• Andrus and Carlson

"I've long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history. So I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy." - Chris Carlson

carlson

During the confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s designee as U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) went after his colleague on his vote not to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Idaho’s member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Mike Crapo, is a strong proponent of the Act, and was solidly for reauthorization. Issues are rarely black and white choices, though Senator Leahy tried to portray Senator Sessions as indifferent to the plight of abused women.

Sessions strongly denied the charge. In doing so he alluded to an issue that calls for more understanding and awareness, especialy by non-Native Americans who reside on Tribal lands or are married to a Native spouse.

It turns out Senator Leahy had not offered a “clean” reauthorization bill. Instead, the Vermont senator attached a new provision which troubled the Attorney General designee. Sessions had constitutional reservations about a provision that allows a non-Indian charged with abusing a Native American within the boundaries of a reservation to be tried in a Tribal Court.

Sessions believes the Constitution guarantees individuals a trial in front of a jury of one’s peers. A non-Indian standing trial for assault in front of a jury of Natives does not meet that standard.

Senator Crapo, however, accepts the provision because elsewhere the bill makes it clear this provision is restricted just to non-native assaults against natives, primarily spouses. In addition there is language providing for pilot project funding which encourages tribe’s to align their legal codes with state and federal codes and to meet other criteria spelled out in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, in particular the requirement that the jury pool in a tribal court be drawn from all those living on a reservation, not just enrolled tribal members.

Of the 566 federally recognized tribes across this nation only four have met the criteria laid out in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Three of those four reside in the northwest—-the Tulalips in western Washington and the Warm Springs Tribe and the Umatilla Tribe in eastern Oregon.

The arbiter of whether tribes have established a truly independent judiciary is the Department of Justice. This is part and parcel of Congress’ ability to exercise its plenary powers, even over treaties with tribes. Understandably, tribes who believe their sovereignty is absolute, chafe at requirements that in effect say “prove your judiciary” is an equal and independent agent in your governmental structure.

Tyrel Stevenson, for nine years a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s legal staff and the newly designated director of government affairs for the Tribe, states flatly that the vast majority of tribal judiciary are “law trained” or “law qualified.” Whether judges in the tribal courts, prosecutors, defense counsel, bailiffs, or court reporters, they all received the proper training and the attorneys all admitted to the applicable bars.

He quickly cites the legal precedents for current law applied to Native Americans in a way one wishes Senator Crapo could have done when queried about his stance.

Stevenson cites the seminal laws and their being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court: the Winter’s Doctrine of 1902; the 1924 legislation finally conferring the right to vote on America’s first citizens; Suquamish vs. Oliphant, the case which clarified a tribe’s right to decide who is a member; the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act which said tribes were not subject to the U.S. Constitution but that individual tribal members are; the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010; and the Violence Against Women Act of 2013.

To date no non-Indian has gone before any Tribal Court in Idaho on a charge of domestic abuse, nor is it likely there will be such a case for some time. Thus, in a sense it is a moot point. Why in response to a series of questions regarding how expanding the jury pool on a reservation met the constitutional test of a trial by a jury of one’s peers, Senator Crapo could not provide a better explanation is a mystery only he can answer.

The time willl come when Senator Crapo will have to clarify his thinking on this issue of a right to a trial in front of one’s peers. He can duck my questions, but down the road he won’t be able to hide.

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carlson

From time to time when out in public I’ll bump into a reader of the column or an old friend who inevitably asks how am I doing in dealing with my major health challenges. As they and a few others know, I have been combating a rare form of Stage IV neuroendocrine cancer which was diagnosed in November of 2005. I was given the proverbial six months left to live.

This, coupled with an earlier (1999) diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, as well as a few other maladies, makes me somewhat of a medical marvel to my team of doctors.

In responding I always thank them for their interest, and also thank them as a taxpayer for their assistance with ensuring my welfare because Medicare has paid a small fortune to my physician team aad to hospitals that have helped me fight so far with success. Costs have far exceeded what I paid in over the years.

This is my way of segueing to the current national political debate over the issue of ObamaCare, its alleged failures and the prospects for reform of our overly costly system of health care. Indeed, most folks who follow this debate will do so from the same place and ask the same question: How does this impact my family and me?

The unvarnished truth is there are features of ObamaCare that have been implemented which enjoy broad support and one can rest assured the Republican Congress will not touch these. The public now sees them as entitlements, and as such, they have become institutionalized.

These features include no denial of coverage for a pre-existing condition and no caps on the cost an individual may incur. I am and continue to be the beneficiary of these features. My critics may find it disconcerting to learn that through their paid taxes, especially Medicare, they are indirectly paying a part of the cost that keeps me on the sunny side of the earth.

Allow me to explain. After the initial diagnosis I sought a second opinion like everyone should The number of tumors on my liver, as well as the deterioration of the tri-cuspid valve, led doctors at M. D. Anderson in Houston to decline to even see me – the CT’s, MRI’s and blood work made it look hopeless. Administrative personnel at M.D. Anderson have since apologized and also have reviewed their entrance criteria.

I ended up at The new Huntsman Cancer Center attached to the University of Utah in Salt Lake. During the course of 2006 and early into 2007 I underwent five chemoembolization procedures where they enter a major artery and with an incredibly small wand are able to place the emolsion directly on the tumors to literally shatter them.

