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Posts tagged: Kevin Richert

Richert: Nonini Remains Unrepentant

Politics is a “full-contact sport,” Republican state Sen. Bob Nonini told his hometown Coeur d’Alene Press this week. And at least he’s consistent in applying this principle. Last spring, when Nonini was seeking to move from the House to the Senate, his political action committee poured nearly $15,000 into campaigns targeting six GOP incumbents, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron of Rupert and Vice Chairwoman Shawn Keough of Sandpoint. All six candidates won. If Nonini was chastened by the experience — or by the awkwardness of serving alongside fellow Republicans he targeted for defeat a few months earlier — there’s no visible sign of it/Kevin Richert, TheEDge (IdahoEd News). More here.


Richert: Why Are Teachers Leaving?

Let’s first process the numbers, before we commence with the inevitable spin. In 2011-12, 1,884 Idaho teachers left the profession. Idaho had 17,851 certified teachers in 2011-12. In other words, this is more than a 10 percent turnover. That should be a wakeup call. We should all at least be able to agree that recruiting — and retaining — quality teachers is the key to a quality education. Losing more than a tenth of the teaching workforce isn’t how you get it done. But in the bitter debate over the future of public education, the teacher turnover numbers have, predictably, become a choice talking point. The Idaho Education Association blames the growing exodus on state schools superintendent Tom Luna and his Students Come First K-12 overhaul. Luna’s office blames much of the turnover on the recession. The reasons matter, of course. And guess what? It’s complicated/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here. (2011 SR file photo of a Priest Lake classroom for illustrative purposes)

Question: Why do you think Idaho teachers are leaving — Luna Laws, recession, personal reasons, all of the above?

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Unpopular EPA: Rhetoric & Reality

Rep. Mike Simpson once said the Environmental Protection Agency is the scariest federal bureaucracy of them all — surpassing even the IRS. Simpson now says, somewhat grudgingly, that the statement was “inappropriate.” But he doesn’t back away from his criticism of the EPA, nor his attempts to slash the agency’s budget. The EPA has become a red meat talking point for Republicans on the campaign trail. But the criticisms are a bit hazy — and the reality considerably more complex. When Simpson met with the Statesman editorial board last month, we interviewed him at length about the EPA. I gave his staff the heads up beforehand. Since Simpson is the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the EPA, he’s on the front line of the budget debate. So I wanted Simpson to explain his concerns with EPA. It’s a sketchy case, I must say/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you consider the EPA necessary? A necessary evil? Or simply evil?

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Richert: Craig Did Business On Toilet?

The senator went to the bathroom on official government business. It sounds like the first line in a joke, a juvenile one at that. But all of us who have spent the past five years watching the farce that is the Larry Craig case know better. We’ve all learned that the laughable is the serious, the implausible the norm. In Craig’s latest legal shenanigans, the former senator is arguing that it’s OK that he used $217,000 in campaign money to fight his arrest in a Minneapolis airport restroom — because the only reason he was in the airport in the first place was because he was traveling from Idaho to Washington, D.C., on Senate business. Argues Craig’s attorney, Andrew Herman: “Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator’s use of a bathroom while on official travel.” Since Herman just had to go there, the overgrown junior high schooler in me has to ask: What kind of costs are incurred during a routine trip to a restroom?/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Given Larry Craig's poor judgment in his public bathroom behavior and his responses after being caught, do you ever wonder about his judgment as a congressman representing Idaho for decades?

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Richert: Craig’s Bathroom Defense

The senator went to the bathroom on official government business. It sounds like the first line in a joke, a juvenile one at that. But all of us who have spent the past five years watching the farce that is the Larry Craig case know better. We've all learned that the laughable is the serious, the implausible the norm. In Craig's latest legal shenanigans, the former senator is arguing that it's OK that he used $217,000 in campaign money to fight his arrest in a Minneapolis airport restroom — because the only reason he was in the airport in the first place was because he was traveling from Idaho to Washington, D.C., on Senate business. Argues Craig's attorney, Andrew Herman: “Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator's use of a bathroom while on official travel.” Since Herman went there, the overgrown junior high schooler in me has to ask: What kind of costs are incurred during a routine trip to a restroom?/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: What kind of expense could then U.S. senator Larry Craig have incurred while going to the bathroom in the Minneapolis airport?

