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Huckleberries Online

Archive for June 2006

A public service announcement…

… from Herb Huseland/Bayviews:

Here we are at last. This Saturday will usher in the 4th of July activities in Bayview. Festivities start at 11:00 AM, beginning with the street parade. If you aren’t in town before 10:30 AM you will be subjected to a wait, while the parade goes by.

We have stocked up on your favorite beverages, and expect the usual unbelievable crowd. After an afternoon of food and beverages, take in the very good fireworks display that will take place around 10:00 PM.

I’ll be at the Captain’s Wheel. I hope those of you that attend our celebration, stop by to say hi to me.

Question: Got big plans for the weekend?

Thursday wild card

OK - it was a tough call, but for what it’s worth, James Bond gets my vote for the best cutline for the Smart Car photo:

Why Is The American Automobile Industry In So Much Trouble?

Here’s the afternoon wild card…

The Supreme Court / Gitmo thread

Today’s Supreme Court decision declaring the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals illegal is already churning up some comments on the Wild Card, so I thought I’d bring it out as its own thread. You know what to do…

Vacation Wild Card No. 6 — 6/29/06

As my vacation starts to wind down, I see Blogmeister KenP is continuing his solid job finding things to interest the HBO crowd. Major Hat Tip — to Ken. I’ve finished the painting and am looking forward to doing something else later today. Mebbe getting in a swim before the tourists and visitors take over the waterfront for the Fourth of July weekend. I admit that I get less and less excited about the Fourth the longer I live here. The parade’s nice in the morning. But the maniacs who’ll be firing fireworks for the next two weeks are a pain. And the ha-huge fireworks crowd means you have to fight major gridlock to get back home. Such is the burden of living in such a viewtiful city …

From the front lines

S-R reporter Erica Curless sent along this tidbit from last night’s Kootenai County Commission meeting:

During Tuesday’s Kootenai County Commission meeting Commission Chairman Gus Johnson had a slip of the tongue and accidentally referred to Commissioner Katie Brodie as “chairman.”
Brodie shook her head and quipped “That’s amazing. I thought I got fired.”

These shoes weren’t made for walkin’

“I hate flip-flops.”

S-R reporter Amy Cannata came to my desk this morning to vent about these kids today and their flip-flops. Once upon a time, flip-flogs (did anyone else call them “thongs?”) were reserved solely for the beach, but are now everyday footwear.

The problem - teenagers don’t walk anymore, she said, they “shuffle.”

I can’t help but wonder if my posture and gait was permanently altered by the days of untied sneakers.

Question: Is it the shoes? It’s gotta be the shoes…

Wile E. Coyote lives

It’s a miracle: Quigley the dog survives a 90-foot plunge off a cliff into the Spokane River. (Parker Howell/S-R)

Question: How close has your dog come to a brush with death?

Tuesday wild card

It’s been a little slow, but I hope this substitute-teacher bit is better than letting the blog lay fallow for a week (I’m frightened to think what that says about me if it isn’t). Keep your posts coming my way.

Here’s the afternoon wild card…

Reporting = treason?

Vice President Cheney had some choice words for the New York Times yesterday (in Grand Island, Neb., where I graduated from high school, and is neither grand nor an island), and one congressman is calling for the Justice Department to “begin an investigation and prosecution” of the Old Gray Lady.

Question: Is this a legitimate effort to protect American security, a full frontal assault on the First Amendment, or a bunch of political smoke?

Vacation Wild Card No. 4 — 6/27/06

Gracious! I was planning to peek at the blog before I hit the sack. And spent 20 minute skimming the comments section. Hilarious! I can see why that’s so dang addictive. Partisans were toe to toe fighting out which side I love most. I felt like a proud papa watching his talented siblings go after one another. ‘Tis extremely hard not to post or respond to comments. But it appears that Blogmeister Ken Paulman has things very well in hand. So, ‘tis time to catch some Zzzzz’s and prepare for my final — I hope! — day of painting. While I paint and sweat (do you think this is how Duane Hagadone paints his house?), you can use this Wild Card to start threads of your own. Also, remember, you can forward Ken links, questions, comments, photos, etc., for him to post here for you …

Editorializing on torture

This question and answer on Ask the Editors ties closely to a discussion on HBO last week. Here, opinion page editor Doug Floyd responds to a reader who questions why we didn’t write an editorial about the torture death of two U.S. soldiers:

I should also mention that few of our editorials deal with national and international issues. Over the long haul, 80 to 90 percent of our editorials are on local, state or regional topics.

Finally, and this is probably the key point, our editorial board takes the press’s watchdog role seriously. We can sound off every day about the atrocities committed by terrorists around the globe. We can denounce them as loudly as we know how. But so what?

However, when we perceive wrongdoing by American service members, or local government, or any other public entity that is ultimately accountable to our citizen readers, then we do speak up. The inherent reason for that is that a good government can be made better, or can be prevented from becoming bad, when the people are informed and have a chance to demand adherence to high standards.

In that spirit, we will always be more likely to render constructive criticism about our own government than to protest the misconduct of an enemy.

Read the whole post here.

Amnesty in Iraq?

There’s been a lot of talk on the news shows this weekend about a proposal by the Iraqi government to provide amnesty for insurgents who renounce violence and haven’t engaged in terrorist acts. Some say that Iraq is finally asserting its sovereignty and working on a real plan to end the violence and send U.S. troops home. Others say it’s a slap in the face to the U.S. and disgraces the soldiers who gave their lives to liberate the country in the first place.

What do you think?

Vacation Wild Card No. 3 — 6/26/06

As I mentioned Friday, Blogmeister Ken Paulman will be posting links, comments, photos, etc., that you send him this week at He might even toss in some things on his own. In other words, I may be on vacation, but you can still entertain yourselves by sending suggestions to Ken and using the Wild Cards …

Vacation Wild Card No. 1 — 6/24/06

I have plenty below to keep you entertained when you return from sunning yourself today, HBOers. I’ll be running Wild Cards for the other days in my weeklong vacation. But, remember, Blogmeister Ken Paulman has volunteered to post your links, questions, comments, and photos next week to keep things going a little here. So, be prepared to send those things to The blog’ll be in your hands next week. Now, for your first Vacation Wild Card …

APhoto of the Weekend — 6/24-25/06

President Bush comforts Kaleb Kroon (2) of the Dolcom Little League Indians, Groton, Conn. held by his mother Betty, after their T-Ball games against the McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. Little League Yankees Friday on the South Lawn of the White House. You write the cutline/AP Photo.

Russell: Risch Becoming Honorary N. Idahoan

“Gov. Jim Risch has been in North Idaho a lot since taking office – every week and sometimes more than once a week. So when state Sen. Dick Compton introduced Risch today to speak to the Rotary Club in Coeur d’Alene, S-R reporter Meghann Cuniff reported that Compton had this line: ‘Two more trips and you’ll be able to vote in Kootenai County.’”

Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise

Best of Huckleberries Online — 6/23/06

Read “Rudy Envy” below, and you’ll find out why Councilman Mike Kennedy (second from left) would make a good Hobbit.

Birds of A Feather
A fiftysomething Coeur d’Alene Berry Picker had the misfortune of waiting for a red light at Fourth & Appleway, eastbound, behind a Degeneration X couple we’ll call Bonnie and Clod. Seems the two blond horndogs in the white convertible with the top down were deep into the second period of a tonsil hockey game when the light turned green Sunday afternoon. They were so engrossed in fore- and fifth-play they didn’t notice. The Berry Picker finally honked her horn five seconds into the light change, only to get a nasty look and the finger from Clod. Midway across the intersection, Bonnie – mebbe we should call her Little Miss Soon-To-Be-An-Unwed Mother – gave the Berry Picker a one-finger salute, too. But that wasn’t the end of it. As Clod turned the corner from Best Avenue onto Ninth, he glared at the middle-aged Berry Picker one more time and flipped her off again. The gene pool’s pretty shallow in that part of town.

Beware: Guard on duty
You may have seen Wallace & Grommit’s “The Curse of the Were Rabbit.” But you haven’t seen the attack of the Were Security Guard, unless you wandered away from the Riverstone cinemas after watching “Cars” and eating barbecue, like Family Phil Corless and his kids did recently. Phil wanted to photograph that old Central Pre-Mix hole that’s being converted into a manmade pond nearby. But he hadn’t taken two steps beyond a posted artist’s rendition of the future pond and city park before a security guard screeched to a halt in his rig and screamed, “You’re trespassing.” Phil responded thoughtfully: Hunh? “You’re trespassing! There’s signs all over the place!” sputtered the Were Guard, pointing to signs 60 feet away in one direction, 30 feet away in another, and some beyond those. Immediately, Phil realized it was useless to say he hadn’t seen the signs and stepped back on the curb. Satisfied, RoboGuard zoomed off. But all was not lost, figured Phil: “My kids learned a little something about little men who think they have big power.” Isn’t that how Napoleon got his start?

‘Rudy’ envy?
You may know that Sean Astin played the leading role in the tear-jerker “Rudy” before he portrayed Frodo’s sidekick, Sam, in “The Lord of the Rings.” And some of you know that Coeur d’Alene Councilman Mike Kennedy is Sean’s first cousin. Sean’s mother, actress Patty Duke, who lives in Coeur d’Alene, is sister to Mike’s mother. But did you know that there’s a standing joke in Mike’s family about Sean’s performance in “Rudy”? Last week, Mike enlightened the Huckleberries Online crowd: ” ‘Rudy’ still ticks me off (after I’m done blubbering while watching it) since Notre Dame rejected me undergrad and law school, and Cuz gets carried off the field on the shoulders of the faithful (without even applying for admission). Life just ain’t fair!” There is an upside, however. Mike didn’t have to pack Frodo, half dead, up the side of Mount Doom. Nor does he have as one of his credits, “The Goonies.”

Poet’s Corner
“One hundred twelve miles on a bike’s/more sitting than a hemorrhoid likes/and twenty-six miles on the run/will leave a joint or two undone – /even water’s rather risky/if not mixed with well-aged whiskey” – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Why He Doesn’t Enter Ironman”).

The irony of cuffed supremacist Vincent Bertollini and a black inmate being escorted together into a Bonner County courtroom wasn’t lost on the bailiffs last week. One sang to himself: “Ebony and ivory … live together in perfect harmony …” ‘Twasn’t the caliber of Sir Paul and Stevie. But the point was well taken … “Crap, that’s all I have to say” – a North Idaho refugee who’s living in Seattle upon learning that his parents were moving from viewtiful Coeur d’Alene to Pocatello … A group of lions are called a “pride,” right? And a group of quail is a “covey.” The group – cluster? – of commenters at Huckleberries came up with some grand names for the S-R editors who now huddle at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdaily on the Internet. “Confusion,” “quibble” and “wind tunnel” were my favorites … Bumpersnicker: “Club Gitmo: Your Tropical Retreat From the Stress of Jihad” … Believe it or not, the cluster of HBO commenters agreed easily about the best Chinese place in Coeur d’Alene – Safeway’s Chinese deli. Such is the state of Oriental affairs in our homogenous community … Idaho’s Democrats – both of ‘em – are still chuckling about the Repub color scheme for the elephant emblem at the GOP state convention last week – blue. A blue elephant? In fire-engine-red Idaho? Is the political worm turning in the Gem State?

Parting shot
Didja hear the one about the guy who tried to impersonate Duane Hagadone at CDA’s 24-Hour Fitness the other day. Trouble is, the guy, Ralph R. Chicks, 45, is at least 25 years younger than The Duane and doesn’t look like him. When asked to leave, Chicks raced behind the counter to punch the desk attendant in the jaw – all of which got him this offer from Judge Scott Wayman: voluntary committal to a mental facility or 30 days in jail for misdemeanor parole violation.

TGIF Wild Card — 6/23/06

Attention: HBOers, Blogmeister Ken Paulman has volunteered to keep the blog moving next week, by posting copy and links that you send him. He’ll also post things he sees while keeping the software gears running smoothly on our online product and surfing the Internet. I’ll post this notice before the work week starts again, when I’ll be on vacation. I’ll probably check in a time or two early in the vacation. But be MIA later in the week. You can send your links, photos, photoshops, and comments for posting to Pleaz take advantage of Blogmeister KenP’s gracious offer. Meanwhile, you can reuse this TGIF Wild Card for some parting shots for the week …

HBO’s Best of the Local Blogs — 6/23/06

CDDave writes of day’s gone by when chamber types tried to lure visitors with postcards like the one above and of trying to get around in downtown Coeur d’Alene this Coeur d’Alene Ironman week here.

*Stebbijo Unzipped isn’t surprised by the charges of corruption being leveled at the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office by former deputies here.

*No sooner than UBob announces his triumphant return from Little Rock, Ark., he’s being forced to leave again … by carpet needs, of all things, here.

*ErinG uses to reconnect at City Park with an old friend she hasn’t seen in seven years here.

*Nicholas Casey/Rants & Raves has some cool photos and commentary about Denver International Airport, which he calls correctly “architecturally beautiful, a stunning and efficient feat of engineering” here.

*Toad breaks from regular program to provide a video of Junior’s kindergarten graduation here (click on photos).

Meanwhile, Mari’s being overrun by killdeer here, Cis sez no one told her to eat fruit and vegies when she was a kid here, and Marianne celebrates Kiwi’s first birthday here.

Inside Huckleberries — 6/23/06

5:15 p.m., Blogmeister Ken Sands called from the bloggers convention in S.F. to say his USA Today newspaper today contained a cardboard insert advertising $500,000 lots on a Jack Nicklas golf course overlooking … Lake Pend Oreille. There’s goes the neighborhood. Can you say “higher tax valuations,” baybee?

5:11 p.m., Looks like Commish Gus Johnson and Katie Brodie started a trend by banning Huckleberries Online at the county courthouse for 8 days in May. Colleague Gary Crooks passed this along here.

3:27 p.m., The fur’s flying in the comment section of that belated Bonner County Bee story about possible corruption in the sheriff’s office. You can find the Bee story (top) and comments (below) here.

2:07 p.m., Blogmeister Ken Sands gave Huckleberries Online and the HBO community a nice mention at that BloggerCon in San Francisco this week here.

1:45 p.m., Note to Self — Make sure Frank Sennett/Hard 7 is among those listed on the new Washington Politics blogroll. Terrific stuff.

11:12 a.m., Blogmeister KenP has offered to step in next week to keep some activity going on the site. Quoth: “Rather than have the blog go fallow for a week while you’re on vacation, do you want to set up a system where I post items submitted by the regulars (and stay out of the conversation to avoid changing the overall tone)? Won’t be as dynamic as usual, but may be better than nothing …” Very cool.

10:17 a.m., “Northern Idaho seems to have a much better developed blog community’ than the rest of the state. The main reason seems to be a really good Idaho-themed blog they have on the Spokane, WA-based Spokesman Review website called Huckleberries Online. (The huckleberry is the official Idaho State Fruit, for those interested.) The author, Dave Olivera, is a columnist for the paper that hosts his site, and does a really good job of providing lots of interesting content and keeping the discussions going in the comments,” new Idaho Politics blogroll commenter Bubblehead is telling Boise about HBO & the Gang here.

10 a.m., The Bonner County Bee finally got it right, on a second try and more than a week late. After running a much-belated follow to Taryn Brodwater’s investigative article re: possible mini-corruption in the BC sheriff’s office yesterday, the Bee had to turn around and run it again today. Why? The jumps off the front page didn’t go anywhere. Someone in the press section ran an old Page 3 instead of the proper jump page. D’oh!

9:30 a.m., Note to self — Should I tell HBOers now that I’m taking next week off, or should I wait until the end of the day? Gotta paint the inside of the house in preparation for invading relatives this summer, to keep my-now-missus-of-31-years happy.

CPD Blue Announces Arrest In 2003 CDA Rapes

Coeur d’Alene Police have just announced a break in a serial rape investigation from 2003. They arrested 33-year-old Paul Hawkins at his workplace at 2 PM Friday and charged him with four counts of 1st Degree Rape. Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Wendy Carpenter joined officers from Post Falls and Rathdrum Friday afternoon to announce Hawkins’ arrest. He is charged with two rapes in Coeur d’Alene, one in Rathdrum and one in Spirit Lake and is a suspect in three other cases.

For the rest of the story, click here.

Flyin’ High On The Oregon Coast

Dunno of an Inland Northwesterner who doesn’t like the Oregon Coast. I once was offered an asst. M.E. job at Coos Bay. But turned it down for an asst. news editor job at the Lewiston Morning Tribune. Way better newspaper. However, I try to get to the Oregon coast whenever I can. Here, Pablo Grim flies through the air while wind surfing on the coast near Florence, Ore., on Thursday. Great weather and strong winds have kept wind surfers happy along the coast the last several days/Kevin Clark, AP Photo/The Register-Guard.

Question: When’s the last time you visited the Oregon coast?

Mailbag: Seeking Death Penalty Vs. Wife Beheader

James Bond: Oh goodie, another death penalty! There’s almost no question he’ll get it. Then, it will NEVER happen. We’ll have years and years and years of multiple appeals, bouncing back and forth costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and requiring witnesses and family members to worry and testify 10, 15 and even 20 years into the future. The Ninth Circuit will undoubtedly strike down the sentencing once or twice, and because the US Senate has failed to split the Ninth Circuit, his appeals will languish for years in an overburdened court. Eventually, he will pass away in prison.

