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Young People's Pavilion: Some of the best new middle grade books

SQUISH #4: Captain Disaster by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
When trouble calls, there is a single cell who has the courage to do what's right….Squish!

"Even the mildest young boy will see something of himself in Squish. Super Amoeba is an energetic, good-hearted escapade, one that young readers will enjoy."—New York Times Book Review

From the acclaimed authors of Babymouse comes Squish—a comic-book-loving, twinkie-eating grade school amoeba trying to find his place in the world. In this fourth installment of this graphic novel series, it's soccer season! But the Waterfleas (hey, it could be worse—okay, maybe it couldn't) are getting pummeled game after game. Squish knows winning isn't everything, but it's something right? Can Squish turn the losing streak around when he becomes team captain? Will Pod figure out how to harness the power of lightning? And how can amoebas play soccer when they don't have any feet? Find out in the fourth electrifyingly hilarious, action packed Squish graphic novel adventure: Captain Disaster!

Just like Babymouse, Squish is smart and funny. Unlike Babymouse, Squish is GREEN and filled with superheroes, comics within comics, and gross-out science—each book includes a science spread in the back, full of real science activities! Squish #4: Captain Disaster is sure to be right for fans of Babymouse, Lunch Lady, Sidekicks, and Captain Underpants.

SUPER by Matthew Cody
A superpowered sequel to Matthew Cody's popular debut novel, Powerless.

Daniel Corrigan is as regular as can be, especially when compared to the Supers: kids in his new hometown with actual powers like flight and super strength. But Daniel's not powerless. Only he was able to stop the Shroud, a supervillian bent on stealing his newfound friends' powers. And thanks to him, his friends got to keep those powers. Now Daniel himself is starting to display powers, while at the same time, his friends are losing theirs. His friend Eric thinks Daniel is just becoming a Super himself, a late-blooming one. But Daniel worries there may be something more sinister at work, since his power-stealing ability is uncomfortably like the Shroud's. Of course, the Shroud is gone now . . . or is he? And could Daniel himself be his new vessel?

Matthew Cody latest novel is an homage to superheroes and comic books, great for all those comic fans (boys especially). With nonstop action and suspense, SUPER is perfectly paced for reluctant readers,

THE CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau; adapted by Dallas Middaugh; art by Niklas Asker
Modern-day classic The City of Ember returns as a stunning, full-color graphic novel.

"A satisfying mystery, a breathtaking escape over rooftops in darkness, a harrowing journey into the unknown, and cryptic messages for readers to decipher." —Kirkus Reviews

In the spring 2003, kids, parents, teachers, librarians—whole communities—discovered and fell in love with Jeanne DuPrau's story about a doomed city, and the two children who found a way out. Nearly ten years later, that story, The City of Ember, is a bona fide classic, with over 1.7 million copies sold. Now experience Jeanne DuPrau's vision anew as artist Niklas Asker faithfully brings to life the glare of the lamps, the dinginess of the streets, and the brilliance of the first sunrise.

JOSHUA DREAD by Lee Bacon
A funny and smart superhero/supervillain series about growing up and surviving your (supervillain) parents for middle graders.

For Joshua Dread, middle school is proving to be, well, awkward. Not only do bullies pick on him, but do you see those supervillains over there trying to flood the world? The ones that everyone, including his best friend Milton, are rooting for Captain Justice to take down? They're the Dread Duo, and they just happen to be his parents. As if trying to hide his identity wasn't hard enough, Joshua has started leaving a trail of exploding pencils and scorched handprints in his wake, and only Sophie, the new girl in town with a mysterious past, seems unsurprised. When a violent attack at the Vile Fair makes it clear someone is abducting supervillains, and that his parents may very well be next, Joshua must enlist both Sophie and Milton's help to save them.

Well-written, fast-paced, and remarkably funny, Joshua Dread is the first in a series that will appeal far beyond its target audience. Clever and funny, it's a fast-paced read perfect for boys and girls, especially reluctant readers, who will love the conceit of a good kid with villains for parents.

FIVE ANCESTORS OUT OF THE ASHES #1: Phoenix by Jeff Stone
Filled with Jeff Stone's trademark action and intrigue, this new series mixes kung fu and bike racing.

It is 350 years after the events of The Five Ancestors. Phoenix Collins lives in Indiana with his grandfather who is teaching him kung fu. But Phoenix's real love is dirt-bike racing. When unsettling events reveal that his grandfather is not only one of the legendary five Cangzhen monks, but also almost 400 years old, Phoenix must race the clock if he is going to keep his beloved ancestor alive. Traveling to China, he meets an intriguing young woman who is a talented biker and a terrific mechanic. She offers to help him, but can she be trusted?

Readers will enjoy the cameos from Stone’s earlier series, and the strong girl character makes this a great book for both boys and girls. The non-stop action and fast paced plot of this page turner will be perfect for middle-graders, reluctant readers, and all bike racers!

CENTURY #4: Dragon of Seas by P.D. Baccalario; translated by Leah D. Janeczko
In the fourth installment of the Century Quartet, Italian author P. D. Baccalario concludes the mystery that took four cities and four extraordinary kids to solve.

