Monday, February 27, 2006

Yes, They Can Care Less About Education

Recently I asked the question, Idaho Legislators could you possibly care any less about education? Well, I didn't really expect to get an answer, but I did. Bright and early this morning I turned on the computer and checked my email...biggest mistake of the day. Right there in my inbox was an email from the Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis regarding S1406, the proposed legislation to place a student non-voting member on the State Board of Education.

First, here is what I had to say to him, as well as the other members of the Senate State Affairs Committee following the disappointing vote Friday morning:

To the Honorable Members of the State Affairs Committee:

Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a Rally for Higher Education at Idaho State University. Our message fell on deaf ears last semester at a similar rally and again, fell on deaf ears Wednesday. It continues to fall on deaf ears today as I have learned that the Senate State Affairs Committee has defeated a bill proposing a student (non-voting member) be allowed to sit on the State Board of Education.

Personally, I would like to ask the senators who voted against this bill where you went to school? I received my entire public education right here in Idaho schools. I attended school in both Bannock and Cassia County, having spent considerable time at Marsh Valley and graduating from Declo High School. If truly the issue the committee has with S1406 is the fact that the State Board represents K-12 as well, I would remind you that each student who would even apply for the position on the State Board attended K-12, most of whom attended Idaho schools, and have continued their education here in Idaho. College students understand the plight of K-12 just as much as they understand the need for higher ed funding. At the rally Wednesday, former Congressman Richard Stallings said something that I didn't want to believe, but am beginning to believe after the committee's decision today, he said that as students we are not a particularly important issue to politicians in Boise.

Please remember that we are not just students, we are the future leaders of this great state.

Tara A. Rowe
Senator, Associated Students of Idaho State University

And of course, the only response I got had to be from the highest ranking Republican in the State Senate and he just had to treat me like an average college kid:


Actually, as a member of the State Affairs committee, I was unable to attend the committee meeting because of a conflict. To be honest, however, if I could have been there, I would have voted against the bill. Let me tell you why.

First, Richard Stallings is partisan (Chair of State Democrat Party), and this is an election year. He will say and do about anything to get his people elected. It is politics, and I understand that. His statements, however, are just flat wrong.

Second, since my father was chairman of the Idaho State Board of Education, student input has increased significantly. Today students enjoy more input than ever. Students can significantly impact the process in many ways, and they do. They need to continue to engage.

Third, as an executive committee, the SBOE is limited in the types of matters that are discussed. As an attorney that represents one of the higher education institutions, I have made presentations involving litigation to the SBOE. In my judgment, any non-voting members should not attend.

Finally, dismissing the K-12 argument doesn't make it any less valuable. If the Governor wants to appoint a student as a SBOE member, he/she can do so now.

Now to answer your question--where did I go to school? Well, I graduated from Idaho Falls High School, having attended all 12 years of school in that school district. By the way, my wife graduated from Skyline High School in Idaho Falls too. As a matter of fact, so did five of our six children and all three of our children-in-law. (We still have an eighth grade daughter at home, who will likely graduate from Skyline like her siblings.) My wife and I have degrees from BYU, and then I have a law
degree from the University of Idaho. My wife has done graduate work at both BYU and ISU. Between my children and their spouses, we have degrees from BYU-I, ISU, BSU, and U of I. (That doesn't count my mother's master and doctorate from ISU.) If you would like I can also outline adjunct faculty positions held at Idaho's universities.

The point I make, somewhat sharply, by this email is that we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Particularly when ginned up by someone that is partisan in their statements. Likewise, SBOE needs input, then a rational analysis of difficult choices. Students can and should participate in that process.

Bart M. Davis
Idaho Senate Majority Leader

There are a couple things about the email from Senator Davis that I find particularly amusing. First, he wasn't even there to vote! Second, Richard Stallings shows up when we have rallies for higher education. He's more than happy to speak. He accepts our invitation. When Senator Davis wants to come down to Idaho State University and sit in a room full of students, then I'd more than welcome any criticism he has of Stallings' comments. Third, no one blasts Stallings in an email to me. There are few, if any, people in the world I admire and respect more than Richard Stallings.

And most importantly by treating me like an average know-nothing college student, Mr. Davis, in your condescending tone, you are only reillustrating to me that you politicians in Boise really don't care about education.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

This Week's Schedule

Just a heads up before it happens, this week is going to be crazy for me, so I may not be posting much again until the weekend. So, before I dive head first into what could be a very long week of, ugh, midterms, I'll give you a run down of the coming week's events.

Monday night at 8pm (Mountain), 7pm (Pacific), Larry Grant, congressional candidate in the 1st District will be having a one-hour live blog session over at Grassroots for Grant.
"No matter where people live in Idaho, they'll be able to visit the blog and take part in a real-time conversation about the issues they most want addressed this election year," said Grant, a Democrat seeking the 1st District seat.

Please take part in this awesome session. I have what may turn out to be the longest ASISU Senate meeting in the history of ISU student government, so I won't have the opportunity to take part in this discussion, but please participate for me! Also, I do believe if you, like I, can't be online for the session, you can send questions in advance to Larry's amazing blog manager Julie.

Also, please visit Grassroots for Grant to have a lesson in Canyon County politics and if you have a moment stop on over to Students for Grant. We're always game for new readers!

Tuesday night at 7pm in the Wood River Room of the ISU Student Union Building, the Bannock County Democrats are holding their 2006 Caucus. If you are interested in becoming a delegate or just want to be an informed citizen, please attend.

