In Otter's big business-funded 'town hall' phone call on education reform, his staff chose questions

Thousands of Idahoans participated in a telephone town hall led by Gov. Butch Otter and other advocates of school reform. Monday night’s forum was paid for by the state’s largest business lobby, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.

Otter was joined by the author of the “Students Come First” plan, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and the two chairmen of the Legislature’s education committees, Sen. John Goedde and Rep. Bob Nonini, both Republicans from Coeur d’Alene.

Otter invited recipients of the call to join the one-hour forum in a recorded message, and they could choose whether to participate in the live call.

Participants were asked two questions, according to IACI President Alex LaBeau, basically: "Do you support education reform?" and "Do you support raising taxes or not?" The reform question did not specifically mention the Luna-Otter “Students Come First” plan.

Paul Whitted of Garden Valley told the Statesman he joined the call because he’s very interested in the topic, but that he felt “snookered by Gov. Otter and his buddies” because the call was a “sales job.”

“Not a single caller who was allowed to ask a question had anything negative to say,” said Whitted, a retired marketing researcher. “There were clearly a lot of people who were opposed, but not a single one was allowed to ask a question.”

Otter’s communications director, Mark Warbis, moderated the forum and chose the questions.

The forum was suggested by LaBeau, and cost between $15,000 and $20,000, LaBeau said Tuesday. Otter, Luna, Goedde and Nonini met in IACI’s offices in downtown Boise for the call.

“You cut through a lot of the filters and you can reach a fairly broad audience fairly quickly and effectively,” LaBeau said. IACI is joined by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence in supporting the Luna-Otter plan.

Monday's forum is just one example of a paid-media blitz on both sides of the issue. Opponents are advertising on television and in newspapers and proponents have run a series of full-page newspaper ads and a direct-mail campaign. The Idaho Education Association also has a Facebook page and issues Twitter messages urging citizens to call legislators and oppose the Otter-Luna bills.

LaBeau said he’s not sure he’ll release the survey results because he has doubts about scientific validity. LaBeau said about 78 percent of respondents said they opposed raising taxes, while education reform was favored by a roughly 60 percent to 40 percent margin.

“I’m not going to put a lot into it because I don’t think it was scientifically random,” LaBeau said. “If I’m not entirely sure it’s credible, I won’t release it.”

The phone numbers are part of what LaBeau calls the largest and most sophisticated voter file in Idaho, with over 700,000 names. He wouldn’t say how many people were contacted, except that it was in the thousands, and that 400 or 500 people sought to put questions to the panel.

Don Davis of Horseshoe Bend told the Statesman he was on the call. He said recipients were told 54 percent favored reform and 46 percent opposed it. Davis said no questions were taken from opponents of the plan.

LaBeau said questions were screened by IACI’s Chicago vendor and then posed by Warbis, the Otter aide. But LaBeau said callers did not have to say they supported reform to make the queue for questions. “There’s only so much time for questions,” LaBeau said.

Liz Ratcliff, a former Ada County Democratic Party chairwoman and former teacher, said she was on the call and pressed the button on her phone saying she opposed reform because “that’s a ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ question.”

“Everybody’s for some sort of reform,” said Ratcliff. “Raising revenue; reducing class sizes; more emphasis on liberal arts; examining the role charter schools are playing in the budget; requiring charter schools take all students.”

After answering the prompt saying she wanted to ask a question, Ratcliff said she was told to wait for a beep. But she said she heard nothing for about five minutes and then hung up. “Nothing was happening. I couldn’t hear what was going on.”

Otter, Luna, Goedde did not immediately reply to requests for comment Tuesday morning. Nonini declined comment.

Telephone town halls have been used by Idaho elected officials and candidates for several years, but LaBeau said Monday’s call was the first time IACI had done so on a specific issue during the Legislature. Idaho's Sunshine Law requires disclosure of monthly lobbying expenses by the 10th day of the following month.

Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 and 1113 are on are on the Senate’s 3rd Reading Calendar Tuesday and could be debated on the floor as soon as Wednesday.

S.B. 1108 would limit the collective bargaining rights of the teachers’ union and end continuing contracts, commonly called tenure, for new teachers.

S.B. 1110 is a pay-for-performance plan for teachers.

S.B. 1113 implements the classroom reforms, including online classes and technology.

1298485532 In Otter's big business-funded 'town hall' phone call on education reform, his staff chose questions Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More dirt from POPKEY!

The Mistakesman and Popkey are on a mission(big shock),to discredit the elected officials and are courting the vocal minority! The majority, as shown in recent elections, are backing these officials! But don't let this stop you libbies, we'll see you at the polls next time too, when the big dethroning comes!


You are wrong! The Statesman and other news reporters have a duty and a responsibility to fully report and investigate this story. They are doing what they are charged to do, which is uncover the truth. That's what good reporters do. Oh, but wait, you must not be used to this type of reporting unless it supports your belief system. Suggestion - challenge yourself and open your mind to see the truth. It's time to see the light, Idaho!!

If Popkey Had any Stones....

He would have written about who stands to lose money with Luna's cutting edge and innovative plan. The big LOSERS??? The IEA... Popkey is in the pocket of the Union and he does nothing to expose how the Union has been hurting our kids for decades!

Is it propaganda? Or ignorance...

The IEA is not a union.
Do you classify the American Medical Association as one?

Why can't Republicans deal in facts and reality?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Yes, it is a union...

The Idaho Education Association IS Idaho's Teachers' union. Why can't you deal in facts and reality? And why Neil Peart? I mean, seriously?

If they claim they are not a union, how can you claim they are?

Lableing them what they are not is dealing in fantasy on your part, or engaging in propaganda for political gain.

Peart? Why not?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

If it quacks like a union...

"IEA | Idaho Education Association
Union representing teachers in Idaho. Affiliated with the National Education Association."

"The Idaho Education Association, the state’s teachers union, is holding public meetings around the state to discuss State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s proposed education overhaul."

"A union that represents thousands of Idaho teachers is now involved in the school district controversy that has divided the community of Garden Valley.

The Idaho Education Association (IEA) is challenging..." - KTVB

Reality of Board - Association (union if you like) negotiaions

I negotiated for 5 years as a member of our local association. Never once did the IEA or NEA dictate to me what was on the negotiation table. Each School Board is unique. Without this vital process, teachers would have no say in what is taught or how it is taught.

do what's right instead of playing politics

If Luna is cutting edge and innovative, then that Ginsu company must have gone bankrupt because this is dull, repetitive right-wing propoganda serves only a Republican agenda.

If Luna really put students first, he'd advocate for education instead of lining the pockets of his contributors.


You talk about the UNION as if it is some Mafia Mob organization. The Union is, an association, made up of teachers. If you say the UNION is hurting our kids then you are saying THE TEACHERS are hurting our kids. That's pure bull. Where are your facts? I pay dues to belong to my organization, which has people representing me. I have no time to stand in the legislative offices. I'm teaching day in and day out. Are you saying I have no right to have representation? If you believe that UNIONS and ASSOCIATIONS are the same, and are ruining this state, then you should talk to LUNA and OTTER. They are both members of their associations. OOOOoooooooo! They must be MOB BOSSES.
AND...who stands to lose with Luna's plan? KIDS! Who stands to have pockets lined with money? LUNA.

All you Sybil shut up.


Mehr Aufgabe! Hast! Schreiben Sie MEHR!


Did you just arrive from Mars? The Statesman has an obligation alright but it is to the leftists and the Democrat party which their staff belongs too in droves. Don't make us laugh. Did you actually read that piece Murphy did about the so called march? The man prostituted himself for the leftist cause and got caught. And that is just one of the ongoing distortions and disinformation the Statesman has been caught trying to pawn off as "unbiased news".

speaking of prostituting himself....

