Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time For Letting Go

I went to the Idaho Governors Cup last week in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This is a annual event started when Gov. Cecil Andrus started a Idaho scholarship event 40 years ago. Last week, current Governor Butch Otter announced that the event raised $1.25 million for Idaho student scholarships.

It was a great event, and I saw so many people I have known through the years. When I started to lobbying when I was 23, I interacted with all of the governors: Andrus, Evans, Batt, Kempthorne, Risch, and Otter. Throughout my career, I have dealt with hundreds of legislators. I have lobbied in Washington, DC with Idaho’s congressional delegation. I have worked with countless mayors, county commissioners, city councils, and university and college presidents. At some point, I was elected twice to be on the College of Western Idaho Board of Trustees. So I am an elected official. Recently, Gov. Otter appointed me to be on the Board of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association which was a shock considering I had my strokes after he appointed me.

All the while, I juggled a demanding career in association management and college administration. Budgeting, HR, strategic planning, making speeches, testifying, traveling throughout the nation, teaching, etc.

Sometimes I do not realize how much I accomplished. Again, it is just "me."

It all started with a paint bucket when I was 20 years old.

My brothers had a construction residential company, and we built a house for the Director of the Southwest Home Builders Association. After work, the client would often visit the house during the construction. More often than not, he would sit with me drinking a beer with us sitting on 5 gallons paint buckets. We talked about my goals, and we loved to talk about politics.

In 1982, he left his job to take a position running a gubernatorial campaign for GOP candidate Phil Batt. He asked me to be the Boise State Coordinator for the Phil Batt campaign. I loved that! I met so many people, and I loved working in politics. However, Phil Batt lost.

Our homebuilding client and my mentor was out of a job. I was crushed in many ways. My mentor said, “There will be other campaigns. You have a great future. Keep in touch.”

And I did keep in touch. At that point, who knew Dirk Kempthorne
would be Boise’s mayor, a US Senator, and a Governor.

He wrote a letter of recommendation for me when I pursued my first “real professional” job in politics. I interned as the Assistant Lobbyist for the Idaho Association of REALTOR’S. In one year, I became the CEO of the REALTOR’S, and here I am today with 30# years of experience as a lobbyist,  elected official, a university administrator, and several CEO association positions.

Years ago when Gov. Kempthorne was seeking reelection, he called me and asked me to be the "Chair of the Kempthorne of the Lobbyist Group." I was flattered, and I asked “Why me?”

In a nutshell, he said, “You are perhaps one of the best lobbyists in Idaho. You are very effective yet everyone likes and respects you even your adversaries.”

Throughout my career, I have tried to live up to the standard that I set years ago. I strived to be effective and professional with integrity.

At the Idaho Governors Cup last week in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, it was great to see Governor Kempthorne again

Throughout the event, I was humbled that so many people told me about “me” and the respect I still engender. I was happy that people still respect me.

On the other hand, I was troubled that so many people have told me that some of the organizations I used to run have been so polarized and politicized that they wish I was in charge. Certainly, organizations have political goals, and I know I made enemies. That is the nature of the political beast.  To be effective, you make enemies.

However, when I hear news about organizations which I still care about even though I have no role, it still makes me feel sad.  How do I stop caring?

Ethan and Gov. Butch Otter August 27, 2014
The National Association of REALTOR’S is considering disbanding small boards. I am saddened because I helped create a national program to help small organizations. Another organization I love is doing political “things” I would not do. There are so many examples where I think I could make a major difference. However, my time is passed.   

When my strokes happened, my second one was so severe everybody assumed I had memory loss. Memory loss is common for stroke survivors. The doctors knew that the 20% of my brain which is dead and I should have memory losses. They tested me, but my memory loss was insignificant.

The great news is I have a great memory. The bad news, I still care about things I have no business still caring about!

One of my favorite obscure singers is Jude Cole. He released a song called “
Time For Letting Go.” Though the song is about ending a love relationship, I have thought about this lyric over and over because of my inability to stop caring politically about things I have no control over.

"And way down deep inside
The time is telling me it's time for letting go
Let it go
I keep telling myself over and over
Let it go"


I will remember great professional memories like wonderful public officials who helped me throughout my career like Dirk Kempthorne 
and helped me when I had my strokes like Gov. Butch Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little. 

However, I will try to “let it go.” There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page or just closing the book. Perhaps I will should write a book myself.

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