If you want good comedy, observe Coeur d'Alene politics. With school board elections coming up in a couple of months, and municipal elections next fall, the circus is in full swing. In a state like Idaho, especially our northern region, races like these are usually between a bunch of conservatives arguing over who is the most conservative.
Fortunately, city council, mayoral, and school board positions are designed to be non-partisan. Unfortunately, the predominant political party has discovered a key to success in eating their own. One PAC in particular has driven their people into many of these positions by branding other Republicans as "liberals" or "RINOs" and propping their candidate up as the true conservative. They're ignoring the fact that their candidate has previously belonged to and/or supported other parties in the past and only recently added the (R) after their name for political expediency.
They ignore the fact that their opponent is just as conservative. Our upcoming school board election is one fine example, where the Chosen One (who is currently serving on the board as an appointee) was a volunteer for the local tea party, and is active with the GOP. He's a smart and capable business owner. But there are skeletons in his closet. He sees UN conspiracies in the County's Unified Land Use Building Code and helped dismantle fully funded curriculum at an area elementary school because he views it as UN propaganda. He recently stirred up some notoriety at a legislative forum when he made a joke comparing Obama to guns because he's "black and looks scary." He is a solid conservative candidate, yet he home schools his kids, which (in my mind) should disqualify him from serving on the board that controls our public schools.
His opponent is a life long republican who has been active with several GOP campaigns, local civics organizations, and the PTA. She's clearly more qualified for the position, but in this non-partisan election she's all ready been branded as "the liberal opposition." That claim is partially due to her unwillingness to support tax cheating timber thief Phil Hart or Bill Sali the congressional clown. She's earned the liberal description mostly because she's campaigning against their preferred candidate.
We're suffering the effects of this hyper-partisanship. Kootenai County's Board of Commissioners recently fired our public defender three weeks after he filed a harassment claim against one of the Commissioners and two weeks after letting the board know he'd need an extra day off for weekly cancer treatments. At least two of the current Commissioners were endorsed by the same group that is behind the school board appointee above, and the election of the third was an ugly contest with lots of accusations and terse words between the candidates.
As for our City Council? They're just as dysfunctional. Most of that madness stems from one member of the council, who was also backed by the PAC that supports all of the offenders mentioned above. He's been Mr. Negativity since the debates leading up to election. During one of those debates, he was asked to say one good thing that his opponent (the incumbent) had accomplished as a member of City Council - he couldn't come up with an answer. When pressed for specifics, he said, "I can't think of one thing." He was the only candidate that could not answer that question with something positive. Since winning the election, he has consistently voted against anything that involves federal funding, even if a yes vote would be in the best interest of the community.
The most recent flap started when he voted yes to seek judicial approval for a federally mandated bond to upgrade our sewer facilities. But when the council faced the judge, he suddenly changed his mind and said he opposed the judicial confirmation and said the public should vote on it and promised to appeal the judges decision if the judge ruled in the city's favor. This outburst spilled over into the next couple of council sessions where there has been a war of words between Mr. Negative and the city's attorney. This included a 911 call placed by our councilman who felt threatened by the city attorney because the attorney called him a moron. Now that he's drawn his proverbial line in the sand, the city is forced to add the bond to May's ballot at a steep cost to taxpayers who will fund the election through an increase of sewer rates. If the bond fails, the city will be facing fines of $37,500 per day until the upgrade is complete and a possible moratorium on new sewer hookups. His obstinate defiance could turn into some really expensive effluence.
When faced with such fumbling and pandemoniac governing, there are only three options available.
1. You could cry. And I wouldn't fault anyone who chooses this option.
2. You could complain. Several in this area are going this route. A quick read through letters to the editor will reveal nothing but a steaming pile of whine in both support of and criticism of the buffoons mentioned above.
3. You could laugh. Humor is good for the soul. Clearly, this is the option I've decided is best. After all, our saga here is one long joke with the most brutal punchline ever imagined.
So it is with that dose of comedy that I return to the School Board races. One of the other candidates is a recent transplant from the mid-west who is also active in the local GOP despite a recent conversion from the Constitutionalist party. He's also a favorite of the PAC that's supported Mr. Negativity, the retaliatory County Commissioners, and the conspiracy minded school board.
I know little about him and what I do know of his views I don't like. I'm sure he's a nice man. He seems intelligent. But until tonight, I didn't know what he looked like. When I first saw his picture, one thought crossed my mind:
"I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite. "