News Column

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash., Eye on Boise column

June 1, 2014

By Betsy Z. Russell, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.



June 01--BOISE -- Here's an example of how sought-after software engineers are in Boise: Several years after German software industry giant SAP bought out Sybase, another large company with a Boise office, it has now decided to consolidate elsewhere and shut down the Boise location that employs 30 software engineers. Those workers won't be out of a job till the end of July, but last week, 23 other Treasure Valley tech companies came to a session organized by the Idaho Technology Council to pitch their current job openings to the soon-to-be-former SAP Sybase engineers.

"We added it up and there were 104 jobs that are available from those companies," said Jay Larsen, technology council president.

Each company was given three minutes for its pitch, and then they all mingled at an open house. "There's just such a big demand for computer science software professionals," Larsen said.

Sybase, based in Dublin, California, acquired Boise-based Extended Systems in 2005, a company that was launched by former Hewlett-Packard employees in 1984. SAP bought Sybase in 2010 for $5.8 billion.

Ed board opening

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is calling for applications for an opening on the State Board of Education due to the retirement of longtime member Milford Terrell of Boise. Otter is taking applications through Monday, June 16; Terrell, who is stepping down June 30, has until February 2017 in his term, so that's the term the appointee would serve.

Meanwhile, Otter still hasn't made a decision on another opening on the state board, the one created when he named member Ken Edmunds the director of the state Department of Labor in November. Sixteen people applied for that opening, and the governor is deciding among four finalists, all of whom he's interviewed.

"The governor's always said about these things, he doesn't believe in rushing them," said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian. "He'd much rather take his time and make sure he's got the right pick than meeting some artificial, self-imposed deadline. But given where we are, I don't think it's going to be very much longer" until that appointee is named.

The State Board of Education is charged by the Idaho Constitution with overseeing both higher education and the state's K-12 public schools. It has eight members, including the state superintendent of schools. The seven members appointed by the governor, who serve five-year terms, are required by law to be selected "solely upon consideration of the ability of such appointees efficiently to serve the interests of the people, and education, without reference to locality, occupation, party affiliation or religion." To be eligible, an applicant must have been a resident of the state for at least three years.

Huckabee to speak

The Idaho Republican Party has announced a second big-name speaker for its state convention in Moscow in June: Mike Huckabee. The former presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor will address the convention's kickoff dinner on June 12; tickets are $50, or $200 including a VIP reception and photo-op. The convention also will feature Sen. Rand Paul as its keynote speaker during the Friday night banquet on June 13.

Mortimer eyes office

Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, is interested in taking over as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Idaho Education News reports, now that longtime Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, was defeated in the GOP primary. Mortimer, who was unopposed in the primary and also faces no opponent in November, said he's sad Goedde lost, but already is mulling ideas for how he'd head the panel.

Decisions on committee chairmanships and assignments won't come until the Legislature's organizational session in December.

Otter won't endorse?

Gov. Otter is now suggesting he may not endorse any candidate in the race for the next state Republican Party chairman, changing his approach, the Idaho Statesman'sDan Popkey reported on Thursday.

Otter has been battling with a wing of the state party led in part by congressman Raul Labrador since it turned out his choice for chairman, Kirk Sullivan, in 2008 in favor of Norm Semanko. Otter's been bitterly complaining ever since that the elected governor should have his choice for state party chairman.

On Thursday, Otter told Popkey he's spoken with "a lot" of candidates for the chairman position and that he's "comfortable so far with everybody that's called." That doesn't include current Chairman Barry Peterson, with whom Otter said he's not talked.

"If folks really want a grass-roots candidate, those of us in leadership positions are going to have to abstain from anointing or endorsing anybody," Otter said.

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(c)2014 The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)

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Source: Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


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