Breaking News
Home » Rockies » Idaho » Boise » Open Letter to the Idaho Legislature From Human Rights and Business Leaders
Longtime chief of staff to former Gov. Cecil Andrus and public policy consultant and writer, Marc Johnson of Gallatin Public Affairs sent this letter today to the Idaho media and others. Johnson told NewWest.Net that there will be more signers to the document, and they will be added here as they become available. I want to bring to your attention the attached letter signed by a prominent, bipartisan group of Idaho human rights, business, political and religious leaders. As you know, the Governor’s budget calls for a four-year phase out of state general fund support for the Idaho Human Rights Commission. The Commission, established in 1969, is a tiny agency with a huge mission and, as the letter makes clear, any retreat from state support for its vital functions would be a major step in the wrong direction, impacting Idaho workers and businesses. Signers of the letter include every former director of the Commission, many former presidents of the Commission, former Hewlett Packard executives (the company has long been a strong proponent of diversity and human rights) and a number of leaders of the Idaho faith community. Also, two former governors and a former Idaho attorney general join the appeal. We expect others to join the appeal that has only been in the works since late last week.

Open Letter to the Idaho Legislature From Human Rights and Business Leaders

Longtime chief of staff to former Gov. Cecil Andrus and public policy consultant and writer, Marc Johnson of Gallatin Public Affairs sent this letter today to the Idaho media and others. Johnson told NewWest.Net that there will be more signers to the document, and they will be added here as they become available.

I want to bring to your attention the attached letter signed by a prominent, bipartisan group of Idaho human rights, business, political and religious leaders.

As you know, the Governor’s budget calls for a four-year phase out of state general fund support for the Idaho Human Rights Commission. The Commission, established in 1969, is a tiny agency with a huge mission and, as the letter makes clear, any retreat from state support for its vital functions would be a major step in the wrong direction, impacting Idaho workers and businesses. Signers of the letter include every former director of the Commission, many former presidents of the Commission, former Hewlett Packard executives (the company has long been a strong proponent of diversity and human rights) and a number of leaders of the Idaho faith community. Also, two former governors and a former Idaho attorney general join the appeal.

We expect others to join the appeal that has only been in the works since late last week.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is scheduled to review the Human Rights Commission budget on Friday, January 22 at 8:45 am.

Thank you for your consideration.

Please let me know if you need additional information:

Marc Johnson

An Open Letter to the Idaho Legislature

Forty years ago, the Idaho Legislature determined that it would be the policy of the state of Idaho to secure for every citizen basic, fundamental human rights.

The enabling legislation creating the Idaho Human Rights Commission stated the purpose directly and forcefully. The Idaho Human Rights Commission would exist:

To secure for all individuals within the state freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin or disability in connection with employment, public accommodations, and real property transactions, discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in connection with education, discrimination because of age in connection with employment, and thereby to protect their interest in personal dignity, to make available to the state their full productive capacities, to secure the state against domestic strife and unrest, to preserve the public safety, health, and general welfare, and to promote the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the state.

Now this noble charter and the work of the one of the smallest, but most important state agencies face grave danger under a proposal to phase out all state funding for the Commission. It must not be allowed to happen.

We implore the members of the Idaho Legislature to resist any initiative to reduce the effectiveness of the Commission, to diminish its already scarce resources and to send the most unwelcome and damaging message that Idaho has ceased to place human rights at the absolute forefront of the state’s priorities.

We need not remind Idaho state government that it was not that many years ago that Idaho’s image and reputation was unfairly sullied by the presence in our midst of messengers of hate and ministers of discord. Idahoan’s were united then – and must be united now – in rejecting any assault on human rights. We came together in the past to send a powerful and righteous message that Idaho would not tolerate discrimination and would not give comfort to those who deny basic human dignity to all her citizens.

The Idaho Human Rights Commission is on the absolute frontline in this continuing battle and has been for more than 40 years. For four decades, the Commission has ensured Idaho workers and employers that laws concerning discrimination will be fairly and properly applied. Even demanding economic times must not be an excuse for abandoning the principle that the state of Idaho supports this work both in word and deed.

It should be a priority of the 60th Idaho Legislature to secure for another 40 years and beyond this essential, vital function of state government.

Cecil D. Andrus
Governor of Idaho, 1971-1977, 1987-1995
U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 1977-1981

John V. Evans
Governor of Idaho, 1977-1987

David H. Leroy, Boise
Attorney General of Idaho, 1979-1983
Lt. Governor of Idaho, 1983-1987

Greg Carr, Idaho Falls native
Founder of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard
(Mr. Carr financed the purchase of the former Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho)

John Hansen, Idaho Falls
Former Republican Idaho State Senator

Laird Noh, Twin Falls
Former Republican Idaho State Senator

Jesse Berain, Boise
First Director, Idaho Human Rights Commission
Former Republican Member Idaho House of Representatives

Marilyn Shuler, Boise
Former Director, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Leslie Goddard and Stephen V. Goddard, Mountain Home
Former Director, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Bob Trerise, Boise
Former President, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Gayle Speizer, Boise
Former President, Idaho Human Rights Commission

Amy Herzfeld, Boise
Ex. Director, Idaho Human Rights Education Center

Richard and Sondra Hackborn, Boise
Hackborn is a former Chairman, Board member and executive with Hewlett Packard

