Monday, March 29, 2010
The truth doesn't fit as nicely on an airbrushed postcard but to understand Walt Minnick's grainy past you have to start at the beginning.
Post-World War II Walla Walla was a conservative, rural community dominated by a Republican Party in which the Minnicks had become influential. There was also a healthy dose of libertarian-leaning, conspiracy theorist inclination. The summer of 1948, as a second “red scare” was sweeping the country, a Walla Walla native, University of Washington professor Melvin Rader, was dragged before the Washington State Un-American Activities (Canwell) Committee. In False Witness, his book on the incident and its aftermath, Rader described a similar fervor his attorney father, Cary Rader, encountered during the first red scare some three decades earlier with a group of substantial members of the community known as the Walla Walla “Committee of Public Safety.”  Decades of this “un-American” fervor cloaked as national security culminated in 1947 with the Canwell Committee, chaired by Rep. Albert Canwell of Spokane, which would become a harbinger of the McCarthy hearings to follow. Although not reauthorized in 1949, the Committee's proponents and sentiments remained, especially in the Inland Northwest.
Must have been a heady time for a young boy in Walla Walla just celebrating his twelfth birthday.
Harvard, Draft Deferments, Army Service
At Harvard, Skeeter picked up where he left off at Whitman. He joined various clubs, including Young Republicans, and excelled academically, graduating first among 650. The summer of his first year, as troop levels in Vietnam were escalating (levels increased from 23,000 to 184,000 in '65), he married fellow Whitman ('66) alum, JoAnne Oliver. 
Apparently his local draft board wanted to send him anyway and he appealed that decision all the way to the presidential appeals board. Two decades later Walt described events in The Native Home of Hope: People & the Northern Rockies:
“I went to law school during the Vietnam era when draft deferments were hard to get. I was admitted to Harvard Law school but my local draft board didn't want to let me go. My draft appeal finally worked its way up to the presidential appeals board. If I won, I would be able to finish my first year of law school and then get drafted. If the state of Washington won, I would have to go right away. I didn't mind going in the army, but I really wanted to finish law school first. So I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps unit—that was a couple of years before ROTC got thrown off the Harvard campus.” 
Skeeter remained at Harvard and in the spring of 1969 earned his JD and at some point joined ROTC (the Army Register lists his pay entry base date as 17 May 1969) which gave him a commission in the Army Reserve and committed him to two years active duty service. 
The creation of the Cabinet Committee on International Narcotics Control was one of many components of the Nixon administration’s hard line drug policy. The Cabinet Committee was created by Nixon to better assess and deal with the growing illicit drug market in the United States. It is unclear what, if anything, prepared Minnick for his assignment as staff coordinator of the Cabinet Committee since his time at the Pentagon had been spent studying the economic aspects of Vietnamization. Regardless of how Walt Minnick fit into the drug policy puzzle for the Nixon administration, it had been determined as early as 1969 that the Nixon administration would not be positioned in any way that would appear they were soft on drugs. Increased drug use and drug trafficking during the Nixon administration coincided with a large number of returning soldiers who had been introduced to illegal drugs while stationed in Southeast Asia. Under the guise of helping returning Vietnam veterans and preventing an increase in the crime rate that might have been perpetuated by the amount of illegal drugs on the market, Nixon maintained that his administration would make drug policy one of its priorities. 
Despite growing revelations of the Plumber's illegal activity, in the Fall of 1972 Nixon was reelected in a landslide. Through congressional hearings and the special prosecutor investigation the following year, the magnitude of illegal activity and the subsequent coverup emerged. Minnick witnessed the effects on the Administration and on his friends and colleagues, describing the atmosphere years later as a “siege mentality” in a 2005 Times-News interview. Decades afterward he recalled in a Business Week interview that Ehrlichman assistant Hank Paulson, his friend and former Pentagon colleague, “was very troubled” and quit when he thought the President was lying. 
 Washington (State). Superintendent of Public Instruction. Seventeenth Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Governor of the State. Olympia, Washington: The Quick Print, 1904.
 Lyman, William Denison. “Walter Clarence Minnick.” Lyman's History of Old Walla Walla County: Embracing Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin Counties. Volume 1. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1918.
 “Dorothy Waldron Minnick.” Obit. Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. October 31, 2001.
