Blue-shifting the Gem State, one blog entry at a time.

Caldwell Republican District 10 State Rep. Brandon Hixon in Trouble ... Again!

"Can't District 10 find someone better ...?" - College of Idaho Political Science Professor Jasper LiCalzi.

Hixon: Not ready for public office

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012: "Caldwell Republican nominee for District 10 state representative Brandon Hixon said the five misdemeanors he received by age 21 were youthful indiscretions that don’t represent who he is today," the Idaho Press Tribune reported. "Hixon, who turns 31 Oct. 26, also has 15 infractions, mostly for traffic violations, between 1998 and 2009, according to court records."

However, arch-conservative Kent Marmon reported from his Facebook page today:

"This REALLY comes as no surprise to me... I've said, for a long time, that Brandon Hixon was an extremely bad choice made by Idaho District 10 voters."

He went on to say that "the Boise Guardian just provides proof and confirms my thoughts."

The Idaho Legislature will be in town shortly with elected representatives deciding how and where to spend all the tax money and other revenue collected by the state. One of those 'spenders' will be Brandon Hixon, State Representative for Caldwell’s District 10. Based on public records, Rep. Hixon has an apparent history of stiffing creditors. Seems the good voters of Canyon County are plagued with deadbeat politicos eager to spend their public money while unable to manage their personal finances.

The CALDWELL GUARDIAN reports the lawmaker’s name showed up in legal ads published in the Idaho Press Tribune. No doubt Hixon will explain the run of bad luck to legacy media when they call. On page page C12 of Friday’s Idaho Press Tribune a legal ad claims Brandon Hixon of 919 North Plateau Drive, Caldwell has not made his house payment of $1,625.80 since July.


Caldwell GUARDIAN editor Paul Alldredge broke the story and noted, “A quick check of today’s Press Tribune Legal Notices on the right hand side of the page gave the details of this latest financial difficulty of Rep. Hixon who is now more than $10,000 behind in his mortgage and late fees to Wells Fargo Bank.”

"Ironically, a guy with bad debt is seldom hired in law ENFORCEMENT because the theory is he would be susceptible to accepting cash from strangers," Marmon continued. "We all know that would never happen with a law MAKER."

He continued:

With a recent history among members of rape, indecent exposure/sexual harassment, fudging travel expenses, and a non-resident senator, failure to pay $10,000 to the bank is really small change for the Idaho Legislature.

Oh, I can hear the excuses now... and he'll probably get away with them just as he did his arrest record. I am happy to say that I didn't vote for him the first time or any other time. The writing was on the wall.

The Idaho Press Tribune had it right in its endorsement of Hixon's Democratic opponent, Travis Manning:

Republican Brandon Hixon has been a good party worker, even leading the charge for the county GOP caucus.

But in a period where elected officials have disgraced the Grand Old Party — particularly in Caldwell where then-Sen. John McGee twice brought shame to the Legislature, and a long and expensive legal battle (on the taxpayers’ dime) involving former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak, voters may be more inclined to vote for candidates with untarnished records.

When answering this pre-election question: What standard should elected officials be held to, Hixon said this: “Much higher standard than average, with the understanding that even elected officials are imperfect humans.” ... Many people have a few mistakes that could haunt them if running for office, but only one candidate – 31-year-old Brandon Hixon – has five misdemeanors, 15 infractions and three civil actions for financial failings. Hixon says his court history is not a reflection of what will happen in the future. But let’s face it, his standard of expectations is low. That’s not the way to start a political career.

Read more: Canyon County Democrat Travis Manning Endorsed by Idaho Press Tribune and Idaho Statesman.  read more »

Idaho Democratic Update

Wishing You a Joyful Holiday Season and a Prosperous New Year!

A New State Senator: Janie Ward-Engelking

District 18 Democratic leaders sent three names to the governor for him to choose from to fill the state Senate seat left vacant by former Sen. Branden Durst. Ward-Engelking got the nod. Now her House seat is vacant. Interested applicants can follow this link and apply by Dec. 24: Click Here To Apply.

Sen. Buckner-Webb Elected Women in Government State Director

Congratulations to Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb for being elected to a leadership position in an organization that includes more than 1,700 women legislators. Read more.