That's all I can think of at the moment for this week's political schedule. I'll keep you posted on any events I may have forgotten.

And last, but certainly not least, Tuesday is the release of the new Springsteen live album Hammersmith Odeon, Live '75. Gone are the days of me standing in Wal-Mart at midnight on a Monday night waiting for new releases, but I'll definitely be first in line Tuesday morning!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Idaho Legislators, Could You Possibly Care Any Less About Education?

Update: Today's Idaho State Journal mentioned the defeat of S1406 in the Senate State Affairs Committee yesterday. I just wanted to share a couple of the quotes from the article that I found particularly motivating.

ASISU Lobbyist Ryan Sargent (soon to be ASISU President) said: "We're definately not finished with it. It showed legislators that there are student lobbyists that want to get things done. Even though we didn't win the vote, I think we won a lot more respect." As one of my very favorite Republicans, I admire Ryan's work on this legislation especially because he was able to find bi-partisan sponsorship.

But please don't get me wrong, I am still extremely disappointed that only one member of the committee voted in favor of the bill.

One other quote that I found particularly amusing was the closing quote by Senator Bob Geddes (R- Soda Springs): "There's definately some leadership demonstrated in the [youth of Southeast Idaho]."

No kidding?

And if I could say something to the ISJ, that titled the piece "ISU students receive tough lesson in politics"-- as students, our plight is ALWAYS a tough lesson in politics.

"We shall one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up, namely, in Education." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Trevor Jensen, Associated Students Senator at ISU, says that "the state is becoming very good at paying for the problem, but not funding a solution," every student at Idaho State who has heard Senator Jensen speak before knows clearly what he speaks of. His message is that in the state of Idaho, our legislature is very good at funding prisons and welfare systems, but fails at funding higher education.

Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a Rally for Higher Education at Idaho State University. Last semester the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance held a similar rally here in our SUB pleading for attention from voters and policy makers everywhere. Our message fell on deaf ears then and again fell on deaf ears Wednesday.

In a room with two bloggers, two reporters, and several cameras, the only attention that came out of that room and into the homes of the community was a short clip on the least watched news station in Pocatello and a short write-up in the local newspaper. And the picture in the article was not of our university president, Dr. Gallagher, because he didn't show up the rally and it wasn't of our wonderful student senator, Trevor Jensen, because I guess people have tired of hearing his voice, but the picture was of Dean Covey, a well-known face here on campus. What we don't need is more people looking at our administration. We do need people looking at our student leadership, our disappointment in funding, and our irritation with our state legislature.

I applaud the time Dean Covey, Councilman Stallings, and Senator Jensen spent to speak with students. They each had a very personal message for students: GET INVOLVED. Our generation is the most apathetic, the least likely to show up, and the least listened to of voting blocks in this state. Why? We don't vote. We don't show up. We don't voice our concerns until after there is little anyone can do about it.

A few comments Dean Covey made in regard to students as a whole ring loudly in my memory as I write this. He said that as students, our "voice is disproportionately loud." This is for the most part true. There are those few outspoken individuals here on campus that never give up the battle no matter how seemingly pointless it becomes. Trevor Jensen has been an unbelievable voice for ISU students, as has Ryan McBride, the president of Idaho Students as One, and Ryan Sargent our ASISU lobbyist. But our voices are not enough. We need dedicated students who care about the future of education in this state to stand up and raise their concerns to their state legislators. We need concerned parents who wonder how they'll send their next child through college to speak out and request funding from the state. We don't just need a handful of student activists and leaders to get at the pulpit and preach the injustices of the inadequate funding of education in Idaho, we need a roomful of student activists who have experienced first hand the injustices of higher ed funding and are sick of it.

As cynical as it sounds, Richard Stallings made a very good point about how legislators feel about students, he said that "[students] are not a particularly important issue to the politicians in Boise." He couldn't be more right. Yesterday I emailed every member of the Senate State Affairs Committee stating my strong support for the legislation they would be considering today on placing a non-voting student member on the State Board of Education. I received one response and it wasn't even from a Democrat.

This morning the legislation drafted by our student lobbyist from Idaho State and sponsored by two Republicans and one Democrat failed in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

I have had a pretty poor attitude all week, I'll freely admit that, but even on my best day, with my best attitude, I would have reacted the same to the news that our legislation was defeated. To honest with you, I'm beyond livid. I want to ask those senators who voted against S1406 this morning in the Senate State Affairs Committee where they went to school. I want to ask them if their educational experience in Idaho was a positive one. I want to ask them who they think are the future leaders of this state and why they feel absolutely no obligation to the education of those leaders.

Personally, I know exactly where I would be had I not attended public school in Idaho. Had I not spent twelve years in Idaho schools I would not be attending Idaho State University today. Had I not had the most remarkable and influential teachers that I did, including State Senator and candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bert Marley, I would not have even graduated from high school much less continued my education. Just this afternoon I was talking with someone about my plans for graduate school. Graduate school wouldn't have even crossed my mind had I not been in Bert Marley's classroom as a high school student. Graduate school wouldn't have even been an option had I not had the personal support and guidance of the Declo High School faculty. The only reason I have the privilege to write this informed post on the state of education funding in Idaho this evening and the only reason you have the opportunity to read it is because I was educated in Idaho schools.

Without proper funding students seek more loans, they work several jobs, they run themselves into the ground. As I said to Rep. Elaine Smith and Rep. Elmer Martinez while filming the Bannock County Democrats Show, you can only ask students to do so much before they stop being students.

