OTTER’S LEGACYREMAINS IN QUESTION
Think about the men Idahoans have elected to lead them the past 50 years. Each left the governor's office with at least one significant achievement upon which to hang his hat.
Republican Bob Smylie introduced the sales tax. Republican Don Samuelson, considered the standard by which Idaho gubernatorial ineptitude is measured, managed to get Boise State included in the university system.
Democrat Cecil Andrus’ long list of achievements includes the local planning act and state funding for kindergarten. Democrat John Evans fought for tax increase to fund vital public services. Republican Phil Batt forged a nuclear waste settlement with the feds. Republican Dirk Kempthorne gave Idahoans a massive road-building project. And Republican James Risch, in just seven months on the job, removed school funding from the property tax and reorganized the Department of Health and Welfare.
What about Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter? What does he have to show for six years on the job? If your answer is, “not much,” you’d be correct. Luckily for Otter, he has time to get this train back on the tracks. Otter needs to issue an executive order establishing a private, non-profit health care exchange and give every Idaho property owner a tax break by pushing for an expansion of the Medicaid program. The GOP’s Obamacare repeal fantasy ended with the president’s re-election and the U.S. Senate remaining under Democratic control. Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s time for Idaho, led by Otter, to begin making up for lost time.
Otter is in a unique position to forge a lasting and meaningful compromise on education reform. He needs to address the sorry fact that women make less than men for doing roughly the same jobs in his cabinet and push legislative leaders to get serious about cleaning up state government. All this will require a more energized effort than Otter displayed in his tepid defense of the Luna laws. And just as importantly, the governor will need to check his ideology at the door.
Let’s hope he’s up to it, for our sake and for his.
CHEERS AND JEERS
THE POST REGISTER
CHEERS to Boise City Councilors Maryanne Jordan and Lauren McLean. On Tuesday, the Boise council held a hearing on a proposed ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Passing an ordinance sends the message that a city, and by extension the people who live there, will not tolerate discrimination against anyone. And for those worried about the First Amendment, Boise’s ordinance would exclude churches and religious organizations.
JEERS to the Corrections Corporation of America. Eight Idaho inmates are suing CCA, alleging the Nashville, Tenn.-based company is working with gangs to help control the prison you’re paying it $30 million to administer. Also, the Idaho branch of the American Civil Liberties Union believes CCA is violating a settlement reached with inmates in a “Gladiator School” lawsuit over violence at the prison.
CCA’s history, in Idaho and elsewhere, is shameful. And yet because of overcrowding, Idaho is shipping hundreds of inmates to a Colorado prison run by, naturally, CCA. We ought to be better than this.
CHEERS to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. After the historic trouncing state Superintendent Tom Luna’s Students Come First laws took on Nov. 6, Otter is reaching out to the Idaho Education Association, inviting its leadership to a meeting with his staff this week.
CHEERS to Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Bedke made official what we’ve known for some time, that he is challenging Speaker Lawerence Denney for the top spot in the Idaho House of Representatives. We hope, for the sake of the republic, that Bedke wins and provides the kind of steady, honest leadership we’ve seen in the Senate from Pro Tem Brent Hill and Majority Leader Bart Davis. It’s time to send the right wing ideologues such as Denney to the back benches where they belong and get serious about solving problems.