IDP Chair Larry Kenck: Don't Let ID GOP Stop Christmas

Idaho's public lands mean many things to many people. One great memory in the Idaho woods for the IDP Chair is the annual Christmas tree hunt. Our GOP leaders are threatening these kinds of traditions in an underhanded move to sell off our public lands. Read more.

Two Newspapers Jeer Crapo and Risch

U.S. Senators Risch and Crapo voted in the minority this week to reject a budget deal and damage our nation's and our state's economies. Thankfully, we have independent newspapers in this state who are letting people know. Read more.

GOP Rep. Who Admitted Attacking a Woman Quits

Better late than never. GOP Rep. Mark Patterson resigned this week. His supporters--U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, former House Speaker Lawerence Denney and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle--have stayed silent.

Facebook Photo of the Week: Why We Are Idaho Democrats

Simply. We work to make the future brighter for our children. View photo.


Visit The Idaho Democratic Party Event Calendar Here



What Does Idaho GOP Say about (Rapist?) Patterson?

"Mark Patterson is an attempted rapist and a Republican Idaho State Representative who has represented District 15 in the B seat since 2012."


Courtesy: Idaho Democratic Party

The Lewiston Tribune opined that Idaho Dems have not used the revelation of Rep. Mark Patterson’s despicable criminal victory to our benefit. We believe that’s a pretty narrow view of how political parties should attempt to elevate their own.

Our candidates are outstanding, honest public servants. They don’t need to be compared to the worst that the Idaho GOP has to offer. We’d rather see them compared to the best the Idaho GOP has–that’s when our candidates really shine.

But, make no mistake, Patterson is absolutely wrong for Idaho. And, Idaho’s GOP have failed us again by refusing to condemn this man’s thin excuses for hiding the past. The Idaho GOP leaders who endorsed Patterson–U.S. Rep. Labrador, Rep. Lawerence Denney and Rep. Mike Moyle–have made a profound statement with their silence.

Here’s IDP Chairman Larry Kenck’s response to the Lewiston Tribune:

Turnabout: Larry Kenck - Idaho Democrats’ vital signs just fine

Twenty years of GOP control have left Idaho children with fewer opportunities. Idaho leads the nation in percentage of minimum-wage jobs. We trail the nation for what we invest in our children’s education. State cuts to schools have forced rural schools to cut school days and doubled the school districts that run override levies (41 up to 89) to meet basic needs.

The Idaho Democratic Party is dedicated to bringing balance back to Idaho and ending 20 years of failed GOP policies. We work to create a brighter, more prosperous future for Idaho families and small businesses.

In 2014, our candidates will be experienced leaders in business, in their churches, in volunteer organizations. They will be public servants dedicated to putting Idaho families ahead of personal ambition.

As a party, Idaho Democrats are strong and we are getting stronger.

So, Marty Trillhaase writes that we missed an opportunity to jump into the fray regarding Republican Rep. Mark Patterson, who was twice charged with rape – pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in one case, prevailing at trial in the other.

First, kudos to the press for giving Patterson the attention he deserves. Clearly, this Republican leader has a disgusting history. Idahoans now are asking: Why does the Idaho Republican Party support the likes of Rep. Mark Patterson?

Second, we agree with Trillhaase that this man should resign.

Third, we respect the ability of Idahoans to make the right decision. They now have the information they need regarding Rep. Patterson to vote him out.

We disagree with Trillhaase’s suggestion that we “should be all over Patterson and his party.”

True, Patterson is a reminder of the 2012 resignation of former Republican Sen. John McGee, who “disturbed the peace” with a female staffer in the Senate. Patterson reminds us of Republican Sen. Chuck Winder’s suggestion that women don’t know if they’ve been raped or not.

Indeed, Patterson prompts a discussion of other areas of women’s issues. We ask again why Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter pays women in his cabinet far less than men. Or we ask again why Republican Sen. Monty Pearce told a qualified woman seeking appointment to the Fish and Game commission to apply for the nursing board instead.

We reject the notion, however, that one party’s miscreants should be used to elevate another party’s candidates. Our candidates stand apart as excellent people when they are in crowds of excellent people. Idaho Democrats do not have to stand next to Patterson to stand out.