This afternoon I happened to run into Ryan McBride in the ISU Library, both of us looking for books on public opinion and voting, and he said he's trying to be positive following today's vote, but together we asked, if everyone is asking why the student apathy, why aren't we asking what do we have to vote for?

When there is a candidate that students can trust, a candidate that we know will support our attempt to place a student on the State Board of Education, and a candidate that understands that we are the future of this state, there won't be a single student on this campus staying home on election day. There are 14,000 votes on this campus. Bring us pro-education, pro-funding, pro-future leaders of the state candidates and we will get them elected.

Music & Morning Reminder to Attend People & Politics

Update: I did my weekend ritual of looking at Postsecret today (Sunday) and I about died laughing. There was a postcard where someone won't stomp on cockroaches because they're afraid it might be "poor Gregor Samsa," which seriously left me laughing for a good twenty minutes and then I had to laugh at myself because one postcard said "I think I love you," and I busted out singing the David Cassidy (or is it really the Partridge Family?) song. Non-political, I know, but it was hilarious.

The last few days have been slightly draining on any sort of positive political motivation I may have had. This morning I just wanted to make two music recommendations...

Last year I posted on the 47th Annual Grammy Awards and if I remember correctly I was raving about Melissa Etheridge's performance of the Janis Joplin classic, "Piece of My Heart." Well, just this week I received a live audio recording of that performance and thanks to the technical assistance of Ian over at 43rd State Blues, got it burned to a CD that I have now listened to about fifty billion times. Even a year later, knowing that she survived cancer and has since released a new album, that performance gives me goosebumps. I seriously can't quit listening to it!

So, if any of you have the opportunity to get your own copy of that performance, do it. It's amazing!

And my second recommendation, or actually just a 'I finally got around to listening to it' comment, I have my very own copy now of the All American Rejects single "Dirty Little Secret." For those of you who occasionally read Postsecret, you'll understand why this was something I needed to do. I had heard that the music video for this song incorporated the postcards sent in over at that blog, but had neither seen the video or heard the song. So now I have it and am quite impressed by it. I wasn't a fan of All American Rejects previously, but they're growing on me.

That's about it this morning. If you're in Pocatello please come to People and Politics (previously known as Pizza and Politics or even before that Coffee and Politics, it's had so many names we might as well just give it a symbol!) at Michelle's City Lights on Main at 10 a.m. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Your Life Is Now

**Editor's Note: I attended a Rally for Higher Education yesterday and have much to say on the topic, but between the paper I'm trying to wrap up and the other things floating about in my head right now, I don't think that's going to happen tonight. Please check back for the article--I plan on posting a piece of it here and a piece of it over at Students for Grant.

When I was a kid I wanted a pair of rollerblades really bad. I thought I needed that pair of rollerblades more than I needed air. Nevermind the fact that I can't rollerblade... I finally got my pair of rollerblades and they were of all colors, pink. I hate pink. I hate pink so much that I almost won't even listen to the Aerosmith song. I wanted those rollerblades more than I had ever wanted anything in my life and yet when I had them they lived in a box under my bed until I finally just threw them out.

For four years now I have wanted to say something about the injustice of having one organization represent the two factions of assisted living--elderly and developmentally disabled. Now that I have said what I wanted to say, I wonder if what I wanted met the expectations I had created in my head. I don't regret it for a second, I'm not about to apologize for what I said, and I'll continue to say it. In recent weeks I have received both emails and phone calls regarding my stand on assisted living. There are those who praise, those who hope to defeat a voice that let me just say will not be defeated, and those who simply are calling to make sure I'm not going to throw the issue out like I did that pair of pink rollerblades.

Lately I've begun to realize that going after things the way I do is neither healthy or wise. I am always going, running, shooting for something else, never stopping long enough to enjoy what is right in front of me. I'm always moving on to the next thing. Like President Bartlet on The West Wing, I am always asking "what's next?" This week I've recovered from a long, crazy weekend, have been putting out fires on campus all day, and have tried to pull together an independent study project I've undertaken that seems to be blowing up in my face. I feel like I've been running in circles-- and as Nana in the Alex Cross series would say, "if you're running in circles you must be cutting corners somewhere." I guess I need to start looking for those corners I've cut that have put me in this place.

Tonight as I was driving home to grab some dinner I was listening to "Secret Garden" by Bruce Springsteen and a phrase popped out that really made me stop and think about this process I have: "you've gone a million miles, how far'd you get?" The Boss must have had me in mind when he wrote that one. I once wrote a poem centered around that phrase and yet every time I get in this running mode I forget how deeply important that phrase is to me. How often do we really take a second to think about what we're accomplishing in all our running? So I guess my only point tonight...if I had one at take a break (a break from all that political volunteering you must be doing) and remember that your life is now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Romero Announces Candidacy

Today at noon on the steps of the Pond Student Union Building at Idaho State University, Dan Romero, a Canyon County resident, announced he will seek the office of Lt. Governor. I, of course, was quickly on board when news of yet another great Democrat in Idaho was willing to run, but now I am in total support of Dan as I know his views on education.

I sat next to Dan at our Rally for Education following Dan's announcement and was quite impressed with his humility. I'll have more on the Rally later today.

To read more about Dan, the Idaho Democratic Party has a breif press release regarding Dan's candidacy at their website.

Dan Romero on the Student Union steps at Idaho State University
Posted by
Good luck, Dan!