I wonder what Luna thinks about all these revelations and the back door dealing that has been exposed.


Don't you wish the R's had a paper so they could slant to their own side also. Your just jealous. lol

The Mistakesman...

...and Popkey have always prostituted themselves to the lefty liberals! No big shock here, just more dirt digging and mudslinging, to further their agendas!

I've seen the light...

...before the Kalifornicated transplants moved in here with their "me first" attitudes! Now they want the taxpayers to pay for their over breeding, so it can be like the cesspool they came from! Otter and Luna are just trying to improve on a system that has been infected with foreign disease! Remember, the MAJORITY re-elected them, not the vocal minority! NO NEW TAXES!!!!

Xavier, you do know...

that the Representative who brought forth the nullification bill is from southern California. Yep, he also has a law degree but, alas - it does him no good. His degree is from a non-accredidated law school. I think you should get on the phone to him and tell that thar Kaliforni - a to go back to his own part of the world and over breed there.

X- you are a walking, talking, joke.

"Kalifornia" transplants

Enough with the "kalifornia" transplants. These transplants have made Idaho an even REDDER state than it used to be. Look into your Idaho history. Idaho actually had democrats in higher office, especially in the 1970s. I bet your parents are from "Kalifornia." Why don't you debate the issues WITHOUT this nonsense.

It must be the light

from the dark side! Who paid the taxes so you could learn to read and write and calculate, or did you teach yourself with a stick and cyphering in the dirt?
Why do you have to yell NO NEW TAXES if you are the majority? Is it that the State Supt., whom you elected, is running away with your taxes to Virginia and into his own pocket. If you are the majority, you can be very proud next year at this time, when there are no new taxes...actually no taxes. Virginia will have a very robust economy and we will have double the number on welfare and in prison.

This is not dirt it is reality.

Butch? Is that you?


After reading this post and a few of your other posts, it is quite clear that you are very closed off to anything but your own thoughts and beliefs. They appear to match up with the far right half of the conservative movement. It is extremely dishearting to see that America has spawned your type of un-american civility and knowledge. It is also very clear you have no grasp of what a newspaper's mission is really about. There is the "truth" out there, and there is "your truth" in your own mind.

Say what you want about the next election, but from what I have heard from my intelligent R friends - they are not voting R next time after viewing the shinanigans of Otter, Luna, and others. I do believe there will be shift to the left in Idaho come next election. You, of course, will be left behind.


I agree that many conservatives are shaking their heads in disgust about what is going on at the Idaho Statehouse these days. It's a growing opposition movement that involves many, many conservatives.



You can not say the MAJORITY

You can not say the MAJORITY support these radical reforms when they were all brought to light AFTER the election! I'm just glad someone if FINALLY telling the rest of the story!

Not much of a libbie, but...

The way I see it, if Otter and Luna had so much confidence in the plan, they would not have been afraid to field tough questions. If they truly believed as you do, that the majority supported them wholly in anything they propose, they would have been confident that the majority of folks on the call would agree with them. Obviously, they must have doubts on both of these points, or they would not have needed to railroad this through without comments from anyone on the call. I think they know that a high percentage of the folks who voted for them do not favor the plan. The fact that they prefer to duck the questions is more troubling to me than the education plan, itself. It indicates they don't really know what they are doing. This could be the way they intend to handle all complicated issues - ram something through without thorough investigation and hide from all questions and criticisms so it doesn't become obvious that they don't know what they are doing, just taking chances.

Are We Serious About the Plan or Are We Trying to Bust Unions?

What could have been a pretty decent idea is now colored by distrust, corruption and politics. If Luna and Otter had actually tried to work with education officials on this plan, maybe this ugly, ugly situation would be much different. Without public and stakeholder input, this plan is nothing more than a union busting move.

Funny how people who don't

Funny how people who don't like what's being reported call it "mud slinging". Judges are "Activist" when they don't make decisions you agree with also right?

Keep up the good work Mr. Popkey!

