Saturday, March 31, 2012

Countdown to the 1940 Census

If you follow me on Twitter, you surely know I've been amped up for the April 2, 2012 release of the 1940 United States Census records. The day is almost here and I'm told by the fine folks at the National Archives that the records will be live on their website at 9 a.m. (EST) Monday. And, the U.S. Census Bureau has a website dedicated to the 1940 Census and will begin the live unveiling at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

Unfortunately, the Census question that I am most interested in for one of my writing projects wasn't asked in 1940. In 1930, the Census contained a question about whether the resident was disabled, but in 1940 the question was not asked. Despite my disappointment with this fact, I remain excited for Monday's release of the records and have been looking forward to it since 2005.

Only two more days!

Smorgasbord Saturday

Friday, March 30, 2012

TGIF Tunes

Cary Brothers with Laura Jansen performing "Blue Eyes" at the Bing Lounge.

The Latest On Ethics

Editor's Note: Thankfully the Idaho Legislature has gone home, but not without causing one more bit of damage. Here's the press release from the Idaho Democratic Party on legislative ethics.
For Immediate Release
Date: March 30, 2012
Contact: Sally Boynton Brown (208) 440-2374 or Larry Grant (208) 739-0242

Ethics: Senators Put Fox Inside Henhouse, Lock Doors

The Idaho Senate closed the 2012 Legislature by voting to change Senate ethics rules so that complaints will only be made in secrecy. If fellow senators find no merit to the complaint, no one will know it happened. This big step backwards comes after a parade of ethical missteps by the GOP supermajority during the past couple years.

Now, they not only have the fox guarding the hen house from the inside, they have closed and locked the door.

This move came after the Republican supermajority refused to create an independent ethics commission proposed by Democrats. By rejecting true ethics reform, the Republican Senate has shown that they prize secrecy over transparency when conducting the public’s business.

The culture of arrogance and entitlement will continue in the Idaho Statehouse unless Idahoans send a message during this fall’s election.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quote of the Day

"She was truest to them in the season of trial, as all the quietly loyal and good will always be."

-- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Flags Lowered at Idaho State University

Flags at Idaho State University have been lowered to half-staff today to honor Karen E. Kearns, Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Idaho State University’s Eli M. Oboler Library. Kearns passed away March 21, 2012 in Pocatello, Idaho.

The following announcement was sent out to the faculty at Idaho State University on behalf of University President Arthur C. Vailas:
ANNOUNCEMENT from President Arthur C. Vailas:

In memory of Ms. Karen Kearns, Associate Professor and Director of Special Collections at the Eli M. Oboler Library and University Archivist, the Idaho State University Flag will be lowered to half-staff on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, the day of her memorial.

We offer our condolences to her family and friends.
Karen was a graduate of Idaho State University (B.A., 1987) and the University of Kentucky (M.L.S., 1990). Prior to completing her degree at Kentucky, Karen went to work for the Huntington Research Library in San Marino, California, where she became the Curator for Western and Women’s History Manuscripts. In 1997, Karen joined the staff at ISU’s Eli M. Oboler Library and in 2001 she became the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

While Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Karen cataloged significant collections, including the Nellie Cline Steenson, George Shoup and Edward Stevenson collections. She spearheaded the creation of the Bannock County Images, Edward Stevenson Collection and Birch Creek Massacre digital projects. Her tenure in the department also included overseeing the processing of the largest manuscript collection housed at ISU, the Richard H. Stallings Congressional Collection.

In addition to her many professional accomplishments, Karen served on the Idaho State University Faculty Senate, the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Pocatello, and as a board member for the Idaho Center for the Book. She also held leadership positions with the Conference of Intermountain Archivists and the Friends of Oboler Library. Her service to Idaho State University was matched by her service to her community.

Karen is survived by her parents, Rick and Linda Kearns, brothers Greg and Chris Kearns, and her daughter, Emma Kearns.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Karen Kearns, Mentor and Friend

Tomorrow flags at Idaho State University will be lowered to honor Karen Kearns, an associate professor and head of Special Collections and University Archives at ISU's Eli Mi. Oboler Library. Kearns passed away Wednesday, March 21st. Karen's passing is a huge loss for the university community, the ISU Library and for me personally.

