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

Brian Cronin to Debate Tom Luna on Students Come First

What: Referendum on "Students Come First"
When: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 11:45 am - 1:15 pm
Where: The Grove Hotel
Who: Tom Luna, Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Brian Cronin, Idaho State Representative, District 19

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna championed three major education reform measures called "Students Come First" in the 2011 legislative session. The reforms were strongly opposed by many teachers, administrators and the Idaho Education Association, but the legislation was passed overwhelmingly by the Idaho Legislature.

Luna's plan shifts funding priorities to reward teachers with financial bonuses for student performance, invests in technology by requiring school districts to provide laptop computers for teachers and high school students, and mandates online courses. “Through these laws, the state and local school districts will make every classroom a 21st Century classroom," Luna said.

Opponents disagree. To them, Luna's plan is a union-busting measure, because it limits collective bargaining and ends the practice of issuing renewable contracts. According to the IEA, a record 1,300 public school teachers left the state or the profession last year. There also are concerns about reduced state funding for public schools and larger class sizes. The group, known as “Idaho Parents and Teachers Together,” gathered 75,000 signatures to contest the trio of laws on Nov. 6, election day. The ballot measures are known as Propositions 1, 2 and 3.

Superintendent Luna and State Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise), who is a senior vice president for Strategies 360 and a consulting strategist for “Idaho Parents and Teachers Together,” will debate the pros and cons of the ballot propositions and take questions from the audience.

Chair: Julie Robinson
Moderator: Jim Weatherby
Registration is required

Otter Extolls Freedom in Constitution/ Plans Police Action on Occupy Boise

Our governor was a speechifying this week, going all high and mighty on the constitution and it's guarantee of freedom.

...and then use that in the spirit of living that freedom under our constitution because its ONLY if we obey that constitution, if we know the constitution, if we're so familiar with it, as we can challenge any political theater, that would violate that constitution, and their contract to hold that office, then and there is our duty, and our responsibility, and it is exactly what our founders expected of us...

Granted these words are the flowery, fact free, tea bagger version of the constitution and designed to give Otter the very political cover, he cravenly rails against, for his ill fated decision to challenge Obamacare. But Otter must have forgotten a mirror, because his hypocrisy was not as tightly coiffed as his hair on a windy day. This week, plans were disclosed regarding Idaho State Police's "Operation De-Occupy Boise" which was a coordinated law enforcement enterprise to take the very constitutional rights Otter claims to protect.  read more »

Idaho GOP Rep. Labrador missing too many votes

Jimmy Farris for Congress

Dear Constituent,

Yesterday marked a very significant moment in this campaign.

Congressman Labrador decided for the first time that it was necessary to respond to questions regarding his record.

Last Friday our campaign put out a press release calling out Raul Labrador on his poor attendance record in Congress. Labrador has missed nearly double the amount of votes as the average representative, and over double the amount of votes of all three of his most recent predecessors. Yesterday, in an article on the front page of the Idaho Statesman newspaper, Congressman Labrador's free pass to re-election came to an end. Dan Popkey, reporter for the Statesman, started the article off by saying "Freshman GOP Rep. Raul Labrador is absent from voting at triple the rate of his three predecessors, and his Democratic challenger is calling him on it." Popkey then went on to report...

"Labrador has missed 72 of 1,531 recorded votes, according to, which follows Congress. That’s 4.7 percent, almost twice the House median of 2.5 percent."

"Labrador looks still worse compared to his three immediate predecessors: Walt Minnick (1.9 percent missed), Bill Sali (1.2 percent) and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (1.7 percent). Together, Minnick, Sali and Otter missed 113 of 6,962 votes, or 1.6 percent."

Donate with Acblue

This also marks the first time in the campaign that Labrador has responded to one of Jimmy's claims, saying, "Farris has a legitimate point."

Congressman Labrador also said in the article that he may end up missing more votes this Wednesday to campaign with Mitt Romney in the state of Florida. Jimmy then fired back, saying, “I think Congressman Labrador needs to decide if he is running to be a part of a potential Romney administration or to represent Idaho in Congress.”

This story has since been picked up by the Associated Press, and is showing up in news sources across the country. Raul Labrador is vulnerable, and is part of a Congress that has the worst approval rating in our nation's history. We CAN win this race, and replace Labrador with a hard working, problem solving, common sense leader – Jimmy Farris. We just need to raise enough money to get our message up on TV. We cannot allow Raul Labrador to coast to re-election without the voters knowing the truth about his record. Please make a financial contribution to our campaign today, and we will take the ball across the end zone this November!

Thank you so much for all of your support!

Dave Scheppler
Campaign Manager
Farris for Congress

IDP Chairman Larry Grant on "Politicizing" GOP Ethical Abuses

by Larry Grant

In a recent editorial the Idaho Press-Tribune advised that Idaho Democrats should ignore the larger implications of the sad situation of former Sen. John McGee. You said we should “take heed” not to try to politicize his downfall.

I respectfully disagree.

First, I extend my sympathies to the real lives that were hurt by Mr. McGee’s actions. It is tragic to contemplate what becomes of his young family after such a public disgrace.

I also extend my sympathy to the staffer who was the victim of the “disturbing the peace.” According to press reports, this young woman lived in fear as the senator made unwanted sexual advances in our Capitol building. As she resumes her career, she must now somehow learn to trust her future bosses after an awful betrayal.

