In response to Ben Olson’s Bouquet and Barbs column in the Jan.18 Reader:
Ben, as a journalist I was surprised to see what you had written regarding the advisory vote on Scotchman’s Peak. Typically a journalist would have checked the facts before writing on a subject, but clearly you had not. First of all, it was a unanimous vote of all commissioners to place this advisory vote on the primary ballot. This was done in an open meeting with the director of the Friends of Scotchman’s Peak Wilderness and a member of the Idaho Conservation League in attendance. The reason to have the vote on the primary ballot was twofold. First, Sen. Risch plans on reintroducing the bill in the next few months. Like the past board of commissioners, Risch has been told the Scotchman’s wilderness proposal has wide spread support in the county. Unfortunately we have seen there is a sizable opposition to this issue. Second, we received a resolution from the Republican Central Committee requesting we put this issue on the May primary ballot.
Since the issue is coming up again in Congress shortly, we all agreed that the sooner the vote could be made the better. Furthermore, this is a non-partisan issue. There are Republicans that are in favor of the wilderness designation and Democrats that oppose it.
As a journalist, you should understand, that we are using the democratic process to allow citizens to formally weigh in on this issue. The beauty of the process is, if indeed, there is overwhelming support those folks will come out to vote in favor, those opposed will do the same.
Additionally, there are some serious gubernatorial and District 1 House races that will motivate Democrats to vote in the primary, and the county is committed to having this on all ballots: Republican, Democrat, Unaffiliated, Libertarian and Constitution Party. It will be very fair. As far as costs go, this ballot issue is hitchhiking on the primary ballot, so the cost is zero, while the benefit will be huge.
I would hope in the future you would attend our meetings or at least reach out to the Commissioner’s Office to get accurate information as you have done in the past.