As most of you know, Huckleberries Online focuses on local/state comment almost exclusively. However, there are times that I sprinkle in national/international content. Which seems to draw interest from some commenters. Please advise, as we go forward together into 2015. Would you like to see a little more national/international content on these pages?
President Barack Obama on Friday said that Sony Pictures made a mistake in canceling the release of a movie after a cyberattack from North Korean-backed hackers. “I am sympathetic to the concerns that they face. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake,” Obama said at a news conference Friday. “Let's not get into that way of doing business.” Obama's statement came hours after the FBI announced North Korea is officially responsible for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures, an attack law enforcement officials called a “game changer”/CNN Politics. More here.
Question: Do you think Sony made a mistake in canceling release of “The Interview”? Or was it being incredibly shrewd in getting free publicity for a movie that might have been a flop?
Justin Harmon embraces his children Ryan and Cori after having his badge pinned during the Odessa Police Department induction ceremony at the MCM Eleganté Hotel in Odessa, Texas. (AP Photo/Odessa American, Edyta Blaszczyk)
DFO: We've had two peace officers in my family. A cousin married and divorced one, way back when. And a second cousin, now deceased, served as an officer in a very small California town. My godfather was an MP during WW2.
Question: Are there any police officers in your family?
System is ultra-slow today. Having trouble posting. Will keep trying to catch up. Here's your TGIF Wild Card …
From Coeur d'Alene Police Department Facebook: “This ring was lost near the Lane Bryant store (291 W. Canfield Ave) on Dec 13 and the owner is offering a reward for its return. If you have any information, please call Coeur d'Alene Police Department at 769-2320 or email us at email@example.com reference case #14C80437.”
I wonder which is better to say to the bank that holds my mortgage — “Gee I can't pay you for a year because I overspent or — gee I can't pay you for a year because I was overly optimistic about savings that didn't materialize” — Joker.
The Army has finished its investigation into how and why Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his base in Afghanistan and plans to brief Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this afternoon, officials said Friday. Details about the probe's conclusion have been closely held. The report could include recommendations on whether Bergdahl should be charged with any criminal violations or forced to leave the Army. Potential charges could be desertion or leaving his post and being “absent without leave,” or AWOL. The final disposition will also determine whether Bergdahl gets as much as $300,000 in back pay and other benefits/AP via Eye on Boise. More here.
From Post Falls Police Department Facebook: “Officers were dispatched to Wal-Mart after an Asset Protection employee observed a male concealing store merchandise in several bags and back packs. When Officers made contact with the male he was alone and he claimed the shopping cart he was pushing belonged to someone else. Officers discovered the male had a Colt BB gun tucked into the front waistband of his pants and he was detained. Officers learned the male was on Felony Probation for Burglary. During the ensuing investigation it was determined that the male concealed over $700 worth of merchandise in four different bags. He was not is possession of any money or method of which he could use to pay for any items in the bags nor did he have the means to pay for the box of ice cream sandwiches and Mountain Dew that he had opened and snacked upon during his shopping spree. He was arrested for willful concealment and an agents warrant for a probation violation.”
Question: Crooks aren't very smart are they?
Here's another dyne-oh!-mite photo from Kathy Plonka of an eagle on Lake Pend Oreille: “A bald eagle keeps a watchful eye on it's surroundings in Bayview Tuesday. The birds have been feasting on the carcasses of Kokanee washing ashore on Lake Pend Oreille.” Story here.
Stanford's Brittany Howard is hit in the face as she dives for the ball during an NCAA women's volleyball tournament semifinal against Stanford in Oklahoma City Thursday. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Thursday Winner — ThomG with 20 like: “Paula models the latest in Coeur d' Alene Parade-wear.” You can see Thursday photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
Penni Cyr, president of the Idaho Education Association, says her group has major concerns about the new teacher “career ladder” legislation endorsed yesterday by the state Board of Education, which would phase in substantial raises for Idaho teachers if they meet standards for evaluations and student achievement. “First of all, it’s a really flawed process,” she said, adding that she and another teacher from the IEA served on the governor’s education improvement task force, but neither was invited to work on the career ladder legislation/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell below 4 percent in November for the first time since early 2008, the Idaho Department of Labor reports. The 3.9 percent jobless rate in November was down two-tenths of a percentage point from October; a year earlier, it was 5.7 percent. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged in November from October’s level of 5.8 percent; there’s more info here. … Kootenai County came in at a 4.5 percent unemployment rate in November, up from 3.9 percent in October. State Labor analysts are predicting that the average number of jobs for 2014 could be slightly higher than the previous peak in 2007; the numbers include a continued shift to service-sector jobs/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Sounds like a good news/bad news story. The good news? The jobless rate fell below 4%. The bad news? The numbers continue to shift to low-paying service-sector jobs. Thoughts?