In my view, that’s what the situation is really about, not the squandering of forgiveness as your editorial suggests, but the betrayal of trust.

Your editorial warns that the only reason Republicans are caught amid so many ethical and criminal offenses is because there are more of them in office. I reject that conclusion because it sounds too much like “everybody does it.” There will, of course, always be mistakes, misjudgments and occasional reckless actions. But Idaho Democrats are working to stop those abuses that rise above the level of “mistake.”

Some have contended that Idaho Democratic proposals for an independent ethics commission are merely political posturing. If so, isn’t the GOP’s sound rejection of an independent ethics commission also political posturing? If that cynical view were reality, then why not choose the posture that actually ends up holding legislators — Democrats, Republicans and everybody in between — accountable?

Let’s face it, the GOP is against is ethics reform because the actions called for by Democrats would create barriers to the free use of lopsided political power. Revolving door legislation would make it more difficult to reward public officials or employees with lavish private sector jobs. Financial disclosure legislation would throw a bright light on the relationships between private relationships, lobbyist dollars and the votes made by legislators. And an independent ethics commission is less likely to cave to the pressure of a powerful majority, Democratic or Republican.

The Idaho Press-Tribune has reported the litany of abuses and excuses from an excessive, barely-checked GOP that has a leadership that relies on partisan distrust among the public and bullying among their caucus to sweep it all under the rug. How bold must the Senate GOP leaders be to respond to the Sen. Monty Pearce situation by making ethics complaints less transparent? By putting a gag order on senators who bring ethics complaints? What is that if not the raw misuse of political power?

Idaho Democrats are certainly hoping there is political gain in the public unveiling of the multitude of GOP ethical abuses. But that gain serves the public interest. That political gain will bring more reasonable, responsible leadership to our state. That political gain will make it harder for party leaders to bully their peers into narrow agendas by allowing them to form coalitions with reasonable members of the other party. That political gain is a gain for all of Idaho.

Take heed, indeed.

Democratic Candidate James Mace Praises Republican Party's New-Found Position On Openness Regarding “Students Come First”

... And Poses Questions for Them


In an Aug. 24 press release, Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson criticized the opponents of the new “Students Come First” program for an ad that Peterson says “intentionally misleads” Idahoans by stating that the laptops are an “unfunded mandate.” James Mace, Democratic candidate for Senate in District 20 who is running against Chuck Winder, who supported all 3 bills, praised the GOP chairman's stance on openness about the bills:


“I'm glad to hear that the Idaho Republican Party believes voters should know the truth about the bills. As a taxpayer and voter, I thought that not proposing the bills until AFTER Luna's 2010 re-election wasn't exactly 'open' with voters, so I'm glad to see their position has changed. I, for one, would like to know if the proposal to outsource much of Idaho education to an out-of-state on-line company came from Idaho or from ALEC? And did it come before or after the $44,000 campaign donation to Luna's re-election bid from an on-line education company? I think a lot of us have some questions, and since they weren't answered before the LAST election, I'm delighted that they seem prepared to answer them during THIS one.”

A former Air Force communications specialist, Mace is now an author, small business owner, and has been a member of the Idaho Army National Guard for the last fifteen years. He served with the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq and now volunteers with several veterans' charities as well as Make a Wish. This is his first bid for political office.

For more info see James Mace for D20 Senate on Facebook.

43rd State Blues Luna Wikipedia Biography Story Breaks into Major Media Outlets

From Boise State Public Radio:

Idaho Employee Catches Flack For Wikiediting

But an anonymous blogger on the liberal website The Daily Kos (an entry that began here on 43sb) criticized her saying McGrath was whitewashing Luna’s image.

The blogger saw an online exchange between McGrath and a Wiki regular. That regular, who goes by the handle Scientizzle, was the first to notice a big change to the Luna page. Scientizzle, who wants to stay anonymous, says he’d never heard of Luna but thought McGrath’s changes were politically slanted. He began to rewrite the page.

Here’s the problem

The Daily Kos blogger says McGrath’s actions amount to campaigning because Luna is an elected official.

From Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise:

Luna becomes subject of Wiki war

Idaho teacher and blogger MeandG wrote about the squabble on Daily Kos and 43rd State Blues and it became a big topic in social media. Today, Popkey weighs in, saying, “This humble outlet says McGrath overstepped with her praise of her boss and would have been better off contacting Wikipedia about her concerns rather than editing herself. But Luna's foes were even farther over the line. Wikipedia's senior editors seem to agree. They have revised the bio, stripping slanted material on both sides, leaving a balanced piece.”

From Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman:

Idaho schools chief Luna becomes subject of Wiki war

That exchange prompted a Luna foe, Idaho teacher MeandG, to post on Daily Kos and 43rd State Blues, two sites hostile to Luna. The flap was picked up by the Recall Tom Luna website, which crowed, “A Wikipedia user caught her misinformation, fact-checked them, and reverted all of the misinformation and spin.”

Wrote MeandG, “That was a quick victory. Now let’s see what the major news outlets say.”

This humble outlet says McGrath overstepped with her praise of her boss and would have been better off contacting Wikipedia about her concerns, rather than editing herself.