DFO: 007 put into a few words why I’ve switched my position on the death penalty. I’m not against frying a thug like Alofa Time. But it won’t happen. Give ‘im life without possibility of parole — and he’ll no longer be a menace to society. With luck, he’ll find a way to kill himself.

Huckleberries Best of the INorthwest — 6/23/06

Jason Romero fishes Thursday in Bremerton, Wash., as clouds are reflected in the calm water/Larry Steagall, AP Photo/Kitsap Sun.

Postman: Seattle librarians lobbying national delegates to call for Bush impeachment here.

1. For Eric Devericks/Seattle Times, the old cut-and-run scenario is on the other foot now here.

2. Backers of a proposed constitutional initiative that would make it easier for Montanans to recall judges believe they have enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot here.

3. A BNSF Railway official asked the Wyoming mining industry to pressure Congress not to further regulate the rail industry, saying anything that might impede railroad profits would reduce the carriers’ ability to expand their lines in Wyoming here.

4. With crowds gathering at Spokane’s Hoopfest and Coeur d’Alene’s Ironman triathlon this weekend, the companies that rent and maintain portable toilets find themselves flush with success here.

5. Despite legislation implemented last year to boost nutrition and physical activity in schools, Washington and Idaho each received an “F” on a “school foods report card” here.

6. IMHO-NW: Idaho Statesman (Use more mail-in ballots), Missoulian (Disastrous spending), Billings Gazette (Abide by fireworks ban), (Analyzing Cantwell’s falling poll numbers), and Hindu/Sagebrush (Demos’ minimum-wage pandering).

Online Poll: 77.5% of 746 respondents to a Seattle PI poll say they never visit

*Ada County prosecutors will seek death penalty against Boisean Alofa Time (right), who is accused of beheading wife, killing mother and daughter here.

*8 new markers to commemorate American Indians will be placed at Little Big Horn site here.

*MSN Web site puts Boise on list of 8 “cheap places you’d want to live” here.

*The Spokane River is contaminated with more of a fire retardant than any other tested Washington waterway here.

Orbusmax Special: Boise eyeing crackdown on sidewalk eating, drinking after dark here (requires free subscription to

Ramaro Spent $48,000 of Her Own Money

Issue: Judicial campaign expensive: Amaro outspent winner Mitchell in 1st District primary race/Taryn Brodwater, Spokesman-Review

More Info: Attorney Rami Amaro spent $57,216, including nearly $48,000 of her own money, on her failed attempt to unseat 1st District Judge John T. Mitchell in last month’s primary election. Mitchell spent just more than $50,000, including about $11,000 of his money. He won with 65 percent of the vote.

DFO: Ouch!

Question: Can you think of better uses for $48,000?

Mailbag: What Do Demos Have To Offer?

Dang: Truth. Okay. You’re obsessed over Iraq. Great. I’ll buy you a cake. But can you tell what the Democratic Party has to offer me besides cut-and-run in Iraq? Oh, no. You’ll probably dwell on “cut and run” That’s predictable and sad, and it’s turning off America. So what else does the Democratic party have to offer me, a struggling divorced dad who wants his kids to see a better world? Can you answer me that with obsessing over Bush and Iraq, ‘cause that’s not what I want to hear — or vote for.

DFO: You just nailed the $64,000 question, Dang. Americans who aren’t out on either extreme are looking for new direction, and they’re tired to death of the peace activist wing of the Demo party simply offering: “Bush lied and people died.” The Demos should be making hay with the war issue. But they can’t even unite on a strong anti-war stance, as is evidence by their embarrassing losses in Congress this week over that issue. In fact, the war issue, in a weird way, may be hurting them because the country sees the Demos weak on defense. So, Demos out there, what do you have to offer in an economy that’s humming along?

WorldNetDaily Poll — 6/23/06

Issue: Many Americans in missile range just shrug: ‘A better question is when’s the next earthquake’/Associated Press

Question: Should the U.S. take out North Korea’s launch pad at this time?

1. No, it would be crazy and would likely spark World War III
2. No, a pre-emptive strike should be the last resort to prevent attack on U.S. homeland
3. No, it would violate the sovereignty of North Korea, which has not attacked us
4. No, Bush’s policy of pre-emption has been an utter failure, spinning out of control in the Mideast
5. No, N. Korea is playing brinksmanship to get negotiations with the U.S.
6. We should only shoot down any missile once it’s been launched
7. Yes, if further intelligence indicates they’re really about to launch
8. Yes, Kim Jong-Il has the capability of putting a nuclear warhead into U.S. territory, that’s reason enough
9. Yes, better now than after Los Angeles has been nuked
10. Other

DFO: No. 8

For the WorldNetDaily news report, click here.

Wild Card/Thursday — 6/22/06

You know the drill by now …

Water Breaking Ceremony Launches Lake Riverstone

Tim Lanarz Photo

This afternoon, developers and local parks officials participated in a water splash to signify the beginning of Lake Riverstone, the manmade lake that’ll become a Spokane River side park replacing the old Central Pre-Mix pit. Here, from left to right, Doug Eastwood, Coeur d’Alene Park Department; Neil O’Keeffe, SRM Development; Mike Tilford, SRM Development; John Stone, SRM Development; Steve Wetzel, Coeur d’Alene Parks Foundation; Sherry Lanarz, Coeur d’Alene Parks Foundation; Lee Shellman, Parks & Rec. Foundation; and Oscar Maria, SRM Development. (Family Phil, I believe, got chased recently by an attack security guard when he tried to get a closer look at this proposed watering hole.) All in all, we need to put our hands together to applaud the developers and city officials, like Eastwood, who are making this possible.

Herb: Bachelors Of Bayview Want … Ladies

“Today’s issue of the Nickle’s Worth, included a rather different plea than the ordinary ad — a plea for single ladies, rang out over the land. It seems that where we have many very fine ladies that come up to this spa on the lake, most are unfortunately accompanied by a male partner. The anonymous author of this ad cries out for all of the ladies, that feel left out, neglected, or otherwise ignored. We want you right here in Bayview. With the upcoming Bayview Daze celebration prior to the fourth happening the weekend of the 1st, it is apparent that the Bayview Batchelors are tired of being ignored. In a recent interview, one such replied, ‘sure we’re Rednecks, but were friendly.’ My view of this whole affair, is that the adventuresome, fun-loving ladies, just don’t know we are here.”

Bayview Herb

The Bachelors of Bayview
Cordially Extend An Invitation To All Fun Loving Gals … To A Summer Of Fun At The Lake … Boat Trips, Sailing, Fishing, Kayaking, Shore-Line Walks… Or Just Hanging On The Docks & Decks Of The Bay. Enjoying Drinks, Food, New Friends, Sun Filled Days, Moon Lit Nights, Beautiful Sunsets, Awesome Sunrises, And The Laid Back Magic Of Pend Orielle.
Remember!!! What Happens Here Stays Here”

Easter Egg: Your Hobbit Name

I just found this Hobbit Name Generator while looking up something about Sean Astin and his Lord of the Rings role as Sam Gamgee. My Hobbit name? Drogo Goldworthy of Michel Delving. You can enjoy yourself here.

Idaho Junior Miss “Luaus with the Residents”

Idaho’s Junior Miss Martha Harper, left, Oklahoma’s Junior Miss Kayley McCoy and Nevada’s Junior Miss Alicia Westmoreland sing during the “Luau with the Residents” today at the Gordon Oaks retirement center in Mobile, Ala./John David Mercer, AP Photo/Press-Register.

Huckleberries Best of the Northwest — 6/22/06

Koby Zaharias, 3, of Declo, practices his roping skills on the foot of his mom, Sydney, while attending the Idaho State High School Rodeo Championships, Tuesday morning,June 20, 2006, in Pocatello, Idaho/Doug Lindley, AP Photo/The Journal.

Stapilus: Mike Crapo’s the most popular U.S. senator in the NW here.

1. Milt Priggee/Skagit Valley Herald reminds us of the perilous times in which we live here.

2. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, will be in Blaine County for a fund-raiser for her re-election campaign next month at a peak time for wealthy vactioners in the resort county here.

3. Three Montana State students are suing two profs for libel after being called “foolish weasels” here.

4. Documentary filmmakers are in Olympia this week to capture the community’s response to a neo-Nazi rally set for July at the Capitol here.

5. Montana men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak resigned Wednesday to take an assistant coaching job with the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA, and assistant Wayne Tinkle was named the new head coach of the Grizzlies here.

6. IMHO-NW: Doug Clark/Spokesman-Review (EWU’s Sacajawea statue sleeps with fishes?), G. George Ostrom/Hungry Horse News (Dreaming sounds), Dan Hammes/St. Maries Gazette-Record (Ducking the flavor), Allen Gorin/Idaho Statesman (Columnist has beef with Sali, conservatives), and Rich Landers/Spokesman-Review (Cyclist gives in to better judgment).

Online Poll: 44.9% of 882 respondents to a Seattle PI poll say their vehicles are the prime mode of transportation for their summer vacation plans.

*Eye On Boise: Idaho teacher is Utah’s best here.

*Two Marines from Washington state are among eight servicemen charged with murdering an Iraqi here.

*Activists are planning a monthlong boycott of two grocery stores here after the owners said they won’t stock morning-after contraceptive pills here.

*Glacier Park’s Going to the Sun Highway to open Friday here.

Orbusmax Special: Nampa biz ownes back community in fight to remove sex books from library here.

APhoto of the Day — 6/22/06

Gizmo, a 15-month-old pug, smiles as he shows off his winning ribbons at the Humane Society of Baltimore’s recent Bark in the Park canine games in Reisterstown, Md. You write the cutline/Christ Gardner, AP Photo.

Question: Jail Construction Issue Is Ba-a-a-ack

Issue: Jail expansion gets bigger price tag: Committee evaluating ballot measure’s failure determines $55 million now/Taryn Brodwater, Spokesman-Review

DFO: I voted for it last time because the half-cent sales tax will provide considerable property tax relief. I’ll vote for it again this time. The problem isn’t going away. But I hope county commissioners will push this idea better this time around, if they decide to put it on the ballot again.

Interesting Sentence: “Commissioner Gus Johnson didn’t return calls seeking comment Wednesday.”

Question: Will you support a half-cent local-option tax for expand the jail if it’s on the November ballot? Or is $55M too much?

WorldNetDaily Poll — To WMD Or Not To WMD

Issue: Hundreds of WMDs discovered in Iraq: Bombshell report notes 500 chemical weapons including sarin, mustard gas, more to be found/WorldNetDaily

Question: What is your reaction to the discovery of 500 chemical munitions in Iraq?

1. They’re old, degraded, unusable, pre-1991 weapons and so they don’t mean a thing.
2. A bunch of old chemical weapons shells is a far cry from what Bush, Cheney and Powell led us to believe were in Iraq.
3. For all we know, they were planted to boost Bush’s credibility.
4. WMD or no WMD, Saddam didn’t attack us and we had no business attacking him.
5. It’s encouraging, but the really big stuff is almost surely hidden in Syria.
6. What I don’t understand is why the Bush administration isn’t shouting this from the rooftops.
7. Democrats should apologize to the president for accusing him of lying about WMD.
8. It’s vindication that President Bush was right all along about Iraq having WMD.
9. Other

DFO: No. 9 … I was reluctant to post this because, frankly, if it was something substantial, the Bush administration would be shouting it from the rooftops. On the other hand, it could offer proof that the weapons were there and possibly moved. Any Mouse posted this in the comments section last night. And there was a short, intense discussion about it afterward. I’m letting everyone else have a crack at it now.

For the rest of the WorldNetDaily report, click here.

Mailbag: Commish Preparing For Power Play?

Spencer: Kootenai county is holding a public hearing (tonight) at 6PM, and while the stated intent of the hearing looks routine, a thorough reading of the text shows that they are engaging in a massive power grab that will do more to restrict private property use than any single action taken up to this point in the counties history. The changes to the zoning ordinance is one that will ban storage on private property in the county. All storage. Like your boat. Or your RV. Or the pole building kit you bought when it was on sale at Ziggys last fall, (unless you have a current building permit for it. Building materials are only allowed if there is a current permit for the property.) But that is not the most alarming. They are inserting the word “ONLY” before the list of permitted uses in each zone. If it is not on the list of permitted uses and activities allowed it is forbidden. Target practicing and hunting is not on the list. Having a family reunion/ campout on the back forty is not on the permitted list of activities. It reminds me of “Animal Farm” as the “more equal” pigs slowly chipped away the rules that protected the other animals.

DFO: Dunno much about this, but thought it should be out front as part of Huckleberries commitment to warn people about important issues. Then, Larry argued his case so compellingly here that I couldn’t resist putting it out front.

One Way To Ruin Fun In The Sun


Hump Day Wild Card — 6/21/06

I’m outta here to enjoy an anniversay dinner with my beloved and our daughter — probably Mexican. I prefer Chinese. But you guys have made it fairly clear that the best Chinese in town is offered by the Safeway Chinese Deli. I don’t think my missus would go for that tonight. So, have fun with the latest postings, and use this Wild Card to start a thread of your own …

P.P.S. — How Many DUIs Are Too Many?

Issue: A sixth DUI arrest for woman convicted in fatal car accident: 1997 killing led to anti-drinking laws/Seattle PI

DFO: Stories such as this one happen again and again, as individuals are slapped with a DUI, pay their so-called debt to society, and then are turned loose again to get another DUI. Some of them, like this “human time bomb,” drive again even after they’ve killed someone while driving drunk.

Question: Besides locking these people up and throwing away the key, what can society do to prevent repeat DUI offenses?

HBO’s Best of the Local Blogs — 6/21/06

Illustration: Jim Tibbs/Grants Pass, Ore.

*That HBO Friends of Huckleberries link for former Coeur d’Alene Press reporter Brent Andrews’ Chronic Discontent blog finally takes you to the right place instead of a promo page for his riveting book, “The Pot Plan.” In his latest posting, Brent talks about his reluctance to drive because he’s afraid he’ll see roadkill — or worse, kill an animal while driving — here.

*”I don’t know if its in the air or the water or what that makes it so difficult for the men serving the public in Spokane to keep their zippers up,” begins Mari Meehan in her latest Dogwalk Musings. And you’ll have to read the rest here.

*Big John Rook has written poetry for years but now he’s taken the time to post it here.

*”Becoming a father is a surreal experience, like when the alarm clock starts buzzing but seems to be apart of the dream that you are (awakened) from. I think all dads have that moment. For my friend, it was hearing his daughter cry for the first time. My moment was when I got to dress Christian for the first time” — North Idaho Blogroll newcomer Nicholas Casey/Rants, Rants & Random Thoughts here.

*Marianne Love/Slight Detour thought she’d won the lottery when she laid claim to all those boxes that once held Sandpoint High yearbooks here.

*CDADave wonders what all those Wi-Fiers who pound away at their computers over coffee at Java on Sherman do at night, in his latest Thin Air post, here.

Meanwhile, Cis tells of a dedication in honor of two special Kootenai women here, Family Phil celebrates his son’s 8th birthday here, Granati discusses serving at the Union Gospel Mission here, and ErinG catches us up on what she’s been doing for the last month here.

Inside Huckleberries — 6/21/06

4:30 p.m., This just in from Arizonan Tom Vaughn: “I enjoy reading your blog. I grew up in Spokane altho I’ve now lived in Phoenix, Az. for over 45 years.” Tom’s suggestion for a gathering of editors? “The Checker Board.”

2:34 p.m., Check out the new “Idaho Politics” Blogroll put together in a flash by Blogmeister KenP — just under the North Idaho Blogroll.

1:46 p.m., Blogmeister Ryan sent along this excerpt from monster Boing Boing blog: Kentucky government censors political watchdog site Patrick sez, “The Bluegrass Report is a well-established, highly reputable political blog devoted to investigations of Kentucky politics. The Republican state government of Kentucky has responded to its persistent refusal to dry up and blow away by…wait for it…blocking access to it from all state computers.” Link (Thanks, Patrick!) As Blogmeister Ryan sez: “This sounds kind of familiar.”

1:39 p.m., Just finished compiling my list of links for a new Idaho Politics Blogroll that’ll be up as soon as Blogmeister KenP can clear his desk to get to it: Bubblehead, Clayton Cramer, Eye On Boise, 43rd State Blues, F-Words, IdaBlue, Liberal Idaho, Palousitics, Randy Stapilus, Red State Rebels, and Right Mind. Thank you, Sara, for helping me compile it.

11:27 a.m., Editor Steve Smith mentioned to me during the Editorial Board meeting this morning that he’d be interested in what responses HBO gets to the call re: “What Name Do You Give To A Gathering of Editors?” “Wind Tunnel” from Dave Tolle was pretty good, as was a “Confusion” from CougCat. Put on your thinking caps, crew.

10:09 a.m., The dog days of summer already are hitting HBO hard. Just checked the page-views for Monday and Tuesday — both in the 3500 range, which is about 1500-plus down from a regular school-year day. But the “individual views” are consistent: 1885 Monday, 1884 Tuesday. Seems Mom didn’t check in Tuesday.

8:58 a.m., Special day for me today, HBOers — my 31st wedding anniversary. On the first day of summer in 1975, in 108 degree heat in the little northern California town of Corning, the former Brenda Orrmins and I swapped vows. And I’ve gotten the better of the deal ever since. If possible, she’s kinder and more loving today than she was that day.

