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Richard Larsen: Common Core’s Fundamental Problems

March 15th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Common Core State Standards for education were advanced as a holistic reform intended to raise academic performance based on standardized achievement results. When reading the standards themselves, and the stated objectives, it’s inconceivable that anyone would take exception to them. Indeed, the education reform language sounds as idealistic and pertinent as any could. They were superbly crafted. Regrettably, in application, much is lost in translation, and Common Core is quickly becoming a significant detriment to our public educational system.

Achieve Inc. (a Bill Gates-funded educational consulting firm) created the standards, for the National Governor’s Association (NGA). And in 2010 when they were rolled out, adoption of the standards by the respective states was tied to the Race To the Top grants, funded by the massive Stimulus package of 2009. The granting of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers augmented inducement for states adopting the standards. The irony of the latter is that we’ve learned over the past ten years of NCLB that accountability and subsequent punishment of districts, schools, and teachers does not substantively improve the quality of education. Yet it’s a significant characteristic of CC.

Achieve, Inc. called upon 135 academicians and assessment experts, most with ties to testing companies, to draft CC. The standards had, prior to their rollout, never been fully implemented or tested in actual schools. This represented a sharp break from educational reform traditions of basing reforms on empirical data and calculable results. Very few of the 135-member team were either classroom teachers or current administrators. The other most conspicuous absence from the development team was parents. After the standards were drafted, K-12 educators were reportedly brought in to “tweak and endorse the standards” to “lend legitimacy to the results, according to the editors of RethinkingSchools.org.

By contrast, when I served on the Excellence In Public Education Commission for Idaho in the 80s, almost all of the commission members were educators, administrators, and/or parents. All of the major stakeholders in public education were represented. Such stakeholder involvement was conspicuously, and suspiciously, absent when CC was drawn up.

Perhaps none have explained the problems with CC as eloquently and precisely as Carol Burris from New York. In 2010 she was named the New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association, and in 2013 she was named the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has identified five key reasons CC is disastrous for education. She was extremely supportive of the objectives of CC, yet after thoroughly examining the program, realized the damage it would do to education. The following are some of her findings:

“Despite the claims of supporters, the standards are not built on sound research. They have never been field-tested nor proven to raise student achievement. The truth of the matter is research shows the rigor of state standards is not related to student achievement. In addition, a study of the state standards most like the Common Core by the Brookings Institution concluded that it is likely that the Common Core will have minimal effect on student learning. There is no research that supports the untested standards and practices of the Common Core.

common-core-math-problem“The Common Core standards contradict what we know about the way young children learn. Louisa Moats, one of the few early childhood experts on the team that wrote the early literacy standards, is now an outspoken critic. Why? Because the K to 3 Common Core standards disregard decades of research on early reading development. Shortly after the standards were published, 500 early-childhood experts — pediatricians, researchers and psychologists — found the early-childhood Common Core standards to be so developmentally inappropriate that they called for their suspension in grades K to 3.

“The Common Core standards for English Language Arts promote the use of questionable strategies and over-emphasize informational text. One of New Jersey’s leading literacy experts is Russ Walsh of Rider University. Walsh, as well as other literacy experts, has become uncomfortable with the beliefs that guide the Common Core ELA standards, specifically that background knowledge does not matter for reading, “close reading” should dominate literacy instruction, and that students should be reading only grade-level texts. There is also worry that informational texts are crowding out literature in English Language Arts classes.
images“The Common Core tests are unreasonably difficult and will result in unfair consequences for students. Even as New Jersey begins the PARCC exams, some states have begun giving their own Common Core tests. New York’s students have taken Common Core tests twice. Proficiency rates dramatically dropped to the low 30s, with minimal improvement in year two. Results have been especially devastating for special-education students, English language learners, and students of color and poverty — with proficiency rates in single digits for students with disabilities who are poor.

“Low test scores have consequences for kids. Students are put into remedial classes. Test scores are used to decide who gets into gifted programs and into competitive schools. In a pro-Common Core report titled “Opportunity by Design,” The Carnegie Corporation estimated that due to the Common Core, the national six-year dropout rate will double from 15 percent to 30 percent, and the four-year graduation rate will drop from 75 percent to 53 percent.