You can also read about it on the Boise Channel 6 KIVI TV site.

And papers including The Sacramento Bee picked up the Associated Press feed: Schools chief Luna subject of Wikipedia tug of war

Wikipedia Removes STATE edits from Tom Luna's Bio

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Tom Luna

Idaho Secretary of Education Tom Luna came up short in attempts to turn his Wikipedia bio into an advertisement.

This is a follow-up to the story below, Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?

Melissa McGrath, Tom Luna's Communications Director thought she got away with making edits to Tom Luna's Wikipedia page in order to help better his already tarnished image and public record. A Wikipedia user caught her misinformation, fact checked them, and reverted all of the misinformation and spin.

reads the Official: Recall Tom Luna Facebook Page

To the Pro-Luna forces who say "She's just doing her job," something must be wrong if a medium you use to "do your job" removes the work you put into it.

One commenter wrote:

"LOL. She triggered the conflict of interest algorithm which lead to a moderator contacting her. Even the algorithm could smell the BS. This made me laugh at my desk in a quiet office."

Sure enough, the original (pre-McGrath) bio is back.

Wikipedia is the internet equivalent of an encyclopedia, not a public relations campaign tool (and should not be paid for by tax dollars).  read more »

Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?

UPDATED 9/5/12 5:18 PM MST

In reponse to this entry linked on Topix,

RealityChecker wrote:

I don't see the issue. Is she posting information to Wikipedia that is false, or taking down information that is false. Looks to me like she is simply being proactive, and doing her job. It doesn't look like she's hiding anything, or doing something wrong.

slfisher responded:

#1. Wikipedia frowns on people writing their own bios, or having people connected to them writing their bios.

#2. If information in one's bio is incorrect, the proper response is to write to Wikipedia and call this to their attention.

#3. When one makes changes, one is supposed to put in references and citations noting the source. This was not done.

#4. If you look at the changes, some of them go beyond correcting errors, such as removing the fact that Luna obtained his degree in Weights and Measures from an online institution. Others are...overly posutive, rather than factual.

#5. If you look at Ms. McGrath's page, you can see her arguing with a bot as though she thinks she's talking to an actual person.

#6. While Tom Luna is not running for office, which would be a clear violation, the legality of a State worker on State time contributing to a political campaign (Yes on 1 2 3) is...sketchy. It is certainly true that this is a fuzzy line that is crossed by many Idaho politicians, but at least they're elected. She is not.

UPDATED 9/4/12 4:58 PM MST

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Government service with your tax dollars?

... or campaign material?

Take a look at this revision history for Idaho's secretary of education, on Wikipedia.


Bad for children. Bad for teachers. Bad for Idaho.

In the link above, go back to the next fifty and note the name "Melissa McGrath."

TRANSLATION: The Communications Director for the Idaho State Department of Education, Mellissa McGrath, is spending a lot of time, a whole lot of time, trying to clean up Wikipedia as it relates to Tom Luna.

Why this is important?

"The state should not be supporting Tom's political career," a statehouse official told me today, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "They should not be actively running the Luna Yes campaign."

Read the old versions of Luna's bio that were on Wikipedia before McGrath. She completely rewrote what Tom Luna has been up to. And note how many of her changes were not accepted by Wikipedia.

"She changed Luna's page on August 27th," the statehouse official said. "Check the history prior to it and then check how much she changed his bio. Basically white washed it. Quite disturbing. At least Wikipedia held her accountable."

Further Reading: Why You Should Vote NO on Propositions 1,2, and 3.

From Wikipedia:

Hello, MelissaMcGrath. We welcome your contributions to Wikipedia, but if you are affiliated with some of the people, places or things you have written about on Wikipedia, you may need to consider our guidance on conflicts of interest.

All editors are required to comply with Wikipedia's neutral point of view content policy. People who are very close to a subject often have a distorted view of it, which may cause them to inadvertently edit in ways that make the article either too flattering or too disparaging. People with a close connection to a subject are not absolutely prohibited from editing about that subject, but they need to be especially careful about ensuring their edits are verified by reliable sources and writing with as little bias as possible.

If you are very close to a subject, here are some ways you can reduce the risk of problems:

Avoid or exercise great caution when editing or creating articles related to you, your organization, or its competitors, as well as projects and products they are involved with.

Be cautious about deletion discussions. Everyone is welcome to provide information about independent sources in deletion discussions, but avoid advocating for deletion of articles about your competitors.
Avoid linking to the Wikipedia article or website of your organization in other articles (see Wikipedia:Spam).
Exercise great caution so that you do not accidentally breach Wikipedia's content policies.

Please familiarize yourself with relevant content policies and guidelines, especially those pertaining to neutral point of view, verifiability of information, and autobiographies.

For information on how to contribute to Wikipedia when you have a conflict of interest, please see our frequently asked questions for organizations. Thank you. — Scientizzle 19:38, 27 August 2012 (UTC)  read more »

Yes. the Luna Laws are Unfunded Mandates - Rep. Shirley Ringo

By Shirley Ringo

As a retired teacher and current legislator, I support providing school districts the best in educational technology. I agree that it is important to maintain professional development programs for teachers in the ever-changing world of technology. Legislators must take responsibility to act, but support for educational technology need not be linked to the seriously flawed Luna laws.