Why He Doesn’t Enter Ironman

One hundred twelve miles on a bike’s
more sitting than a hemorrhoid likes
and twenty-six miles on the run
will leave a joint or two undone —
even water’s rather risky
if not mixed with well-aged whiskey.

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Dang: Another Budget Hearing Tonight — @ NIC

TONIGHT! 6:00 PM. In the Student Union Building, Driftwood Bay, North Idaho College. That’s where you can meet some of the wonderful people also responsible for part of your outrageous property tax bill, this time for NIC. Remember that last year, the NIC board bowed to pressure from Staff to raise your property taxes to pay for higher staff wages and benefits (while your wages are going down and your benefits are being taxed away from you). We cannot let NIC’s Board of Trustees kowtow to Staff again! The Trustees are supposed to represent the taxpayer, not the greedy staff. This can only happen when you show up in force and express how angry you are at them. Look: They had an $800K shortfall that President Berke fixed in almost a day by cutting a few services. So they can certainly cut more! And why did they buy an expensive piece of property in the Fort Grounds if money is so tight? These are important questions they need to be asked! And I’ll be there pointing out the fallacies of their PowerPoint presentation. Join me!


Huckleberries Best of the INorthwest — 6/21/06

Emerald Heights Elementary School sixth-grader Rachel Adamson,12, plays with a dragonfly at Island Lake County Park on Tuesday in Silverdale, Wash. Rachel was there with the sixth-grade class for an end-of-the-school year picnic/Larry Steagall, AP Photo/Kitsap Sun.

Stapilus: No such thing as a Republican for Larry Grant here?

1. David Horsey/Seattle PI has hit on a good idea re: how to fix our national parks here.

2. Two Drummond, Mont., athletes lost sports privileges after tasting wine at a Washington state winery during a senior class trip whose chaperones included the chairman of the school board and his wife here.

3. People who can walk to shops and services in their neighborhoods are more fit and less likely to die in car crashes. That’s the finding of a new report released today by the Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch) on sprawl and health in the Pacific Northwest here.

4. Pastor Randy Mitchell advised a Meridian congregation not to hate the man responsible for purposely slamming into an oncoming car, causing the deaths of Samantha Murphy and her 4-year-old daughter, Jaelynne Grimes here.

5. The family of a Medical Lake High School student is fired up over a graduation policy that prevented their daughter from wearing a cultural sash she earned for getting good grades here.

6. IMHO-NW: D.F. Oliveria/Spokesman-Review (Walls and bridges), Rebecca Nappi/Spokesman-Review (Studying abroad provides key lessons), Dan Popkey/Idaho Statesman (Idaho GOP cautiously optimistic), The Kalispell Daily Inter Lake (Preserving park peace), Brian Murphy/Idaho Statesman (American soccer’s unnecessary roughness),

Online Poll: Only 19.8% of 1018 respondents to an Idaho Statesman poll say they know “quite a bit” about soccer.

*Montanan sues psychic over bad “bad karma” fix here.

*Washington AG Rob McKenna: State government workers can opt out of union membership because of religious beliefsm here.

*A Billings woman with leukemia gets a life-saving bone marrow transplant from a brother she didn’t know she had here.

Orbusmax Special: Pre-eminent American Indian psychologists fudges tribal ties, degrees here; and: Top Microsoft exec leaves unexpectedly here.

Ask The Editors — Why Publish Drinking Photo?

Question: I was very disappointed in the Spokesman Review publishing that huge photo of Matt and Robert’s father, Dennis, “forcing” the boys to drink alcohol at their farewell party. I hope the state of Idaho questions Mr. Shipp about serving alcohol to minors in his bar. What he wants to do in private with his boys should be kept in private rather than publicly advocating to minors that it is okay to drink. — Sandy Baker

Answer: You are not the first reader to ask about Sunday’s photo of Dennis Shipp toasting his sons, Matt and Robert, at the family-owned bar. I would argue that there are at least two clear positions on this issue. One argument is that serving alcohol to minors is against the law under any circumstance. Period. End of story. The other argument is that some circumstances call for exceptions. The second position suggests that a father who is sending his two sons off to the military ought to be able to mark the occasion in a special way. I’m not here to make a judgment on what took place at the bar. We published the photo because we felt it is a compelling and telling visual representation of how this family is marking the major step being taken by the two young men. The family has given us considerable access in recent months and they all were fully aware that we were taking pictures at the going-away festivities. Our reporter and photographer attended the induction ceremony this week and we’ll be sharing another chapter of the Shipp story with readers on Thursday — Gary Graham, managing editor

DFO: Did we make the right call?

Mailbag: Surviving Past Anniversary No. 25

Claude d’Waalz: Getting past 20 (years of marriage) seems to be harder and harder these days. Is it my imagination or does the 25th mark the point when the wheels come off the wagon? It sure is in my circle of buds. … (Not me fortunately…)

DFO: My marriage hasn’t always been easy — more my fault than hers. But it was built on a promise to God that we’d see it through to the end. I’m a less-than-stellar Christian. But I wholeheartedly am committed to that promise. She is, too. It has seen us through when the times were rough. The first year, in particular. On the other hand, things have gotten better and better the longer we are together. She’s almost accustomed to me now. I appreciate, for example, that she didn’t yell at me today when she found my dirty socks on the kitchen counter.

Question: Is Claude right? Do marriages today tend to go off the rails at the 25-year mark? Why?

Mailbag: What To Call A Group of Editors?

Dawn: Not every grouping of birds is called a flock. A group of crows is called a murder, so your reference to a “terror of editors” seems very apropos.

DFO: Dawn is referring to the question I tossed out yesterday re: the SR’s new made-for-video newsroom huddle webcasts. Since computer viewers now can tune in and see our editors pawing over prospective stories for tomorrow’s paper (at 10 and 4:30 weekdaily), I wondered what you’d call the grouping. A pride (as in lions)? A gaggle (as in geese)? My suggestion: a terror. Then, a gasbag might work, too. Anyone else have suggestions?

Mailbag: Switching To Vote Straight Republican

James Bond: I’m voting straight ticket Democrat because of my anger and disgust with Republicans. Republicans must stand for low taxes, less government, personal responsibility and compassion for human beings. Bill Sali is a jerk. I wouldn’t vote for him if I was in a good mood. Oddly, his substantive positions are not out of line with someone I’d vote for, but his personality is quite simply awful. I kicked him out of my office once. When I say he’s crazy, I’m dead serious that I literally think he’s got something mentally wrong with him.

DFO: I, too, will be between a rock and a hard place when I cast my ballot this fall. Sali is a horrible candidate, by most measures, including those provided by respected fellow Republicans, like House Speaker Bruce Newcomb. I’ll probably pull the lever for Larry Grant, although the argument about possibly turning the House over to Nancy Pelosi and the soft-on-defense national Democrats is compelling. On the other hand, there are some Third Party candidates in this race who could get my protest vote. Too bad Cecil Kelly ran as a Democrat rather than an Independent.

Wild Card/Tuesday — 6/20/06

There’s plenty below to keep you busy. However, you’re always welcome to start your own thread with this Wild Card …

P.S. — Sali Thumbs Nose At Unity — 6/20/06

It wasn’t easy for U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson to bury the hatchet Saturday and warmly endorse state Rep. Bill Sali to join him in Congress. But Simpson’s graceful gesture toward his former foe was the signature moment of the Idaho GOP convention. Sali had a golden opportunity to reciprocate. He blew it. Simpson stole the show by calling Sali and his wife to the podium for a grasped-hands-in-the-air photo op. Rather than join the unity fest engineered by the elegant GOP chairman, Kirk Sullivan, Sali, R-Kuna, snubbed those who embraced him. Less than an hour after Simpson’s good deed, Sali voted to mark with a scarlet letter any Republican who differs with a word in the party platform.

For the rest of the column by Dan Popkey/Idaho Statesman, click here.

Question: Unquestionably, state Rep. Bill Sali, R-Kuna, is not the equal of Democrat Larry Grant in this fall’s congressional race. Which leaves Republicans with a difficult choice. Do you support someone who’ll embarrass the state? Or do you support the better candidate?

Q&A — Why 8 Second Delay On SR Webcasts?

Sam The Intern: As a journalist I felt it my duty to time the delay on the Spokesman-Review’s Web cast of the afternoon meeting. I counted it at about 8 seconds. Something to ponder: Is this so we don’t have a “Janet Jackson Superbowl Moment” in the newsroom?

DFO: That’s an escape valve, I believe, to prevent the 15 to 25 online viewers from hearing something inappropriate from one of the gathered editors. (BTW, if a group of lions is called a pride and a group of birds is a flock, what is the term for a group of editors? A terror of editors?) Anyway, some concern was expressed prior to going on line that an editor might slip and turn the air blue. Mebbe this is a preventative measure?

PM Question: A Farewell To High School Note

Shaina Marvel, 15, left, and Brittany Gibson, 15, right, watch as Amy Hallett, 15, center, signs a yearbook outside University High School in Spokane Valley on their last day of school Monday. Students attended the first period of the day for their last final/Liz Kishimoto, Spokesman-Review.

DFO: I recently looked at some of the comments left in my yearbooks for my junior and senior years at Gridley High School (northern California) and was surprised to see that several mentioned how controversial I was as a student newspaper opine writer. Some things never change, hunh.

Question: What was the most memorable thing anyone wrote in your high school yearbook?

More Dang Re: School Bored Meeting

Thanks, DFO. Education has become the new “third rail” of American politics. No politician is going to say anything about education other than “I’m forking over more of the taxpayer’s money.” And, naturally, the money is never tied to something significant, such as results.

A few more comments.

* The meeting opened with what the board obviously feels is the most important challenge facing the District: declining enrollment. But they used the euphamism “flattening” enrollment. Truth is, enrollment is down and this affects the schools’ funding. But what I found interesting is their list of reasons for the decline:

. New homes are being purchased by families without children
. Neighborning school districts are growing faster
. Affordability of housing is an issue

But they left out the most obvious reason: The education they offer sucks. No mention was made of the percentage of kids who are educated now at the Charter Academy or in K12 or those who could be in public schools who are in private/home schools. They just ignored that data! Why? Becuase it’s the best barometer of how well education is educating. Better ignore the disease and dwell on the symptoms, eh?

* You see, it’s not about education. It’s about dollars. Money for the educrats. Money for the teacher’s union. That’s the bottom line, and the meeting proved it by avoiding the topic.

* The infamous “Impact on a Home with $250,000 TAV” slide. Comparing 2006 and 2007, the slide shows an actual tax reduction! Such a household paid $1,288.29 in school property taxes in 2006, but will pay only $1,069.86 in 2007! Yee ha! But it’s misleading and sneaky. Here are the true numbers:

A $250K home in Kootenai County 2006 is valued at $340K in 2007, thanks to a 40% jump in evaluations. The school levy rate, which dropped to .00428 from .00515, puts that homes 2007 taxes at $1498, not $1069. That’s an increase of — SURPRISE! — 40%!!

Bottom line: We saved the most by rejecting the SPFL levy. Yeah for us! The school district shaved $1.9M from their budget, which is bold for them but weak for us. It’s only a 3% cut. So the board is admitting that there is fat in the budget, but they cut only enough to keep the educrats and teacher’s union happy. (Again, it’s not about education.)

The true problem is how the state allocates the M&O (Maintenance and Operation) funds. When property values go up, money from the state goes down. The schools get the same amount, just more from the property owner instead of the state. That amount has gone up this year by whatever precentage your home’s assessment incrased.

* Yes, your property tax statement in November will be HUGE. It’s going UP!

* Bottom line: We’re screwed unless Governor Risch calls a special session to remove the M&O from the Property Tax rolls. It’s a good move. It’s good for Idaho, and it will be good for the schools.


New Breast Awareness Plate Makes Debut

Tracey Brown, the former Idaho Junior Miss from Post Falls, designed and helped promote the new Idaho specialty plate that focuses attention on breast cancer.

Question of the Day — Nazi Rally — 6/20/06

Issue: Capital braces for Nazi rally: Olympia taps into past CdA strategy/Richard Roesler, Spokesman-Review

DFO: I attended only one of the — what? — three neo-Nazi rallies in downtown Coeur d’Alene, the second one in which a gang of counterdemonstrators turned Butler & Co. by forming a line across Sherman Avenue, roughly in front of the pocket park, between Third and Fourth. Talk about an anti-climatic event. I tend to side with those who say that you should battle these clowns through legislation, litigation and staging separate events rather than give them publicity by confronting them.

Question: What’s the best strategy against neo-Nazi parades?

SurveyUSA: Kempthorne Left On High Note

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne left office on a relative high note with an approval rating of 60%, according to a Survey USA poll of the 50 states. That rating ranked him 17th most popular among governors. The most popular was North Dakota’s John Hoeven with a rating of 78%. The least popular were Ohio Repub Bob Taft, at 18%, and Alaska Repub Frank Murkowski, at 20%. Washington Demo Chris Gregoire, at 50% disapproval, and Oregon Demo Ted Kulongoski, at 59% disapproval, were among the least popular. For all the approval ratings, click here.

Mailbag: Whazzup w/School Bored Coverage?

Hmmm: I read the school board meeting story in both papers this morning. The Spokesman story makes no mention of the large crowd attending to question the budget, their story is about two questionable books with one line about the budget hearing being postponed until Monday.
The Press story is about the public input and questions about the budget with a brief mention of the book issue. I guess that’s why it pays to read both newspapers regularly.

DFO: That’s why you also have to read Huckleberries Online. Not only does HBO provide insights by dispassionate experts, like Dang (below), but we can give you both stories from The Spokesman-Review here. Brand X’s story wasn’t available online.

Dang Review: School Bored Budget Meeting

Just came back from the School Bored Meeting. It’s still going on because, just like school, an inordinate amount of time must be wasted for every second spent actually learning something.

* Bottom Line: All Hail Alice Rankin! She was spot-on by saying that going to the meetings does nothing. Maybe a nickel here or there. But, yea verily, the public was out in force. And not one of the many speakers stood up and said that that pittifo li’l education establishment is starving and needs more money.

* The sound of educrats shuddering in fear is soothing to my bones.

* The dog and pony show was proud to annonce that they’ve shaved massive sums from their budget. Indeed, they cut $1.9M. Not bad. I would call that “a starter.” An “appetizer.” Given the lack of cajones typical in school boards, I would say that my red pencil could probably up the $1.9M to $7M or $10M. But few are eager to hand o’er those reins.

* I was wrong that the budget was not available. Apparently it was (they should tell the person who answers the phone this). The budget was published in the Press two weeks ago. In the “Legal” section. The section that everyone reads first, I might add. (Though, I must admit, the CDA Press Legal section is much more entertaining than their comics. Hello, MP!! HELLO! I’d resubscribe if you’d get some good comics!)

* Seeing the actual budget was like looking at my first computer program: all numbers and punctuation and little sense. It might was well be written in Swahili. It’s like a crossword puzzle without any hints. What’s more important is the requests made. I mean, it’s hard to see what 699,470 is really for as a line item in some bizzaro buget, but easier to see if its a request to install a Starbucks in the teacher’s lounge.

* One of the slides in the presentation proudly showed a typical $250K home and how much “less” that owner would be paying this year because SD271 levies went down. But then an astute member of the audience pointed out that while the levies went down a $250K house in CDA is now valued at $320K and therefore taxes will be going UP. Excellent point. Score one for the bleeding taxpayer.

* The board tried to tout their overall savings, until I pointed out that a majority of the savings was due, in fact, to taxpayers rejecting the last levy, coupled with the expiration of the previous levy.

* Some innocent person asked the board, “How much is enough.” Mentally I picked up the answer, which is always, “How much you got?”

* Yeah, no one is eager to vote up another levy.

* Yes, people are hurting. Two people spoke up about how Lakes Middle School is just fine as it is. In fact, I think it would tick those people off to have to turn down their thermostats to 58 this winter while Lakes enjoyes a brand new state-of-the-art heating system. NOT.

* Jim Hollingsworth was there, campaigning as always for common sense. Also saw my buddy Ray. Many of the public spoke well and made wonderful points. But, sadly, we’re shooting blanks. The only way to slaughter this pig is in the Idaho Senate.

* Got to meet Suzy Snedaker and Claude D. Waltz. Great folks! With people like that in CDA, things will be getting better for everyone.

* Next meeting is Wednesday night for NIC. Probably the same futility, but we still need to show up to let them know that status quo ain’t no go.


DFO: I published Dang’s entire review of the school bored meeting last night for two reasons: It’s extremely well written, and the subject is uber-important. Mebbe someday soon Dang’ll publish Budget Meetings For Dummies to help us rein in property taxes.

P.S. — Suing Colonel Sanders Over Unhealthy Fat

Issue: KFC sued for unhealthy fat: Group raps food fried in artery-clogging oil/

More Info: The suit, which KFC called frivolous, seeks to force the chain to stop cooking with trans fat or prominently warn customers about the health hazard in the restaurants.

DFO: I. Get. So. Dang. Tired. Of. Do-gooders. Looking. Out. For. Me.

Question: Are you smart enough to know that you’re not doing your arteries any good by eating at a fast-food place?

Top Cutlines — 6/19/06

Illustration/Family Phil

Having blown through her Kootenai County settlement, and not having any luck with her singing career, Marina Kalani is reduced to begging for handouts at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.

DFO: We only received two entries for today’s cutline contest. Both were good. Family Phil had a coffee spitter above.

