JEERS ... to Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez.
Stung by allegations that he had released confidential personnel records of “numerous” employees to an unnamed individual who runs the LC Valley Corruption Facebook page, Rodriguez promised to address it at a question-and-answer session Monday at the Lewiston Community Center.
You don’t need to know the kind of information Rodriguez supposedly divulged — just whose.
For instance, did the sheriff retaliate against his two election opponents — GOP primary challenger Patrick Santos, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who is the senior patrol sergeant, and his current rival, Bryce Scrimsher, who Rodriguez fired as undersheriff?
Good luck getting anything out of Rodriguez. By the time Monday’s meeting arrived, the sheriff broke his pledge and clammed up — after he had lawyered up.
“You can ask it, but like the statement that was made earlier, I won’t answer it,” Rodriguez told the audience.
Legal advice didn’t stop the sheriff from repeating the falsehood he issued at a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the LC Valley and the Lewis Clark Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Rodriguez continued to claim Nez Perce County Prosecutor Justin Coleman hadn’t fired him as a client. Instead, the prosecutor was responding to new protocols set in place by the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program.
So for the second time in as many weeks, Coleman and the Nez Perce County commissioners called the sheriff out for dishonesty.
The only thing the insurance pool had to say about Rodriguez was that it would now impose steadily more painful deductibles — from $15,000 on the first case to $60,000 for the fourth and each one thereafter — every time the sheriff lost another dispute with an unhappy employee.
“Nez Perce County has not received a letter from ICRMP that says they will handle all personnel matters solely for counties throughout the state of Idaho and attempt to exclude the prosecutor’s offices from providing legal advice to their county clients,” the officials wrote.
Translation: Don’t trust a thing Rodriguez says.
CHEERS ... to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
As reported Saturday by the Lewiston Tribune’s Eric Barker, this bipartisan group of governors launched a new effort to break the region’s gridlock over dams and fish recovery.
Does anyone believe the current cycle of endless litigation, precipitously falling wild salmon and steelhead runs, an energy picture frozen in time with costs to ratepayers and taxpayers blowing past $19 billion is going to change on its own?
As Idaho Conservation League Executive Director Justin Hayes put it recently: “ ... If we are waiting for the federal government to solve it for us, we just saw in the Record of Decision that we are waiting for the wrong thing.”
Enter the four Western governors, who last week pledged to collaborate with Native American tribes and regional interests in restoring the fish.
Guiding their conversations will be the more robust recovery goals set by the Columbia River Partnership Task Force.
“We will commit to engaging our tribal and federal partners, and other stakeholders, in this collaborative effort, which we fully expect to lead to meaningful actions to achieve these goals,” the governors wrote.
It’s a tentative step in a journey that will take time. But for the West to take command of its own destiny, this conversation must begin.
JEERS ... to 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
More times than not, Simpson has been the conscience of Idaho. That’s why his performance in two debates with Democratic challenger Aaron Swisher this week has been so disturbing.
Start with Monday’s Idaho Debates on public television.
Asked if he condemned white supremacy and white nationalism, Simpson said he “absolutely” did. Unfortunately, he then pivoted into a false equivalency between white supremacists and Black Lives Matter.
“We don’t need extremism on either side,” Simpson said. “And believe me, it’s there on both sides. And it’s not just white nationalism. You look at a lot of Black Lives Matter people that are out there burning down our cities. That’s a problem, also. So we shouldn’t just condemn one side.”
During Wednesday’s debate on Boise’s KTVB, Simpson continued down the same path. Asked about racial injustice and policing, the Idaho Republican spent 8 seconds decrying the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and went into President Donald Trump defense mode for 2 minutes and 57 seconds, blaming national and local Democratic politicians for the unfair treatment of police.
There is a huge moral gulf between those who advocate white nationalism and those who resist racism. Condemn violence in all its forms, of course. But most BLM protesters have been peaceful. Certainly, that’s been the case in Idaho. The same can’t be said for this state’s white supremacists and Simpson knows it.
Having served in the Legislature in the 1980s and 1990s, he is more than sufficiently aware of Idaho’s unfortunate association with the Aryan Nations.
CHEERS ... to Lewiston High School teacher John Schaper.
Idaho is hitting a third wave of COVID-19 infections and nowhere are the numbers growing faster than among the public school-age population. As Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News notes, the increase in cases among 5- to 17-year-olds is up 139 percent since schools reopened — vs. Idaho’s overall increase of 122 percent.
Why are Lewiston schools not imposing a face-mask requirement in the classroom?
Schaper has every right to ask. Public health officials told him he most likely contracted COVID-19 at work.
“I’ve used positivity to encourage mask wearing to comply with the district’s highly recommended mask protocol. Despite this, most of my students still do not wear a mask in my class,” Schaper wrote. “How many more have to get sick or how severe of a case do we have to have before we finally require masks in the classroom?”
For a school board that wants to remain in the “green” category and continue in-person instruction, his warning should not go unheeded.— M.T.