Rep. Shirley Ringo

Reports that schools are receiving state money for the purchase of computers and professional development for teachers related to integration of technology into instruction should be viewed with skepticism.

Much of that money is shifted from state support for teacher compensation. A formula determines the amount of state money dedicated to compensation each year. Because of the Luna laws, the amount determined by this formula is automatically reduced by 1.67% each year – $15 million dollars. In addition, legislators captured over $12 million by voting to “freeze” two years of salary credit teachers receive for additional teaching experience. Thus money sent to districts for teacher support is reduced by over $27 million. That is how some of the technology funding is obtained.

Rural districts are particularly hard hit by deficiencies in state funding. The result is either forced staff reductions and larger numbers of students per class, or increases in local property taxes to avoid drastic cuts. In other words, local districts are forced to help pay for technology through significantly lower state support in other areas.

Technology offers a great instructional tool. However, the importance of an excellent teacher in the classroom has long been recognized. It is not old-fashioned to believe this continues to be true. Schools are harmed if teachers are sacrificed to pay for computers.

[It is true] that, at a cost of just under $1 million per year, the state now provides funding for all Idaho students to take college entrance exams. If this increases the number of Idaho students going on to some form of higher education, it may be a good investment but we don’t need the flawed Luna laws to provide this opportunity. Also note that we cannot ignore the importance of better higher education funding to make post-high school education affordable and accessible.

The “Pay for Performance” plan from the Luna laws leaves much to be desired. Although the appropriation for this school year shows about $39 million for its implementation, as detailed above there are offsetting reductions in state support for teacher compensation of about $27 million. The Luna laws’ Pay for Performance plan offers no permanent salary increases. The plan merely involves yearly bonuses, which an individual may not be awarded in succeeding years. A leadership bonus can be awarded to only 25% of the staff, so deserving educators may not receive it. For example, the National Board Certification program is of particular value for professional development. Under Idaho law, all teachers who completed this respected program used to receive a $2000 stipend for a period of five years. (Many states have stronger incentives.) Unfortunately, under the Luna laws, this stipend was dropped and these teachers merely qualify to be considered for the leadership bonus. Since these are limited to 25% of the staff, no incentive for this achievement is guaranteed.

The Luna laws were hatched with minimal input from experienced educators and community. We want the best for Idaho students, but the Luna laws do not take us down the right path. Let’s reject them and work together for a better plan – one that we all trust.

Vote NO on Propositions 1, 2, and 3.

A truly democratic process that isn’t determined by “who you know.”

In Eye on Boise, Betsy Russel writes:

StateImpact Idaho has a report today on the Idahoans headed to the GOP convention in Florida, along with a link to the full list of Idaho's 32 delegates - who include both Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter, state schools Supt. Tom Luna, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Sen. Jim, Vicki and Jason Risch, Frank and Belinda Vandersloot, Roy Eiguren, Sandy Patano, Ruthie Johnson, Norm Semanko, and both Dane and Damond Watkins. Tracey Wasden is a delegate, while husband and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence is an alternate.

StateImpact reports that the Romney Campaign designated most of the delegates, but three were selected by the party’s nominating committee and three more automatically attend based on their leadership positions; all pay their own costs of travel. You can read their full report here.

I found the link on the Facebook page of Ada County Democratic Chair Colleen Fellows

... And this response on the Eye On Boise page:

Colleen on August 27 at 9:10 a.m.

Idaho democrats, not the national party or campaign, determined who will represent them at their national convention. All but four of the delegates going to the Democratic Convention in Charlotte were voted in by the delegates to the Idaho Democratic Convention (our State Chair and Vice Chair and National Committee Man and Woman are automatic delegates). At our Idaho Democratic Convention, we elected a great variety of delegates from across the state, with a broad rage of ages and experiences. While we do have a slate of public elected officials, the vast majority of our delegation are people that pound the pavement volunteering with county parties, stuffing envelopes, answering phones and talking with their neighbors about the issues that matter here in Idaho. Our delegates need not be heavy hitters and megga donors. We include enthusiastic students, retirees, homemakers, folks working 9-5 and swing shifts. Our delegation is a great representation of Idaho and we come to this opportunity by a truly democratic process that isn’t determined by “who you know.”

Mia Love: Publiceducation

Utah congressional candidate Mia Love has been given a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, organizers announced Tuesday. Love, a darling of tea-party and conservative Republicans, is characterized by her groundbreaking role in state politics. Utah's first black female mayor, she stands to become the first black Republican woman to take office in Congress if she topples Jim Matheson, a Democrat, in the November election.

Political analysts say it could be the toughest race for Matheson, a popular incumbent in his own right who has handily beat other Republican challengers for a dozen years. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Love will get her moment in the national spotlight among the first of Republican speakers next Tuesday evening, convention CEO William Harris announced. Love, 36, said she was invited to speak by the campaign of GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon.

"The speech is going to come from the heart," she said.

Well, "from the heart" may be a good thing, since other communications have raised questions regarding the head.

Love has made the "Yeah I'm on black but I'm not like those trashy people on welfare" theme a chorus for her campaign.

The Mayor of Saratoga Springs Utah, Mattheson's challenger fanices herself to be bringing reinforcements to Washington -- for Allen West.

Hard work. Right?

