Ex-Sen. Corder blasts former GOP colleague Goedde for ‘hubris’ on ed reform

Former Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, is criticizing Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, saying he displayed “wanton disregard for the public will” in helping reenact some of the anti-union measures in “Students Come First.”

Though 57 percent of voters rejected Proposition 1 in November, the 2013 Legislature revived four provisions at the urging of the Idaho School Boards Association. The four bills signed by Gov. Butch Otter:  restore board authority to cut teacher pay without declaring a financial emergency; eliminate ongoing “evergreen” contract provisions; require 50 percent teacher membership to qualify a union to collectively bargain; and eliminate an early retirement program.

Corder, who lost in the 2012 GOP primary when reapportionment put him in the same district as Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson, said Goedde should return the state flag given to him by the Senate in recognition for his service in the 2011 session, when “Students Come First” was enacted. Goedde was the lead sponsor of the three Students Come First bills, all rejected by voters. Corder was among eight of 28 Senate Republicans who voted against the bills.

Corder also criticizes the Legislature for passing Senate Bill 1108, which toughens the standards for putting a referendum on the ballot by requiring signatures of 6 percent of voters in at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.

Corder makes his case in an op-ed submitted to news organizations across the state. Sen. Goedde declined comment.

Corder’s op-ed follows:

A flag flies over the Idaho State Senate while it is in session.  At the conclusion of each session the flag is removed and awarded to a citizen of Idaho to show appreciation for service to the people of Idaho above and beyond the call of duty or for extraordinary examples of citizenship.

Hubris (pron.: /ˈhjuːbrɪs/), also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.

For the Greeks hubris was a crime; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris.  Those who committed such egregious and heinous acts against the very liberties of mankind were prohibited from holding public office.  Today, by public apathy, we reward (or at least fail to punish), public displays of wanton disregard for the public will (hubris), with continued terms in office – and other things.

Two years ago the flag was given to the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Senator John Goedde, for his work in bringing about the three bills that set off a political firestorm.  The storm began when hundreds of people showed up to testify overwhelmingly against the three subject pieces of legislation in both the House and the Senate Committees.  The bills passed through both committees with ease.  The bills passed both Houses of the Legislature handily.  Political back patting abounded, bills were signed into law.  Hubris?

The firestorm continued with historical and overwhelming public outcries of “foul” and clear articulation of the public will as the votes were counted in referenda that voided the hubristic actions of the 2011 legislature with respect to education.  The margins of the referenda were overwhelming mandates to involve the public and develop a plan for reform based on what we know to be effective in academic and fiscal results.

A task force was formed but they were not free to engage possibilities.  They were encumbered by politics and inhibited by artificial barriers to protect egos; analogous to the old workhorse blinders put on animals so they would work only in the direction chosen by the driver without looking to the right or left.  It was not the people’s mandate driving the Task Force.  Suspicion is even more justified by the fact that few citizens showed up for an education Task Force “listening” session at Twin Falls last week.  Either folks didn’t know their voice was expected or people are tired of talking to the void.

It should have been a slam dunk; (particularly for a historically large incoming legislative class fresh from their promises to listen to the people), to go back to the table in good faith and really reform education in meaningful and proven ways. Instead the 2013 legislative response was the passage of barely disguised reprints of the laws repealed last November. The bills were signed into law, more political back-patting occurred and 2013 has been called a good year.  For whom?

The 2013 bills barely change the language of the legislation overturned by the referenda and do nothing about seizing opportunities for meaningful education reform or securing long term consistent funding.  The bills do not stop the cost-shifting from the state to local sources of revenue; an act that by itself absolutely ensures inequity for our students across the state.

Just to make the point even more clear the legislature passed Senate Bill 1108 that will make it even more difficult for citizens to get a referendum placed on the ballot by the people.  The bill was signed into law.

History proves that Idaho has not been encumbered by nuisance referenda in our elections, and that unchecked power results in tyranny.  This hubris must end by listening in earnest to common-sense citizens trying to assert their common law responsibility and take a larger role in the direction of our state and central committees.

Please return the flag Senator Goedde.


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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