Year: 2016


The anniversary passed largely unnoticed last week, but it is part of the context which one must weigh in order to understand the “Redoubt Movement” taking place in north Idaho today as well as isolated and sparsely settled parts of Montana and Wyoming.

Inspired by a manifesto written (2011) and posted on his website ( by survivalist author James Wesley, Rawls, the document urged folks worried about the next financial crash or Armageddon to move to the sparsely settled areas of the upper mountain west.

Rawls pointed out that these areas would be good places to live by those who felt oppressed by exploding government regulations and a federal government over reaching in people’s lives. He noted places like north Idaho had a justifiable reputation for being libertarian and a terrain that could more easily be defended. Thus, he urged folks to relocate where their numbers might be few but their unity could disproportionally influence their political milieu.

With Rawls emphasizing little interference in their private life and the access to nearby U.S. Forest Service lands for hunting, fishing, berry-picking and a real estate agent aggressively marketing all this, Rawls supporters claim thousands of folks have migrated here.

Local officials in Bonner and Boundary counties dispute those claims, but the truth is no one really knows. What is known is the “redoubters” are participating in local politics. State Reps. Heather Scott and Sage Dixon, with “redoubter” support, have captured two of the three legislative district one seats. They have failed, however, to knock off Senator Shawn Keough, current co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Critics see similarities between the “Redoubt” movement and the old posse comitatus in its emphasis on the sacred status of the Constitution and the supremacy of a county sheriff as the top law enforcement officer. Rawls has been careful to avoid anything close to appearing to be a racist. To the contrary, all are welcomed, he says, who share a desire for less government.

The contextual aspect mentioned earlier with regard to an anniversary still lingers in the minds of many Idahoans. August 21st was the 24th anniversary of the beginning of the siege at Ruby Ridge in which federal agents were responsible for killing Randy Weaver’s wife, Vicki, and one of their children. Anyone who reads former Spokesman-Review reporter Jess Walters’ excellent book on the siege comes away convinced that the federal government engaged in pure entrapment.

A brilliant Wyoming defense attorney, “Gunning for Justice”
Gerry Spence, proceeded to tear apart the government’s case and a Boise jury acquitted Randy Weaver of all charges after 19 days of deliberation.

The message many took away from Ruby Ridge is that the federal government can literally kill one with impunity. However, if the time comes, Rawls’ message to redoubters is also one of possible murder, though he would call it self-defense. What they preach is be ready to shoot to kill all the panic-driven folks who will pore out of cities in search of sustenance.

Seeing Idaho as a haven for anti-government, take the law into your own hands types is not the image Idaho wants to convey. It can have a real downer impact on a local economy, especially if some national organization serves notice of a boycott. Losses could be in the millions.

The legitimate concern that Idaho’s elected officials should be sounding alarm bells about is the tendency of national media to want to characterize the Redoubt movement as the reincarnation of the Richard Butler/Neo-nazis plague that afflicted Idaho’s image world-wide for years.

Jame Wesley, Rawls and the redoubters are certainly hard right libertarian conservatives who can intimidate simply by showing up at meetings wearing their pistols whether there is an open-carry law or not. There is no evidence, however, that they espouse the hate-filled, white supremacist racist views of Butler. National and even international media are already monitoring and watching perhaps hoping they are.

The August 6th Economist magazine had a long some would say sympathetic article extolling the desire for less government regulations and more individual freedom. The author errors though in repeating the belief that thousands have already moved here. He also seemed to think people can still homestead in the west. In addition, two months ago the Washington Post sent one of its Pulitzer prize-winning reporters, Kevin Sullivan, to northern Idaho to explore the possible story. (Editor’s note: Sullivan’s article appeared in the August 28th issue of the Post, two days after this column was written and distributed.)

An obvious question is what’s the difference between the Butler era and the Rawls era? The answer is that though it took some time to get it together, local leaders in Coeur d’Alene did unite with the state’s political leadership to denounce the racist, hate filled language of the neo-Nazi’s.

Governors Andrus, Batt and Kempthorne all worked with local leaders like Tony Stewart, Father Bill Wassmuth and Marshall Mend to denounce Butler and company. In other words there was real political leadership both at the local and state level.

One has yet to hear a peep from Governor Otter, or Senators Risch and Crapo, or Congressman Raul Labrador, speaking out that even the “redoubt movement,” possibly a more benign posse comitatus group, is not reflective of Idaho, its citizens and its collective values.



The following story came close to happening. The reader can decide whether it should have.