The first time I met Karen was in 2003 when, as a freshman, I had enrolled in the Historian's Craft (HIST291) without having taken a single History course. I was in over my head and I knew it. As an associate professor at the library, Karen taught instructional seminars for various courses on utilizing library resources. My class met at the library to have Karen instruct us on how to find primary and secondary sources. I was impressed with how knowledgeable Karen was and began to feel less intimidated by my situation. Little did I know, I would become Karen's employee three year's later and eventually her friend.

In 2005, I was door-to-door campaigning with Richard Stallings who was running for Pocatello City Council and we began talking about my academic interests. Stallings, a professor and historian, mentioned that his congressional papers were at ISU, but they'd not be processed since they arrived in 1992. Wanting to begin a project that didn't utilize the oft-accessed Minnie Howard Collection, Stallings suggested I contact Dr. Ron Hatzenbuehler in the History department about arranging it. When Ron sent me to Karen I found her approachable and excited about my research project. I soon found out that Karen's background was History, too, and that she had once been Ron's student.

After a few months going box by box through the materials Stallings had donated to ISU (all 266 of them), Karen and I discussed something I never would have imagined months before: My processing of the entire Stallings Collection.

From the fall of 2006 until the summer of 2010, I had the honor and privilege of working for Karen Kearns on the Stallings Collection at ISU. For four years I walked into Special Collections and worked toward the goals of representing and preserving the public service of Congressman Stallings for future researchers; ensuring that Karen never had reason to regret entrusting me with such a monumental task, a task for which I had no experience; and, making both Karen Kearns and Richard Stallings proud.

Something wonderful happened along the way as I worked in Special Collections--Karen and I became friends. It wasn't hard given that Karen and I shared two loves: history and baseball. When I learned that Karen was a baseball fan, I planted myself in her office for an hour to hear about her beloved Cubs and Dodgers. From that day on, I could count on getting commentary from her on every baseball story. When I moved away from Pocatello in the summer of 2010, those conversations didn't end. Our morning emails back-and-forth were notorious for bashing the Yankees (minus Joe Girardi who we both gave a pass), commenting on whatever bizarre predicament the Cubs were in the news for (usually Zambrano), and recounting the losses our teams had taken (Karen offering moral support during the Braves' collapse last September). It was a constant dialog that I looked forward to.

Karen was one of those people who was no different personally than she was professionally. Karen was kind, considerate, and generous in all facets of her life. She was fiercely loyal to those in her inner circle. Karen's friendship was something that could be counted on. She was passionate about her family, especially her daughter Emma. She was a truly amazing woman.

The influence of Karen Kearns on my young life is something I will always be grateful for. Her influence is something I have yet to fully grasp, though, and I suspect I will find throughout my life that she influenced me in a multitude of ways. That she would agree to mentor me as I learned about archival practices is something I will forever be indebted to her for. Karen's death, at the age of forty-six, is still settling on me in profound ways. Her loss is a loss for so many and so many of us will miss her dearly. We'll miss her humor, her friendship, and her passion. Most of all I will miss how easily I could rely on her and how steady the shoulder was she allowed me to lean on.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baseball's DUI Problem

In the early morning hours Friday, Bobby Jenks of the Boston Red Sox left a Fort Myers strip club, hit a parked car, left the scene of the accident and then drove erratically enough for an officer to notice him and stop him. Jenks blamed his erratic driving on having taken too many muscle relaxers, but then admitted to having hit a car at the strip club. Jenks did not register a blood alcohol content (BAC) when tested. He has been charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and three counts of property damage while under the influence.

Bobby Jenks' arrest came less than twenty-four hours after a prospect in the Rays organization, Matt Bush, was arrested in Florida after a car accident that left a motorcycle rider in serious condition. Bush was charged with a DUI after registering a BAC of .180. The legal limit in Florida is .08.

The arrests of Bush and Jenks are just two in a list of recent DUI arrests of Major League Baseball players. In fact, Bush and Jenks are only two of the four MLB players arrested for DUI in March alone. The Rockies' Alex White was arrested on March 4th for DUI after being stopped for a traffic infraction and registering a .174 BAC. On March 11th, bullpen catcher Eric Langill of the Mets was arrested after causing a single-car accident and property damage while driving under the influence. The list (as best as I can recall and reconstruct):