Check Out This Poll

Hey Everybody, just a quick note: Please check out a poll the Coeur d'Alene Press is running on the gubernatorial race.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Integrity & Knowledge

In The History of Rasselas, the astronomer states that "integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." I often have thought of this phrase by Samuel Johnson when I have waged a particular battle or have voiced a loud concern on a particular issue. If there is one single moment when I make the decision to be for or against something, though I am not convinced with me it is one moment, but rather an accumulation of many moments, I always think back to this quote and question whether I have the integrity as well as personal knowledge on an issue or if I am jumping into a battle with either one or the other alone.

In the last several days I have found myself referring often in my mind to Samuel Johnson.

Saturday I met with a man who did not particularly care for my article on the plight of assisted living in Idaho. Basically what he had to say to me was that I am young and stupid. There are a few things I don't take lightly and easily take personal, being called stupid is one of them. My greatest accomplishments have come following accusations like that.

As my meeting continued with this man, who I had not met until Saturday, not only was I told I was stupid based on my age, it was mentioned that I did not have sufficient experience in the assisted living business. Now, I realize that I am a mere twenty years old, but I also realize that for the last ten years of my life, the assisted living business has been my life. When I was ten, my family built a facility for developmentally disabled adults. And when I say built, I mean we were out pounding nails, laying carpet, and painting walls. We built that place from the ground up, moved in before there was carpet and managed that facility for six years. Every day of my life for six years I lived with that population and grew to consider them to be just like family. My younger brother, who was three when we built the group home, until recently thought everyone had a family like this. At the age of sixteen we moved to Declo. I continued coaching Special Olympics as I had since I was twelve, as a senior in high school I became the President of the Declo Special Olympics Partners Program (DSOPP), and I was a teacher's aide in the Special Education classroom at Declo High School. I was accepted to a prestigious university in Ohio on a full ride scholarship to study Special Education, which I walked away from and enrolled at Idaho State. Here in Pocatello I have worked for the last three years in the assisted living and developmental therapy business. Not enough experience?

Since my article ran in the Idaho State Journal, I have taken a great deal of criticism and yet I have spoken to administrators across the state who would have loved to speak out against the Idaho Assisted Living Association, but can't because it is the only organization they can rely on, despite its many shortcomings. Just this last Thursday I received a phone call from a man in Moscow who hopes to form a new organization specifically representing the developmentally disabled homes in the state of Idaho. He wanted my recommendations, my advice, and offered me a job. I hate talking about myself, I honestly struggle to even write a resume, but it seems to me that all I have said adds up to a lot, none of which is inexperience or stupidity.

I will freely admit that there are things I know nothing about. Today I filmed the Bannock County Democrats show with Allen Andersen and the topic was property taxes. I know nothing about property taxes. I know nothing about numbers. I took Math in Modern Society not once, but twice at ISU. I am horrible at Math. There are periods of World History I know nothing about. I'll be the first to tell you that I am no genius, but I'll also be the first offended by any statement that questions my intelligence. There are too many things I know quite a bit about and the assisted living business is one of them.

Having thought a great deal about my article, before and after I wrote it, I began to realize that usually when I stand up and speak out about something, it contains both integrity and knowledge on my part. No matter what it is, when I speak out, it is with great knowledge and integrity. It has been a busy, crazy day and yet when I picked up a copy of the Idaho State Journal this afternoon, I didn't hesitate to voice my concerns with Special Olympics of Idaho moving the State Summer Games from Pocatello. I placed the call to the Executive Director of ISO without thinking twice. I realized that when I am making that big decision over what battle I will wage and what stand I will take, as long as Samuel Johnson crosses my mind, no one, not even some big whig in Boise, can tell me I am a young, stupid, and inexperienced kid. Integrity with knowledge is a beautiful and powerful attribute that can make a statement not easily dismissed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

And I Thought I Was the Only Blogger...

...that felt that "completely cleaning and rearranging" my apartment was "refreshing." I was looking at some random blogs earlier and wanted to send a shout-out to a lovely little blog called A Little Less Lust, and A Bit More Brains. The post for today was just enough to make me smile and feel a little more normal! Check it out.

And I also thought I was the only blogger that had Kennedy on my brain...evidently not. Please check out this awesome blog called Instant History. You'll see why I recommend it when you get there.

While I am listing new blogs I've been looking at, my friend Matt, a fellow ISU College Democrat and President of IPSA here on campus, has his own blog for a class he is taking. Please check out his rants over at Legislative Process. He's the guy to talk to about Abramoff money...

Frank Church & A President's Day Message

Every President's Day I have a ritual... I recite the Presidents of the United States in chronological order. It's odd, I know, but every year I realize I don't know them as well as I though -- generally this realization comes as I hit that group of presidents prior to Abraham Lincoln. Every President's Day I make an effort to recognize the work of each president, not just the typical recognition of Washington and Lincoln, though it is their birthdays that we celebrate. This morning I read a beautiful piece by Thomas Jefferson, this afternoon I watched some of the History Channel's President's Day Special looking specifically at Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft, and tonight before I go to bed, I will read, like I do every year, Article II of the United States Constitution. Nerdy, I know.

This President's Day in particular I am very fired up and energized in respect to American politics. Thanks to a fiery Latino woman by the name of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, I have the political zeal right now that usually gets people to announce they are running for one office or another. I'm not announcing my candidacy for any office tonight, but I am announcing that it is GREAT to be a Democrat in Idaho! And I REALLY love President's Day!