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Richert Weighs In On Tina Vs. Linda

Huckleberries has learned that Linda Cook was actually reading Huckleberries Online when this photo was taken by the Phantom Photographer.

Opinionator Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman weighs in on the legal fight that emerged from the Valentine's Day post by Linda Cook (AlmostInnocentBystander) re: former county GOP CC chairwoman Tina Jacobson: “And there is your other, perhaps more salient chilling effect. This legal mess could conceivably happen to any newspaper that allows and posts anonymous comments — including the Statesman. No matter how carefully a newspaper tries to monitor its comment sections, there exists some element of legal exposure. Is the risk worth the reward, the bump in online page views? Since this coarse online shouting match does little to enhance a newspaper’s brand as a leader of constructive community discussion, when does the whole circus become more headache than it is worth?” More here.

DFO: Kevin ends on this note: “If Luster’s ruling prods newspapers to rethink online commenting, that may prove to be a blessing in disguise.”

Question: Do you see a silver lining to Judge Luster's ruling?

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Richert: Flying With A Lame Duck

Phil Hart, the lame-duck representative from House District 2, is shown handing out flags at a Fourth of July Parade in Coeur d'Alene prior to this year. Opinionator Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman criticizes House Speaker Lawerence Denney for approving tax dollars to send Hart to the national an American Legislative Exchange Council conference in Salt Lake City. You can read Kevin's column here.

Question: Are you starting to wonder about House Speaker Lawerence Denney's judgment, too?

Richert: Can Ads Rein In Obesity

Michael Bloomberg got the headlines for his assault on the Big Gulp, but I’m more intrigued by Disney’s anti-obesity push. Last week, Disney said it will dump TV, radio and web ads for junk food, sweet cereals and candy, a ban that goes into effect in 2015. It calls to mind 1971, when Congress banned tobacco TV advertising. That was a government edict, of course, and this time, one private company is making the move unilaterally. But the intent is the same: to insulate young, impressionable viewers from slick ads pitching unhealthy products. The parallel between our nation’s campaign against smoking and its looming battle against obesity has been on my mind since Monday, when I listened to former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler speak in Boise/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Will fighting obesity in this country be the 21st Century equivalent to the battle against tobacco? Or will it fade away because America enjoys eating?

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Edit: 2-Headed Fish Funny, But …

Call it life imitating animation. The J.R. Simplot Co.’s infamous two-headed trout channels “Blinky,” the imaginary three-eyed fish that lived near the nuclear power plant on “The Simpsons.” Inevitably, the real wo-headed trout captured the attention of a not-exactly-real news program, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” which ran a segment on the mutated fingerling last week. Sure, if you can’t dream up a one-liner about a two-headed fish, you’re not trying hard enough. But the underlying issue is serious stuff: water quality in Idaho’s mining country, and the role a powerful Idaho industrial leader should take in protecting the environment. Simplot is petitioning the state for relaxed water quality standards below its Smoky Canyon Mine, an open-pit operation near the Wyoming border that yields more than 2 million tons of phosphate ore each year. The state’s Department of Environmental Quality will have to decide whether to allow higher levels of selenium in creeks below the plant/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: How important is water quality in Idaho to you?