It was mid-November of 1994, a few days before Thanksgiving. Early in the morning a black cadillac with plate #1 briefly stopped in front of an apartment in downtown Boise. Walking briskly through the door was governor-elect Phil Batt, who jumped in the passenger seat. At the wheel was four-term Governor Cecil D. Andrus.

The two old friends, though of different political persuasions, respected each other and had worked well together over the years. They chatted about Batt’s narrow election win over Attorney General Larry Echohawk as they drove to the private aviation side of Gowen Field. There they were met by Echohawk, Lt. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Senate Pro Tempore Jerry Twiggs.

They quickly boarded a jet provided by Hewlett-Packard and headed for Idaho Falls where they touched down briefly to pick up House Speaker Mike Simpson. Then took to the air again heading south. Their destination? Salt Lake City. Their purpose? To explore with the leadership of the LDS Church the sale of Idaho State University to the Church in lieu of the Church turning Ricks College into a four year college and renaming it Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Earlier that fall Andrus had received a memo from a former top aide urging him to consider the idea. The memo argued compellingly that if the LDS Church turned Ricks into a four-year college it could lead to significantly less enrollment at ISU and ultimately a regression to a junior college status akin to the College of Southern Idaho or North Idaho College.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to secretly negotiate the sale of ISU to the Church, which would then avoid the expense of building additional capacity in Rexburg? The State might gain $150 million from the sale; there would be more general funds available to Boise State and the University of Idaho if ISU were out of the mix; and, tying its future to the Church might be a better guarantee to the people of Bannock county for campus longevity than its continuing role as the poor third sister in Idaho’s university mix, living most often off of the crumbs.

So the memo argued and so Andrus persuaded the Republican legislative leadership and the governor-elect to at least explore the idea.

The delegation was met by Apostle Dallin Oak at the Salt Lake airport. A former president of BYU and a former Utah Supreme Court justice, he was the acknowledged expert on higher education among the 12 apostles and he was interested in talking. Soon, the delegation was sitting in President Howard Hunter’s office in the LDS office building next to the Temple. The rest is history.

The above scenario is imaginary. The memo and the recommendation to Andrus, however, was a fact. Andrus flat rejected the idea saying there were too many obstacles to overcome in taking a public entity private, and such a drastic move would have to be approved by patrons and the public by some kind of plebesite before he would even think about it. He never raised the issue with Batt.

Perhaps he should have for the memo was prescient. BYU-Idaho is now bursting at the seams and has the second highest enrollment among the state’s seven public colleges and universities and its three private colleges. It has a total enrollment (both full-time and part-time)in excess of 15,000 students whereas the University of Idaho and ISU are both experiencing declining enrollment with Idaho having approximately 11,534 and ISU having 12,543. Boise State tops the list with 20,000 students.

A case can be plausibly made that much of BYU-Idaho’s growth has come at the expense of ISU. Folks at ISU point out, however, that they are the beneficiaries of more LDS graduate students pursing their advance degrees at ISU. They also point out that BYU-Idaho has announced there will be no new buildings at the Rexburg campus which could portend a resumption of more LDS student attending ISU.



He turns 85 on August 25th. He has always had an ability to turn a phrase, and is particularly quick at utilizing well-known colloquial expressions at appropriate times. So, if asked how he feels about turning 85 he would probably say he’s been “rode hard and put up wet” a few too many times. Then he would crack that smile that lights up his eyes and is an essential part of his charm.

That charm, coupled with a prodigious memory for names and faces, as well as his political skill in solving seemingly intractable problems, inspires people to trust him. Besides, he is just a downright likable human being.

Over the years he has challenged Idahoans to dare to be great, to do more and with less if necessary. His unstinting support for more funding for public education, his insistence that critically important economic development cannot come at the expense of existing business, his belief that one first has to make a living before they can enjoy Idaho’s incredible environment has resonated well with voters.

“He” of course is Cece Andrus, the former four-term governor of the state, former 44th Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, former State Senator from Clearwater county as well as the city of Lewiston. By any measure he is the most successful and greatest governor in Idaho’s history.

He left public office in 1995 but remains the most popular political figure in the state and despite an entire generation having grown up without even having had the chance to vote for him he is more liked and his favorable to unfavorable numbers are higher than any current major officeholder.

He is the essence of Shakespeare’s Henry the Second, the Lion in Winter with teeth still sharp that can take a big bite out of anyone’s hide as the folks at the Department of Energy’s INEL site learned when they tried to bamboozle he and former Governor Phil Batt into abrogating the historic agreement banning future shipments of any nuclear waste into Idaho which has a commitment to take all waste from the site by 2035.

