The Democrats' closed caucus: a closer look

In October 2004, when she ran against House Republican Caucus Chair Julie Ellsworth, Boise Democrat Phylis King had this to say about party caucuses.

"Transparency in government is essential to keep the trust of the citizenry," King said in a Statesman candidate questionnaire. "There is the perception that a government that operates in secrecy is more prone to corruption. Citizens have a right to information — it's the foundation of democracy."

Given that, it's disappointing that it was King who showed Statesman reporter Dan Popkey the closed door Tuesday, when House Democrats caucused to discussed proposed gas tax increases. Click here for Popkey's story.

Democratic Caucus Chair Bill Killen, also of Boise, apologized Tuesday and said the minority caucus remains committed to open sessions. I hope that's the case.

But the backstory is important. After all, it was the Democrats who decided on their own several years ago to open party caucuses — and to make open caucuses into a campaign issue.

Caucuses were a hotter issue a few years back. Senate Republicans went behind closed doors to hammer out details of 2001 tax cuts; two years later, they spent hours caucusing about tax increases. In 2002, House Republicans held a straw poll in closed caucus on a controversial bill to repeal term limits. Media groups criticized the practice. As vice president of the Idaho Press Club, I worked on the group's behalf to urge lawmakers to open caucuses, or at least tighten the rules for closed caucuses.

Amidst that backdrop, Democrats opted for open caucuses. I recognize there was some gamesmanship to it — an attempt to embarrass the GOP and call attention to one-party legislative politics. I also think the Democrats took a gutsy, laudable step, opening their strategy sessions to the public.

I hope the Democrats remain committed to openness — and, as Killen suggests, Tuesday's closed meeting was a one-time mistake.

Now, if only Republicans would accidentally open a caucus for once ...

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Opinion Page Group for updates.

I like your last sentence

... thanks for pointing out that the GOP closes its caucuses as the rule, not an exception.

A friend just passed this quote along from Lenore Barrett, apparently uttered debate on the open meetings bill:

"The press should be able to be wherever they want to be, except in our caucus."

but she also said

reporters could follow her home to see her in her pajamas.

When will the american people catch on?

How did our representatives of millionaire status become millionaires? Are they running America the same way, trillions in debt to make $ & we just read the negative everyday in the paper? I wonder why the paper & news even report it & why they don't suggest the plan is coming together famously instead of making it sound so bad? These represnettaives are obvioulsy all about US.

Did our representatives run themselves billions in debt first to make millions? With the trillions we owe, then we're about to come into the money then, right?

I must be reading everything wrong, trillions in debt is good, war costing billions with Ameircans dying a great plan, roads falling apart a smooth plan, every government agency failing with trillions handed over to banks & insurance who made trillions, & broke the world economy must be the best of plans?

No wonder the American people keep voting them into office, losing jobs, homes, kids in war, country broke, Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid about to go under, & the plan is just starting to come together. I've always been just a little impatient that way. Only trillion son debt, why worry, our representatives have it under control?

All we read about E. Coli, Salmonella, food poisoning, is all good news. I was wrong to report less than desriable transportation & warehousing in the highly subsidized dairy industry & Otter was right, inspections are done by the FDA & USDA. Kickbacks in transportation so my boss could buy $10,000 snowmobiles was a good plan & we should be happy his is living the good life.

No wonder the people don't back an American who stops the theft of tax $ like I did at the Nebraska Dept. of Forestry & stop food poisioning that might occur like at Darigold which had the private label at WINCO, Ridley's, Pauls, sold McDonalds, Burger King, Horizon, & more. Those pictures on indicating milk was hog food & rerun on the same pallet are good, we're not wasting anything. It's all good! Why stop something when it might never happen? Watch out for number one.

If someone would have gotten sick or died the parents would have cried, why didn't someone say something? My babby is dead, booo hooo. Since nobody died, so what, mind your own business. You're interferring. In other words the young Americans who volunteer to serve & die to proetct US should all be told DON'Y ENLIST, let terrorist kill US?! 9/11 was a one time deal just like Pearl Harbor.

Thanks a lot for all the support Idaho, Nebraska, & America. You can shove it where the sun don't shine & I hope you all die a terrible death. I only hope I have to opportunity to help someone again, I'll let them die, might even kick them while I pass by! I'm going to enjoy the paper for now on, every day I'll drink a beer top the dead, celebrate their death because they were a waste of human life & they were stupid, should be killed so they don't reproduce.