We also know that many of our Republican friends and neighbors feel just as disgusted and betrayed as we do. We are willing to give Republican leaders – who are well-positioned to pressure Patterson to resign – the time they need to come to the right and righteous decision.

As time goes by and Patterson remains in office, it is not the Idaho Democratic Party that has failed Idaho. It will be Republican leaders, failing once again, on a basic question of ethics, integrity and values. They will have failed as they have failed our schools and families and our economy.

Let us be clear. Rep. Mark Patterson should resign. Now, what does the Idaho Republican Party have to say about it?


Kenck is chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.

RELATED READING: Stapilus: Who Is Mark Patterson?

This isn’t a matter of tracking down every last detail about a relatively junior member of the Idaho House. I raise all this here because you likely cannot find a similar gap in the record for any other Idaho legislator, current or recent, or even not so recent. It’s a gap unlike anything I can recall in four decades of watching the coming and goings of elected officials.

Who is this guy?

I'm Sorry I Killed this Blog

Wow. Two in a row were too much, huh?

Well, fuck that shit. I'm a Freedom Fighter! Watch me run!

An Imagined Conversation Between Senator Ted Cruz, Lucifer, and Adolf Hitler

Cruz: You gonna eat all them Mastodon fetuses, Hitler?
Hitler: Ja ja ja.
Cruz: Well, it's not fair.
Lucifer: Hell isn't fair, k?
Hitler: (laughs and throws a Mastodon fetus skull he's picked clean right at Cruz.
Cruz: Knock it off Hitler!
Lucifer: You all act like children. When lunch is over I still expect the sulfur pits cleaned.
Cruz: I'm unafraid of hard work.
Hitler: (stands and dances a Hitler jig) Ja!
Cruz: Fuck hell. So stupid.
Lucifer: That's the attitude! Git'r Dun!
Hitler: Gitten Der Done!
Cruz: Jesus H. Christ on a Single Payer System!

(all of hell grows instantly silent)
Lucifer: (sobs) That was uncalled for! (storms off his big leathery wings drooping in despair)
Hitler: (Points at Cruz) Fucktarden!
Cruz: Poor people don't need affordable care they need to go to hell!

The End

 read more »

Hippie Girl Wisdom

What does the hippie girl with the guitar have to sing to Idaho?

Please, man, be groovy
Love each other like in a movie
like "Love, Actually" because that's Serephin's fave
he told me that when we were glowsticking at a groovy rave

I'm really down with that. Be in the flow, Idaho. We are so into you.

Truth in Madvertising

Dear 'Muricans --

We, the Republican Congressmen and Senators of these here United States of Wealthy America, have shit the governmental bed. We will continue to shit the bed until you give us everything we demand, even if we're not certain what that is. Besides giving in to our outrageous whims, we also demand you allow us to save face by not acknowledging that we have, in point of fact, shit the bed like a pack of over-stuffed baboons with explosive diarrhea. We look forward to your total capitulation. Please excuse us now as we feel the need to gather some of this shit from our bed and fling it at the walls. Never fear -- there's more where that came from.


Your Motherfucking Insane GOP.

Addendum: Look, there are reasonable Republicans out there but, sadly, not enough to make a difference, and the ones who do exist in Congress are too afraid of their insane base to take the GOP back (see Simpson, Mike). So until the Teabagger whackjobs are locked back into their padded cells, I can only hope President Obama and Congressional Democrats stand their ground and refuse to give in to their lunatic hostage demands.

Signing up on the Idaho Insurance Marketplace: Big Success!

From a letter we received from Kevin Lish, an insurance agent from Pocatello who signed himself up for the Affordable Care Act on Your Health Idaho's website (

Affordable Care Act Experience

Saturday (10-12-2013) I was able to get on the Marketplace for Idaho. The website was easy to navigate and I was able to enroll in a new Gold Plan effective January 1, 2014.

My current coverage, which I will cancel December 31, 2013, was $385.00 a month with a $5,000.00 deductible, 80/20 coinsurance with a out of pocket of $10,000.00 which was in addition to my $5,000.00 deductible.

