Letters to the Editor: Backs Blakey

Letters to the Editor: Backs Blakey

Backs Blakey

Who are the candidates for state representative, seat 6A?

There is no incumbent for that office – although one advertises for “re-election” to that office. That is somewhat misleading to the citizens of Nez Perce and Lewis counties. It gives the impression of an incumbent.

That same person was defeated for that office two years ago and, while holding that office legally, also maintained a seat on the Lewiston City Council. Now that’s what I call double-dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket.

We now have a choice between a shady politician and an honest person running for the office.

His name is Bob Blakey. …

I first met Bob about six or seven years ago when he was introduced to our local cowboy action shooting club. …

He learned well, and is now an active and top shooter in our club as well as the Dayton, Wash., group. He is a member of the Lewiston Pistol Club and the National Rifle Association. …

He ran for a seat on the city council and won. He worked tirelessly with the city and county in bringing an end to the Urban Renewal Agency lawsuit, successfully saving the taxpayers a bundle of money.

He will relinquish his city council seat when elected to the state House of Representatives, seat 6A.

For these reasons, I and my fellow cowboy shootists urge you to vote for Blakey on Nov. 8. To use a phrase from our cowboy group, “He’s a good man to ride the river with.”

Jim Sanderson


Letters to the Editor: Kingsley’s Limited

Kingsley’s limited

I like recovery centers and think we are certainly in need of them. But honestly, what is Mike Kingsley running on? The only thing I’ve seen or read about him is that he supports them.

But John Rusche does, too. Rep. Rusche helped get money from the Millennium Fund to actually get the idea off the group from the start. Kinglsey has only tried to talk about recovery centers and take credit for it.

We have so many other problems to deal with in Idaho, such as closing the Medicaid gap, finally getting education back to pre-recession levels and lifting Idaho off the bottom of the economic barrel by putting livable wages in workers’ pockets.

As far as I can see, Kinglsey is just a one-trick pony. And that trick is getting old.

Janeth Mallory


Lewiston Tribune: Idaho colonists, say hello to your new aristocrats

Idaho colonists, say hello to your new aristocrats



If you want to know why ordinary Idahoans view the idea of transferring federal lands to state ownership with such skepticism, start with what’s going on in Adams and Valley counties.

There, 172,000 acres of forest land formerly available to hunters, snowmobilers and four-wheelers is now off limits.

As the McCall Star-News’ Tom Grote noted, Idaho Fish and Game sent out 305 letters to people who had controlled hunt permits, informing them access had been denied. Meanwhile, Valley County’s leases to groom roads on the parcel for snowmobile trails have been canceled.

Explained the Idaho Statesman’s Rocky Barker, Potlatch Corp. – which allowed public access on these acres – sold them to Farris and Dan Wilks of Cisco, Texas, who are painting their fence posts orange.

This is one more hit for a local economy already buffeted by a hollowing out of its timber industry and setbacks at the Tamarack golf and ski resort.

The sealed off snowmobile trails alone were linked to $832,000 worth of business in Valley County, Barker reported. If four-wheelers also are forced to go somewhere else, the local economy’s losses will mount up.

But the Wilks brothers apparently feel no obligation to explain themselves. Barker can’t get his phone calls returned.

These Texas billionaires are the new face of private land ownership. Flush with a $3.5 billion profit they earned by selling their 70 percent interest in a fracking company to Temasek Holdings in Singapore, they’ve been on a buying binge.

With 500,000 acres as of last year, they now place 15th on the Land Report Magazine’s list of America’s largest landowners – just ahead of the J.R. Simplot family.

Among their acquisitions was 38,000 acres of land on the Joseph Plains in Idaho County. Earlier this year, Idaho County residents contended their access to the area, popular for hunting and recreation, had been sealed off.

In the past, landowners – such as Potlatch in Adams and Valley counties or the Hitchcock family and Robbins-France ranch in Idaho County – were benevolent toward their neighbors. They were part of the same social, economic and political fabric.

The Wilks brothers, on the other hand, are as distant from the everyday cares of Idahoans as the British aristocrats were from the colonists.

