Friday, October 31, 2008

Ysursa, 80; Hoffman, less

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 3:34 PM

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is predicting the turnout of registered voters at 80 percent in the Fall '08 presidential elections. As Ysursa told BW this week, his prognostication is based on a scientific analysis of new registrations, early voting returns and his 384 years experience in elections.

Your citydesk editor, Nathaniel Hoffman, took Ysursa's numbers on this morning at the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce annual election prognostication breakfast. Well, we thought it was to be  a breakfast, but the assembled fat cat CEO's had apparently already eaten.

Hoffman joined Idaho Statesman prognosticators Dan Popkey and Kevin Richert in predicting election results from president down to the College of Western Idaho board. We told the group we don't think the turnout will be as high as people think, citing election burnout as one reason and the non-scientific results of our recent tour of Boise Albertsons. We failed to mention this to the Chamber, but we also believe that conservative Republicans that are down on McCain are not going to make any special efforts to go out and vote, setting off whatever bump in voter turnout Obama has spurred.

Popkey thought Ysursa's 80 percent estimate could be low. We'll see.

Ysursa is saying turnout will break records in terms of sheer votes; he expects 700,000 to be cast when all is said and done at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

ACLU hires new director

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Monica Hopkins, who has worked in several local nonprofit organizations, will take the helm at the American Civil Liberties of Idaho on Dec. 1.

“The work of the ACLU has never been more relevant, and I am deeply honored and humbled to lead the ACLU’s efforts throughout our state,” Hopkins said, in a press release.

Hopkins replaces Jack Van Valkenburgh, who stepped down in May; she will be the group's second executive director in its 18-year history.

According to an annoucnement from the ACLU:
After moving to Boise from San Francisco in 1997, Hopkins worked as Director of Development for Planned Parenthood of Idaho and Executive Director of the Fund for Idaho, a progressive grantmaking foundation. As the Director of Development & Communications for the Friends of Zoo Boise, she completed a $3.7 million capital campaign to build an African Plains Exhibit, increased membership by 23%, and updated the organization’s technology and communications practices.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BW Hip Hop Voter's Guide

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 11:33 AM

We have been reading and writing about next week's elections forever, man. But when we sat down to write BW's election guide a few weeks ago, we just could not do it. There are so many words out there, so much political verbage on the internets and in your daily papers, that we froze.

And then it all just came pouring out. In rhyme. So enjoy BW's first ever (maybe Idaho's first ever) Hip Hip Election Guide. It's all real, people. All real.

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Candidates trade jabs in the blogging ring

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Tensions must be running high when a simple question to a legislative candidate gets such a clipped response.

"I had a print job that didn't go very well, and I had some problems with my financial reports," Kevin McGowan, District 19 candidate for House, said of why he wasn't able to attend the North End Neighborhood Association candidate forum on Monday night. "I'm actually trying to hand this stuff in now, so I think you have your answer, and I guess you're going to do what you're going to do," he said after further questioning. Click.

"I was very surprised that he wasn't there," said Brian Cronin, McGowan's opponent.

McGowan is also the president of NENA. Gary Reedy, NENA's vice president, said that the organization kept McGowan completely out of the loop in the forum planning process to prevent a conflict of interest.

"We made sure that he was not going to be participating in the actual conducting of the forum," Reedy said. "We do not endorse any candidates or any ballot positions. Our entire objective was to provide a neutral forum so that people in the North End could come out and hear their candidates for the state legislature and for the county commission."

Reedy said that about 45 people gathered to hear the candidates speak. All of the District 19 candidates were present except for McGowan and Democrat Anne Pasely-Stuart, who is running unopposed for 19's other House seat. The four county commission candidates and one ACHD candidate also attended.

"He had emailed beforehand but I hadn't checked that email," Reedy said about how McGowan alterted him that he would not be attending.

McGowan has criticized Cronin in the past for failing to show up to a candidate forum sponsored by the Collister Neighborhood Association, according to Cronin.

"I didn't even know about it until after the fact," Cronin said. He said that Joan Wallace, one of the event's organizers, later called and apologized for not inviting him, saying that she didn't expect McGowan to show up because only a few dozen houses in the Collister area belong to District 19.

Cronin jabbed back at McGowan on his blog, saying that Republicans were conspicuously absent from the Sept. 18 forum sponsored by the Idaho Women's Network, the Snake River Alliance and the Association for Education of Young Children, among several others.

"Why would he skip out on this forum? I can't really say for sure," Cronin wrote. But he later speculated: "I can only surmise that perhaps it's because the answers he would give to questions on human rights, reproductive rights, energy, and the role of faith in politics might not jibe with the values and preferences of District 19 voters."

Lately, McGowan's blog has been berating Cronin for "refusing to debate" at Boise State at a political science forum this Thursday.

"Despite multiple attempts by the organizer to contact my opponent, he has not responded," McGowan wrote. "If there is a miscommunication, that is fine, he needs to get in touch and confirm his attendance."

Cronin said there hasn't been a miscommunication; he simply hasn't decided yet whether or not to attend.

"I haven't refused, actually. I haven't decided. I sort of left it open," he said. "We've got a week to go in the campaign, and there's a lot of voters I'm still trying to contact here in the last week. The time could be well spent contacting voters."

For more on  the Cronin-McGowan race see my story in today's Boise Weekly.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Silly Sali slip-ups

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Idaho's own Rep. Bill Sali is making national headlines again—but not the good kind. has just come out with its list of the top 10 moments that changed the race for Congress. No. 2 on that list is Sali's "shenanigans," including making bunny ears behind the head of KTVB Channel-7 reporter Ysabel Bilbao during an on-air interview with the spokesman for his Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick.

