Small Town Lunacy

Sometimes I forget Boise is a small town. Heck, Idaho is a small state. Everybody seems to know everybody within a degree or three.

I have been staying out east, off Warm Springs Avenue. It is a short ten minute bike ride to the Capitol. I have been stopping on the way at a popular coffee shop for morning coffee and granola. I can read the paper or just sit and crunch, then pedal the three or four blocks to the dome.

For the last few weeks there has been an early morning TV interview going on in the corner of the coffee shop. I guess the live interview suits the pre-commute crowd and legislators are the standard fare. It seems every reporter wants to know what is going to happen. Like we might know.

Last week it was the Pro Tem of the Senate. The only seat I could find in the place was right behind him. I tried to hunch over my bowl so my face would not be on camera. No sense striving for the spotlight.

This week when I came in I saw they were interviewing Tom Luna, Superintendant of Public Instruction and the author of several major education reform bills that we would vote on later in the week. I had not yet read the paper so I did not know about the vandalism and threat he had experienced. But I sure could feel the vibe in the coffee shop. A tall guy with a pony tail was pacing around, obviously upset. I stood in line to order my breakfast. The guy in front of me glanced at Luna and smirked at me. “He used to work for me,” the guy offered. “We have a car dealership. But we had to get rid of him because he wasn’t honest with the customers.” He shook his head and looked at the bright TV lights. “Now look at him.” He moved off and I ordered the usual.

The guy behind me offered, “He’s killing me,” with a nod toward Luna. I looked at the speaker. He had cropped gray hair and a casual shirt. “I’m a teacher and I can’t buy what he’s doing to education.” I kept listening as the bowl of yogurt and granola came next to the cup of coffee. He continued, “I didn’t come to it early. I was a banker for 20 years before I started teaching.” Come to think of it he did look Republican. “But I just think his ideas about education are wrong.”

I moved behind the kiosk to stay off camera and start the morning bowl. The pacing man moved through the line at the ordering counter until he was behind Luna and the camera. He said loudly, “He’s a liar. Why don’t you ask him about his lies!” Then he migrated back to his seat and sat. When I opened the morning paper I read about Mr. Luna having his tires slashed and spray paint on his car.

When the two of the bills came up for a vote on the Senate floor we made them read the bills, as is in the rules. Then we debated for hours. We lost 15-20, but the process was civil and according to rule. So the bills will go to the House. I predict they will become law. I hope we can stay civil. I hope this flawed process inspires committed involvement, not despair.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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