• 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

His name was Eddie Gaedel. He is the answer to one of baseball’s great trvia questions: Who is the only major league baseball player to retire with a 1.000 on-base percentage? The answer is Eddie Gaedel.

An even tougher trivia question is who then replaced Eddie as a pinch runner following the walk Eddie drew? The answer is Jim Delsing.

This past August 19 was the 66th anniversary of the most famous walk in all of baseball history. Yet it reinforces one of the great features that seperates baseball from other professsional sports such as football and hockey – one doesn’t have to be a big man to play the game.

One of baseball’s creative owners, a salesman and marketeer named Bill Veeck, owned the St. Louis Browns who in the summer of 1951 were mired in last place in the American League. It was also the 50th birthday of the American League’s founding. The challenge for Veeck was to draw a crowd for his last place team was also last in attendence.

Veeck did the usual, offering free beer for the adults and free ice cream and hot dogs for the kids. However, he also had a surprise for the fans – during the break between the first and second games of this Sunday doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers he had a seven foot high birthday cake carried onto the field.

Some fans undoubtedly expected to see a scantily clad and sexy looking female pop out but instead out popped Eddie Gaedel, all 3’7” of him. He was wearing a Brown’s uniform, but the Detroit team thought little about it until the Brown’s manager brought his line-up card to home plate to present to the umpires with Gaedel pencilled in as a pinch-hitter for the lead-off hitter.

The manager also had a valid major league contract properly prepared and signed, so the umpires decided the game had to go on with the first “little person” (some reporters and writers use the politically incorrect term of dwarf or midget) to appear coming to the plate.

Veeck instructed Gaedel not to swing at anything, but instead to hunch over creating a strike zone of about 1 and ½ inches. Detroit pitcher Bob Cain started laughing so hard there was no way he could throw a strike.

Four straight high and outside pitches and Eddie Gaedel walked to first and into baseball history. The ensuing uproar only served to cement his immortality and the reputation of Veech. Two days later the American League president, Will Harridge, voided Gaedel’s contract which called for him to be paid $15,400. In 1951 that was a decent salary for a major leaguer.

Three years later Veeck sold the Browns who promptly relocated to Baltimore to become the Orioles.

Gaedel was no fool and in years to come capitalized on his notoriety through appearances wth the Barnum & Bailey Circus as well as playing the role of Buster Brown in their shoe ads.

In later life he faced challenges due to his notoriety, developed a chip on his shoulder and became combative and aggressive especially when he drank. Despite his dimnutive size he’d take on average sized adults.

On June 18th, 1961 his life came to an end the result of a beating he received outside a Chicago bar. Having been born in Chicago of Lithuanian heritage on June 8th, 1925 he was only 36 years old. He is interred in the St. Mary Cemetery and Mausoleum in Cook County, Illinois.

The only person from baseball who attended his funeral was the pitcher who had walked him that famous day in baseball history, Bob Cain.

Gaedel’s memory lives on in part because of the ingenius marketing and p.r. skills of a retired Kamiah attorney, Tom Keefe. The son of a Seattle judge, the former administrative assistant to the legendary Washington Senator Warren Magnuson , a former deputy mayor of Seattle, Keefe is married to Joann Kaufman, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe, and the owner of a phenomenally successful Native American Health Care consulting business.

Keefe is the founder of Club #1 of the Eddie Gaedel Society. For seven years now he hosts a celebration at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub in downtown Spokane around the famous date.

The club is growing exponentially because everyone loves stories of underdogs and the exploits of the “little people” around us. Keefe can be reached at the offices of Kaufman & Associates in Spokane. Call him and join the society.

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carlsonlogo1

On occasion there are quirks of history one should pay attention to because they are accurate predictors of the future even in the face of conventional wisdom. For example, virtually every political pundit in Idaho takes it as a given that whoever wins the Republican gubernatorial primary next May is a lock to become Idaho’s governor in January 2019.

Probably so, but maybe not. There is an historical factoid that says otherwise. In modern times the Idaho governorship has changed party hands every 24 years twice in a row. In 1946, C.A. “Doc” Robins, a state senator from Benewah County and a medical doctor, defeated incumbent Democrat governor Arnold Williams. This began a string of Republican governors in Idaho for 24 years.

The string ended in 1970 when the Democrat state senator from Nez Perce County, Cecil Andrus, defeated incumbent Don Samuelson. This began another string of 24 years in which Andrus and his successor, John Evans, a former state senator from Oneida County, held the governorship.