The last procedure at Huntsman involved placing radioactive pellets, Y-90, on the tumor remnants to ensure they are indeed killed. The pellets were flown in from Australia the day of the procedure. All of these procedures were of course expensive.

Mercifully, I stabilized and slowly began to regain weight and recover. There is no cure for this cancer, but we certainly knocked it back and have held it in check ever since.

During all the intervening years I monthly receive the maximum allowable amount of a sandostatin called Octreotide. I call it my “golden rear” shot because I receive half the dose in my left butt cheek and half in my right butt cheek. It is an expensive drug, one which I could not begin to afford did I have to pay the cost myself.

Fortunately for me, I am covered by Medicare and from the beginning I purchased the best supplemental insurance plan one could. Much as an insurance company might have wanted to deny me coverage they could not because ObamaCare prohibits denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

If Congress makes the mistake of repealing the act first without having put in place the replacement bill guaranteeing continued access and coverage, I’ll be at Raul Labrador’s door along with a thousand others.

One last note: I polled 12 of the doctors I have utilized over my 11 year battle as to whether they would not have preferred Congress to have expanded Medicare into a single payer system that cut insurance companies out altogether. To my surprise all 12 said yes, that it was the devil they knew and it was working. Like me, all Americans, especially those covered by Medicare should be watching carefully.

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carlson

The end of one year and the beginning of another is often a good time for reflection, introspection, and the reading of a book or two providing one with new information, insights and perspective.

Besides the fine memoir written by the 90-year-old former Idaho Second District Congressman, Orval Hansen, the subject of last week’s column, there are two other fine books published recently that should command attention.

The first is a fascinating compilation of anecdotes, stories, experiences, observations and reflections by Jim and Holly Akenson who spent a total of 7003 days in the Idaho backcountry serving as the caretakers of the University of Idaho’s Taylor Ranch on Big Creek a few miles upstream from its confluence with the Middle Fork of the Salmon.

This is deep in the heart of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. It takes a special kind of person to live and thrive off the grid and deep in a wilderness area. Jim and Holly, however, have what it takes, as do a few others who belong to the fraternity or sorority of wilderness thrivers.

What it takes is an ability to appreciate solitude, to treasure the wind soughing through the trees, to listen for the yip of the coyote, the howl of the wolf or the hoot of the owl. It takes appreciation for the isolation, and ability to sit quietly by a campfire watching the coals while a yarn is spun.

The book’s intrepid couple are both trained biologists so little escapes their eye, from discussing their use of pack mules, to staving off approaching fires, to talking with visiting dignitaries. And of course they hold Maurice Hornacher and his seminal studies on cougars in the Big Creek drainage in high regard.

Backcountry residents also form a special bond with the pilot who despite troublesome weather almost always gets their mail to them. For the Akenson’s it was most often Ray Arnold at the controls. In earlier times it was Sid Hinkle.

Once in a while one will stumble across these wilderness reincarnations of the elusive “RidgeRunner,” all of whom will describe the magic of the time they have spent in the backcountry. The chief editor of the Ridenbaugh Press, Linda Watkins, spent the better part of eight years as a cook and a ranch hand in the back country, for example.

Marty Smith, who owns Three Rivers Rafting, a firm that runs rafts and kayaks on the Selway and Lochsa, would spend every day of the year in the wilderness. Guests on his trips are always surprised when about half way through a trip he’ll casually mention that he graduated from Yale with a degree in history and played for Yale’s football team.

The book, 7003 Days, is published by Caxton Press of Caldwell.

Another book, A Little Dam Problem, published by Caxton, is worth one’s time even if they aren’t into the complexities of Idaho water law. Retiring Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court Jim Jones has done the public a favor by writing in clear, lucid language about the bitter dispute surrounding the re-licensing of the Swan Falls/Guffey dam.

Jones, who early in his career worked on the staff of Senator Len B. Jordan, it can safely be said, revered Senator Jordan. One can tell part of his mission was to hold Idaho Power to the commitment the company made in 1952 to subordinate their water rights to the upstream irrigation companies in exchange for Jordan’s suppport to build three smaller dams in Hells Canyon rather than one huge (larger than Grand Coulee) federal or privately built dam.

Idaho Power spends the next 40 years trying to renige on the agreement, but Jones, as Idaho’s then Attorney General, with the support of then Governor John Evans, won’t let Idaho Power squirm off the hook. It is an interesting tale well told by Jones.

Unfortunately, the book, while avoiding some legalese nonetheless is repetitive at times because the former AG merely slaps press releases and talking points he wrote together at various times rather than summarize and produce new narrative.

What is most entertaining is Jones’ description of matching wits with and out maneuvering Idaho Power’s salty, in-your-face chief lobbyist, Logan Lanham, and “Lanham Lite,” Greg Panter.

Jones also errs when he claims that while serving as President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of the Interior, former Governor Cecil Andrus entered the fray on the company’s side. This is simply not so. Anyone who has followed Andrus’ career knows Idaho Power never supported him, especially after his Public Utility Commission vetoed the proposed Pioneer coal-fired generation plant.

Nonetheless, Jones has written a fair account of one of those issues, had it gone the other way, could have been catastrophic for the state.

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