The list of his many accomplishments on behalf of Idahoans and all Americans is long and distinguished – too long to list here. However, perhaps his greatest legacy was his critical role in convincing President Carter to use his powers to create National Monuments in Alaska under the Antiquities Act. It became the critical piece of leverage that forced all parties to come to the table and negotiate the bill that became the historic Alaska lands legislation.

Overnight the National Park Service doubled in size. Ironically the anniversary of the Park Service is coincidentally August 25th. There will celebrations in and on NPS properties all across the nation including West Yellowstone – the nation’s first national park.

Andrus deliberately chose not to be there. He wants to fade away quietly, his time in the limelight having come and gone. He knows his career was made possible by thousands of Idahoans who trusted and supported him, indeed sustained him. He was always so proud and considered it to be a real privilege to represent the great state. He never put on airs; glory never turned his head. While in D.C. he placed his own phone calls, played on a softball team in the Department’s recreational league. He knew who he was, from whence he came and to where he would return.

Like most of us who inevitably age he has faced and handled several life-threatening health challenges in recent years, but he forbid those close to him to say anything not wanting his health challenges to detract from others facing the same. His goal is to live to be 100, thereby beating his father, Hal, who lived to be 99.

Yes indeed, Andrus is still one of the most competitive individuals one will ever meet. He doesn’t like to lose at anything, whether tiddlywinks, fly fishing, goose hunting, golf or elected office. Starting a political career by losing a race for governor twice in the same year is not only humbling, it can be motivational.

One drawback to living so long is one knows and sees far too many friends passing on. He could probably attend a funeral every day somewhere in Idaho. As John Donne wrote in the 16th century, every person’s death diminishes us all and the departure of so many friends and supporters takes a toll on Cece.

Andrus is the natural at so many things but in particular he is a superb teacher who relates to any student whether five or twenty-five or sixty-five.

Neither is he afraid to show his emotions. He is human but also humane.

Once, while visiting he and Carol in Boise, I quietly walked into their living room only to see the good, great governor sitting there with tears rolling down his cheeks. He had happened to catch on television a Fish and Game commercial from a couple years back that featured him and his then favorite hunting dog. The dog was of course gone, but not forgotten.

There are thousands of Idahoans still alive whose lives are better because of Cece. In a spirit of thanksgiving for an extraordinary life of public service join me in wishing the Lion in Winter a happy and healthy 85th.



Been pondering the complicated issue of relations between minorities in Idaho and between law enforcement and those minorities. As most people know, Idaho is one of the more lily-white states in the nation, with 83.5% of its appoximately 1.6 million citizens characterized as white.

People of African-American heritage are less than 1% of the state’s population. Chances of an Idahoan working with or knowing a black family are practically nil. Most Idahoans exposure to African-Americans is limited to watching talented and skilled members of the black community playing football or basketball in exchange for a college education.

Idaho’s largest minority is its Latino community with 11% of the state’s population being so identified. As in other western states, the Latino community is growing more rapidly than the white population and other minorities.

Already, in the State of California demographers report the combined birth rate of minorities is more than 50% of new births. Indeed, the far-seeing eye of history may be recording a reversion of the west back to its Spanish and Latino roots.

The United States may have appeared to win the Mexican War of 1848 with its subsequent turn-over of millions of acres which eventually became new states in the union, not to even mention the “annexation of Texas, but it looks to many like an Hispanic and Latino recolonization is well underway.

Idaho’s native Americans are also few in actual numbers. They represent 1.1% of the state’s population. As most people know minorities are disproportionally imprisoned, are more likely to come from poor economic circumstances and are under-educated. It should come as no surprise then that minorities commit more crimes.

This inevitably leads some in law enforcement to develop either a subconscious or a fully cognizant bias against one or more minorities, whether ethnic, gender or sexually based. And it often can lead to feelings on the part of the minority interest that they are being subjected to some kind of profiling which whites seldom if ever experience.

So is there an answer to this challenge in Idaho? There is certainly no one size fits all solution, but allow me to make five suggestions that could and should make a difference. If acted upon in a timely manner, especially in the Treasure Valley and the rapidly growing counties of Ada and Canyon:

1) All of Idaho’s cities and certainly all of its largest counties should “add the words” that have a community going further in its commitment not to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender identity, age or ethnicity. And the LDS members of the Idaho Legislature should recall the many years in which being Mormon resulted in discrimination, and take the lead in passing a state version of add the words.