“New York students took the Common Core algebra test, which is a graduation requirement, last June. Only 22 percent met the Common Core score that is being phased in as the new passing standard for graduation. Are these fair and reasonable standards? I think not.”

This kind of top-down regulation of education is entirely the opposite of what is needed in education, and none can offer a better assessment of what works and what doesn’t than those with “boots on the ground;” the teachers, with parental input. The establishment of standards by bureaucrats and corporate sponsors, as CC was devised, is the wrong approach entirely.

Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) Local Leadership in Education Act, Senate Bill 144, needs to be passed. This Act will “prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or making financial support conditional upon a State, local educational agency, or school’s adoption of specific instructional content, academic standards, or curriculum, or on the administration of assessments or tests, and for other purposes.”

All efforts to roll back and rescind CC are advisable at this juncture, at the state and local level, as well. This is not a partisan issue. Something as crucial as our children’s education transcends politics, and bears substantive implications for the future of America, as a nation and as a people.

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

David Ripley: Planned Parenthood Appeals to Iowa Supreme Court

March 15th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Iowa Supreme Court held a hearing yesterday on objections by Planned Parenthood to a ruling last year by the Iowa Board of Medicine that outlawed its new system of “remote control” abortions.

During the hearing, Planned Parenthood revealed that it had used its “web-cam” method to destroy the lives of over 7,000 babies in Iowa since 2008. For almost all of that period, the organization publicly denied that it was delivering abortion drugs without an in-person examination by a qualified physician.

Planned Parenthood claims that their experimental procedure is “safe” – yet the Board of Medicine determined otherwise, finding that the nation’s largest abortion provider violated community standards of care.

Planned Parenthood has already lost its appeal of the Board of Medicine rules in an Iowa district court.

A former manager of a Planned Parenthood clinic using the remote control protocol has announced publicly that employees who actually see the women considering abortion hold no medical degree(s) and undergo about two days of training on an ultrasound machine.

It is truly astounding how little regard Planned Parenthood has for the women and girls who come to them for help in sorting out difficult situations.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

David Ripley: Idaho House Approve Bill to Protect Women

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Idaho House voted 55-14 to approve HB 154, legislation we brought forward with Right to Life to ban “tele-med” abortions in Idaho. The legislation also includes several specific safety measures regarding the dispensation of RU-486.

Chemical abortions have become an increasing problem for Idaho, with about 40% of Idaho babies now being destroyed with deadly drugs which deprive the baby of food, water and oxygen in the early stages of a pregnancy. And those numbers are expected to climb as Planned Parenthood continues to seek ways to expand the envelope of its operations, operating well beyond the scope of FDA regulations governing the use of RU-486.

Planned Parenthood operatives across the nation are engaged in a highly sophisticated campaign to not only “normalize” RU-486 by calling it “medication” – but to expand its use. They see it as a cheap way to expand access to abortion and are happy to cut as many corners as possible to achieve that goal.

Democrats on the House floor unanimously opposed the legislation, arguing that it had nothing to do with protecting a woman’s health.

They remain willfully incognizant of the dangers posed to women by the abuse of RU-486. In the name of a woman’s “right to choose”, they seem quite willing to look the other way as women and girls suffer emotional and physical damage.

Fortunately, Planned Parenthood is running into strong opposition from the mainstream medical community.

After conducting wide scale experiments on women and girls in Iowa, medical professionals asked the Iowa Board of Medicine to review Planned Parenthood’s “tele-med” abortion program in that state. In a highly unusual action, the Board voted 8-2 to ban the procedure outright in Iowa. Planned Parenthood is, of course, challenging that ruling in court.

18 states now prohibit the Planned Parenthood “remote control” abortion program, with Idaho on the way to becoming the next.

HB154 now heads to the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee for a hearing.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: The Nasty Politics of the Left

March 10th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Following the House hearing on our legislation to regulate chemical abortions in Idaho, headlines went out across America that a legislator on the panel needed instruction about female anatomy from a witness for Planned Parenthood. Ridicule ensued.

This became the public narrative of the 3-hour hearing – not the demeaning and sleazy practices of Planned Parenthood in treating sometimes-desperate women and girls who come to them for help.

Rep. Vito Barbieri certainly did not need lessons in biology from the witness. What he needed, what he was after, was an admission that killing a preborn child was not in any way similar to the various “tele-med” procedures the witness described to the panel in dismissing our concerns.