All of which ought to give pause to even the most enthusiastic advocate of transferring title of public lands from the federal government to the state of Idaho.

Nowhere will you find a study that suggests Idaho can afford to manage those lands without dipping deep into its scarce treasury or aggressively logging the forests – and hoping for the best on the timber markets. Most likely, the state would revert to its past behavior and begin liquidating.

When those lots come on the market, the Wilks boys no doubt will come calling.

Complain all you want about federal regulations and bureaucracies. But as long as the sign at the gate reads U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, nobody is going to block your entry.

And if there’s something going on you don’t like, you can contact the local land manager – or even a congressional office.

Unlike this pair of Texas billionaires, they will return your phone call. – M.T.

Letters to the Editor: No thanks for the memories

No thanks for the memories

It’s always fun to reminisce about old things, but not when it comes to thinking back to what Thrya Stevenson did when she was an elected official.

Remember when she held two elected offices (Lewiston city councilor and state legislator) at once? Or remember when she said she’d step down from the same city council after the election, then didn’t?

Maybe you remember when she was reprimanded by her own party and the speaker of the House for attacking respected Rep. John Ruche and his character? There’s also her vote against accepting millions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid and save lives of our loved ones and fellow Idahoans.

Also, her votes for education, which did nothing to actually improve education and left 95 percent of districts still needing supplemental or emergency levies just to open doors.

Stevenson is not the person I need representing me, representing my children and grandchildren and representing us as citizens of District 6.

Lovetta Eisele


Letter to the Editor: Picks Rusche

Picks Rusche

Lewiston-Tribune | October 1, 2016

I know that it seems as though during an election there are so many claims, statements, promises, lies, misstatements, half truths, veiled truths, honest credentials and service that sometimes it’s difficult to find the nuggets of information we can believe and trust, but this I know is true – Dr. John Rusche is the real deal.

He didn’t come to an understanding of the health care needs of our community, state, county and nation because of his own issues but because in his soul, heart and mind, he’s a physician caring for the needs of those he now serves in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Rusche has been involved in the battle for funding for drug and alcohol programs for 12 years, and state leadership listens because they respect his training and service.

Rusche isn’t a “Boise Boy” because he isn’t a boy; he’s our representative for Nez Perce and Lewis counties.

You’ve seen John and his wife, Dr. Kay Rusche, at the county fair, the tractor pull, the Shebang Days, public forums and your door.

That’s the kind of service and attention we get from my choice for Idaho House seat 6B -Dr. John Rusche.

Liz Chavez


Blakey: Issues Debate Challenge

Blakey: Issues Debate Challenge

During the campaign season, there are so few opportunities to address the public in group settings. There are even fewer opportunities for the public to ask each local candidate questions in the same room and allowing the public to judge our responses for themselves.

These public debate opportunities are rare and very precious to myself as a candidate.

But one of these opportunities has been squandered after my opponent refused to accept a debate neutrally moderated by Lewis-Clark State College and the Lewiston Tribune.

I have been excited and anxious to attend two debates, but that will not be the case.

My opponent would rather hide in the shadows than come to a debate.

I thought things like this only happen on the national level.

For what it is worth, I will debate Thyra Stevenson anywhere, any time.

Heck, I’ll even release my tax records and medical information.

St. Maries Gazette Record – Rep. Paulette Jordan

Paulette Jordan

Representative Paulette Jordan said she is ready to continue the fight for the good of her district.

Coming from a rural background, she knows the challenges facing Idaho citizens today. She has lived in Benewah County all her life and has used her knowledge of her community’s needs to inform her decisions during her two years in the legislature. Coupled with her tenure on Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council, she believes she has the experience necessary to represent her community.

“Compassion in leadership is rare, and I believe it is my greatest strength,” she said. “I believe government is best when limited and closest to the people, and that has been my practice in every leadership role I have maintained.”

Education funding has been in the public eye this year, with rural districts around the state struggling to keep up with wealthier districts. Rep. Jordan sees that the state is not adequately supporting its schools and hopes to help change that.