  • 2012: Bobby Jenks (Red Sox)
  • 2012: Matt Bush (Rays)
  • 2012: Alex White (Rockies)
  • 2012: Eric Langill (Mets)
  • 2011: Shin-Soo Choo (Indians)
  • 2011: Adam Kennedy (Mariners)
  • 2011: Coco Crisp (A's)
  • 2011: Austin Kearns (Indians)
  • 2011: Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
  • 2010: Dane Sardinha (Phillies)
  • 2009: Ryan Ouellette (Orioles)*
  • 2008: Joba Chamberlain (Yankees)
  • 2008: Rafael Furcal (Dodgers)**
  • 2008: Luis Vizcaino (Rockies)
  • 2007: Tony La Russa (Cardinals, manager)
  • 2007: Jim Hickey (Rays, coach)
  • 2007: Steve Swindal (Yankees, general partner)
  • 2007: Gustavo Chacin (Blue Jays)
  • 2006: Esteban Loaiza (A's)
  • 2006: Dontrelle Willis (Marlins)
  • 2006: Jim Bowden (National, general manager)
  • 2005: Sidney Ponson (Orioles)
  • 2005: Erik DuBose (Orioles)
  • 2004: Rafael Furcal (Braves)
*Oullette registered a .223 BAC.
**Furcal is the only repeat offender on this list.

How can this list not convince you that Major League Baseball has a DUI problem? That's twenty-four arrests that were easy to remember or easy to locate online. There could be others. And the arrests aren't limited to players enjoying themselves in Florida during Spring Training. The list includes a coach, a manager, and a general manager. La Russa's arrest video has been fodder for years. If this DUI problem isn't new then why isn't anyone saying anything about it? They are and have been for years. Keith Law wrote about it clear back in 2007 after La Russa's arrest. Jerry Crasnick wrote about it last year after the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie tweeted about White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's fine and suspension for tweeting during a game and the lack of fine for players who are arrested (and many convicted) for driving under the influence. Just this morning Buster Olney of ESPN said "it may be time for baseball to address its DUI problem." It may be time? You think?

What is perplexing for fans is how a sport that was crushed by the loss of Nick Adenhart in 2009 can be so ignorant of its own DUI problem. Adenhart and two others in the car he was riding in were killed by a drunk driver who was driving on a suspended license for a prior DUI. The man responsible for Adenhart's death was sentenced to a minimum of fifty-one years in prison. Then came the acquittal of former big leaguer Jim Leyritz who was charged with DUI manslaughter in 2007 after running a red light and killing the woman whose car he struck. Many in the MLB community were torn when Leyritz was acquitted, quite possibly due to the still open wound of losing the promising Adenhart.

While many a column has been written about the need for MLB to institute an organization DUI policy, nothing has happened. What's it going to take for the powers that be in baseball to recognize and do something about this growing problem? Where is Commissioner Bud Selig on this? Unfortunately, it may take a tragedy for Major League Baseball to wake up and do something about this growing problem. When that tragedy unfolds and a Major League Baseball player is arrested for having caused a fatal injury while driving under the influence, the league will not be able to deny that the writing was on the wall.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ethics Complaint Against Pearce Dropped

Editor's Note: Here is the latest on the ethics complaint filed against Senator Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth). The ethics complaint was dropped and the ethics panel was dismissed. The outcome may not be all that surprising, but that does not make it any less infuriating.

For Immediate Release

Date: March 22, 2012
Contact: Sally Boynton Brown (208) 440-2374 or Larry Grant (208) 739-0242

Who is Protecting Idahoans Best Interests?

The GOP-controlled Idaho Senate proved today that this body is incapable of policing itself on ethics issues. Idaho needs an independent ethics commission, an idea quashed this year by Republican leaders who have fostered a culture of arrogance and entitlement.

Sen. Monty Pearce, Republican Chairman of the Resources and Environment and Committee, did not act badly enough to meet the high threshold for a direct conflict of interest, according to a bi-partisan committee. This is at best a pyrrhic victory for Pearce, who neglected to mention his oil and gas leases as he used his chairmanship to enable the very oil and gas company that he has a lease with to push through their legislative agenda. It’s a defeat for all decent, honest, hardworking Idahoans who ply by the rules and expect their elected officials to do the same. It’s clear that Senate rules are designed to protect senators, not the Idahoans who elected them.

Where else but the Idaho Senate can a landowner who is actively doing business with the oil and gas industry as he shepherds their agenda through the legislature and then claim he behaved ethically when he failed to mention that pesky conflict? The only other place where that is standard behavior is in the Idaho House where Republicans joined senators to mock their conflict of interests rules because they believe the rules should not be applied to one of their kind.