Shanghai, September 19th—As the equinox approaches, Sheng, Elettra, Harvey, and Mistral know they must come together one last time. Armed with only a map and a top that seem to be broken, a collection of old coins, and a tile with four knives painted on it, the four kids meet in Shanghai to try to make sense of clues that their predecessors couldn't decipher. Meanwhile Sheng is haunted by a dream and by visions of a young boy who seems to understand their quest. The visions send the kids all over Shanghai, through abandoned water ducts and ancient tea houses, in search of the Pearl of the Sea Dragon, an ancient stone that they're sure is the last piece of the puzzle. But a germophobic supercriminal who never leaves his sterile Shanghai skyscraper will do anything to learn their secrets.

Fans of Blue Balliet, Trenton Lee Stewart, and Michael Scott will be drawn to this Da Vinci Code-like adventure for kids.


RECON TEAM ANGEL BOOK #1: The Assault by Brian Falkner

It's 2030, and humanity is losing the war against alien invaders. A Band of Brothers meets Ender's Game in this sci-fi military thriller perfect for kids who love playing Halo and Call of Duty!

A team of six has been chosen to infiltrate the enemy's headquarters in the heart of the Australian Outback. The six teens have been modified to look like aliens. They have spent years mastering alien culture so that they can talk, act—even think—like their enemies. But from the start, the recon mission goes terribly wrong. It's only when they are close to discovering the shocking truth of the aliens' plans that the team is forced to question who among them is a traitor. Brian Falkner delivers a page-turning military thriller with his signature heart-pounding action and unique sci-fi twists.

University of Idaho Women’s Center Brings Gloria Steinem for 40th Anniversary Celebration

Gloria Steinem, writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist, will visit the University of Idaho on Oct. 4 and 5, 2012 in honor of the Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary, the center announced.

According to the Women's Center, over the past 40 years, Steinem has played a pivotal role in the women’s equality movement, both in the United States and internationally. Steinem travels as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice.

In 1972, the same year that the U-Idaho Women’s Center was established, Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine, and remained one of its editors for 15 years. She continues to serve as a consulting editor for Ms., and was instrumental in orchestrating the magazine’s move to be published by the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Her books include the bestsellers, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem; Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions; Moving Beyond Words; and Marilyn: Norma Jean, on the life of Marilyn Monroe.

Steinem helped to found and provided leadership for many different organizations, including: the Women’s Action Alliance, the Women’s Media Center, Voters for Choice, and the Ms. Foundation for Women, a national multi-racial, multi-issue fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women. She is also a founder of the Ms. Foundation’s “Take Our Daughters To Work” Day. To learn more about Steinem, visit her website: www.gloriasteinem.com.

Steinem will speak on “Women's Legacies, Inspiring Our Future,” at 7:30 p.m. PT on Oct. 4 at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, 1000 Stadium Way in Moscow, ID. The event is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a facilitated question-and-answer period. The event will also serve as the keynote for the Athena-Women’s Center biennial Women’s Leadership Conference, held throughout the day on October 4 on the U-Idaho Moscow campus.

“We are thrilled to bring Gloria Steinem to the University of Idaho,” says Heather Shea Gasser, director of the University of Idaho Women’s Center. “She has been and continues to be an instrumental voice for social change and for equality. Her leadership in the early 70s contributed directly to the same movement that resulted in the creation of the Women’s Center on campus in 1972. Her address on Oct. 4 will be the highlight of our semester-long celebration of the Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary and the keynote for the Women's Leadership Conference.”

The Women's Center was founded in 1972 to address the high attrition rates of female students on campus. Since then, the Women's Center’s role and purpose has evolved to include a breadth of programming and outreach that addresses the contemporary issues U-Idaho students are now facing. Women's Centers exist because gender equity has not been achieved in any country around the world. Women still earn less than their male peers, with women of color facing an even larger pay gap. Women hold fewer tenured faculty positions and continue to be underrepresented in many fields, which has a direct impact on female students within our own colleges and departments. A series of special programs currently being planned for the fall of 2012 will honor the hard work of many individuals and groups who have been involved in creating and sustaining the Women's Center over the past four decades.

Here is the link to the original press release.

For more information on the Women’s Center, Gloria Steinem’s visit, and collateral events, contact the Women’s Center at (208) 885-6616 or wcenter@uidaho.edu.  read more »

Idaho GOP Offers '"College for Kids" Amid Failed Ethics, Education and Economic Policies

Courtesy, Idaho Democratic Party

Crossposted on Daily Kos

After years of failed policies, the GOP’s “College for Kids” appears to be little more than a public relations stunt aimed at making Idahoans forget just how much the GOP has forgotten Idaho families. To a population that struggles to pay bills, GOP Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane offers savings tips. The real world is stacked against the middle class family’s ability to save for college—and it is the GOP leadership that has stacked the deck.

Idaho’s GOP leaders have made it harder for families to effectively save money. The GOP Legislature struggles with poor ethics, fails to attract and keep high-paying jobs, and forces students to pay higher tuition rates for a college education by cutting state support. Idaho’s children enter the workforce under a mountain of debt, as the GOP works against them.

15 Years of GOP Economic Failures And Ignoring the New Workforce

The Idaho GOP-controlled Legislature stood by as younger generations suffered severely during the recession. Americans aged 35-44 have lost approximately 54% of their household worth, while taking deep pay cuts to maintain viable employment, according to a Fed report issued this summer. Young Idaho families also struggle to secure adequate health insurance, complicating economic hurdles for emerging families.

Idaho’s GOP Legislature continually slashes higher education while increasing tuition by about 5% a year. The Idaho GOP leaders now ask young families to save more even though they are earning less.