The witness evaded Rep. Barbieri’s question by offering a sarcastic response.

And suddenly the Left had the narrative they were after: A story largely concocted by the liberal feminists covering Idaho politics and driven by their desire to protect the Abortion Industry at all costs.

These activist-reporters do not want you to know what we learned in the hearing: That RU-486 kills the baby in the first stages of life by depriving it of food, water and oxygen.

These “news” outlets do not want you to know that women have died at the hands of abortionists who refuse to follow the protocols established by the FDA because they might be inconvenient or more expensive.

And they don’t want your neighbors to learn that many women and girls suffer profound trauma when they find their dead baby on the bathroom floor after being told that the life growing inside them was not really human, not really a baby. It is so much better to distract readers by creating a narrative which allows them to bully righteous legislators like Rep. Barbieri into silence. Their story carries a warning to other leaders: mess with the Abortion Industry at your own peril.

The battle with Planned Parenthood and its allies in the state media is nasty business. We ask for your prayers on behalf of those courageous leaders, like Vito Barbieri, who choose to use their public office to defend the innocent.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 1, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

We were greeted early Monday morning by a crowd of people backed up for almost the entire length of the west and east wings of the capitol. I got a few laughs along the way as I asked, “Is there a party going on somewhere?” I knew of course that they had come from all over the state to participate in the hearing for House Bill 2 (aka; add the words). It turned out to be what is thought to be the largest and longest hearing in the history of the state.

It took over 22 hours of committee time with almost 200 people testifying on the legislation. Everyone who indicated they wanted to testify had a chance to do so. the committee was preached to, castigated for waiting so long, and we even had a lecture or two from lawyers and psychologists. At the beginning of the third day I quoted a former legislator that was famous for his homey little homilies in an effort to expedite the testimony and to avoid duplication. “The oftener you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets” was his favorite.

Testimony from both sides was passionate and very emotional. After all of the testimony was taken, the vote was to hold the bill in committee. No one in those hearings came away without having deep impressions from what was heard.

There is so much in the background that happens to facilitate a hearing like this. A huge thank you goes out to the Sergeant of Arms and support staff, the Secretaries, the Pages, Security and the State Police. Having directly seen what they did I am in awe.

Other things around this place of interest this week have mostly to do with the budget process. This was the week for education with all of the University Presidents in town to make their pitch for more money, guaranteeing no increase in tuition if the legislature appropriates the money they say they need. The Superintendent of Public Instruction presenting a budget request lower than the Governor is a first, but in either case a large increase.

Hearings will soon begin on the Idaho Education Network. There are several ideas floating around about how to fix this mess, one of which is for the local school districts to apply directly to the Feds for funds to operate the network. I keep thinking about possible outcomes for the Historical Racing issue and I am sure the State Affairs Committee has only begun with interesting hearings this year. As for Medicaid Redesign, I hear a groan every time it is brought up.

It was great to get home for the weekend and get some fresh air and prepare for the week ahead. Linda was in Boise with me last week and as we pulled into our driveway she did what she always does after being gone for a few days. She said, “This is the best place on earth.” Home always is, isn’t it?

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

David Ripley: The Limits of Scientific Understanding

January 17th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The story of Martin Pistorious is not particularly miraculous, but it carries profound warnings for a society moving so quickly to dispatch people at the first signs of serious trouble. As a young boy, Martin suffered from an attack of meningitis. Doctors declared that he had become a “vegetable” based upon his inability to speak, make eye contact or otherwise move. He slipped into a coma. They sent him home to die.

But for 12 years, he refused to die.

His parents cared for him, despite the apparent lack of progress. His father would bathe him and bring him to a care center during the day while he worked. The nurses at the facility would sit him in front of a VCR to watch an endless loop of Barney episodes.

The problem was that Martin was totally aware of his surroundings – but unable to do anything about it.

“After two years, I began to wake up. I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone.”

Martin is now 39 years old and married.

What if some compassionate person had decided to simply starve this poor young boy to death? Can you imagine how miserable and painful that would have been? Could it be denied that, if things had taken such a course, young Martin would have been miserably murdered?

Nor is Martin’s case singular.