Just more unfunded mandates

A) There is no teacher's union in Idaho. If there was, they would be on strike.
B) The actions of the legislature and Republicans in general underscore the reasons why educators support Democrats.
C) Is there anyone who doesn't understand the mythology of legislators comments that donations don't effect how they vote?


Do you even know what an unfunded mandate is? Did you just pull that term out of your bag of political phrases and figure it would do as well as any other in there? I don't think there's a single sentence in your post that makes any sense in the context of these issues.


I have never seen so many people in denial. The proof is on news every night and either you are ridiculously ignorant or chose to be in total denial. Either way the ma$$es are out and you are looking more foolish daily.

You are part of the problem

Is that why the Statesman backed Luna during the election? Stop speaking you are coming across like an online student!

only reason for backing

Luna was backed by the Statesman because they thought he had more political clout. Olson was a better candidate in terms of credentials, but Luna was an R, had experience as State Supy.

But no one saw this coming. These bills are revolutionary in that they would set Idaho backwards as a state, reduce the quality of education in the state, and prevent any industry from ever coming to Idaho.

If you love Idaho, you oppose these bills. If you love these bills, you are either ignorant or should move away. ... or both.

Come on!

Libbies? If the facts discredit the politicians then so be it. Why would you be against telling the truth about who gets a voice in this process and who obviously doesn't. The majority AND the minority were completely left out of the loop when Luna gave not even a hint of the sweeping overhaul he had in mind during the election. You should be upset at Luna as an Idahoan and a citizen. This is not a liberal versus conservative issue. This is a transparency issue that affects all of us. Dump the labels.


Since when is 40-some percent a majority? Perhaps you should check the recent elections numbers for the state. Apathy is the majority. I'm a Republican. Are you a Republican too? So if I oppose the plan I'm a "libbie"? Wait? I thought I was a Republican? Oh, so Republican to you means push the button-- but not the brain? We can be Republican and oppose a Republican sponsored bill. It's called "thinking for yourself". While this may lead you to agree with the plan; it may also lead you to oppose the plan or oppose portions of the plan, but by all means..... please think.

What is a REAL majority

He who holds the purse strings holds the majority. In a communist government, 3% is a majority.

So, you are defending numbers

even Otter's own staff can't?

Ya know,

Here's an idea for the Statesman: Have a blog only for posters who verify their identity by coming down to the Statesman's offices, showing a picture ID, and signing up. Separate those from all the rest who don't have the stones to use their real names, and you get an intelligent discussion instead of all this bathroom graffiti.

Dale Keys

Can't handle the facts

The scamming of Idaho by our elected officials, that is the true story.

they discredit themselves

When you take campaign money, then don't even have the common sense to hide your kickbacks, you pretty much discredit yourself.

Oh, and fyi, the vocal people are the majority. Their voice is continually being shutdown by those in power. It's a good thing we have a recall process.


Just like taking candy from a baby............literally

Election tactic to ramrod bad policy

Sounds like Luna and Otter were blowing smoke up each others...


Wake up Idaho

The cronies in the state office our trying to silence our voice.

This will not detour those who want to invest in education.

Idaho the laughing stock of our nation when it comes to investing in our childrens future.

Rise up Idaho! Let our elected officials know that WE WILL BE HEARD!



I am truely ashamed...

...that you are in our once beautiful state!


Sounds like Otter learned a thing or two from Obama.

The Idaho "Statesman"

is rather good at selectively silencing voices as well. The "Statesmans" spike is used often as a means of controlling the the flow and availability of news and opinion.


kind of like FOX news?


commenter with many names, farang, orvile, prolatariet etc, like the Idaho "Statesman". The "opinion journal" of the Obamunist Marxist Tap Dancing Clown Chorus and it's "entitled", Left Wing Liberal wannabee "Vanguard Class".

Moonpie , floor mat , lice comb ..................

......... peaches , mouse trap .
There , see I can string together a bunch of unrelated words to .
You need to grow up and get a job .


You are my hero!