Otter and Sali – Fools Rush In


We knew it wouldn’t take long. The real question was, “Who will embarrass the state of Idaho first?” Wasting no time, Butch Otter came out of the gate with his vow to slaughter the wolf back onto the endangered species list.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter told The Associated Press that he wants hunters to kill about 550 gray wolves. That would leave about 100 wolves, or 10 packs, according to a population estimate by state wildlife officials.The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.

“I’m prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself,” Otter said earlier Thursday during a rally of about 300 hunters.

Suzanne Stone, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, said Otter’s proposal would return wolves to the verge of eradication.

“Essentially he has confirmed our worst fears for the state of Idaho: That this would be a political rather than a biological management of the wolf population,” Stone said. “There’s no economic or ecological reason for maintaining such low numbers. It’s simple persecution.”

Meanwhile, our neighbor states of Washington and Oregon have sane political leadership in stark contrast to Otter. The Associated Press reports:

Idaho’s new governor may want to shoot wolves, but a diverse Washington state group will meet to determine what type of welcome mat will be laid out for any wolves that take up housekeeping here.

Although there’s no evidence a wolf pack is living in the state, experts say it’s just a matter of time.To prepare for the return, the state has formed a panel of 18 hunters, ranchers, environmentalists and biologists to help write a wolf management plan.

The group includes cattle ranchers, a sheep producer, environmentalists, local government officials and hunters. State fish and wildlife experts will work with the team as technical advisers.

John Blankenship, executive director of Wolf Haven International, said his goal was to make sure any management plan was fair to both wolves and ranchers.”I think we can do that,” Blankenship said. “I don’t think either should have the advantage.”

Art Swannack of Lamont, president of the Washington Sheep Producers, conceded wolves are not good for his business, but believes the planning team’s work could help avoid problems.”It’s going to take a lot of management planning, plain and simple,” Swannack said.

What would newly elected Congressman Bill Sali do? Unwilling to let Butch usurp his crown as Idaho’s stupidest politician, Sali makes symbolic bid to abolish gravity, according to this morning’s Idaho Statesman.

Angered by the passage of a bill to increase the federal minimum wage, Idaho Rep. Bill Sali offered a symbolic proposal to abolish the law of gravity.

Getting rid of the force that attracts objects to one another would lower obesity rates, the freshman Republican argued, trying to make a point that laws to dictate wages and reduce gravity would both defy “natural laws.”

“The well-intentioned desire to help the poor apparently will not be restrained by the rules and principles of the free market that otherwise do restrain American businesses and workers,” Sali told the House of Representatives on Wednesday. “Apparently, Congress can change the rules that would otherwise affect the affairs of mankind.”

Of course Saii was trying to be ironic as a way to gain attention to his position. What isn’t funny is what this “joke” really tells us about Sali’s thought processes. Sali is a fundamentalist ideologue through and through. He has his dogmatic beliefs, be they religious, economic or political, and facts never get in the way of policy decisions. In his address to the House, he gave as his rationale for opposing the minimum wage the following:

“Mr. Speaker, a number of my colleagues have pointed out the problems with raising the minimum wage; that it is an unfunded mandate on small business, will likely result in the loss of over 1 million jobs for low wage earners, that it will eliminate entry level jobs and actually hurt the poor more than it helps them.

This is standard fear-mongering Republican rhetoric that fits nicely with Sali’s dogmatic anti-government stance. What makes Sali’s remarks before the House really laughable is the minimum wage experiment currently taking place on the Idaho/Washington border as described in a recent article in the New York Times.

Just eight miles separate this town [Liberty Lake] on the Washington side of the state border from Post Falls on the Idaho side. But the towns are nearly $3 an hour apart in the required minimum wage. Washington pays the highest in the nation, just under $8 an hour, and Idaho has among the lowest, matching 21 states that have not raised the hourly wage beyond the federal minimum of $5.15.

Liberty Lake and Post Falls are divided by more than the state line. Nearly a decade ago, when voters in Washington approved a measure that would give the state’s lowest-paid workers a raise nearly every year, many business leaders predicted that small towns on this side of the state line would suffer. But instead of shriveling up, small-business owners in Washington say they have prospered far beyond their expectations.

In fact, as a significant increase in the national minimum wage heads toward law, businesses here at the dividing line between two economies — a real-life laboratory for the debate — have found that raising prices to compensate for higher wages does not necessarily lead to losses in jobs and profits.

Idaho teenagers cross the state line to work in fast-food restaurants in Washington, where the minimum wage is 54 percent higher. That has forced businesses in Idaho to raise their wages to compete. Business owners say they have had to increase prices somewhat to keep up. But both states are among the nation’s leaders in the growth of jobs and personal income, suggesting that an increase in the minimum wage has not hurt the overall economy.

The new year has just begun. Who can predict the damage these two fools can do? John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Mahr and David Letterman will have so much material they may each start a regular feature along the lines of “Stupid Idaho Politician Tricks.”

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