Just quit creating all those "my baby mamas' and ""my baby daddys" and everything will be OK. Right?

Just get an education. Right?

But take a look at this campaign poster from the GOP's latest attempt at a Get Out Of Jail Free card for racism:

Uh ... hardwork?

In a private discussion forum, David Woolsey, a former editor at the Idaho Press Tribune wrote:

It's a reverse-engineered derivative of the adjective "hardworking" that should still be the adjective-subject compound "hard work" on a poster about education. Other than that, it is a statement that is inarguably true - as proved by the success of our president who did in fact "build that," so to speak.

And when I asked if her call to education should include funding public education, Woosley responded appropriately.


"Mia Love comes with a clean slate," said Kirk Jowers of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. "She is easily Jim Matheson's toughest race, and the most unique one for him. He's been incredibly effective in past campaigns, but Mayor Love is a completely different challenger."

She's different, alright.  read more »

Romney/Ryan 2012!

A Team to End All Teams

Here is why I support Romney/Ryan: I am tired of all the pre-Post Apoc fictionalizing and romanticizing and memorializing. Screw that. I'm excited for it to just happen. We all know we've wound this planet up and it's spinning off its moral and ecological axis to a hellish death world of hideous futures and worse presents. Only the dead will truly be free.

But hey, let's get to it. Obama just delays the inevitable. Sure, he might stave off some horrible stuff or even put us on an alternative trajectory. But only temporary. After Clinton rocked our world and put us on top what the f did America do? They elected the evil boy banjo head and his hell-borne demon guide. We don't deserve a good future. We can't handle prosperity and hope.

So go Mitt and Ryan! You fuckers are wrong enough, greedy enough, uncaring enough to jack the velocity up, keep us on course, and basically pedal to the medal us into the hellish and bleak future of have nots and about to become have nots. Let's get busy dying and killing and eating the carrion of our culture.

I'm armed. I'm camp and survival gear upped. I'm angry and hopeless. I'm ready. I know where to go, where to hide, how to steal your animals and children, and how to start up a neo-tribal collective of death loving and resource seizing survivors.

I'm ready to tattoo our tribal insignias and streak my body and face with warpaint. To burn oil, gas and tire fires in the middle of suburban and urban streets while gunfighting for a Jeep Wrangler, a fat labrador, and a couple of kids who look like they can work hard while chained and beaten.

Romney/Ryan - bring us a hopeless future of the rich enclaving away, fiddling while Rome conflagrates, and the rivers dry. We will find great sport in finding the rich and dragging them out of their McMansions and stealing their crap and drowning them in their pools and driving away in their Escalades and Lexuses with Metallica blaring and machine gun fire echoing in the night with tracers lighting up the sky with the future our Republican Party will bring us.

Let's fucking do it. Time for the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end.

Romney/Ryan 2012 AD. 0000 PA

John McGee to Serve 44 Days Behind Bars

Crossposted on Daily Kos

While conservatives like Bryan Fischer defend Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), and others, like Raul Labrador, stay silent (see the Jimmy Farris press release, To Labrador: “Do you agree with Rep. Akin?”)

... It is at least good to know that the Idaho courts took one young woman's claim about sexual harassment seriously.

From Boise Weekly:

Former Idaho State Sen. John McGee was led out of an Ada County courtroom in handcuffs this afternoon after he was sentenced to 90 days jail time by District Magistrate Judge James Cawthon. McGee pleaded guilty before Cawthon in February to charges stemming from a 2011 Father's Day drunken-driving incident.

McGee agreed that he was guilty of a disturbing the peace charge, which prosecutors say violated his one-year probation from the previous DUI conviction. McGee was accused of sexually harassing a Senate staffer at the Idaho Capitol while the senator was on still on probation for the previous charge.

Also in court, we learned more about what happened when McGee resigned amid those disturbing the peace allegations, according to Northwest Cable News:

Deputy prosecutor Jean Fisher says McGee cornered the 25-year-old assistant in his office and demanded graphic sexual conduct from her.

... McGee resigned from his position with West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell earlier this year. His attorney told the court that he is unemployed and looking for work.

McGee was also sentenced to an additional 44 days for violating the terms of probation stemming from a 2011 drunken driving conviction, but the judge said that could be served through community service.

John McGee was the fourth highest ranking Republican in the reddest of red states.

And he is where he is today - for one reason - because powers-that-be listened to and acted upon the report of one young woman, an Idaho State Senate attache.

What a stark contrast from the claims of a GOP senatorial candidate who obviously thinks that some whiny women and their claims of rape should placed at a lower importance.

It is a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless.  read more »

Farris to Labrador: “Do you agree with Rep. Akin?”

Idaho- 1st Congressional District candidate Jimmy Farris demanded today that Congressman Raul Labrador reveal his stance on the issue of rape-related pregnancy.

Jimmy Farris

On Sunday, Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) claimed that it is highly unlikely for women who are victims of “legitimate rape” to become pregnant, saying their bodies disrupt the reproductive process in response to the trauma.

Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association and former executive director for the Idaho Values Alliance, defended Akin’s comments, saying Akin is “absolutely right” about the near-impossibility of conception occurring as a result of rape.

Congressman Labrador has strong ties to Fischer. When Congressman Labrador announced his candidacy for his first congressional run in 2009, Fischer was the first person he emailed with the news. Labrador and Fischer have hosted Tea Party rallies together, and Fischer has claimed that he and Congressman Labrador are “good friends.”