As I'm sure you have heard, the Frank Church Banquet rocked! The entire weekend was wonderful. It of course began with a phone call informing me that I had in fact won the election at ISU. I attended campaign trainings with former State Representative Allen Andersen which were very informative...though evidently yard signs cause a great deal of controversy. I was offered three different jobs, met with prominent individuals in my field of work, and FINALLY met Julie Fanselow, the mother of blogging in Idaho and writer/creator of Red State Rebels. Despite the fact that I was told by one very arrogant man that I am twenty years old and basically as stupid as a rock and the fact that I locked my keys in my car at a 7-11, it was a pretty sweet weekend.

I have had a rather enjoyable President's Day and had a WONDERFUL President's Day weekend. If you didn't make it to Frank Church, check over at 43rd State Blues for more on the banquet and the speech by Loretta Sanchez. If you didn't celebrate President's Day nearly as much as I did, read Article II before you go to bed. And if you love being a Democrat in Idaho as much as I do, please take a minute to donate to any of the Idaho candidates.

Friday, February 17, 2006

This Is Senator-Elect Rowe, Posting Tonight From the State Capitol

As my first on-the-road post, I am pleased and ecstatic to announce that I have been elected by the ISU student body to continue my service on the ASISU Senate!!! I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I am and how happy I am to be able to serve.

Congratulations to my good friend Ryan Sargent who was elected to be our next student body president and to Laura Mattern my newest friend and fellow senator for her win as well. It's a great night for student activism.

As I type this post I am sitting in Boise enjoying what has been a wonderfully political day. This morning the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to print a bill that will place a non-voting student member on the Idaho State Board of Education. Also this morning as I entered the gallery of the Idaho Senate chamber, Senator Bert Marley introduced me from the gallery as his former student which I cannot even begin to tell you how happy and honored I was. Some day down the road I will have to explain to you all the level of respect and admiration I have for Bert. Until then, just know that one action on his part today left me a little teary eyed and I will forever remember that moment today. (Especially that moment after Senator Marley said my name when Denton Darrington's head popped right up to look at me in irritation.)

Tomorrow is the Frank Church Banquet and I couldn't be more excited. Every day it is just getting better and better to be a Democrat in Idaho!! Now if I could just say every day it was getting easier and easier to be a Democrat in Idaho, or for that matter a student in Idaho. The student part I hope to do something about...knowing now that I will continue to serve as a student senator from the College of Arts & Sciences!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Continuation of Thoughts on the New President

I am a notoriously bad judge of character and I have only met Dr. Arthur Vailas, so keep that in mind. I mentioned earlier today that the State Board of Education announced in the Stephens Performing Arts Center that Dr. Arthur Vailas will be the new president of Idaho State University, but what I didn't elaborate on is the major communication issue Dr. Vailas will face as he takes this position.

Today was a tense day on the ISU campus before the announcement was made. Students had many deep-rooted concerns about who would serve as our next president. Having met Dr. Richard Bowen, our previous president, I can honestly say his are big shoes to fill. We know more and more now that he was not necessarily the greatest administrator, but I know that when I was a freshman he was more than willing to spend an hour or two one afternoon in November to discuss his memories of the Kennedy assassinations. Students want a president that is as personable, they need a president they can talk to. There was much talk on campus this morning about who it could be. We had all joked that if the Board sent down Dirk we were moving to Wyoming (where I understand they have some cowboys that certainly couldn't get married in Idaho today thanks to our disgraceful legislature) and we all wouldn't have complained too awful much if they had asked Mike Gallagher to stay. We were however quite anxious to hear the announcement.

First of all, maybe some of you are not aware of this, but Dr. Vailas was not our first choice. I say "we" as in the Associated Students of Idaho State University. ASISU endorsed Larry Lamanski, I personally found Dr. Lois Muir the best of the remaining four candidates and even personally contacted her after she visited ISU last month, and we all knew that the decision would be solely made by the State Board of Education.

I could express to you how ridiculous I find it that a group of Kempthorne appointments has the sole responsibility of making these decisions, but we'd be here awhile. Though they did listen to those who wished to voice their opinion on what ISU needs, they didn't let that sink into their decision. It SHOULD matter what the students of Idaho State University want. It SHOULD matter who they, the Associated Students of Idaho State University, endorse. It SHOULD matter that the president of this wonderful institution be a man we can trust, rely on, and communicate with.

Earlier I was reading the candidate biographies on the ISU homepage as we are in the thick of online elections and I noticed that many candidates spoke about transparency. What is transparency? Transparency is a whole level of honesty in the budget process and in our every day dealings on campus between the administration, the faculty, and the students that SHOULD be currently apparent. It is not. Idaho State students SHOULD be able to define transparency. Idaho State students deserve transparency.

If Dr. Vailas dodges questions the way he did when he visited us in the Bengal Cafe last month, how can we the student of Idaho State University ever expect transparency?

And The New President of ISU is...

This morning at 11am in the Stephens Performing Arts Center, it was announced by the Idaho State Board of Education that Dr Arthur Vailas will be the new president of Idaho State University. The Associated Students of Idaho State University had endorsed a different candidate, so I imagine the students will be looking carefully at the early actions of Dr. Vailas.

I was in attendance today when this announcement was made. Sitting next to Mr. Matt Hobson, the current ASISU President, when the announcement was made, it was for a moment disappointing as I personally had really been impressed by Dr. Lois Muir. I know that Dr. Vailas will be a remarkable president and we except great things from him.