Your governor, state, & DC representatives are robbing you blind & killing you while they make $ & you crawl back for more so you all get what you deserve. This country is a joke & terrorist in iraq & Afghanistan have to be laughing at the ignorance of the American people. Terrorist in DC will finish US off through campaign finance & walk away with everything. I can already hear the stupid questions. What happened? I didn't even see it coming. You mean they ripped US off for a half century? Da!

Why spend the money on education when educated people such as yourselves won't do anything resembling intelligence anyway? Allowing your representatives to rob you for a half century is not exactly a sign of intelligence. Your kids are going to grow up to be worthless idiots just like their parents anyway so why bother sending them to school? They'll be idiots when they grow up & raise idiots just like their parents did. Are you proud?

How or why the American people have any faith in this crooked government after all we've lost in the last half century is beyond comprhension.

Food Safety Is Not Peanuts

AMR Research | April 01, 2009

In his weekly address to the nation on March 14, 2009, President Obama announced he's forming a Food Safety Working Group to "upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century." This got us thinking. Believe it or not, there are currently 11 government agencies in the United States with oversight on food safety under the departments of the Food and Drug Association (FDA), the Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency. While the FDA is the primary department, it has historically had more of a focus on drugs than food. So while 11 agencies own a piece of the problem--and forming the ultimate solution--in essence, there is no oversight.

To compensate, manufacturers have historically depended on supplier audits. For example, Peanut Corporation of America had been assigned a rating of superior by the American Institute of Baking in March 2008, giving a false endorsement of food safety to the extended supply chain.

Each year, an increasing amount of raw materials cross international borders. More than 30% of food manufacturing today is done by a third party. In addition, brand manufacturers in food and beverage have increased product claims. Terms like "organic," "free-range," and "allergen free" abound, as do "health" and "wellness." With this increased complexity, oversight cannot be solved by an individual company, a group of companies, or audit groups. The answer lies in more than technology or labeling. Instead, it needs to be an ecosystem play enforced by compliance. That's the only way to get players that don't play well together to work on solving the problem as a team.

In many ways, systems are broken. Public health systems take two weeks to sense a food-borne illness. According to the results from our studies, when there is a health or safety issue, only 40% of food products can be recalled. And it's more than just consumers getting hurt. When a major recall happens, it reduces the shareholder value of the producing company by 7%.

Company write-offs are also substantial. The average cost is $20M, with 14% of companies writing off more than $50M. When a category has a recall, 57% of consumers stop buying the category. In short, product velocity through retail is faster than public health sensing, with major risk to the company.

In the end, we all want to deliver safety to our children in their school cafeterias and our families at dinner. To do this, however, we need to rethink the entire system. We need to redefine the role of government, redesign supply chain capabilities, and more effectively sense and respond when there's a problem. This is one where it will truly take a village. Today, we need to start with city planning.

AMR Research has continuously researched this topic over the past several years. Below is a sample from our library that addresses the problems of food safety and traceability. If we can help advise your company on traceability in your supply chain, e-mail me at
AMR Research

Dude you need an editor...and some Ritalin.

Just a suggestion.

Way too much too much.
You lost me as a reader...did you notice I didn't renew the subscription?

That's why your representatives have taken US for a half century

You obvioulsy wouldn't know if they were taking money right out of your pocket, because they are, & when told you still don't understand. What grade are you in, 3rd?

You obviously can't read beyond newspaper or books written at fifth grade level. Come back in six years when you're in 5th, & work on that attention span so as to keep up. All the money in the world isn't going to help education when people like Boisepoet take 25 years to get out of grade school. You'll be wearinng depends by time you get out of high school, spoon fed, & somebody wiping your, hopefully after they spoon feed you, & not before as indicated by your post. It's tooo much to read, booo hooo.

Sorry the post was over your head & shows how much thought you are capable of putting into anything. Don't read it if it hurts your little brain, or stop, take breaks, get a drink of water, & ask for help. No wonder Otter thinks he can scam Idaho. Poet is no doubt happy to see illegals move in, clean up his gene pool.

