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Eye on Boise: NRA’s loaded questions have pre-targeted answers

Sun., April 13, 2014

BOISE – A.J. Balukoff, a Democratic candidate for governor, is refusing to fill out a National Rifle Association candidate questionnaire, saying it’s “biased and loaded with leading questions that do not allow me to accurately state my position on gun laws.”

In a letter back to the NRA, Balukoff wrote, “The leading questions and multiple-choice answers in your questionnaire allow for only polarizing and extreme positions.”

He noted in particular a question about Idaho’s guns on campus bill, which passed this year. “I believe this bill was not necessary and creates more problems than it solves,” Balukoff wrote. “University presidents, faculty and students should have the ability to determine the culture of their college campus. That culture should not be dictated from the Statehouse.”

Balukoff faces Terry Kerr, of Idaho Falls, in the Democratic primary in May; GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who backed the guns-on-campus bill and signed it into law, faces Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who also supported the bill, along with two other GOP primary challengers, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.

Like-minded backing

Andy Grover, one of four Republican candidates vying for the nomination for state superintendent of schools, has announced the endorsements of 18 other Idaho school district superintendents for his run. Grover is the superintendent of the Melba School District.

“I am the only candidate that’s been a superintendent and has that experience to continue to move education forward,” said Grover, 42, who’s helmed the Melba district for the past four years after previously serving as a high school principal, teacher and coach; he’s also a former Marine.

Grover lists superintendents from Preston and Bonneville to Genesee and McCall-Donnelly.

The other candidates in the GOP primary race also are educators. They include Randy Jensen, a longtime middle school principal from American Falls; John Eynon, a teacher and Idaho core standards opponent from Cottonwood; and Sherri Ybarra, a school administrator and former teacher and principal from Mountain Home.

The winner of the GOP primary will face unopposed Democrat Jana Jones, former chief deputy state superintendent and a longtime educator. Jones narrowly lost to two-term GOP incumbent Tom Luna in 2006.

It’s so official …

Of the 400 pieces of legislation enacted by the Idaho Legislature this year – 357 bills and 43 resolutions or memorials – just one required specifically among its provisions that copies of it be furnished to the Idaho Capitol Correspondents, the reporters credentialed to cover the legislative session. I know, because, having toiled as chairman of the correspondents association for some years, I have never before been called upon to assist the chief clerk of the House of Representatives in performing this solemn duty.

The measure in question? It’s House Concurrent Resolution 38, written by freshman Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, commemorating 2014 as the 60th anniversary of the addition of the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. Holtzclaw said in the measure’s Statement of Purpose that the resolution is intended to “highlight its legacy to American citizens.”

Thus, shortly after the session ended, I was contacted by the chief clerk’s office about distributing the copies to the more than 55 credentialed Capitol correspondents. I emailed the electronic copy of HCR 38 to all correspondents. I received a couple of responses, including one tongue-in-cheek request for a notarized copy, and another from a reporter who claimed he’d been “wondering when we would get our personal copy.” Now, the mail has brought the official copy, dutifully sent by Chief Clerk Bonnie Alexander. 

Cabin-site auction

More than 150 people attended an auction last weekend at which the state Department of Lands auctioned off 21 cabin sites at Payette Lake on which renters have built cabins or homes; 20 of the 21 sold to the current renters.

The auctions were for the land only; they took in a total of $6.07 million for the state endowment fund, which benefits state institutions including schools. All but three of the lots sold for the appraised value to the current renter with no competitors bidding. The competitive bidding on the other three brought in an additional $33,200 over the appraised values. A similar auction is being planned for Priest Lake lots later this year.

The renters of the 21 Payette lots voluntarily joined the auction in hopes of getting title to the property under their cabins, though they also risked being outbid.

The state is trying to get out of the cabin-site renting business and into more profitable investments for the endowment.

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