Printed on: February 22, 2013

Cheers & Jeers

Jumping in; bowing out

CHEERS to a pair of Idaho Falls city officials heading in opposite directions -- Mayor Jared Fuhriman and Councilwoman Sharon Parry.

The mayor announced Tuesday that he would not seek a third term. There is dignity in knowing when your time is up. Two terms -- eight years -- is a good run in any elected office, especially one with administrative duties. We have questioned Fuhriman's laissez-faire approach to governance, especially his handling of longtime division directors and the former city attorney, but never would we question his decency and heart.

The mayor cares a great deal about Idaho Falls. And to his credit, Fuhriman realized the best thing he could do for the city he has served for decades as a police officer, school board member and mayor is step aside when his term ends.

That's not an easy reality to embrace and we applaud him for it.

Also Tuesday, Parry said she would be running for mayor. The citizens of Idaho Falls deserve a debate over how they want their city run and not just a coronation in which Idaho Falls' unelected sub-mayors hand-pick Fuhriman's successor. With Parry in the race, that's sure to happen. Just this week, Parry understandably made a fuss about being left out of the insider information loop when she learned through the newspaper the city had to pay $72,000 in legal fees after losing the North Loop lawsuit.

Also, Parry was the lone member of the council who balked at being told by the former city attorney which committee meetings she could and could not attend.

Parry won't be the only person in this race. But her willingness to declare early and Fuhriman's announcement that his time is up means Idaho Falls may be looking at a long and detailed conversation about city governance.

Frankly, it's about time.

CHEERS to the young people willing to speak to the Post Register for two difficult stories: Nate Sunderland's "Sexting at school" and Ruth Brown's "Self-mutilation on the rise." There's nothing nice about girls as young as 15 sending explicit pictures of themselves in an effort to gain acceptance. And the whole idea of cyberbullying is difficult for many older folks to grasp.

Also, it's horrifying to read about kids dealing with stress by cutting themselves with razor blades. But these things are real. Right here in eastern Idaho. Now, we'd better find a way to deal with them.

CHEERS to two eastern Idaho girls basketball teams, North Fremont and Snake River, which brought home their first state championships last weekend. North Fremont claimed the 2A state title with a 45-40 win over Soda Springs. Snake River won the 3A crown with a 51-34 drubbing of Filer.

Congratulations to both teams. It's a wonderful thing when all that hard work pays off.

JEERS to Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, and Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace. This unlikely duo is co-sponsoring House Joint Memorial 1, which urges the federal government to designate Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness a Natural Resources Disaster Area.

To be sure, the Frank has issues. Funding cuts, fires and avalanches have left trails in rough shape. But a disaster declaration is not the answer. That's what you get when a hurricane (Katrina) or industrial accident (Deepwater Horizon) takes place.

Imagine the chilling effect this could have on central Idaho's economy. Say you live in Florida and you're trying to decide between a trip to the Grand Canyon or the Middle Fork this summer. Here's guessing you would be heading to Arizona if the Legislature embraces the Barrett/Gibbs plan.

Let's advocate for more money and better use of volunteers to clean up the 2.3 million-acre Frank. But let's do it without endangering those who make their living there.

JEERS to the Legislature's education committee chairmen, Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, and Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle. They took umbrage with an Office of Performance Evaluations report that polled 2,800 Idaho teachers and "revealed a strong undercurrent of despair among teachers who seem to perceive a climate that disparages their efforts and belittles their contributions."

Not so, said Goedde. Couldn't be, added DeMordaunt. Did they miss the recent exodus of teachers from the state? The passage of Students Come First and the corrosive and bitter campaign that led to the Luna laws being overturned by voters? The crippling budget cuts since 2009? Most discouraging is that instead of using the data to address these issues, the chairmen of the education committees appear content to keep their heads buried in the sand.

JEERS to Sen. James Risch. Our once-pragmatic state senator and governor has taken a turn to the right since moving to Washington, D.C., bailing on Congressman Mike Simpson's effort to preserve the Boulder White-Clouds as wilderness and supporting a budget plan that would cripple Idaho National Laboratory.

But we didn't know how far right Risch had gone until this week, when the National Journal scored 116 votes and revealed its list of most conservative senators. Sitting at No. 1 was -- you guessed it -- Risch, finishing well in front of second-place finisher John Cornyn of Texas, ahead of Pat Toomey, who once headed up the arch-conservative Club for Growth, and even Rand Paul, the darling of the tea party movement who must be heartbroken with his sixth-place finish.

And yes, Sen. Risch, you are welcome.

Corey Taule