Who still uses dude in the 21st century or suggest the drugs they're on as a fix for attention deficit problems when it obviously hasn't worked for himself? Evidently the hills have internet access or the poet finally made it to town. Stop by the five & dime store & get hard candy if you can afford it, & don't choke on it like you did your foolish post ritalin boy.

Uh, no, GG...just no.

If you want to work on creating an essay that is compact and cohesive, and that contains one primary thesis and several supporting points, then perhaps it would achieve the ends for you which you hope.

As it stands your posts are far from being masterpieces of intellectual illumination, concise commentary or even decent snark. Instead they serve as a reminder that research on anti-diarrheal medication is incomplete as witnessed by your extraneous spewing of syllables.

In other words...fewer words with one idea.

Hate to break it to you but these few words are far short of an

essay. Quit reading if it's over your head. In other words, you're a fool being taken yet continue to refuse to listen.

We're all paying higher taxes, bailing out crooks, because people like you are so loaded on Ritalin you don't understand. People like you are why politicians are stealing from US, you make it so easy.

Was that too much or is the truth that tears at you?

No GG, that was commentary. I swear, you are the one in need

of an education. Essay, commentary, snark...pick one and attempt to make it interesting, not rambling regurgitations and cut/pastes.

I was originally making a suggestion to point out that your rambling and inclusion of too many points dilutes your message. I was never taking exception to your message, just your method. But if that is 'art' then live it...

Greyghost-get some netiquette

"Quit reading..."--I did a long time ago. Actually we see eye to eye on some things but your refusal to acknowledge that your ramblings tire your reader demonstrates no small amount of arrogance in your profuse attempt to dominate the conversation which demonstrates that these massive ramblings are little more than intellectual masturbation cause nobody's joining you. Like I said before, get a blog. Then you can link it up without polluting a comment thread with your comment-o-potomus. And as Boise Poet said, it ain't the message.

Weeds out those who have nothing to offer, except red neck.

babble. It's entertaining to draw in those who have never seen the outside world, don't get it, & never will. You quit reading but there's your two cents? I'd have dropped this long ago but the poet started something, wanted to play so, I'll keep kicking him around.

If you quit reading how can it possibly tire you & why are you talking sides? I can attack you when you post. Have I in the past? Have I ever pointed out a negative on your posts? I'll play that game if you want, rather not, but you seem to.

If it's too much to read, pass it by &

keep your red neck babble to yourself.

GG, if you are going to issue an insult, try to make it relevant

I am about as far from redneck as one can get. Now if you wanted to attempt using the 'educated elitist' tag, and whatever pejoratives that conjures up in the minds of lesser mortals, then you would at least be in the ballpark.

However, I will applaud your brevity this time. (golf clap/golf clap/golf clap)........

So you're a doper?

Might want to keep it under your hat.

Fair warning, folks

We're getting pretty far afield and getting pretty close to crossing the line.

From the policy: "Comments that are profane, personal attacks or otherwise inappropriate are subject to removal."

I don't like to remove comments. So let's stay on topic.

Kevin Richert
editorial page editor

I agree, in fact believe we

crossed that line at 1:17 PM 4-1-09

Kevin, I insulted myself below...

Actually I lied, cause I couldn't pick out arugula in a field of turnips.

I want to tell you all that I have been there today...

tell Dr. King all I saw was my monitor too but I dood it.

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

You really do need to stay up on your media stereotypes...

ARUGULA...I'm supposed to like arugula, cause as Hannity and the Reich wing point out, elitists eat those vegetables that your common meat and potato man don't know anything about. Elitists...always try to show how special they are by eating special vegetables.

Apparently you do not watch Hannity...which earns you another elitist golf clap...

Lettuce is crap and detracts from the bacon and the cheese...

then the pieces fall out, usually with special sauce to mess you up.

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.


I know that nothing much is rolling into the pipeline today but this is crap.

I don't feel like responding to everything myself today either. I've got actual FUN and beneficial things going on out there.


Netiquette is not real, it's crap too. All the crying and bleeding over top posting, spelling, wanting to strangle other people when it could be ignored...

The one thing that really gets some around here is the INABILITY to converse directly with people on the website, going through a forum and such and I say PHOOEY!

Rib Ghost, rib anyone but offer a flag or a complaint to staff if it makes you happy and let them decide!

I believe you forgot that I wasn't always happy with Ghost when I first encountered him.

