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Eye On Boise

Tue., Feb. 15, 2011, 1:10 p.m.

Otter, Luna call for ‘civil discourse’

Gov. Butch Otter, left, and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, right, call for
Gov. Butch Otter, left, and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, right, call for "civil discourse" on school reform Tuesday, after Luna's vehicle was vandalized the previous evening and Luna was heckled at a coffee shop and confronted by an angry teacher outside his mother's house. (Betsy Russell)

Gov. Butch Otter and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna stood in the governor's office today to condemn personal attacks and call for "civil discourse" in the debate over school reform in Idaho. 'I've kicked around this building for a long time," Otter said. "The Idaho way is always, you can disagree without being disagreeable." He said, "The Idaho way is to have good, robust debate. The Idaho way is for us to have exchange in our ideas and do that in a civil way."

Luna defended his use of the phrase "union thuggery" in reference to an angry teacher who confronted him outside his mother's home, and noted that he didn't mention the Idaho Education Association, the state's teachers union, by name. "If the term 'union thuggery' makes them uncomfortable, you might ask them why," Luna said. "I was talking about what happened at my mom's house. If people want to accuse me that my rhetoric was a little too strong in defense of my mom, then I'm guilty."

Luna said he doesn't blame any particular group for the vandalism of his vehicle last night or his heckling this morning at a coffee shop, at which he said he was glad a police officer was present. But Luna said anonymous Facebook posts and websites have encouraged people to confront lawmakers and others by listing their home addresses and phone numbers; Luna said, "People have to be accountable for that kind of rhetoric." The IEA has specifically denied sending such messages and said in a statement today, "We extend the call for civility to Mr. Luna, too. ... We do not resort to violence or harassment to solve problems."

Luna said, "Families and personal property are off limits."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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