“Representative Akin’s and Bryan Fischer’s comments are sexist, ignorant, and disgusting,” said Farris. “To suggest that a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape was not actually victimized is outrageous and demeaning. Akin and Fischer are utterly dismissing the suffering of the 32,000 women who become pregnant as a result of rape every year. They are trying to shift the blame back to the victims. It’s sickening.”

Mitt Romney denounced Akin’s statement, and several members of the GOP have called on Akin to terminate his candidacy.

“Congressman Labrador, do you agree that Akin should end his candidacy, or do you agree with Todd Akin and Bryan Fischer? Do you believe that ‘legitimate rape’ does not result in pregnancy?”

Cherie Buckner-Webb, Mat Erpelding and Holli High Woodings Produce Coordinated Campaign

Cherie Buckner-Webb

The three Democratic legislative candidates for District 19 – Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb for Senate, Mat Erpelding for House Seat A and Holli High Woodings for House Seat B – have been working hard on their campaigns for the November 6th general election. The three campaigns share a common campaign manager and headquarters.

Eric Everett, an Idaho native and experienced campaigner, manages the coordinated campaign. Everett, who is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Boise State University, became active in Idaho Democratic politics while pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Idaho. He has also worked for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign in Iowa and U.S. Rep. Larry LaRocco’s U.S. Senate Campaign in Idaho. Most recently, Everett worked as an intern of the Idaho Senate.

The coordinated campaign office, located in The Mode Building at 800 West Idaho Street, Suite 304, serves as the headquarters. The office is the hub of an energetic and committed volunteer force that works to bring balance and responsibility back to Idaho’s Capitol.

Notes from Nicole


I've put thousands of miles on my car since March traveling to Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Blaine County, Burley, St. Anthony and beyond. I've met amazing, enthusiastic people and everywhere I go I'm surprised to find people recognize me from my work in the Senate defending our schools, teachers, small class sizes and kids.  read more »

A Future Leader, Now. Jimmy Farris For Congress

Jimmy Farris has a reputation for setting challenging goals and achieving those goals through hard work, determination, and persistence. As a child in Lewiston, Idaho, Jimmy set a tough first goal: to play professional football.

His parents, Bob and Sharon, taught Jimmy and his four siblings that he could do anything he set his mind to through hard work and determination. Bob, a teacher and principal, and Sharon who spent a lifetime working in the healthcare industry, showed Jimmy the value of being a community leader and instilled a deep respect for being involved in his neighborhood and church.

A graduate of Lewiston High School, Jimmy attended the University of Montana, earning a degree in Marketing and Management while having a standout football career with the Grizzlies. Graduating in 2000, Jimmy took the next step in chasing his dream and entered the NFL Draft. Despite his exceptional performance as a wide receiver, he went undrafted.

Undaunted, Jimmy continued to pursue his dream to play in the NFL. He was invited to attend the San Francisco 49er's pre-season camp for the longest of shots of making the roster of an NFL team. Through that same hard work, dedication, and persistence, he learned growing up in Idaho, Jimmy (almost through the sheer force of his will) made the team and began his NFL career.

Jimmy spent the next six seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver with the 49er's, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, and the Washington Redskins. As a player, it is no surprise that Jimmy was known as a hard-working dedicated team player. As a member of the 2001 Patriots Super Bowl Championship team, Jimmy was the team's overachiever.

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After a successful career in the NFL Jimmy transitioned into sports broadcasting, giving him time to turn his attention to becoming the kind of community leader his family had instilled in him. In addition to volunteering his time at local food banks and homeless shelters Jimmy achieved another goal by opening The Jimmy Farris Future Leaders Foundation. The foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping and developing young leaders with the skills necessary to excel academically, spiritually, socially and athletically. Jimmy was able to help underprivileged kids by providing them support and a set of values that would ensure success in whatever they chose.

Recently, Jimmy returned to his home in Idaho, to be closer to his family and continue to give back to the community that has given him so much in life. After achieving his dream and living his passion in the NFL, Jimmy knew it was time to give back to the state and nation that made it possible for him to pursue his dreams.

Jimmy is running for Congress because he believes this is a critical moment when we need leaders in Washington that will pull together the diverse group of Representatives in the U.S. House, and get to the work the American people sent them to do. Using that same spirit of hard work, dedication, and persistence, Jimmy will get things done for the people of Idaho and the nation and work to keep America the best place for anyone to pursue and achieve their dreams.

Undercover Reporting: The Truth about Deception

Crossposted on Daily Kos: Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers. Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter and Education Alternatives.

In her provocative book, Brooke Kroeger argues for a reconsideration of the place of oft-maligned journalistic practices. While it may seem paradoxical, much of the valuable journalism in the past century and a half has emerged from undercover investigations that employed subterfuge or deception to expose wrong. Kroeger asserts that undercover work is not a separate world, but rather it embodies a central discipline of good reporting the ability to extract significant information or to create indelible, real-time descriptions of hard-to-penetrate institutions or social situations that deserve the public's attention. Together with a companion website that gathers some of the best investigative work of the past century, Undercover Reporting serves as a rallying call for an endangered aspect of the journalistic endeavor.

