Letters to the editor: Initiatives, legislative session, vaccines, dam breaching, Interfaith Sanctuary

·5 min read

Initiatives

Protect the Idaho initiative process from hijacking. Words matter. Reference the Idaho Statesman article titled “Little signs bill making it harder to bring voter initiatives onto ballots” (April 18, 2021). The article could also have been titled, “Little signs bill making it harder for wealthy special interest groups and individuals with their own ideologies and agendas to hijack the Idaho initiative process”, or “Little signs bill that will help to ensure citizens in less densely populated rural counties will continue to have a voice in bringing voter initiatives onto ballots.” The next step needed in the effort to protect the Idaho initiative process from hijacking by wealthy out-of-state special interest groups and individuals is to make it illegal to pay-per-signature on ballot initiative petitions. Signature gathers, with no vested interest in the issue, may come from all over the country to collect signatures on the initiative petitions if the pay-per-signature is high enough. This is how many anti-gun, anti-hunting, and drug legalization initiatives get onto state ballots that have not disallowed pay-per-signature. The wealthy special interest groups and individuals may also spend lots of money to spread propaganda to support their ideologies and initiative agendas.

Jim Goldsmith, Meridian

Legislative session

The competency and authority of our Governor, Attorney General, Board of Education and many other groups have been consistently attacked and undermined by legislators this session. While harshly judging everyone else’s competence and actions, perhaps they should’ve looked in the mirror.

According to Jim Jones, former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, “Legislators have shown an alarming rate of disrespect for our State Constitution this session.” Other legal scholars agree, including Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who has had to challenge countless bills that were unconstitutional or not within the Legislature’s authority. Legal challenges cost taxpayers.

Either our lawmakers lack the constitutional knowledge and academic ability to write bills, or they are intentionally deconstructing our constitution in order to legalize their personal goals. Either case is unacceptable and demonstrates gross incompetence.

Lawmakers set an “illegal fire” for a mask burning stunt, while many Idahoans (including legislators) were suffering from COVID-19. Taxpayers paid for the rebellious, anti-masked, legislature’s recess.

Bills this session totally disregarded the will of the majority, were designed to gain illegal powers, prevent initiatives and silence our voices. Thankfully, we do have the power to vote them out, and a vote for term limits isn’t a bad idea either!

Beverly Taylor, Meridian

Vaccines for all

This week marks an important milestone in our country: World Immunization Week. Celebrated every year, the week aims to promote vaccines to protect people of all ages against infectious disease. Before the COVID19 pandemic, Americans often have taken vaccines for granted. But now, we have all felt the impacts of a global health catastrophe as many of our lives have been disrupted and, in some cases, upended as we waited for vaccines against COVID-19.

As a mother and family nurse practitioner I have been a strong supporter of vaccines for our children for 20 years. This is because a vaccine is the single most important step someone can take to curb illnesses. I have traveled to Guatemala and Uganda and witnessed mothers walking hundreds of miles for hours to see their children receive a vaccine to keep them healthy. I talk to my own patients about the importance of vaccine-preventable diseases and encourage them to get their annual flu shot, tetanus booster and the HPV vaccine.

Viruses do not have borders, so supporting global vaccine funding is a necessity. I encourage all members of Congress to support access to vaccines across the globe.

Becky Elder, Boise

Interfaith Sanctuary

I used to love to go to the Xtreme Xtravagana, a fundraiser for Interfaith Sanctuary. I donated generously and left feeling good about my contribution to the congregate living (defined as a place where folks live in close quarters under one roof) homeless shelter for 140. I unquestioningly thought that was the way sheltering was done. Not so! I’ve learned that congregate living is being dismantled all over the country in favor of more effective options. “Best practice” principles for shelter include smaller shelters, dispersed across zip codes, short lengths of stay, a wide residential buffer (at least 0.2 miles from single family residential) and rapid rehousing. Yet, Interfaith Sanctuary wants to welcome 228 people with beds, plus additional people sleeping on floor mats, to share a backyard with neighbors. Interfaith Sanctuary wants Boise to accept a shelter larger than 94% in the country, and the neighbors to welcome 200ish folks on the other side of their fence. I now have a clearer understanding of how those needing emergency shelter should be treated. People experiencing homeless deserve better, residential neighbors deserve better, Boise deserves better. I am asking our city to reject the current Interfaith Sanctuary plan and insist on best practice principles.

Bobbie Aitchison, Boise

Simpson’s plan

Esto Perpetua. Each year, Idaho’s once renowned and abundant salmon runs decline. Scientists are emphatic: without breaching the four Lower Snake River dams, the wild chinook, sockeye and steelhead will go extinct. Congressman Mike Simpson’s Columbia Basin Initiative will prevent this tragedy and ensure Idaho’s children know the beauty of these fish. Not only this, but the plan will also revitalize a $500 million annual fishing economy in Idaho, invest billions in Pacific Northwest energy and infrastructure, bring the Bonneville Power Administration back from the brink of bankruptcy, lower electricity prices, and improve transportation pricing for farmers along the Snake and Columbia. Congressman Simpson has met with thousands of stakeholders across Idaho, Washington and Oregon and shown himself to be an effective leader and true Idahoan. It’s time the rest of the Idaho delegation get on board. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo should immediately get to work securing funding for this proposal and communicating to his colleagues its vitality for the Northwest. It would be a tragedy if Democrats roll out a $2 trillion infrastructure bill without adding necessary funding for Idaho because our elected officials are unwilling to come to the table. Esto Perpetua.

Shiva Rajbhandari, Boise