Being self-employed, I did qualify for a subsidy and my new Gold Plan has a $1,000.00 deductible, then 85/15 coinsurance with a new annual out of pocket of $6,350.00.

The great part is, my new monthly premium beginning in January 2014 will be $164.08 a month for my new Affordable Care Act health insurance plan."

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the GOP political machine is melting down like a Hershey bar in a microwave oven. People who, previously, could never get or keep insurance will now be able to do so, and it's become more affordable. Booyah!

Boehner Blues

there once was a speaker named Boehner
who kept his tan dark using the Xerox toner
he smoked, he screamed and he sobbed
when Obama grabbed his balls and lobbed
now even the Koch bros can't give him a boehner.

Flush Twice

Here we are, a collective dynamo of a freedom and compassion loving nation, thrumming not with throaty, synced up horsepower and quick shifting velocity but with a horrifying noise, like cats in flames leaping off collapsing nuclear plant cooling towers.

A small sect of extremists have held a jagged chunk of dirty broken glass to our throats and hissed


No, that's not what they are hissing


Don't talk uppity to us, boy. We don't do shit for your kind. We'll shut this town down for talkin' to us like that.

I'm going to set my controls for the center of the sun and go to the core and base issue behind this nightmare.

Extreme right wing tea partying white men do not cotton to an intelligent black man who is, by virtue of his elected status, one up on them.

It is visceral and it is grounded. They are willing to put on suits of flames and leap into pools of gasoline holding their political futures in little paper baskets soaked in kerosene. Extremism in the defense of stupidity and hate is no virtue. It is a vice.

The gasping vestiges of an ideology long ago left in a wastebasket by folks who like their country clean of trash, is making one last lunge at us.

It ain't about socialized medicine. It ain't about slowing the growth of government. It ain't about abortion or granny facing a death panel.

It's about white wing politicians and their shambling microcephalic base wanting to take that Kenyan liar communist down a notch or two. Don't believe any of the other narratives and dialogues.

Obama knows this too. No accident he called their leaders in the other day and told them no, I'm not negotiating with you crackers.

The self destruct button on extremist ideologues is always pushed down by the belle curve outliers. It is the step that comes once they lose whatever attention and expansive base they had. Expected. But this time they really hit the Kamikaze button. They have no exit strategy but to try to take everyone down with them into the deepest whirlpools of hatred and fixations. But we are standing on the banks of the river America and shaking our heads in both disgust and a sort of wonder.

Namaste, motherfuckers.  read more »

Idaho State Senate Candidate Leif Skyving Delivers an Uppercut to the Idaho Press Tribune

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Leif Skyving boxing in April 2012 at O’Connor field house in Caldwell, Idaho

Leif Skyving is currently a Caldwell School Board Trustee running for Idaho State Senate District 10. District 10 includes most of Caldwell.

He is also a boxer.

Leif Skyving literally fighting for you! See Leif's Facebook page for more photos of of him in action.

"After a long, testy debate last week, the Caldwell School Board voted 3-2 to retain its membership with the Idaho School Board Association," reads an editorial in the September 18 Idaho Press Tribune.

Those who follow the Caldwell School Board know Skyving is also among the board’s more liberal members. He ran as a Democrat for a seat in the Idaho Senate against former Sen. John McGee and staunchly opposed key components of Idaho Schools Superintendent Tom Luna’s Students Come First education plan. ...

So when the ISBA encouraged Idaho lawmakers earlier this year to adopt key elements of failed Proposition 1 — limiting conditions of teachers’ salary contracts to one year, giving districts permission to reduce salaries and shorten teacher contracts, and allowing school boards to operate under the district’s “last, best offer” if negotiations stall — Skyving was not amused. He and Amy Rojas voted to end Caldwell’s affiliation with ISBA, and he cited the endorsement of that legislation as a major reason. ...

If Skyving and other board members believe they can get by without ISBA services, they should come to a rational, deliberate, thoughtful conclusion and end their affiliation. But terse, emotional arguments based on policy disagreements shouldn’t play a role in the ultimate verdict.