 Taylor, Charles William. “W. L. Minnick.” Eminent Judges and Lawyers of the Northwest, 1843-1955. Palo Alto, California: C.W. Taylor, Jr., 1954.
 “New Law Firm Is Announced.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. December 11, 1946.
 “Minnick Cites Flaws in Act.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. March 6, 1947.
 “Community.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. January 23, 1951.
 “Club Advised About Estates.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. December 6, 1950.
 “Big Wheat Growers Converge to Oppose Herbicide Regulation Being Planned Here.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. June 19, 1953.
 “Solon may sue over listing of contributors.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. March 14, 1977.
 Rader, Melvin Miller. False Witness. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998.
 “County GOP Confab Split on Ike, Taft.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. April 27, 1952.
 “Ike-Taft Chiefs Eye Peace After Stormy GOP Confab.” Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 26, 1952.
 “MacArthur Is Asked to Issue Call for GOP Ticket Support.” Spokesman-Review. October 28, 1952.
 Christian Nationalist Crusade Collection, 1945-1968. Western Historical Manuscript Collection. University of Missouri-St. Louis. Finding aid accessible online: http://www.umsl.edu/~whmc/guides/whm0467.htm
 Powers, Dorothy R. “Chief Executive Is Greeted by Crowds at Missoula and Walla Walla.” Spokesman-Review. September 23, 1954.
 “Eisenhower Is Welcomed To Inland Empire.” Spokesman-Review. September 23, 1954.
 “The Lamb Weston Story.” Lamb Weston. ConAgra Foods. Accessible Online: http://www.lambweston.com/about_us/history/history.jsp
 Walt C. Minnick Resume, 1972. Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Record Group 460. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Obtained via FOIA request)
 “State Delegates United.” Ellensburg Daily Record. July 17, 1964.
 Department of the Army. Heiser, Joseph M. Jr., Lieutenant General. Vietnam Studies: Logistic Support. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1991.
 United States. Selective Service System. Annual Report of the Director of Selective Service for the Fiscal Year 1965. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966.
 Bethell, Thomas N., Deborah E. Tuck and Michael S. Clark, eds. “Walter Minnick.” The Native Home of Hope: People & the Northern Rockies. Salt Lake City: Howe Brothers, 1986.
 United States Army. Army Register, Vol. II. “Walter C. Minnick.” U.S. Government Printing Office, January 1, 1972.
 John D. Ehrlichman, White House, to General Hughes, Pentagon, September 20, 1971. Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Record Group 460. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Obtained via FOIA request)
 Walt Minnick, Testimony on behalf of John D. Ehrlichman. U.S. v Mitchell, et al. December 9, 1974. Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Record Group 460. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Obtained via FOIA request)
 Krogh, Egil. Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House. New York: Public Affairs, 2007.
 “Felt’s hometown hails him as hero, role model.” Twin Falls Times-News. June 2, 2005.
 Brinckman, Jonathan. “Can this man break the right’s grip on Idaho?” High Country News. September 30, 1996. Accessible online: http://www.hcn.org/issues/90/2765
 Walt Minnick, interview by Phil Bakes, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., October 16, 1973. Records of the Special Prosecution Force. Record Group 460. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Obtained via FOIA request)
 Five sources directly implicate Minnick as having been a Plumber. The five sources are as follows:
-Epstein, Edward Jay. Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America. New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1976. Most of Agency of Fear is available online: http://www.edwardjayepstein.com/agency/prologue.htm
-Farmer, Brian. American Conservatism: History, Theory, and Practice. New Castle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005. (Farmer’s own reference for his listing of Minnick as a “temporary plumber” is John Dean’s Blind Ambition.)
-Hunt, E. Howard. American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2007. (In addition to this source, E. Howard Hunt mentioned Minnick in his testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978.)
-Krüger, Henrik. The Great Heroin Coup: Drugs, Intelligence, & International Fascism. Boston: South End Press, 1980.
-Lukas, J. Anthony. Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years. New York: Viking Press, 1976.
