Huckleberries Online

MONDAY, DEC. 12, 2005, 12:23 P.M.

Huckleberries Best of the INorthwest — 12/12/05

A cougar is shown near La Grande, Ore., in this undated photo after it had been chased up a tree by dogs. For some reason, cougar kills in Oregon are down this year. Both biologists and hunters do offer a few theories to explain cougar hunters' comparative lack of success so far this year (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Steve Nehl).

1. David Horsey/Seattle PI doodles re: the cultural war over Christmas here.

2. Gov. Christine Gregoire, a tough, battle-scarred lawyer, earned her stripes brawling with Big Tobacco and other political tigers. But some of her advisers and top aides, armed with results from four focus groups with voters last month, want to begin softening the aggressive image that helped put her on the map, according to David Ammons/Associated Press, here.

3. Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker is sending a clear message to anyone with questions or complaints about their property assessments: Stay home. Baker has ordered chairs removed from his office's waiting area, directed employees to spend less time meeting with residents, and installed a new voice-mail system that makes it almost impossible for callers to actually reach an appraiser by phone, according to Amy Cannata, Spokesman-Review, here.

4. Glen Farnworth, an Idahoan in prison for drunken driving, has sued the state's parole director because, he claims, a sobriety program violated his religion by forcing him to submit to God's will twice a day here.

5. Some Washington pervs are beating the system by registering as homeless rather than providing their residential address here.

6. IMHO-NW: D.F. Oliveria/Spokesman-Review (Monday's Huckleberries), Joel Connelly/Seattle PI (Key U.S. House races), Doug Clark/Spokesman-Review (Mayor Jim West's last hurrah), Kahlen Burgwin/WSU Evergreen (Thumbs down to "Narnia"?), John Blanchette/Spokesman-Review (Seattle star LB Lofa Tatupu).

Helena Independent Record Online poll: 92% favor a cable a la carte system that would allow them to get only the channels they wanted.

*Gun control groups are using the Tacoma Mall shooting to bolster their contention that unlicensed gun sellers should not be allowed to advertise their wares in newspaper classified ads, according to Adam Lynn, Tacoma News Tribune (free subscription required), here.

*In Vancouver, Washington, two families have contributed a record-breaking $15M each to local hospitals here.

*I-90 restrictions over Snoqualmie Pass should be lifted soon here.

Orbusmax Special: Employers struggle to find workers in North Idaho here.

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Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.