Follow on Twitter   Friend on Facebook   

Copyright © 2013 Idaho Democratic Party, All rights reserved.

mailing address is:

Idaho Democratic
PO Box 445
Boise, ID 83701

Skyving counterpunched:

I was disappointed to see the Press-Tribune editorial board on Sept. 18 question my motives for making a motion to save the Caldwell School district $10,000 per year by withdrawing our membership from the Idaho School Board Association.

Turning the editorial in to a partisan issue by using politically charged phrases such as “Skyving is one of the more liberal members of the school board and has run as a Democrat against John McGee,” the IPT claimed that I made my decision on a “rash” and “emotional” basis because I was known to oppose the parts of the defeated “Luna Laws” that the ISBA had helped usher back in using lobbyists paid for with tax dollars.

Had the editorial board members actually attended the school board meetings in question, they would have heard my complete statements. Yes, I was opposed to the “Luna Laws,” as were the majority of voters, and yes, the ISBA’s use of taxpayer dollars to nullify the will of the people did offend me.

They also would’ve heard me say that this action had: “awakened me to take a close look at what we are paying the ISBA and what we are getting in return” and that when I found we were paying $10,000 per year for services that we already receive through two law firms that we employ, I believed we could use that money for something that would actually benefit the kids.

As a trustee, I don’t see saving the Caldwell school district $10,000 as a “liberal” or “conservative” issue; I see it as common sense.

To further the irony, the reason the IPT gave for not endorsing my candidacy when I ran for state senate was that I opposed the state of Idaho borrowing $900 million and paying a whopping $50 million per year in interest for road construction. The IPT did not agree with me that we should “pay as we go” so as not to burden Idaho taxpayers with this huge debt and interest payments.

Being fiscally conservative seems too “liberal” a concept for them to accept.

And in true tag-team form, local educator Bob Solomon hopped in the ring today:

The IPT editorial board had no right to personally tar Caldwell School Board member Leif Skyving with those terrible words: “Democrat” and “liberal.” Had they reviewed the agendas for the last several months, they would realize that a long-planned policy decision was being made after strong debate.

Skyving pointed out that the ISBA “services” had not been used for over two years, that some of the “services” were duplicative, and that the $10,000 could be used for other pressing needs. Sounds rather conservative to me.

Then he proposed (what audacity!) that the board adopt “benchmarks” (it refused) by which to evaluate whether the board’s experience with the ISBA helped the citizens of Caldwell. Note: everything in education today is evaluated by benchmarks.

So in what way does it make sense for the IPT to attribute partisanship to a public servant, serving in a non-partisan office without remuneration, who questions excessive government expenses and insists on accountability? In the old days this was called “good government.”

For more information see and be sure to support and vote for this terrific candidate for District 10!

"Working hard to lock down the baby vote!" - Leif Skyving

A Riddle: from Senator Elliot Werk


Let's change it up a bit.

Here's a riddle for you to solve:

If you throw me from the window, I'll leave a grieving wife. Bring me back, but through the door, and you'll see someone giving life! What am I?

If you want the answer, simply make a contribution to the IDLCC Victory Fund by CLICKING HERE. The answer will come to you in our thank you note for your contribution! Thanks for your support of Democrats in Idaho.

IDLCC is on your side.

Senator Elliot Werk
IDLCC, Chair

Click here to donate online:

Contribute online click hereWould you rather write a check?
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 445
Boise, ID
Please refer to this message in the memo line of your check.
Paid for by the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Dan Schmidt Treasurer

Mood: DEAD

My LiveJournal account was deleted by those bastard sonsuhbitches I HATE SO MUCH today. I am bereft of my dignity and ability to track my emotional states every day and continue a self narrative of my interior landscapes and who is hurting my feelings and who I am silly about.

My LiveJournal tribe, close internet names who share my interests in Disney Princess fan fiction, will be an aching void in my life now.

I don't think I'll start a new one with a new name, it could never be as magical or as sparkly.

Unicorns aren't fucking real. I know that now. I truly do.

Emily Walton Discloses the Idaho Freedom Fallacy

Wayne Hoffman of the so called Idaho Freedom Foundation fired off a missive to Boise City officials asking them to shelf their bond proposal. The proposal asks the people of Boise to approve funding for a variety of things including the securing of open space in the foothills and improving public parks. Noting that democracy and freedom are not mutually exclusive, Emily Walton, of the Idaho Civic Engagement Project, fired back:

Why would someone who runs an organization dedicated to freedom and open government argue against people voting in decisions for their city?

