January 3, 2009 in Idaho Voices

Otter will name names on Tuesday

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer
 

BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says he’ll appoint the state’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday – that’s the same day that current Lt. Gov. Jim Risch will be sworn in as a U.S. senator and resign the state post – and Otter has named names of 16 people he’s talked to about the job.

It’s not a complete list – there is an equal number of possibles whom Otter either hasn’t talked with yet or who didn’t want their names released. But the list is an interesting one that includes three North Idaho candidates, an array of folks from around the state, and two who’ve withdrawn from consideration but were still willing to have the news get out that the guv talked to them about the post.

Here they are, in alphabetical order:

State Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley; Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert; Brad Egbert, a Rexburg businessman recommended by Sen. Jeff Siddoway; Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs; state Ag Director Celia Gould (withdrawn); longtime Otter pal and current state Department of Administration chief Mike Gwartney; former state Rep. Dean Haagenson, R-Coeur d’Alene; Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake; Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint; Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett; Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston; Lloyd Mahaffey, an Eagle businessman with a high-tech background; Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell; Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star; Twin Falls car dealer Con Paulos (withdrawn); and former state Sen. Sheila Sorensen, R-Boise.

Mark Warbis, Otter’s communications director, said the governor hasn’t yet made his pick, but will make it by Tuesday. “He’s still in the process of discussing it with other people,” Warbis said. Otter has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Boise to make the announcement.

Three reject own raises

Three state constitutional officers, Gov. Butch Otter, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, and Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, have turned down the 3 percent raises they were supposed to receive, by law, on Jan. 1. Risch, of course, won’t be personally affected by the move, as he leaves office Tuesday to join the U.S. Senate – but his successor will.

New Boise judge is Twin Falls lawyer

Gov. Otter has appointed Twin Falls attorney Richard D. Greenwood to be a 4th District judge, replacing Judge Kathryn A. Sticklen, who is retiring. Interestingly, Otter passed over Greenwood for a 5th District judgeship in May 2007, instead appointing 5th District Magistrate Judge Randy Stoker. That vacancy opened up when 5th District Judge John Hohnhorst died in February of 2007 while awaiting a lung transplant. Seven people applied for that judgeship, and two were nominated by the Idaho Judicial Council – Stoker and Greenwood.

Greenwood, 58, is now planning to move to Boise to take the 4th District judgeship, according to Otter’s office. He’s practiced law in Twin Falls since 1977. Here’s Otter’s comment on the pick: “Dick’s 30-plus years in the Magic Valley have put him in the heart of both Idaho’s rural tradition and phenomenal growth. He brings experience and a common-sense approach to the 4th District bench that will serve the people of the Boise area well.”

Three people applied for the Boise judgeship: Greenwood, 4th District Magistrate Judge Michael J. Reardon, and Lewiston attorney Dean Wullenwaber. The Judicial Council nominated Greenwood and Reardon.

David Hensley, Otter’s legal counsel and adviser on judicial appointments, said, “The governor couldn’t make a bad decision between the two individuals – they were both highly qualified, extremely capable and extremely well-recommended.” The governor opted for “diversity,” Hensley said, in the form of Greenwood’s “extensive civil practice.”

Luna: Tech cut rumor not true

Idaho’s state schools superintendent, Tom Luna, puts out an e-mailed newsletter to school districts, and a recent edition adds a new feature: “Rumor has it.” In it, “this week’s rumor” is debunked – that millions in technology funding that school districts now receive through the Idaho Council for Technology in Learning is “going away,” even as school districts await their January payments. Here’s the item:

“This week’s rumor: ICTL funding is going away. NOT TRUE. There has been speculation about the future of the ICTL and the critical funding it provides to technology. While the future of ICTL remains unknown, the Legislature and the State Department of Education remain committed to providing funding and support staff for educational technology throughout the State.”

That’s followed by a breakdown of the distribution of ICTL funds, which the Legislature appropriated at $9.15 million this year. The technology money is an established piece of the state’s public school budget. While mid-year budget cuts, known as “holdbacks,” are trimming 4 percent out of this year’s budget for most state agencies, public school holdbacks are being made up from a school stabilization fund, so schools don’t take a mid-year hit.

The ICTL funds are divided into two pieces; one, which includes ongoing personnel costs, totals $4.05 million and is distributed in January; and the other, which totals $5.1 million, covers equipment and software; 75 percent of it is distributed in August, with the final 25 percent distributed before the end of the fiscal year.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or bzrussell@gmail.com. For more news from Boise go to www.spokesman.com/boise.


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