 Bruce Kehrli, interview by Assistant Special Prosecutor, July 24, 1973. Cross-reference file. Records of the Special Prosecution Force. Record Group 460. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Obtained via FOIA request)
 Musto, David F. and Pamela Korsmeyer. The Quest for Drug Control: Politics and Federal Policy in a Period of Increasing Substance Abuse, 1963-1981. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
 McAvoy, Clyde R. "The Diplomatic War on Heroin." Journal of Drug Issues 7, no. 2 (Spring 1977): 163-181.
 U.S. Senate. Poppy Politics, Vol. I. Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee on the Judiciary. March 4 and 5, 1975. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975. and U.S. House of Representatives. Evaluating the Federal Effort to Control Drug Abuse (Part I). Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations. May 1, 2, 7, 10, and 14, 1973. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973.
 Charles A. Briggs, Director of Planning, Programming and Budgeting, to Deputy Director for Management and Service, Central Intelligence Agency. May 23, 1973. Family Jewels. 1973. Accessible online via Georgetown University: http://blogs.georgetown.edu/?id=25429
 U.S. Senate. Hearings before the Subcommittee on Reorganization, Research, and International Organizations, Committee on Government Operations, Washington, D.C. Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973 to Establish a Drug Enforcement Administration. April 12, 1973. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973.
 Dean, John W. Blind Ambition: The White House Years. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976.
 “Nixon approved U.S. opium to fill void, probers told.” Berkshire Eagle. March 5, 1975., “Drug wars invented by Nixon to extend his power.” Irish Times. August 13, 1999., and “U.S. develops medical poppy.” Long Beach Independent. March 5, 1975.
 “Wall Street’s Lone Ranger.” Business Week. March 4, 2002. Accessible online: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_09/b3772001.htm
 “Minnick Mentioned in Watergate Coverage.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. June 26, 1973.
 Walt Minnick to Carl B. Feldbaum, Assistant Special Prosecutor, December 17, 1974. Records of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Record Group 460. National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Obtained via FOIA request)
 “Former resident involved in narcotics-medical debate.” Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. November 30, 1973.
 Sheffner, Benjamin. “A Reluctant Democrat: Nixon White House Veteran Runs vs. Craig.” Roll Call. March 14, 1996.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
In These Times (the news journal created by James Weinstein, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and other brilliant writers/thinkers) has an interesting article outlining what kind of lobbying former House Majority Leader Dick Armey was doing prior to becoming the leader of FreedomWorks and the de-facto leader of the tea party movement. The former congressman has made a great deal of money lobbying on behalf of individuals and groups that are a bit suspect. It isn't unusual for former members of Congress to become lobbyists post-Congress, but it is a quite unusual to represent the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.
Today in the Washington Post is an interesting photo gallery from an exhibition at the Renwick Gallery, part of the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, "The Art of Gaman," is a collection representing the WWII-era Japanese internment camps in the United States. The article says that the exhibit is intended to "give texture to the improvised social life and bleak architecture of places such as Manzanar, Minidoka and Rohwer." Go take a look.
This past week, JFK Lancer sent out an email announcing that Ed Hoffman, a witness to the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, passed away. Hoffman had a fairly unobstructed view from the east of the Texas School Book Depository, the railroad yard, and the picket fence. Hoffman was first written about by Jim Marrs.
Here's a bit of information that might be useful to those of you in the Treasure Valley who have yet to complete your taxes and might be interested in donating some of your refund to Special Olympics of Idaho:
Two locations of Liberty Tax Services are making it "Special Olympics Idaho Day"!!! On Friday, April 2, 2010 and Saturday, April 3, 2010, if you have your taxes done at the two locations listed below you can receive FREE tax preparation for a $50 contribution to Special Olympics Idaho made on your Idaho Income Tax return. The Fairview location is also hosting a Roadside Party on April 3 where you can rock out from 11 am to 2 pm, enjoy a free hot dog and let someone else file your taxes while helping out Special Olympics Idaho. We would like to thank Owner Cindy Tankersley and her team for this generous contribution of services!
Participating Locations are:
Meridian, ID 83642
(on Franklin between Main and Meridian)
10804 W. Fairview
Boise, ID 83713 (just west of Five Mile)
On any given day there is so much that could be said about Glenn Beck and his insane antics, but today I wanted to point out an article by Jim Wallis (also in WaPo) about Christians pushing back at Beck for saying they should leave their churches if their pastors/preachers/etc. are promoting "social justice." It's a good read for the religious as well as the non-religious and for those who simply believe that Beck is hurting this country.