2) Members of Idaho law enforcement should hold town meetings, or ice creaam socials, around the state once a month or once a quarter with various minority groups and primarily listen. The goal though should be to establish good dialogue on how to address issues of mutual concern.

3) A large community’s police force should reflect the larger minority interests in the community. If Nampa’s Latino population is 20% of its population, there should be approximately 20% Latinos in the police force. Yes, most people don’t like quotas but the benefits outway the negatives.

Spokane has almost 30,000 Russian speakers within its borders. Yet unless things have changed recently there are no Russian speaking members of the force. Ever tried to resolve a touchy domestic dispute but had to wait a couple hours for an interpeter to be found and brought to the scene?

4) Members of a police force should be required to live in the jurisdiction which they police. The benefits should be obvious. In addition, police officers should be incentivized to locate in tougher neighborhoods either through a rent subsidy or a mortgage subsidy.

5) Patrolman and police officers should be allowed to drive their cars home when they go off-shift. The mere sighting of a patrol vehicle can be a deterrent and it speaks loudly to the city’s commitment to public safety. Studies also show it is more cost effective than having to check a car in and out of a car pool every day.

There is no perfect answer, but Idaho, more so than most states is in a position to do it correctly the first time.



Heard from one of my long-time column readers last week – Wayne Hoffman, the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. While Hoffman seldom agrees with me he would be the first to tell you he appreciates the perspective I bring and the thinking I provoke.

For my part I admire some of the research his group does and the issues they explore. They merit attention because he and his team do a good job of factual reporting. His recent effort to expose the way some legislators can exploit their PERSI retirement by taking a high-paying state job that allows them to average their retirement benefit based primarily on the last three years of their much higher income is one of those “let’s hide from the public this perk” that should be abolished.

Hoffman’s first note to me on last week’s column picked up on the fact that while mentioning that governors make better presidents than senators, as a general rule, and my thesis was parties could only pick for president from their pool of current or former governors, there were in fact two governors that would be on the fall ballot that I’d fail to mention – the Libertarian presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Garry Johnson and his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld.

Hoffman wanted to know what I thought about them and whether I might consider actually voting for the Libertarian ticket. I jokingly wrote back that I might give it some thought, but the truth is a vote for the Libertarian ticket is a vote for Donald Trump and there is no way I’m going to waste my vote on a third party candidate.

For all her shortcomings, Hillary Clinton is a far superior candidate and will be a far better president than Mr. Trump. There is simply no choice to be made, it has to be Hillary all the way. I’ll readily concede to Hoffman that the two governors on that Libertarian ticket are competent and qualified. Unlike Donald Trump, either one of them could do the job of president.

Independents and moderate Republicans, however, cannot and hopefully will not waste their vote. Too much is a stake.

I remain puzzled by those who say Mrs. Clinton is a “liar” and that she cannot be trusted. It remains a mantra chanted daily by her critics. The fiasco of American diplomats losing their lives at Benghazi is most often cited by her critics.

Yet, if one bothered to watch CNN’s coverage of the House hearing where she appeared one had to be impressed with how well she handled herself and the tough grilling for 8½ hours.

So she allegedly lies? If so why have no perjury charges ever been brought against her? And what’s the origin of this bunk about her not being trustworthy? What public trust has she violated? And don’t give me the line about selling state department changes in foreign policy in excchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

That is a serious charge of treason and I’m not aware of any responsible journalistic organization coming up with evidence to substantiate the charge nor has anyone brought a successful suit against her.

Until or unless someone comes up with a story that has real legs I suggest folks stop talking in clichés and engaging in psittacism.

It is this writer’s opinion that the trust question is really a mutation of the respect issue which had its origins in her decision to stand by Bill during the entire sad incident of Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. Many women in particular may have lost some respect for Hillary, and ascribed her decision to crass political calculation rather than accept the possibility that she acted out of true love and loyalty.

It behooves us all to remember one is innocent until proven guilty and Hillary Clinton has never been convicted of one crime, nor do she and Bill have 3500 lawsuits against them.

There really is no choice In November, Wayne, and you know it. There might have been a choice if the GOP convention had selected Governor Kasich, but they did not.

The GOP’s decision to go with Trump has started a Republican decline into the ash heap of history – to the dust from which they sprung where they will be unwept, unhonored and unsung!

Go Hillary!



