Ever since serving as state Attorney General in the 1980s, I have been pleased with the way Idaho’s Sheriffs run their offices. Sure, they run on partisan tickets, but law enforcement should be free of politics and that is the way our Sheriffs generally conduct themselves. I was impressed when the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association recently came out in favor of the Medicaid expansion initiative, Proposition 2 on the November ballot.
Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz, the government affairs chair, explained, “The vote for this was not even close. Sheriffs voted overwhelmingly to support Proposition 2 to save taxpayers money, to keep people out of jails, and to keep people out of the emergency room. By expanding coverage to low-income people with health issues or mental health issues, they’re more likely to contribute to society and less likely to end up back in the system.” Thanks to the Sheriffs for bringing common sense to the debate.
County sheriffs’ offices and city police departments are critical agencies in providing safe school campuses and protecting our kids. It is perplexing why Sherri Ybarra, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, did not call on their help in developing her almost $20 million school safety program. Other important stakeholders— associations of teachers, school boards, and school administrators—have indicated they were not invited into the process.
The manager of the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security said, “We didn’t even know she was looking at doing any kind of safety initiative until she announced it to the general public.” You would think this office, which the Legislature established in 2016 “to enhance the safety and security of students and educators,” would have been a primary participant in the program. Ybarra’s go-it-alone approach is symptomatic of the way she has handled her office.
Members of the Legislature have urged that she work more closely with them to advance education programs. Her attendance record at Land Board and Board of Education meetings is less than stellar. My high school English teacher, Mrs. Murphy, told me you can’t get much done if you have too many absences.
The ugly part of this column is the President’s lowball refugee cap for the next fiscal year. Our great country, which has been a leader in giving refuge to people fleeing persecution, will admit less than 30,000 endangered people next year. That is a record low in the 40-year history of the refugee resettlement program. The current year’s cap is 45,000 and we will probably admit only half of that number. It is likely that actual admissions next year will be just a fraction of the 30,000 cap.
The historical average of refugees being taken in by the U.S. is 80,000. That should be the very floor for the coming year. This country has been responsible for creating more refugees than almost any other country in the world since the turn of the century. Our involvement in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen has created an historic global refugee crisis and we are shirking our moral responsibility by turning our back on the victims. If we don’t at least triple our intake of refugees next year, it will be stain on the honor of our country long into the future.