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Posts tagged: 2012 Election

Idaho Lorax speaks for the trees, says ‘write me in please’

The Lorax, the “shortish and oldish and brownish and mossy” character with a “voice that was sharpish and bossy,” was created by Dr. Seuss in his 1971 environmentally themed children’s book by the same name, in which the Lorax “speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” And it was the title of a quirky 2012 feature film starring the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.

But did you know that the Lorax was a write-in candidate for public office in Idaho, and garnered three votes in the Nov. 6 election?

“Idaho Lorax,” with a home address of “General Delivery” in Pocatello, submitted the necessary paperwork to the Idaho secretary of state’s office to be an independent write-in candidate for the Idaho Legislature in Idaho House District 29, Seat A. It – or he? – was the only write-in candidate to file for the Idaho Legislature this year. You can read my full Sunday column here at spokesman.com, which also notes that in Idaho's final election results, of the 34 people who had filed as write-ins for president on the Idaho ballot, Roseanne Barr was by far the most popular.
  

Sen. Nuxoll: Let’s drop it

Idaho Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, whose touting of a tea party plan to upset the presidential election results through an electoral college boycott got national attention after I wrote about it in my Sunday column, now says she's ready to drop the idea, which experts said was based on a misreading of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“I floated an idea out there on November 19 about the electoral college,” Nuxoll wrote today in a message posted on Twitter. “Our country is a country of opportunity to discuss ideas and effect progress and change. I believe in less government, more opportunity and I will fight for that motto because of my love for this state and country and our exceptionalism. But there is no upside to division in our country now since we are all in this together. Some have rejected the idea, so lets drop it and continue on. To villify me because you don't like the idea is unnecessary.”

Sen. Nuxoll touts tea party scheme to flout presidential election results

A state senator from north-central Idaho is touting a scheme that's been circulating on tea party blogs, calling for states that supported Mitt Romney to refuse to participate in the electoral college, in a move backers believe would change the election result. Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, sent an article out on Twitter headed, “A 'last chance' to have Mitt Romney as President in January (it's still not too late).”

Constitutional scholar David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University, said the plan is not “totally constitutional,” as touted in the article, but is instead “a radical, revolutionary proposal that has no basis in federal law or the architecture of the Constitution.” Adler dubbed it “really a strange and bizarre fantasy.”

Said Nuxoll, “Well I guess that's one lawyer.” You can read my full Sunday column here at spokesman.com.

State Ed Board repeals online graduation requirement on 7-1 vote

It was Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna himself who made the motion at the state Board of Education this morning to repeal the rule requiring that every Idaho high school student take at least two online classes to graduate from high school. “Proposition 3 was overturned by the voters,” Luna said. “Overturning Proposition 3 in and of itself did not remove the two.” But, he said, “Because of the actions of the voters on Nov. 6th … the perception in the public definitely was that the language on the ballot itself made a reference to the online graduation requirement, and so I think it's proper that we remove that as part of the pending rule.”

His motion to repeal the rule passed on a 7-1 vote, with just board member Emma Atchley objecting.

“My biggest concern is that if we do not go forward with the online requirement, and we spend a year deciding whether we're going to have it or how we're going to have it, and we all end up wanting it in the end anyway, we've just lost another year,” she said. “I understand the political reality, but I think it's very important that we do not in the end say that we shouldn't have at least some online learning.”

Board member Rod Lewis said, “I hope that we do have the opportunity to talk further about this issue. If you really look at what's happening in post-secondary institutions and the change that is occurring there, I think it is going to be increasingly important that we have students at the end of the day know how to take classes online effectively. That will be an increasing component of their post-secondary education and our goal is to prepare students for that time.”

Board member Richard Westerberg said, “All that being said, and I agree with all of that, the vote was not equivocal. It was a pretty strong vote from the populace, and it was very specific the way it was listed on the ballot. … I think … we need to reaffirm what the voters told us.”

Board member Don Soltman agreed; he chaired the board's subcommittee that set the two-courses rule. “The committee of the board that looked at this looked solely at coming up with a number of online requirements,” he said. “Without exception, every hearing that we had across the state, the issue always came up of … opposition to the law itself. And as we addressed those publics when we met, we explained to them that the law was in place, that the charge of the committee was only to identify the number of courses required under the law. But I can say without hesitation, at every hearing there was opposition to the law expressed.”

