always envisioned community leaders as a composed, well-controlled lot. That forum changed my mind.

Nice reflections, Amy.

I guess I've simply outgrown the surprise factor, and have been emotionally past it for a long time.

What expression would you use to describe the people who run the world?
 read more »

Fiscal Cliff Could Affect State Courts Already Faced with Budget Constraints

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Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end "fiscal cliff" were in disarray as lawmakers fled the Capitol for their Christmas break. "God only knows" how a deal can be reached now, House Speaker John Boehner declared.

President Barack Obama, on his way out of town himself, insisted a bargain could still be struck before Dec. 31. "Call me a hopeless optimist," he said.

The nation’s decision makers continue to wrestle with the consequences of going over the “fiscal cliff” at year’s end, which may translate to cuts in federal funding in many state budgets.

The trickle-down effect could cause more problems for state courts that have fallen victim to massivefiscal cliff budget shortfalls during the recession, according to G. Alan Tarr, a professor of political science at Rutgers-Camden.

“When revenues decrease as they have during the recent recession, states have to look for places to cut in order to balance their budget,” says Tarr, an internationally noted constitutional scholar. “Some states cut across the board and others pick out areas in which funds aren’t being well spent. In any case, state courts tend to get hit, which precipitates concerns about the administration of justice.”

Tarr opines on the issue in his article, “No Exit: The Financial Crisis Facing State Courts,” recently published in the Kentucky Law Journal.

Tarr directs the Rutgers-Camden Center for State Constitutional Studies. He has consulted with numerous state legislatures and Supreme Courts on the complexities of state constitutions. says a majority of funding for state courts – which makes up about 2 or 3 percent of a state budget – accounts for salaries for judges, clerks, and other core personnel. Therefore, Tarr says budget cuts to the courts tend to take the form of reducing personnel.

“The cuts in turn have forced state court systems to adopt measures to reduce costs, such as cutting hours and employees, which jeopardizes the administration of justice,” Tarr says.

In his article, Tarr notes that in fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, state budget shortfalls have totaled more than $530 billion, leading to dramatic reductions in funding for state courts.

If cuts have to be made at the federal level as a result of the so-called fiscal cliff, they will include funding that goes to the states, creating more of a burden on entities like the courts, Tarr says.

“The problem for state courts is that there are many other worthwhile uses for this revenue within the state budgets,” he notes. “The courts are competing against education, Medicaid, and other state functions.”

Tarr says the American Bar Association became very concerned about funding for state courts and in 2011 formed a task force to look at the fiscal issues affecting the courts and what could be done about them.

“There are two possibilities,” he says. “The states can increase the portion of the state budget that goes to the courts, or can increase the pool so that they get the same percentage, but there’s more revenue.”

In any case, Tarr says there is no light at the end of the tunnel for underfunded state courts.

“The state courts are, for the foreseeable future, going to continue to face declining funding,” he says. “They’ll have to find ways to work more expeditiously to continue to deliver the administration of justice.”  read more »

Crapo charged with drunken driving

Crossposted on Daily Kos



8:22 PM PT: According to the Associated Press:

"Police said Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, registered a blood alcohol content of .110. The legal limit in Virginia, which has strict drunken driving laws, is .08."

(I.e. He was hammered)

Merry Christmas Mike!

Well, at least he cooperated with police.

This is just in, from Politico:

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) was arrested and charged with drunken driving in Alexandria, Va., early Sunday morning, according to local police.

Jody Donaldson, a spokesperson for the Alexandria Police Department, said in an e-mail that Crapo was arrested at 12:45 a.m. Sunday. An Alexandria police officer noticed Crapo’s vehicle run through a red traffic light, and after the vehicle was stopped, the officer conducted field sobriety tests, which Crapo failed, Donaldson said. Crapo was arrested and taken into custody without incident, Donaldson said.


One large land mass.

One small population.

One political party filled with more screw-ups than you can fit in an average class at the Betty Ford Center.

Nice going!

Great family values!

Way to set an example for our children! (triple snark)


In a statement, Crapo apologized for his actions.

“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” Crapo said. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter.

“I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.”

His BAC is not yet available, and there is a very interesting side note:

Crapo, a 61-year-old Republican, is serving his third term in the U.S. Senate. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and has said publicly that he abstains from alcohol.

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