Advertise Here

Huckleberries Online

Weekend Wild Card 9.13-9.14.14

Our weekends have been jam-packed lately, so I'm looking forward to just relaxing and soaking up the soon-to-be-autumn sunshine. Of course, I'll be donning my lucky Seahawk jacket and watching the Hawks trounce the Chargers on Sunday. Good times!
DFO should wander back to his desk on Monday.

Here's your Weekend Wild Card.

Parting shot: A viewtiful lake

Snapped this picture with my phone on the way home from the Arrow Point restort Saturday. Doesn't get much prettier than a sunset over Lake CdA.

TGIF Wild Card 9.12.14

We spent last weekend in the Lake City, attending my mom's family reunion. All five of the Schmidt siblings graduated from Cda High. My Grandpa Jake owned the Hayden Lake Feed Store for many years and my Uncle Jack was beloved mail carrier in Hayden for decades.

The five siblings range in age from 69 to 85 and are all fit, trim and in good health. It was so nice to see them all together and catch up with my aunts and uncles.

Have you ever been to a family reunion?

Here's your Wild Card.

Increased incarceration rate didn’t lead to drop in crime

A new analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that states like Idaho, which sharply increased its incarceration rate between 1994 and 2012, had no greater drop in crime than states like New York, which sharply cut its incarceration rate during the same time period. “States that decreased their imprisonment rates cut crime more than states that increased imprisonment,” the Pew Trusts reported.

New York’s incarceration rate fell 24 percent from 1994 to 2012; its crime rate fell 54 percent.

Idaho’s incarceration rate increased 103 percent during that same time period; its crime rate fell 46 percent. Idaho saw the third-highest increase in incarceration rates in the nation during that time, exceeded only by North Dakota and West Virginia. New York had the biggest drop in incarceration rates, and tied with Florida for the biggest drop in crime rates. More here. Betsy Russell, EOB

What do you make of this analysis?

NFL star Adrian Peterson charged with injuring his son

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, widely considered to be the best at his position in the NFL, has been indicted in Montgomery County, Texas, on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

The charges reportedly stem from an incident in which Peterson allegedly punished his 4-year-old son by beating him with a tree branch, leaving cuts and bruises on the boy’s legs, backs, buttocks and hand.

SportsRadio 610 in Houston, which obtained the police report in the case, says Peterson told police that he believed what had happened was only normal discipline, and that he didn’t realize that he was cutting the boy’s legs with the switch until after the fact, and felt bad when he discovered those injuries. “To be honest with you, I feel very confident with my actions because I know my intent,” Peterson reportedly said. He is also said to have told police, “I know how being spanked has helped me in my life.” Full story. The Guardian

Another black eye for the NFL. Were you spanked as a child?

Feds still withholding payments for Idaho school broadband network

About 18 months ago, the federal agency that provides about three-fourths of the funding for a statewide high-school broadband project cut off the monthly cash flow while it launched an investigation into the legality of Idaho's contract with the project's vendors.

The Legislature, under pressure to keep the Idaho Education Network from going dark, approved in March an $11.4 million bailout to keep the program afloat through February.

With about five months of funding left, the state is champing at the bit to get the federal “e-rate” payments restored. As of Aug. 31, the feds have withheld more than $8.5 million in payments. Full story. Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman

Is there any positive news on the Idaho education front?

Read more here:

Palin: ‘I owe America a global apology’

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said she owes America a “global apology” for the 2008 GOP presidential ticket's loss to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

During an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Palin spoke about Obama's long-term strategy for defeating the Islamic State — a militant group formerly known as ISIS or ISIL — that he laid out in a speech Wednesday night.

“As I watched the speech last night, Sean, the thought going through my mind is, 'I owe America a global apology. Because John McCain, through all of this, John McCain should be our president,'” Palin said. More here. Huffington Post

How do you imagine the world would look now if McCain/Palin had won in 2008?