With a forward by Pete Hamill, Undercover Reporting: The Truth About Deception (Medill School of Journalism: Visions of the American Press has a companion "Undercover Reporting" database that emerged from the research for the book. Created in collaboration with New York University Libraries -- it is a hand-curated resource for scholars, journalists and student researchers that gathers some of the best investigative work of the past nearly 200 years.

The database, chronicles undercover journalism dating back to the 1800s.

The archive, “Undercover Reporting,” includes an array of stories, ranging from the slave trade in 1850s to efforts to boycott Jewish-owned businesses in the U.S. in the late 1930s to treatment of soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the 21st century.

In the book:

Kroeger posits that this type of journalism is not separate from the profession’s conventional practices but, rather, embodies some of its most important tenets—the ability to extract significant information or to create indelible, real-time descriptions of hard-to-penetrate institutions or social situations that deserve the public’s attention.

“Much of this material has long been buried in microfilm in individual libraries and thus very difficult to retrieve,” said Kroeger, who conceived and directed the project. “Most digitized newspaper archives do not go back past the 1980s or 1990s and even for those that do, it's difficult to search without exact details of the piece you are seeking.”

“Researching the book changed my perception of the practice and its role in journalism history, making clear how early reporters were experimenting with the method--notably northern reporters working to expose the slave trade in the south in the years leading up to the Civil War,” explained Kroeger.

The database is searchable by keyword, reportorial theme, media outlet, date, or author, or can be browsed by series. Scholars, student researchers, and journalists can search by writer, publication, story topic, or method (e.g., prison infiltrations, shadowing migrants, impersonation, etc.). It also includes critics’ reactions to these tactics—for instance, their response to the use of hidden cameras, according to NYU.

NYU says the database is a joint endeavor of Professor Brooke Kroeger of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the university’s Division of Libraries, where the Digital Library Technology Services team developed the online platform that hosts the database, with consultation from the Libraries’ Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing and its Collections and Research Services. The project is supported by NYU’s Humanities Initiative and the university’s Faculty of Arts and Science. The CJR podcast titled “Brooke Kroeger,” listed midway down the page, provides a good explanation of the project.

"Undercover Reporting" serves as a rallying call for an endangered aspect of the journalistic endeavor.

Here is the link to the original press release.

SciFi, Fantasy, and Horror Authors Highlight Fandemonium

Crossposted on Daily Kos

“Fandemonium is about education through entertainment,” says chairperson Jamie Parker. “We want to give fans a place to express their love of any type of entertainment media culture, but at the same time provide them opportunities to learn new skills and techniques or share what they already know through community involvement.”

Idaho's Annual Entertainment Expo has begun -- celebrating science fiction, fantasy, gaming, animation, horror, comics and more.

This year, an exceptional amount of authors highlight the event.

Guests at Fandemonium 2012 include Jacob Bear (Comic Artist - DC Comics; “Hawk & Dove,” Bluewater Comics; “Logan's Run”), Michaelbrent Collings (Horror Author – “Billy: Messenger of Powers”, “RUN”, “The Loon” and “Rising Fears”),the Brothers Thir13en (Horror aficionados and horror house actors), Tonya “Tangl” Adolfson (Fantasy Author – “The Souls of the Saintland Series”), and Meridian, Idaho resident Holland Peterson (Science Fiction/Fantasy Author – “Eville,” “Eville's Most Wanted”).

I was able to catch opening ceremonies, dance along in an X-Box competition, give out a bunch of free books, and meet scores of authors, gamers, artists and fans. Fandemonium is a three day celebration of all things media culture with events, panels, workshops, contests, tabletop gaming, video gaming, demonstrations and a host of other activities.

Video game and tabletop gaming tournaments run throughout the expo. Exhibitors and artists share their wares and handmade crafts, and an art show room showcases 2D and 3D pieces created by fans, and by the Treasure Valley artistic community at large.

This afternoon I caught Collings' powerful reading of his novel Apparition, about which one reviewer wrote:

This is the scariest book I've ever read. I devoured Apparition in two episodes of all night reading and had a really hard time putting it down. I didn't even mean to read the book at that exact time, but once I read the first chapter I was hooked. I had to keep going and couldn't stop until I hit chapter seven.

Apparition tells the very intimate story about a family of four: mom, dad, and their two kids, a teen girl and young boy. It explores one of the most horrible concepts I can imagine, filicide: the deliberate killing of children by their parents. That concept alone is horrifying and Collings uses it to ratchet up the terror to a level I haven't seen before. Brilliant journal entries written by an unknown person (until the end) precede each chapter and they are some of most chilling lines I've ever read. Then the chapters themselves move forward with relentless narrative drive page after page. The first four chapters are so tense and gripping, and lead up to a big event, which sets up the rest of the book. After the big event, the family which the novel revolves around, are devastated and things just get worse for them as the book continues. After the big event, the book is tense, but slows for a while as we get to know the main characters, and spend some time in their minds. It is a necessary build up and the characterization is stellar, which of course leads to another series of horrific events that will leave you gasping for air. The ending of Apparition was incredibly scary and blew me away. I could not stop reading and stayed up hours past my bedtime because I had to finish it and know what happened to these expertly drawn characters who felt so real.