Democratic Senators, who could not convince lock-step Republicans to take a serious look at Pearce’s obvious conflicts, are to be commended for having the courage to speak up.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Pearce

As a follow-up to the press release I previously posted from the Idaho Democratic Party calling for the resignation of Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth), here is the the timeline from the ethics complaint filed by Senate Democrats against Pearce:

Jan 25, 2012 Oil and gas rules review commenced in Senate Resources and Environment Committee.

Feb. 1, 2012 Docket 20-0315-1102, “Rules Governing the Issuance of Geothermal Leases,” passed by unanimous vote.

Feb. 6, 2012 Docket 20-0702-1102, “Department of Lands Rules Governing Oil and Gas Conservation in the State of Idaho,” passed by unanimous vote.

Feb. 13, 2012 Senator Pearce voted to reject RS 21226 (intended to add the terms “public health, safety and welfare” to the mission of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) and RS 21085C1 (regarding restrictions on the use of human cancer-causing chemicals during hydraulic fracturing).

Feb. 16, 2012 H379, H460, H462, H463 and H526 – all relating to the oil and gas industry – were introduced and discussed in committee.

Feb. 20, 2012 H464 was introduced and discussed in committee.

Feb. 29, 2012 Debate on H464 commenced in committee.

Mar. 1, 2012 Senator Pearce voted to send H464 to the floor with a “do pass” recommendation after many hours of testimony and debate.

Mar. 1, 2012 Senator Pearce voted to send H379, H460, H462, H463 and H526 to the floor with “do pass” recommendations.

Mar. 5, 2012 H464 was read for the first time on the Senate floor.

Mar. 6, 2012 H464 was read for the second time on the Senate floor.

Mar. 8, 2012 H379, H460, H462, H463 and H526 all pass the Senate with Sen. Pearce voting aye on each and acting as the floor sponsor on H0379 and H462.

Mar. 8, 2012 H379, H460, H462, H463 and H526 all pass the Senate with Sen. Pearce voting aye on each and acting as the floor sponsor on H379 and H462.

Mar. 9, 2012 Senator Pearce voted against sending H464 to the 14th order for possible amendments (tie vote broken by Lt. Gov. and motion prevailed).

Mar. 12, 2012 Senator Pearce moved to send H464 back to the 13th order and voted in favor of his motion which prevailed and ended any opportunity for amending H464.

Mar. 14, 2012 Senator Pearce revealed, for the first time, a conflict of interest on H464 followed shortly thereafter by his aye vote.

You can read the full letter submitted to Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill here. Senator Hill (R-Rexburg) named the six members of the Senate Committee on Ethics on Friday and the committee will meet on Monday at 8 a.m.

In his own defense, Senator Pearce says that the ethics complaint against him is political and that he has done nothing wrong. The Democrats refute that the complaint has anything to do with politics. There's no denying that there isn't desperate need for an independent ethics commission in lieu of yet another ethics mess at the statehouse. Idaho is one of only 9 states that does not have an independent ethics commission. Unfortunately, the Idaho GOP has announced they won't be pursuing any ethics reform this session.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

IDP Calls for Pearce Resignation

Editor's Note: The Idaho Democratic Party is calling for the immediate resignation of Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth) for his failure to disclose a conflict of interest related to the oil and gas legislation that has appeared in the committee he chairs. I hope to comment in coming days on an ongoing conflict of interest that Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star) has in regard to urban renewal legislation. In the meantime, here is the press release from the IDP.

News release from the Idaho Democratic Party

Date: March 15, 2012
Contact: Sally Boynton Brown (208) 440-2374 or Larry Grant (208) 739-0242

Failure to Disclose

BOISE- State Senator Monty Pearce, (R-New Plymouth), should immediately resign as Senate Resources and Environment Committee Chairman for his repeated failure to disclose his conflict of interest on oil and gas legislation. After leading committee hearings and voting on oil and gas legislation all session, Pearce revealed yesterday that he has had gas leases on his land for decades.

Pearce’s disclosure means that he failed to reveal his conflict of interest numerous times throughout the session during contentious oil and gas committee hearings and floor debate on the issue of state control of oil and gas development and, particularly, on fracking. Not only did he fail to let his colleagues and the public know he could benefit from the legislation, but he voted against sending the bill to the amending order, on what was a tie vote broken only by the Lieutenant Governor. He went one step further by forcing a motion to have the bill taken out of the amending order before amendments could be made.

