Emily Litella redux: Luna foe says ‘never mind,’ recall revived

Ten days after calling Idaho voters lazy, apathetic and spineless and announcing abandonment of his third attempt to recall Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, comedian Pete Peterson is saying, “Never mind.”

After a string of five emails between 3:55 a.m. and 11:22 p.m. Monday, I’m beginning to think Peterson is pulling my leg. And he’s doing it without the charm of Gilda Radner’s character Emily Litella whose Saturday Night Live rants ended with, “Never mind.”

In Peterson’s first email at 3:55 a.m., he resent his May 10 news release announcing the end of the recall, which I hadn’t received because Peterson said he had trouble finding my email address. He said the 2013 Luna Recall Committee voted 6 to 1 to end their effort, with the dissenting vote cast by Dr. L.R. Wheeler, the campaign manager who eschews speaking with reporters. Peterson is treasurer of the group.

The highlight: “Idaho voters are too lazy, apathetic, and disinterested to stand up to the ‘Good Old Boy’ system,” a phrase Peterson used in his May 10 voice mail to me announcing the end.

After a long nap, Peterson fired up his computer again at 4:33 p.m., sending me another copy of the same the May 10 release, which he titled, “Closing Time.”

Five minutes later, he copied me a string of emails that began on Thursday, saying Dr. Wheeler “once again shows the brilliance that he’s famous for,” and that Wheeler had authorized him to post a Luna recall petition at Change.org, which Peterson said he launched late Wednesday and had even collected signatories from San Francisco and London, England.

As of noon Tuesday, the online petition had 24 signatures — considerably short of the committee’s goal of 1 million by June 13 to begin signature gathering. (To put a recall vote on the November ballot, 158,000 registered Idaho voters would have to sign a paper petition during a 75-day window).

Peterson also said Dr. Wheeler is “very odd and reclusive” and accepted the campaign manager job on the condition that he “not have to deal with the media” and that his contact information not be provided to reporters.

Finally, Peterson said he would be writing letters to the editor and appearing on talk radio to revive the recall.

At 10:47 p.m., Peterson replied to my question about whether Dr. Wheeler was an M.D. or, if not, in what discipline did he earned his doctorate. Wheeler has a doctorate in “meta-physics (ontology),” Peterson said. “If Dr. Wheeler wishes to be invisible, I am not going to be the one to expose him.”

Added Peterson, “I am dead serious about recalling Mr. Luna.”

Maybe. Next time we communicate, Mr. Peterson, perhaps you’ll be in a position to demonstrate measurable progress.






Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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