Boise is better than the Hammerskins and their hatred

Here's a draft of our Tuesday editorial.

Boiseans know very little about Hammerfest 2012 — just enough to be outraged.

Fronted by the white supremacist group Hammerskin Nation, the music “festival” is supposed to take place somewhere in or around Boise on Saturday.

The group bills this concert as a 25th anniversary celebration. And since a quarter century of racial intolerance is obviously not something to be very proud of, the group is revealing nothing about the location — hiding in the underground where cowardice and hatred thrive.

Lenore Hardy Barrett: Kick federal 'carpetbaggers' off of Idaho forests

In order to improve the health of Idaho forests, and allow rural families to "survive with dignity," it's time for the feds to get off the public lands, says state Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett.

The Challis Republican, a 20-year House veteran, says fires in Central Idaho are being "managed," but not extinguished. And let burn policies are at the root of the problem.

"'Burn, baby, burn' stupidity was a policy decision made in Washington being carried out by robotized professionals noticeably lacking in common sense, and with the consent of the governed.

Take it from the Gray Lady: Idaho is really red

Not that this needed confirming, but Idaho is extremely conservative, and Mitt Romney's Mormon Church membership should help him fare even better in Idaho in Nov. 6.

That's the takeaway from New York Times FiveThirtyEight political blog, which is analyzing all 50 states in advance of the election. Idaho's profile ran Sunday.

The latest Students Come First ad: Melaleuca as bad cop

Melaleuca Inc. took out another full-page ad in the Statesman Sunday -- again suggesting that the teachers' union is jeopardizing $38 million in teacher bonuses by opposing state superintendent Tom Luna's Students Come First education laws.

A couple of things jump out in the ad (which I don't have in electronic form, but you can see for yourself on page 6 of Sunday's Insight section):

Idaho's merit pay mess: Pay the teachers their bonuses

Here's a draft of our Sunday editorial.

In any profession, the goals for merit pay are straightforward.

To reward top performers. To — in the clunky jargon of human resources — incentivize extra effort and initiative. To motivate improved job performance.

So far, teacher merit pay isn’t off to a very good start in Idaho, unless the motivational goals are confusion and skepticism.

Here's something from the Ada County courthouse that makes sense

It might surprise you, in the midst of the Dynamis debacle, to see me offer a few good words about lame-duck Ada County commissioner Sharon Ullman.

It might surprise you to hear David Case — the newly appointed Ada County commissioner who has been fighting the good fight on Dynamis — praise one of Ullman’s initiatives.

But in an editorial board interview Wednesday, Case went out of his way to compliment the county’s health screening partnership — designed to catch illnesses before they result in a costly (and taxpayer-funded) trip to the emergency room.

Greenbelt and greenbacks: The sorry saga in Garden City

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a friend who was aghast at the potential price to make a contested stretch of Garden City Greenbelt bicycle-friendly. “Seems like taking down the ‘no bikes’ signs costs a shade under $1.1 million.”

I’d kind of assume the contractor would throw in the sign removal as part of the deal. But when it comes to the Garden City Greenbelt, there a risk in assuming much of anything.

Prop 1: Idaho's 'forgotten' Students Come First law

Of the three Students Come First laws, Proposition 1 doesn’t have much sizzle.

It’s not as juicy as Prop 2, the teacher merit pay law, or Prop 3, the law to equip high school students with portable devices. Prop 1 deals with the likes of “evergreen clauses,” longstanding language in teacher union contracts.

Why we won't endorse in the presidential race

The Statesman editorial board is in the midst of interviewing more than 70 candidates for federal, state and local office.

Our paper plans to endorse in more than 40 elections.

One exception will be the presidential race.

This isn’t an unprecedented decision — our paper didn’t endorse in the 2012 GOP presidential caucus, nor the 2008 Democratic caucus and GOP primary, despite Idaho appearances from candidates of both party.

And really, it comes down to a simple difference between the president’s race and the other races.

Federal ruling is a win for wind, and Idaho consumers

Here's a draft of our Wednesday editorial:

The wind power industry scored a key victory last week — and this could be a long-term win for consumers as well.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Idaho Power to abide by the terms of its 20-year agreement to purchase electricity from Idaho wind farms.

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