GOP Higher Education Model – Unaffordable For Most

Idaho ranks near the bottom in the U.S. for state scholarship opportunities, according to a 2012 report from Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluations. Financial aid that exists is “drastically lower” than other states. U.S. student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion dollars, and 60% of Idaho’s college graduates can expect to leave higher education with nearly $24,000 in loan debt in an economy that is not growing fast enough to provide jobs. Knowing these facts, the Idaho Republican Legislature continues to cut state spending on higher education forcing institutions to raise tuition rates every year.

Ethically Flawed GOP Leadership

Idaho GOP State Treasurer Ron Crane is offering financial advice to Idaho families about saving for college. This is the same man who charged $7,000 in fuel on a state cash card even though his miles were for personal use. The same man who hired limousines on trips to New York City. The same man who donated $10,000 a year in taxpayer funds to a nonprofit group that he owns—and Crane was baffled when auditors posed a potential for conflict of interest

This fall vote for an Idaho legislature that will support Idaho families. Vote for Democratic candidates.

Brian Cronin to Debate Tom Luna on Students Come First

What: Referendum on "Students Come First"
When: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, 11:45 am - 1:15 pm
Where: The Grove Hotel
Who: Tom Luna, Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Brian Cronin, Idaho State Representative, District 19

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna championed three major education reform measures called "Students Come First" in the 2011 legislative session. The reforms were strongly opposed by many teachers, administrators and the Idaho Education Association, but the legislation was passed overwhelmingly by the Idaho Legislature.

Luna's plan shifts funding priorities to reward teachers with financial bonuses for student performance, invests in technology by requiring school districts to provide laptop computers for teachers and high school students, and mandates online courses. “Through these laws, the state and local school districts will make every classroom a 21st Century classroom," Luna said.

Opponents disagree. To them, Luna's plan is a union-busting measure, because it limits collective bargaining and ends the practice of issuing renewable contracts. According to the IEA, a record 1,300 public school teachers left the state or the profession last year. There also are concerns about reduced state funding for public schools and larger class sizes. The group, known as “Idaho Parents and Teachers Together,” gathered 75,000 signatures to contest the trio of laws on Nov. 6, election day. The ballot measures are known as Propositions 1, 2 and 3.

Superintendent Luna and State Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise), who is a senior vice president for Strategies 360 and a consulting strategist for “Idaho Parents and Teachers Together,” will debate the pros and cons of the ballot propositions and take questions from the audience.

Chair: Julie Robinson
Moderator: Jim Weatherby
Registration is required

Otter Extolls Freedom in Constitution/ Plans Police Action on Occupy Boise

Our governor was a speechifying this week, going all high and mighty on the constitution and it's guarantee of freedom.

...and then use that in the spirit of living that freedom under our constitution because its ONLY if we obey that constitution, if we know the constitution, if we're so familiar with it, as we can challenge any political theater, that would violate that constitution, and their contract to hold that office, then and there is our duty, and our responsibility, and it is exactly what our founders expected of us...

Granted these words are the flowery, fact free, tea bagger version of the constitution and designed to give Otter the very political cover, he cravenly rails against, for his ill fated decision to challenge Obamacare. But Otter must have forgotten a mirror, because his hypocrisy was not as tightly coiffed as his hair on a windy day. This week, plans were disclosed regarding Idaho State Police's "Operation De-Occupy Boise" which was a coordinated law enforcement enterprise to take the very constitutional rights Otter claims to protect.  read more »

Idaho GOP Rep. Labrador missing too many votes

Jimmy Farris for Congress

Dear Constituent,

Yesterday marked a very significant moment in this campaign.

Congressman Labrador decided for the first time that it was necessary to respond to questions regarding his record.

Last Friday our campaign put out a press release calling out Raul Labrador on his poor attendance record in Congress. Labrador has missed nearly double the amount of votes as the average representative, and over double the amount of votes of all three of his most recent predecessors. Yesterday, in an article on the front page of the Idaho Statesman newspaper, Congressman Labrador's free pass to re-election came to an end. Dan Popkey, reporter for the Statesman, started the article off by saying "Freshman GOP Rep. Raul Labrador is absent from voting at triple the rate of his three predecessors, and his Democratic challenger is calling him on it." Popkey then went on to report...

"Labrador has missed 72 of 1,531 recorded votes, according to GovTrack.us, which follows Congress. That’s 4.7 percent, almost twice the House median of 2.5 percent."

"Labrador looks still worse compared to his three immediate predecessors: Walt Minnick (1.9 percent missed), Bill Sali (1.2 percent) and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (1.7 percent). Together, Minnick, Sali and Otter missed 113 of 6,962 votes, or 1.6 percent."

Donate with Acblue

This also marks the first time in the campaign that Labrador has responded to one of Jimmy's claims, saying, "Farris has a legitimate point."

Congressman Labrador also said in the article that he may end up missing more votes this Wednesday to campaign with Mitt Romney in the state of Florida. Jimmy then fired back, saying, “I think Congressman Labrador needs to decide if he is running to be a part of a potential Romney administration or to represent Idaho in Congress.”