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What Idaho House Fight Is/Isn’t About

What is the battle between Idaho’s House GOP leaders all about? Let me answer that by telling you what it is not at all about. Policy. There isn’t much of a discernible difference on policy between current House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, and the man who appears best poised to challenge him, Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke. Bedke, R-Oakley, may be a touch less conservative than Denney — Bedke served on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in the mid-2000s, an experience that tends to temper lawmakers’ views of the budget. But I can’t see the philosophy of the House shifting very much if Bedke unseats Denney/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Given that any challenger will share his political views, does it really matter if Rep. Lawerence Denney continues as House Speaker?

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Richert: A Wild Week For Rep. Hart

Even by his high standards, this was a crazy, newsy week for Rep. Phil Hart. It started at about 3:30 a.m. Monday, when Hart was asleep at a Latah County rest area. A masked man attacked a woman in the other car parked at the rest stop, shooting her in the abdomen with her own gun. The victim, Kayla Sedlacek, is expected to recover; police quickly determined Hart was not a suspect, and sent him on his way. Those travels took the tax-dodging (or, as he’d have you believe, tax-protesting) Hayden Republican back to Coeur d’Alene Monday, for an audience with a skeptical Idaho Supreme Court. Considering the case of the $53,000 Hart owes Idaho — in income taxes, interest and penalties — the justices grilled Hart and his attorney over their claim that the state Constitution protects a sitting lawmaker from civil action 10 days before, and during, a legislative session. Then came Tuesday/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: I'm not sure that I want Phil Hart to go away, via the ballot box. This guy is. Absolute. Gold. You can't make up the things he routinely does. Can you?

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Richert: Ultrasound Battle May Return

Opinionator Kevin Richert/Idaho Statesman provides us with Wednesday editorial: “It’s a good outcome — even if it’s inconclusive. A bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion has been tabled for 2012. For the time being, score one for citizen engagement. For the Idahoans who stood up against intrusive, demeaning legislation. For the Idahoans who went to a conservative Statehouse to espouse conservative principles — personal privacy, and freedom from government mandate. This is a victory. But perhaps just a temporary one. On Tuesday, House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher put an end to the legislative limbo, saying his committee will not consider the ultrasound bill. But, if he’s re-elected, Loertscher he would work with anti-abortion groups on a new bill. What would it look like? Good question.” More here.

Question: Do you think this bill will be back in 2013 Legislature?

Richert: Winder Hits National Scene

Before Monday, I doubt anyone at the Huffington Post had heard of Chuck Winder. The Boise Republican senator took care of that when he argued in favor of his bill to require women to get an ultrasound before an abortion — even in the case of rape. Said Winder: “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.” Had he tried, I don’t think Winder could have found a more insensitive way to argue for his insensitive legislation. Winder is taking a well-earned pounding, not just on Huffington Post’s national Internet stage, but, closer to home, on his own Facebook page/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.


Pearce Claim Doesn’t Pass Smell Test

On 21 occasions, Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, voted on oil and gas legislation. On Wednesday, before the 22nd vote, Pearce disclosed that an oil company has leased drilling rights on his property. Democrats have requested an ethics committee review, and say Pearce should be removed as chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee. Pearce tells the Associated Press that he has followed the spirit and the letter of ethics rules, and says he is the victim of a political witch hunt. Either way, this fiasco reveals yet another hole in the Legislature’s lax ethics guidelines. First off, I’m not buying Pearce’s claim that he met the spirit of ethics rules/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Now don't you wish the Legislature had followed through on its promise to fix the ethics law?

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Richert: There Goes My April

Via Twitter, Idaho Statesman opinionator Kevin Richert sez: “Just sent out letters to 95 candidates in contested primaries, inviting them to meet with @IdahoStatesman editorial board. That's my April.” Which brought back memories of all those spring and fall political seasons I spent interviewing candidates during my 13 years on the Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. I. Don't. Miss. Them. At. All.

Question: Are you influenced to vote for a candidate or ballot measure by newspaper editorial endorsements?