I know that Michaelbrent Collings is a screenwriter and I can see this novel being an A-list Hollywood horror movie. It would be extremely scary, especially the ending, which pulls together so many threads and gives us the answer why seemingly normal parents suddenly snap one day and kill their children.

Kill their children?

I asked Collings what motivated him to write abut such a topic. He explained that horror writing comes from one's own fear. Watching horrible things, alone, is not scary. Seeing bad things happen to people, and characters, that we care about, is. Collings said that he has lost a child. And the scariest thing he could think of, was losing another. In his talk, Collings did a great job of showing how his work looks at horrible things and examines profound complexities in human nature, without celebrating horrible things.

Collings talks last night on "Humor and Horror" (with Carter M. Reid, "Zombie Carter" from the popular webcomic The Zombie Nation) and on "Religion in Horror" featured a level of insight and depth that few outside of the genre's inner circles get a chance to discuss. Exceptional on his feet in question and answer, close audience dialogue, the author will participate in several more panels today.

“This event is ‘for the fans, by the fans’,” says Parker. “Anything you see, hear or participate in at this convention exists because someone in the community was willing to come in and make it happen. We expect to see over 800 attendees this year, and we are incredibly grateful to our staff and event-runners for their efforts.”

Last night, I also had the privilege of meeting Reid, a.k.a "Zombie Carter." In his latest news update:

Zombie Convention Sketches are the order of the day today. I’m currently at Fandemonium nerding it up and showing my humble zombie comic off to the fans.

Sadly I wasn’t able to get a comic done with all the prep work I’m doing for this, but I can sketch like a madman to I made this for today’s update. Don’t worry as normal comics will return very shortly and we’ll finally find out what happens when a crazy stalker zombie ex-wife and a attractive zombie hunter fight over one undeserving zombie….. or will we.

The book Undeath and Taxes is a collection of strips and other art from Reid's brilliant webcomic. Readers can follow an unlikely trio of nerd zombies through the Zombpocalypse.

The Entertainment Expo takes place in Nampa, ID at the Nampa Civic Center from August 3rd-5th, 2012, from 10am to midnight each day -- with discounts available for daily passes, youth, military and seniors.  read more »

Farris responde a la amenaza de cierre del gobierno Labrador

Primero Distrito del Congreso candidato Jimmy Farris respondió la semana pasada con la noticia de que el congresista Raúl Labrador, firmaron una carta la semana pasada instando a líderes de la Cámara para bloquear los fondos para el cuidado de la salud, amenazando con un cierre del gobierno.

En una carta fechada el 18 de julio de Labrador y otros republicanos de la Cámara pidió a la Cámara de Representantes, John Boehner, líder de la mayoría y de la Cámara, Eric Cantor, de no permitir que "ninguna ley ... que proporciona o permite que los fondos" de la Ley de Cuidado de Salud Asequible. Dado que la financiación debe ser renovado el 1 de octubre, la demanda de los republicanos podría conducir a un cierre del gobierno sólo unas semanas antes de las elecciones.

Republicanos de la Cámara han gastado $50 millones hasta ahora tratando de derogar la Ley de Cuidado de Salud Asequible. La eliminación de la ley que añadir otro $ 109 mil millones al déficit de la nación.

Contribuya ahora mismo a Jimmy Farris para el Congreso

115 republicanos de la Cámara de Idaho incluyendo el congresista Mike Simpson no firmó la carta. Boehner sugirió que él no estaría dispuesto a ceder a la demanda, diciendo que "nuestro objetivo sería asegurar que el gobierno se financia y cualquier conversación política de un cierre del gobierno se puso a descansar."

"Labrador sigue dando prioridad a tribuna política por hacer lo correcto para nuestro país", dijo Farris. "Hace 174.000 dólares al año para facilitar la paralización del gobierno. Él disfruta de los beneficios de salud, mientras que Cadillac tirar dinero de los contribuyentes tratando de tomar la cobertura de salud fuera de millones de estadounidenses ".

"Yo ya le he pedido que revele un plan alternativo de salud, sin respuesta", continuó Farris. "Obviamente, él sólo está interesado en obstaculizar el progreso, no el suministro de soluciones. Incluso republicano Labrador colegas Altavoz Boehner y el congresista Mike Simpson entender como un cierre del gobierno irresponsable sería. ¿Cuándo se dio cuenta de que el Congreso funciona mejor cuando las personas trabajan juntas? "

Una copia de la carta se puede ver aquí.

¿Quién es Jimmy Farris?

Jimmy Farris es un nativo de Idaho de Lewiston que asistió a la Universidad de Montana, donde obtuvo una licenciatura en Marketing y Gestión, mientras que tener una carrera como futbolista destacado con los Grizzlies. A pesar de ir seleccionado en el draft de la NFL, fue contratado por los 49ers de San rancisco como agente libre no reclutado en el año 2001, y se quedó con la NFL hasta su retiro en 2009. El ex entrenador de los Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs describió Farris como "Un poco viejo tipo que pelea contra sus entrañas." Jimmy luego se trasladó a la transmisión de deportes, comenzó el futuro Jimmy Farris líderes de la Fundación, y luego decidió volver a Idaho y postularse para el Congreso porque cree su estado natal necesita líderes que sirven a los habitantes de Idaho y los intereses que no son especiales.  read more »

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