Luna said a “different process” is needed on the issue. “I do believe we made the right decision today,” he said.


  

State board prez: Online grad requirement was ‘one size fits all approach’

Ken Edmunds of Twin Falls, president of the Idaho State Board of Education, said what the voters said last week “matters a great deal.” He said, “If people aren't satisfied with what we're doing, they're not going to support further change.”

The board will hold a special meeting Monday to vote on a series of rule changes, including possibly repealing the requirement that Idaho high school students take two online courses to graduate from high school; doing away with a funding scheme that automatically diverts school districts funds to online course providers if students opt to take courses online, with or without their school district's permission; and considering whether to reconsider rules regarding teacher and principal evaluations. Those follow voters' overwhelming rejection last week of Propositions 1, 2, and 3, repealing the “Students Come First” school reform laws that lawmakers enacted in 2011.

During the campaign, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, the author of the “Students Come First” laws, said repeatedly that the online graduation requirement wouldn't go away even if voters rejected Proposition 3, because it was in a state board rule.

Edmunds said, “I still believe that online education is part of the future. I am not certain that the two credits is necessarily the answer. It creates a one size fits all approach.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

‘Fractional ADA’ funding scheme diverting school funds to online providers also up for repeal Monday

There also are two other rule changes on the State Board of Education's agenda for Monday's special meeting that are a result of the rejection of the “Students Come First” laws by voters: One regarding “fractional ADA,” and another regarding teacher and principal evaluations. The agenda calls for fractional ADA to be repealed, while the evaluation issue may wait for input from stakeholders.

“Fractional ADA” refers to Average Daily Attendance, which is the basis on which school districts receive their state funding, as it's tied through a complex formula to the number of students. Under “fractional ADA,” which was repealed in Proposition 3 by voters last week, a portion of Idaho school districts' state funding is automatically diverted to an online course provider, if students or parents choose to take some of their courses online. The “Students Come First” laws allowed students to make that choice for up to half their high school course load, with or without the permission of their school district.

State Board spokeswoman Marilyn Whitney said that rule is legally required to be repealed, now that the state law authorizing the payments scheme has been repealed by voters. State Board Chairman Ken Edmunds of Twin Falls said, “That actually was the subject of discussion many times with superintendents and administrators and even with teachers, trying to understand what impact that had on them. It has a much deeper impact that I originally thought.” Said Edmunds, “The funding issues are very significant.”

The original “Students Come First” laws passed in 2011 allowed students to choose to take their entire high school course load online at state expenses under the fractional ADA formula; a 2012 revision cut that back to half their course load.

AG’s opinion: Teachers to get bonuses for last year as scheduled

Idaho school teachers who earned $38.8 million in merit-pay bonuses last year under the now-repealed “Students Come First” school reform laws still must be paid those bonuses for their work last school year, according to an Idaho Attorney General's opinion released today by state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna. “This is very good news,” Luna said. “I've been trying to do pay for performance since I was elected in '06.”

But Luna had raised questions about whether the repeal of the laws on Nov. 6 might stop the state's ability to make the payments for last year, which were scheduled to go out to school districts on Nov. 15. The legal opinion, signed by Deputy Attorney General Andrew J. Snook, found that the effective date of the repeal of the law is Nov. 21, when Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa will convene the board of canvassers to certify the election results, after which Gov. Butch Otter will issue a formal proclamation.   “Furthermore, the operative events that gave rise to teachers or administrators qualifying for Pay for Performance bonuses all occurred during the 2011-2012 school year,” the opinion said. Therefore, the law's provision that school districts can make the payments to teachers up to Dec. 15, 2012, still stands, as it's “merely  ministerial” acts that occur between last school year and that date to get the payments made.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected all three referenda on the Nov. 6 ballot regarding the “Students Come First” laws, repealing all three laws. Proposition 2 was the merit-pay bonus plan.

