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Oath breaker

Marty Trillhaase
March 22, 2013
Lewiston Tribune

JEERS . . . to Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene. Nonini wants to suck $10 million from the traditional schools serving more than 95 percent of Idaho's kids - and pump it into private schools.

Passed Wednesday by a 35-to-33 House vote, Nonini's bill extends credits to people who contribute toward the scholarships of 3,000 private school students. Nonini asserts this will save public schools $5.7 million by pulling more students out of their classrooms.

But he glides past some realities.

Hiring one teacher for 24 second-graders costs as much as hiring that teacher for a class of 25 students.

Building lighting and heating costs are constant. Same goes for transportation costs.

Less money for Idaho's already lean public schools means more money for religious-operated schools.

Which brings us to Idaho's Constitution. Within it, you'll find:

Article 9, Section 1 - Legislators are obligated to "establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools."

Not private schools. Public schools.

Article 9, Section 5 - No public dollars shall be allocated "in aid of any church or sectarian or religious society, or for any sectarian or religious purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled by any church, sectarian or religious denomination whatsoever. . . ."

Either the Great Nonini does not know what's in the state Constitution he's sworn to uphold - or he doesn't care.

CHEERS . . . to Wally Burchak of Kooskia. The part-owner of KBC Trucking, Burchak gave the most credible testimony yet against opening up northern Idaho's two-lane highways and bridges to longer, heavier trucks.

Under pressure from a handful of companies, lawmakers are on the verge of taking that step - without so much as conducting the same pilot study employed on southern Idaho routes.

"There isn't a person in this room who can say this won't compromise safety," Burchak told the House Transportation Committee. "I'm the only one who testified today who's in the transportation business. All the individuals who are trying to push this through don't run trucks up and down the highway."

Listening to the people who have to live under the laws? What a novel idea.

JEERS . . . to House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa. A graduate of Nampa Christian High School and Boise State University, Crane is part of a political dynasty - his father, Ron, is the state treasurer. One day he may become Idaho's 1st District congressman if his friend U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador moves on.

How could someone with such a great political pedigree completely misread the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s?

Debating against a state-based health insurance exchange last week, Crane volunteered that Rosa Parks was a champion of states' rights.

"We need to have our Rosa Parks moment," Crane said. "One little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do."

In 1955, Parks gave the clarion call of the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. It sparked the process that ended Jim Crow and empowered African-Americans to demand their full measure of citizenship.

Helping African-Americans achieve that was a federal government willing to intervene.

Standing in their way was the Old South and its doctrine of states' rights.

Crane told the Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey he made "a slight mistake" regarding "a little fact."

Really? What might Crane say next?

Benedict Arnold led us to victory over the French in the Spanish-American War of 1812?

The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

President Cary Grant is buried in Grant's Tomb?

Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?

Larry Craig actually did conduct official Senate business in the men's room of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport?

CHEERS . . . to Idaho Public Television General Manager Peter Morrill. In announcing his retirement, the State Board of Education gives Morrill the credit he deserves for leaving behind the most-watched public television network for any market in the U.S., one which accounts for a high level of contributions and the recipient of 53 national and regional awards in 2012, including an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

But the fact that Idaho still has a statewide public television network is Morrill's legacy. Since taking the helm in 1996, Morrill fended off at least two attempts to strip IPTV of its state support.

Had he not prevailed, Idaho Public Television would be off the air everywhere but the Treasure Valley.

CHEERS . . . to U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson and U.S. Marshal Brian Underwood. It takes a lot to draw these federal law enforcement officials into Idaho's political circus.

State Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, left them no choice. His bill would have made criminals of any Idaho cop who "knowingly and willingly participated in an action with the purpose of confiscating firearms defined as legal . . ." The offense in question would be a misdemeanor. It carries jail time and a $1,000 fine.

Last week, Olson and Underwood offered something Patterson has not: facts. Pass this bill and lawmakers will undermine Idaho's small network of local, state and federal law enforcement.

Cops will be distracted and confused.

Guns factor into many joint investigations that bleed over into gang and drug cases.

Patterson's plan could disrupt the fabric of local, state and federal task forces. And it could impose added costs on Idaho's police, prosecutors, courts and prisons.

Say Olson and Underwood: "We believe no law enforcement officer, at any level, should have to think about whether he or she will also face criminal charges simply because he or she is assisting a fellow law enforcement officer."

It worked. Patterson's bill croaked in the Senate State Affairs Committee Thursday.

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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