In 1994, with the victory of Republican Phil Batt, a former state senator from Canyon County, the governor’s chair again changed hands after 24 years. If history is an accurate guide this should tell the pundits two things: Idaho’s next governor will be a Democrat and a former state senator.

There’s the rub one might say. There is no such politician on the horizon. Au contraire. There is a former Democrat state senator from Latah County, Dan Schmidt, who also is a medical doctor, and is reportedly seriously considering entering the gubernatorial race.

On the basis of history alone Democrats should encourage him to run. Set aside the fact that he is extremely competent and established a reputation for doing his homework and was especially knowledgable on health care issues during his six years in the Legislature. He knows the issues and he knows the state.

He also reportedly believes a contested race for governor among Democrats will keep Democrats home and minimize the tendency of some to register as Republicans for the primary because of the mistaken belief that is where the action will be and will determine who the next governor is.

Reliable sources report Schmidt has already talked to A. J. Balukoff, the Boise businessman and the Democrat’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014 who spent $3.5 million of his own money in a losing race to incumbent Governor C.L.”Butch” Otter. Balukoff is set to announce he is again seeking the office in early October. Schmidt may surprise and announce his candidacy in September.

Of all the candidates running for governor Schmidt willl have the least resources. He is not personally wealthy like Balukoff or Republicans Tommy Ahlquist or Lt. Gov.Brad Little. Nor does he have a government job like Rep. Raul Labrador that pays him while he is seeking another office.

None of them will outwork him and he believes the fact that he is not trying to start at the top and buy the office will work to his advantage. He also believes Republicans will nominate First District Congressman Labrador as their nominee. He sees Labrador as far and away the most conservative of the Republicans, but thinks many in the GOP are tired of Tea Party conservatives and some of the extreme views they hold.

He reportedly believes he can capture these disenfranchised Republicans and that he will also be more attractive to independents than will Balukoff. Furthermore, Schmidt reportedly says one should not underestimate the ability of Labrador to show his lack ocompassion for the needy, the homeless and those he would kick off medicaid.

In other words Schmidt thinks the Democratic nomination for governor is well worth purusing because Labrador is quite capable of losing the race. Is history on Dan Schmidt’s side? Time will tell but it just might be.

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carlson

It was a small news item and it escaped public notice which is a shame because it speaks volumns about the fundamental basic intelligence of America’s body politic.

The item was a report on Maine Senator Susan Collins’ return home for the August recess following her vote against repeal of the “ObamaCare” health plan without anything to replace it. As she deplaned the commercial airliner she had flown into Bangor, Maine, there was a good sized crowd stacked up waiting to board the plane.

Almost instantly, Collins was recognized and as she walked into the terminal and down a causeway spontaneously every one stood and applauded the Senator as an expression of appreciation for her courage. For any political officeholder it doesn’t get better than that.

Senator Collins along with Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, who also cast a courageous no vote, are just two of the women reshaping the Senate and their respective political parties. On both sides of the aisle women are showing men what leadership is about.

Most people are familiar with old cliches like “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Such condescending statements reflect shallow thinking about a woman’s influence being exercised behind the scenes. It may have had some validity 70 years ago but it sure as heck isn’t true today.

It is safe to say that the future of the Democratic party, as well as the Republican, rests in the hands of the increasingly talented pool of women governors, congressional representatives and senators. In the not too distant future one may see a woman as the presidential candidate of each party.

Idaho holds a unique place in American political history as the first state in the nation where each party’s standard bearer in a race for a congressional seat was a female. The year was 1956. The incumbent in the First Congressional District was Gracie Pfost, a Democrat and a former Canyon County official. The challenger was Louise Shadduck, a former journalist, the state’s first female chief of staff for a governor, and the first head of a cabinet agency, the Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

Despite Dwight D. Eisenhower winning a second term easily, he proved not to have any coattails in Idaho. Shadduck lost, but many pegged her to become Idaho’s first female governor or U.S. senator. However, while remaining politically active she never sought office again. The glass ceiling for those two offices remains unbroken.

It is almost too obvious to say that the future of both political parties is tied to which one does the best job of addressing issues the woman voter determines to be most important. Their agenda is more practical and less ideological.

According to many national polls, women voters care most about economic issues and health care matters. Regardless of party, women voters strongly support “equal pay for equal work.” Access to affordable health care is another critical issue which more and more is seen as a fundamental right, not a function of privilege and income, and access to higher education without incurring crippling debt brought on by too easily obtained stuent loans.

