September 22, 2013 in Idaho

Eye on Boise: Idaho’s first lady mending from surgery

By The Spokesman-Review
 

On the Web: Follow Betsy Z. Russell’s blog, Eye on Boise, at www.spokesman.com/blogs/boise.

BOISE – Idaho first lady Lori Otter is recovering from successful shoulder surgery after an injury suffered while calf-roping last month.

Gov. Butch Otter reported this past week that the surgery, while successful, was more extensive than expected. It was performed on Monday, and afterward he reported that the procedure was successful and the first lady was recovering.

Lori Otter dislocated and injured her shoulder in August while roping a calf during a rodeo in Haines, Ore.; both she and the governor are avid horseback riders and rodeo fans.

Wasden to seek fourth term

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says he’ll seek a fourth term in 2014 – which would mark record service for an Idaho attorney general.

Wasden told the Idaho State Journal, “Every day is an interesting ride, and we are going to keep going.”

He’s been Idaho’s attorney general since being elected to the post in 2002; he won re-election in 2006 and 2010. Though he’s been rumored as a future candidate for higher office, Wasden said he’s still enjoying his job and wants to keep doing it. “Every day is a challenge, every day is different,” he said.

No shutdown if …

1st District U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador announced last week that he is co-sponsoring a resolution introduced Tuesday by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Georgia, to avert a government shutdown Oct. 1 only if President Barack Obama’s health care law is both defunded and its individual mandate to purchase insurance delayed for a year.

“If there’s any single issue that can unite House Republicans and has the strong support of the American people, it’s getting rid of Obamacare,” Labrador said. “The resolution I’m co-sponsoring will keep the government open while keeping overall spending at the same rate the Senate has already agreed to through the sequester.” If the House passes the resolution (it did on Friday), the Senate will either pass it or be responsible for the shutdown, he said.

Meanwhile, Obama, in a White House speech, blasted House Republicans who are taking that position, saying, “Are some of these folks so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they’re willing to tank our whole economy?”

‘That’s our property’

Idaho’s top state elected officials, who met last week as the Land Board that oversees state endowment lands, all said they didn’t know there were generations of human remains on a Priest Lake cottage site that’s up for a conflict auction in late October; the family has had the cabin on the state-owned property there, under a state lease, since 1933.

“That’s our property,” Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said. “We had no idea, but conflict auctions are conflict  auctions.”

Attorney General Wasden noted that the state hadn’t yet been formally served with the lawsuit over the auction, in which the remains – the ashes of five family ancestors, dating as far back as 1939 – were cited. “We’ll take a look at it once we receive the documents,” he said.

Land swap questioned

Idaho’s state Lands Department is under fire from a bipartisan group of lawmakers who say an inadequate appraisal allowed a private party to benefit to the tune of $1.6 million on a state land exchange, instead of the state endowment’s beneficiaries. The department, however, defends the deal and says it stands by its appraisals.

The land exchange, completed last year, involves the University of Idaho’s McCall Outdoor Science School campus, which had been owned by the state endowment but last year was traded for commercial property in Idaho Falls that houses the main contractor for the Idaho National Laboratory. Both properties came in with identical appraisals of $6.1 million; after the swap, the private owner of the Idaho Falls property, IW4 LLC, sold the newly acquired McCall property to the university for $6.1 million. That left the university in control of the site, which had been the source of increasing tensions as the Lands Department considered big rent increases to match its constitutional requirement to maximize income from endowment lands.

House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, and House Assistant Minority Leader Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, joined with the Tax Accountability Committee and commissioned their own review appraisal on the Idaho Falls property; it came in at $4.5 million. The two vowed to bring legislation requiring review appraisals in all future endowment land exchanges.

The Lands Department says the TAC appraisal overlooked several significant factors that affect the value of the Idaho Falls property.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached at (208) 336-2854 or betsyr@spokesman.com.

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