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Our View: Hurlock Block, What Is It Really About?

Editorial Board
February 6, 2013
Twin Falls Times-News

If anyone doubted that the world surrounding Idaho Fish and Game is a political snake pit or that it is a good ol' boys club, all doubt should have been erased on Monday as the crowd brought out its pitchforks and torches for the confirmation hearing of Joan Hurlock in Boise.

The line of questioning and testimony was vaguely reminiscent of John McCain's performance during the Chuck Hagel confirmation hearing last week - lots of grandstanding and personal attacks but very little dialogue that could help us answer the core question, "Is she qualified?"

At one point, the scene got so bad that Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett,D-Ketchum, felt she needed to apologize to Hurlock. She pointed out that this type of questioning wasn't normal for gubernatorial appointees.

"We don't do this with all the people in front of us," Stennett said. "I appreciate your time and patience with this."

It has been said the opposition to Hurlock's confirmation is because she is a woman.

They say it's because she's from California. They say it's because she isn't in the inner circle of Idaho's sportsmen. They say the opposition is aimed at sending a message to Gov. Otter - embarrassing him by rejecting his appointee.

We aren't going to assign motives. We simply want to point out that behavior at Monday's hearing was abysmal. If Hurlock wants to stay in Idaho at all after this week, let alone be a public servant to Idaho sportsmen's interests, she's a pretty big person.

The argument for Hurlock:

• Hurlock says she's an avid outdoorsmen, hunting and fishing her whole life.

• Hurlock says she's familiar with the culture of Fish and Game since her father was a California Fish and Game commissioner when she was growing up.

• Hurlock says she's a big supporter of youth hunting opportunities.

• She's a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and former member of Ducks Unlimited and the Audubon Society.

The arguments against Hurlock's confirmation:

• She's from California and only moved to Buhl 10 years ago.

• She did not get a hunting license every year she has lived in Idaho. Opponents say she's not an avid or experienced enough hunter and fisherman.

• Opponents say she doesn't understand the issues.

• Opponents said the process was politically weighted in Hurlock's favor, with qualified candidates being left off the list.

Frankly, given the political hot potato that Hurlock's appointment has become this session, it will be a miracle if she is confirmed.

We'll be curious to see who opponents support as the "qualified" appointee. Perhaps then, and only then, will we come to understand what this embarrassing piece of political theater has really been about.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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