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Eye On Boise

Nonini wins two newspapers’ ‘jeers’ for reticence to Idaho reporters

Two Idaho newspapers, the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Falls Post Register, offered “jeers” on their editorial pages on Friday to Coeur d’Alene Sen. Bob Nonini, both picking up on not only points on which they disagree with Nonini’s legislative agenda, but his reluctance to talk to Idaho reporters.

Personally, I attempted to ask Nonini about his debate and vote against a fellow Coeur d’Alene lawmaker’s bill in the Senate this year immediately after that day’s session concluded, only to have him run off the Senate floor. That was followed by a comical sequence in which he jumped into a crowded Senate elevator, I joined him, he jumped out as the other senators gaped, and headed down the stairs, and I followed, only to receive “no comment.” I gave up after a flight and a half. Click below for the two newspaper’s “jeers.”

After I reported extensively last spring on Nonini's campaign finance activity during the primary election, he told me at the beginning of this year's legislative session that he doesn't like my reporting and wouldn't be speaking to me. Other than an occasional social comment, he kept that up all session. The editorial jeers weren't referring to his interactions with me, however, but to an item reported by Idaho Education News, the online Idaho news outlet that focuses on education.

Wrote the Lewiston Tribune, “JEERS … to state Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. Nonini wants to raid Idaho’s treasury of $10 million in tax credits for private school student scholarships – in violation of two state constitutional provisions. Narrowly passed by the House, Nonini’s bill died in a senate committee. He’s not taking no for an answer. ‘I will in the interim now be visiting with senators from the tax committee that did not support the legislation to attempt to address their concerns,’ he says. By the way, the Great Nonini is too great to talk to Idaho reporters. He outlined his agenda to the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Sheffield.”

Wrote the Post Register, “JEERS to Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. The Great Nonini is one of Idaho’s worst legislators, a bomb thrower who disparaged teachers while serving as chairman of the House Education Committee and made enemies immediately in the Senate by sticking his nose – and money – into efforts to defeat moderates across the state. This year, Nonini once again attempted to subvert the Idaho Constitution by diverting public dollars to pay for private and parochial school tuitions. Nonini’s efforts failed. But he’s promising to return against next year. The Great Nonini didn’t tell that to an Idaho news outlet. Apparently, he doesn’t answer its questions. His comments were made to an education research assistant at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The sooner the voters of District 3 send him packing, the better off all Idahoans will be.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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