Thursday, April 30, 2009

REALITY CHECK ABOUT GOVERNOR OTTER

I'm diverting from the primary purpose for the "Dunham Family Blog" today because I'm weary of the political spin about transportation funding in Idaho and Governor Otter in particular. Obviously, as the Executive Director of the Idaho Associated General Contractors, I have an interest in transportation funding.

However, though some legislators dismiss us as a "special interest" (until election time comes around), they should not and cannot escape the truth: Idaho must invest more in our transportation infrastructure for the sake of citizen safety and the state's economy.

What prompts me to divert from family news today is the latest round of Otter-bashing which is as unfair as it is duplicitous. Here's what I sent out to a large group of friends today:

Friends,

I’m sending this to a group of friends in my contact list because I’m frustrated with the erroneous spin being put on Governor Otter’s transportation funding efforts -- in particular his visit to Midvale, Idaho a couple of days ago. I doubt you have the real story if you’ve followed the news.

You might have read the Idaho Statesman’s misleading headline yesterday about Governor Otter’s “Capital for a Day” visit to Midvale followed this morning by Dan Popkey’s Statesman column where he writes “House members took pleasure in the rough treatment Otter got Tuesday when he held Capitol for a Day in Midvale. He got an earful about federal matters largely beyond his control and heard little support for raising fuel taxes. ‘I think the governor got that message (Tuesday) when he was in Midvale,’ said House GOP Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of McCall.”

Speaking of message, after reading all of that in the Statesman, I have one as well because, I was in Midvale at the same meeting the entire day. Here’s the real story:

• There wasn’t even one legislator in Midvale on Tuesday so recounting what happened that day is hearsay at best;
• The Governor was there before 9:00 a.m. until about 2:45 p.m. fielding a host of questions;
• There were some heated questions in the morning mainly focused on sheep, wolves, the federal government, the federal stimulus package and a long discussion about fire codes thrown in for good measure;
• At about 1:45 the very first transportation related question was asked when a citizen asked the Governor why the Midvale rest area was being refurbished (The answer? Complying with the American’s with Disabilities Act, a crumbling foundation, and safety to alleviate trucks parking on the highway due to inadequate parking);
• There followed a candid – and sometimes light hearted -- discussion about transportation and taxes. For about 45 minutes. NOT ONE citizen suggested there wasn’t a need for additional revenue. Citizens were actually complimentary about the improvements to Highway 95, and people laughed with the Governor as he recounted how treacherous Highway 95 was over 40 years ago when he drove back and forth from Boise Junior College to visit his folks in Council. There were certainly a couple of citizens expressing frustration with taxes but even they acknowledged the need for more revenue;
• There was less than a handful of protestors outside wielding signs such as “Otter’s Folly” (about the rest area though they weren’t in the room to hear the explanation), big horn sheep, taxes, etc. Evidently, none of them felt the need or courage to come into the building to voice their opinion;
• So, out of about 6 hours, the Governor spent about 45 minutes totally focused on transportation. While a few people expressed frustration about raising taxes, not one person disagreed with the Governor about the need;
• That was it. Hardly a “message” to the Governor about his transportation goals.

Throughout the day, the Governor was on-point, informed, engaged, understanding, compassionate, and dedicated. In return, even those most frustrated by sheep, taxes, Obama, and fire codes seemed genuinely affectionate toward the Governor. If this was a battle of ideas between the Governor and legislators among the “folks back home,” Governor Otter was the clear winner.

Oh, by the way, he got a standing ovation at the end.

I went to Midvale because I had heard some legislators suggest the Governor is “out of touch with the people.” I wanted to see for myself. I sat in the back of the room all day. I never once spoke to the Governor. I doubt he even knows I was there. But I wanted to understand the truth rather than rely on misleading headlines and political spin back in Boise.

I’m glad I was there because the reality of the day seems to have been lost in the reporting and in the Capitol Annex.
Mark

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring is finally here!


