Friday, April 25, 2008

I Went Head To Head With My Opponent Last Night

I Went Head To Head With My Opponent Last Night

I cannot imagine him being foolish enough to debate me in any public forum. I showed up at the Elmore County Republican Central Committee meeting last night to introduce myself. So did Senator Corder. I picked three issues of concern:

  • S.1323 (the sexual orientation and gender identity bill that Corder sponsored)
  • Mental Health Services and penny-wise, pound-foolish regulations
  • Expansion of college classes into rural Idaho--without spending a pile of money

I was pleased to see one of those in attendance ask, "Are you the Clayton Cramer?" He meant the historian--and he told me later that he has read everything that I have ever written on the subject of gun control. Ah, fame (even of the minor variety that I enjoy) has its virtues!

Senator Corder emphasized how many generations his family has lived here. He talked about helping individuals do battle with the state bureaucracy using what he called his "magic telephone book" and his opening line for getting bureaucrats to listen, "This is Senator Tim Corder." This would be a fine speech to give to a bunch with no particular ideological interest in what government does--but Republican Party activists, not surprisingly, tend to care about issues--not just making the bureaucracy do its job.

What startled me most of all--and in California, would probably have required Jack Bauer to torture an elected official into admitting--was when Corder told us about how much better off we are because the state hires his trucking company for various contracts. What really startled me, however, was when he told us about his trucks leaving one Transportation Department district and going into another in furtherance of some state contract--and some sort of problem came up. So he used his "magic telephone book", and an hour later, his trucks were again moving.

Now, Corder emphasized that because of his willingness to use his official position in behalf of his private business interests, all of us as taxpayers saved a lot of money. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this. But I would regard this entire interaction of private business interests, state contracts, and leaning on a bureaucrat--even if the bureaucrat was in the wrong--as a serious conflict of interest.

The audience asked a lot of useful questions that helped to clearly distinguish Senator Corder and myself. Concerning S.1381, the bill to allow concealed carry permit holders to carry on public university campuses, Senator Corder was very pleased that it didn't even get out of committee. I explained that:

1. It was an emotional reaction to the Virginia Tech tragedy, and wasn't the best solution--which is to solve the mental health problem.

2. As a short-term solution, I supported S.1381, because I have family who spend time on campus--and I want them safe. Allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry on campus makes them safer.

3. There is a very serious question as to whether the current ban on open carry on campus would survive a challenge, based on In re Brickey (Ida. 1902).

Another question that came up was concerning student organizations. Some state university campuses apparently will not recognize or provide any funding to student organizations that are religious in nature. Others treat them like non-religious student organizations. Corder thought it was just fine to allow the university administration to continue this discriminatory policy. I pointed out that being public universities, they have an obligation under the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment to treat religious and non-religious organizations the same.

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