Al Qaida Claims Capture of Oregonian, Texan

Andrea Stroebel drapes yellow ribbon on a store front for missing U.S. Army Pfc. Thomas Lowell Tucker today in Madras, Ore. Tucker is one of two soldiers missing in Iraq. Early Monday, a website posting claimed that the two had been kidnapped, but U.S. officials have not yet said whether they consider that message credible here/Rick Bowmer, AP Photo.

Didja Hear The One About The Guy …

… Who tried to impersonate Duane Hagadone at 24 Hour Fitness the other day. Trouble is, the guy, Ralph R. Chicks, 45, is at least 27 years younger than The Duane and doesn’t look a bit like him. Chicks got belligerent when asked to leave, racing behind the counter to punch the desk attendant in the jaw — all of which got him this offer from Judge Scott Wayman: voluntary commital to a mental facility or 30 days in jail for misdemeanor parole violation.

PM Question: To Flip-Flop Or Not To Flipflop

Issue: Looming flip-flop ban creates flap: Federal Way School Board mulls dress code change to enhance safety (may require free subscription)/Joseph Montes, Tacoma News-Tribune

More Info: “The Federal Way School Board appears ready to change the district dress code so students can no longer wear the cheap, backless flats. Board members won’t take a final vote until at least next week, but for now students and local officials are weighing in. … The board decided to give flip-flops the boot because they consider them dangerous for working in school laboratories and for walking in crowded halls.”

Question: Should flip-flops be banned at school, as a safety measure?

Dang Rallies Troops To Look At School Budget

Tonight is the budget meeting for School District 271, the largest mouth on the list of hungry taxing entities, which, thanks to your anger focused at Mr. McDowell, you probably missed at the bottom of your assessment.

The meeting is at 5:00 PM (awkward, eh?) at the Midtown Center Meeting Room, 1505 N. 5th St. There are many items on the agenda, including the budget.

As of yesterday, they do not have a budget ready for public review. I tried phoning them just now and “all lines are busy.”

Folks, the trustees have a duty to present the budget to us tonight. This is their deadline. They may try to pull a fast one and sail through the meeting without presenting a budget to the public. They can get away with this when no one from the public shows up to the meeting. SO SHOW UP!

If a budget still isn’t available tonight, we (the public) can demand a second meeting that allows for ample time to examine the budget and provide meaningful input. If, however, the trustees plow ahead and submit a budget the public has not seen, our only recourse is to vote the trustees out of office. Should this happen, I will provide a list for y’all tomorrow of who to vote out. In fact, if the public is angry enough over this, we can start a recall election process tomorrow.

The school budget is a complex one. It’s not my job to understand it, which is why I elect people to represent me, the trustees. If they are more willing to represent staff and not the taxpayer, then they should be replaced. Help me to help keep your taxes under control by attending the meeting tonight!


Question No. 2 — Pulling Plug On Christ References

Issue: District pulls plug on speech: Foothill valedictorian criticizes decision to censor her proclamation of faith/Las Vegas Review-Journal

More Info: “She knew her speech as valedictorian of Foothill High School would be cut short, but Brittany McComb was determined to tell her fellow graduates what was on her mind and in her heart. But before she could get to the word in her speech that meant the most to her — Christ — her microphone went dead. The decision to cut short McComb’s commencement speech Thursday at The Orleans drew jeers from the nearly 400 graduates and their families that went on for several minutes.”

DFO: I’m amazed at how anal retentive school districts and the ACLU are when it comes to Christian speech.

Question: Would you be offended if a high school senior used his/her valedictorian/salutatorian speech to mention his/her Christian faith?

Question: How Important Is Ironman To CDA?

Issue: Some triathletes will be racing for a cause: Program allows participants to compete while raising money/Meghann Cuniff, Spokesman-Review

DFO: I’ve been on vacation or otherwise busy during the first three Ironman contests, so I’ve missed the fun. I’m going to block out time to watch the festivities this year.

Question: Have you watched any of the first three Ironman events? How important is this competition to Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County?

Ah’m Your Huckleberry: Birds Take Flight

A fiftysomething Berry Picker had the misfortune of waiting for a red light at Fourth & Appleway, eastbound, behind a late-teen couple we’ll call Bonnie and Clod. Seems the two blond horndogs in a white convertible with the top down were deep into the second period of a tonsil hockey game when the light turned green Sunday afternoon. They were so engrossed in exchanging spit that they didn’t notice. The Berry Picker finally honked her horn five seconds into the light change, only to get a nasty look and the finger from Clod. Midway across the intersection, his sweetie — mebbe we should have called her Little Miss Soon-To-Be-An-Unwed Mother — got into the act by flipping off the Berry Picker. But that wasn’t the end of it. As Clod turned the corner from Best Avenue onto Ninth, he turned, glared at the Berry Picker one more time, and flipped her off again. Their parents must be proud of what they raised.

Question: When’s the last time you’ve been flipped off in traffic?

Sennett: Blogs Are Borging Online News Sites

In the “Star Trek” universe, an alien race known as the Borg assimilates entire civilizations into its collective consciousness. In the online universe, a publishing format known as the blog is similarly remaking traditional news sites in its own image. Take my experience with Hollywood Elsewhere proprietor Jeffrey Wells. He’s been one of my favorite film writers since the late ‘90s, when he penned the Showbiz Confidential column for Even as he changed online homes, Wells maintained a fairly traditional column format — until he recently launched a blog version with frequent updates and reader comments. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve done with the site,” Wells said via e-mail. “When I first started with my Mr. Showbiz column the idea was to write two print-style columns per week. Now there are eight to 10 updates/additions/fresh stories per day. You have to get people into the mode of coming back and checking your site out two, three or four times a day. Keep it fluid, keep it moving, keep that traffic up.”

For the rest of Frank Sennett’s column, “Favorite news sites morph into blogs,” click here.

Mailbag: Unions Have Gone Way Of Dinosaurs

James Bond: Unions are soooooooooooo yesterday. Heck, they are still trying to fight the Right to Work war! HA! They lost it big back then, and they’d lose it worse today. Unions are an early 20th century answer to problems that were largely eliminated by the middle of the 20th century. They are not needed, and they are bad for the economy.

DFO: Unions worked their way out of effectiveness by demanding too much in a changing economic environment and by becoming corrupt. On the other hand, big business isn’t exactly benevolent. Ask the Silver Valley mine pensioners. Choosing between big business and unions feels the same as choosing between Democrats and Republicans. You know the party takes care of its own interest first and if something trickles down to the schmucks that support it, that’s OK, too.

Wild Card/Sunday — 6/18/06

Happy Father’s Day for those of you who qualify for the honor. I do (although I think the kids have made my life for richer than I’ve made theirs). It’s cool to see them almost raised and doing well as they begin out into the world. I had a great dad who left us too soon. My kids never met him. And they barely knew my wife’s dad who died about 15 years ago. (Why do dads tend to die first?) Anyway, the best to you dads out there. Now, here’s your Wild Card …

Risch: It’s GOP’s Duty To Cut Property Taxes … Now

Gov. Jim Risch told Republican lawmakers today that they should cut property taxes this summer or expect to lose faith and support from Idahoans. “We are in full control of this government, and it is our duty and it is our solemn obligation to do something about this problem,” Risch said, to a round of applause from a few hundred delegates at the Republican state convention in Idaho Falls. “This solution is not a simple solution, but it is entirely within our hands. Idahoans know that, and they are watching closely to see if we Republicans practice what we preach.” Risch said he would “suggest and urge” that the Legislature use all or part of the growing state surplus, along with new sales tax revenues, “to provide immediate and permanent property tax relief.”

For the rest of the Idaho Statesman story, click here.

DFO: I remember asking reporter Eric Curless to explain how the state affects property taxes to governor Dirk Kempthorne during an editorial board meeting earlier this year. I think his successor “gets it.”

Question: Top Movies You Haven’t Seen

Issue: Top movies of all time that you haven’t seen.

DFO: We’ve been having fun this weekend coming up with our picks for movies that should be in the 100 Most Inspirational Movies of all time. The Heimlich Maneuver even posted his own top 10 list. Of the Top 10 Most Inspirational, I haven’t seen either “Schindler’s List” or “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” I also haven’t seen “The Passion of the Christ.” Of these three, I probably will never see “Schindler’s List.” I don’t like war films. Or sad films.

Question: What’s a top movie of all time that you’ve never seen and never intend to see?

Question: Should Idaho Close Party Primaries?

Issue: GOP may endorse closed primaries: Keeping Democratic voters out of primary races would require a change in state law/Idaho Statesman

DFO: This is a horrible idea, if for no other reason than the fact that many races feature only Repub candidates — for example, the three District 3 legislative races and one Kootenai County commissioner race. If the primaries are closed, only Republicans will have the opportunity to decide who represents them in races like this.

Question: Would you support closed primaries to prevent Idaho Democrats from voting in Republican races?

GOP Convention: Nick Walker Reports

“I had the pleasure to introduce myself to Mark Ricks, (if you don’t remember what he was known for over 30 years ago this month, he took a major part in heading up the relief effort after the Teton Dam broke and before the federal officials were able to arrive, great story-if anyone wants to know more, let me know). I was also impressed to see that the Idaho Statesman had sent columnist Dan Popkey to cover the event. I was able to talk with him for a short moment before he had to run to cover a meeting but I was able to relate to him a small bit about the now infamous HBO blog ban in the KC Courthouse up there in CDA. Stay Tuned for more info about what Risch and Otter will be speaking about tomorrow.”

Nick Walker

DFO: Good job, Nick; keep us posted.

Mailbag: Heimlich’s Most Inspirational Movie List

The Heimlich Maneuver: My top 10 list would include:

“Field of Dreams”
“The Shawshank Redemption”
“Brian’s Song”
“The Patriot”
“Rocky” (the 1st one only)
“Forrest Gump”
“Scent of a Woman”

DFO: Heimlich has a better list than the pros (although “It’s A Wonderful Life” would have to be on there somewhere to round things out.

Mailbag: How Did DOTC’s Family Ride To Rescue?

OrangeTV: I’m curious to her more about your family’s rescue story 27 years ago by the English family. I’m part of that family too, and I was only 7 or 8 at the time, but I wonder if I remember anything about that — small world, as they say, eh?

DFO: I might get these relationships wrong. But around Halloween 27 years ago, my world was turned upside down upon learning that 3-month-old son, Seth, had contracted eye cancer and needed surgery ASAP to survive — in Seattle. We were living in Kalispell, Mont., at the time. Fortunately, a co-worker’s wife was good friends with either Dan’s sister or sister-in-law, who was living in Seattle. During the Halloween season of 1979, this Good Samaritan and her family interrupted their lives to pick us up at the airport, provide transportation and find housing for us near the hospital in the empty home of a UW professor. The ordeal was made much easier as a result of that enormous kindness. Seth, of course, survived sans right eye and ultimately underwent 20 treatments of chemotherapy under age 2. He’s now halfway through medical school at the University of Colorado. God is good. And so is Dan and his extended family.

Best of Huckleberries Online — 6/12-16

Not to be outdone by columnist Doug Clark’s litany of “Things To Do If You’re Broke In The INorthwest (Or Work In The Hospitality Industry), blogger Bob Salsbury/Unbearable Bobness of Being offered a North Idaho version. “I’ve heard the Acres O’Trailers tours through trailer parks of Kootenai and Bonner counties are cool,” Bob tells Huckleberries, adding: 1. “If you’re lucky, you may catch one of the trailerparkians teaching a quick do-it-yourself workshop on jumping electricity from power lines to a homemade box,” 2. “Then, it’s on to Spirit Lake, where everyone gets to don decontamination suits and join Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies on a Clandestine Meth Lab Breakdown and Barbecue,” 3. “Some of the Spirit Lake-area parks also have interesting displays of Harley-Davidson engine-and-frame-part yard ornaments. These are always worth a gander!” 4. “For the scholarly, there’s always the field-generated experiments in dog breeding and hybridization of the Rottweiler and pit bull types, and 5. “The Foster Family Olympics (don’t miss the 400-meter Convenience Store Sprint) usually run sometimes in June.” Tour slogan? “North Idaho – It’s not just for rich people who live in houses and stuff.” And you thought Idaho was culturally deprived.

Lake Wobegon, anyone?
Just because you get on a plane from Spokane to Minnesota doesn’t mean you’re a Minnesotan. Blogger Kristin Hoppe/Not So Fast knows that, although she admits she made a tactical error on a recent flight by wearing a sweatshirt promoting Appleton, Wis. As a result, she had to disabuse several Minnesota passengers and a Canadian with no appreciation for “personal space” of her “unMinnesotaness.” (Seems Kristin and the Canadian had a difference in philosophy about armrests. She believes a jointly shared plane armrest should be treated like the Berlin Wall. But, she wrote in her blog, the Canadian treated it like the “Mexican-American border.”) Finally, she thought she’d put the Minnesota issue to rest. En route to Springfield, however, Kristin was approached by a flight attendant who asked if her name was Hoppe. And who then wondered which branch of the Minnesota Hoppes she hailed from. Lutefisk, anyone?

Newsroom reality show
On Wednesday, CBS News focused its Public Eye blog on our pioneering news huddle webcasts weekdays, at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The CBSers opined that we could take the concept further. Tongue firmly cheeked, Public Eye offered some possible spinoffs if “SR: Spokane Newsroom” takes off: “Newsroom Fear Factor: Watch how our editors decide what goes on the front page, then watch them eat worms! Newsroom Survivor: Our intrepid reporters have been dropped in the middle of this Costa Rican jungle. Will their investigative reporting skills help them now? Newsroom Bachelorette: Tammy the Novice Reporter could have any of the Clark Kent hunks in the newsroom, but she has her eye on Dan the Advertising Rep. Will they breach the wall that traditionally separates news and advertising? Will the publisher find out? Stay tuned!” If the SR tries a “Survivor” spinoff, advises a HuckleBerry Picker, it shouldn’t allow anyone to copy Richard Hatch, the first winner who played “Survivor” naked much of the time. Editors are scary enough with their clothes on.

One of the sweetest sentences in the English language goes something like: “Your jury panel has been cancelled for the rest of the week, and you are free from jury duty for the next two years” … For those keeping score at home, and Kootenai County Clerk Dan English was, 92.8 percent of the respondents to an online poll by U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s office said before the May 23 Idaho primaries that they planned to vote. Alas, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. Only 25.9 percent of the registered voters statewide did – the lowest total since the 25.03 percent vote of 1988 … As a token of her affection, Moscow’s Sara Anderson sez she’s willing to wear a tattoo of her husband’s name. But there’s a catch. She’ll undergo an inking if he gets a vasectomy, figuring: “You could freeze sperm samples in case you ever wanted kids, after all.” Now, there’s something you probably haven’t seen on a Valentine … Bumpersnicker (spotted by John Livingston/Spokane on Sharp Avenue): “Don’t judge a book by its movie” … Noting that his wife, Vicky, had managed his 28 successful political campaigns in 30 tries, Idaho Gov. Jim Risch joked Thursday in Coeur d’Alene that Vicky feels she coulda done better, if “she had had better material to work with.”

Parting shot
On the scanner at 11:40 Thursday morning, two CPD Blues were having words. Officer No. 1 said he was going to take his time responding to a call because Officer No. 2 had messed with his car. Officer No. 2: Hunh? Officer No. 1: “If you didn’t mess with my car, maybe your dad did.” Now, there’s a coupla guys who won’t be dunking doughnuts together any time soon.

TGIF Wild Card — 6/16/06

You know how to play the daily Wild Card, to start your own thread, right?

Best of the Local Blogs — 6/16/06

A pair of sailors on shore leave from the USS John Paul Jones out of San Diego, Calif. pause outside a Portland, Ore., club, meeting a dancer on break Thursday, June 8, after arriving in Portland for Rose Festival/Mike Salsbury photo.

*I didn’t realize that Chris Rodkey, a faithful HBO commenter and SR colleague, has his own blog in which he talks about his day job. I found a link to it while culling my blogroll this p.m. You can find former posts by clicking on the little photos below the main one here.

*In a nutshell, UBob explains why people blog and others read those blogs — because people like to read about pain here.

*Bayview Herb is wondering about the situation at Guantanamo Bay after re-reading the Constitution recently, particularly the 13th Amendment, here.

*Mari Meehan/Dogwalk Musings sez the partisans have more fun doing politics in Nevada than they do in Idaho (be prepared for an eyeful) here.

*Granati/Orange Frog experiences a Seinfeld moment as he drives thru Carl’s Jr. intent on driving out with five pops, not six, here.

*Marianne Love/Slight Detour tells us why she gets nervous every time she prepares to visit Coeur d’Alene’s Costco store here.

Meanwhile, Family Phil Jr. is excited that there’s no lectures ahead for two months here, Sara talks about Coulter and feminism here, Cis discusses what it means to be a “simple friend” here, CDADave admits he’s having a pity party here, and Stebbijo and hubby are starting a saltwater aquarium here.

Mailbag: Rating Kootenai County Realtors?

Sam The Intern: I’m curious, DFO, if there is some kind of North Idaho realtors review or someone with a blog or ratings system that can tell us who around here is good at what they do, with helping to get people in cheap homes with great interest rates, loans and excellent customer service.

DFO: I haven’t heard anything about one. So, I’d doubt that something like this exists. Anyone out there able to help Sam?

Easter Egg: Extreme Coke, Mentos Experiment

Family Phil and the kids should get a kick out of this video of an extreme Diet Coke and Mentos experiment, passed along to HBO by Cis Gors of Kootenai here.