"This GOP freshman class president has turned into the class clown and is facing the wrath from voters back home," states the Politico story.

The political Web site is calling the race an even run, surprising in a state as red as Idaho.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama wins Idaho (in student election)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 1:27 PM

Sen. Barack Obama has won an early poll in Idaho, a secured, on-line, vote among the state's high school students.

Obama won Idaho's first statewide high school mock election by 105 votes, earning 2,240 votes to Sen. John McCain's 2,135. Ralph Nader polled third followed by the other two candidates on the Idaho ballot, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin.

Fifty-four high schools across the state participated in this exercise on Oct. 23 and 24. The results were announced this morning. Some of the students are old enough to vote in the actual election as well.

"This Mock Election has served as an important learning experience for Idaho students," Idaho's Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Luna, said. "I encourage all students who took part in this event to remember the lessons they have learned about the importance of voting and carry these lessons with them throughout their adult lives."

In a sign that either young voters are willing to vote for the man, not the party or that they just pick the cooler names, Republican Rep. Bill Sali also won the polling by 160 votes, defeating Democrat Walt Minnick. Mike Simpson beat Deborah Holmes 66 to 34 percent in the Second Congressional District and Jim Risch would be Idaho's senator today, if it were up to the state's high school students.

Idaho Students also voted on mock ballot measures, favoring a lower drinking age by a slim margin: 53 to 47 percent, and approving a repeal of Idaho's food tax by 73.5 percent. 

The State Department of Education attempted a similar election two years ago, but the system was hacked and the event canceled. This year the Secretary of State ran the polling and assures BW it was not hacked.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Palm Beach County, Idaho

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 4:24 PM

As the U.S. heads into another huge presidential election, Idaho has the distinction of being the only state clinging to the old punch card ballot.

Eight Idaho counties still use punchcards, according to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, where voters puncture their ballot with a sharp poker and pray that the numbers line up and the chads don't hang. No other state in the union still has punch card ballots, Ysursa said.

After the 2000 election, you may recall, the accuracy of punch card ballots in Florida called the results of the entire presidential race into question. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. One of the provisions of the Act was to encourage counties to move away from the punch card and to provide money for doing so.

But Bingham, Bonneville, Franklyn, Minidoka, Clearwater, Jefferson, Nez Perce and Shoshone counties still use the old systems.

"We really like it or we would have changed it," said Bobbie Jockumsen, chief election judge in Bonneville County. "Why fix something that's not broken?"

Idaho did get a grant to upgrade voting systems in every county, but some counties have not opted to ditch the punchcards yet. Because of the relatively low numbers of ballots in Idaho, each punchcard can be examined for hanging chads or dimples or pregnant chads, Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst said.

"The difference between us and Palm Beach is they have more punch cards in Palm Beach than we have in the state of Idaho," Hurst said.

Hurst also said Idaho counties have pre-defined regulations on what constitutes a valid vote.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

And there's a write-in

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 3:45 PM

This week's BW takes a look at the Second Congressional District race, highlighting citizen-candidate Debbie Holme's uphill battle against Mike Simpson.

But there is also a write-in candidate in the race, Gregory Nemitz, who challenged Simpson in the GOP primary in May, is running on the anti-bailout ticket and the Ron Paul coattails ticket.

And according to the YouTube, he's shaved his mustache. 

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The cCommission Edition

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 2:46 PM

This afternoon, the City Club held a forum for County Commission candidates in Districts 1 and 2. Paul Woods (D), Sharon Ullman (R), Rick Yzaguirre (R) and David Langhorst (D) fielded questions from Jim Weatherby about issues like land use, property taxes, open spaces and planned community development.

The banquet room at the Grove Hotel was packed with concerned citizens and cheap lunch aficionados, alike. Highlights of the forum included: Ullman and Langhorst speaking out against the "at will" personnel system passed by the last commission; Woods clarifying the commissions’ budget and recent money-saving cuts; and Langhorst indicting the “unfettered development” allowed under past commissions.

In other county commission news: BW’s Teresa Shipley trekked out to incumbent Woods’ and challenger Ullman’s neighborhoods to profile the District 1 race for today’s issue. Though Ullman declined an interview at her home, Wood’s spoke with Shipley from his Foothills house north of Hill road about hiking, mountain biking, beer and his fight to protect open spaces.

Check back in next week's BW for a profile of the Yzaguirre/Langhorst race with insights into the two candidates and the places they call home.

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Nader at Boise State

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader told the Boise press yesterday that his 4 percent write-in showing in 2000 in Idaho was unprecedented. But Nader only got 2.5 percent in 2000, which is still a lot of votes ... some 12,000 actually. Maybe that's still unprecedented though for a write-in candidate. Somebody Google that...

Nader, pictured at left with campaign staff, made a stop in Boise yesterday, his 49th state during this campaign season. He heads to Missoula today--Montana will be his 50th. Nader spoke to a standing room-only crowd in the Boise State Special Events Center. The auditorium holds 435 people.

Not bad, until you recall the 14 thousand million people that went to see Barack Obama at Boise State so many months ago.

Nader, who promised citydesk a free copy of his mama's hummus recipe when we spoke to him last week, has yet to deliver. How's he going to deliver on universal medical care and the re-empowerment of farmers, man? 

Nader is taking a harder line against Obama, saying that Obama's turned his back on his race and on poor people and is on the dole of corporations.

And then he said, and we're paraphrasing here, that the first African American president should represent something more than an upward career move.

One witty questioner, perhaps a prof, asked Nader how he's going to spur innovation if he keeps attacking corporations ... perhaps he will throw some dough to the lone inventor, chugging away in his garage, the questioned posited.

Nader, equally witty and verbose, dubbed the poor inventor, Joe the Inventor.

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