Months ago I blogged that the Dunhams had cabin fever, but this was the first really nice weekend in a long time with temperatures reaching the 70's. Ethan and I mowed the lawn for the first time, and Heather cleaned up the yard. We biked to the Boise Train Depot where "Big Mike" the locomotive was dedicated and took an elevator to the top of the tower. The weekend was also filled with gratefulness about what we have as some neighbors packed to move away. The 6 year old boy spent most of his time with us, and it was tough to hear about the difficulties experienced in a house next door. It makes you wonder what decisions made in life send some people down one path and others down another. The things we are teaching Ethan now will last a lifetime, and as the neighbors drive off in their U-Haul -- a mom and two boys with different dads headed to a house bought by the grandparents where the littlest boy says "we can finally live somewhere forever" -- we can only hope their lives will be better than they have been. We wish them well....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Furry Eyes


Awhile back, Ethan's teachers recommended he be tested through the Boise School District, and, surprisingly, they suggested he might need glasses. Both Heather and I have vision problems, and I first started to wear glasses when I was in 7th grade. Today, Ethan had his eyes tested which included dilation. He told his mom that the drops made everything "look furry." The result? He has perfect vision! Now they are off to PoJo's to celebrate.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter

Easter is a fun time for the Dunhams mainly because we get to go to Heather's sister Laurie's house for the annual family event. This was the 32nd annual event (well, not for Ethan and I because we're relatively recent additions to the family), and the weather was simply wonderful as was the company and food (had to make sure I got that in the proper order....). However, this wasn't our only event. Yesterday morning, we were invited to a wonderful brunch at our friend Elina's house where Ethan participated in what was the first of three Easter egg hunts this weekend. Ethan and Mom then colored eggs. Last night the adults got to play as Heather and I laughed through our montly "Supper Club" which was hosted by our friend Elizabeth in her new house. The theme was French, and I even tried a snail. It was....well, I didn't vomit. It's apparent that my father's Norwegian roots take precedent over my mother's quarter French roots. However, because I surrendered and ate a snail, perhaps I am more French than expected....Today, Ethan awoke to find the Easter Bunny had delivered the goods which included a stuffed dinosaur ("I don't like chocolate bunnies Mom) and an Optimus Prime Transformer Kite. His excitement was palpable. He came downstairs and found even more Easter eggs, and decided the ones too high for the Easter Bunny to plant must have been put there by the Easter Bunny's boss. Later, as we drove to Aunt Laurie's, he commented on how pretty the mountains were. Heather told him they were the "Owyhees" which he now calls the "High Why Hees." He spent the day running with cousins, getting wet in the sprinkler, showing dad the new kittens (who were born this morning on the deck -- blessedly prior to our arrival), teeter-tottering (not sure if that's an official verb), and avoiding eating as much as possible. The drive home included a trip past "Mommy's farm to see the buffalo," and then a well deserved snooze on the way back home. Yawn.....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Songs

I’ve been thinking a lot about songs lately and how hearing one can instantly send you back in time. The very first song I can remember is “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. I remember being in our kitchen in Montana listening to it on the radio, and we moved to Twin Falls when I was 3. “You Are My Sunshine” is my brother Steve playing the guitar and encouraging his toddler brother to sing along. I wasn’t good then either.

“Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline puts me on Falls Avenue East in Twin Falls listening to my mom sing along as she cleans house. I must have been about 4 years old at the time because I was not in school, yet I remember it vividly. Tammy Wynette had two hits which remind me of Mom, and they seem at odds with each other: “Stand By Your Man” and “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” She sang a lot when I was a kid, and I remember being on icy Falls Avenue in Twin Falls in her red Buick station wagon hearing her sing those country songs. 40+ years later, I understand that she sang both those songs as she grappled with the tough decision to divorce my father – a decision that saved all of us including him.