Take 5: Or, Our Cats Are Tougher Than Eastern Cats

Issue: Earlier this month, a declawed, 10-year-old, orange-and-white tabby named Jack chased a black bear up a tree in a leafy suburb – twice. Then the cat’s owner called him off and the bear departed.

Question: Are New Jersey pets tougher than Spokane area pussycats?

Tongue firmly cheeked, Paul Turner/Slice sez “No” for following five reasons:

1. Our cats live near grizzly country. Anytime they are going to take on a bear, they have to first ask themselves if it might be ursus arctos horribilis.

2. New Jersey cats might affect a mobbed-up “Sopranos” swagger, but some of our cats are descended from the animal companions of Old West gunfighters and muleskinners.

3. Our felines live every day with the potential of seeing the occasional moose, eagle, coyote or mountain lion. A timid black bear isn’t apt to turn them into fraidy cats.

4. New Jersey cats might be able to hum Bruce Springsteen songs, but our cats know a few Bing Crosby tunes. Um, OK, maybe that’s one for the other side.

5. Northwestern cats understand that people, not bears, are the source of all of life’s problems (give or take a few bowls of tuna).

Huckleberries Online — 6/16/06

3:56 p.m., All right. I’ve completely gone through the links on my various blogrolls. Under North Idaho Blogroll, inactive links appear to be: Digital Fog, Forum Garden, That’s Life, Life Goes On, Third Millennium, To Blog Or Not To Blog, and Vandal Sense (not that Sammy’s one of us). Inactive “Friends”: Barb’s Shop, I Am Always Right, Josef’s Public Journal, and Sagebrush Patriot (with Spovegas on the list because he’s dropped his link to Huckleberries). Question: What should I do with the less-than-active? Al Turtle, Idaho Kennedys, Golly Gals, Idaho Native, and Patty Duke. Inquiring minds want to know. Deletions coming next week.

1:23 p.m., HBO found the link to the complete post by “Public Eye,” the CBS News blog, re: the SR experiment in live Webcasting newsroom huddles here.

1:02 p.m., Don’t forget to check out the Webcam of construction activity at the new library site that Councilman MikeK passed along to HBO here. (It upgrades every 30 seconds or so, I believe.)

11:18 a.m., My wife has received word that my niece, Army National Guard Lt. Hannah Coombe of Big Sur, Calif., is now deployed for the next year in Afghanistan. And that she was excited to go and see another culture. God bless her and keep her.

10:57 a.m., Page-Views for the first 15 days of June: 67,981, for a daily average of 4532; unique views: 34,166, for a daily average of 2278. Down a bit. But it’s summer. Sorta.

10:45 a.m., Gotta kick outta that front-page juxtaposition today, featuring my friend Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim bringing her human-rights show to Orient, Wash., on one side of the divide and former Sandpoint racist Richard Bertollini mulling a plea bargain to go to jail for six months for DUI No. 3 and fleeing justice. The good guys are winning.

10:30 a.m., for the first time in mebbe two months, since the primary campaign started in earnest, I have a fairly free Friday to complete print Huckleberries, and catch up on some online tasks, like culling through the HBO blogrolls to see who stays and who goes or is moved down.

Question: Shunning Country’s Dixie Chicks

Issue: Boise radio stations treating Dixie Chicks like bird flu/Michael Deeds, Idaho Statesman

Fiddler/mandolinist Martie Maguire told Time magazine: “I’d rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it … than people who have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don’t want those kinds of fans.”

Question: What do you think of country fans’ boycott of the Dixie Chicks?

APhoto of the Day — 6/16/06

The Heimlich Maneuver suggested that I publish this one again today for the APhoto of the Day contest. It shows the original 11 people who started Microsoft in 1978, including Bill Gates (lower left) and Paul Allen (lower right). You write the cutline/Microsoft photo courtesy of AP.

Mailbag: Bush’s Poll Numbers Are A Yawner

Bob: Bush’s numbers are up one point in NBC’s poll — margin of error bump.

DFO: Actually, Bob, if you look on the bright side, Bush gained 4 or 5 points here: the 3 or 4 that he usually loses with each new poll, plus one. Ah, and that’s what you call spinning the numbers.

Mailbag: Not Just Doughnut Guzzlers Any More

CDADave: The other day I was in Java on Sherman; it was pouring rain outside. As I entered, I saw three bicycle cops sitting inside, hiding from the downpour. Coeur d’Alene Cops: They’re Not Just For Donut Shops Anymore.

DFO: Could it be that police break habits are changing with the times? And the doughnut breaks are going the way of the dodo? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wild Card/Thursday — 6/15/06

I chatted with a prominent local resident this morning at Concerned Businesses of North Idaho, who said she’s been tempted to post comments on this blog. I encouraged her to do so — under a pseudonym, if she wished. Sensing that she was uncomfortable about being outed, I explained that she would be anonymous to blurkers if she filled in the first two lines of display boxes for comments and left the third blank. (Mebbe you’ve wondered how to comment anonymously, too?) I and my blogmeisters are the only ones who see the e-mail addresses. I decided to pass along this exchange, in case you’ve been tempted to join the HBO dialogue but feared exposure. Now, onto the Wild Card …

Extra! Risch Sews Up Mormon Vote, Names Ricks

Former State Sen. Mark Ricks of Rexburg was named lieutenant governor Thursday, in an apparent nod to the state’s more agrarian eastern half. Ricks, 81, a farmer who left office after eight terms in 1994, is a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member and was president of the Idaho Falls LDS Temple. He’s the great-grandson of Thomas Ricks, founder of Mormon-owned Brigham Young University-Idaho, which until five years ago was known as Ricks College.

For the story by John Miller/AP, click here.

PM Question: Only 6 D’s Vote For Troop Pullout

Issue: Senate rejects U.S. troop pullout in Iraq: Only supporters are Kerry, Feingold, Boxer, Byrd, Harkin, Kennedy/Associated Press

More Info: The vote was 93-6 to shelve the proposal, which would have allowed “only forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces” to remain in 2007.

DFO: So, if Kerry runs again, he can say that he voted against the continued massive troop presence in Iraq (before he eventually votes for it). Are the Demo senators listening to their divided constituency? Did the recent killing of Zarqawi undermine the Senate Demo insurgency?

Question: Can someone tell me why most Senate Dems are aboard with continued troop presence when they been bashing the Bush administration for years? Isn’t this the time for the D’s to take a principled stand against the war? Or are they still trying to have it both ways?

Top Cutlines — 6/15/06

In this May 23, 2006 photo provided by Margie Scott, a deer and Scott’s dying cat Sammy touch noses near Scott’s residence near Bellingham, Wash. Scott says her dying cat received comfort in its final days from the deer. Scott says her nine-year-old cat Sammy was diagnosed with kidney failure. You write the cutline/AP Photo.


1. Pictured above are 3 defenseless animals and the latest victims of the Bush Administration’s environmental and economic policies. The deer’s wilderness home was overtaken by new construction and global warming - they now work in a local petting zoo. Sammy the Wondercat, who lived near the Bellingham toxic waste dump, died after ingesting a furball that had been soaking in plutonium — Tinfoilers for Gore in ‘08.

2. When asked what happened to her pet, Margie said “I got two bucks for her”, which seemed to the visitor like a very good deal for a dying cat — John Austin.

3. Hi Sammy, how are you feeling? We heard you had a cat scan — Whatever.

HM: Bob

CBS Blog: The SR’s Reality News Huddle Show

re: New Spokesman-Review news huddle Webcast. (Next newsroom huddle: 4:30 p.m.)

“It seems to me that this noble desire to be transparent is becoming somehow linked with this starlet reality show idea that “if only they saw me as I am, as I work, then they would understand me and support me.” Then my other thought, in a different direction, was maybe there needs to be MORE of a reality show element to make the editorial meetings more pleasurable Web viewing. Some examples:
Newsroom Fear Factor: Watch how our editors decide what goes on the front page, then watch them eat worms! Newsroom Survivor: Our intrepid reporters have been dropped in the middle of this Costa Rican jungle. Will their investigative reporting skills help them now? Newsroom Bachelorette: Tammy the Novice Reporter could have any of the Clark Kent hunks in the newsroom, but she has her eye on Dan the Advertising Rep. Will they breach the wall that traditionally separates news and advertising? Will the publisher find out? Stay tuned!”

CBS News

Hat Tip: Sam The Intern (aka Sam Taylor)

Pretty As A Picture

The sun sets as Mt. McKinley casts its reflection on Reflection Pond at the west end of Denali National Park road a few miles east of Camp Denali in Denali Park, Alaska, in this undated file photo/Al Grillo, AP Photo.

Mailbag: We Want … Jim Risch

JimmyMac: Is there anyway to keep this guy instead of bringing on Otter or Brady?

DFO: Risch certainly has made a good second impression in North Idaho. As his bad first one, I count his resistance in the Idaho Senate to Indian gaming against him, especially when he successfully gummed up the works for a gaming compact between the state and Indian tribes, in revenge for being passed over by Dirk Kempthorne for the lt. gov. appointment in favor of Jack Riggs. I don’t believe a leopard changes its spots. Risch is still Risch. However, that doesn’t mean he’s simply whispering sweet nothings to North Idaho now. He enjoys being governor. And I think that role has given him an opportunity, which he’s taking big time, to court the north. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I believe, he’s setting the stage with his aggressive interim governorship and appointment of Mark Ricks as lt. gov. later today to win re-election easily and position himself for a future successful run for governor, possibly even against whoever succeeds him, if he stumbles at all. I and other SR editorialists will meet with Risch next Thursday afternoon. I’m not completely sold on him yet. But he has been a pleasant surprise so far.

Risch Announces Plans For North Idaho Office

“Idaho Gov. Jim Risch has just announced he’ll close Idaho’s office in Washington, D.C. – which the state has had since May of 1999 – and instead open a constituent-service office in Coeur d’Alene and a similar one in Idaho Falls. Luke Malek, a Post Falls native and former chief development and communications officer for the Dirne Community Health Clinic in Coeur d’Alene, will staff the new Coeur d’Alene office. (Incidentally, Luke has been working on constituent service in Boise for the initial days of Risch’s administration, and this reporter’s repeated queries as to whether he’d soon be posted to North Idaho went unanswered for the past two weeks.) Risch said, ‘Opening an office in northern Idaho is a big step in achieving my goal of increasing constituent service for Idahoans. I want to provide easier access to my office for citizens who are not in the Boise area.’”

For the rest of Betsy Russell’s Eye On Boise post, click here.

Bumpersnicker …

… (spotted by John Livingston on a blue car on Sharp in Spokane): “Don’t judge a book by its movie.”

My 2 Cents: Impressions Of New Gov. Risch

Unquestionably, Gov. Jim Risch has made a good impression on North Idahoans, judging from how the CBNI crowd stood in deference as he entered the room this morning — and the standing O it gave his wife, Vicky. He does seem to have started well since Dirk Kempthorne moved off Idaho stage to become the U.S. secretary of the Interior. He also has wisely mended fences in the north by visiting at least weekly. He’s getting a reputation in the north for being frank and committed to getting things done. I like his list of priorities that he has set for his 7 months in office, including holdovers: 1. Making recommendations to the Bush administration on Idaho’s 281 roadless areas, 2. Overseeing massive highway construction projects, 3. Overseeing an upgrade of state parks facilities. Plus (personal priorities): 1. Resolving the property tax issue, 2. Addressing the state nursing shortage, and 3. Addressing the state’s drug scourge.

The devil, of course, is in the details — and here’s where Risch deftly stepped this morning. How can an already lame-duck governor address property tax relief without calling a special session? (He hinted that he plans to make a major announcement between July 1-4. Mebbe it’s about this.) Responding to a question, he said he’s committed to more Highway 95 projects. But didn’t say to what extent. Also, he couched this remark in the context of how people in the Boise area are upset about how much money is being spent on the “goat trail.” Melt it all down, and you discover that Risch’ll be hard pressed to deliver on much because he simply doesn’t have the time to do much before he has to hand the reins to Butch Otter or Jerry Brady. However, he deserves credit for bringing incredible energy to the office and making even skeptical North Idahoans stand up and take notice.


Mailbag: Number of Realtors In Kootenai County

Thom George: As of Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 12:00 P.M., there were exactly 1301 real estate licensees in the Cd’A MLS.

DFO: Gadzooks. No wonder everything’s for sale around here. So many livelihoods depend on it. On the other hand, I’d hate to be a Realtor in this county today because homeowners are still asking for high prices based on guesstimates from last year’s increases. I wonder how many Realtors will still be in the business next year, if the market continues to cool off?

Question: Shacking Up Doesn’t Cut It @ Skate Plaza

Issue: Holy Rollers: Skate Plaza fires 3-year employee for moving in with her boyfriend/Marc Stewart, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: Skate Plaza’s moral and ethics policies include a series of behaviors that are deemed unacceptable, such as public displays of promiscuous activities, homosexuality, intoxication, use of profanity, lewd behavior, use of illegal drugs, child abuse, spouse abuse, unlawful relationships, cross-dressing, stalking and nudity.

Question: Did Skate Plaza do the right thing?

Flag Day Wild Card/Tuesday — 6/14/06

It’s Flag Day and my older sister, Eileen’s, birthday. She’s 61. But not quite ready for the bone pile, yet. She runs 5 to 7 miles per day. And recently finished first in a long-distance race in her age division. No way I can keep up. So, I walk 3 miles per day, 5 or 6 times per week. Don’t think my knees would put up with a jog. All of which is an introduction for the daily Wild Card. You know the drill …

Mailbag: A Vasectomy For A Tattoo?

Sara: My feelings on tattoos are entirely neutral. … I told my husband that if he felt so bold as to have a vasectomy (you could freeze sperm samples in case you ever wanted kids, after all), I would respond in kind by having his name tattooed on me. Is that romantic or what?

DFO: I was about to shut down the computer when I read this one. A tattoo for a vasectomy? For some reason, that doesn’t seem enough, particularly when you’re banking on frozen sperm to carry on the family name. Then, I’m old-fashioned. How about the rest of you HBOers out there? It’s after hours. Would you undergo the Big V to be immortalized in a tattoo worn proudly by your significant other?

HBO’s Best of the Local Blogs — 6/14/06

In the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not category, Family Phil Jr. got tired of trying to fish among the raindrops this overcast June and decided to become a fish here.

*Big John Rook has become a poet for those of you who didn’t know it (sorry), and he now has a link on his web site to his poetry here.

*UBob correctly wonders why Central Valley High School used its nuclear option to lock down the school simply because some kids had engaged in a food fight here, and he’s still waiting for answers here.

*”Fear is vague. Fear is a warning. It is a chemical response. It can be so much more than just a feeling. It can manifest itself in many ways. Paranoia, depression, anxiety…all of these are the minions of fear, it’s agents” — Toadman here.

*Bayview Herb has been so desperate to communicate with the outside world since his phone service went down that he’s having conversations with computers here.

*Sara Anderson/F-Words has posted a number of items worthy of consideration for the BOTLB, but I picked this one about quirky religions in North Idaho here.

*Bill McCrory/Whitecaps sez it’s hard to determine if health-care overcharges are mistakes or crimes without experienced fraud investigators and auditors following the money here.

Meanwhile, Mari shows off her unusual chess pieces and sets here and here, Cis talks about parenting here and here, and Marianne explains how hubby’s great adventure came to naught here.

Huckleberries Online — 6/14/06

4:23 p.m., Phone question from Larry Spencer: Has Bob been banned? Short answer: No. UBob has decided to put some distance between HBO and himself this week. He is as welcome here as ever.

12:52 p.m., Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim called from Spokane en route to Orient, Wash., to present an educational program, “A Study of Heroes,” on behalf of the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. I met Rachel 19 years ago in New York when she and her group honored the city of Coeur d’Alene with its first human rights community award. Two of the four members of our group, Bill Wassmuth and Larry Broadbent, are gone now. But the happy memory of that cross-country trip lingers.

11:39 a.m., Colleague Kathryn Scaletta sent a Fox News link to HBO, with a note, “scroll down to “A Little Bit Country” (lower right corner), and: “We need this here.” You can view a 2-minute segment about the rural handbook that Jackson County, Ore., provides city slickers here.

10:47 a.m., Steve Smith is telling Editorial Board (as I type) that the news staff in Logan, Utah, tuned in on our newsroom Webcast this morning. Among the bugs we found on the shakedown cruise: Editor Smith drums his fingers too much and the femme editors are hard to hear.

10 a.m., We’re on live with our first Webcast, which began with City Editor Carla Savalli giving CDA reporter JoNel Aleccia props for her front-page story re: tatoos. Tune in.

9:03 a.m., A Bonner County resident called to say he saw a bailiff stealing the entire stack of newspapers out of the Spokesman-Review newsstand in front of the Bonner County Courthouse yesterday — possibly in response to the SR’s story re: alleged sheriff’s office corruption. The caller said it wasn’t the first time he has seen a bailiff empty out the paper box in front of the Bonner County Courthouse. Last time, though, the bailiff was apparently pulling out a stack of Bonner County Daily Bee papers that had a headline about the county clerk.

