Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Off Topic Post - BCS Mess, Again.

Well, its that time of year again. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is out ranking collegiate football teams and Boise State is at the center of the controversy just as as it was last year. At issue is whether or not an undefeated BSU team deserves to go to a so-called BCS Bowl Game where the riches and exposure are that of some mythical treasure island.

In the first week of the BCS rankings BSU was ranked a regular season best fourth place, but that all changed this week. BSU got moved back to seventh place and now sits behind Texas Christian, the other non-BCS conference school that is looking to be this year's BCS Buster. As you might recall, the same thing happened last year when BSU and Utah were fighting for a similar distinction. However, this year is different.

This year is different because the spotlight has been shined ever brighter upon the BCS and its uppity elitist conferences by not only Congress, but also President Obama. In Congress, claims have been made that the BCS may be in violation of anti-trust laws. Of course, the BCS conspirators have lifted their nose and tried to laugh off such accusations as nonsense. Well, frankly, if BSU and TCU end up in the top eight at the end of the year, but one of the is left out, it won't be nonsense it will be because of cents (and millions of dollars).

That is why, as big of BSU football fan as I might be (I've gone to games since before there was a blue field and have the schedule poster to prove it), I am hoping that both BSU and TCU end the seasons undefeated and ranked in the top 8. I am also hoping that one of them gets left out because if they do, then the claim that the BCS is nothing more than an anti-competitive money passing scheme will be proved accurate. You see, if BSU and TCU are both in the top 8 or higher and if it really is about placing the best teams in college football against one another, then there will not be a logical basis in which to exclude either team. That is, of course, unless its not about placing the best teams each against each other.

Now, you can bet that BCS conference officials are talking and trying to figure out how to weasel their way out of this one. Perhaps they made some calls to the SEC officiating crews and are trying to figure out the going rate is to throw football games. Either way, they'll be ready with some pigheaded press release that tries to pacify the populace, but we can't let it happen. The BCS is bigger than just some stupid college football games. It is about doing the right thing and giving everyone a fair shot. After all, fighting for the little guy and making things is equal, is something that all of us, football fans and non-fans alike, can agree on

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's next?

On Sunday, October 11, The Idaho Statesman ran my op-ed dealing with what I view as a real disconnect between Governor Otter and regular Idahoans. In the print edition, the Statesman placed my piece right next to one by House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke. Representative Bedke asserted that now wasn't the time for rash measures and insinuated that he and his majority team in the House would protect the taxpayer. The phrase, "starve the beast," comes to mind. At the same time, the Statesman's Editorial Board also ran a piece discussing the issue and proclaiming that, "Lawmakers must defend Medicaid, higher education."

The three opinion pieces generated a fair amount of comments, some of which related to a question of how to protect programs, without raising taxes. I'd like to respond.

First, I have no appetite whatsoever to raise taxes on hard working Idahoans, that option is off the table.

Second, I'd like to clear up some of the misinformation Rep. Bedke disseminated. I, and no one in the legislature that I know of, has advocated for depleting ALL of the rainy day funds. I agree that some cuts will be required. Efficiencies, as the Guv suggests, should help, some. For example, it would be wise to combine some agencies together to reduce administrative costs (e.g. Ag and Water Resources, or Lands and Parks and Rec and Fish and Game). Washington State is doing so and I believe we can too.

I also think we could revamp our corrections systems, which would yield some significant savings. For example, I would move certain non-violent offenders out of prison and into work release. We are doing this some right now, but I think more could be done.

We also need to partner more intentionally with faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs). I attempted last year to put this idea into action with HCR 11, which ultimately stalled in Senate State Affairs Committee because Senators were concerned that it wasn't the Guv's idea and didn't want to "go over him." By investing in FBCOs, we reduce the burden to the State and subsequently taxpayers. In many cases FBCOs can do more with less because of partnerships they leverage within their communities. Plus, unlike state government, they know their communities better because they are in their communities. This has the potential to save a lot of money.

Lastly, not spending rainy day funds has the same practical outcome of slowing the economic recovery. State government, whether the Governor or Rep. Bedke like it, is a very important part of Idaho's gross state product. By unnecessarily cutting state government you are cutting jobs. Jobs that families rely upon. Families, that without those jobs, will end up tapping our already strained social services. That will lengthen the recession for regular Idahoans. Economist forecast a mostly full recovery including job creation by December 2010 at the latest. That is good news for Idahoans, regular Idahoans.