War stirs mixed emotions

NEW YORK – The nation’s gathering war against a new upsurge in Islamic terror hung heavy over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Thursday, stirring both anxiety and determination among those who came to ground zero to remember their loved ones.

The familiar silence to mark the attacks and the solemn roll call of the nearly 3,000 dead came just hours after President Barack Obama told the country he is authorizing stepped-up airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State extremists.

“It’s an ongoing war against terrorists. Old ones die out and new ones pop up,” Vasile Poptean said as he left the ceremony, where he had gone to remember his brother, Joshua Poptean. “If we don’t engage them now, there’s a possibility there will be another 9/11 down the road.” Read more.

When will the 'war on terror' end?

World’s tallest dog dies

OTSEGO, Mich. – The Great Dane from Michigan that held the title of world’s tallest dog has died at age 5.

Owner Kevin Doorlag told the Kalamazoo Gazette that Zeus made his debut in the 2012 edition of Guinness World Records as the tallest living dog. Zeus was 44 inches tall at the shoulder and 7 feet, 4 inches on his hind legs.

Zeus weighed 165 pounds and ate a 30-pound bag of food every two weeks, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported.

Doorlag, of Otsego, said the entire family will miss Zeus.

What size dog do you prefer, big, medium or what I call “cat-size”?

Same-sex marrige appeal costs taxpayers $71K— so far

Idaho taxpayers’ costs so far for continuing to challenge the federal court decision overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage: $71,477. In response to a request under the Idaho Public Records Law, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office reported spending $2,569, for an appellate filing fee and for travel for two attorneys to the 9th Circuit arguments this week in San Francisco. Gov. Butch Otter’s office reported spending $68,899, including $66,920 for outside counsel. Betsy Russell, EOB

In your opinion, is this money well-spent?

Radio Shack on the brink

NEW YORK – RadioShack warned Thursday that it may need to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization if it can’t rework its debt or find another way to ease a cash crunch.

The struggling retailer said in a regulatory filing that it is in talks with its lenders, bondholders, shareholders and landlords to fix its balance sheet, but if it can’t, it will try to file a prepackaged bankruptcy.

RadioShack, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has been working on turning around its business for the past 18 months. The company’s efforts have included cutting costs, renovating and closing stores, and shuffling management. It reported another quarterly loss on Thursday on lower revenue.

When is the last time you shopped at Radio Shack?

Sir Superstar

The numbers associated with Elton John’s career are staggering.

He’s sold more than 300 million records, recorded more than 30 albums and had more than 50 Top 40 singles. Seven straight albums hit No. 1. During a five-decade career – one that’s still going strong – he’s earned six Grammy Awards and has a Tony, an Oscar, a Golden Globe and Kennedy Center Honors. His re-recording of his 1973 hit “Candle in the Wind” – released after he performed it for Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 – went on to sell 33 million copies, and is by most accounts the second best-selling single of all time, behind only Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”

The 67-year-old John is no stranger to these parts. He’s played Spokane a couple times, and Pullman as well, since 1999.

A review of a 2011 show by former S-R staff writer Jim Kershner summed up John’s appeal this way: “If anyone was on the fence about Sir Elton – although I saw little evidence of that – this concert probably won them over for one simple reason. John has more quality hits in his enormous repertoire than almost any other contemporary artist you can name, with the exception of another sir (Sir Paul).” Full story. Carolyn Lamberson, SR

Favorite Elton John song?

Back off on the breadsticks

People leave an Olive Garden restaurant at sunset in Foxborough, Mass., on March 20. File photo.

NEW YORK (AP) — Maybe there is such a thing as too many breadsticks.

In a nearly 300-page treatise on what’s wrong with Olive Garden and its management, investor Starboard Value suggests the Italian restaurant chain is being reckless with its unlimited breadsticks. The hedge fund notes the chain’s official policy is to bring out one breadstick per customer at a time, plus an extra for the table.

But Starboard says servers bring out more than that, leading to waste — and cold breadsticks. Starboard notes that it isn’t pushing for an end to unlimited breadsticks, just more control in how they’re doled out.