Mailbag: Kootenai County Homes Affordable Still

JimmyMac: I have qualified many people making less than money than this couple for homes here in Kootenai County. They refer to rising home prices and “their lifestyle” as reasons why they cannot afford a home. Well people, sometimes you have to sacrifice to buy a home. If you have a $500 truck payment, three credit cards maxed out and toys galore (not that these people fit this criteria but this is why many people can’t qualify and continue to complain.) The couple have also lived here all of their life without buying a home which is rediculous. I have been all over the country on business this year and I’ll tell you one thing. … overall North Idaho is still considered very affordable compared to the rest of the U.S. We weren’t going to have homes for less than $120,000 forever and anyone that thought we would is a fool. I’m not saying that increased prices haven’t made it difficult or impossible for many to become homeowner’s. However, the adjustments and sacrifices one has to make to purchase a home in North Idaho are drastically different than what a peson has to do in most other parts of the country.

DFO: Thanks for the reality check, JimmyMac.

Huckleberries Best of the Northwest — 6/14/06

Bob Perkins plays with his goat, Buddy, outside his Manhattan, Mont. home Tuesday, June 13, 2006. Perkins has had sheep or goat nibbling his grass for the past 20 years, but a recent complaint from a neighbor caused the Manhattan Town Council to decide Buddy has to go here/Erik Petersen, AP Photo/Bozeman Chronicle.

Roesler: A bad coupla weeks for Washington initiative pusher Tim Eyman here.

1. Milt Priggee/Skagit Valley Herald theorizes on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s warm welcome to Hades here, and Eric Devericks/Seattle Times provides his version of the death tax here.

2. An independent science panel says it is time to end the unique captive breeding-and-rearing program designed to keep Redfish Lake’s endangered sockeye salmon from going extinct here.

3. A private prison in Texas is safe, Idaho’s Department of Correction said Tuesday after a string of incidents involving Idaho prisoners. But the American Civil Liberties Union said security and living conditions at the Newton County Correctional Center are unacceptable. The ACLU wants the department to move prisoners elsewhere here.

4. Congressman Mike Simpson had a simple explanation for sending congratulations and $2,000 to controversial Repub nominee Bill Sali, a bitter political foe, according to Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise. Simpson wants to keep a Repub majority in Congress here.

5. “Having become lightly acquainted with the religious fervor surrounding the Steelers in Pittsburgh — the P-I’s haz-mat unit just last week ended its months-long work detoxing my e-mail inbox from Super Bowl week — I can guess a little at the anxiety over Ben Roethlisberger’s accident. It’s first-and-goal for End of Days,” begins Art Thiel/Seattle PI in his column about the QB’s recent motorcycle accident here.

6. IMHO-NW: Rebecca Nappi/Spokesman-Review (5 things I learned about school), Missoulian (We the people — and guests), Dan Popkey/Idaho Statesman (Idaho committed to 911 service), Coeur d’Alene Press (Let’s agree to disagree — nicely), and Jerry Hitchcock/Coeur d’Alene Press (A million sports memories).

Online Poll: 57.1% of 701 respondents to a Seattle PI poll say they wouldn’t want to see a skate park in their neighborhood.

*Judge denies bail for Saudi from Boise who threatened to bomb plane here.

*Yellowstone geyser erupts for first time in 8 years here.

*Washington football coach convicted of vehicular assault to keep high school job here.

Orbusmax Special: Oregon teen off the hook in mercy snake-killing here.

SR Letter: Can’t Afford To Have Choice

As a medical professional, pharmacists have no right to legislate morality on the prescriptions they fill. An individual’s doctor prescribes medication at their discretion. If we allow this to pass, where will it end? The emergency room RN refusing to treat a patient if their tattoos are objectionable? The mechanic who won’t fix your car if he doesn’t like your bumper stickers? A restaurant refusing service based on sexual orientation? All considered issues of morality. Should we all be so judged? Need more reasons to defeat it? I’ll appeal to your pocketbook. As these mortified customers are turned away, the pharmacy with the pious employees will lose revenue. A lot of revenue; as we all know, prescriptions aren’t cheap. They will lose regular customers and even more money. A percentage of which will be passed on to us, the consumers. So not only is it wrong, it is going to cost us all.

Joy E. Carlsen

Question: Do you believe pharmacists should have a choice re: dispensing morning-after pills?

Question: Affordable Housing?

Issue: Residents feel housing pain: Home prices, low wages are driving some native North Idahoans out/Dave Turner, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: In the past two years, home prices in Kootenai County have skyrocketed. From an average $185,000 just a little over a year ago to $234,000 now. Prices of so-called “affordable” homes have also jumped, from about $115,000 to between $170,000 and $185,000 within the past 24 months.

Question: Do you know anyone who has been forced by high housing prices to move from the area?

More About Today’s First Newsroom Webcast

Al Thompkins of Poynter Online today interviewed Editor Steve Smith about our experiment on Webcasting the News Huddle. He launched the interview with the question: Why are you doing this? Here’s Smith’s response:

Steve Smith: “It’s an experiment. The late James Carey once bemoaned the reluctance of newspapers to experiment, by definition an exercise in which the outcome is uncertain. Editors tend to want certain outcomes before they take a step. We have built a pretty substantial infrastructure around our “transparent newsroom” initiative, an effort to engage our readers in conversations about news, the editorial decision-making processes and so on. Our experience is that readers value the interaction, love to participate and often provide information and feedback that informs our journalism and gives it focus. But, as journalists, we always retain the right and ability to set our own agenda, to say “no” to ideas that won’t work for us. We remain independent, that independence in no way compromised by reader engagement.”

You can read the entire interview here. You can read our story about the Webcast here.

Mailbag: Do More Voters Increase Quality?

Spencer: DFO, I really thought I proved yesterday that looking carefully at the facts shows: A. Our local voting numbers are going up and B. being the county with the best turnout only for the sake of turnout is not necessarily a good thing for improving the quality of the elected officials, as a far higher percentage of the votes would be cast based on name recognition. I think we all know that is only good for established incumbents and not the people being governed.

DFO: Smaller turnouts aid individuals and party factions who are trying to influence an election. The Republican nomination of Bill Sali as a congressional standard barrier is proof that small doesn’t mean wise. Religious conservatives bought this guy’s line this spring and will be wiping egg of their faces if he is elected to represent us. I used to say that lower turnouts meant my vote counted more. Now, I realize that lower turnouts mean nominations can by hijacked. Now, I support vote-by-mail, which drives up turnout, and allows voters to spend two weeks looking over their ballots and seeking information to vote intelligently.

Wild Card/Tuesday — 6/12/06

So far, it seems that the problems of Monday are behind us at The Spokesman-Review. So, I’ll blog on cautiously today. Meanwhile, you can start your own thread with this Wild Card …

P.S. — SR To Begin Webcasting News Meetings

“Beginning Wednesday, The Spokesman-Review will webcast our two daily news meetings, at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

“This is a long-discussed development, an experiment that is one of the fundamental elements of our transparent newsroom initiative. We know that readers have come to expect, demand even, an interactive relationship with their news sources. We’ve provided numerous opportunities for transparency, particularly taking advantage of our web technology

“The ‘Daily Briefing’ provides readers with an interesting written summary of the two daily meetings, but with a bit of Ken Paulman’s wit and attitude. ‘News is a Conversation’ is a blog that gives readers a chance to review and critique our news decisions. And ‘Ask the Editors,’ yet another blog, allows us to tell readers the why and how our our decision-making processes. In general, all are immensely popular, though interest inevitably rises and falls with the heat of the daily news report.

“You’ll remember that shortly after I came here, I opened our news meetings to the public. We frequently host visitors, primarily at the morning meeting.

“The webcast experiment extends that openness to the virtual world. And by giving readers an e-mail door into our discussions – through — we’ll be providing unprecedented interactivity linking journalist and news consumer.”

Editor Steve Smith
Interoffice Memo

P.S., To view the webcast here in the office or at home, here is what you need:
*A broadband Internet connection. You can try watching on dialup, but you’ll probably be disappointed.
*A web browser with Javascript enabled. (That’s the default setting.)
*The latest version of QuickTime. The video player is free, and there’s a download link on our webcast page.

Question: Is this something that you will be interested in?

Pollos/CDA Press: Pimping A Sweet Ride

Blake Rosenberger, left, and his father, Ron Rosenberger, stand next to their family’s early-model 1947 Chevrolet truck on Tuesday in Hayden. The truck was bought new by Ron’s father, Bill Rosenberger. The truck has seen daily duties as a grocery delivery truck in the ‘40s and ‘50s to a second-generation hot rod/Jerome A. Pollos, AP Photo/The Coeur d’Alene Press.

Mailbag: Another Sign Old CDA Is Gone

Whippersnapper: The no-free-hour decision was bad when they made it last year, and still is. I think the free hour (or two at 3rd St.) was to sell the idaea of commercializing city parking and partly in deference to local people who like to go to IP or Tubbs to walk/jog/play for short periods, assuming that out-of-towners and tourists would likely stay longer for their activities. Now it’s “screw the locals, make more money”. Thanks, Coeur d’Alene and Diamond parking. Just another sign that old Coeur d’Alene is gone.

DFO: The loss of the free hour at the Independence Point lot ticks me off, as I have said before. Originally, the locals could count on two free hours of parking on the waterfront. Of course, that was a switch-and-bait game played by the old City Council, to begin charging residents for parking in the Third Street lot. Now that the camel has its nose in the tent, City Hall is slowly pecking away at the remaining free parking. My guess is that the museum lot will be next under the same excuse that it’ll force users to come and go more often.

Looking Fine @ Yahoo, Amazon — Ann Coulter

Political commentator Ann Coulter poses in New York’s Central Park, Aug. 11, 2003. In the 48 hours after Ann Coulter bashed the 9/11 widows last week, searches for her name on Yahoo rocketed by 2300 percent. Her book shot to No. 1 on Cooper, AP Photo.

DFO: This is a gratuitous photo designed to make HBO’s Left Bank see read and repeatedly post and refresh this page tonight, with spittle flying out of their overwrought mouths, to increase page-views, which are down this week as a result of the hack job yesterday from an IP routed through Germany. Carry on.

Dan of the County: Primary Turnout Bad To The Bone

Just how bad was the May 23 primary turnout, HBOers? Bad. B-b-b-bad. But not much better or worse than other primaries, according to resident expert Dan of the County. Turnout in the 2nd congressional district was slightly better than the 1st CD, 26.3% to 25.4%, and the 2nd CD didn’t have an open congressional seat to spur voter interest. Other states from the Secretary of State’s office: Registered Voters 713,535; voted 184,456; statewide turnout 25.9% BTW, that’s the lowest primary turnout since 1988 when 25.03 voted. Lowest 3 counties: Latah 16.8%, Nez Perce 17.0%, Bannock 17.3%. Highest 3 counties: Clark 87.4%, Oneida 56.5%, Adams 52.3% The average turnout for the 22 counties in Idaho that are already all vote by mail per local option was 51.9%.

Dan of the County

P.S., Kootenai County’s turnout was worse than the state average. Here’s our turnout for primaries for last 10 years: ‘96 18.3%*, ‘98 16.1%, ‘00 31.7%*, ‘02 28.9%, ‘04 24.1%*, and ‘06 24.6%. Ten year average = 23.9%
(*Presidential election year).

Huckleberries Best of the Northwest — 6/13/06

Montana Grizzly Encounter trainer Casey Anderson uses a piece of orange flavored candy while coaxing a snarl from Brutus, a 700-pound, 4-year-old grizzly bear while filming a movie near White Sulphur Springs, Mont., Monday, June 12, 2006. The film, “Iron Ridge”, is being shot by first-time-director Stu Brumbaugh/Robin Loznak, AP Photo/Great Falls Tribune.

Stapilus: Blaine, Teton counties head list of heavy construction areas emerging in Northwest — Ada and Kootenai second tier here.

1. David Horsey/Seattle PI presents his version of “compassionate conservatism) here.

2. An overwhelming majority of Seattle residents would rather watch the Sonics leave the city than use tax money to renovate KeyArena, according to a telephone survey of registered voters here.

3. A federal judge has dismissed part of a criminal charge against W.R. Grace & Co. and some former top officials that alleged they knowingly endangered miners and area residents in the town of Libby, site of the company’s former vermiculite mine here.

4. State officials say a laptop computer stolen in an apparently random theft from a federal employee in Maryland on May 3 held personal information of 575,000 veterans living in Washington here.

5. Dane Spencer has defied overwhelming odds to still be alive today. The 28-year-old Boise native and member of the U.S. Ski Team will be the first to say he probably should have died after a horrific crash in a race last February at Big Mountain, Mont, here.

6. IMHO-NW: Claudio Beagarie/Idaho Statesman (Uncontrollable factors drive Mexicans north), Missoulian (Estate tax flies wide of target), Doug Clark/Spokesman-Review (Still swinging a sax), D. Parvaz/Seattle PI (Mass murderer answers some questions), and John Blanchette/Spokesman-Review (Spokane’s NCAA champion).

Online Poll: 67.4% of 1555 respondents to an Idaho Statesman poll say that desecration of the U.S. flag should be prohibited.

*Watermelon smashes rear window of car in Post Falls here.

*One of two Idaho prisoners is still at large after escaping from a private Texas prison here.

*Wyoming woman finds strange man in her bed here.

*National Parks Service clarifies stand about releasing names of accident victims here.

Orbusmax Special: Facing sexual abuse charges, UOregon recruit pleads guilty to lesser ones, keeps spot on football team here.

SOS: SMAC’M Going … Going …

“Although we’ve had 1,300 hits on our website, the total amount of donations received through the website is $1 – and that was the dollar I donated to make sure the system was working. I recently contacted 81 local businesses and asked them to advertise on the website. I got three advertisers. Only one has committed to the monthly program. Although there have been more than 20 local news stories on SMAC’M, and everywhere I go, people come to me and said, “Oh, this is such a wonderful thing you’re doing!” and go on and on about how important SMAC’M is to the community, …not one person has signed up for SMAC’M Membership, to support SMAC’M with a meager $19.99 / month.

“I have kept SMAC’M afloat by using my own resources. My savings is now gone. I have borrowed my kids’ college funds. I have liquidated and used all of the assets I could scrape together. My credit is maxed out. We are hanging onto our home by the skin of our teeth. … We have sacrificed a lot to keep SMAC’M afloat this long. We would gladly sacrifice more, but we have nothing left to give. If no one is willing to set aside $19.99 to save children’s lives, then what is this world coming to? Am I a fool? Is this whole endeavor a Fool’s Errand? The verdict is entirely in the public’s hands now.”

Tamara Cougar

DFO: Could be that SMAC’M’s 15 minutes of local fame has run the course. It’s difficult to make a living online, especially when the public rejected your message in a lopsided judicial election.

Extra! Rove Escapes CIA Leak Prosecution

Issue: Rove won’t be prosecuted in CIA leak case: Top White House aide under scrutiny over disclosure of agent’s identity/NBC News

Question (choose one): All of this was partisan much to do about nothing? Or this was a big deal and prosecutors shoulda thrown the book at Rove?

APhoto of the Day — 6/13/06

Qiao Yubo, who is pregnant with at least five babies, walks with her husband, right, in Songyuan, in China’s northeast Jilin province on Sunday. Qiao, who is 1.67-meters tall, has a waistline measurement of 1.75 meters, five months into her pregnancy. You write the cutline/AP Photo.

DFO: I hope I’m not being insensitive here. This easily was the most extraordinary photo on the AP wire. However, if it’s not appropriate for the Photo of the Day, let me know, and I’ll switch to a second stringer.

Question: A Special Session For Tax Relief

“All is not lost for most homeowners who, in Kootenai County, saw their property assessments increase an average of 40 percent this year. Not only should they lobby the governor to follow through and call a special session of the Legislature to address property tax reform, but they should demand that the elected officials governing the local taxing districts on their assessment notices control spending as they set budgets. No longer can property owners simply complain about soaring assessments and taxes in a hot housing market. They must hold local taxing districts accountable for their budgets, from the big ones like cities, counties and schools to the smaller ones like highway and fire districts.”

For the rest of my editorial today re: property tax relief, click here.

Question: Should Gov. Risch call a special session of the Legislature to provide property tax relief?

Mailbag: Being Infiltrated By RINOs

Alice Rankin: Don’t you know DFO, that Democrats run as Republicans in Southern Idaho, and it’s even beginning in Republican Kootenai County. That’s because they can’t get elected in their own party, so they run in the Republican primary mostly against conservatives. That’s why we can’t get property tax relief or most social issues through the legislature. The majority of the R’s are RINO’s. Especially in the Senate.

DFO: There are some Repubs today who were Dems in a former life: Sheriff Rocky Watson, Prosecutor Bill Douglas and former sheriff Pierce Clegg. And I suspect there are some Repub legislators who have a wild Demo hair in their systems, such as state Sen. John Goedde. What we have here is a division between the two main branches of the local Repub party — red-meat conservative and country-club moderate. They aren’t crazy about each other. Frankly, however, they wouldn’t be able to elect many candidates on their own without the other.

Question: Helmet? Or No Helmet?

Issue: Coach warned QB not to ride without helmet: Worries about Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported in May 2005/

DFO: I almost always wear a helmet when riding my bike and almost always wear a seatbelt in a vehicle (although I didn’t the other day when my brother and I picked up a load of topsoil in his old beater pickup). I can’t imagine not wearing a helmet when driving a motorcycle, however. You’re just too darn vulnerable.

Question: Do you support Idaho’s law that doesn’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets?

