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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Syndicated columns

Smart Bombs: Idaho voters face Ybarra test

When Idaho schools superintendent candidate Sherri Ybarra was asked why she omitted a divorce from her personal history, she told the Idaho Statesman, “My brain doesn’t operate in the past.”

It isn’t humming on all cylinders in the present either.

That information plagiarized from her Democratic opponent Jana Jones and pasted onto Ybarra’s campaign website? Unfortunate.

That soon-to-be achieved doctorate degree? Changed her mind. Now it’s a much-lesser education specialist credential.

Failing to vote in 15 of 17 elections since moving to Idaho with her current husband, er, ex-husband in 1996? Not voting in the 2012 election, which included referendums that overturned Superintendent Tom Luna’s education reforms? An extended case of civic withdrawal for which she is very sorry. So sorry, in fact, that she’s turned it into a campaign theme.

“If elected, this will be a civic duty that I will repay Idaho through for my lack of having a consistent voting history,” she explained.

Got that? She can never repay Idahoans if they don’t reward her with the top education job in the state.

If Ybarra, a Republican, is elected, it will be a teachable moment for us all: Party affiliation trumps common sense.

Dopey. If Liberty Lake police officers actually enforce a new ordinance that allows them to ticket teens that appear to be high, but don’t possess pot, it will tell us this haven already has solved more pressing problems, such as burglaries and people fiddling with phones while driving.

Where was this law before pot was legalized for adults? It’s not like young people just started smoking in Pleasantville.

What if this becomes a gateway ordinance? First, it’s ticketing kids for dilated pupils and a whiff of pot. Then it’s a prohibition on reggae music and old Cheech and Chong routines.

Flattened in Kansas. No candidate for the Washington Legislature told The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board that he or she would cut taxes to pay for the billions needed to finance a required increase in education funding. The state didn’t cut taxes to get through the Great Recession.

So why do people still believe in the budgetary elixir of cutting taxes to raise revenue? Think about it: You’re a politician whose very survival depends upon public approval. You’re in the midst of painful budget decisions, but you refuse the “win-win” of cutting taxes and more revenue?

The reason, of course, is that if you cut taxes, you have to cut services to balance the budget.

But Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, isn’t convinced. As a worshipper at the tax-cuts-pay-for-themselves altar, he spearheaded a reduction in the Jayhawk State and predicted abundant revenue. He called it “a real, live experiment.” This is like turning off the pool water and expecting an overflow.

Predictably, the state now faces a significant shortfall after it enacted the largest income tax cut in history and additional exemptions. Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s cut the state’s credit rating. But like a true believer, the embattled Brownback says the pool still may overflow.

He stands a better chance of walking across it.

NOT Their Problem. After the 2012 presidential election, Republicans said they had to pay more attention to issues important to Hispanic voters. This prompted analysts to assume there would be movement on immigration reform.

It hasn’t happened, and The Upshot, a New York Times blog, has a simple answer for this lack of urgency.

“Republicans would probably hold the House – and still have a real chance to retake the Senate – if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country.”

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.
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