“Darden management readily admits that after sitting just 7 minutes, the breadsticks deteriorate in quality,” Starboard said in its presentation. Full story.

Unlimited breadsticks are important when you've got four hungry boys! Do you eat at Olive Garden?

Vestal: Seattle PD lawsuit justifies reason for DOJ reforms

The Department of Justice went to Seattle and examined the police department.

It determined that the department had a pattern of using excessive force and biased tactics. It imposed a series of reforms, through a court-ordered agreement in 2012 with the city leadership, that limited and more clearly defined when officers could use physical force. It established more specific limits on when a cop can hit someone with a club or shoot them. The reformed policy says when officers use physical force, it must be because the circumstances are objectively threatening and the level of the force should be proportionate to the threat.

Who could argue with that? A lot of Seattle police officers.

More than 125 Seattle cops have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the reforms. Their arguments against the Seattle reforms are a chilling reminder that police oversight and reform, even when supported by the mayor and the police chief and the attorney general, can run into the biggest obstacles of all: the ones in the police cars. Read more. Shawn Vestal, SR


Celebrate CdA celebs Mudgy and Millie

Fans of Mudgy the moose and Millie the mouse are invited to their birthday party this weekend at the Coeur d’Alene library.

While no one knows exactly how old the fictional moose and mouse are, it’s their sixth birthday party.

The celebration will include a reading and book signing by author Susan Nipp, appearances by the characters, singing and birthday cake.

“The book is geared toward preschool to probably 8 or so,” said David Townsend, the library’s communications coordinator.

But the event aims to encourage family participation, regardless of age, he said. More here.

Confession. I've never seen Millie and Mudgy and never read the book. What about you?

Nesse runs for District 4 seat

COEUR d'ALENE - Anne Nesse announced she is running for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives in District 4.

Nesse, a Coeur d'Alene Democrat, said she is running because current representatives haven't done much to help Coeur d'Alene and the surrounding area.

“Our median wages are the lowest in the nation,” Nesse said. “Our high cost of living in relation to income and low investment in education for jobs puts us at the bottom of all the U.S.”

Nesse is a former registered nurse, teacher, and businesswoman. She is married to Dr. Rolf Nesse, a family physician, and has three grown children. She wants to work for greater investment in education and jobs of the future.

In 2013 and this year, Nesse wrote a potential new labor law which helped generate more open discussion of low wages in Idaho. More here. CdA Press

Will North Idaho voters embrace a Dem candidate?

Throw your voice into local dialoug

A new community arts project wants to put your words up in lights.

Spokane Throw invites residents to write a letter to their city. In 25 words or less, how would you finish a letter beginning, “Dear Spokane”?

Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 26. Then 10 of Spokane’s leading visual artists and poets will review the submissions. Each artist will interpret their letters of choice as inspiration for creating a stencil filter for a large light projection in downtown Spokane during the month of October.

The first light, featuring a call out for the project, was recently installed. The results can be seen every evening after sunset on the Columbia Bank building on West Riverside Avenue.

Austin Stiegemeier, program manager at Spokane Arts, said the project “will be a pairing of images and words, but the focus is on the words.” Read more. Cindy Hval, SR

In 25 words or less how would you finish a letter beginning, “Dear CdA”?

Richert: CdA negotiations overview

It’s the second week of school in the Coeur d’Alene School District, and teachers are working without a contract.

While several of Idaho’s largest school districts have long since settled on contracts for 2014-15, the state’s sixth-largest district is still trying to craft a deal.

Here’s an overview.

What are the issues? One big issue is one familiar to many school districts — rising health insurance costs. The district is expecting a $500,000 increase; the Coeur d’Alene Education Association is asking the district to absorb the costs, to prevent a decrease in employee take-home pay.

Both parties have agreed to offer pay raises to teachers based on experience and education — but as the Coeur d’Alene Press reported last month, the two sides disagree on the cost. The union pegs the cost at $350,000; the district’s estimate is $700,000.