Idaho school reform combatants on both sides call for new start

Here's a link to my full day-after-the-election story at spokesman.com, on how after Idaho voters decisively rejected the “Students Come First” school reform laws on Tuesday, leaders on both sides were calling today for a new start on education reforms in Idaho, with all the stakeholders at the table.

Labrador promises ‘bold actions and strong leadership’ in 2nd term

Idaho 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador has released a statement thanking supporters for his “resounding victory” in yesterday's election. “After the results of the national election, I know we are all wondering what to expect for America’s future,” he writes. “Well, you and I both know that the big problems we face will require bold actions and strong leadership. You can count on me to provide that leadership and to continue to fight for you and fight your family.”

Otter: ‘We’re prepared to sit down and find a path forward with all the stakeholders’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter spoke with reporters this afternoon about the election results, and he said the call from “Students Come First” opponents to begin new talks with all stakeholders about school reform is “exactly what I want to do.”

“I think the interest that was shown on both sides, and what we heard on both sides, gives us a good opportunity to start developing, with everybody, a concurrent plan that we can go forward with,” Otter said. “I think everybody does realize, whether they voted for or against the propositions, that our old education system is simply not working. We're not graduating students in many cases that are ready for college, not ready for the wonderful world of work or careers. … I talked to some of the leadership this morning and we're prepared to sit down and find a path forward with all of the stakeholders.”

Otter said he'd be opposed to trying to just re-pass the same laws the voters have rejected. “That isn't a course that I think is positive, that isn't a course that I think would be productive,” he said. “I do think what we need to do is take each prop, each idea of reform, and sit down and say, 'What did you like about it? What didn't you like about it? If you had a chance to change it, how would you change it?' And those things that we can agree on, and each and every one of those … is what we ought to go forward with.”

Unlike Otter, Luna didn't talk to the press today. Asked about Luna's sentiments, Otter said, “I sense that he believes this is a new beginning on education reform, and that we're going to have to go forward.”

The governor said, “There is something we ought to be celebrating today, and that is the big turnout that we had in Idaho. … But we also need to celebrate the independence of the Idaho voter. The Idaho voter isn't going to be led anyplace without some rational thought on their own, without some investigation on their own. I have been the benefactor of that, and in some cases I haven't benefited so much from it. But I still love the independence, and I celebrate their independence today.”

He added, “I want to concentrate right now on the path forward. I want to vet that through the (legislative) leadership, say what can we accomplish, and how quick  can we accomplish that, and who do we have to have in the room to accomplish it.”

Goedde ponders whether to continue as Senate Ed chair or not…

Coeur d'Alene Sen. John Goedde, who's just won re-election to a seventh term in the Senate, says he may or may not continue as the Senate Education Committee chairman. “I would be in line to take the Commerce & Human Resources chairmanship, and that's something that I spent … years being involved with as a small businessman,” said Goedde, an insurance agent. “And I would not have the hassle of dealing with the leadership of the IEA there.”

Clearly stung by the defeat of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the “Students Come First” school reform measures - of which Goedde was the lead legislative sponsor and which the Idaho Education Association opposed - he said he'll “withhold judgment on how serious the IEA is on looking at education reform” until he sees what vision the teachers union proposes for future reform. “If the union is sincere in looking at reform, I think they need to be included,” Goedde said. “But if it's going to be 'not only no but hell no,' which has kind of been their prior approach to this, then it's a futile effort to include them.”

Goedde said by seniority, if he were to leave the education chairmanship, the next person eligible would be Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, who now chairs the Resources Committee. And if he didn't want to, the next would be Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who now serves in leadership as caucus chairman.

Goedde said, “But with that said, I also made a commitment that I'd see this reform through the end, and I don't know that I can jump ship mid-term.” Goedde said, “I spoke with the pro-tem this morning, and I'll speak with him again at the legislative tour.” Lawmakers will gather for their North Idaho Legislative Tour starting on Sunday; it's in Moscow and Lewiston this year. The three-day event will be the first chance for jockeying to begin for leadership races; it'll also be the first chance for lawmakers to chew over the election result together. “We need to sit down as a majority caucus and talk about where we go from here,” Goedde said.