This story has since been picked up by the Associated Press, and is showing up in news sources across the country. Raul Labrador is vulnerable, and is part of a Congress that has the worst approval rating in our nation's history. We CAN win this race, and replace Labrador with a hard working, problem solving, common sense leader – Jimmy Farris. We just need to raise enough money to get our message up on TV. We cannot allow Raul Labrador to coast to re-election without the voters knowing the truth about his record. Please make a financial contribution to our campaign today, and we will take the ball across the end zone this November!

Thank you so much for all of your support!

Dave Scheppler
Campaign Manager
Farris for Congress

IDP Chairman Larry Grant on "Politicizing" GOP Ethical Abuses

by Larry Grant

In a recent editorial the Idaho Press-Tribune advised that Idaho Democrats should ignore the larger implications of the sad situation of former Sen. John McGee. You said we should “take heed” not to try to politicize his downfall.

I respectfully disagree.

First, I extend my sympathies to the real lives that were hurt by Mr. McGee’s actions. It is tragic to contemplate what becomes of his young family after such a public disgrace.

I also extend my sympathy to the staffer who was the victim of the “disturbing the peace.” According to press reports, this young woman lived in fear as the senator made unwanted sexual advances in our Capitol building. As she resumes her career, she must now somehow learn to trust her future bosses after an awful betrayal.

In my view, that’s what the situation is really about, not the squandering of forgiveness as your editorial suggests, but the betrayal of trust.

Your editorial warns that the only reason Republicans are caught amid so many ethical and criminal offenses is because there are more of them in office. I reject that conclusion because it sounds too much like “everybody does it.” There will, of course, always be mistakes, misjudgments and occasional reckless actions. But Idaho Democrats are working to stop those abuses that rise above the level of “mistake.”

Some have contended that Idaho Democratic proposals for an independent ethics commission are merely political posturing. If so, isn’t the GOP’s sound rejection of an independent ethics commission also political posturing? If that cynical view were reality, then why not choose the posture that actually ends up holding legislators — Democrats, Republicans and everybody in between — accountable?

Let’s face it, the GOP is against is ethics reform because the actions called for by Democrats would create barriers to the free use of lopsided political power. Revolving door legislation would make it more difficult to reward public officials or employees with lavish private sector jobs. Financial disclosure legislation would throw a bright light on the relationships between private relationships, lobbyist dollars and the votes made by legislators. And an independent ethics commission is less likely to cave to the pressure of a powerful majority, Democratic or Republican.

The Idaho Press-Tribune has reported the litany of abuses and excuses from an excessive, barely-checked GOP that has a leadership that relies on partisan distrust among the public and bullying among their caucus to sweep it all under the rug. How bold must the Senate GOP leaders be to respond to the Sen. Monty Pearce situation by making ethics complaints less transparent? By putting a gag order on senators who bring ethics complaints? What is that if not the raw misuse of political power?

Idaho Democrats are certainly hoping there is political gain in the public unveiling of the multitude of GOP ethical abuses. But that gain serves the public interest. That political gain will bring more reasonable, responsible leadership to our state. That political gain will make it harder for party leaders to bully their peers into narrow agendas by allowing them to form coalitions with reasonable members of the other party. That political gain is a gain for all of Idaho.

Take heed, indeed.

Democratic Candidate James Mace Praises Republican Party's New-Found Position On Openness Regarding “Students Come First”

... And Poses Questions for Them

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In an Aug. 24 press release, Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson criticized the opponents of the new “Students Come First” program for an ad that Peterson says “intentionally misleads” Idahoans by stating that the laptops are an “unfunded mandate.” James Mace, Democratic candidate for Senate in District 20 who is running against Chuck Winder, who supported all 3 bills, praised the GOP chairman's stance on openness about the bills:

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“I'm glad to hear that the Idaho Republican Party believes voters should know the truth about the bills. As a taxpayer and voter, I thought that not proposing the bills until AFTER Luna's 2010 re-election wasn't exactly 'open' with voters, so I'm glad to see their position has changed. I, for one, would like to know if the proposal to outsource much of Idaho education to an out-of-state on-line company came from Idaho or from ALEC? And did it come before or after the $44,000 campaign donation to Luna's re-election bid from an on-line education company? I think a lot of us have some questions, and since they weren't answered before the LAST election, I'm delighted that they seem prepared to answer them during THIS one.”

A former Air Force communications specialist, Mace is now an author, small business owner, and has been a member of the Idaho Army National Guard for the last fifteen years. He served with the 116th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq and now volunteers with several veterans' charities as well as Make a Wish. This is his first bid for political office.

For more info see James Mace for D20 Senate on Facebook.

43rd State Blues Luna Wikipedia Biography Story Breaks into Major Media Outlets

From Boise State Public Radio:

Idaho Employee Catches Flack For Wikiediting

But an anonymous blogger on the liberal website The Daily Kos (an entry that began here on 43sb) criticized her saying McGrath was whitewashing Luna’s image.

The blogger saw an online exchange between McGrath and a Wiki regular. That regular, who goes by the handle Scientizzle, was the first to notice a big change to the Luna page. Scientizzle, who wants to stay anonymous, says he’d never heard of Luna but thought McGrath’s changes were politically slanted. He began to rewrite the page.

Here’s the problem

The Daily Kos blogger says McGrath’s actions amount to campaigning because Luna is an elected official.

From Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise:

Luna becomes subject of Wiki war

Idaho teacher and blogger MeandG wrote about the squabble on Daily Kos and 43rd State Blues and it became a big topic in social media. Today, Popkey weighs in, saying, “This humble outlet says McGrath overstepped with her praise of her boss and would have been better off contacting Wikipedia about her concerns rather than editing herself. But Luna's foes were even farther over the line. Wikipedia's senior editors seem to agree. They have revised the bio, stripping slanted material on both sides, leaving a balanced piece.”

From Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman:

Idaho schools chief Luna becomes subject of Wiki war

That exchange prompted a Luna foe, Idaho teacher MeandG, to post on Daily Kos and 43rd State Blues, two sites hostile to Luna. The flap was picked up by the Recall Tom Luna website, which crowed, “A Wikipedia user caught her misinformation, fact-checked them, and reverted all of the misinformation and spin.”

Wrote MeandG, “That was a quick victory. Now let’s see what the major news outlets say.”

This humble outlet says McGrath overstepped with her praise of her boss and would have been better off contacting Wikipedia about her concerns, rather than editing herself.

You can also read about it on the Boise Channel 6 KIVI TV site.

And papers including The Sacramento Bee picked up the Associated Press feed: Schools chief Luna subject of Wikipedia tug of war

Wikipedia Removes STATE edits from Tom Luna's Bio

Crossposted on Daily Kos


Tom Luna

Idaho Secretary of Education Tom Luna came up short in attempts to turn his Wikipedia bio into an advertisement.

This is a follow-up to the story below, Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?

Melissa McGrath, Tom Luna's Communications Director thought she got away with making edits to Tom Luna's Wikipedia page in order to help better his already tarnished image and public record. A Wikipedia user caught her misinformation, fact checked them, and reverted all of the misinformation and spin.

reads the Official: Recall Tom Luna Facebook Page

To the Pro-Luna forces who say "She's just doing her job," something must be wrong if a medium you use to "do your job" removes the work you put into it.

One commenter wrote:

"LOL. She triggered the conflict of interest algorithm which lead to a moderator contacting her. Even the algorithm could smell the BS. This made me laugh at my desk in a quiet office."

Sure enough, the original (pre-McGrath) bio is back.

Wikipedia is the internet equivalent of an encyclopedia, not a public relations campaign tool (and should not be paid for by tax dollars).  read more »

Is the STATE of Idaho Whitewashing Tom Luna's Bio?

UPDATED 9/5/12 5:18 PM MST

In reponse to this entry linked on Topix,

RealityChecker wrote:

I don't see the issue. Is she posting information to Wikipedia that is false, or taking down information that is false. Looks to me like she is simply being proactive, and doing her job. It doesn't look like she's hiding anything, or doing something wrong.

slfisher responded:

#1. Wikipedia frowns on people writing their own bios, or having people connected to them writing their bios.

#2. If information in one's bio is incorrect, the proper response is to write to Wikipedia and call this to their attention.

#3. When one makes changes, one is supposed to put in references and citations noting the source. This was not done.

#4. If you look at the changes, some of them go beyond correcting errors, such as removing the fact that Luna obtained his degree in Weights and Measures from an online institution. Others are...overly posutive, rather than factual.

#5. If you look at Ms. McGrath's page, you can see her arguing with a bot as though she thinks she's talking to an actual person.

#6. While Tom Luna is not running for office, which would be a clear violation, the legality of a State worker on State time contributing to a political campaign (Yes on 1 2 3) is...sketchy. It is certainly true that this is a fuzzy line that is crossed by many Idaho politicians, but at least they're elected. She is not.

UPDATED 9/4/12 4:58 PM MST

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Government service with your tax dollars?

... or campaign material?

Take a look at this revision history for Idaho's secretary of education, on Wikipedia.

vote-no-logo-final

Bad for children. Bad for teachers. Bad for Idaho.

In the link above, go back to the next fifty and note the name "Melissa McGrath."

TRANSLATION: The Communications Director for the Idaho State Department of Education, Mellissa McGrath, is spending a lot of time, a whole lot of time, trying to clean up Wikipedia as it relates to Tom Luna.

Why this is important?

"The state should not be supporting Tom's political career," a statehouse official told me today, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "They should not be actively running the Luna Yes campaign."

Read the old versions of Luna's bio that were on Wikipedia before McGrath. She completely rewrote what Tom Luna has been up to. And note how many of her changes were not accepted by Wikipedia.

"She changed Luna's page on August 27th," the statehouse official said. "Check the history prior to it and then check how much she changed his bio. Basically white washed it. Quite disturbing. At least Wikipedia held her accountable."

Further Reading: Why You Should Vote NO on Propositions 1,2, and 3.

From Wikipedia:

Hello, MelissaMcGrath. We welcome your contributions to Wikipedia, but if you are affiliated with some of the people, places or things you have written about on Wikipedia, you may need to consider our guidance on conflicts of interest.

All editors are required to comply with Wikipedia's neutral point of view content policy. People who are very close to a subject often have a distorted view of it, which may cause them to inadvertently edit in ways that make the article either too flattering or too disparaging. People with a close connection to a subject are not absolutely prohibited from editing about that subject, but they need to be especially careful about ensuring their edits are verified by reliable sources and writing with as little bias as possible.

If you are very close to a subject, here are some ways you can reduce the risk of problems:

Avoid or exercise great caution when editing or creating articles related to you, your organization, or its competitors, as well as projects and products they are involved with.