The district is wrestling a tight budget for 2014-15: a $65 million general fund, down from $67.8 million a year ago. And as a result, the district is cutting money earmarked for salaries and benefits — line items that, taken together, account for nearly 84 percent of the district’s general fund.

A flap over administrative raises: Still several district administrators received raises of 4 to 23 percent. While the raises make up only $104,000 of the $67.8 million budget for 2013-14, union members decry the move, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported this week.

“I realize that people are going to look at it sideways,” Superintendent Matt Handelman told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “But there are decisions that must be made administratively to maintain and keep a team.”

Make trustees ‘uncomfortable:’ In an Aug. 29 Facebook page post, the Coeur d’Alene Education Association urges supporters to attend board meetings, contact trustees — and “engage” trustees in conversation in the community, at a store or at church. “Human behavior suggests that the primary reasons people change their behavior is for personal reward, or because it is no longer comfortable to continue doing the same thing. The time has come to make the life of a school board member uncomfortable.”

The post struck up a lively conversation on Huckleberries Online, the popular blog hosted by D.F. Oliveria of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Asked Oliveria: “Izzit just me — or are you also bothered by the idea that the local education association is advocating that its members confront trustees at the store, at church, etc.?”

So, what happened this week? Dozens of district employees gathered at Monday’s School Board meeting to protest the possible reduction in take-home pay. Speaking to the Coeur d’Alene Press, union president Derek Kohles described the gathering as a “peaceful, professional action.”

The sentiments resonated with School Board chairwoman Christa Hazel. “I noticed many familiar faces in the audience and their presence impacted me personally,” Hazel wrote this week. “I understand there are real world ramifications that have financial impact for staff and for our district.”

What’s next? The two sides are headed to mediation. Kevin Richert, IdahoEdNews

Question: How long do you think this will go on?


Sandpoint teacher retires after inappropriate texts

SANDPOINT - A longtime Sandpoint Middle School teacher is retiring after sending inappropriate text messages to a student.

Former life sciences teacher Rod Swerin was granted a leave of absence in August that transitioned into retirement.

Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent Shawn Woodward said he was not at liberty to discuss personnel matters, but confirmed Swerin is no longer employed with the district.

“I can tell you he's not coming back,” Woodward said.

Swerin was a district employee for 17 years.

Swerin faces no criminal charges for the texts. Sandpoint Police conducted an investigation into the allegations in June, a few weeks after the messages were sent, according to a copy of the police report obtained by The Bonner County Daily Bee.

The text messages Swerin sent describe a dream he had in which the student and another student were present. Swerin said in one text that the message's recipient was clothed but the other student was not.

“Part of it you were there too but you had some clothes on. You can guess what was in my hand!” another message reads. More here. Keith Kinnaird, CdA Press


Big story, small stage

Briane Green and Henry McNulty, foreground, and Sara Miller and J.R. Haynie in Lake City Playhouse’s “Les Misérables.”

Putting on a production of “Les Misérables” is a huge risk, for a lot of reasons.

First of all, it’s been performed countless times in various capacities, and most of us can recite the beats of its story by heart. And the scope of that story is immense, stretching the course of several decades in 19th-century France. It’s almost entirely sung-through, and most of the numbers are notoriously difficult. It requires many elaborate sets and costumes, and you need a huge cast to pull it off.

But George Green, executive artistic director at Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City Playhouse, says that’s all part of the show’s appeal. He’s also directing LCP’s interpretation of “Les Mis,” which opens the theater’s 54th season with a blast of cannon fire. Nathan Weinbender, SR

We were wowed by Spokane Civic Theatre's production of Le Miz last year. Quite an ambitious undertaking for Lake City Playhouse. Have you eve seen Le Miz? Do you plan to?

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

Find DFO on Facebook

DFO on Twitter

Betsy Russell on Twitter

HBO newsmakers Twitter list

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Huckleberries Online.

Take this week's news quiz ›
Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here