“Idaho can do better to allocate the appropriate general fund resources to achieve the needs of our schools,” she said. “Our children deserve a fighting chance to compete within the fast-growing modern world.”

Rep. Jordan has also been vocal about her support for expanding Medicaid to cover Idaho’s “gap population,” who cannot afford private insurance but also earn too much to qualify for aid.

“The insurance gap currently disservices 78,000 Idahoans, including over 10,000 veterans currently without medical coverage,” she said. “It is a travesty to every Idaho citizen stricken of the right to access quality healthcare and an undue burden on taxpayers.”

When it comes to the control of Idaho’s public lands, Rep. Jordan holds to her belief that local government is the best form of governance. She strongly believes in local control of public lands and said she has voted repeatedly against legislation brought before the house to limit it. However, when asked about the fate of federal-controlled lands in Idaho, she argued that removing federal control completely might not be in Idaho’s best interests.

“I have yet to find a practical perspective as to why the option would be feasible,” Rep. Jordan said. “We’re not equipped as a state to manage those public lands without ultimately giving in to the highest bidder seeking to buy lands currently utilized for hunting, fishing or other recreational use. I believe Idaho’s public lands must stay in public hands to maintain the best interest of every Idahoan.”

Rep. Jordan will run against challenger Carl Berglund in the Nov. 8 election. She seeks to continue supporting her constituents by charting the course she believes is best for her community, regardless of political climate.

“I don’t believe in falling in line with all the political party or campaign rhetoric,” Rep Jordan said. “I stand independently to be a strong, pragmatic voice. Our people deserve to have a representative that does not bend to political or big corporate interests. I am returning to continue to serve our community in the best way possible, with a fiscally conservative mind and an open heart to listen to the people directly”

To learn more about Rep. Jordan’s campaign, visit her website at www.paulettejordanforidaho.com, contact her by email at pjordandistrict5@gmail.com, or by mail at P.O. Box 611, Plummer, ID 83851.

Jeers: “Re-Elect” Who?

Jeers: “Re-Elect” Who?



JEERS … to Stevenson. Perhaps one reason she’s running away from a public debate is because someone may point out the following:

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is running for re-election.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is running for re-election.

So is Washington state Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy.

Same goes for Nez Perce County Commissioners Doug Havens and Doug Zenner as well as Sheriff Joe Rodriguez.

They all currently hold office and they’re asking the voters for another term.

Stevenson is not an incumbent. After one term in the House, the voters fired her two years ago. It was close, but they fired her, and they sent Rudolph to Boise. Rudolph is retiring, so Stevenson and Blakey are pursuing an open seat.

For a GOP incumbent in ruby red Idaho to get the boot takes some doing. Perhaps Stevenson would rather gloss over that. So she has doubled down on the tactic of asking voters to “re-elect” her.

It was one thing when Stevenson recycled old material from her 2014 “re-election” campaign a couple of months ago. It still took some gall for a private citizen to seek “re-election” to an office she did not hold.

Now, however, Stevenson has made a conscious choice to portray herself as the incumbent in brand new glossy brochures and in her advertising. She’s asking you to “re-elect” her.

There’s no other word for it.

It’s a lie.

Jeers: Empty chairs

Cheers & Jeers: Empty chairs



JEERS … to Republican legislative candidates Mike Kingsley and Thyra Stevenson, both of Lewiston.

When Lewis-Clark State College and the Lewiston Tribune invited them to debate their Democratic opponents – state Rep. John Rusche and Lewiston City Councilor Bob Blakey, respectively – these two said they had other plans.

Kingsley told LCSC spokesman Bert Sahlberg that between working and campaigning, he could not find the time for a debate. Of course, if Kingsley has time to campaign, he has time to debate.

Speaking through Kingsley, Stevenson said she doesn’t like the Tribune.

These two can’t squirm out of the traditional forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. That’s set for Oct. 18 at the LCSC library. But that two-hour session will split its focus between two legislative races as well as contests for Nez Perce County commissioner and sheriff.

Why would Kingsley and Stevenson avoid a second debate devoted entirely to their plans for the Legislature?

Are they calculating?