Top Cutlines — 6/12/06

A group of soon-to-be brides race for a $25,000 dream wedding grand prize during the “2nd Annual Running of the Bridezillas” in Times Square, New York, this morning. The event marked the third season for the WE television hit show “Bridezillas”. You write the cutline/Bebeto Matthews, AP Photo.

Top Cutlines

1. Tormented by “Mad Gown” disease brides stampede through Times Square, New York — Dave Tolle.

2. It was mayhem in the Spokane Valley when Bob Salsbury announced he’s ready to get married again — Family Phil.

3. Dozens of women show their support for Jesus, in an event known as “The God of Bridezilla” — John Austin.

HM: Dang

HBO Predicts City Hall War That Didn’t Happen

“The worker bees at Coeur d’Alene City Hall are still buzzing about that meltdown by Hagadone Corp. lieutenant John Barlow, who didn’t get his way when the council voted 4-3 to delay annexation of the boss’ Blackwell Island property this week. Barlow’s ‘tude at the council meeting didn’t help his cause. Nor the BS-bomb he dropped from the audience that could be heard by council members. Then, council members and staffers are still debating whether Barlow’s middle finger was extended when he made an odd gesture toward Troy Tymesen after the finance director failed to back a point that Barlow was trying to make. Huckleberries also hears that Hagadone Corp. has declared war on Mayor Sandi Bloem and City Hall for the rebuff. Stay tuned” (Parting Shot/Huckleberries Online Saturday).

DFO: I had it on good sources that The Duane had declared war on City Hall for delaying action on his Blackwell Island annexation request. I was expecting to see an editorial and possible a full-page add denouncing the foursome who voted for the delay: Mayor Sandi Bloem and council members Woody McEvers, Mike Kennedy and Al Hassell. But nothing happened. Zip. Zapata. Does that mean HagaCorp is growing up somewhat. Or it realizes that it needs the annexation more than the city does? Curious.

Question: A Ring Tone Adults Can’t Hear

Issue: Teens evade rules with a ring tone adults can’t hear/New York Times

More Info: In that old battle of the wills between young people and their keepers, the young have found a new weapon that could change the balance of power on the cell phone front: a ring tone that many adults cannot hear. In settings where cell phone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.

Question: Is this significant?

Huckleberries Best of the Northwest — 7/12/06

Agent Joe McCraw (lead horse), Captain Gary Roman (center), and agent Allen Foraker of the U.S. Border Patrol conduct a backcountry horse patrol on Owl Mountain less than a mile from the Canadian border on Monday, June 5. The patrol recently started using horses because they bring stealth, speed and agility to the job here/Jed Conklin, Spokesman-Review.

Sagebrush: NW guvs hoarding taxpayer cash here.

1. David Horsey/Seattle PI claims the Repubs have a sure-fire way to distract followers from Bush administration shortcomings here.

2. Ben Roethlisberger, the QB who led the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Seattle Seahawks in this winter’s Super Bowl, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident today here.

3. When Safeco Field was built in 1999, bonds worth $325 million were earmarked for the project — paid with a combination of taxes to be collected through 2016. But largely because of the booming restaurant industry, the bulk of the bonds could be paid off four years early here.

4. The state Department of Transportation is going to try to do something about the increased noise as the expansion of Interstate 5 has the freeway creeping closer to homes in Everett, including the use of “quieter asphalt” here.

5. A preliminary study found that 15 beaches along Lake Roosevelt on the Columbia River are safe for limited use by humans, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday here.

6. IMHO-NW: D.F. Oliveria/Spokesman-Review (Flag rule doesn’t fly with vets), Doug Clark/Spokesman-Review (Inquiries for Spokane’s finest), Frank Mieli/Kalispell Daily Inter Lake (A declaration of interdependence), Jamie Tobias Neely/Spokesman-Review (Review: “A Chorus Line”), and Joel Connelly/Seattle PI (Top 10 Items for Bush’s Washington visit).

Online Poll: 75.9% of 1487 respondents to an Idaho Statesman poll said they have no tattoos.

*EWU coed drowns in Montana’s Clark Fork here.

*Montana Grizzly cornerback is proud to go to Native American games here.

*Six-year-old boy burned after slipping off geyser boardwalk at Yellowstone here.

Orbusmax Special: Are Idahoans indifferent to Hurricane Katrina victims here.

Paulos: Box Stores, Growth, Stars, My Oh My

Bob Paulos (defending box stores): The population growth has brought the “big box” stores, the retail industry term for the large national chains, and with them, the big chain operations keep local dollars at home to support our community, rather than feed those dollars into Spokane coffers. Meanwhile, Spokane suffers from who is going to pay for the downtown parking garage and its deteriorating infrastructure and fights to scrape the mud off its city government.

… growth and movie stars: As for this continual California bashing, I would offer four examples that fly in the face of this criticism — Patty Duke, Steve Shortridge and Ellen Travolta and her husband, Jack Bannon. All four have made significant contributions to life in our little city by the lake. In addition to becoming one of the most enthusiastic fans of local parades, Patty has staged a local book signing, has become a strong supporter of Kootenai Medical Center, even appearing in a series of newspaper ads for KMC, and lending strong support to a number of community and charity events.

For the rest of Bob Paulos’ Sunday column in the Coeur d’Alene Press, click here.

Question: Is the city of Coeur d’Alene better off today with the box stores, growth and movie stars than it was in the 1980s with the depressed housing market but room at the beach for the locals?

Update: Technical Difficulties

We’re back up and running now. But we’ve lost copy, both out front and in the comments section as a result of technical difficulties. Anything posted between 7:30 or so last night and 9:30 this morning was swallowed by the Ethernet. Sorry. Everything seems to be running fine now, however.

Mailbag: When Sportscasters Became Journalists

Bob: I watched “Munich” for the first time the other night and it was completely disturbing. I watched it with a friend who was only 7 or 8 when it happened and doesn’t remember it like some of us do who watched it live…it was also the moment that sportscasters became journalists.

JBelle: Bob brings up a fascinating point for me: Munich and the lightning quick transition of sportswriters to journalists. DFO, did you not begin as a sportswriter?

DFO: I, like many other journalists, began my career as a sportswriter, part-time on Friday nights in the newsroom of the Chico (Calif.) Enterprise-Record. That was in college. My first real job after college was as the sports editor for the Red Bluff Daily News. In the old days, sports writers were often tapped for good city side jobs because they had more opportunity to develop as writers quickly. The sports beat allowed you to write features, columns, and routine beat coverage. Sports reporting still is a nice proving ground for news writers.

Mailbag — Coeur d’Alene’s Odd City Streets

Chris Rodkey: By the way, it’s always a treat to have a shift in the Lake City, but good God … who designed the streets in that town? Seriously! If I didn’t have a pretty good map, how on Earth would you know how to get to the Ponderosa Springs golf course?! Why can’t there be straight lines and direct streets?! I’m debating whether CDA is worse than Missoula for street design.

DFO: Chris, if you really want to scratch your head, take Seventh from Sherman Avenue and head north. You’ll find that Seventh runs out of alignment as it crosses Harrison and then as it crosses Locust. Someone was asleep at the switch when that road was laid out. Indeed, you have to run another obstacle course to find Ponderosa Golf Course. Then, you can blame this misalignments on the city’s forefathers. However, Coeur d’Alene Place is a logistical nightmare for anyone without one of those auto guidance system. And that’s relatively new. Lining things up doesn’t seem to be a priority here.

Mailbag: How About “None of the Above” Option

Dang: The best alternative system I’ve heard of is the requirement that “None of the Above” be on every ballot. When “None of the Above” gets a majority, then there is a new election held with all new candidates.

DFO: I’d love a none-of-the-above option on the Idaho ballot, to send a message to individuals who are going to win simply because they belong to the right political party. In some districts, a Democrat doesn’t have a chance of winning, even though, in some case, they’re far more qualified to serve than the Republican.

Wild Card/Sunday — 6/11/06

I can’t wait to see today’s editorial in the Coeur d’Alene Press — to see if those rumors about Hagadone declaring war on Mayor Sandi Bloem and City Hall are true. ‘Twould be a nice topic for Sunday and next week, if the Hagadroids followed through on the threat that’s been circulating since the council decided to delay the Blackwell Island annexation on a 4-3 vote, with Her Sandiness casting the tie-breaker. We’ll have to wait until the new postings online. Meanwhile, you can start your own threads under this Wild Card …

Green Libertarian: Adventures Of White House Boy

For once, Dubya’s had a better week than Ann Coulter. He nailed Zarqawi. She shot herself in the foot re: 9/11 widows. Mebbe she’s the one who should be licking his boots. Her numbers may be lower than his as we kick off the week today.

Hat Tip: Green Libertarian

Wild Card/Saturday — 6/10/06

Here’s hoping we get a decent weekend to enjoy the lake or maybe a ride into our beautiful countryside. If not, there’s always Huckleberries. You can start a thread with this Wild Card …

Mailbag: Voters Spirit Willing, Flesh Weak

Dan of the County: Just stopped by my office to check on mail and e-mail that came while I was in Boise this week. … an interesting on-line poll result from Senator Craig’s office … in a poll conducted BEFORE the May 23rd Primary, 92.8% of the people said they were going to vote in the upcoming Primary! Apparently many, many, many people didn’t follow through with their pledge …

DFO: Another good argument for vote-by-mail? Anyone know what the turnout was in the 1st congressional district?

APhoto of the Weekend — School’s Out

Sleeping Giant Middle School sixth-graders Josh Bigner, left, and Luke Christiansen throw their hands as they celebrate the last day of school in Livingston, Mont., Thursday. You write the cutline/Garrett Cheen, AP Photo/The Livingston Enterprise.

How To Score Points w/Canadian “Idol” Judges

Orbusmax provides a little brightener to kick off the weekend from “Canadian Idol” here.

Question: Most Controversial Film Ever?

Issue: ‘Passion of the Christ’ is most controversial: Entertainment Weekly ranked films; ‘Clockwork Orange’ came in second/Associated Press

Additional Info: Oliver Stone has the unique distinction of landing twice on the list: 1991’s “JFK,” ranked at No. 5, and 1994’s “Natural Born Killers,” at No. 8.

Question: Do you agree that “Passion” is more controversial than “Clockwork Orange”? Or: What do you think was the most controversial movie you’ve ever seen?

TGIF Wild Card — 6/9/06

You have plenty below to keep you busy, HBOers. However, there’s always room for another thread, which you can start by using this Wild Card …

Huckleberries Best of the Local Blogs — 6/9/06

CDADave, who provides his trademark pictorial spoof above, has more thoughts on the world-weary 13-year-old who wrote a letter to the SR editor yesterday here.

1. Bill McCrory/Whitecaps asks a question that anyone qualified to be Spokane police chief should ask himself or herself before applying: Why would anyone want it?” Click here.

2. Marianne Love/Slight Detour remembers some of the deceased individuals who influenced hundreds in Bonner County with their agricultural insights here.

3. Family Phil tells of his son taking a tough spill on his bike (which no longer has training wheels) but getting right back on here.

4. Like all bloggers, Cis Gors/From A Simple Mind wonders who reads her posts anyway here.

5. HBO newcomer Nicolas Casey/Rants, Raves & Random Thoughts (note to self: get a blogroll link for this fella) has been doing a “happy little panda dance” at the thought of that Panda Express coming to Hayden soon here.

Update: The three-letter jumble and other measures taken by Blogmeister Ryan have run most of the recent HBO spam to ground. Now, only a handful are getting through our blocks. I suspect that some of those are posted by the worst kind of spambots, the human ones, who have to type in the jumble. Only 2 of you have had problems under the new system. So, I’m prepared to call it a success. Then, I remember Dubya’s premature declaration of victory on that aircraft carrier. I’ll wait a bit longer to see how it goes.

Meanwhile, UBob’s random thoughts are always worth reading and worth trying to figure out here, believe it or not, JBelle is expecting — her first ripe tomato — here, and Patrick’s cat, Ling-Ling, has been a terror since the feline lost a tell-tale cat bell here.

Rural Legend: Gates In North Idaho?

A rumor that won’t go away has bazillionaire Bill Gates buying up land in Smelterville of the Silver Valley for some unannounced development. SR biz reporter Becky Kramer sez she has found no grounds to the rumor …

LaRocco: Winning Idaho One Handshake At A Time

“Former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco is serious about shaking 25,000 Idahoans’ hands during his campaign for lieutenant governor – he’s numbered the campaign brochures he hands out, to track his progress toward the 25,000-handshake goal. … If the 25,000 mark seems unlikely, a look back to 1982 might suggest otherwise. That was the year LaRocco ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Republican Larry Craig, and he used a most unusual campaign strategy. He quit his job, and took a job in every county in the 1st Congressional District for a week at a time – including working at a Coeur d’Alene nursing home, building logging roads in Bonners Ferry, counseling displaced workers in Shoshone County, picking apples with migrant workers in Canyon County, working as a garbage man in Orofino, waiting tables at the Pancake House in McCall, and more.”

For the rest of the post by Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise, click here.

Question: Does LaRocco have a chance against Repub Jim Risch?

Huckleberries Hears …

… That syndicated talk-show hostess Rollye James is fed up with living in Philadelphia and the East Coast — and is considering moving to Coeur d’Alene. In fact, on her show Thursday night (which airs from 1 to 4 a.m. on KGA) the Libertarian/conspiracy theorist said: “I’d love to move to Coeur d’Alene.” According to my Berry Pickers, Rollye’s husband, Jon Cornell, will visit this month to check out the town and real estate. If you haven’t heard of Rollye, here’s the Cliff Notes version about her provided by Wikipedia: “Rollye James hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio show called ‘The Rollye James Show.’ Rollye is a staunch libertarian and conspiracy theorist who often discusses cases of the government violating the American Constitution. She is an expert on oldies R&B music which is another major part of her show, along with Friday Night Trivia. Until 2004, Friday nights were dedicated to music trivia, but she later expanded the trivia to include a wider range of subjects, and it has remained that way until today.” You can read all about her on her Web site here.

Mailbag: Bikini War Differentiates Idaho Repubs

James Bond: I don’t know the full story, although I would toss out a possible dynamic. Nampa is conservative in a way that CdA is not — it is socially, religiously conservative. CdA is a very Republican area, but northern Idaho Republicans are different that southern Idaho Mormon Republicans. Do not underestimate the ability of social conservatives to go to war with bikini bars. Boise’s former disgraced Mormon mayor Brent Coles went to war with these establishments, much the confusion of Boiseans who did not see what the big deal was. He ended up costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars by spearheading unconstitutional ordinances and having the cops spend lots of time investigating the busting these fine establishments. To this day, I think the anti-bikini bar crusade did more to promote and popularize these places in Boise than anything since then. Looks like Nampa is following in Boise’s big footsteps.

DFO: 007 provides invaluable insight from his perch in the state capitol. I’m running this comment out front because it not only gives a glimpse into the mind-set of southern Idaho R’s toward risque venues like bikini bars but it also shows the difference between north and south R’s.

Post Falls Dad: Taking HBO on the Road

“Dave, as my new job has me on the road to Lewiston and Wenatchee 2 times a week I am not always able to “keep in the know” by checking in with HBO — UNTIL NOW! My new Blackberry has internet and as I was suffering HBO withdrawals I gave it a shot and logged in. Much to my suprise it works! No more having to read through HBO pages and pages late at night just to find out whats going on. For that my wife thanks you as well” — Post Falls Dad.

Question of the Day: Boxers Or Briefs

Issue: In Praise of Boxer Briefs: An underpants manifesto/Seth Stevenson, Slate

DFO: Remember that “Friends” episode when Joey went “commando” to get back at Chandler? Well, that’s a little over the top, as far as I’m concerned. A man should choose between one of the two major alternatives: boxers or briefs. After a brief flirtation with boxers, I come down on the side of briefs. But I’m still open to re-conversion.

Question: Boxers? Or briefs?

Nampa Police Close CDA Sister Torch Bikini Bar

“Nampa police closed a bikini bar June 1 after it failed to renew its license, and the City Council denied the renewal on Monday after police cited problems during eight months of operation. (“New bikini bar concerns Nampans,” Oct. 6) Undercover officers witnessed dancers at the Torch lounge touching customers in a sexual way, which is a violation of state liquor license laws, Assistant Chief Tim Vincent said. The club, at 453 Caldwell Blvd. across from the Lighthouse Rescue Mission, had 59 calls for service since October, which required multiple police cars for each call and emergency medical crews in 11 cases.”

For the rest of the Idaho Statesman story, click here.

Question: I never hear anything about Coeur d’Alene’s Torch bikini bar. Does that mean it has skirted the problems that shut down its sister club in Nampa?

Random Thoughts

Q — Has Coeur d’Alene Councilwoman Dixie Reid ever — ever! — voted against something that mogul Duane Hagadone wanted?

APhoto of the Day — 6/9/06

Adriana Hopkins, 2, tries to eat the bubbles blown by her mother, Stephanie, Thursday, in Sterling, Ill. Near-perfect weather made having fun outside east to do, though Adriana might have had a good time with her bubbles no matter what the conditions were. You write the cutline/Paul Colletti, AP Photo/Daily Gazette.

Mailbag: Praising John Barlow

Sage: Whoa there pardners. John is not such a bad guy. Our kids played sports together since junior high. After many road trips, you get to know the other parents fairly well. His wife, Kathy, is a sweeetie. She worked for years with troubled kids at Project CDA and is well liked. Julie Green, long time principal at Project CDA, has sung the praises of the Barlows many times. And: In public, I would expect John to be as loyal to his employer as DFO or anyone else here is to their bosses.