That's it for this smorgasbord. Watch for a post tomorrow on Ron Paul's visit to the Gem state.
Friday, March 26, 2010
An artist I've just discovered and already fallen in love with, Julie Peel, here performing "Unfold" from her 2009 release Near the Sun. On her 2009 album Near the Sun, Julie plays the guitar, harmonica, kazoo (seriously!), piano/keyboard, lap steel guitar, ukulele, banjo, drums, and bass. How cool is that? (Lyrics available here and album available via iTunes.)
In the many, many years I have watched C-SPAN, I cannot think of a moment more moving, more unexpected. Harry Reid, for all his faults, is still a very caring, thoughtful man, and I, like many Americans, was moved by his tribute to a man that moved health care reform along for years. Through the administrations of nine presidents and finally in his final days with the election of President Obama, Ted Kennedy was the vessel for a legislative reform that has the power to impact every American. As his son Patrick would write on a card left at Teddy's grave this week, "the unfinished business is done." The long unfinished business of this country and of the man who dedicated his life to the service of his country and its people is finally done.
Watching President Obama sign it into law Tuesday morning brought tears to my eyes and watching the members of the United States Senate rise to their feet to honor their departed colleague on this historic day brought those tears back to the surface. Just as health care reform means a great deal to me, so does Ted Kennedy and the legacy of the Kennedy family. This historic day would not have been possible without them.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Today, while Minnick's campaign spokesperson was busily trying to get the word out about Walt being featured in CongressDaily (an offshoot of the National Review) for upcoming legislation that would allow the President to strip pork from passed legislation without having to exercise his veto power over entire appropriations bills, Walt was speaking with Austin Hill and not doing his party any favors. In case you've lost track, his party is the Democratic Party and his leadership are the very people he was recently scolding.
While Austin Hill kept referring to "Obamacare" and the Speaker's heavy-handedness, the only thing Walt sought to correct the radio host on was his name--he prefers to be called Walt, not Walter. Walt wasn't without his own false statements and zingers directed at Speaker Pelosi (who Hill disrespectfully insisted on referring to as 'Miss Pelosi'). Here's the first Republican talking point and false statement Minnick trotted out:
"I absolutely disbelieve that [the bill] is going to be paid for because if you look at the history of Congress, there's no way that we're going to adopt and leave in place $500 billion in Medicare cuts. It's just not the way the place operates. When push comes to shove we'll repeal them."Both the White House via their Reality Check website and FactCheck.org have come out swinging against this false and often used Republican scare tactic, but Minnick, like all the Republicans who voted with him against the bill, continues to use the disproved talking point. When did Medicare become one of Minnick's concerns? Perhaps around the time he started talking about tort reform...
Another talking point Minnick was peddling was his belief that if the Democratic leadership had brought their Republican colleagues to the table and hammered out a bill that addressed their mutual concerns, "we would have had a health care bill and it would have been a mainstream, sensible bill with good ideas from both of the parties." The Gang of Six wasn't enough for you, Walt? The fact that the Republicans really wanted nothing to do with health care reform from the get-go didn't matter? Really, in what alternate universe were the Republicans really going to sit down and compromise?
Perhaps the most telling (as well as discouraging) portion of Minnick's segment on the Austin Hill Show was when he talked about the midterms and what the 2010 cycle will mean to his party--just another reminder, that party, believe it or not, is the Democratic party. Here's what he said:
"I think that it's hard to argue that we're going to... I think that we hit a high water point, I think the real issue is how many seats do we lose at this point. That's rather typical of a midterm election in a president's first term--his party almost always loses and I expect we are going to lose because America's not happy with what has, they don't like the congress. They don't like the hyper-partisanship, so my guess is we will have more than average losses in this election."Is Walt's pessimism realistic? Maybe. Is Walt's disinterest in seeing his party succeed at all veiled in this prediction? Hardly. This is simply who Walt is. Walt doesn't care if his party is in the majority or not, he is going to continue to vote against them on key pieces of legislation (i.e. health care, cap and trade, the stimulus) throughout this session. What Walt should care about is the near certainty that if the leadership, his leadership, does change hands after the midterm election is because faux Democrats, DINOs, like him in very conservative districts like the Idaho 1st and the Mississippi 1st were unseated.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Another great video from the Idaho Uninsured Story Project. Though Margaret's story is only one of many in a sea of uninsured and underinsured Idahoans, her story speaks for all of us who know too well the hell that is the current health care system. As MG asks, how can anyone vote against health care reform? A day in the life of Margaret or any other of the thousands of uninsured and underinsured Idahoans would surely change his mind. If Mr. Minnick had a conscience...
