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Opinion
Letters of thanks

Thanks for a great Good Neighbor Day

The Kimberly Lions Club would like to thank the following businesses and individuals who donated funds, food or services to the 2017 Good Neighbor Day Barbecue:

Gold Sponsors: Starr Corporation, city of Kimberly, Walmart, Kimberly Ridley’s, ACOSTA Food Service Team and Dreyers Ice Cream

Silver Sponsors: Maxie’s Pizza of Twin Falls, D & T Automotive, First Federal Savings Bank, Family Health Services and D.L. Evans Bank

Bronze Sponsors: Overacre Insurance, McKinlay & Klundt Appraisal Co., Standlee Premium Western Forage, Windsor’s Nursery and Mike and Joy Mason

We would also like to thank all of the dinner guests who donated at the event.

Mike Mason

Kimberly Lions Club

Hansen Day a success

The city of Hansen would like to thank all who contributed to making Hansen Day a success. Thank you to the sponsors: CH2Hill-OMI, Independent Meat, Ridley’s, Hansen Quick S&G, Hansen cheerleaders, and Hansen Booster Club. Thanks to all parade entries, parade watchers, bingo prize donors, bingo game players, those who played the games and enjoyed the activities, vendors, and those who contributed to the potluck. A big thank you to Larry and Koni Bourn, the cooks. Thank you to Todd Allison and his crew for the fantastic fireworks display. Unfortunately we can not list every person and business, but please know we appreciate all you do.

Linda Morrill

Hansen city clerk

Thanks, St. Matthews Episcopal Church

The Minidoka County Senior Center would like to send out a big thank you to St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Rupert. They have given us a generous donation of over $ 4,000 to be used for our“Meals on Wheels ongoing program. At the present time, the center is delivering 75 nutritious meals every day to seniors who are in need of a hot meal. There are no words to tell you how much such a gift helps to keep the Meals on Wheels rollin’. May God continue to bless your charitable congregation.

Shirley Hess

Minidoka County Senior Center


Columnists
OTHER VIEW
Other View: Spicer wasn't what's wrong with this White House

We’ve finally found the one thing that’s perfectly normal about the Donald Trump White House: When things go bad, blame the message (and the messenger), not the substance. And so, with things going quite badly indeed, we get to the resignation of Sean Spicer, press secretary and short-term celebrity “Saturday Night Live” send-up, and the hiring of a new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.

Spicer reportedly resigned over his opposition to Scaramucci, although as with all such explanations, we’ll have to see whether it holds up over time. What is obvious from Friday’s news is that the White House is as chaotic and mismanaged as ever, given that the news media has already reported not only Spicer’s objection to the new press secretary but also the strong opposition of both White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Steve Bannon, who said Scaramucci would get the job “ over my dead body.”

That part is not normal.

It is meaningful.

And it doesn’t bode well for the future.

Nor do reports that Scaramucci got his job by impressing the president with his hard-hitting defense of the administration on cable TV shows. While appearing on television certainly is part of the job of a White House communications director, the real job is to map out and execute an overall communications strategy, something Scaramucci doesn’t appear to be qualified for. He hasn’t worked in government or politics, much less in a White House; his background is in finance, not communications. His hiring is another disturbing indication that the president of the United States is still governing mainly by reacting to what is on TV news shows, and that he still uses a “cut of his jib” test for personnel. That’s all very bad news.

Indeed, as the Washington Examiner’s Sarah Westwood and Al Weave report:

“Scaramucci would take the prestigious communications director title ‘but would not be fulfilling that responsibility because he doesn’t know how,’ the source said.

“ ‘Basically, Trump wanted to give Scaramucci something to do because he thinks he’s a “good Italian kid,” ‘ the source said.”

Replacing Spicer and former White House communications chief Mike Dubke with Scaramucci is also another step away from the Republican Party and toward a more personal presidency. That’s not good news, either, since the record of personal presidencies in the 1960s and 1970s was not very impressive.

Indeed, Sean Spicer was one of the very few people in the Trump White House who actually had the proper experience and credentials for the job he was hired to do.

Was he good at the job? I’ll admit up front: As a former Hill press aide long ago, I have a principled bias in favor of all White House press secretaries. It’s a very difficult job in the best of times, and with the current president, it was almost certainly impossible for anyone to look good doing it. I do agree that Spicer made a serious mistake when, on Trump’s orders, he undermined his own credibility in his first days on the job by arguing an impossible position over inauguration crowd sizes. As hard as it would have been to do, Spicer should have stood up to Trump right away and explained that no one could do the job under those circumstances.