Farris says he’ll run against Labrador again in 2014

1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Jimmy Farris, who polled 30.8 percent to GOP Rep. Raul Labrador's 63 percent in the final, unofficial results, has released this statement:

“I want to thank the many people who put their faith in me and honored me with their vote. Their support was invaluable and I look forward to adding to their numbers in the next campaign. Running a campaign is not an easy task, but this was just the beginning. We learned a great deal and made major inroads this time around, and we are ready to continue building on what we started. Next time we have to work harder and smarter – it’s going to be a challenge, but we will not turn back now.

“We still need to end the gridlock and division that has crippled Congress. We brought a lot of issues to the forefront in this campaign, and when Congressman Labrador returns to Washington, we will be watching to make sure he is doing his job. “I am committed to devoting myself to public service and to giving the First District the representation it deserves. Our next journey starts today. We are headed full steam ahead towards a victory in 2014.”

Contract: No cost to state now that Prop 3 voted down

I've had several inquiries from readers concerned that now that voters have rejected Proposition 3, that the state would face costs related to the now-canceled $182 million laptop contract with Hewlett-Packard. I can verify that according to H-P's Business and Scope of Work Proposal, which is included in the contract as Exhibit D, the state is not required to make any payments.

Bidders were asked to outline early termination costs if Prop 3 didn't pass. H-P said the cost would be zero, as its period of performance for the contract wouldn't begin until the day after the election. It's in Exhibit D on page 102-3; you can read those two pages here. It says, “With a projected start date after November 6, HP anticipates that there will be no lease funding necessary as no notebook units would have shipped or have been accepted prior to the Proposition 3 ballot in November 2012. Hewlett-Packard will not fund any Lease Schedule under the Master Agreement until and unless Proposition 3 has been approved by Idaho voters in November, 2012.”

Johnson’s takeaways: Historic election ‘will be hashed over for years’

Marc Johnson's “The Johnson Post” offers five takeaways from yesterday's election, including  a dose of Idaho historical perspective, some demographics, impacts for the two senior members of the state's congressional delegation, and how the election leaves Idaho balanced on its own “cliff,” this one involving health insurance. You can read it here. Johnson calls yesterday “a truly historic day,” saying, “This one will be hashed over for years.”
  

Otter on school reform: ‘The public conversation isn’t over, it’s only begun’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter issued this statement today on the voters' rejection of Propositions 1, 2, and 3, the “Students Come First” school reform measures:

“The people have spoken, so I’m not discouraged. That’s how our system works. But it’s important to remember that the public conversation that began almost two years ago isn’t over – it’s only begun. Our workforce, our communities and most of all our students still deserve better, and our resources are still limited. We offered these reforms not because we sought change for change’s sake, but because change is needed to afford our young people the opportunities they deserve now and for decades to come. That’s as true today as it was yesterday, so our work for a brighter and better future continues.”

‘We want to sit down with our elected leaders, and that includes Supt. Luna’

Mike Lanza, a Boise father of two who chaired the “No on Props 1,2,3” campaign, said today, “I first got involved in this effort because I have a couple of elementary kids and that was my entire motivation for getting involved. … This election was not a vote against better schools, quite to the contrary. This outcome was a statement by voters that we care very deeply about Idaho's public schools.” He said, “Let's be clear about the mandate from voters,” listing five points:

* “Idaho's voters believe in local control of public schools and reject any top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates from the state.”
* “We believe that every student deserves to have an excellent teacher, and reject the notion of cutting teachers and increasing class sizes in order to pay for unproven technological education fixes.”
* “We believe in the fundamental fairness of a collaborative benefit for everyone of giving our teachers a full voice in how our schools are managed, through the local negotiations process, including on matters beyond pay and benefits.”
* “We believe we should invest in the classroom and reject the idea than an unfunded and unproven merit pay plan can improve student achievement.”
* “And we believe that all stakeholders in education should be brought to the table to engage in a real and an honest process of figuring out how to improve Idaho's public schools.”

Said Lanza, “Most of all in this election, voters said overwhelmingly our elected leaders must be held accountable to the public.” At that point, he was interrupted by applause. “We want to sit down with our elected leaders, and that includes Supt. Luna,” Lanza said, “and begin the hard work that is required to forge real education reform.”