As I side note, we the faculty, staff, and students of Idaho State had the opportunity to also applaud the work of Interim President Mike Gallagher. As a student at Idaho State University and someone well aware of the communication issues here on this campus, let me say what a refreshing voice Dr. Gallagher has brought here. We appreciate wholeheartedly his efforts and his listening ear.

Congratulations, Dr. Vailas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Surprisingly enough it was only Sunday when I posted tell you the truth it seems like Sunday was at least a week ago! But, just so everyone knows, according to the by-laws of ASISU and the rules decided on by the ASISU Election Board, all campaign materials have to be down by 11:59 tonight and candidates can no longer actively campaign. YIPPEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

Beginning tomorrow, ISU students will cast their votes online for the president, vice president, and senators as well as one amendment to the by-laws regarding the hiring of ASISU Supreme Court justices. Let me just say I'm thrilled to be done campaigning though it will be a long couple days until the winners are announced.

I can't do the math, so I can't tell you what my chances are of winning, but I think if sucker distribution, signage, and overall political energy count, I should be in the clear. Winners will be announced Friday after 6pm when the polls close. I'm headed to the Frank Church event in Boise for the weekend, but plan on taking the laptop so I'll post some results when I get them.

Anyway, this really was a Valentine's message...I seem to be having trouble remembering that it is Valentine's Day. Couldn't possibly be the fact that I was wandering around campus gathering signs until just before 10:00 while my flowers sat patiently waiting for me at home!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Rooney's Geography Lesson & This Week's Schedule

For those of you who didn't catch it, Andy Rooney's segment on 60 Minutes this evening was awesome!

Those of you who know me well know that I am notorious for being horrible at geography. So tonight Rooney's segment was especially helpful (or, well funny) to me. Andy was explaining that there is a misconception about the Middle East-- mostly because the Middle East is not really the Middle of anything. "The East" is actually so vast there is no telling where the middle actually is. There also is evidently some sort of confusion between Iran and Iraq. He not only pointed out the size difference (Iraq is approximately 2/3 the size of Texas and the difference between Iraq and Texas? "Another difference between Iraq and Texas is, President Bush doesn't go to Iraq on vacation.") and the historical differences, he pointed out the single letter difference. Rooney said, " It's as if we had two states - one called Utah and the other called Utaq." Okay, so I really laughed so hard I nearly had tears coming out. It was totally my kind of geography lesson!

So this week is especially crazy for me. As you all know I am running for the ASISU Senate from the College of Arts & Sciences and elections are this week. I have 2 official campaign days left and then have to take down all of materials Valentine's Day before midnight. Online elections begin Wednesday morning and will end at 6pm on Friday. Not only do I have this going on and a stack of homework, I am headed to Boise bright and early Friday morning for some time at the Capitol and a weekend at the Frank Church Banquet.

There may not be much time for blogging this week, but I'm sure there will be much to say after the weekend of politics in Boise.

Read the Rooney segment transcript, it's hilarious!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Smorgasbord Saturday

Most of what I have to say pertains to housekeeping, but some of what I have to say is pointless nonsense, so why not make this a smorgasbord Saturday?

I purchased two new books today. Let me start at the beginning--I went to the public library three times this week. Usually Saturday is my library day, not really sure why, just happens to be how my brain is programmed. BUT...this week I visited the library three times before Saturday. Surely it was trying to compensate for the other areas of my life this week that were overlooked and those especially that I was trying to ignore, yet it left me with no book-related adventure for Saturday. So, I drove on out to the mall. Now, it must be clearly understood that I HATE the Pine Ridge Mall. As far as malls go I'm sure it's fine, but I simply hate malls. I actually hate shopping in general. And even more than I hate the mall, I hate Walden. Every time I am in there, they don't have the specific thing I went for. I once had to explain to them that they are an American bookstore without a single book by Robert Frost. They didn't seem to understand the injustices of that, but the next time I was in there were two works by Frost on the shelf.

Long story short (or sort of), I now own two new books, The Handy Geography Answer Book and The Handy Politics Answer Book. I already own The Handy History Answer Book and love it. I hope to find The Handy Presidents Answer Book sometime to round out the collection.

My good friend James gave me a new and wonderful CD today. I had for months been listening to "Best of You" on Artist Direct and now own the Foo Fighters latest album, In Your Honor. I never cared much for Nirvana. I was too busy listening to Pearl Jam to like Nirvana I guess, but I love the Foo Fighters. I don't ever really need more CDs, I believe I own upwards of 400, yet everytime I get a new one I am quite happy. Another good friend of mine gave me two random mixed CDs yesterday that I also love.

Best of You
By the Foo Fighters

I’ve got another confession to make
I’m your fool
Everyone’s got their chains to break
Holdin’ you

Were you born to resist or be abused?
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

Are you gone and onto someone new?
I needed somewhere to hang my head
Without your noose
You gave me something that I didn’t have
But had no use
I was too weak to give in
Too strong to lose
My heart is under arrest again
But I break loose
My head is giving me life or death
But I can’t choose
I swear I’ll never give in
I refuse

Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?
Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

Has someone taken your faith?
Its real, the pain you feel
Your trust, you must

Is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you?