Still, much of what Spicer was subsequently hit for seemed to me mostly about blaming the messenger. Of course he was going to spin. Of course the White House was going to limit access at times. And of course reporters would complain about it. That’s how the system works, and as far as I could see, Spicer — more than most in this White House — was doing his job more or less the way it was supposed to be done.

One could certainly argue that Spicer simply should have resigned early on, and that no competent professional could possibly hold down that job in this administration. There’s a pretty good case for that. And obviously he made his share of mistakes over his six months in the job. Still, anyone who thinks Sean Spicer was among the top 100 problems with Donald Trump’s presidency is confusing visibility with importance. And there’s a much-better-than-zero chance that the press corps six months from now will be telling stories of how much everything has deteriorated since he left.


Editorial
OUR VIEW
Our View: Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

Hats off to the dozens of county and city clerks, local elected officials and government employees who attended an open government training held Tuesday by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and Idahoans for Openness in Government. The event was sponsored by the Times-News.

Intended for local government workers and the media alike, the seminar focused on navigating what’s acceptable (and not) for public officials when it comes to complying with the state’s public records laws — and what, specifically, the media and public are entitled to access under the law.

Both the media and government work for the betterment of the public, but the groups often spar when it comes to just how much the public should be privy to.

The AG’s office holds these workshops across the state, a gesture that helps both groups find common ground and avoid sticky situations. We thank the office for holding a seminar in Twin Falls and, especially, for Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s time and expertise.

But our deepest gratitude goes out to the local government officials who attended. Often, it’s a clerk or secretary fielding a records request or preparing an agenda for a public meeting. And those jobs seldom come with crystal-clear instructions. Sometimes, especially for elected officials, there’s no training on open government at all — something extremely frustrating for reporters snooping around city halls who don’t always have as much tact or patience as they should.

In our democracy, we should all be able to agree government works for the people and its inner workings should be accessible to the people. Government and the press, especially in Idaho, aren’t at odds nearly as often as folks might think.

Workshops like this one help sustain the relationship between government and the press. And when both are working for you like they should, we all benefit.

Jeer

Too bad more city officials from Filer didn’t attend that workshop. They would have been reminded, by the attorney general himself no less, that government — even city councils and mayors in small Idaho towns — serve at the pleasure of their constituents.

The city created a public relations nightmare earlier this summer when it surprisingly began talks with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office about absorbing the city’s police force. Hundreds turned out at a Council meeting when they heard what their elected leaders were pursuing. The only things missing were the pitchforks and torches.

Apparently, the Filer City Council and Mayor Rick Dunn haven’t learned much from the experience. Because this week, the council and Dunn voted to fire the city’s police chief, a move discussed behind closed doors and with no forewarning to the public.

And now council members and the mayor are hiding behind claims that it’s a “personnel matter” and can’t be discussed. City employees have told us they can’t discuss anything with the media or the town because Dunn has issued a gag order.

As we speculated after that first meeting, maybe there’s an excellent reasoning for folding the police force. This time, maybe there’s an excellent reason for firing the police chief. But with no one at the city doing any explaining (or even halfway interested in communication and messaging) all anyone can do is speculate about what the Council and Dunn are really up to.

Here’s some advice: There are plenty of ways to communicate to the public while still respecting the privacy rights of city employees. Voters deserve to know what’s going on and what direction the local government intends to take the city.

Circling the wagons and halting any communication with voters is absolutely the wrong approach.

It might be too late for the Council and mayor. Petitions to recall Dunn and all but one Council member are already gaining signatures.

Cheer

The College of Southern Idaho is the only school in the Scenic West Athletic Conference without a men’s and women’s soccer team.

That’s a shame, considering soccer’s popularity in the Magic Valley and the success of so many local high school players who leave the region to continue their careers.

Now, though, CSI is closer than ever to expanding its athletics program to include a men’s and women’s team. While a decision on whether to add soccer won’t likely come until November, the college is laying the groundwork, literally.

Work is underway to create a soccer field on the northwest side of campus.

Regardless of whether CSI adds the sport, college planners say the field will be open to high school soccer teams, tournaments and other events.