Kate Allat, a young mother of 39, suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. For ten days she was unable to communicate, move or even breathe on her own. But she was aware. Painfully aware that she would be unable to defend herself should some Samaritan decide to “relieve her suffering” by taking her off life support systems.

Such stories ought to inspire us all – particularly those in the medical professions and positions of power – to a place of humility. It is strikingly obvious that there is much we don’t understand about the human brain, about life itself. From a place of humility and respect for life, we should turn away from the drive to so casually discard people who need care.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

David Ripley: Japan’s Self-Willed Destruction

January 12th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The plight of modern Japan is a very sad spectacle. Each year the country gentrifies as it blindly pursues a path of rampant materialism. While their historical values are not Christian, they are venerable. Those values produced one of the greatest civilizations in history, being built around family. Today, those values have largely been abandoned as the nation continues to destroy its own future through abortion.

Japan was the first nation on earth to have more citizens over the age of 65 than under 15. And that was a quarter of a century ago. Data suggests that Japanese people are not only avoiding children through rampant abortion rates, they are now avoiding marriage as well.

In recent days, stories have appeared regarding strategies of major firms in Japan seeking to build a robotic society which helps compensate for the workers which have been destroyed in the womb. Stories abound of women and the elderly seeking emotional comfort from inanimate dolls, pets and computers. (Sound at all familiar?)

This week a story appeared in the Washington Post (of all papers), suggesting the possibility that Japan may consider a national ban on abortion as a strategy for obtaining a viable future. In fact, a Japanese legislator suggested this obvious notion two years ago, with little response. According to a report on Breitbart, there is virtually no pro-Life movement in the nation.

While there seems small reason for predicting a spiritual awakening in Japan, perhaps the sheer weight of a dismal economic future may lead that nation to re-evaluate the value of human life.

The picture of a noble society destroying itself is not pretty. But it should stand as a warning to other peoples around the world – particularly America. We are, after all, not far behind them on the death spiral.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

David Ripley: House Members Battle Obama on Abortion Funding

December 20th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

75 members of Congress issued a letter to the Obama Administration this week, urging the Department of Health & Human Services to quit playing games with consumers and taxpayers over abortion coverage in ObamaCare policies.

Led by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), members of the U.S. House urged Secretary Sylvia Burwell to rewrite her proposed rule on “Benefit & Payment Parameters for 2016”. He was joined by Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, our guest speaker at this year’s Christmas Dinner.

In a press release, Rep. Smith said,

“The Obama Administration’s cover up of abortion insurance plans on the exchange is unnecessary, unacceptable and absolutely unconscionable….President Obama’s solemn promise to not fund abortion continues to be broken with impunity. For 2014, the GAO found that over 1000 ObamaCare plans included coverage for abortion on demand. Research by ObamaCareAbortion.com has found that for 2015, abortion coverage continues, and once again, health consumers are left almost clueless as to which plans fund abortion on demand and which do not.”

Readers will quickly recognize that this is not the only example of Obama’s cavalier attitude toward the law; but it is among the most egregious. His stubborn actions compromise the moral integrity of millions of American taxpayers by implicating us in the slaughter of the innocent. And it is particularly outrageous given the many promises he made back in 2010 to get his scandalous overhaul of America’s health care system through the Democrat Congress.

Perhaps the new Congress will find the strategy to force Obama into complying with well-established restrictions on taxpayer-funded abortion.

Idaho’s two congressmen were not signatories to the letter.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Give Thanks to the Lord

November 29th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

As we gather in our homes with friends and family on this day of remembrance – we ask the Lord’s blessing on your family, our state and nation.

This is a day to bring to mind all the blessings God has bestowed upon us as individuals and as a nation. While the present political leadership offers near constant reason for anxiety – we do well this day to look over America’s long history, to days when our leaders humbly recognized the necessity of God’s intervention on our behalf. On this day, we ask you join with us in asking Almighty God to raise up such leaders once more.

Here are a few excerpts from Thanksgiving Proclamations issued by statesmen in nobler times:

“[It is] our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.”

– President George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1795
“I have thought fit, according to the ancient and laudable practice of our renowned ancestors, to appoint a day of Public Thanksgiving to God, for the great benefits which He has been pleased to bestow upon us, in the year past.”

