Around this time each year we celebrate our outdoor world and natural environment. From Arbor Day to Earth Day, I am reminded why Idaho’s natural resources are a keystone to our history and our future.
I read with interest an Idaho Statesman headline April 15: “Idaho unemployment rate falls to 3.8 percent.” Sounds good, right? Well, whatever database this information comes from is at best misleading.
“Houston, we have a problem.” Although engineers and workers at the Idaho National Laboratory in Southeast Idaho have always tried to handle nuclear material safely, it doesn’t always work. Since 2005, accidents and inadvertent releases have happened with alarming regularity. In 2012, Department of Energy investigators told the Snake River Alliance that they had significant concerns and that INL was not handling plutonium safely.
Corporate volunteer programs used to be considered too costly and time consuming for many businesses. Yet, they can be one of the strongest opportunities for attracting talent, building loyalty and encouraging employee engagement. Today’s workforce makes the case for corporate volunteerism even more powerful. Research shows that millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2030 and almost 70 percent of them say giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities. That makes creating a culture of volunteerism one of an organization’s strongest assets.
Congress is currently debating a bill that while little known here in Idaho could have significant impact to our state finances. The bill, which is being considered in the House Natural Resources Committee, of which Rep. Raul Labrador is a member, would rewrite the rules that states and territories are required to honor in dealing with the debts they individually take on.
I was one of the 23,705 Democrats who proudly attended the caucus on March 22. In fact, I attended the largest caucus ever held in the United States: Ada County. It was a tremendous experience except, of course, for the fact that my candidate lost.
Have you ever heard of the Kennedy Internship program? Well, I did, in 1963, and I wanted to be a part of it. So, upon graduation from high school in Mountain Home I took a $100 gift from my aunt and another $20 from my father and bought a one-way bus ticket to Washington, D.C.
There is an old political joke that reflects Americans’ attitude toward politics and politicians: “How can you tell the difference between a horse race and a political race? In a horse race, the entire horse runs.” Stated with a bit more refinement, Americans tend to like their individual members of Congress but disdain the Congress as a whole (one poll put Congress’s approval rating at 14 percent).
Wednesday is Denim Day. If you have participated in the past, you already know what this is about, and I invite you to join me again as I wear something made of denim. Wearing denim on this important day is one of the things we do in April to raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault and the danger of victim blaming. Participating in this significant international event shows solidarity with survivors and individuals worldwide who are committed in their resolve to stop sexual assault.
My husband lives in the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise. He has vascular dementia probably related to diabetes. He has diabetes as a result of exposure to Agent Orange back in the ’60s, in Vietnam. For more than six months, I have witnessed the professional, respectful, dignified and loving care my husband has received from his caregivers, even as they must attend to his most personal and basic needs.
On April 7 the Idaho Statesman published another quality article on local issues, “Driving toward a new way to fund colleges.” I would like to present another opinion on this nationwide trend. The article describes the suggested shift in funding higher education from proposals stating the needs of the institution to funding based on outcomes.
The climate crisis has gotten worse. February 2016 was the most unusually warm month on record, with January being the second. Ocean acidification is bleaching coral reefs and threatening the food chain. Arctic ice and the Greenland ice sheet are melting faster than expected, and sea level rise is threatening coastal cities. A recent scientific paper published by climate scientist Dr. James Hansen projects that by burning fossil fuels at the current rate, we are headed for “abrupt climate change,” putting humanity into a dangerous, uncharted situation — possibly irreversible. We’re not talking generations down the road, but decades. A consequence may be “killer storms” that toss around enormous boulders like marshmallows. While Dr. Hansen’s paper is still being peer-reviewed, climate scientists agree that “society is not moving fast enough to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, posing grave risks.” [See: “Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries” — NY Times, March 22, 2016.] We’re in emergency climate mode now.
Idaho State University has been informed that approximately 50 of our students from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have been victims of off-campus home burglaries over a period of several weeks. To the best of our knowledge, all of these burglaries have been reported to the Pocatello Police Department, who are actively investigating these crimes. In some cases, personal documents were stolen and hateful and hurtful messages were left behind. These burglaries are in addition to the vandalism of 17 vehicles, including some belonging to international students, on July 17, 2015, along the Bartz Way roadway from Schubert Heights to the McIntosh Manor area. The Pocatello Police Department apprehended the perpetrator. Although recently reported on some social media, incidents of physical abuse and harm targeted at Kuwaiti and Saudi students have not been verified or reported to the Pocatello Police Department.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter supports issuing a waiver that would allow the U.S. Department of Energy to ship a small quantity of commercial nuclear fuel to Idaho National Laboratory for vital research. So does Idaho’s congressional delegation: Reps. Mike Simpson, and Raul Labrador; Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo.
New money was the big education story coming out of this year’s legislative session in Boise. Over the next year public schools will see a $109 million increase in state funding. This is about a 7.4 percent increase in new dollars, and returns state spending on public schools to prerecession levels.
Tuesday, April 12, represented the day we “celebrate” when a woman’s earnings catch up to what a white male made the year prior. That’s right! The average woman working full time in the U.S. has to work 15 months to earn what a male did in just 12! The pay gap is even worse for women of color and moms who have to work even longer for their salaries to catch up.
The "moon tree" at Boise's Lowell Elementary grew from a seed that traveled to space on Apollo 14 in 1971. The community is rallying to save the tree from insects and other problems. Students attended a ceremony on Arbor Day to celebrate the tree and unveil a mosaic plaque based on drawings by Lowell students Grace Wontorcik and Lylli Collins, both 6th graders. Local artist Reham Aarti created the mosaic plaque and donated it to the school.
This Boise Tree Has Been To The Moon And Back
Why Tina Dean says she should not be recalled
Trustee Carol Sayles on why she should not be recalled