It appears that the 2014 campaigns have begun. This year, I'll strive to use this time wisely. I will ignore party affiliation and I'll try to listen very closely to what the candidates say and what policies they support. And, perhaps most importantly, I will watch and listen for attack ads and these will be counted as negatives against that candidate. Regardless of who produced them.
We have challenging problems to solve in this nation and in this state and now we know what the train wreck of partisan gridlock looks like. In the end, it benefits no one and it often starts with an assumption that "the other guy" is not a patriot or seeking the best for their constituents.
If a candidate thinks that attack ads are a good idea, I'm here to offer a new perspective. Collaboration and respect will earn more points with this voter. I hope many other voters will join me and that the electorate can start a new trend. Democracy works best when legislators work together instead of calling each other names. I believe those collaborative and cooperative behaviors will be embraced when we show the candidates that voters highly value them.
JOHN LODAL, Boise
Regarding your article about Sen. Winder's request for a review of the Connecting Idaho program, I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his leadership in improving Idaho's roads as the chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board and as a state senator.
I also want to suggest to our legislators and the public that they should consider a paradigm shift in how they think about our transportation system. A transportation system is a utility. It is functionally no different than public and private utilities that provide us with power, water, gas, etc. The fees charged by a utility are not taxes. The registration fee is the same as a connection charge for a utility. It gives you the right to use your vehicle on the system. It is paid annually. The fuel fee (tax) is a usage fee. The more you use the system, the more that you pay. This is no different than your power bill or your water bill.
Utilities normally fund depreciation, O&M and capital improvements through legitimate fees. They cannot be historically underfunded as is our transportation system. We do not pay fees that reflect the true cost of managing the system properly.
ROBERT S. BRUCE, Eagle
There's been a good deal of talk about education reform in Idaho. An outstanding amount of rapport has occurred, though little of it from students. That's not really a surprise, as students' opinions aren't in high demand.
We forget that they've spent the last 12 years in the system. They've seen the flaws more clearly than anyone, because the flaws have affected them the most (and because we teenagers love to complain).
By the time I was in high school, I had recognized that school wasn't for learning. It was a day care, where your subject interests depended almost entirely on the instructor.
Grades were simultaneously important and meaningless. You might have two teachers giving the same material, but one demands hours of work while the other asks that you "do your best." Worse yet, the teacher that required you to work harder was hurting your academic performance despite doing a better job of teaching, as losing that "A" could cost you a scholarship.
There are mentions of new standards and focusing on mastery above attendance, but we already have standards, they just aren't working. The issue is not simply the format of the system, but also its execution.
JUSTIN GARRARD, Meridian
A Nov. 11 Idaho Statesman article describing interaction between national monument (NM) proponents and the Sawtooth Society overlooks an important fact. The society has repeatedly reached out to proponents on this proposal. Before getting involved, we visited proponents and let them know our concerns. Before taking a public position, we attempted to contact them about our position. Since then, we have consistently communicated our concerns. Four public meetings on the proposal have occurred in the Sawtooths. The society has attended all four, to hear directly the desires and concerns of people most affected; some proponents have attended none.
The society continues to support additional wilderness protection for the BWC and shares many conservation goals with NM proponents. However, we also believe legitimate questions exist about potential impact of increased visitation caused by a NM on the fragile BWC environment, limited recreational facilities, and emergency services. What studies have been done about this, the potential costs of increased facilities/emergency services and who pays for them? These questions deserve answers, best achieved through inclusive public discussion. The Sawtooth Society will continue seeking ways to foster this approach in cooperation with proponents as well all other interested parties.
PAUL HILL, president, Sawtooth Society, Stanley
Regarding the Dec. 1 "Our View." It would be so nice and professional if the GBAD column would have explained at least briefly how the GBAD's charter is restrictive and what is causing the issue of a new convention center to be complicated. In 1990, the only issue then was the fear of a lawsuit by one hotel operation. Now we have too many well wishers muddling in a decision to achieve results. This is worth a rerun with more information.
BOB SABINO, Boise
Idaho cost of living
One of the reasons we moved here was because Idaho's tourist recruitment staff were at the World Ag Expo in Tulare County, Calif., explaining how much lower the cost of living was in Idaho.
We visited several times and decided to retire here. Utilities were low, gasoline prices were higher than the national average. Finally the gasoline companies began to listen to the public on this issue and prices went down below the national average and now are creeping up because they realized they had overcorrected.
Utilities, except city water, were what we expected. Our property taxes were much higher than we expected even with the homeowner allowance. Now we find out utilities are also going up.
We are on a fixed income and wonder what other services you are going to increase so we can budget or leave this beautiful city. It would not hurt so badly if your wages increased at the same rates everything here does.
The main reason Idaho economy has improved is because of all the new people moving here, partly based on the low cost of living. I encourage others to voice their concerns.
ARLENE MURRELL, Boise
I just read David Adler's Lincoln at Gettysburg column on Black Friday.
He wrote about the immortal words "that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth." Our wonderful U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people. That means the immortal words should read "that government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations shall not perish from the earth." Now that made my Black Friday even blacker!
ROBERT LEE, Boise