Be cautious about deletion discussions. Everyone is welcome to provide information about independent sources in deletion discussions, but avoid advocating for deletion of articles about your competitors.
Avoid linking to the Wikipedia article or website of your organization in other articles (see Wikipedia:Spam).
Exercise great caution so that you do not accidentally breach Wikipedia's content policies.

Please familiarize yourself with relevant content policies and guidelines, especially those pertaining to neutral point of view, verifiability of information, and autobiographies.

For information on how to contribute to Wikipedia when you have a conflict of interest, please see our frequently asked questions for organizations. Thank you. — Scientizzle 19:38, 27 August 2012 (UTC)  read more »

Yes. the Luna Laws are Unfunded Mandates - Rep. Shirley Ringo

By Shirley Ringo

As a retired teacher and current legislator, I support providing school districts the best in educational technology. I agree that it is important to maintain professional development programs for teachers in the ever-changing world of technology. Legislators must take responsibility to act, but support for educational technology need not be linked to the seriously flawed Luna laws.

Shirley-Ringo
Rep. Shirley Ringo

Reports that schools are receiving state money for the purchase of computers and professional development for teachers related to integration of technology into instruction should be viewed with skepticism.

Much of that money is shifted from state support for teacher compensation. A formula determines the amount of state money dedicated to compensation each year. Because of the Luna laws, the amount determined by this formula is automatically reduced by 1.67% each year – $15 million dollars. In addition, legislators captured over $12 million by voting to “freeze” two years of salary credit teachers receive for additional teaching experience. Thus money sent to districts for teacher support is reduced by over $27 million. That is how some of the technology funding is obtained.

Rural districts are particularly hard hit by deficiencies in state funding. The result is either forced staff reductions and larger numbers of students per class, or increases in local property taxes to avoid drastic cuts. In other words, local districts are forced to help pay for technology through significantly lower state support in other areas.

Technology offers a great instructional tool. However, the importance of an excellent teacher in the classroom has long been recognized. It is not old-fashioned to believe this continues to be true. Schools are harmed if teachers are sacrificed to pay for computers.

[It is true] that, at a cost of just under $1 million per year, the state now provides funding for all Idaho students to take college entrance exams. If this increases the number of Idaho students going on to some form of higher education, it may be a good investment but we don’t need the flawed Luna laws to provide this opportunity. Also note that we cannot ignore the importance of better higher education funding to make post-high school education affordable and accessible.

The “Pay for Performance” plan from the Luna laws leaves much to be desired. Although the appropriation for this school year shows about $39 million for its implementation, as detailed above there are offsetting reductions in state support for teacher compensation of about $27 million. The Luna laws’ Pay for Performance plan offers no permanent salary increases. The plan merely involves yearly bonuses, which an individual may not be awarded in succeeding years. A leadership bonus can be awarded to only 25% of the staff, so deserving educators may not receive it. For example, the National Board Certification program is of particular value for professional development. Under Idaho law, all teachers who completed this respected program used to receive a $2000 stipend for a period of five years. (Many states have stronger incentives.) Unfortunately, under the Luna laws, this stipend was dropped and these teachers merely qualify to be considered for the leadership bonus. Since these are limited to 25% of the staff, no incentive for this achievement is guaranteed.

The Luna laws were hatched with minimal input from experienced educators and community. We want the best for Idaho students, but the Luna laws do not take us down the right path. Let’s reject them and work together for a better plan – one that we all trust.

Vote NO on Propositions 1, 2, and 3.

A truly democratic process that isn’t determined by “who you know.”

In Eye on Boise, Betsy Russel writes:

StateImpact Idaho has a report today on the Idahoans headed to the GOP convention in Florida, along with a link to the full list of Idaho's 32 delegates - who include both Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter, state schools Supt. Tom Luna, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Sen. Jim, Vicki and Jason Risch, Frank and Belinda Vandersloot, Roy Eiguren, Sandy Patano, Ruthie Johnson, Norm Semanko, and both Dane and Damond Watkins. Tracey Wasden is a delegate, while husband and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence is an alternate.

StateImpact reports that the Romney Campaign designated most of the delegates, but three were selected by the party’s nominating committee and three more automatically attend based on their leadership positions; all pay their own costs of travel. You can read their full report here.

I found the link on the Facebook page of Ada County Democratic Chair Colleen Fellows

... And this response on the Eye On Boise page:

Colleen on August 27 at 9:10 a.m.

Idaho democrats, not the national party or campaign, determined who will represent them at their national convention. All but four of the delegates going to the Democratic Convention in Charlotte were voted in by the delegates to the Idaho Democratic Convention (our State Chair and Vice Chair and National Committee Man and Woman are automatic delegates). At our Idaho Democratic Convention, we elected a great variety of delegates from across the state, with a broad rage of ages and experiences. While we do have a slate of public elected officials, the vast majority of our delegation are people that pound the pavement volunteering with county parties, stuffing envelopes, answering phones and talking with their neighbors about the issues that matter here in Idaho. Our delegates need not be heavy hitters and megga donors. We include enthusiastic students, retirees, homemakers, folks working 9-5 and swing shifts. Our delegation is a great representation of Idaho and we come to this opportunity by a truly democratic process that isn’t determined by “who you know.”

Mia Love: Publiceducation

Utah congressional candidate Mia Love has been given a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, organizers announced Tuesday. Love, a darling of tea-party and conservative Republicans, is characterized by her groundbreaking role in state politics. Utah's first black female mayor, she stands to become the first black Republican woman to take office in Congress if she topples Jim Matheson, a Democrat, in the November election.