– Governor Samuel Adams, 1795

“No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy….I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that … [they] fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”

– President Abraham Lincoln, 1863

“May we on that [Day of Thanksgiving] in our churches and in our homes give humble thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us during the year past by Almighty God.”

– President Franklin Roosevelt, 1933

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Most Americans Self-Identify as Conservative

September 13th, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It is always entertaining to witness the unsolicited counsel pontificated from the left, telling the Republican Party what’s wrong with it. Since many liberals don’t view Republicans as simply different-minded Americans, but as enemies to be vanquished, isn’t that a bit like the U.S. being counseled by Russia? Republicans should be listening rather to the groundswell of grassroots conservatives who see where the country is headed and fear for our future.

125120_600Unlike the querulous ones barking from the left’s sidelines who cheer the current transformation of America, grassroots conservatives are calling for a return to the classical-liberal precepts upon which the nation was built; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not only is the country being fundamentally transformed into something it was never intended to be, but the economic and fiscal tipping points of debt and government intrusion are hastily approaching.

Republicans must disallow the liberals from dictating the premises of public discourse. When they shape public perception based on fallacious premises, the outcome will always to accede to the left. As it is now, rather than questioning whether we should have a deficit at all, it’s, “How much is too much of a deficit?” Rather than all human life is sacred and should be protected, it’s, “How many innocents’ lives are too many to abort?” Instead of government should not be bailing out any businesses, it’s, “How big is too big to fail?” And ultimately, instead of what government should be doing for (or to) us, it should be, “What is the proper role of government in a free republic?”

obama-media-bias-womens-vote-democrats-political-cartoonDemocrats do an excellent job of making promises to niche groups and demographics, and then, more often than not, failing to deliver. But they’re judged by their acolytes not based on results, but on their intent, and their expressed fealty to their objectives.

For example, the “Great Society” has redistributed trillions of dollars over the past five decades, and poverty levels remain, as a percentage of the population, about what they were when the “war on poverty” was declared. Promises to political niches are no more than efforts to buy votes, with someone else’s money. If Republicans want to win elections again, commit to doing what’s best for the country, and all demographic groups, rather than attempting to outbid for their votes, or dissect the electorate based on clichéd parsing of issues or catering to special interest groups. Return to the basic constitutional premise that government is to “promote” the general welfare of the nation, not “provide” it.

In our republic, government was intentionally granted specific, enumerated powers to maintain law and order, ensure our national security, protect life, facilitate interstate commerce, and preserve freedom. Government was never intended to be a panacea or balm for all the ills and travails of society. It was intended to provide a legal structure for the protection of liberty and rights that would allow individuals to get out of life what they were willing to invest personally into it. If Republicans are to succeed as a party, and save the nation from our self-destructive course, they must differentiate from the other side, based on correct constitutional principles, rather than competing to be “Democrat Lite.” Moving to the left will not save the Republican Party or the nation, but moving to the right will.

healthcarebillQuestion D3 on the bipartisan Battleground Poll conducted by George Washington University provides the evidence. It reads, “When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be… Very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, very liberal, unsure/refused.” Over the years the poll has been conducted, most Americans self-identify as conservatives. With just a point or two differential over the past ten years, 20% of Americans consider themselves to be very conservative; 40% somewhat conservative; 2% moderate; 27% somewhat liberal, and 9% very liberal; and 3% either didn’t know, or didn’t have a clue what the question even meant. Clearly, 60% of American voters consider themselves to be either very or somewhat conservative. Interestingly, these results were nearly identical in December 2012 after Obama won reelection, validating the obvious, that turnout of voter base is the determinant of electoral outcomes.

cartoon 12-20 lixz dnxon gocomics 12-19 democrats going off the precipice w healthcare. In fact, according to a more recent poll by Harris, self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals in every state in the union, except for Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Republicans would succeed electorally much more if their appeals were based on constitutionally correct principles, and logically sound premises, rather than allowing the left to shape the debate.

Thomas Jefferson, who oxymoronically is heralded as the founder of the Democrat Party, succinctly stated, “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.” That is not the message promulgated by the party that claims Jefferson as their founder.

If the constitutional and logical premises of “good government” are well articulated and marketed, there should be no election out of reach for conservative candidates. That’s what the data tell us.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

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