Women are more attuned than men to the homeless issue, the opiod crisis, and the lack of enforcement of laws against spousal abuse and child abuse.

Each party caucus in the Senate has some outstanding veteran female legislators as well as some rising stars who bear watching. On the Democratic side Caucus chair Patty Murray from the state of Washington is a classic “work horse” who gets things done. Noted for her common sense, excellent staff, and an ability to work across the aisle, she could emerge as a future majority leader.

Many thought with the retirement of Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Murray might challenge New York Senator Charles Schumer for the minority leader post. Murray, however, recognized that minority leader was a thankless job with little upside and wisely took a minor position while biding her time. She enjoys broad support among all the female senators and counts Senator Murkowski as a real friend.

Murray incidentally has constantly ben underestimated over the years. She holds the Sente record for having defeated the most members of the House in her re-elections—having defeated five.

Looking down the road it is easy to see that the rising stars in both parties, and the key to whether they can expand their base by attracting more of their gender, rests in the hands of new, young and energetic senators like California’s Kamela Harris on the Democratic side and Joni Ernst on the Republican side. Keep your eye on them.

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carlson

Two long-time political players in their respective states this past week gracefully steppped off of and away from the political stage upon which they had acted with class, courage and intelligence for fifty years.

The first, Tom Stroschein, was a two term Latah County Commissioner who chose not to run again in 2014. He epitomizes what everyone likes to see in a local elected official country smart, a great story teller, a sense of humor, hard working with a ton of common sense, an ingrained sense of integrity and one who believes deeply in the importance of holding the public trust. Tom saw public service as a calling.

On July 29th over 300 people gathered at the Elk Creek campground shelter in Elk River to wish Tom a happy 80th birthday. Organized by his multi-talented spouse, Ruby, it was a fine tribute to a fine man who not only is glad to see 80, but also as he finally steps off the stage and fades into the sunset wanted to thank the many family members and friends who have stood by him over the years.

He and Ruby called it a “Sheepeater’s Shindig,” in part because Tom was a woolgrower for many years, running the family sheep ranch outside of Aberdeen. They served the most tender roasted lamb one could ever taste.

His father, Roy, served one term in the Legislature, from 1965 to 1967, representing Power county. The 1965 Legislature though has gone down in Idaho history as probably the most productive ever especially because it enacted the sales tax to pay for education. Though he spent just a short time there he did strike a chord with a young state senator by the name of Cecil Andrus.

A few years later when Andrus was governor he named Roy to the three member Idaho Transportation board. Andrus also appointed Tom to the now abolished Woolgrower’s board.

Though long a loyal supporter of Andrus’, and a long-time Democrat, Tom has decided to register as a Republican for the May primary in order to vote for a family friend and fellow woolgrower, Lt. Governor Brad Little.

He’s the kind of public servant we need more of – a man who puts friendship ahead of partisanship, the national interest ahead of self-interest. Though now having put himself on the political sidelines, his many friends, family members and fans hope he stays involved.

The second class act last week was that performed by Arizona Senator John McCain, who once again demonstrated the uncommon courage he is noted for by voting against the seven-year long Republican led effort to repeal ObamaCare with no replacement coverage established.

McCain knew millions would lose coverage, that the well-off would receive an undeserved tax break bonanza, and Medicaid would be gutted. McCain acted out of principle though he must have enjoyed a bit the ability to stick it to the Trump Administration which he views as incompetently run.

McCain, along with fellow Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska deserve their own chapter in any new issue of “Profiles in Courage.”

Stroschein, McCain, Collins and Murkowski are the kind of thoughtful public servants we need more of because they reject overt patisanship and work for solutions through compromise. Idaho’s current two senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, could learn much about courage and standing up for equal justice from any of these four.

All are class acts and the first two truly distinguished themselves this past week. Tom of course is retired and Senator McCain may have a form of aggressive terminal cancer that will end his career prematurely.

There was one totally classless act last week that in the view of many disqualifies the person from even considering seeking a public office. Her name is Janice McGeachin, a former one-term state representative from Idaho Falls, who is aspiring to be Idaho’s next Lt. Governor.

In the minds of many she disqualified herself when upon learning about John McCain’s vote sent out a Facebook message calling McCain a traitor. Given several opportunities to retract this outrageous statement, she did nothing.