There ought to be an amendment to the Constitutional amendment that limits the terms of a president to two consecutive terms which would require each major political party’s nominee for President come only from the ranks of that party’s governors.

There simply is no substitute for executive experience, in particular government executive experience; and, while we are at it, let’s ban that asinine phrase usually uttered by members of the United States Senate, that they’re going to run the government like a business when they become president.

If ever there was an ignorant phrase, that’s it. Government is not a business as any governor will tell one.

Think how much better off we would be today if both party’s nominees for the presidency were governors. As a nation we would not be despairing over the Hobbseian choice we are facing in the fall with a narcissistic, egomaniac billionaire who claims he alone can change the federal government and run it like a business (Ignore his three bankruptcies please) on one side.

On the other side we have a U.S. Senator who, like most senators, has run nothing larger than a Senate staff, if senators run their own staff at all, and after 30 years of government service still demonstrates a lack of judgment and a tendency to let staff run her instead of the reverse. The net effect is the electorate has little confidence in her abilities, not to mention her ethics.

One need look no further than our current president for an example of how difficult it is for one to master the levers of power and move the bureaucracy when one has had no previous executive experience. It took six years for President Obama to begin to command the office and run the government.

Looking to the past is a good guide for almost all of our good presidents were first governors. The most notable exception of course was President Lincoln. Examine the list of presidents who were governors: Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Thomas Jefferson are just a few names that leap out.

The list of duds who were senators but thought they saw a president in the mirror every morning include Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy (Yes, JFK – his record of accomplishments was thin, and having sex with an underage intern during the Cuban Missile crisis was inexcusable), Richard Nixon, and Warren G. Harding.

If each party would have to have nominated a governor today we would be weighing the merits of Ohio’s Governor John Kasich or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, or California Governor Jerry Brown¸ or Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Just think how much better we’d all feel, knowing that there was competency, skill and ethics on the part of both party’s nominee and that no matter the outcome the nation would still be in experienced hands.

Idaho voters over the years have shown an uncanny ability to choose as governors people who have already been vetted by the voters in other government roles and thus have a record that can be reviewed. The Idaho Republican party in particular has figured this out much better than the Democrats.

Idaho Democrats in recent years have shown a distressing tendency to put up candidates for major offices people who have no record and have never run for anything else. Not surprisingly the Idaho electorate has rejected folks like Keith Allred, Jerry Brady, and AJ. Balukoff who sought to be governor.

One need look no further than the upcoming 2018 election. The Republican primary will see former state senator and current Lt. Governor Brad Little, former state senator Russ Fulcher, and former state representative and current congressman Raul Labrador squaring off.

Democrats are expected to nominate A.J. Balukoff again who may have no primary opposition as Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is expected to stay where he is.

Democrats should take a page from the Republican play book and start cultivating a farm team of young Democrats who they can bring along by providing support (such as a political job that pays more than minimum wage).

Here’s a list they could start with: Mike Kennedy¸ former Coeur d’Alene City Council; State Rep. Matt Erpelding; Lewiston City Councilman Jesse Maldonado; Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar; Boise City Councilman T.J. Thomson; former American Falls Mayor Amy Wynn; and, North Idaho College Young Democrat president A.J. Konda. Add two young members of the state party staff to that list—Tom Hamilton and Shelby Scott.

The bottom line is there is no substitute for experience whether at the state level or the national.



For the sixth year now since moving back to the “home country,” on the 4th of July we drive a short ten miles from our home on Cave Lake to the annual Rose Lake Regatta. There’s a “parade” of six to ten neighborhood boats, a short program and then a potluck.

It’s all informal, relaxing and enjoyable as about 100 plus year-round and summer-only residents enjoy each other’s company. It’s about American as American can be. We sing a few patriotic songs. Generally the subject of politics is avoided.

As event organizer for 31 years, fellow Kellogg native Tim Olson, once said to me, “Chris, on the 4th of July we are neither Democrats nor Republicans. We are all Americans who love our country and love our freedoms.”

Tim is someone I wish I’d gotten to know years before that first regatta in 2010. He’s one of those decent, hard-working, country smart people one finds all over Idaho. For years he was the top lobbyist for Regence Blue Shield of Idaho and he still lobbies in Boise.

He also was the tall stud star on the last basketball state championship won by Kellogg in 1964. He and his high school sweetheart, Julie, went on to Idaho State, which Tim attended on a basketball scholarship. Their marriage has been blessed and they’ve become our good friends.

