Arrow-right Camera


Thu., Oct. 13, 2005

And another thing …

Vows of silence. Apparently, student leaders at the University of Idaho have the same dislike for open meetings as the Idaho state Legislature.

Last night, they were going to vote on a 4-1 committee recommendation to remove the Idaho Open Meeting law from the Senate bylaws. Rather than abide by state rules that limit reasons for holding executive sessions, the Rules and Regulations Committee believes student leaders should be able to close meetings for any reason, according to the college’s Daily Argonaut student newspaper. Specifically, the committee listed one possible reason for closure as “sensitive matters.”

Sensitive matters is another way of saying “anything controversial.”

The Idaho Senate may have had “avoiding controversy” in mind last session when it amended its rules to allow any committee meeting to be closed at any time, for any reason. The move came after several years of controversy in which Republicans of one house debated a major tax bill behind closed doors and Republicans of the other counted noses in closed session to repeal the voter-approved term limits law. Now, UI student leaders are saying they want to be able to do their student body’s business in the same fashion. They have good training to run for the Idaho Legislature some day.

Lessons from history. From the Civil War through Vietnam, one of the criticisms leveled against U.S. war-making policies is that those who die are disproportionately the poor. Either by simply buying their way out of military service or staying in college to keep a draft deferment active or having the right social connections, the well-to-do have managed to keep themselves out of harm’s way.

Now, with a volunteer military that doesn’t rely on the draft, the Pentagon is finding that personnel levels are hard to maintain in a time of combat. For the year that ended Sept. 30, recruiters missed their goal by more than 8 percent, the largest shortfall in a quarter-century.

To correct the problem, which is reasonably believed to result from combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials are talking about monetary incentives such as bonuses to those who volunteer for duty in units that see the most combat. If the Pentagon dislikes comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, it might want to reconsider enlistment strategies that are skewed toward those facing the most financial desperation.

Click here to comment on this story »