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
"I suspect that I will be as the vote gets closer. But I’m reasonably set in my ways."
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"Despite Rex's fringe status, Idaho Democrats (actually in sheer numbers a fringe party themselves) and the media never tire of attempting to tie him to mainstream Idaho Republicans, and those Republicans continue to dismiss him as a crank."
[Editor's Note: Emphasis my own. The quote is more about party politics than Mr. Rammell for me. More and more I'm realizing the fate of the Idaho Democratic Party, the party I used to believe whole-heartedly in, if strong leadership doesn't step up soon.]
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Ruchti was first elected to the House from District 29 in 2006 when former Rep. Elmer Martinez, a fellow Democrat, decided not to run again. Prior to his run for the House, Ruchti served as the chairman of the Bannock County Democratic Party. Since Ruchti's election, he left the law firm Cooper-Larsen and started his own firm. His decision to not seek re-election has to do with developing his new firm.
Tomorrow on the campus of Idaho State University, former Pocatello mayor Greg Anderson will announce his candidacy for Ruchti's seat. Anderson, a Democrat, is scheduled to make his announcement at 1:30 p.m. in the Canoe Room of the Pond Student Union Building.
Monday, March 8, 2010
... "I would like to thank what [The Blindside] is about for me which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from. Those moms and parents never get thanked. I, in particular, failed to thank one. So… if I can take this moment to thank Helga B. for not letting me ride in cars with boys until I was 18 because she was right. I would’ve done what she said I was gonna do. For making me practice every day when I got home. Piano, ballet, whatever it is I wanted to be. She said to be an artist, you had to practice every day, and for reminding her daughters that there’s no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love. So, to that trail-blazer, who allowed me to have that. And this. And this [gesturing toward her husband]. I thank you so much for this opportunity that I share with these extraordinary women."
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
What Minnick says today.
And the IDP continues to sit quietly by while this man makes a mockery of the Party. We desperately need health care reform in this country. We aren't all covered by a public health insurance plan like members of congress and their employees and we sure as hell aren't all millionaires like Mr. Minnick. While he's holding to his "core value" of fiscal conservatism, something that is obviously neither a value or part of his core since he cares so much about it he voted against Pay-go, plenty of Idahoans are sick or dying.
Mr. Minnick, does your conscience bother you?
Not ignoring the perilous economic times we find ourselves in, Evans lays out the reasons for which we should not phase out funding of needed services like the Council on Developmental Disabilities:
"[In] our efforts to economize, we must not eliminate those programs that ensure citizen involvement and create transparency in government. In times like these, it is may be [sic] tempting to cut these programs, but it is precisely these programs that make the services system better and more responsive to the people."Apparently, in times like these it is not only tempting to small government folks, it is a gift wrapped opportunity to slash programs they do not believe fit the criteria for government's proper role. We can talk about liberal politics and policies all we want, but the truth of the matter is that John Evans is a conservative Democrat. As a state senator he represented the conservative views of his constituents in places where he spent plenty of time--Malad and Burley--and as governor he operated under the same conservative mindset. John Evans understands the merits of small government, yet he also understands that when needs are met for certain demographics in the population it is good for Idaho families and Idaho's pocketbook.
On the matter of Idaho's pocketbook, let's discuss an instance when the Council saved Idaho money. It is highly likely that the Council would continue to save Idaho money if allowed to remain a state funded council:
"Ten years ago, the council compiled information from across the nation and advised the governor and the legislature to not embark on constructing 120 new beds at the Idaho State School and Hospital [ISSH, in Nampa] and to invest in services in community services instead. Their advocacy results in policymakers building half the number of beds proposed, saving the state millions in general funds."What Governor Evans is too polite to say is that if not for the Council on Developmental Disabilities and similar non-profit organizations that advocate for the disabled, here in Idaho we would have continued on a path of only "warehousing" the developmentally disabled right into the 21st century. Not only would we have continued adding on to facilities like ISSH, we would have continued telling young families that they best way to deal with having a child with a developmental disability is to lock them away somewhere. It isn't pleasant to read, but it is the truth.