I was an anal newbie. Mellow out. You are acting like Pavlov's posters and no morsels are being offered in that sense. You can pass it over, he's not a piece of meat.

PS Now I'm an anal oldie. Experience counts.

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

Perhaps you could post in verse.

Don't worry liberals always bash the messinger not the message.

At least they

didn't waste their education by saving money on dictionaries.

That really added to the blog.

Wow! That two cents did't add or help much did it? Come on back now.

As a former victim of Ritalin at age nine, please, NO.

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

so you're off your meds?

that doesn't even begin to explains your posts

1975. Would you like Paraguay or Monaco's flag?

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

I didn't bring Ritalin in the game so

I'm guessing you have personal experience explaining yours. Leave it alone if you can't keep up.

A greyghost post validates the need

for the scrolling button on my mouse, I just scroll on down when I see his posts.

By no means a comparison to the late Molly Ivins (R.I.P.), but when I see a greyghost post I'm always reminded of the pundit that said, to paraphrase, "I can't tell the difference between that and the Unabombers Manifesto."

Old Ted used postage.

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

Exactly, read what is of interest or pass on it. I didn't bomb

anybody so the comparison is a little over the top.

The poet has no interest other than a short, one line, meaningless post, & doesn't know enough to stay in his little valley world without a post. Idaho has that native thing, leave if you don't like it here? It isn't Idaho people from other places find odd or don't like. Moving here from Nebraska was like moving back in time thirty years, from Nebraska! It isn't the land, air, or water, it's the submissive mentality driven by control freak politics. In short, we didn't have the American Revolution because of people like Boisepoet.

Some, obviously never read cover to cover the newspaper, it's too much, way too much I imagine. Possibly well informed on changes to the comic page or local news, totally unaware of anything outside the valley, exactly what Idaho politicians like Otter want, & expect from the natives resulting in Otter/republican rule.

Idaho Tax Commission for example. Well informed, responsible people like Stan Howland as a commission employee, stood up for the working class. Wasn't too much for the man.

I give people like Mr Howland credit for being man enough to put it all on the line to do what is right by the taxayer. Mr Howland knew Otter, the rest of our elected officials would hate it, & continue to hide the truth. Simply put, they've been caught.

I went through the same at the Nebraska Dept of Forestry. Nebraska representatives wouldn't listen when I went to them so I had an investigative reporter catch my boss stealing state & federal $. Our representatives still tried to cover it up! US soldiers were dying in Iraq ten years later becasue they didn't have equipment my boss was stealing or money from the sales of 6x6 trucks stolen. Some people just don't get it. Allow theft from the taxpayer & we pay a second time just like we are due to the Tax Commission lies & coverup. Isn't a one line solution.

How did we get into this financial crisis? How did Bush & the rest of illustrious representatives of millionaire status manage to run America to ground? Poets unaware while some were screaming, lookout, never to be heard by poets. Molly Ivins writes about these things after the fact, for all good it does as evident, stimulus after stimulus.

Some are smart enough to not read something they have no interest in, some make a foolish post because it was too much, resulting in a slam on lack of intelligence. Others read about it afterwards because they made a choice not to read about it before it happened, maybe it was too much, manifesto?

Um, Boisepoet....

That wasn't Kevin writing it was greyghost, Kevin doesn't edit comments from others.

I know...see the reply directly to GG?

Just like this reply directly to you.

Kevin knows where I stand in appreciating the fine job he does here.
(Note to Kevin, you are behind in your 'marketing' payment...get the check in the mail, would ya?)


There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

So it was Popkey?

It seems kind of CS that didn't Popkey identify himself as the "Statesman reporter" who was denied entrance to the Dems caucus in the story he wrote. Perhaps because he wrote the article it would seem too self-absorbed to make himself the center of the story? Or would it detract from his "gotcha" moment he had with the hapless Dems who have had open caucuses for years and the reporters ignore them.

Either way, Statesman focus on this aspect of a nonevent detracts from your journalistic goal because you failed to investigate what was being debated within the caucus, and which officials were on opposing sides of the issue.

Ol' Craigkiller is unloved by Dems too? Aw, jeez, Edith!

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.

Boy the way Glen Miller played...

Songs that made the hit parade...

Girls were girls and so is Meathead!

There are idiots in all manner of ways, ask me and I'll demo them. It won't be too hard.