My role has always been to say a few non-partisan words about Idaho and note the previous day in 1890 was when Idaho became the 43rd star on our flag. Then I lead the group in the singing of the State Song—“Here We Have Idaho.”

Tim surprised me this year when he announced a special award besides the regatta winners. It was for the person the board felt had made a solid contribution to the welfare of the state. He announced I was the winner, which caught me totally by surprise. Knowing that our son, Scott, is a major in the US Marine Corps, the prize was a large volume telling the story of many of the nation’s Medal of Honor winners.

Further to my surprise, though, there was no account of our fellow Kellogg resident, Frank Reasoner, mortally wounded in July of 1965 in Vietnam. He was awarded the medal posthumously for honoring the code that says no Marine is ever to be left behind.

First Lieutenant Reasoner, in command of Company A of the 3rd Recon Battalion of the 3rd Marine Brigade, was killed in action while trying to retrieve a wounded member of his command.

His story should be required reading in all Idaho history classes (As should the stories of Idaho’s other 12 winners) much as students in Texas hear and memorize Colonel Travis’ speech before the Alamo was overrun.

Reasoner was born in Spokane in 1937 but largely raised in Kellogg. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps three months before his 18th birthday in June, 1955. Initially trained as an airborne radio operator, he rose through the enlisted ranks quickly to become a sergeant, but he decided he wanted to be an officer.

He studied hard and successfully passed the entrance exams for America’s academies, then accepted an appointment from Idaho Senator Henry Dworshak to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He began his collegiate time there in the summer of 1958 and graduated on schedule in June of 1962. He was placed on the inactive reserve list of the Corps during his time at West Point. A good athlete, he lettered in baseball and wrestling. Being from Kellogg, though, he loved boxing.

He holds a record that will stand forever at West Point: in four years he won four brigade boxing championships at four different weight levels.

Second Lt. Reasoner still had to enter and finish the demanding Officer Training Program at Quantico. One imagines it was a
snap for him and in January, 1963, he began a three-year assignment with the Fleet which lead him into Vietnam in April, 1965, and his death in July, 1965.

His body rests on a knoll in Kellogg’s Greenwood Cemetery just above St. Rita’s Catholic Church. He has a beautiful view up the valley and into the mountains surrounding Kellogg.

A brisk breeze blowing off of Rose Lake with gorgeous clouds flying by brought me back to the present. I said a special prayer of thanks for all those who risk life and are in harm’s way, current members, as well as veterans and their families and relatives to protect our freedoms.

This evening I added an additional prayer for the service of Frank Reasoner as well as his 216 Idaho colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice.

God Bless America.



Now that Hillary Clinton is about to shatter the glass ceiling hanging over the White House’ Oval Office, one has to ask when is Idaho going to get with the program?

All of the states touching Idaho’s border save Nevada, have had at least one female governor. Oregon and Washington have had two. Some have been as good if not better than any male who has held the office. One need look no further than former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. History will treat her tenure (2005-2013) far more kindly than Washington’s first female governor, Dixy Lee Ray (1981-1985), who despised the press and the media returned the love in kind.

Governor Ray was upset in the 1984 Democratic primary by State Senator Jim McDermott, who many thought would coast to election only to be upset himself by King County Executive John Spellman in the general.

Oregon’s first female chief executive was veteran legislator Barbara Roberts. A bit like Dixy Lee Ray, she had a tart tongue, sharp wit and a hard time masking her intelligence. She chose not to seek a second term. Indeed, if there is one common denominator among the female chief executives in the states bordering Idaho, all except Gregoire only served one term: Barbara Roberts of Oregon, 1991-1995; Olene Walker of Utah, 2003-2005;Judy Martz of Montana, 2001-2005; and, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming, 1925-1927.

So how come no female figure has emerged in Idaho? There’s no easy answer as both parties have had talented women who could handle the job with ease as well if not better than many of the men who have served as governor.

On the Republican side many thought Louise Shadduck, who started her career as a journalist in her hometown of Coeur d’Alene, working for the Coeur d’Alene Press. She almost single-handidly over the years built up the Republican Party in Kootenai county. She mentored a number of Republican males who went onto public service, both elected and non-elected. Talented Republicans from Steve Symms to Phil Reberger to David Leroy considered Louise a mentor.