These fine lyrics bring me to my next part of this lovely smorgasbord...since Songs on Repeat is no longer in existence, I've decided to bring back that little thing I used to call "In the CD Player." I have yet to decide whether it will be specific songs listed or just albums, but nonetheless this blog needs a little more beat and a lot more rhythm. And if anybody has a problem with that or reads way too much into what I'm listening to, you're just gonna have to get over it, because I'm doing it anyway. This actually came to my attention the other day when I was reading over on 43rd State Blues and the title of a post was "Isn't it ironic... don'tcha think?" which very quickly led to me singing every last word of "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette (which to tell you the truth I didn't know I knew the lyrics to and I really am not that great of a singer...) and then logically led to Jagged Little Pill in my CD player with "Head Over Feet" on repeat.

I guess you could say that was a matter of housekeeping, as is this: The West Wing will return to its regular time on NBC Sunday March 13th. Just wanted you all to know that I wasn't purposefully not posting on the episodes, there haven't been any recently. I'm sure this in some way has to do with the Olympics.

Last and certainly not least, I will try within the next week to update the list of books I am reading on the sidebar. For some reason I've had a little trouble updating that and I guess have had a little trouble staying caught up with everything I am reading at once!

Okay believe it or not folks, that's all I've got. Enjoy the remainder of the weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2006

The Small and Simple Things

Above my computer hangs a bulletin board that has traveled with me through my entire college career. Occasionally, like everything else in the house, it gets rearranged. Tonight as I plow through an enormous stack of research, homework, and reading, I am noticing that my bulletin board has remained fairly consistent in the last several months.

It's about the only thing in my life that has remained consistent lately.

My bulletin board is graced with several pictures of men that I admire, instill in me motivation, and men who have over time become a large part of who I am. The most recent addition is a flyer from the Jim Hansen campaign. I really admire Jim and know that Idaho would be well served with him in Congress. With Jim are photos of Robert Frost, William Faulkner, and Carl Sandburg. The picture of Sandburg I find particularly inspiring as he analyzes a bust of Abraham Lincoln. And most importantly on my bulletin board are several photos of this amazing young man who calls me "Sis."

When I sit at my computer desk it is hard not to be inspired to do extraordinary work.

Adding to the presence of brilliant men are several other small tokens representative of where this board has been. There's a map of Spain, not because I have been there, but because I like to keep track of where one of my dear friends has been. There is a bookmark with a stunning photo of Crater Lake. The John Kerry sticker I wore to the Caucus February of 2004 resides next to the "I Voted" sticker I received when I voted in my first presidential election. I have a poem by Elizabeth Kidd that was published in Chicken Soup for the Girl's Soul, a sticker insinuating that I may be anything but normal, a small picture of the Thomas Hughes Library, a picture I took of Dealey Plaza, a Spiderman pin I believe was given to me by my friend Angela, and a rather serious quote from Robert F. Kennedy that was included on this year's invitations to the United Vision for Idaho dinner.

One small phrase on the board says volumes: "There is nothing permanent except change." --Heraclitus.

Next to my bulletin board is a whiteboard sporting a list of the 27 amendments to the United States Constitution, a couple of URLs, and a quote by Morgan Freeman. Also listed are the office hours of one of my professors and the time of Richard Stallings' Idaho Politics class in case I didn't get enough the two semesters I took the course and want to go back.

Always and forever gracing the bulletin board is a Kennedy/Johnson bumper sticker that means the world to me as well as a Kennedy pin from RFK's fateful bid for the presidency.

Right now in my life it is merely the small and simple things that are giving me strength and motivation. It is tons of work running a campaign, even if only for student government. And it is exhausting having days where I have nothing political to say. I apologize for my absence from political rants and historical perspectives. When all this is over, I promise I'll write something that is not only worth the time to read it, but also worth the time it lingers on your mind.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

No Post Today

I'm having an argument with myself comparing the Springsteen lyrics "you've gone a million miles, how far'd you get?" and the ancient Chinese proverb "a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." There will be no post today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

No Post Today

I've got "If You Could Only See" by Tonic running through my head at mach speed and an ever present stack of homework. I apologize for the lack of political posting of'd think in the midst of a campaign I'd have something political to say. My apologies.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Yet Another "Not In the Game" Day

The only truly political thing I have had to say today I posted over at Students for Grant...

I could tell you that Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow are splitsville--but that would only be funny to my closest friends who will for the rest of my life somehow link me to a very random comment I once made about Sheryl Crow.

I guess I could say my back still hurts and I HATE cranberry juice. Or I could mention that Betty Friedan passed away, but honestly, The Feminine Mystique baffles me.

And I really did have responses to post on my article about assisted living, but I can't right now. My head isn't in that game. So let's just say maybe tomorrow that will happen, or maybe not. I'm not making any promises to myself right now, why would I make any to the world wide web??

Check out Students for Grant and I'll get you a real post whenever I get around to it.

Sunday, February 5, 2006


Editor's Note: My article on assisted living was published today in The Idaho State Journal and I have some responses I would like to post, but right now my back is killing me, I've studied way too much, and I just want to post random stuff that in no way relates to anything political.

For those of you who aren't as crazy about awards shows, both the Oscars and the Grammys are coming up. To read the complete list of Grammy nominees you can visit their website and for a complete list of Oscar nominees you can visit their site as well. I believe the Grammy's will be on the 8th of February (Wednesday) and the Oscars will be on the 5th of March.

My personal picks for the Grammy's include: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (U2) for album of the year. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love that CD. I listen to it rather frequently and every time find something about it that I missed the time before. Unlike The Rolling Stones, U2 just keeps getting better with time...that and they aren't as wrinkled. In the category of song of the year, I find myself torn. "Bless the Broken Road" from Rascal Flatts is the greatest song to me. It is not only lyrically powerful, the melody is something that the music industry hasn't seen in a very long time. There have been times in my life that I've known that every broken road has led me to right where I am and this song deserves song of the year for that reason alone. BUT...yes, there is a but...the Boss is also in this category. "Devils & Dust"-- how do you compete with that? And U2 made it into this category as well. It's a good thing they don't ask me to vote...

