Columnist Bill Colley

Columnist Bill Colley has his portrait taken Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, at the Times-News in downtown Twin Falls.

DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS

I think chip seal is all hat and no cowboy. Among the political observations today, what’s the point? I did an informal social media survey and only found one person who applauded chip seal on streets and roads. He described it as a cheap solution. Cheap for whom? Last year in the days after it was put down on Twin Falls streets I started losing pressure in a tire. At the shop it was discovered the tire had a puncture along the edge of the tread and along the wall. I couldn’t even get the thing patched.

Driving home from work this last Friday I noticed a tire down two pounds per square inch. Everything looked fine after I put some air into the tire. Saturday morning it was once more down two pounds. When I left for church Sunday it was down eight pounds. Coincidences happen but in both cases and involving separate cars I’ve got tire issues within days of chip seal being spread.

There have been great innovations in highway management over the last 50 years. When I came to Twin Falls I asked members of the City Council why there were grooves along Shoshone Street. Big grooves, like the gutters at bowling alleys. Truck traffic was the explanation.

Since before the time of my parents there has been a cheese factory in my hometown. Growing up, there was always a steady stream of milk tankers going to and from the plant. There were no gutters in the streets. Additionally, I’ve visited two-thirds of the states and I can’t find anywhere else with troughs at intersections. My friend Steve Millington explains these are for drainage and satisfy environmental regulations. Then why only in Idaho? Did the muffler shops lobby for drainage gorges to increase business? I nearly tore away the undercarriage of a truck driving into the parking lot at Albertsons Stadium a few years ago. And it was a high-riding four-wheel drive. Maybe there are people rafting at these drainage ditches after heavy rains.

When the roads across the region disintegrated this past winter it was chalked up to unusually harsh weather. Maybe in the mountains, but snow totals here in the valley were relatively mild compared with some parts of the country. For 44 years I lived and worked in a part of the USA where snow was generally measured in feet versus inches. The roads are smothered in salt from late fall and well into spring. One winter the temperature never rose above zero for several days. Another winter recorded measurable snow every day for almost two solid months.

The roads are still there when the melt passes. There are no gutters, sinkholes or gorges. I’m sure the trade magazines focused on highway maintenance have featured these conditions and solutions over the last 50 years. Is someone failing to deliver the mail to local highway departments?

***

Since I’m only just warming up on political grievances today I’ve got to mention the bald-faced opportunism of Idaho Democrats.

These are the people who shouted “states’ rights” when a federal commission asked for Idaho voting records. Among liberals “states’ rights” are bad words until it helps a partisan cause. I believe Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney is opposed to cooperating with the commission request for another reason. He doesn’t wish to appear an errand boy for the Trump White House and set a precedent.

Oddly, an editorial writer at the Washington Examiner published the request from the commission. It made no demands. Instead it respected individual state laws and made it clear states could opt out of portions especially if state laws protected certain voter information. In other words, the White House was looking for the last four digits of Social Security numbers but would accept less if states kept those details under wraps.

Most of what the commission asked for is already publicly available and is sold to various campaigns. When I worked as a political operative I would get not only lists of voters but also names of potential donors. And their telephone numbers. Then I would call and ask for even greater donations for the cause. Mr. Denney may have noble reasons for making his independence clear. But as for Democrats, what do they fear?

Judging by how few liberals hold elective offices in Idaho, if there ever was voter fraud it must benefit the Republicans. There is one possible motive we’re overlooking. The population growth in Ada and Canyon Counties may soon tip the scales of all statewide elections. There are few places where the liberals have a pulse. Democrats are on life support across much of the state, but the Capital region isn’t on the critical list.

My last political complaint for the moment involves the convoluted court decision upholding the governor’s veto of the grocery tax repeal. The decision appears to say the legislators who brought the complaint are right and in the future they’ll be right but they’re wrong as long as the governor is named “Butch.”

I don’t believe the judiciary is politicized, but if judges and justices are trying to avoid the appearance of cronyism the ruling is an epic failure. May the highway department chip seal the road to the high court!

Why baseball? It’s a family activity. It’s wholesome, and having spent many a summer night watching balls and strikes, it reduces stress.

Bill Colley is the host of Top Story on Newsradio 1310 AM.

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