She was the first female administrative assistant to an Idaho governor, serving Governor C.A. “Doc” Robins from 1946 to 1950. She became the first female head of a department when under Governor Bob Smylie she created and ran the forerunner of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

She seemed a sure bet to be Idaho’s first female governor but an attempt to unseat Gracie Pfost from the First District Congressional seat did not succeed. It was, however, another first for Ms. Shadduck. It was the first time in the nation’s history both major political parties chose female standard bearers in a congressional race. Louise never put her name on a ballot again.

The only Republican female actually to file for governor was State Senator Rachael Gilbert from Boise. She ran second, however, to Middleton State Senator Roger Fairchild in the 1990 Republican primary, losing by some 5000 votes.

Among current GOP officeholders the best bet for a female to break that glass ceiling would be JFAC co-chair Shawn Keough from Sandpoint. A moderate, pro-education Republican she has proven to be a tough campaigner rebuffing three serious primary challenges from hard right-wing Tea Party types.

Though she has never expressed any interest in being governor some pundits speculate that current Lt. Governor Brad Little might encourage her to run for his job when he runs for governor in 2018 with the thought they might be an attractive winning “ticket.” If Little were to then move onto the Senate Keough might inherit the job.

Another more than qualified Republican female is Sandy Patano, former Senator Larry Craig’s State Director. Intelligent, articulate, a superb strategist and a long-time political activist, she would be a good bet also—if she ran.

There’s one other dark horse possibility: rumors persist that the reason Governor Otter is raising funds for his PAC is that while he won’t run for a fourth term, his wife, Lori, just might. No slouch at campaigning, she could be a formidable candidate and if she won the primary a lock to break that glass ceiling.

When one turns to the Democratic side it says something that few names come to mind. Former Governor Cecil Andrus always thought Orofino State Senator Marguerite McLaughlin would have made a terrfic governor and he encouraged her to run. Despite rumors to the contrary, Andrus never pushed daughter Tracey to run for Boise mayor or any other elective office. Nonetheless, had she ever sought to be governor she too would have been a good bet to break the ceiling.

Likewise, former Democratic National committeewoman Jeanne Buell from Worley could have been a credible, winning candidate. None of these folks ran, however. Among today’s current crop of Democrat officeholders only former State Senator Holli Woodings is a possibility. Minority Leader Senator Michelle Stinnett has said never.

There’s a bright young talent working in Democratic state headquarters, however. Her name is Shelby Scott. If she doesn’t return to her native Nevada, she might be a good Democrat bet in 2026.



Some varied thoughts given recent events:

1) There’s something rotten in Denmark. Most folks are familiar with this line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet which has become a metaphor for corruption at the heart of a particular matter. In this instance it applies to the Idaho Treasurer’s office.

Enough serious questions have been raised regarding the management, or lack thereof, by Ron Crane that Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden ought to name an independent group of six to ten individuals to undertake an independent investigation and report back within 90 days with concrete recommendations.

Otter and Wasden could name someone like former Deputy AG Clive Strong to head up the panel, add a couple of sharp legislators like Idaho Falls Republican Senator Bart Davis and soon-to-be Pocatello Democratic Senator Mark Nye , and also add a couple of financial experts to sort through the charges and counter-charges and then present to the public a clear and simple picture of what has been occurring. Indeed, how much money has the state lost as a result of Crane’s alleged cronyism and mismanagement. There is indeed something rotten but spell it out clearly.

2) Questions in Need of Answers or Is Idaho about to buy another Pig in a poke? Before Governor Otter became a full-time career politician he held a major position in the Simplot Corporation. As such he should know the importance of putting together a sound and solid business plan that answers basic questions meant to satisfy lenders, developers, contractors and the public.

This is especially true when “public/private” ventures are formed which invariably provide nice financial gain for the private interests but somehow posit all the risk on the public half. After the problems and shenanigans surrounding the State’s involvement with the private prison firm, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and its debacle in contracting with ENI to deliver broad band to Idaho schools one would think the Governor might be a bit more cautious.

But no, the governor is once again jumping before thoroughly vetting the state hooking up with a company comprised of private investors and a “face-savor” arrangement with Rice University to provide Idaho with a program leading to a Doctor of Osteopathy degree.

The program would be housed in the Meridian Office of Idaho State University, which the Board of Education has designated as the lead school for medical program offerings. ISU would provide support services.

Someone ought to be asking why the State of Montana, after a truly thorough due diligence process, rejected this same proposal. Has anyone seen a detailed business plan? Can anyone name all the investors and what the expected rate of return for each investor is?

How much profit is made off of each student? Why is there no formal residency arrangement for graduates to head into after completing this program? Why wasn’t the Idaho Medical Association consulted? If the program fails, who has most of the risk and how many dollars?