Political analysts say it could be the toughest race for Matheson, a popular incumbent in his own right who has handily beat other Republican challengers for a dozen years. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Love will get her moment in the national spotlight among the first of Republican speakers next Tuesday evening, convention CEO William Harris announced. Love, 36, said she was invited to speak by the campaign of GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, a fellow Mormon.

"The speech is going to come from the heart," she said.

Well, "from the heart" may be a good thing, since other communications have raised questions regarding the head.

Love has made the "Yeah I'm on black but I'm not like those trashy people on welfare" theme a chorus for her campaign.

The Mayor of Saratoga Springs Utah, Mattheson's challenger fanices herself to be bringing reinforcements to Washington -- for Allen West.

Hard work. Right?

Just quit creating all those "my baby mamas' and ""my baby daddys" and everything will be OK. Right?

Just get an education. Right?

But take a look at this campaign poster from the GOP's latest attempt at a Get Out Of Jail Free card for racism:

Uh ... hardwork?

In a private discussion forum, David Woolsey, a former editor at the Idaho Press Tribune wrote:

It's a reverse-engineered derivative of the adjective "hardworking" that should still be the adjective-subject compound "hard work" on a poster about education. Other than that, it is a statement that is inarguably true - as proved by the success of our president who did in fact "build that," so to speak.

And when I asked if her call to education should include funding public education, Woosley responded appropriately.

"Publiceducation."

"Mia Love comes with a clean slate," said Kirk Jowers of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. "She is easily Jim Matheson's toughest race, and the most unique one for him. He's been incredibly effective in past campaigns, but Mayor Love is a completely different challenger."

She's different, alright.  read more »

Romney/Ryan 2012!

A Team to End All Teams

Here is why I support Romney/Ryan: I am tired of all the pre-Post Apoc fictionalizing and romanticizing and memorializing. Screw that. I'm excited for it to just happen. We all know we've wound this planet up and it's spinning off its moral and ecological axis to a hellish death world of hideous futures and worse presents. Only the dead will truly be free.

But hey, let's get to it. Obama just delays the inevitable. Sure, he might stave off some horrible stuff or even put us on an alternative trajectory. But only temporary. After Clinton rocked our world and put us on top what the f did America do? They elected the evil boy banjo head and his hell-borne demon guide. We don't deserve a good future. We can't handle prosperity and hope.

So go Mitt and Ryan! You fuckers are wrong enough, greedy enough, uncaring enough to jack the velocity up, keep us on course, and basically pedal to the medal us into the hellish and bleak future of have nots and about to become have nots. Let's get busy dying and killing and eating the carrion of our culture.

I'm armed. I'm camp and survival gear upped. I'm angry and hopeless. I'm ready. I know where to go, where to hide, how to steal your animals and children, and how to start up a neo-tribal collective of death loving and resource seizing survivors.

I'm ready to tattoo our tribal insignias and streak my body and face with warpaint. To burn oil, gas and tire fires in the middle of suburban and urban streets while gunfighting for a Jeep Wrangler, a fat labrador, and a couple of kids who look like they can work hard while chained and beaten.

Romney/Ryan - bring us a hopeless future of the rich enclaving away, fiddling while Rome conflagrates, and the rivers dry. We will find great sport in finding the rich and dragging them out of their McMansions and stealing their crap and drowning them in their pools and driving away in their Escalades and Lexuses with Metallica blaring and machine gun fire echoing in the night with tracers lighting up the sky with the future our Republican Party will bring us.

Let's fucking do it. Time for the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end.

Romney/Ryan 2012 AD. 0000 PA

John McGee to Serve 44 Days Behind Bars

Crossposted on Daily Kos

While conservatives like Bryan Fischer defend Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), and others, like Raul Labrador, stay silent (see the Jimmy Farris press release, To Labrador: “Do you agree with Rep. Akin?”)

... It is at least good to know that the Idaho courts took one young woman's claim about sexual harassment seriously.

From Boise Weekly:

Former Idaho State Sen. John McGee was led out of an Ada County courtroom in handcuffs this afternoon after he was sentenced to 90 days jail time by District Magistrate Judge James Cawthon. McGee pleaded guilty before Cawthon in February to charges stemming from a 2011 Father's Day drunken-driving incident.

McGee agreed that he was guilty of a disturbing the peace charge, which prosecutors say violated his one-year probation from the previous DUI conviction. McGee was accused of sexually harassing a Senate staffer at the Idaho Capitol while the senator was on still on probation for the previous charge.
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Also in court, we learned more about what happened when McGee resigned amid those disturbing the peace allegations, according to Northwest Cable News:

Deputy prosecutor Jean Fisher says McGee cornered the 25-year-old assistant in his office and demanded graphic sexual conduct from her.

... McGee resigned from his position with West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell earlier this year. His attorney told the court that he is unemployed and looking for work.

McGee was also sentenced to an additional 44 days for violating the terms of probation stemming from a 2011 drunken driving conviction, but the judge said that could be served through community service.

John McGee was the fourth highest ranking Republican in the reddest of red states.

And he is where he is today - for one reason - because powers-that-be listened to and acted upon the report of one young woman, an Idaho State Senate attache.

What a stark contrast from the claims of a GOP senatorial candidate who obviously thinks that some whiny women and their claims of rape should placed at a lower importance.

