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Eye On Boise

Catching up on a particularly newsy week…

Wow, what a week of news I missed! A quick catchup:

The eyes of the nation turned to Idaho as a kidnapped 16-year-old from southern California and the man who took her and was suspected of murdering her mother and 8-year-old brother were spotted in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness by horseback riders; a dramatic search ensued, in which the FBI shot the kidnapper and rescued Hannah Anderson. Here’s an AP report at

A giant Omega Morgan megaload passed through the Highway 12 wild and scenic rivers corridor en route to the Canadian oil sands, but not without back-to-back nights of protests, in which more than 30 people were arrested, including nearly every member of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. The tribe is back in federal court contesting future such shipments, which were permitted by the Idaho Transportation Department, but not the U.S. Forest Service, which notified Omega Morgan it had not permitted the shipment nor had time for consultation with the tribe; a federal judge ruled last winter that the Forest Service has jurisdiction over such hauls. You can read more here.

Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News reported that four bidders for the state’s controversial multi-year, multimillion-dollar high school WiFi contract underbid the successful bidder, Education Networks of America; you can read his report here. I’ll have more on this in the coming week as I examine the documents released under the Idaho Public Records Law.

S-R reporter John Webster has a report here in Sunday’s Spokesman-Review on the differences in how Idaho and Washington are approaching health care reform. Among them: The poorest of Idaho’s poor still won’t be covered next year, and Idaho will have to rely on a federal website with an Idaho “skin” for the first year because its approval of a state-based insurance exchange came so late.

A federal judge ordered documents unsealed in a case involving the Idaho state prison south of Boise operated by the private company Corrections Corp. of America, saying, "Idaho taxpayers pay CCA to operate one of their prisons. With public money comes a public concern about how that money is spent.” Read the AP report here.

Meanwhile, wildfires continued to burn around Idaho, and 200 homes were evacuated. A legislative interim committee studying the pros and cons of a state takeover of federal public lands in Idaho held its first meeting on Friday, but co-chair Sen. Chuck Winder said it won’t make any recommendations until 2015. Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey reported that 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador won’t endorse fellow Idaho GOP Rep. Mike Simpson in the GOP primary against challenger Bryan Smith. Idaho state labor director Roger Madsen plans to retire Nov. 15 after 20 years on the job, Statesman business reporter Zach Kyle reported.  And the AP reports that Gov. Butch Otter has named his campaign manager, Jayson Ronk, for his upcoming bid for a third term.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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