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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: McClure Center

UI McClure Center survey shows Idahoans want roads, bridges fixed

Idaho's long-awaited survey on transportation improvements is out from the University of Idaho, and it turns out an overwhelming majority of Idahoans think Idaho's roads and bridges need big fixes or they'll fail in the next 10 years. However, the options to pay for that work that drew support in the survey clearly wouldn't raise enough money, while bigger-ticket answers, including gas tax increases, drew less support.

 “The conclusion I drew is that our elected leaders are going to have to figure out how to raise revenue for something Idaho voters clearly see as important,” said Priscilla Salant, a University of Idaho professor and interim director of the McClure Center for Public Policy, which released the survey results today. “They have their work cut out for them.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter had been waiting for the results of the survey before proposing big road fixes, an issue he made a top priority during his first term in office, but abandoned for the past few years after legislative defeats; you can read my full story here at

Salant named interim director of UI’s McClure Center

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — There's a new interim director of the University of Idaho's marquee public-policy research center that's been beset by leadership turnover. The UI on Monday named Priscilla Salant interim director of the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research. Salant takes over from Marty Peterson, who is retiring for a second time after serving for 20 years as a special assistant to UI's president. Peterson stepped in during 2012 when the former McClure Center director, political science professor David Adler, bolted after two years for a similar post at Boise State University. Before taking this assignment, Salant had led UI's university's outreach and engagement efforts since 2006 at the school's Office of Community Partnerships. The university didn't provide details of its search for a permanent McClure Center leader.

Rural Idaho officials talk of the challenges of living amid large swaths of public land

Local officials from rural communities throughout Idaho said today that federal public lands have major and direct impacts on their everyday operations and challenges.  

During a panel at the McClure Center’s symposium at the Capitol Auditorium this morning, Owyhee County Treasurer Brenda Richards said, “There isn’t a decision that we make that doesn’t bring federal lands into the aspect, in some of the issues that we’re facing.” When moderator Marty Peterson asked her about the impact of the numerous recreationists who visit the county, Richards noted that it has few gas stations or convenience stores. “Most of the time, if you’re coming to visit Owyhee County you’re going to fuel up, you’re going to bring your provisions in from another county.” The county, though, bears costs for search and rescue, she said. “That’s hit us very hard.”

She said, “We do enjoy having people come out to Owyhee County and share in that … but there is an impact. Counties are required to provide services, and it doesn’t matter who’s visiting your county, you have to provide for that.”

Soda Springs Mayor Kirk Hansen drew a laugh when he said, “I always thought Soda Springs was quite cosmopolitan.” Explaining, he noted that mining operations on public lands in the region surrounding the eastern Idaho town draw hundreds of residents there. “We’re not the so-called always have mud on our boots type miners,” he said. “We have electrical engineers, geologists, environmental engineers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers - we have highly educated people who move into these areas to live and to work. … They enhance the betterment of the community in which we live.”

Hansen said the mining operations are “providing the standard of living that exists, and using the resources that in my mind are God-given. … We need to be very wise in the stewardship of what’s there.” Describing a situation in which a mine leached selenium into the environment and killed several horses, he said the mines now follow strict federal regulations to avoid polluting the water and land. “We need to collaborate very well with the federal agencies, and the land of many uses is very critical,” Hansen said. “We have thousands of people who are dependent upon the uses of public lands – the proper usage, that we take care of the resources that have been given to us, that they’re available and for the betterment of everyone.”

Woody Woodford, superintendent of the Kellogg School District, said, “Eighty percent of Shoshone County is state and federal lands. … They are the largest landowner in Shoshone County. As a direct result, we have 20 percent of our property owners pay 100 percent of our taxes, that burden is huge. … We believe in responsible management of federal lands, but there has to be some kind of a balance.” Shoshone County, which long was a prosperous mining area, now has a big car dealership as its major business. “Our county needs the kind of industry where we can afford to buy those cars at Dave Smith’s, and it simply doesn’t exist,” Woodford said. He said the small tax base is increasingly pinched trying to cover the costs for required services.

Valley County Commissioner Gordon Cruickshank discussed the community forest trust, in which a collaborative trust is seeking to manage 200,000 acres of federal forest land to both improve its health and make money for public services. The community has to provide for schools and roads, he said, and needs a way to generate money now that historic logging on public lands has dropped. The project is “a model, a way to show it can be done,” he said.

Symposium looks at federal fiscal issues, impact on local government

The University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research is holding a symposium on fiscal issues this morning, featuring Congressman Mike Simpson and Sen. Mike Crapo. The symposium is examining federal fiscal issues and their impact on local government; it’s taking place at the Capitol Auditorium from 9-11:30 a.m.; you can listen live here, and see the full agenda here.

Marty Peterson, McClure Center director, is the moderator today; two panels of local officials are addressing public lands, and infrastructure and regulations. This morning's introduction came from Don Burnett, University of Idaho interim president.

McClure Center offers free symposium on federal fiscal mess Tues. at Capitol Auditorium

The University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research is inviting the public to a Symposium on Federal Fiscal Issues on Tuesday evening, with panelists including Sen. Mike Crapo, Congressman Mike Simpson, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, retired Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The free symposium will take place from 8-10 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium and will be streamed live online; those who would like to attend are asked to reserve their free tickets at

Kustra: Adler’s move to BSU fits university’s public affairs mission

David Adler, a longtime political science professor and constitutional scholar at Idaho State University who for the past two years has served as director of the University of Idaho's James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, has been named the new director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University – completing an arc across of all three of the state's universities.

“With our designation by the State Board of Education as Idaho’s public affairs university, Dr. Adler’s appointment allows us to realize the full extent of our public affairs mission,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “It not only recognizes the contributions Cecil Andrus has made to his state and nation, but it also allows us to carry out our public affairs mandate with the leadership of such a distinguished teacher, author, lecturer and administrator as Dr. Adler.”

The Andrus Center, founded by former four-term Idaho governor and U.S. Interior secretary Cecil Andrus, has focused since 1995 on providing a forum for non-partisan policy discussions on major issues in Idaho and the West. With Adler's appointment, the center will expand its programming to include the Constitution, civic engagement and education, political civility and the American presidency.

The UI has temporarily named Marty Peterson, the just-retired special assistant to the president and the university's former chief lobbyist, as interim head of the McClure Center; you can read my full Sunday column here at, which also includes a look at how North Idaho GOP legislative candidates answered the state party's platform survey.

Adler to head UI public policy center

Former Idaho State University political scientist David Adler has been named director of the University of Idaho’s James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, where the UI says he will “take the University of Idaho to center stage” on public policy issues and civic education.

“He brings a blend of scholarship, national prominence and dynamism to the role,” said Katherine Aiken, dean of College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “We are confident of the deep engagement the center will enjoy promoting civic education and public dialogue on critical issues that face Idaho, the region and the nation.”

Adler has been an ISU political science professor since 1985, and is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles that have appeared in political science journals, law reviews, books and encyclopedias. The McClure Center provides non-partisan public policy research for Idaho and the region, along with work to improve civic education, increase public dialogue, promote collaborations and more. Adler’s work at the center will include sponsorship of research, publications, conferences, forums and lectures; he’ll also seek external funding for the center’s activities. Adler said the McClure Center will generate research to “tackle the great public policy challenges of our time.” He started in his new post yesterday; click below to read the UI’s full announcement.

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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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