In 2014, Kingsley lost to Rusche by a mere 48 votes out of 12,460 ballots cast. Stevenson’s defeat to state Rep. Dan Rudolph, D-Lewiston, was even tighter – 26 votes out of 12,435 cast.

That was in a mid-term election. Presidential elections tend to drive up GOP voter turnout. So do Kingsley and Stevenson figure they are sitting on a lead?

Are they cocky?

Do Kingsley and Stevenson believe they have so much campaign cash available they can flood voters with the pre-scripted commercials – without ever being forced to engage with them?

Or are they chicken?

Are they incapable of answering neutral – or even hostile – questions from the public?

Is thinking on their feet not among their skill-set? Are they afraid they might come off second best to their opponents?

Next chance you get, ask them.

Risch raised taxes and you’re stuck with it

Risch raised taxes and you’re stuck with it

  • Marty Trillhaase


As much harm as Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has delivered during his 12-year run – whether it’s cronyism, education cuts or botched contracts – he cannot approach the damage Jim Risch inflicted in only eight months.

Ten years ago – long before he left Idaho to become its junior U.S. senator in Washington, D.C. – Risch was serving as the state’s lieutenant governor. When President George W. Bush tapped Gov. Dirk Kempthorne for interior secretary, Risch filled the vacant term and was second banana no more.

Not content to be a caretaker, Risch summoned the Legislature back to Boise and in a one-day special session rammed through one of the most profound changes this state has ever seen.

No longer would public schools be entitled to a predictable property tax levy to support a portion of their maintenance and operation expenses. To compensate the schools for the lost money, Risch and his GOP legislators tacked a sixth penny on the sales tax.

Every warning against the move went unheeded – often because the acting governor dismissed criticism as partisan talking points.

But year by year, the evidence has mounted.

First came the tax shift. People who weren’t earning about $135,000 in 2006 dollars – especially renters but also most middle-class homeowners – paid far more in new sales taxes than they’d ever save from the property tax cut. Corporations and wealthy landowners – including Risch – made out.

Next came the fallout for schools. Whatever its faults, the property tax was a stable source of money. Not so with state sales and income taxes, which cratered when the Great Recession kicked in two years later. Risch’s M&O tax shift is chief among the reasons the share of Idaho’s personal income devoted to public schools dropped 25 percent since the turn of the century – the equivalent of more than $500 million every year.

To compensate, patrons voluntarily raised property taxes on themselves. But these so-called supplemental levies were a misnomer; they now paid for the basics. If you doubt it, consider the panic the Troy School District endured last summer when voters initially rejected a proposed supplemental levy and briefly flirted with the idea of relying solely on state education support.

At least the M&O tax levy equalized revenues among rich and poor districts. Relying on these new property tax levies widened the gap in a state where a wealthy school district, such as McCall, has roughly 30 times the tax base of its poorest communities, such as the Snake River School District.

Now comes the final verdict.

As Idaho Education News’ Kevin Richert reported last month, Risch’s so-called tax cut is no such thing.

Richert pegged the value of Risch’s tax break at $303.1 million. Then he deducted the $107.6 million more Idahoans pay in supplemental levies than they did in 2006. Finally, Richert pegged the cost of Risch’s sales tax increase at about $217 million.

Net result: Idahoans are paying $21.7 million more in taxes than if then-Gov. Risch had left things well enough alone.

The burden is not shared equally.

Richert found 18 districts that are getting by with less money than they received 10 years ago – often because voters have not approved higher supplemental levies and/or falling enrollments have triggered losses in state funding.

In north central Idaho, these include Kamiah, Lapwai and Culdesac.

Another 26 districts have gained ground. But many of them – such as Moscow and Troy – have done so by increasing the local tax burden.

No one is left unscathed by this. Not school children. Not their parents. Not their communities. Not the taxpayers. And not the economy.

And what Risch left behind is irrevocable. When Richert surveyed lawmakers still in office 10 years after they voted for the tax shift, virtually none was willing to reverse his error.

Neither is Risch, who told Richert: “I’m willing to bet that you will never see it go back.” – M.T.