Superintendent Matt Handleman (pictured) circulated an email to School District 271 employees last night, which reads in part:
“Though not ideal to be part of a holiday greeting, I want to take a moment to communicate directly and as openly as I can with everyone about what you have probably heard or read in the news: Our construction bond budget gap. Yes, it is true – about $1.8M. This is troubling, but not insurmountable. This week, I spoke with our Certified Advisory groups about the situation (you might ask your building rep for more details if you are interested). I can tell everyone this: Rumors that someone has “run away” with money are not true … no kickbacks, nothing illegal. We certainly have a huge challenge on our hands – reminiscent of what happened with/to the Lakes remodel long before my arrival. But this situation is actually extremely different: in the Lakes situation, our district overspent; this time, it was about being overly optimistic about savings from other projects – savings that didn’t materialize.” Complete email here.
To the 100 or so Press employees, all that banging, clanging and thumping sounds a lot like Christmas music. The joyful noise comes from construction workers building new Press offices right where the current ones exist, on the northwest corner of Lakeside Avenue and Second Street in downtown Coeur d'Alene. “From high-end furnishings and design to state-of-the-art equipment, this building will illustrate our commitment to producing a great newspaper well into the future for this wonderful community we live in,” said Brad Hagadone, president of Hagadone Communications. Hagadone said the new facility should be open next summer, and that in the meantime, all current newspaper operations are continuing in the part of the building that faces Lakeside/Mike Patrick, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Press photo by Shawn Gust: Jeff Donovan, of Spokane Concrete Cutting, uses a wet saw to cut sections of concrete)
Question: When did you last move into a new work facility?
At first blush, there’s something intrinsically repulsive about the state’s decision to provide taxpayer handouts to the developers of a luxury hotel complex in Ketchum. Maybe it’s in the words “luxury” and “hotel,” conjuring images of “opulence” and “exclusivity” all funded with special tax breaks out of reach to the rest of us. Odious as it might sound, it’s actually a lot worse. There is only one Ketchum, Idaho. If you want to build a destination resort to capitalize on the unique year-round recreation and tourism opportunities of the Sun Valley area, you pretty much have to build there. And yet, the state Department of Commerce decided to award a $132,000 tax handout for a 100-room luxury hotel complex that, according to press reports, will occupy a city block and include residences and timeshares. Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer contends the project deserves a special taxpayer deal because the company could have chosen to focus its considerable resources elsewhere/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Do you agree with Wayne Hoffman that this is one state handout that shouldn't have been given?
A bald eagle grabs a kokanee out of Lake Pend Oreille in Bayview on Tuesday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
Santa isn’t the only white-headed caller from way up north swooping down to delight holiday revelers. Bald eagles, passing through as they migrate south, have congregated in large numbers on Lake Pend Oreille to feast on the carcasses of countless kokanee. The birds of prey have put on a steady show around Bayview, Idaho, and Farragut State Park through the fall. Photographers are being rewarded with images of branches thick with eagles, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Mature and juvenile eagles are in Scenic Bay, Idlewilde Bay and far across the water in more remote reaches/Scott Maben, SR. More here.
Question: Have you ever watched the eagles on Lake Pend Oreille?
An environmental group has petitioned the federal government to reintroduce grizzly bears to the Selway-Bitterroot mountains of Idaho and Montana, saying the region is critical to the bears’ recovery in the Lower 48 states. Re-establishing grizzlies in the Selway-Bitterroots would provide a link between genetically isolated bear populations in Yellowstone National Park and the Northern Rockies, said Andrea Santarsiere, the Center for Biological Diversity’s staff attorney. Past studies indicate that the 16 million-acre region could support 300 to 600 grizzlies. “There are large expanses of wilderness; it’s heavily forested with low road densities,” Santarsiere said. “It has everything that you look for in potential suitable habitat for grizzly bears”/Becky Kramer, SR. More here. (U.S. Geological Survey by Kim Keating: Grizzly bears are expanding their range in the West)
Question: Do you think this is a good idea?
In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, opinion writer Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune jeers … Sandpoint Mayor Carrie Logan: Talk about weird timing. Just as Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden was convening officials and people in her community last week in a forum about operating government in public, Logan was shutting people out. Hosted by the city of Sandpoint, a closed-door session dealt with increased railroad shipments of oil and coal through the community. Among those in attendance: two mayors, representatives of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Idaho Conservation League and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper as well as state Sen. Shawn Keogh, R-Sandpoint. As the Bonner County Daily Bee's Keith Kinnaird reported, no notice was given and when Sandpoint resident Randy Stolz tried to attend, he was given the boot. Logan justified it because “no actions were taken. It was just an informational meeting trying to clarify and identify risks.” Complete Cheers & Jeers column here. (City of Sandpoint Web page photo of Carrie Logan)
Question: I'm always amazed how elected officials give lip service to the open meeting law until they decide they don't want the public knowing about something they're involved in. How about you?