Several writers pointed out the implied penalty when the term is used, that is execution, she still refused to amend or change her statement. This type of insane fanaticism has no place in our nation’s debates over policy and politics. It was a classless statement which anyone with an ounce of brains would have retracted and apologized. Here is hoping she withdraws or, if she stays in, receives the public condemnation and rejection she warrants.

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carlson

Last week Avista Utility, headquarted in Spokane, surprised many observers by announcing they were being acquired by a Canadian utility, Hydro One of Toronto, for $5.3 billion dollars. After operating independently for 128 years, they were giving up that independence.

There are two questions that immediately cry out for answers. Why now? Secondly, what’s in it for Idaho and the current customer base of 129,000 northern Idaho customers supplied with juice from Avista? The sale has to be reviewed and approved by the public utility commissions of several states and federal entities, but both parties hope the deal closes by next fall.

Here are ten key questions one hopes will be asked and explored by regulators:

1) $5.3 billion in U.S. dollars presumably?

Answer: At closing Hydro One will pay $3.4 billion in US dollars and will assume Avista debt of $1.9 billion. Currency fluctuation risk is taken by Hydro One but it is thought they are trying to fix the rate of .53 cents Canadian to every $1 US. Currently the Canadian dollar is .64 cents to the U.S.dollar.

2) What is the debt to equity ratio for financing the purchase and has Hyrdo One undertaken a subscription sale and if so did it fill rapidly or is it still being offered?

Answer: The ratio is going to be 83% debt and 17% equity. Yes, there was a subscription offering and it filled in one hour. Avista’s stock rose 24 % once the market learned of the intended purchase and is now trading at $53 a share.

3) Are there any tax advantages or write-offs for either company from the purchase or the sale?

Answer: It does not appear so, but that question may require additioanl research.
4) Does Avista chairman and ceo Scott Morris receive any additional compensation or bonus for engineering this sale?

Answer: Yes. A required filing showed that he would receive three times his average compensation in previous years which translates to approximately a $15 million dollar bonus. An additional $15 million is being set aside as a pool of money to keep key employees.

5) Avista claims communities will benefit from Avista’s commitment to philanthropy and economic development, but it offers no specifics on just what economic development it would support and as to philanthropy it claims Hydro One will double the current Avista commitment of $1 million annually to $2 million. Records indicate though that last year Avista donated $600,000. Other acquisitions of northwest utilities recently have seen philanthropy zeroed out.

Answer: The $600,000 is what the Foundation donated. Corporate giving was approximately $2 million and Hydro One has pledged to double that. In addition, Hydro One is making a one-time donation of $7 million to the Avista Foundation and has pledged to donate annually another $2 million to the Foundation.

6) Hydro One is heavily unionized. Surely both entities recognize historic differences towards unions. Is there a strategy to address this?

Answer: Both are aware and it is a work in progress.

7) Hydro One buys some electricity from government owned and operated nuclear plants. Do they have any exposure regarding disposal of wastes and storage of spent fuel rods? Do they carry any special liability coverage if something goes wrong with a nuke plant even though they are just a customer?

Answer: That is a question best directed at Hydro One. Suffice it to say Avista fully anticipates that as part of any mandated settlement a PUC will require “ring fencing” to prevent such transfers of risk or cost.

8) Hydro One will have to enter negotiations with Washington and Idaho’s public utility commissions. Given universal concern regarding global warming being exacerbated by coal burning power plants is Hydro One prepared to negotiate a phase out of the 10% of Avista’s load that comes from Colstrp? Two of the four units at Colstrip were just modernized at a cost of hundred’s of millions.

Answer: The question is not unexpected and the answer is to be determined by the negotiations. We don’t engage in speculation.

9) Does Hydro One/Avista really believe the Idaho PUC will consider its latest request for a 7.2% rate increase separate and apart from its review of this sale? Wouldn’t it be smarter to acknowledge the obvious and withdraw the request? Isn’t it a bit disingenuous in your ads to claim there will be no rate increases “as a result of this transaction?”

Answer: We believe they are totally separate items but recognize that the Idaho PUC could combine the dockets if it want to do so.

10) Does Avista still participate in the exchange of power with BPA allowed by the Northwest Power Planning Act? And will this sale have any impact on the current renegotiations with Canada on the Columbia River Coordination agreement?

Answer: Yes, and as long as the exchange is available Avista will participate.and no.