“Eight Days a Week” or “Honey Don’t” by the Beatles brings a memory of my brother Steve teaching my mom to dance to rock and roll in our dining room. She was wearing black Capri pants and a white dress blouse. He was wearing a paisley shirt. She must have been about 34 or 35 years old which seems really young now! “Who Wants to Buy This Diamond Ring” is my brothers Steve and Dirk’s junior high school band playing at Bass Lake at the Blue Lakes Country Club. "Killing Me Softly With His Song" is my beloved late friend Carolyn who babysat me when I was little and explained the importance of taking it easy, laying in the sun, reading a good book, and putting your beach blanket near a larger person so you looked better in comparison.

“Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd is the summer after high school graduation which seems distant yet recent at the same time. “I’m Not In Love” by 10CC puts me back on a highway between Twin Falls and Kalispell, Montana in my brother Dan’s green Datson 240Z when he was letting his teenage brother (me) drive before I had a license as we headed home after visiting our grandparents. “The Long and Winding Road” from the Beatles “Abbey Road” reminds me of my brother Dirk who bought that album when we lived in a little rental on Monroe Street in Twin Falls after our parents divorced. He threatened me with my 3rd grade life if I scratched it, and I was so careful with his album. The song “She Came In Through the Bathroom” window from that same album reminds me of Dirk and Steve because they snuck into the Monroe house one night through the bathroom window, and Dirk fell into the tub when the towel bar gave way. At least I think that happened. Memories like songs can evolve through the years!

“Green Eyed Lady” is my stepsister Nancy. “Saturday In The Park” by the Doobie Brothers sends me back to perfect Twin Falls’ afternoons headed to swim somewhere. “Love Story” from the movie puts me in the passenger seat of a Cutlass 442 late on a Friday night as my brother’s friend headed to Boise for Marine Reserve Training and, on a monthly basis, took his buddy’s little kid brother back and forth so I could visit my dad. “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer is Senior year in high school.

Any song by ABBA reminds me of Heather and makes me smile.

“Dust in the Wind” reminds me of a middle of the night trip to San Francisco with my friend Chap as we followed our buddy Joe who was moving there after college but had packed every cassette other than “Kansas’ Greatest Hits.” Frank Sinatra singing “Fly Me To the Moon” reminds me of Charles Manson because the summer I discovered Sinatra through my incredible stepfather/mentor, I was also reading the terrifying “Helter Skelter.”

Separate Ways” by Journey used to remind me of college days….seeing Journey at the BSU Pavilion (pre-Taco Bell days) in the 4th row on the floor using tickets my roommate and BSU bookstore employee Jeff had obtained. We thought that night was just perfect. Now? That song reminds me of Ethan because he loves it! He also loves hard rock, and our recent monster truck experience has made AC/DC a particular favorite of his. He hears it on the radio – or George Thorogood – and he says with excitement “Dad! That’s our monster truck song!”

Every song on the radio has the potential of a memory. As Ethan drives along with Mom and Dad during our travels, I wonder what memories he will take away that will drift into his consciousness in 44 years when he is my age? I want them to be good memories. And good music….

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What is it about toots and boys?


I think it is a gender thing. My 4 year old son cannot stop laughing when he toots. "Toots" is the only word allowed in our household to describe the "f" word which, in this case for those of you with dirty minds is "flatulence" or the more common "fart." Ethan almost cries when laughing when he is...well...engaged in this behavior. I try to limit this....activity....cautioning him that he can NEVER do it at school, in front of Grandma (speaking from 48 years of personal experience, this is doomed to failure), or his mother. He will giggle, turn around, wiggle his "bum" (we also cannot use "butt" in our home), and either really....well...let one go or pretend to do so. Then he collapses in fits of laughter saying "Did you hear that one Daddy!" If it is particularly....well....smelly, he covers his nose amidst giggles and roars "Oh, that one stinks!" On the off chance he performs this typical male act in front of Mom, she admonishes him, looks at me and says "it must be a boy thing." Of course, sometimes she laughs as well though she doesn't like to admit it. It really IS a boy thing I suppose. Growing up with three older brothers, this simple natural act took on an art form, and evidently Ethan is an artist. Perhaps it was inappropriate for me to put a Whoopee Cushion in his Christmas stocking. Oh well. Here he comes again!