I have no idea whether Pam Lowe is telling the truth.
I don't know if the ousted Idaho Transportation Department chief's litany of good ol' boy complaints will hold up in court. But her legal filing, reported by The Associated Press last week, is just the kind of a fiasco this agency doesn't need.
Fired last month, Lowe has fired back with several explosive allegations.
Lowe paints Idaho Transportation Board member Gary Blick as sexist. After her hiring in 2006, Lowe attributes this response to the board rep from Castleford: "No little girl would be able to run this department. ... What are we going to do when she decides to start a family?"
Lowe also paints herself as a wrongfully dismissed budget watchdog. She says she was determined to cut budgets as needed — even if the cuts affected Washington Group International and CH2M Hill, campaign contributors to Gov. Butch Otter and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John McGee of Caldwell.
To be fair, this is a one-sided story at this point. About the only person talking is Idaho Transportation Board chairman Darrell Manning, and he tells AP that Lowe's claims are without merit. (I don't reject Manning's response out of hand. Manning has been involved in state government for more than four decades, and his reputation is as good as his resume is lengthy. Manning also served as a Statesman editorial board community representative in 2004, and I have a lot of respect for him.)
But Lowe's tort claim makes clear that the ousted chief has no plans of going away quietly, which will probably force the state to expand upon its laughably sketchy explanation of its firing. Last month, Manning said "the (transportation) board determined this change was necessary to help the department continue improving customer service, economy of operations, accountability and our relations with the Legislature."
Whatever that means.
The timing couldn't be worse. Otter is continuing his campaign to put more taxpayer money into road repairs; his transportation task force held its first meeting earlier this month. The first meeting was cordial — but that doesn't mean it will be any easier to find the political will and the political consensus to put dollars into road repair. Especially when Lowe suggests the money is being spent with an eye to helping political allies.
Then there is the matter of replacing Lowe. Who exactly would want to preside as ringmaster over this circus? Would-be applicants can scarcely see the job opening for the red flags. And if there's anything to the comments Lowe has attributed to Blick, you can rule out a good 50 percent of the applicant gene pool.