I'm going with Sugarland for best new artist, Sheryl Crow for best female pop vocal performance, Rob Thomas best male pop performance, The Killers for best duo or group pop performance, Foo Fighters with "Best of You" for best duo or group rock performance, Paul McCartney anywhere he's mentioned, "The Hand that Feeds" NIN, "Beverly Hills" by Weezer for best rock song, Neil Young's great new album for best rock album, Keith Urban for best male country, and last but not least Faith Hill for best female country vocal performance. Her newest single is breathtaking. Which I guess means I'd be voting for it to in the country collaboration category too. And if in any category I don't have a conflicting vote, I think that LeeAnn Womack's newer single "I May Hate Myself in the Morning" is great.

I really liked the Grammy's better when they didn't break everything down into so many categories...I'd like to see u2, Eminem, and Kanye West battle it out.

Now, on to the Oscars...

I won't go into this too much, as I'm sure I'll make my predictions a little closer to the awards, but I have to say Walk the Line deserves every award it is nominated for. The performances of Joaquin Phoeniz and Reese Witherspoon are unreal. The movie was way too long, the story a little hopeless, but the way those two sing is absolutely awesome! I went into that movie expecting Ray and was very disappointed, but I don't think any other person nominated worked as hard as those two.

The only exception to my pervious comment is Philip Seymour Hoffman. Truman Capote is a very complex and disturbing character. I've read In Cold Blood at least three times in my life and every time I have to step outside my head to take it all in.

I hate King Kong, I think anything to do with Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice is a waste of time, and I can't speak highly of Syriana, but Batman Begins rocks, Goodnight, and Good Luck is not only moving, but factual, and I really wish the theaters in Pocatello would wisen up and bring Munich here. It's like waiting for Million Dollar Baby all over again (only I hope not nearly as disappointing) and watching Ray in a theater with seven other people weeks after the show opened everywhere else.

Alright ladies and gentlemen, that's the end of my rant on Hollywood for tonight. Hopefully tomorrow I'm feeling a little more on top of the game and I'll post something worth your while.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Vietnam and the Presidency

Anybody want to buy me a ticket to Boston? I read today in a news release that the National Archives and the presidential archives are hosting a two day event analyzing Vietnam as it pertains to the American presidency at the JFK Library & Museum.

I can't even tell you how cool this is!!

The list of speakers is pretty impressive and includes Theodore Sorenson, one of my all time favorite writers and Kennedy's speech writer, to name only one of the many.

That's all she writes for tonight--

Thursday, February 2, 2006

"To Change a Small Portion of Events"

Quoted over on the Thoughts from Idaho blog is my all-time favorite speech by Robert F. Kennedy. This speech has been on my mind since Friday, apparent in my post for Sunday, January 29th, and now the motivation behind a post that I am sure will ruffle a few feathers.

Placed on a photo I took at the grave of Robert F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, reads the quote: "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped." What I did not place on that photo are the words that come before that moving statement, words that have at times forced me to speak when I otherwise would have remained silent-- "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."

I belong to a generation bogged down in apathy. My generation is still looking for the next excuse to ignore responsibility. On the whole, I am not your typical twenty year old, and I know it. I know that the responsibilities that are shrugged off by my counterparts are the responsibilities I hold highest in importance. At times I feel I may be one of the few who truly understands what Bobby Kennedy meant when he spoke of us each working to change a "smaller portion of events." And I will be the first to admit that I wish I did not take those words so seriously. At times those words lead me into the fire.

Last week I wrote an article that brought an equal number of people critical of my beliefs and people praising my audacity. In all honesty, I am not here to ask for anyone's forgiveness. I am here to say that I stand by that article and will continue to feel the way I do, as well as speak out about the issue, until a change occurs. If you disagree with that, then you have come to the wrong place.

I am not here to impress anyone. I am here because every day should be a learning experience- an open forum on human behavior, passion, and progress. And if you are here reading this blog, you must also seek to learn more, expand your horizons, and take the challenge of working to change the "smaller portion of events" in human history that Kennedy spoke of. I know that there are those who despise me for whatever reason. I know there are those who will always believe ridiculous things about me. And I know that there are those who wish to silence me. I am here to say that I do not for a second care. No one will stop me from believing in the causes I do and no one will stop me from speaking out. The United States Constitution protects me in this medium and in any other form in which I choose to express my ideas.

When Robert F. Kennedy said that "few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society," he knew there would be those few that would risk it all for the cause. He knew, just as I know and have always known, that there are times when a person must stand up with the sound of their voice carrying the weight of their cause. There are times when as humans we are obligated to let the power of our words be the force for the spreading and initiation of our ideas.

In the last several days I have received several phone calls and emails defining my mistakes-- many of them from people who have never even met me-- all I would like to say to them and everyone else listening is this: I can clearly define the biggest mistake I have made in my twenty years and it sure as hell was not writing that article.

"All of us will ultimately be judged and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves, on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that effort."The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society."
All quotations by Robert F. Kennedy are from his "Day of Affirmation" speech at the University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966. The quotation: "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped," is a portion of the inscription on the Robert F. Kennedy gravesite at Arlington.