Hoffman’s claim that Boiseans shouldn't get to vote on parks and open spaces because they’re just for “fun” demonstrates a lack of understanding when it comes Boise and the history of this city that we love.

Boiseans have invested in their city for 150 years. From the beautiful parks, foothills and a downtown we enjoy to the good schools and safe neighborhoods we cherish, we all know that a city of Boise’s caliber doesn't just spring up without investment and devotion. Since when did a guy from Nampa have so many opinions on how Boiseans should run their city?

Thereafter, IFF stooge and noted hack, Dusting Hurst threatened: “Emily Walton just picked a fight with Wayne Hoffman? This will not end well for Emily. Not at all.” Wayne Hoffman subsequently issued an ap-hollow-gy. Idaho is too great for bullies.  read more »

The Rumors of My Demise...

Alas, my belligerent ways got the better of me. Facebook deigned to note my existence and takes umbrage at my name, insisting no one would actually name their child "Sisyphus". I'm hurt. Since I doubt very much that the Facebook behemoth has a minion devoted to discovering and deciding worthiness of participants, one must assume that I angered some ideologically rigid, arrested development wingnut with the truth, who then gathered up their negative emotions, ran off to their Facebook mommy, demanded and obtained censorship, thus achieving no victory, but satisfaction in fulfilling their ad hominem, with no one left to point out the fallacy.

At this point I can engage them and launch into yet another defense of pseudonymity and how it filled a vital role in accomplishing change in rigid and dogmatic environments throughout history in enabling the speaking of truth to power without recrimination. Indeed, our country's birth owes much to pseudonymous writers, the right to which was incorporated into the first amendment. Or I could point out that pseudonymous internet users actually improve a site's comment section. But we all know how that will turn out.

Being a Democrat in Idaho, I'm no stranger to quixotic endeavors, but there has to be an end game worthy of achievement. Given the multitude of assumed names which grace Facebook, commercial or otherwise, their stand is little short of hypocritical and certainly randomly erratic. But I'm fond of my subversive persona and loathe the idea of acquiescing to such arbitrary power and control. So I bide my time while mulling whether to die ignobly and permanently or rise like a Phoenix in another guise. I loved my community of friends and hope my existence enabled you to engage each other on a more personal level. Adieu.  read more »

Lori Otter's grade? C-minus. Lacks thesis statement, needs proofread

Wow, apparently Idaho First Lady Lori Otter didn't get taught the First Celebrity Rule of the Internet: DO NOT GO INTO THE COMMENTS!!!

Diana Ravitch posted an article nearly a month ago about the ongoing Republican war on teachers and education. When someone called Guv'ner Skinnyjeans' wife a dilettante, Miss Lori posted a punctuationally-and-grammatically-impaired rant, deploring teachers (shock!), educational blogs, and in trophy tradition, "mean people". She has run-on sentences, a ton of half-ellipses (I really can't complain, I abuse the shit out of three-dot ellipses), misspellings and leaves out the occasional word, all while lamely tooting her own horn as an English teacher. Beleaguered teachers and liberal grammar nazis will absolutely love this post. Be sure to check it out, but here's a taste:

...I am entitled to my opinion- don’t insult me by inferring that I only do what my husband wants me too.. hello- what century are you living in?..I have the right to support things in my profession that I think are good for it. It has always surprised and disappointed me that teachers or educational forums such as this accomplish little except allowing adults to say mean and unfounded comments, things which do not have to be defended or factually supported… Which I might add is something we would not want our students to do. So.. That’s all I have to say -I am a teacher, a very good one I might add, I am qualified to speak on education..just as much as all of you are and will continue to do so.. I am perfectly fine with disagreeing with points of view.. But really? Yes.. Nice matters. . Thanks.

"Yes.. Nice matters." I guess the question is whether it matters more than a systematic campaign of sabotaging the education of half a million of Idaho's kids or more before we re-embrace Idaho's progressive free-public-education origins.

