Tim Allen, a medical helicopter pilot, is running for Twin Falls City Council for all the right reasons. He wants to make the city a better place. He has personal attributes that could prove useful on the Council. He’s trying to make a difference.
But the same could be said for Greg Lanting, the incumbent for Seat 5, who says that if he wins, this may be his last term.
We think he deserves the seat, at least one more time. Lanting has been on the Council since the beginning of the Magic Valley’s economic boom, when he helped land Chobani. Perhaps only councilmate Chris Talkington understands better than Lanting the Council’s role in setting a vision for the city. They know that decisions made today will have ramifications years down the road.
The Council needs somebody with that vision and institutional knowledge, especially because Talkington says this is his last term.
Lanting wants to focus on workforce development, one of the most pressing needs the city now faces. And, yes, how the Council tackles this issue now is likely to set the course for the city for years to come.
Allen should be commended for stepping forward. This race should better prepare him for a future Council run, which we hope he takes.
In this race, though, he’s simply outmatched in trying to unseat one of the longest-serving and popular Council members in Lanting.
A third candidate in the race is Larry Houser, who made an unsuccessful run for Council two years ago. Houser has some whacky ideas, to put it mildly, including propping up the hemp industry locally to expand tax revenue and laying the groundwork for medical marijuana. He’d be in over his head as a public servant.
More than any other candidate in this race, Lanting has the experience, statesmanship and vision to keep Twin Falls improving.
It’s scary. When saving lives, complacency can be deadly. What does that mean exactly?
Idaho excels at the percentage of people 18 and older signed up as organ, eye and tissue donors —64 percent! That’s wonderful!
What’s scary is, past surveys show over 90 percent of Idahoans think donation/transplantation is a good thing. Where are those other 26 percent? Why haven’t they said yes to helping others?
Do they think because everyone else is signed up, they don’t need to? Maybe it’s the sense that since so many people are signed up, there are enough donors to help everyone. It would be nice if that were the case.
The reason there is such a shortage of transplantable organs to help those 300-plus people in Idaho waiting is that only one to two percent of deaths can actually lead to donation.
To be an organ donor, someone has to die in the hospital, while on a ventilator, from a brain injury. While that doesn’t happen all that often, one organ donor can save up to eight lives, and if they donate corneas and tissues as well, they can help over 50 people. That’s quite a legacy to leave behind. Is it scary to know you could help that many people? You probably don’t even get that many trick-or-treaters.
If saying yes does make you nervous or scared, please go to www.yesidaho.org to get the facts. Saying “yes” this Halloween to helping dozens of people shouldn’t be scary.
Given the scale of the opioid epidemic, the nation should be mobilizing. More people are dying than at the peak of the HIV/AIDS scourge. In some places, overdose deaths are exceeding homicides, suicides and traffic deaths combined. President Donald Trump offered useful actions and ideas at a White House ceremony Thursday, such as measures to prevent addiction with “really great advertising,” create nonaddictive painkillers and bolster law enforcement against illegal imports of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. But Trump’s announcements, including the designation of a public-health emergency, are not enough.
Drug overdose deaths are zooming upward, from 52,898 deaths in the year that ended January 2016 to 64,070 deaths in the year that ended this January, much of the increase due to fentanyl imported from China. Turning the tide is possible. Opioid use disorder can be effectively treated. The U.S. Surgeon General says that only about 1 in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receive treatment. What the nation really should be doing now is a crash effort to deliver effective treatment to those who most need it—to stop the rising death toll.
Although it didn’t get as much attention as Trump’s, an important statement was made by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He declared, correctly in our view, that “given the scale of the epidemic, with millions of Americans already affected, prevention is not enough.” He added, “We must also help those who are suffering from addiction by expanding access to lifesaving treatment.”
The evidence shows that addiction treatments that include medication, counseling and social support can work. In Massachusetts, Gottlieb noted, there was “a greater than 50 percent reduction in the risk of death from overdose among individuals treated with methadone or buprenorphine after a nonfatal overdose.” Researchers say treatment with these medications is life-extending for individuals with opioid use disorder. Treatment can be a road to recovery and lower risk of relapse. Yet there remains a heavy stigma associated with medication-based treatment, a stigma that needs to be overcome. People trying to regain control of their lives with treatments involving medication should not be considered addicted, the commissioner said. Rather, they are “role models in the fight against the opioid epidemic.”
Trump’s list of proposals was a start, but he did not provide the resources the crisis demands. If a public-health emergency is going to cost billions of dollars, better to face that now than wait until later. As Joshua Sharfstein of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has pointed out, there are enormous resource demands, many at the state and local levels, for emergency medical services, law enforcement, child welfare, training and treatment. The nation must face the opioid crisis with a more expansive treatment strategy—and more funding—than what Trump has offered so far.
Through most of the last generation you could find much of the edgy fringe of Idaho politics in Kootenai County, and pieces of a recent article about politics there helps locate one of the reasons things have gotten so worked up.
The article by Anne Helen Petersen on the site Buzzfeed is called “Here’s what happens when Republicans have no one to fight” (it is at https://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/wackadoodles-north-idaho). It describes in detail the evolution over the last half-century or so of local Republican politics, especially the relatively recent splintering between sundry pachyderms, Reagan Republicans, redoubters and others.
The most central current figure in the article is Brent Regan, chair of the Kootenai Republican Party Central Committee, where at meetings “people come to him, as if before a ruler, or a king.”
He apparently is not shy about expressing himself, writer Peterson said, and “when I asked him to help refine my understanding of liberty-minded conservative beliefs, Regan protested my use of ‘beliefs,’ which infers that they are, in fact, decisions — instead of ‘immutable truths.’”
The article quoted an email from Regan: “There is a right and a wrong, good and evil, and beneficial and detrimental. Society cannot thrive under Cartesian Relativism because it devolves into a muddle of conflicting ‘truths.’ The truths are that American Exceptionalism is the product of Judeo-Christian morality (The Ten Commandments) and of Logos (try to speak Truth), Greco-Roman philosophy (democracy and the idea that nature can be understood) and Anglo-Saxon Law (Magna Carta, the laws apply to all, even the King). The result is articulated in the most powerful political statement in history, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution is a covenant between the states to create a federal government. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights, it forbids the government from infringing on those rights which “are endowed by their Creator.”
I reject his premise: These are not immutable truths. These are interpretations, analyses—ideas, opinions, which may have merit or not, but most certainly are not facts. Facts and opinions are different things. It’s a fact that Regan was quoted in the article as the last paragraph indicates. This column is opinion and analysis, and so is the quote from the Regan email.
Some of what Regan says here is just silly. American exceptionalism is the outgrowth of the Ten Commandments? Really? Other parts seem more sensible. I would agree that the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence is among the most powerful political statements ever, but how is that contention fact and not opinion?
This is not mere philosophical hair-splitting. The inability to discern between fact and opinion is subtle but also one of the most serious real political problems we have these days, and it’s getting worse.
A big part of what we as Americans suffer from is an inability to compromise—which is another way of saying, the ability of the widely varied 323 million or so of us to get along and to work together. A society made up of people convinced of their own absolute, unquestioning rightness, the lack of any need to learn anything new—much less about their fellow citizens—can keep our country from functioning. It can blow a society apart.
You want to turn America into an updated version of the ‘90s-era Balkans? Evidently, you can find a prescription for that kind of future up in Kootenai County.