Following Up and Following Down: May 2021

WC should get a new photo for this recurring topic.
WC should get a new photo for this recurring topic.

There went May, just like that. In Boise, it was wet, windy and cold for much of the month, making spring migration more of an ordeal for the poor birds than usual. Which demonstrably didn’t stop WC from taking photos. But it’s time for a look back, a look at stuff WC didn’t blog about but maybe should have, and things that otherwise triggered WC’s magpie sensibility. As always, no journalism has been committed in preparing this blog post.

It’s Memorial Day, a holiday originated on May 30, 1868 as Decoration Day, remembering the deaths of Americans in the Civil War. The date was selected because there were no major Civil War battles on that date. After World War I, the holiday was informally expanded to include all American soldiers who died in service to their country. Over the years, the name evolved to the present Memorial Day. In 1971 Congress made it an official federal holiday and moved it to the last Monday in May. While it seems today to involve more the celebration of the arrival of the summer than a memorial, WC wants to take a moment and remember those Americans who gave their lives to serve their country. That the recent wars may have been stupid, criminal, wrong or the result of government lies doesn’t take away from the value of their service. Remember those heroes. Honor their sacrifice.

WC saw an article in the Anchorage Daily News reporting that Governor Dunleavy has budgeted $10 million for agricultural development on the lands west of Nenana. In an unopened packing crate somewhere, WC has a pamphlet published by the City of Nenana, circa 1977 touting agricultural development in that area. The Nenana area is an outwash plain, between the foothills of the Alaska Range to the south and the Tanana River to the north. In fact, it is strikingly similar to the land where Alaska’s failed Delta Barley Project, albeit at a lower elevation. It also presents the same challenges for would-be farmers: erratic weather, shallow top soils, episodic drought and flooding and extensive areas of swamp and muskeg. The Nenana area doesn’t feature the wild bison herds that saw the Delta Barley Project as a salad bar, but the land seems even more poorly drained. The State of Alaska demonstrates – again – that its institutional memory is something less than 50 years. But this time the State doesn’t have oil wealth to blow on mistakes.

WC’s former law colleague Ann Brown is the new chair of the Alaska Republican Party. She succeeds scofflaw Tuckerman Babcock and Glenn Clary, a pastor at Anchorage Baptist Temple. Clary is leaving to join former Anchorage Baptist Temple poobah and religious hypocrite Jerry Prevo at Liberty University. Clary will be “vice president of strategic partnerships and alliances” — read: a lobbyist for Christianist causes. WC won’t presume to speak for Brown, but it would make a thinking person a little queasy to stand in the shoes of either of those . . . persons. Be careful what you wish for, Ann Brown.

Out in the Galapgos Islands, Darwin’s Arch has collapsed. It was a sea stack, off the shore of Darwin’s Island, far to the northwest of most of the archipelago. In WC’s one trip to the Galapagos Islands, we didn’t travel that far northwest. (Slide the divider back and forth to see before and after.)

Before: Reinhard Dirscherl/Ullstein Bild, via Getty Images; After: Ministerio del Ambiente y Agua de Ecuador

The thing about geology, as WC has noted before, is that erosion always wins.

For many years WC’s adopted state of Idaho has been next to last in per student spending for K-12 students. No longer. The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that Utah has moved ahead of Idaho, and that WC’s adopted home state is now dead last. That’s right, if you count from the bottom, Idaho is number 1, spending the least per student among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Behind Mississippi, Louisiana and all the others. Even Utah. It’s mortifying and so incredibly short-sighted that you’d almost think the Republican-controlled state legislature wanted to keep its students as ignorant as possible.

Speaking of ignorant, the Republican-dominated Idaho State Legislature throughout its most recent record-long session, reacted – overreacted, really – to a report that Boise State University was “indoctrinating” students, and that a student who resisted was publicly shamed. In response to the unconfirmed allegations, the Legislature not only passed a bill that bans schools from requiring students to “affirm” or “adopt” the belief that an individual could be responsible for historical actions committed by members of the same identity group. Whatever that means. The Legislature slashed about $1.5 million from the BSU budget, just to teach them a lesson. Now the investigative report on the claimed incident is out and . . . it didn’t happen.

After conducting a thorough and independent investigation, we were unable to  substantiate the alleged instance of a student being mistreated in a UF 200 course as described by  the Complainant. No students reported being forced to apologize for the color of their skin. Nor  did any student report being personally singled out based on skin color or being subjected to  taunts, name-calling, or other degrading behavior from an instructor or other students based on  skin color, beliefs, or ideas.  

Hawley Troxell Report date May 19, 2021, p.2

Awkward! But, hey, the Hawley Troxell law firm, hired to perform the investigation, got a bunch of legal fees. The right-wing legislators got to pontificate and be self-righteous instead of, you know, addressing the problems facing Idaho. Including its institutional racism. According to the Idaho Statesman, “Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who co-chairs an ‘indoctrination’ task force, and Rep. Ron Nate, a Rexburg Republican who has been outspoken against Boise State, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.”

WC will close on a happier note: You remember that scene in the original Star Wars movie, where our heroes are trapped in the garbage compaction unit. And then the walls start to move in? That’s where Donald Trump is; the Trumpster’s in the dumpster, surrounded by all the garbage and stench, and the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney just advised him that the State of New York’s investigation is now a criminal investigation. Can’t you just hear the compactor screws starting up?

Have a great June.