Larry Grant, Chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, said, “Senator Pearce needs to be taken to task for his actions. He has known all along about his conflict of interest and deliberately did not reveal it until the last minute. Democratic legislators have been raising the need for meaningful ethics reform all session so it is pretty amazing that Senator Pearce would have the arrogance to keep his conflict a secret. How much more proof does Majority leadership need to see an independent ethics commission is absolutely necessary. It seems the longer we wait, the worse it gets.“

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quote of the Day

“What would he say to her, if he was going to speak truly? He didn't know. Talking was like throwing a baseball. You couldn't plan it out beforehand. You just had to let go and see what happened. You had to throw out words without knowing whether anyone woud catch them -- you had to throw out words you knew no one would catch. You had to send your words out where they weren't yours anymore. It felt better to talk with a ball in your hand, it felt better to let the ball do the talking. But the world, the nonbaseball world, the world of love and sex and jobs and friends, was made of words.”
-- Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Halman's Obvious Absence

Today as the Mariners hosted the A's at their Spring Training home in Peoria, Arizona, those at the game saw this video on the scoreboard and took a moment to pay tribute to Greg Halman and Frank Mattox who the team lost this off season. Mattox, a scout, had been with the organization for eighteen years and Halman had been part of the team since he graduated from high school.

Earlier this week the Mariners announced that center fielder Franklin Gutierrez tore a pectoral muscle, will miss several weeks of Spring Training, and will likely not be ready to start in the season opener. The news was a blow to the Mariners in several respects, the first being that Gutierrez was finally healthy and looking to be an impact player as the season began. The other, a continued blow to the Mariners organization, is the loss of left fielder Greg Halman. Halman would have competed for time in center field with this injury to Gutierrez.

If Spring Training is any indication, the loss of Greg Halman will continue to challenge the Mariners as they embark on the new season. The roster challenge is something that Eric Wedge can handle with the many options available to him for center field (Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson and Michael Saunders among them), but the emotional challenge before these young men who were incredibly close to Halman is going to be much more difficult to overcome.

Smorgasbord Saturday

Listening to:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Integrity of Chipper Jones

Chipper Jones is many things, a steroid user he is not. In an interview with's Mark Bowman, the Braves third baseman spoke candidly about the temptation in the 90s to use steroids or other performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

Chipper, like many players of the 90s, was aware that other players were using PEDs to up their game. He said in his conversation with Bowman that he knew that other elite players at his position were utilizing steroids and/or PEDs to improve their game (presumably guys like Alex Rodriguez, , Jerry Hairston, Jr., Matt Williams and David Bell as well as eventual Braves teammates Gary Sheffield, Matt Franco and Troy Glaus), but that he didn't want to disappoint his parents and he feared the long-term effects of using steroids.

It's refreshing to read a story about the steroid era in baseball that doesn't include accusations or revelations. For those of us who grew up in the 90s and idolized baseball players of that era, it is heartbreaking each time it is revealed that so-and-so used steroids during their playing days. Unlike today with Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program that tests players for steroids, PEDs and other banned substances, when new revelations of drug use surface surrounding players of the 90s, there's no solid proof for or against those players and the unfortunate outcome is a taint on all players of the era. Chipper Jones is an example of this. He didn't use steroids or PEDs, but he played in an era tainted by malfeasance.

When Chipper Jones retires, a juncture that is fast approaching, he will continue to be proud of the fact that he didn't cheat the game or himself. And when Hall of Fame voters look at Chipper's numbers, they will note (as did Bowman) that Jones is in elite company. Only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray have more switch-hit home runs in baseball history than Chipper. He trails only Murray in RBIs by a switch-hitter. And when career batting average, home runs, doubles, walks and on-base percentage and slugging percentage are compared to other players throughout baseball history, Chipper finds himself in the company of Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. Elite company is an understatement.

Chipper Jones will enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot as an Atlanta Brave (perhaps one of the last single-team stars) and as a man who played in an era tainted by substances that he chose not to put in his body despite the possibility of them advancing his career. Hopefully when time has past and new generations of fans discover the game the taint of the steroid era will no longer hang like a cloud over players of integrity like Chipper Jones.