Posts tagged: Idaho elections
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MIDDLETON, Idaho (AP) — Election officials in southwest Idaho's Canyon County say it appears a do-over vote will be needed to determine the winner in a school board election. The Idaho-Press Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/10Ojjcr) that 23 Middleton voters were assigned to the wrong school zone in Tuesday's election that ended in a tie for a trustee position. Canyon County Chief Deputy Clerk Brad Jackson says the number of voters in the wrong place is high enough to trigger another election. Bu he says he's waiting for the Idaho Secretary of State to tell them how to go forward. The school board election ended in a tie between Marc D. Gunning and Steve Cluff.
It's more than a year before the primary election, but Idaho Sen. Jim Risch announced today that he'll seek re-election in 2014. “When I ran for this office just over four years ago, I said our country was facing many challenges,” Risch said in a statement. “Those challenges not only remain, they have gotten worse.” Click below for Risch's full announcement.
Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports today that 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador had been scheduled to appear at two eastern Idaho county GOP “Lincoln Day” events last weekend, but instead canceled. That suggests he may be backing off from the idea of challenging Gov. Butch Otter in 2014; Labrador has said he's mulling that but hasn't decided.
“If he was trying to do everything he could to challenge Gov. Butch Otter in the May 2014 primary, he would have been on the stump rather than with his family in Eagle,” Popkey writes; the eastern Idaho GOP events offered a chance for exposure in the 2nd Congressional District, where Labrador isn't as well known as in his own 1st District. “Coupled with Labrador's co-hosting of a fundraiser for Otter's re-election campaign Monday in Washington, D.C., the cancellations signal that he might be shying from the risk of facing a well-funded, well-liked governor who has been in statewide or congressional office continuously since 1987,” Popkey writes; you can read his full report here.
At 1 minute to 5 p.m. today Boise time, the Idaho Secretary of State’s office reported that Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, had filed her campaign finance report; up to that point, she was the only incumbent lawmaker who hadn’t filed. The deadline was Dec. 6. By getting the report in now, she avoids possible $50-a-day fines.
In other news from North Idaho lawmakers’ and candidates’ latest finance reports, the candidate who ended the election cycle with the biggest campaign debt in North Idaho is new Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, who reported $21,000 in campaign debt to herself at the close of the reporting period. Stevenson defeated Democrat Pete Gertonson with 54.2 percent of the vote. In second place for campaign debt was independent Jon Cantamessa, with $14,786, whose challenge to Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, fell short; she won with 64 percent of the vote.
The third-highest campaign debt reported in North Idaho, in districts 1 through 7, belongs to new Rep. Ed Morse, though the $10,000 debt is a holdover from his hard-fought primary race, in which he defeated then-Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. GOP candidate Ken DeVries, who failed to unseat Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, reported $6,119 in campaign debt; Democratic challenger Anne Nesse, who failed to unseat Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, reported $5,559 in debt.
Second-term Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, hasn’t filed the required post-election campaign finance report, the only North Idaho legislative incumbent or candidate to miss the filing deadline. The reports were due the 6thof December – today’s the 12th. Candidates can meet the deadline by having that postmark, so the Secretary of State’s office is just gearing up now to go after those who haven’t filed; notices will go out tomorrow. In addition to McMillan, six unsuccessful legislative candidates around the state missed the deadline; she was the only incumbent.
The tardy candidates will get a warning that if they don’t get their reports in within five days, they could be fined – and the fines are $50 per day for every day that it’s late.
Meanwhile, the final round of campaign finance reports for North Idaho lawmakers and candidates don’t contain a ton of news, but they do show that K12 Management Inc. of Herndon, Va., the for-profit online education company, gave last-minute donations to five lawmakers in Districts 1 through 7, with new Sen. Bob Nonini’s $500 donation reported as arriving on Nov. 6 – Election Day. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, got a similar donation on Oct. 17, while Sen. Steve Vick R-Dalton Gardens, reported getting his $250 from the firm on Nov. 13, a week after the election, as did Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins. Rep. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, reported receiving hers on Oct. 24.
Jack Buell, a Democratic Benewah County commissioner since 1974, made a last-minute campaign donation to Republican legislative candidate Cindy Agidius, a donation Agidius reported receiving on Election Day. She defeated Democrat Paulette Jordan by 123 votes.
Funniest billing address: New Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, a 30-year-old who is one of the few candidates who reported online advertising on Facebook as part of his campaign, reported that his payments for that went off to the firm at “1 Hacker Way,” in Menlo Park, Calif. And that is, in fact, Facebook’s address. The L.A. Times earlier this year called it “Silicon Valley’s premier vanity address,” in a place where Apple Inc. is located at “1 Infinite Loop” and Genentech Inc. is at “1 DNA Way.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Legislative Council, the Legislature's leadership group that meets outside the legislative session, is gathered in the House Majority Caucus Room this morning; so far, it's heard reports on interim committees and task forces and discussed training sessions planned for new legislators this year - there are 33 out of 105. Plans include extensive new ethics training. Next up: A report from the Idaho Attorney General's office and legislative staff on the impact of voters' rejection of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the school reform referenda.
I'll be on Idaho Public TV's “Dialogue” program tomorrow night, along with Greg Hahn, Gary Moncrief, and host Marcia Franklin, to discuss the election results. Among them: I've been looking at how we ended up with the exact same party split in the Legislature as before the election, 28 Republicans and 7 Democrats in the Senate, and 57 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the House.
Here's how: The Democrats picked up one seat in the House when Janie Ward-Engelking beat Julie Ellsworth. But that was offset by the Republicans' pickup of retiring Rep. Wendy Jaquet's seat in District 26, which was narrowly won by Steve Miller.
In the Senate, the Dems had a pickup when Branden Durst beat Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise. But the election of Rep. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, to the seat formerly held by Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, was a pickup for the Republicans, offsetting the other one.
Dialogue airs Friday at 8 p.m.; there's more info here.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”