Maria Greeley, a Boise mom and co-founder of the campaign with Lanza, said, “The Luna laws were divisive and destructive, but there is a positive outcome. We have learned how important it is for all citizens to remain engaged in education. We know what we don't want, and by contrast, we have learned what we do want. We want transparency. We want collaboration. We want politics kept out of education. We want the input from our educators. We want our locally elected school boards to determine what is best for each district. And we want to know that our teachers are valued. It is now time to start healing and moving forward.”
  

IEA chief: ‘Together we can be a model of reform for the nation’

Leaders of the successful campaign to overturn state schools Superintendent Tom Luna's “Students Come First” school reform laws gathered in front of Boise High School today to talk about what's next. “This debate has never been about union control of schools,” said Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, and also a mother of four and 28-year teacher in the Moscow School District. “This debate has been about what's best for the students, educators and Idaho's public schools.” She added, “Now that the voters have spoken, it's up to us, the adults, to model … for our students how grownups with diverse views can come together and put their differences aside and go forward. … I urge lawmakers and other elected leaders and policy makers to meet us at the table, to begin the conversation about what is best for Idaho's students and Idaho's schools. We believe that together we can be a model of reform for the nation.”

Luna: ‘I do not believe any Idahoan wants to go back to system we had 2 years ago’

After all three of his “Students Come First” school reform measures were soundly defeated by Idaho voters yesterday, state schools Superintendent Tom Luna issued this statement this morning:

“I still believe that Idahoans want better schools through education reform. I still believe that empowering local school boards, phasing out tenure, giving parents input on evaluations, helping students take dual credit, paying teachers for more than just years of experience and amount of education, and making sure every classroom is a 21st  Century Classroom are critical if we want an education system that meets the needs of every child. We have now had a 22-month discussion about what this should look like. I understand Idahoans have expressed concerns, yet I do not believe any Idahoan wants to go back to the status quo system we had two years ago. I am as committed as anyone to finding a way to make this happen. We must find a way because our children’s future is at stake.”
  

More election results…

Other results from last night, with 99% of the vote counted:

SJR 102, county probation services amendment: 74.4% yes, 25.6% no
HJR2aa, right to fish, hunt and trap: 73.4% yes, 26.6% no

Every incumbent state legislator in districts 1-5 who faced a challenge was re-elected. That includes Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens; Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene; Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d'Alene; Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow; and Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow. Republican Ed Morse defeated Democratic opponent Dan English to hold Phil Hart's old House seat in District 2; newcomer Luke Malek, a Republican, won the seat formerly held by Rep. Marge Chadderdon, R-Coeur d'Alene; and in a close contest, Republican Cindy Agidius defeated Democrat Paulette Jordan, 50.3% to 49.7%, for an open House seat in District 5.

In District 6, appointed Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, turned back a challenge from former District Judge John Bradbury, 44.6% to 55.4%. And in the new District 7, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, defeated independent Jon Cantamessa, 63.8% to 36.2%.

There were few legislative upsets statewide, but among them were two in District 18: Democratic former Rep. Branden Durst defeated Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise; and Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking defeated Rep. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise. Republicans held the District 15 Senate seat, as former U.S. Attorney Betty Richardson was edged by Republican Fred Martin, 52.1% to 47.9%; the GOP held all three seats in that district. Democrats held all three seats in Districts 16 and 17. Dems also held all three seats in District 29 in Pocatello.

Overall, the party split in the Legislature remained the same, with 7 Democrats and 28 Republicans in the Senate, and 13 Democrats and 57 Republicans in the House. That means the R's stil hold 81 percent of the seats in the Idaho Legislature.

All three school reform measures fail

With 93 percent of the vote counted, all three “Students Come First” school reform measures are being soundly defeated. That means the laws passed amid much controversy in 2011 are repealed. Here's where they stand:

Proposition 1: 42.8% yes, 57.2% no
Proposition 2: 42.1 percent yes, 57.9 percent no
Proposition 3: 33.4 percent yes, 66.6 percent no

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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