Richert: Eating Crow On Morning After

Today’s appetizer is a nice, big plate of crow: I was among those misguided observers who thought Ron Paul would win Idaho’s GOP caucus Tuesday. Don’t come to me next week looking for help filling out your brackets. You don’t want it. I may not be good at predicting the future, but I am a little bit more comfortable looking at recent events and trying to put them in perspective. So, let’s talk about Tuesday’s historic Idaho GOP caucus. Yes, we all focused on the last-minute, and itself historic, candidate barnstorming through Idaho. And many of us speculated about whether the caucus format favored a candidate such as Paul or Rick Santorum, who could bring out a devoted core of supporters willing to sit through an evening of voting. Yet Tuesday’s caucus played out much like any “typical” election, favoring the candidate with the most obvious inherent competitive advantages/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

DFO: Still wonder how many of us missed so badly on Ron Paul strength — or lack thereof.

Question: Does the caucus election result mean that the Otter/Risch/Simpson mainstream wing of the Idaho GOP still carries more clout than Far Right insurgents? Or simply that there's a whole lotta Mormons down south?

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Rules Change In Idaho Prez Politics

Romney returns to Boise Friday. But in addition to his standard operating procedure — talking to the $1,000 to $2,500 fundraiser circle — he has worked a public event into his Idaho itinerary. I’ve heard it said that time is one of those inflexible commodities in a campaign. A candidate can always try to fire up the fundraising machinery, but every candidate is allocated the same number of hours in a day. The mere fact that Romney is expending a little bit of that time to talk to the regular folks is telling. Also telling is the fact that the Romney campaign brought out Gov. Butch Otter and Sen. Jim Risch Tuesday, for a counterattack targeting Santorum/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Is it possible that Romney is running scared in Idaho, despite his built-in advantages?

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Richert: No Polite Word For Prejudice

Following is Kevin Richert's editorial for Sunday: “The campaign to expand Idaho’s Human Rights Act centered on a straightforward slogan: 'Add The Words.' So now, what words can we add to our description of the 2012 Legislature? How about callous? Or dismissive? Or embarrassing? All of these words fairly describe the actions of the Senate State Affairs Committee Friday. On a party-line decision, and without much second thought, the committee rejected a proposal to extend human rights protections to gays, lesbians and transgender Idahoans. This basic, fair step to prevent discrimination in the workplace and the housing market didn’t get a hearing. In the committee’s narrow view, this proposal didn’t even merit any real consideration”/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here. (Idaho Statesman/AP photo by Chris Butler: A group expresses their disbelieve with a silent protest outside the Senate State Affair Committee meeting today)


Hoffman Tackles Richert On Medicaid

I haven't gotten any feedback from Gov. Butch Otter's office on my previous blog post (and Saturday column preview), taking the governor to task for refusing to reverse $35 million in cuts to Medicaid programs. But Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation was quick to take me to task. In this response, he takes me to task — and says there is nothing “compassionate” about perpetuating social programs such as Medicaid. Hoffman is nice about it, though, I suppose. “Hopefully, with a lot of education and a little love, Kevin will learn something useful.” Yup. I feel the love already/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. Wayne Hoffman's response here.

Question: Hoffman makes a good point that federal entitlement money comes from a national treasury that's in a $15 trillion hole and growing. And that there's nothing compassionate about entitlements that make us more dependent on the federal government. What do you think?

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Richert: From Idaho To DC Without ♥

When you get past the lofty parliamentary title, “joint memorials” are nothing more than legislative e-mails to Congress. They are nonbinding. They carry no weight, but they give lawmakers a forum for carping about the federal gummint — something they might otherwise be reduced to doing around a Statehouse water cooler. But they do send a message, all right. Sometimes, the message is that our Legislature is populated with yahoos with a tad too much time on their hands. A case in point: on Monday, Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, trotted out House Joint Memorial 9, which would tell the Environmental Protection Agency to pull out of the Silver Valley within five years/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Should we treat “joint memorials” the same way we do bomb threats? Don't report 'em?

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D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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