DJEERS ... to Congressman Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho.
If you want to know why no extra federal money will go toward expanding Thain Grade or do something to improve public transportation for the slice of Lewiston residents who can’t drive, ask him.
As the Idaho Capital Sun reported, Fulcher declined to seek about $15 million to $20 million in money earmarked to individual congressional districts under the new transportation authorization bill.
Among those who sought to bringhome the bacon were Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Dan Newhouse, both R-Wash., and Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
Simpson, for instance, scored $17 million to be allocated among five projects, including bolstering a congested arterial in the eastern Idaho community of Ammon and improving bus service in Boise.
Whatever Fulcher’s motivations — maybe he’s too ideologically stubborn or too sluggish to engage in the political give and take of earmarks — it’s not a matter of raiding the conventional federal allocation to Idaho’s transportation network.
As Simpson noted: “ ... Eliminating any one of these projects would not have reduced federal spending by one penny — the money would have instead gone to another project in a different state or to a federal bureaucracy to be spent at its discretion.”
So by forfeiting this opportunity, Fulcher has merely transferred the money to congressional districts represented by House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., or the other 320 House members who made certain their voters got a share of this $5.7 billion revived earmark program.
All Fulcher accomplished was depriving communities from his 1st Congressional District of this additional infrastructure money.
Fortunately, he does not have the final say. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho, still have a role to play.
We haven’t heard from them, yet.
DJEERS ... to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.
She wants to shine a spotlight on Idaho’s public and higher education systems.
But when the spotlight is shone on her task force to expose “teachings on social justice, critical race theory, socialism, communism, (and) Marxism,” she retreats to the shadows.
McGeachin has been playing a game of hide the ball with Idaho Capital Sun reporter Audrey Dutton.
Six weeks ago, McGeachin sought public comments about what’s being taught in the state’s classrooms. Dutton asked to see a list of who responded under the state’s public records act.
The Capital Sun wasn’t seeking confidential details, but merely names and email addresses — the same kind of information you would routinely obtain if the comments were made in person at a public hearing.
Don’t you want to know who is giving McGeachin her leads? Certainly if you are a teacher or administrator hauled before her task force, you’d like to face your accusers.
McGeachin — who has created an echo chamber with like-minded task force members such as her co-chairwoman, Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, Idaho Freedom Foundation education analyst Anna Miller and Boise State University professor Scott Yenor, a Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life — more or less refused.
When Dutton got her records, most of the information about the 3,600 people who commented was redacted.
McGeachin’s chief of staff, Jordan Watters, relied on a self-serving law that shields state legislators from disclosing communication from individuals. The law, he says, applies because Giddings is involved.
Sunshine makes the difference between government oversight and an inquisition.
But unless Dutton and her colleagues are willing to spend money on lawyers, there’s little they can do.
What is McGeachin telling us? Don’t trust the schools but trust her?
CCHEERS ... to University of Idaho President Scott Green, Lewis-Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton, Boise State President Marlene Tromp and Idaho State President Kevin Sattlerlee.
For them, the hits just keep on coming.
None had been in office for long before they faced budget shortfalls that required layoffs and furloughs, tuition freezes, pandemic-induced enrollment slippage and a hostile Legislature egged on by the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s anti-diversity propaganda campaign.
Now they’ve made another sacrifice.
As the Lewiston Tribune’s William L. Spence reported last weekend, the four agreed to forego even a cost-of-living adjustment in their pay.
“They realize this isn’t the time to be adjusting compensation,” said Idaho State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich.
Sure, each of them earns much more than the typical Idahoan. Just the same, they have the sincerity to admit it.
DJEERS ... to former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Trent Clark of Soda Springs.
He chose Memorial Day to honor Ashli Babbitt, the Capitol insurrectionist who was shot and killed while she attempted to breach a barricade into Speaker Pelosi’s lobby just outside the House chambers on Jan. 6.
“Many valiant veterans deserve my honor today ... and Ashli is among them,” Clark posted on his Facebook page.
A 14-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Babbitt did not die in service to her country.
She joined a battle against America to overturn a lawful election. This assault on American democracy was the first attack on the U.S. Capitol since the British paid a visit in 1814.
Would Clark honor Benedict Arnold because he won the Battle of Saratoga before he betrayed George Washington during the Revolutionary War?
Clark is an accomplished public servant. Besides two terms as state GOP chairman at the turn of the century, he was director of Idaho’s Farm Service Agency, chief environmental economist for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and a staffer on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Crapo thought enough of him to recently assign Clark to help on veteran outreach programs. Risch turned to Clark to work on cybersecurity. Clark also remains active within the Idaho Republican Party Central Committee, where last month he was chairman of the Standing Rules Committee.
So he’s unusually well-informed.
Perhaps he can explain. — M.T.