Meanwhile, I suspect someone'll teach her that other little Celebrity Internet rule. It's likely happening today. Hell, even my ten-year-old surfs youtube enough to viscerally know that online comments are Where Intelligent Discussion Goes to Die.

H/T: Sisyphus

Praying for Snow

I don't imagine I can write a better post than this. (But ... hooray! I remembered my password!)

Idaho Education News is the Whore of The Albertson Foundation

Crossposted on Daily Kos

by Travis Manning

Sen. Branden Durst’s recent op-ed critiquing Superintendent Luna’s “end around” the Idaho legislature, and his subsequent analysis of GOP political genealogy, has merit, especially as it relates to a newly minted news organization called Idaho Education News (IEN).

Funded by The Albertson Foundation, IEN started seven months ago in order to advance the school privatization agenda of Chairman Joe Scott. They bought the Boise State University name, where IEN is housed, simply by donating millions of dollars. Strategically, Albertson hired away established reporters Kevin Richert, Jennifer Swindell and Clark Corbin to do its messaging work, under the auspices of their new identity. Albertson uses the B.S.U. trademark as a PR gimmick to expedite credibility within Idaho.

Albertson and IEN blur the arena of ethical journalism, which situation is different from Boise State’s relationship with National Public Radio, where Boise State Public Radio, an NPR affiliate, is housed. In this case, NPR is an already-established news entity with decades-long experience and an international reputation for quality and unbiased reporting. IEN is far from achieving NPR’s status.

While I wouldn’t say IEN produces “pseudo journalism,” as Sen. Durst suggests, I will say they have work to do. If IEN is not careful, they will be seen as the propaganda arm of Scott and Albertson, much like is seen as the propaganda machine of The Idaho Freedom Foundation and Executive Director Wayne Hoffman (and whomever else funds the IFF, as Hoffman refuses to publicly disclose its corporate master).

I queried Betsy Russell, president of the Capitol Correspondents Association, as to why IEN received full press credentials as an upstart news organization and IdahoReporter has not. Her response, that “All three of their reporters are B.S.U. employees. The grant from the Albertson Foundation went to B.S.U. No one involved with the operation is involved in lobbying, which is key to credentialing. That is why doesn’t qualify; it is a lobbying organization headed by a registered lobbyist.”

In a recent IEN article, cross-published by the Idaho Press-Tribune on July 19 titled, “Nampa, Vallivue among districts chosen for Idaho Leads program,” such a disclosure was not placed. Whenever IEN reports on projects associated with The Albertson Foundation it is, essentially, reporting on itself. Not to disclose such a conflict of interest is entirely unethical. The Idaho Press-Tribune, and news outlets statewide, need to be cognizant.

While IEN does a decent job allowing for a diverse cadre of op-eds, they have much work to do regarding selection of news topics and the angle and trajectory from which they report on these topics.

IEN reporters tend to report fairly on education issues occurring within Idaho state government (legislature, Idaho state school board, Idaho Department of Education, and within a handful of school districts). However. Idaho’s public schools, teachers and students are doing amazing things, especially in the current political environment rife with policymakers who despise Idaho’s public school system, its teachers, and its outcomes. IEN needs desperately to broaden its content and reporting to include the many successes occurring within Idaho’s public schools – not just charter schools – both large and small, across the state, especially rural schools, and especially regarding traditionally underserved populations.

This bias towards charter schools and against public schools casts a long shadow across IEN’s early body of work.

Finally, IEN has not examined how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is drafting many of Idaho’s so called education reform laws behind closed doors with legislators, lobbyists and politicians at the table – but not the public – which practice circumvents democracy.

Idaho Education News needs to report on the elephant in the room.

Travis Manning is executive director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho and can be reached at

A Haiku Inspired by Tom Luna

temple pond holds coins
frog guards wish pennies, lazily
fat monk steals wishes, laughs

Rep. Erpelding to Hike Idaho Centennial Trail

Idaho State Rep. Mat Erpelding will raise money for the Idaho Redside Foundation this August. He will attend to hike the nearly 1,000 mile Idaho Centennial Trail in 40 days. He hopes to raise money for a nonprofit cause. He is also attention to Idaho’s rural economies and the value of our public lands.