In our public schools, if the disabled were allowed to attend them and not schools specifically designated for the disabled, we would never have integrated those students at all. Why do I say this? Because we haven't evolved that much. When I was in elementary school in the early 90s, the developmentally disabled or "special ed" kids that attended my school never so much as entered the main building and public areas of the school (i.e. gym, cafeteria, library) when regular students might be out of their classrooms. They had their own separate facility and aside from the occasional appearance at assemblies, they were out of sight. They came over to the main building to lunch an hour before the rest of the school ate and their recesses were never synchronized with ours. And, they rode a completely separate bus than the rest of us students. In the 90s!
I spoke of "warehousing" knowing fully well that people who might read that term would be either repulsed or defensive. Those who are defensive generally offer an argument that we haven't done that since the 50s. Not true.
Also when I was in elementary school, a young teacher I knew was pregnant and learned as her due date neared that her child would be born with Down Syndrome. Of course, in southern Idaho there was no discussion of abortion at any point and strangely enough, very little discussion about how this young mother might raise a Down Syndrome child. What was discussed is how long until that young mother would send her child to a facility like ISSH in Nampa. In the 90s! Unlike my great-grandmother who gave birth to a beautiful Down Syndrome boy in the 50s, this young mother in the 90s had the services available to her to raise her child at home. My great-grandmother was never given that opportunity, she was simply told to lock her little boy away and she did at the then State School and Colony for the Feebleminded and Epileptic in Nampa for the first nine years of his life. He happened to be born with a disability that is physically recognizable, unlike the hundreds of children that were "warehoused" in Idaho in the 20th century who were later found to have been born with no medical developmental disability, but by the time of that horrific discovery had social and developmental disabilities perpetuated by their childhood environment.
Idaho's history, like that of almost every state in the nation, is particularly unfortunate when it comes to the rights and care of the disabled. Undoubtedly, the Council on Developmental Disabilities, as signed into law in 1978, was a turning point in how the state approached the rights and needs of the disabled. Governor Evans explains where we are seeing these great strides:
"If the council is doing its work and doing it well, they are invisible. What are visible, instead, are people with developmental disabilities working in real jobs, individuals getting the supports they need to live independently in their communities, and children with disabilities included with their peers in classrooms with well-trained and supported teachers."I can say without hesitation that the Council must be doing its work and doing it well because my older brother who is developmentally disabled was able to graduate from high school after having spent several years integrated into regular classrooms with his peers. Today he is able to attend a facility where he interacts with others like him as well as others out in the community. I can say without hesitation that what they're doing is working because some of my closest friends, siblings really, who have various developmental disabilities are able to hold jobs, utilize public transportation, and do any number of things out in the community. They are just as productive as many of us, often better at using public services than the rest of us, and ultimately happy to be included.
However, just because we've made incredible strides since the Council was created in 1978 does not mean the Council's work is done. As state Medicaid funds have been routinely cut over the years, individuals with disabilities and their families or care providers have had to find creative ways to get by. Just as state workers are taking furloughs, many in the disabled community who attend Medicaid-funded day training are as well. In a perfect world these individuals would be well-suited by a six-days-a-week program, but are getting by with four days. There are still corners of this state that do not understand what is trying to be accomplished by integrating the disabled in their communities. There are still those in this state who try to explain away their prejudice, prejudice that has led to direct discrimination of those with developmental disabilities. While we're making strides in some parts of the state, we're still turning back the clock in others.
I can attest to the successes Governor Evans has cited today in his op-ed. I can attest to the fact that this isn't about politics for him, for me, or for the thousands of Idahoans with developmental disabilities and their families. I, like Governor Evans, urge the Idaho Legislature to think very carefully about following Otter's lead on this and instead of phasing out funding for the Council for Developmental Disabilities, recognize its place in good government. If we can't and won't do what is best and right for those who need it most in our midst, who will?