There are still too many unanswered questions, yet the Board, at the governor’s insistence, has already sanctioned the arrangement. There’s something fishy here also.

3) Bernie is correct about media bias. Over 400 superdelegates to the Democratic convention – largely current and former officeholders and party-officials, signed on with Hillary Clinton before the first primary. The media, led by CNN, dutifully started listing these as fully committed delegates when in fact they knew a substantial number of these folks switched to Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic convention. Yet they still claim to be fair and unbiased.

4) Helen was not the first. Overheard a customer in a café tell his companion the first and only female ever to serve in the Idaho congressional delegation was Helen Chenoweth. That just ain’t so. The first female member of Congress from Idaho was “Hell’s Belle” Gracie Pfost, from Nampa. She served ten years (1952-1962) representing Idaho’s First Congressional district.

She derived her colorful nickname because of her strident support for the federal government, as opposed to private power companies, being the builder of a high dam that would have completely flooded the most beautiful part of Hells Canyon.

Mrs. Pfost had two other firsts: 1) The first congressional candidate ever to defeat an opponent in the log rolling event held in conjunction with “timber day” events at county fairs; and, 2) She was in 1956 the Democratic half of the first ever all- female contest for a congressional seat across the nation, with the late, great Louise Shadduck being the Republican half.

Gracie won but six years later in 1962 she lost narrowly to former Governor Len B. Jordan in a race for one of Idaho’s seats in the United States Senate.



Most residents of the Gate City are familiar with the expression used by journalist, author and Oregon politician Richard Neuberger to describe the phenomena that characterized many of the members of Congress, who, once defeated, or opting to retire, stayed inside the Beltway never to leave the Nation’s capitol.

Many who travel to D.C., especially those coming from the west, almost immediately sense the surrealism that pervades the place. Too many people frenetically rushing about, caught up in their own self-importance no matter how small or trivial their little piece of power is. Then there are the 24-year-old still wet behind the ears staff for members of the House and Senate, who not too deceptively allow how their “horse” will be unable to meet with a group despite the meeting having been scheduled months before.

You see, the President has just called the member down to the White House, or there’s a special vote, but don’t worry, it is really staff who run the office (wink, wink), so you’re talking to the right person, the aide pretentiously proclaims.

The city is all about power, money, greed, pecking orders, influence-peddling misnamed as lobbying, and that lovely phrase used by attorneys—billable hours. The classic example is a Hill staffer who has moved down to K Street to lobby, after a decent interval, former colleagues who know how the game is played becausae they too want to cash in on their connections.

The former aide bumps into his old Boss who says hello and moves on after 30 seconds. The ex-staffer rushes back to the office and immediately bills ten of the firm’s clients $450 (his hourly charge) each though the meeting was only a minute.

Its all perfectly legal and after all, everyone does it. Even a decent former congressman I knew once billed an Indian tribe $10,000 a month for one luncheon with a minor official from the Environmental Protection Agency. They had a “retainer agreement” in which the client pays to have the former congressman on “stand by” in case he may be needed. Most normal folk cannot get back home fast enough. There’s a cost for this greed and lack of ethics, though. It also may help to explain why many Americans are looking for an outsider to come into that surreal world to restore sanity and common sense.

Many have lost any confidence in or trust for those who live and work in the greater D.C. area. The irony is that many folks who go to D.C. either as a member of Congress, or a staffer, or an appointee to some post, get trapped by the high salaries. When they start to explore returning home they realize they cannot afford it.

They may sincerely want to return, but everything from private schools to reading the Washinton Post and the New York Times to start their day keeps them in place. Don’t forget either the parties in Georgetown and the easy sex that underlies “business” relationships.

So what about Idaho’s Congressional delegation? When Neuberger wrote the essay for the Saturday Evening Post in the early 50s he reportedly was looking for a former senator in Pocatello and was asking about. An agent for Union Pacific looked at him and uttered the phrase “those fellows never come back to Pocatello.”

Well, it turns out that the agent should not have used the word never.

Not double-counting those who were congressmen then senators, nor those still in office, since 1946 of the 33 members of Congress from Idaho slightly less than half, 15, have returned home to Idaho while 18 have remained.

Despite Neuberger’s catchy title, in the case of Idaho, many did return to Pocatello. Sadly, Richard Neuberger was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1954 from Oregon but never had the opportunity to decide whether to return home. He died at the age of 47 in 1959 while still in office.