Did you know that in 2012 the Idaho Outdoor Recreation Industry reported $6.3 billion in sales? That compares to $7.7 billion in sales for Idaho’s crops and livestock. Everyone knows how important agriculture is to Idaho’s rural communities. Few understand that Idaho’s Outdoor Recreation Industry, which is heavily reliant on public lands,
has similar impact.

The Idaho’s Redside Foundation is a new organization that supports Idaho’s guiding and outfitting workers. These workers are often Idaho’s only ambassadors to visitors from out of state. Yet, this working population struggles with the ups and downs of seasonal work. Redside offers health care assistance, financial counseling, and much more to these adventurous, brave, and hearty workers.

Mat believes that Idaho’s rural communities benefit economically and socially from the commercial outdoor recreation industry, and that guiding and outfitting are integral to long-term economic wellbeing in Idaho. Therefore, Mat strongly believes in Redside’s mission to preserve the health and vitality of Idaho’s commercial guiding community.

Donate now to support Mat’s ambitious goal and spread awareness of The Redside Foundation:

A little more about Mat…

Mat Erpelding, an Idaho state representative from District 19Mat Erpelding is a high-altitude climbing guide, an educator, a business owner, and a member of the Idaho House of Representatives. In 1993, Mat moved to Idaho to attend Idaho State University, and now lives in Boise. A vibrant and healthy community with exceptional access to wildlands drew Mat to Boise, and it is why he loves Idaho.

Mat is a co-owner of Experiential Adventures, which he founded in 2004. Experiential Adventures LLC specializes in leadership development, group facilitation, and teaching collaboration using experiential education as its foundation. EA has grown over the years to include clients such as the military, higher education institutions, and corporations seeking to improve their organizational culture.

Until December 2012, Mat was an instructor at the College of Western Idaho Dept. of Physical Education, specializing in training teachers to use experiential education in the classroom. Mat is an adjunct faculty member in the Leadership Studies Minor at Boise State University.Mat has also worked in the Division of Student Affairs at different colleges and universities including Boise State University, California State University, Chico, Evergreen State College, and Texas Tech University. Mat recently co-edited a textbook for outdoor leadership programs called Outdoor Program Administration.

In addition to being elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2012, Mat has served as the Vice Chair of the Ada County Democrats, and was named “Activist of the Year” by the Idaho Democratic Party at the 2012 Frank Church Banquet. Mat understands the challenges faced by Idaho legislators. He worked hard to support the members of both the house and senate by organizing and preparing the 2012 Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint during the legislative
session. He has pledged to devote much of his career to public service to help build sustainable urban and rural communities in Idaho.

Studies Minor at Boise State University. Mat has also worked in the Division of Student Affairs at different colleges and universities including Boise State University, California State University, Chico, Evergreen State College, and Texas Tech University. Mat recently co-edited a textbook for outdoor leadership programs called Outdoor Program Administration.

He is the Past President of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE), and in 2006 was awarded the Jim Rennie Leadership Award for outstanding service and dedication to the Association. In 2010, Mat was awarded the Wilderness Education Association’s Instructor of the year for bringing innovative and substantial curriculum improvements to the organization. He ranks among the Idaho Business Review’s “40 Most Accomplished Under 40.”

As a high-altitude mountain guide, Mat has reached the 20,320 ft summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley) in four out of five attempts while helping more than twenty clients reach the top as well. Mat approaches mountaineering much as Willi Unsoeld did as a member of the first American Everest expedition in 1963. Willi said, “The final test for me of the legitimacy of the [mountaineering] experience is ‘How well does your experience of the sacred in nature enable you to cope more effectively with the problems of mankind when you come back to the city?’” Mat’s passion for wilderness has shaped his belief that civic engagement is essential to living in our community.

In addition to being elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2012, Mat has served as the Vice Chair of the Ada County Democrats, and was named “Activist of the Year” by the Idaho Democratic Party at the 2012 Frank Church Banquet. Mat understands the challenges faced by Idaho legislators. He worked hard to support the members of both the house and senate by organizing and preparing the 2012 Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint during the legislative session. He has pledged to devote much of his career to public service to help build sustainable urban and rural communities in Idaho.

Syndicate content