In all candor there is little specificity that answers convincingly the why now question. However, ¸there has been much activity in the market regarding utilities.The bottom line is probably a simple one in which Scott Morris and the board decided it was better to pick a partner rather than be picked off.. It is easy to predict rough sailing and tough selling ahead.but I wouldn’t bet against Scott Morris.

Column

carlson

Every state has a handful of elected officials who are the glue that hold the government together. They are the folks who see public servce as a noble calling to serve others. They labor often in anonymity. They do not seek the limelight. They treat all voters, regardless of party with respect.

They do not subject themselves to the slings and arrows of outraged constituents who all too often do not have their facts straight for the pay which is often laughably parsimonious, nor any alleged glory. They patiently listen because that is part of the job, and then they respectfully correct and educate.

They understand that politics involves compromise, that the voters expect they will be part of the solution to challenges not part of the problem. They seldom raise their voice, but when they do speak others listen. They command respect because they do their homework and speak knowledgeably.

Sometimes they are in leadership, sometimes they are not. Lobbyists and media who cover government know who these “go to” folks are.

For the past 20 years Idaho’s State Senate has been blessed with two of these indispensable individuals, Senator and Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, and Senator and Joint Finance co-chair Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint. This past week brought the news that both will be leaving the Legislature, Davis to become U.S. attorney for Idaho, and Keough to return to private life to resume full-time her position as executive director of the Idaho Logging Contractor’s Association.

Of the two Keough is the least known which suits her just fine. She quietly labored in obscurity on the Joint Finance and Appropriations committee, the Legislature’s most powerful committee (it sets the budget) for a number of years, finally ascending to the Senate co-chair post in her tenth term.

She has navigated the shoals and reefs on a number of issues, not the least of which has been consistently strong support for fully funding k-12 education that often found her out of step with a governor and colleagues who in past years seriously underfunded public education.

Her moderation coupled with compassionate constitutional conservatism nonetheless made her a target for the Tea Party faction of the GOP, the hard right wing nuts who demand ideological purity and adherence to downright absurd views such as abolishing the 17th amendment that provides for direct election of U.S.senators.

Her decency and competency as well as solid constituent service along with a steely discipline inside her velvet gloves enabled her to beat back viciously personal primary challenges orchestrated primarily by State Rep. Heather Scott and her surrogates.

Despite personal threats she fearlessly showed up at most campaign forums during her last three elections and, despite the vitriol, her “here are the facts style” often quieted the zealots.

Over the years she has personified the best a citizen legislator can be. She and her husband, Mike, successfully raised two children, one a Vandal, the other a Bronco, and walked the talk of family values that so few political figures actually practice.

Though petite and soft spoken she could play hardball when she had to do so. When Avista’s lobbyist, Neil Colwell, took part in an ill-conceived move by Keough’s Republican Senate colleague from Coeur d’Alene, State Senator Bob Nonini, and sponsored four Republican primary challengers to incumbent Republican state senators, she banned Colwell from her office.

Recognizing the stupid error, Avista chair Scott Morris drove to Sandpoint to apologize in person for the almost incomprehensible move. For his part Senator Nonini later apologized personally and made amends. Demonstrating a graciousness hard to fathom, Keough reportedly forgave Nonini’s egregious breach of protocal.

For someone born in New Jersey and raised in Ohio, Keough, who migrated to Idaho when she was 19, has become a true Idahoan – intelligent, independent, compassionate, conservative, a person of her word, the personification of honor, decency and competency. Idaho’s citizens are all better off because people like Bart Davis and Shawn Keough chose to answer the call of public service. They will be truly missed. When you next see either be sure and thank them for that service.

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carlson

Largely due to my Parkinson’s disease I have unusually vivid dreams. I don’t sleep walk, but I do sing, recite poetry, give speeches, get into fights and occasionally cut loose with a profanity.

When I awake I can recall in detail just what the dream was about.

For example, I was awaken from a dream the other night by a sense that the house was moving and I was in an earthquake. There are earthquakes, and then there are earthquakes.

Turns out my dream processing was not all fantasy, that I was indeed experiencing a modest earthquake whose epicenter was only about 70 miles distant near Lincoln, Montana. Around 11:35 p.m. I snapped awake in time to see the entire house move slightly. To say the least it was surprising. As quakes go, this one was relatively weak and short (5.2 on the Richter scale and only about 15 seconds).