It is a minor victory, but a victory nonetheless.  read more »

Farris to Labrador: “Do you agree with Rep. Akin?”

Idaho- 1st Congressional District candidate Jimmy Farris demanded today that Congressman Raul Labrador reveal his stance on the issue of rape-related pregnancy.

Jimmy Farris
image

On Sunday, Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) claimed that it is highly unlikely for women who are victims of “legitimate rape” to become pregnant, saying their bodies disrupt the reproductive process in response to the trauma.

Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association and former executive director for the Idaho Values Alliance, defended Akin’s comments, saying Akin is “absolutely right” about the near-impossibility of conception occurring as a result of rape.

Congressman Labrador has strong ties to Fischer. When Congressman Labrador announced his candidacy for his first congressional run in 2009, Fischer was the first person he emailed with the news. Labrador and Fischer have hosted Tea Party rallies together, and Fischer has claimed that he and Congressman Labrador are “good friends.”

“Representative Akin’s and Bryan Fischer’s comments are sexist, ignorant, and disgusting,” said Farris. “To suggest that a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape was not actually victimized is outrageous and demeaning. Akin and Fischer are utterly dismissing the suffering of the 32,000 women who become pregnant as a result of rape every year. They are trying to shift the blame back to the victims. It’s sickening.”

Mitt Romney denounced Akin’s statement, and several members of the GOP have called on Akin to terminate his candidacy.

“Congressman Labrador, do you agree that Akin should end his candidacy, or do you agree with Todd Akin and Bryan Fischer? Do you believe that ‘legitimate rape’ does not result in pregnancy?”

Cherie Buckner-Webb, Mat Erpelding and Holli High Woodings Produce Coordinated Campaign

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Cherie Buckner-Webb

The three Democratic legislative candidates for District 19 – Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb for Senate, Mat Erpelding for House Seat A and Holli High Woodings for House Seat B – have been working hard on their campaigns for the November 6th general election. The three campaigns share a common campaign manager and headquarters.

Eric Everett, an Idaho native and experienced campaigner, manages the coordinated campaign. Everett, who is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Boise State University, became active in Idaho Democratic politics while pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Idaho. He has also worked for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign in Iowa and U.S. Rep. Larry LaRocco’s U.S. Senate Campaign in Idaho. Most recently, Everett worked as an intern of the Idaho Senate.

The coordinated campaign office, located in The Mode Building at 800 West Idaho Street, Suite 304, serves as the headquarters. The office is the hub of an energetic and committed volunteer force that works to bring balance and responsibility back to Idaho’s Capitol.

Notes from Nicole

Friends,

I've put thousands of miles on my car since March traveling to Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, Blaine County, Burley, St. Anthony and beyond. I've met amazing, enthusiastic people and everywhere I go I'm surprised to find people recognize me from my work in the Senate defending our schools, teachers, small class sizes and kids.  read more »

A Future Leader, Now. Jimmy Farris For Congress

Jimmy Farris has a reputation for setting challenging goals and achieving those goals through hard work, determination, and persistence. As a child in Lewiston, Idaho, Jimmy set a tough first goal: to play professional football.

His parents, Bob and Sharon, taught Jimmy and his four siblings that he could do anything he set his mind to through hard work and determination. Bob, a teacher and principal, and Sharon who spent a lifetime working in the healthcare industry, showed Jimmy the value of being a community leader and instilled a deep respect for being involved in his neighborhood and church.

A graduate of Lewiston High School, Jimmy attended the University of Montana, earning a degree in Marketing and Management while having a standout football career with the Grizzlies. Graduating in 2000, Jimmy took the next step in chasing his dream and entered the NFL Draft. Despite his exceptional performance as a wide receiver, he went undrafted.

Undaunted, Jimmy continued to pursue his dream to play in the NFL. He was invited to attend the San Francisco 49er's pre-season camp for the longest of shots of making the roster of an NFL team. Through that same hard work, dedication, and persistence, he learned growing up in Idaho, Jimmy (almost through the sheer force of his will) made the team and began his NFL career.

Jimmy spent the next six seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver with the 49er's, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, and the Washington Redskins. As a player, it is no surprise that Jimmy was known as a hard-working dedicated team player. As a member of the 2001 Patriots Super Bowl Championship team, Jimmy was the team's overachiever.

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After a successful career in the NFL Jimmy transitioned into sports broadcasting, giving him time to turn his attention to becoming the kind of community leader his family had instilled in him. In addition to volunteering his time at local food banks and homeless shelters Jimmy achieved another goal by opening The Jimmy Farris Future Leaders Foundation. The foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping and developing young leaders with the skills necessary to excel academically, spiritually, socially and athletically. Jimmy was able to help underprivileged kids by providing them support and a set of values that would ensure success in whatever they chose.

Recently, Jimmy returned to his home in Idaho, to be closer to his family and continue to give back to the community that has given him so much in life. After achieving his dream and living his passion in the NFL, Jimmy knew it was time to give back to the state and nation that made it possible for him to pursue his dreams.

Jimmy is running for Congress because he believes this is a critical moment when we need leaders in Washington that will pull together the diverse group of Representatives in the U.S. House, and get to the work the American people sent them to do. Using that same spirit of hard work, dedication, and persistence, Jimmy will get things done for the people of Idaho and the nation and work to keep America the best place for anyone to pursue and achieve their dreams.

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