Don and Susan Curtis, Boise
Former Hewlett Packard and St. Luke’s employees
Human Rights Activists

Rich and Georgiann Raimondi, Boise
Raimondi is a former Hewlett Packard executive

Skip Oppenheimer, Boise

Mary Lou Reed, Coeur d’Alene
Former Idaho Democratic State Senator and Founding President of the Human Rights Education Institute

Tony Stewart, Coeur d’Alene
Founder, NW Coalition Against Malicious Harassment

Cherie Buckner-Webb, Boise
Chair, Board of Directors Idaho Black History Museum

The Right Reverend Brian J. Thom, Boise
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Idaho

Rabbi Daniel Fink, Boise
Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel

Dr. Said Ahmed-Zaid, Boise
Islamic Center of Boise

Rev. David Carlson
Retired, General Presbyter, Presbyteries of Boise, Eastern Oregon and Kendall
Presbyterian Church, USA

Will Rainford, Boise
Legislative Advocate for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise and Catholic Charities of Idaho

Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth, Cottonwood
(Sister of Human Rights Activist Bill Wassmuth)

J.D. Williams, Boise
Former Idaho State Controller

The Honorable Bryon Johnson, Boise
Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice

Mike and Arlene Mitchell, Lewiston
Former Democratic Idaho House and Senate member

Bethine Church, Boise

Clarisse Maxwell, Boise
Human Rights Activist and Board Member Idaho Black History Museum

Christine Wood, Coeur d’Alene
Task Force on Human Relations

Joanne Harvey, Coeur d’Alene
Task Force on Human Relations

Ken Howard, Coeur d’Alene
(Participant in the lawsuit that bankrupted the Aryan Nations)

Norm Gissel, Coeur d’ Alene
Attorney and Human Rights Activist

Chris and Gail Bray, Boise
Former Members Ada County Human Rights Task Force
Gail Bray is a former Democratic Idaho State Senator

Lisa Uhlmann, Boise
Co-Founder, Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

Meredith Carnahan, Boise

Bob and Betty Sims, Boise
Former Dean of Public Affairs, BSU
Community Activists

Frank and Barbara Roberts, Boise

Lyn McCollum, Boise

Joyce Harvey-Morgan, Boise
Former Dean of Extended Studies, BSU

John and Elizabeth Sullivan, Moscow

Mary Hindson, Boise

Mary Clagett Smith, Boise

Henry and Sue Reents, Boise
Sue Reents is a former Democratic Idaho State Senator and IHRC Commissioner

Bill and Jane Lloyd, Boise

Marc C. Johnson, Boise

About Jill Kuraitis

Jill Kuraitis is an award-winning journalist who specializes in news of Idaho and the Rocky Mountain West. Her B.A. in theatre management is from UC Santa Barbara, and she went on to work in theatre, film, and politics before writing became a career. Kuraitis has two excellent grown children and lives in Boise with her husband of 30 years, abundant backyard wildlife, and two huge hairy dogs.

Check Also

bears ears

Zinke Recommends Revising Bears Ears National Monument

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended President Trump and Congress “revise the existing boundaries” of ...

4 comments

  1. You can whine all you want but the fact is that the right is more cunning and ruthless and organized at the political game of anger exploitation than the left is. As a matter of fact the right enjoys hearing leftys whine. So until the Democrats and their supporters get smart enough to organize and beat them at their own game your whining only encourages them. The Repubicans are committed to destroying liberalism 24/7/365. Where did all the geniuses who ran Obama’s campaign go? They need to be in place 24/7/365 during his presidency if he is to survive the Republican onslaught. The same applies to Liberal organizations all over the country.

  2. You know, from the looks of the signatures, this appears to be nothing more than a cheap, political move that a lot of really nice people got sucked into. Did Mr. Johnson or Cecil Andrus or any of the other people on this list pick up the phone and call Butch Otter about this issue before signing their names? Even though many of you have worked with Otter in one capacity or another for years, did one of you actually pick up the phone, call Butch and say “What the he__ are you thinking?

  3. It’s a good thing for government at ANY level to take frequent long hard looks at where those scarce taxpayer dollars are going. Thank goodness for a state Constitution that requires a balanced budget, and forces those long hard looks, from time to time… particularly when those times are tough. (Unlike DC, where our “representatives” can and do go on spending those dollars seemingly like there’s no tomorrow.)

    When cutbacks are the order of the day, it’s understandable that the cost centers with the smallest and/or least-influential constituencies would get focused on – even if they are drops in the big bucket. And isn’t that what we’re seeing here?

    But on the other hand… this letter is signed by a BUNCH of highly-influential people around the state and beyond who are deeply concerned about the issue of “human rights” in Idaho. With so much firepower focused on the issue, the “devil’s advocate” asks, what additional clout does a taxpayer-funded state agency bring to the Human Rights Table? For example… does anybody think Reverend Butler and his motley band of Nazis would still be goin’ strong, were it not for the State Commission? I’m thinkin’ private citizens and private interest groups can muster the troops. (But I’m no expert on the matter, just throwin’ out a rhetorical question.)

  4. Please read this letter instead of skipping through to the signatures. Sure, the Governor was contacted several times with the question. Don’t you think he would ask himself the question? Ok, probably not.

    While the solutions to the budget crisis are not palatable to most of you, there are certain functions of government that are indispensible. And guaranteeing “rights” comes straight from the Constitution.