The dream I was having had a current context to it. Psychologists tell us we often “work on and process” challenges and problems confronting us while we sleep and dream. In my dream I was trying to work out what a probable solution could be to the debacle that Donald Trump, our 46th president, is presenting.

I’ve seen enough, heard enough and watched enough that I believe he will ultimately be impeached, and if he does not resign he will be convicted and removed as provided by the Constitution. That he lies constantly is incontestable. That he is deliberately trying to stomp on the media’s first amendment rights is undeniable.

That he has neither the historical sense nor the moral context to make decisions that could see literally millions of people die should frighten the bejesus out of any thinking person. That he is a misogynist with no respect for women has been demonstrated all too frequently.

The one due I will grant this inept and unqualified to be president individual is the obvious: he is one hell ‘uv a marketeer. He knows how to sell the Trump brand and operates on the thesis that as long as they spell his name correctly there is no such thing as bad news.

The exception though is he can’t take criticism – he can dish it out but he can’t take it.

So what’s the answer? In my dream I found the solution, but of course the cold face of reality will never see a scenario like my fantasy unfold. In the interest of promoting readers to come up with their own legal solution here is the fantasy interrupted by a real earthquake.

Take it as a given that Russian President Vlad Putin has some sort of grip on Trump. It is the classical Faustian bargain with the devil. Keep in mind that Arizona Senator John McCain characterizes Putin as a cold-blooded KGB-trained killer.

What’s the nature of the “hold?” Your guess is as good as mine. It ranges from provable material regarding campaign collusion at the very top to Putin possibly possessing film of Trump cavorting with Russian prostitutes during an early days visit to Moscow, to incriminating acceptance of Russian generated funds diverted into Trump’s campaign.

By whatever means – Putin orchestrates a leak, or the Post or New York Times uncovers “smoking gun”evidence – it all becomes public and Trump, facing impeachment, conviction and certain removal, resigns the presidency.

Vice President Mike Pence then in my fantasy becomes president just long enough to pardon Trump. Pence then resigns which means the line of succession now leads to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Ryan, however, recognizes that he, like Pence, is too tainted by Trump to try to bring people together. So he resigns the Speakership (but not his congressional seat). Now hear is where my fantasy gets “creative.”

The Founding Fathers placed in the Constitution one little known concession to the Parliamentary form of government. Believe it or not, the Speaker does not have to be a current member of the House. The House can elect any person they want as long as they meet the age and natural birth requirement.

This allows for the representatives to choose a man or a woman for the times, someone who stands out as particularly well placed to become the next leader.

It allows the Liberal Party in Canada, for example, to elect as the party leader a Justin Trudeau, give him a safe riding to represent and be elected from, and then, if his party has a majority in a national election to become the new prime minister.

So, who in my dream did I see as the successor to Trump to be the answer to the prayers of most sane people? The answer is Ohio Governor John Kasich, the only major Republican with enough guts to refuse to endorse Trump.

Now there would be a real political earthquake well worth waking up to and hope it becomes a reality.

Column

carlson

Have to give the twin devils of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions their proper due for their nomination of State Senator Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls) to be the next U.S. Attorney for Idaho.

With Davis they can’t go wrong. The ten term Idaho Falls State Senator and current Senate Majority Leader is one of Idaho’s outstanding legislators and one of the few true “super lawyers.” He is admired on both sides of the aisle for his probity, his sense of fairness, his courtliness as well as considerable intelligence and just plain decency.

He is a true compassionate conservative who lives and walks the talk of the Golden Rule. A few years back he and his wife showed up at a release hearing for an individual who had murdered their son. As heart-breaking as their son’s death was, they knew there were others who cared just as deeply for the perpetrator and was a case of another gone astray.

They intuitively recognized the truth contained in a statement by the great Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard who once wrote that “as great as God creating something out of nothing is, the even greater miracle is God creating saints out of sinners!” Rather than wallowing in grief, anger and a desire for retribution they followed the progress the perpetrator had made while imprisoned.

In an extraordinary gesture of true forgiveness they showed up at the release hearing and testified that the assailant be released and on probation. This incident is hard to imagine, but it speaks to the incredible humanity of Senator Davis and his spouse, Marion.

As U.S. Attorney Senator Davis will be called upon to exercise superb judgment on whether and when to bring lawsuits or convene grand jury panels. Solid, good judgment he has in abundance though and he will judiciously utilize it.

It should not be lost on folks that the U.S. Attorney has had a central role
in several high profile cases in the last 40 years. Recall for example the stand-off between Randy Weaver and the FBI at Ruby Ridge in northern Boundary County; or, that of Claude Dallas, and the murder of two Fish and Game employees in Owyhee County.

In the Weaver case his attorney, “Gunning for Justice” Jerry Spence danced circles around the U.S. Attorney and the prosecution team. It is a safe bet no one will dance circles around Bart Davis.

To his great credit Davis is not a knee-jerk ideologue. He thinks through issues and takes stands based on principle, not political expediency. It is another safe bet he will conduct himself and see that his office performs in an entirely non-partisan manner.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to sit next to Senator Davis on a panel on politics being held at Idaho State University and sponsored by the Idaho State Journal. Davis’ thoughtful, cant-free responses were refreshing to say the least. I couldn’t help being impressed.

Here clearly was a legislator at the top of his game who knew what he was talking about, said what he thought and meant what he said. When the event was over with I’ll never forget his leaning over and saying he had to return to Idaho Falls to face four censure resolutions because Doyle Beck and the Bonneville County Republican Central committee felt the good senator had not reflected their views on several issues.

Have legislators who think for themselves? Heavens no—do people think this is a Republic rather than a Democracy? Beck and his ilk are saying they don’t want a Bart Davis to be a representative who studies and thinks, they want an automaton who does what they demand.

To his credit Bart Davis stayed on the correct path he has always walked. He has to have welcomed the opportunity though to walk away while at the top of his game and to put all that game-playing, partisan crap behind him.

Have no doubts – his selection is a breath of fresh air and a well deserved honor for one of the state’s fine public servants. Hats off to the President and his Attorney General on this one.

Davis’ departure will of course set off a scramble to name his successor as Majority Leader and there’ll be an abundance of candidates. Early names being bandied about include Assistant Majority Leader and State Senator Chuck Winder from Boise; Majority Caucus Chair State Senator Todd Lakey, from Nampa, and State Senator Marv Hagedorn from Meridian. A darkhorse surprise might be State Senator Carl Crabtree from Grangeville.

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carlson

Found myself pondering “Father’s Day” this past week. Yes, I know I’m a week late writing about it. I’m one of those folks, however, who spends time pondering what it means to be a “father” and the difference between a “father” and a “Dad.” Fatherhood carries with it an awesome responsibility to provide guidance to the children one helps to create by setting a good example and always being there.

My wife and I are blessed with four wonderful children all of whom have found their place in the world, all are college graduates, healthy and happy, and in the case of the three oldest, are mature women dedicated to helping others. Their brother, our youngest, is a Vandal and a Major in the US Marine Corps.

We’re proud of all. They all called and wished the old man a good day. Two of them took “Dad” to see a double header Northwest League baseball game between Spokane and Boise. Not only do they all love baseball, like their Dad, all also know how to keep a scorebook.

I’m fortunate I still have a great relationship with all for sadly too many fathers and children become alienated. I readily concede though that the credit goes to my spouse. We also luckily figured out things we could do as family such as enjoying Idaho’s wilderness by backpacking and going on rafting trips.

In the beginning the two older girls called me by my nickname, but it came to a screeching halt one day when overheard by a colleague, Mike McGavick. He jumped all over them that I was to be called Dad, that a father is not just another name, that Dad conveys a special relationship and is to be respected and cherished.

I thought once again about that incident upon reading a note from Mike that his father, Joe, had passed away a few days earlier. Like many father and sons, they at times had a contentious relationship. Both loved politics and both made their mark in the business world. Both were strong personalities and could clash easily. At the end of the day, however, one knew a deep and abiding love was present also.

There are a variety of phrases that use the word father. For example, Mike honored me by asking that I be the godfather of his first born, Jack (and my wife to be the godmother).

Most men never consider taking a parenting class, but despite what one may think, it doesn’t just come naturally, and all men and women could make use of parenting classes. All too often the father figure does not realize the degree to which the son tries to imitate the father. One of the great songs in the 60’s was “Cat’s in the cradle” by Harry Chapin. It is all about how a Dad does not have time to spend with his son. Then when the son is an adult and the Dad is retired the son doesn’t have time to spend with the Dad.

I can say that while my Dad tried to a limited extent to be a good father to my brother, my sister and me, he failed. He had lost his own father when he was three. His mother, trying to live as a waitress in Chicago during the Depression, couldn’t take care of him and so gave him away to a relative in far away Burke, Idaho.

That experience coupled with ten battles in the Pacific created mental issues and along with bad migraines, led to his committing suicide when I was 14. It was more by the Grace of God and my wife’s skill that I managed to be a tolerably decent Dad.

I was blessed to have two other types of “fathers” to whom I owe a deep debt of gratitude for their patience and guidance. One father is a priest, Father Steve Dublinski, who I worked with when he was the Vicar General for Bishop William Skylstad in the diocese of Spokane. I introduced Father Steve to fly fishing and in three weeks he was better than I. He has become a superb fly fisherman. I have benefitted, however, in that for ten years now, on an average of three times a month, we go fly fishing on his day off up the St. Joe or the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene. We’ve also fished other streams in Idaho and Montana. The scenery is always great as is the company.

Then there are those rare individuals who truly become “surrogate fathers” for fatherless folk like me. Over the years I worked for Idaho Governor and Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus our relationship evolved into a father/son relationship. He tutored and taught me much. Those times I have stumbled almost all have the common denominator of my failure to pick up the phone and seek his counsel.

Andrus is a natural teacher and father. He dotes on his three daughters, but he also keeps an eye out on his surrogate sons – I am just one of three or four other sons he keeps track of.

I end this “Father’s Day Salute” to Father Dublinski, to Dad Andrus, and to Mike McGavick with a belated “best wishes” to you all and thanks for your kind and compassionate interest in this wondering waif. And a happy 58th birthday to Father Steve on June 26th and a happy observance of his 33rd anniversary of his ordination on June 29th. I am so blessed by you all. Thanks so much.

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carlson

It appears Rep. Raul Labrador (R-1st CD-Idaho), despite being a darling of those enamoured with the Tea Party wing of the Grand Old Party, missed one of the fundamental principles of the movement encapsulated in the phrase “We don’t like politics as usual.”

This past week Labrador and his fellow Tea Party type, former State Senator Russ Fulcher, announced one of those cynical “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” that is a classic form of politics as usual.

After telling many of his supporters that he was not a place-holder for Rep. Labrador, that he was in the Governor’s race to stay, he and his friend, Raul, are now in cahoots together trying to pull off a job switcheroo.

Surprise! Fulcher is now running for Labrador’s congressional seat with Labrador’s endorsement. Can you ask “is that a quid pro quo? You betcha. Fulcher gets the endorsement and Raul has one less conservative to overcome in the primary.

Everybody is happy because the politicians each have something. It’s only the voters who get suckered that get hurt, the people who took Fulcher at his word that he wanted to be governor, and wrote checks because they believed him.

Labrador has to be chuckling to himself all the way to the bank. He thinks it is a no lose for him, but a little knowledge of Idaho history might have given Labrador at least some pause.

If history is any guide, voters take exception to this kind of cynical game and often to the surprise of those who play the game, the voters do remember and both politicians, if they hold a current political office, get punished.

The most cited example of this form of gamemenship came in November of 1945. On November 10th, 1945, Republican United States Senator John Thomas died while still holding the Senate seat. Then Idaho Governor Charles Gossett, a Democrat, must have seen a senator staring back at him in the mirror on Armistice Day morning when he was shaving.

He met with Lt. Governor Arnold Williams, also a Democrat, and the two cut a deal. Gossett would resign the governorship, which he did on November 17th, presumably having waited until Senator Thomas was buried in the Gooding cemetery, and Williams, who had become governor upon the Gossett resignation, named Gossett to fill the vacancy created by Thomas’ passing.

Retribution by the voters was swift and fatal. Voters tossed both out of office: Gossett lost to Rep. Henry Dworshak less than a year later on November 5th, 1946, and Williams, despite being the first Mormon in Idaho history to sit in the Governor’s chair, was soundly beaten by State Senator C.A. “Doc” Robins, MD, from St. Maries and the first governor to hail from north Idaho.

The moral of the story is clear: “Voters do not like seeing such games being played for it truly does smack of politics as usual.” Fulcher and Labrador can deny it until the cows come home but that won’t change how most will view this development.

Lt. Governor Brad Little should benefit from this move by Labrador for it demonstrates just how political as opposed to principled Labrador is.

Likewise, David Leroy should benefit because he is skilled enough to make sure every voter in the First District understands that Fulcher is an opportunist who just wants a government paycheck and would prefer the anonymity of being one of 450 members of congress rather than the leader of his state.

In the end the voters do win because they see what chameleons the two men really are.

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