DFO: If I acted in public in my boss’s name as Barlow does in his boss’s name, I’d expect to get booted from the organization ASAP. Then, I’ve worked for the three media moguls of the 51st state of Columbia: Hagadone, Stacey Cowles, and Butch Alford (Lewiston Tribune). There’s a tremendous difference among them. Two of the three are great guys. The third produces attack dog execs like Barlow. I’ll let you decide which is which.

WorldNetDaily Poll: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Question: What does the death of Zarqawi mean in the worldwide war on terrorism?

1. It confirms that Bush is the real terrrorist
2. 1,000 other Zarqawis will rise to take his place
3. The Islamic jihad movement is made up of many decentralized cells – one individual’s death doesn’t mean anything
4. It’s encouraging, but as the general said, ‘There are many other terrorists’
5. It’s good news but the war is far from over
6. It will take some of the political pressure off Bush so he can do his job
7. It will embolden moderate Muslims and show the extremists they can’t win
8. It’s the ‘tipping point’ – al-Qaida has been decimated in Iraq
9. It’s great news – now, let’s go into Pakistan and get Osama
10. Other

DFO: No. 9

For the WorldNetDaily News report, click here.

P.S. — Rocky Mountain Oysters — 6/8/06

Issue: Rocky Mountain Oyster feed still on after ad controversy/Idaho Statesman

DFO: There’s no way I’m going to eat Rocky Mountain Oysters (bull testicles). It doesn’t seem, well, civilized. The worst thing I’ve ever eaten is liver, with and without onions … awful either way.

Question: Have you eaten Rocky Mountain Oysters? Would you, if given the opportunity? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?

Huckleberries Hears …

… That City Hall is still buzzing about the meltdown at City Council by HHagadone Corp knucklebreaker John Barlow over the Blackwell Island annexation proposal. As one council member told Huckleberries afterward, Barlow talked his way out of a sure-fire approval for the annexation request by copping a ‘tude when questions about a city boat slip and bike path came up. But that wasn’t the worst of it. As the discussion continued with Barlow sitting in the audience, he clearly could be heard by the council as aiming a “bullshit” in the direction of Finance Director Troy Tymesen. And that still wasn’t all. Council members, Tymesen, and city officials are still debating whether Barlow had a finger extended when he made an odd hand gesture in Tymesen’s direction for not publicly backing a point he had made. And that’s still not all. This weekend, maybe beginning with the Coeur d’Alene Press editorial page, Hagadone is going to take Mayor Sandi Bloem, the council, and City Hall for “declaring war” on his company and him. (Read: for daring to ask the company questions of Barlow and the company rather than automatically kowtowing like councils in the past have done.) Big boys have big feelings. Remember that when you seeing the Press open fire on Her Sandiness and City Hall this weekend. And be grateful that there are two newspapers in town, so you can find out what’s really happening.

Webcam Coming To Library Project Near You Soon

Beginning sometime next week, you’ll be able to follow work on the new Coeur d’Alene City Library via a webcam that refreshes iself every 30 seconds. It’s accessible directly here. The image default size will be 320x240, but you’ll be able to resize with the width and height settings. The camera will turn on at 5 in the morning, and off at 8 at night.

Fly: “Al Zarqawi Discovers Hell Not Heaven


DFO: Fly photoshopped a coffee spitter here. For the uninitiated that’s the late al-Zarqawi and conservative flamethrower Ann Coulter (Satan’s spawn, according to the HBO Left Bank). Now, we rightists might say that al-Zarqawi hit the lottery. I call your attention to an apolitical colleague of mine who said just this morning that she’s a fine-looking woman. She’s too skinny and smokes too much for me. But, as I’ve said before, she easier on the eyes than Helen Thomas, Madeline Albright, Janet Reno, and the rest of the Lib-Left chorus line. Then, mebbe it’s just me. (The ball is now on the T, ladies and gentlemen.)

Eye On Boise: Goedde Catching Heat in S. Idaho

“If you want to tick off a whole bunch of people in Idaho, try telling them they don’t know what region they’re in. Try, for example, to tell someone from the Panhandle that because you’ve been to Grangeville, you’ve seen North Idaho. Or to claim that you know all about Canyon County because you’ve looked around Boise, which is just the next county over. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, is enduring weeks of heat down in far-off Twin Falls (that’s the Magic Valley, mind you), for an off-hand comment in which he dismissed the entire region. Goedde, who’s co-chairing a legislative interim committee on community college funding, was quoted in the Twin Falls Times-News about the panel’s meeting schedule, which doesn’t include Twin Falls. The comment: “It’s not that we’re avoiding CSI. I would consider Twin to be a part of Eastern Idaho, and we would welcome people to come to Idaho Falls if they want to speak about this issue.”

For the rest of the post by Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise, click here.

DFO: The photoshop picture of Goedde harkens back to the 2006 Legislature when he, as Senate Education Committee chairman, scared the Idaho Education Association into not backing a potential Democrat opponent by declaring that he’s “the bear” and threatening retaliation.

Karls: Like Father, Like Son?

After his morning workout, Boise State’s Coby Karl, left, takes a break and watches a scrimmage game with his father, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, at the NBA pre-draft basketball camp in Kissimmee, Fla., earlier today/Joan Raoux, AP Photo.

The Late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Now, where are those virgins
I’ve been waiting to meet
and what is the story
on all this damned heat?

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

APhoto of the Day — 6/8/06

A visitor plays Masked Ball by Kendell Geers from South Africa at the exhibition Ballkuenstler (ball artists) at the Leipzig museum of fine arts, in Leipzig, eastern Germany today. Works of 24 contemporary international artists show their view on soccer. You write the cutline/Eckehard Schulz, AP Photo.

Plonka “Sundog” Now On Drudge Report …

Matt Drudge’s monster Web site currently is carrying a front-page link and photo, by colleague Brian Plonka, re: the sundog phenomenon Saturday here and here.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Finally Meets Maker

Great news today. The No. 2 most wanted terrorist in the world, al Zarqawi, found out over night that there weren’t 72 virgins waiting for him on the other side. Just hell’s flames — as the U.S. brought this murderer to the justice he deserved. Definitely, this is a cause for celebration. I could run out his death photos. But that might not be nice so early in the day/AP photo.

Hump Day Wild Card — 6/7/06

I apologize to the local bloggers for getting so snagged late this afternoon that I didn’t have time to do a roundup. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow. Meanwhile, you can use this Wild Card to start your own threads …

Mailbag: Why We Need A Special Section

Tom Taggart: As I sit here trying to put the school district’s budget presentation together I am struck by both the level of anger and the lack of understanding. On a basic level you can go wrong with the idea of local governments not levying the full amounts. The ability to do that without service reductions will vary from agency to agency. The schools are not under the same 3% limits as the other taxing districts. This leads to a major issue. When you assessed value goes up, the school M&O portion rises with it. Value goes up $100,000 and you will pay about $300 more in school M&0. However, for every dollar increase in property tax there is an equal reduction in state support. It is a shift from state to local based on value. This is by design to help provide equal funding for schools across the state, regardless of assessed value. If a district chooses not to take the full M&O amount, the State assumes it has been levied. This is all the more reason to move the M&O off the property tax. We need the special session.

DFO: Gov. Risch danced around this one today in Coeur d’Alene when Commish Gus Johnson (remember him?) asked about the possibility of a special session. Sounds like TomT has it pegged pretty well …

Ah’m Your Huckleberry: Et Tu, Mother?

Didja hear the one about Michelle Rafferty’s 7-year-old boy, Luke? Seems Michelle signed him up for a one-day camp on the other side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Which required a short boat ride aboard the Mish-A-Nock. And that made Luke nervous. Michelle knew why, too. Hubby Max had let Junior see “Jaws” — and now he’s convinced that there’s sharks in dat der lake. (Hey, don’t laugh. My wife was so afraid after seeing “Jaws” way back when that she was afraid to turn the light off at night for fear one would get into our house.) So, Michelle tormented hubby Max for a week about letting Luke see “Jaws” — only to discover that she was the guilty culprit for letting him watch “Titanic” a month ago. Michelle felt so guilty about the situation that she paid for a cruise Tuesday night for the whole family to prove to Luke that — (drum roll, puh-leez) there were no icebergs in Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The Kootenai Valley Press …

… is now back online with its news from Boundary County here.

Pretty As A Picture …

Steeplejack Al Lanoue, of Moore’s Steeple People in Chicopee, Mass., is watched by a hawk perched above, as he takes down his ropes and ladder following steeple maintenance at the First Baptist Church on Tuesday in Framingham, Mass. The hawk has been a regular companion to steeplejacks working on the church in recent weeks/AP photo.

SR Edit: Time For Idaho To Vote-By-Mail, Too

Rather than wring hands, elected officials and other concerned citizens can find a solution to voter lethargy elsewhere in the Northwest. In Oregon, citizens have been voting by mail in presidential races since November 2000. In an advisory vote in Spokane County last November, about 58 percent of the registered voters preferred the vote-by-mail system, a new Washington option that county commissioners imposed in December. With voter participation low in the May primary, it’s time for Idaho to allow a county option to vote by mail.

For the rest of my editorial re: vote-by-mail, click here.

Question: Agree? Disagree?

CDADave: Beware Of Pigs In City Park

Some goofball vandalized one of the park benches next to the Seawall the other day; one of the wooden planks that formed the back of the bench was evidently just ripped off the metal frame. That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t accidentally happen. And it looks like someone punched thru the wall in the mens’ restroom. I just can’t understand why things like that have to happen. And, I am seeing more and more garbage in the park these days. People have picnics, they leave garbage behind. On the ground. Around the basketball courts, at any given time, you’ll see empty sport drink bottles laying in the grass. I’d say that would be a good thing for our bicycle patrolmen to look into.

For the rest of today’s Thin Air by CDADave, click here.

DFO: Few things irritate me more than senseless vandalism. If I was Ruler of the Universe, I’d crack down on vandals and make sport of them, mebbe throw them in stocks at the corner of the park and let little kids throw cabbage at them. As far as thoughtless park users leaving behind litter, the city should order the bike cops to cite them. It seems like a little matter. But it trashes our community. Rudy Giuliani understood the importance of cracking down on little things.

Pretty As A Picture …

Canoes moored along the dock at Charles River Canoe & Kayak form a pattern as seen from the air Tuesday in Newton, Mass. Though sunny Tuesday, clouds and rain returned to southern New England Wednesday, and is forcast to remain through Saturday/David L. Ryan, AP photo.

Question: HagaCorp’s Blackwell Island Project

Issue: Details jeopardize Blackwell: City Council questions bike path width, use of emergency boat slip; developer says company may reevaluate project/Tom Greene, Coeur d’Alene Press

John Barlow, president of Hagadone Real Estate Holding Co., after the meeting: “The point is how disappointed our company is with the mayor and some of the City Council that they reopened the negotiations after all this hard work was done along with city staff. We now have to step back, look, reevaluate, and say ‘Is this something we want to do?’”

Green Libertarian: “Yeah, sure, John. “Waaaaaaaa, if we don’t get what we want, we’re gonna take our ball and go home.” How childish can you get …”

DFO: My sentiments exactly, GreenL. The HagaCorp has played that my-way-or-the-highway card so often that only the gullible fall for it now. Everything’s to be done of HagaCorp’s deadlines. Anyone who stands up to them in an official capacity is to be run over. The uber-significance here is that we have a mayor who can’t be buffaloed by the Man From Stanley Hill — who’s looking out for the best interests of the public. She knows the value of the HagaCorp investment. She also knows the stakes for the public. That headline is abysmal propaganda: “Details jeopardize Blackwell.” ‘Tis nice to see the HagaCorp finally having to jump through the same hoops as everyone else.

Question: Do you really think HHagadone would back away from a project that it has poured considerable money into already, just to thumb its nose at the Coeur d’Alene City Council.

Mailbag: Dealing With Online Imposters

Cynsmw: Last night someone impersonated me on this blog. I believe imposters can do more damage to a blog or chatroom than even trolls. Trolls can be ignored but imposters erode trust in an already fragile semi-anonymous forum. My policy toward imposters on my blog is zero tolerance. An imposter is banned. Period. DFO’s policy is to send the imposter a warning; essentially a free pass. How would you feel if someone used your name and posted goodness knows what? What do you think the policy should be toward an imposter?

DFO: Cymsmw makes a good point here. Someone posted an item using her pseudonym a coupla nights ago that I’ve since killed. She was upset last night that I didn’t slap a permanent ban on the individual via his/her IP address. Mebbe I should have. Then, I have embraced, as a default position, a policy the eschews permanent bans. Also, I’ve had only one other problem with an imposter, during the heated Mitchell-Amaro days. A Tinfoiler went over the top. I’ve dealt with this problem via private e-mail. However, anyone who tries to pull this stunt in the future might find that I’m not as understanding as I’ve been to this point.

Mailbag: CDA Council Cooking On All Burners

John Austin: CDA Press: Councilman Mike Kennedy made a motion that tabled the (Hagadone annexation) agreement until the next City Council meeting and directed staff to reopen negotiations on the path width and clarify whether the boat slip is for city-owned vehicles only or if other agencies would be allowed use. Well done, Mike, along with Deanna and Al. Although I agree with Barlow that those items should have been addressed by staff, it is the Council’s right (and obligation, I believe) to question items of such great importance to their city. BTW, if you haven’t noticed, DFO (and I know you have), CDA has a great Council and mayor serving their residents right now, at a time and place when they’re really needed.

DFO: Indeed, this is the best mayor/City Council lineup I’ve seen since Jim Fromm and the Gang of Four days in the mid-1980s. I’d make one adjustment to the lineup, to make it stronger. But that can wait until the next municipal election.

Wild Card/Tuesday — 6/6/06

Put your hands together for Blogmeister Ryan Pitts, who, at least temporarily, has resolved the problems with the three-letter jumble and produced a system today to stop spammers. I haven’t heard any yelping (other than about the usual stuff), so it apparently is doing the job while not blocking commenters. I admit I’m a pain in the tush at times for Blogmeisters Ryan, KenP and KenS, but they’re pros who are a big part of the reason behind the success of this blog. (Insert monster hat tip) Now, you can kick off the evening by using this Wild Card to start your own thread …

P.S. — Cracking Down On Internet Surfing @ Work

Issue: Employers wiping out Net surfing on the job/Eric Benderoff, Chicago Tribune

DFO: We, at HBO, had quite a row about Web surfing during working hours when the Kootenai County commissioners banned this blog from the courthouse 10 days or so ago. That, of course (with apologies to Any Mouse), was censorship. If commissioners had banned all Internet surfing during breaks and lunch hours, they would have been on firmer ground. I don’t see anything wrong with net surfing, if it doesn’t take away from work. I routinely check ball scores while working here. It has no effect on my work production.

Question: Do you think employers should cut down on Internet surfing by worker bees?

WSU Evergreen: Welcoming Back Kotter, Er, Carter

“Eighteen members of the WSU Young Democrats had an important meeting with the man who is, arguably, the last honorable president in recent memory — and by recent, I mean since the 1960’s. Carter was clean, moral and honest. He worked hard to restore the presidency to its former glory. Though he served just four years, he successfully turned the nation around. His Baptist faith was a main part of his administration, but he didn’t use it to minimalize anyone else. In this day and age of government corruption and executive powers running rampant, we need a new Carter.”

For the rest of the column by Amelia Veneziano/WSU Evergreen, click here.

DFO: I about spit out my coffee when I read Amelia’s comment about Jimmy Carter, whom I consider to be the worst president of my lifetime, which stretches back to Harry S and 1949. The guy was paralyzed by minutiae and the Iran hostage crisis. And runaway inflation. The only good thing that can be said about his four years of ineptness was that it paved the way for Ronald Reagan and the rebirth of American pride. (That spitting you hear in the background is Bob and GreenL losing their coffee simultaneously.) Amelia and the WSU Young Dems weren’t gleams in their fathers’ eyes when Carter was bungling his way through office. Seems history is being kind to the old Peanut Farmer.

Top Cutlines — 6/6/06

Illustration/Fly (“Best 2 Out of 3”)

I couldn’t find anything as good as this APhoto I published at closin’ time last night. So, I decided to use it for the cutline contest today. Here, two squirrels frolic on a sidewalk in Alexandria, Va., Monday. You write the cutline/Gerald Herbert, AP photo.

Top Cutlines

In A League of His Own: The squirrel messiah traveled the land, preaching, doing good works, and raising roadkill from the dead — Big Mac.

1. A seemingly uneventful June Sixth, 2006…until small signs of unnatural behavior began appearing on the streets. Here, two squirrels engage in a mystic Catholic Ritual …” — Bullitt

2. Pattycake, Pattycake, Baker’s Man/Bake me a cake as fast as you can/Roll it, pat it, mark it with a B,/Put it in the oven CRUNCH! Mom! You just ran over TWO squirrels! Hang on honey, I’ve got my nail tech on the line and I’m trying to get a 3:00 this afternoon…” — UBob.

3. The first of two rodents is bagged by a broke Kootenai County taxpayer, who must now rely on squirrel soup to feed his family — John Austin.

HM: A Token D

For the rest of the terrific cutlines — and a superb photoshopped replacement by Fly-on-the-Wall — today, click here.

Pollos: It’s My Party, I’ll Drip If I Want To

Anthony Newton, 12, gets attacked by his friends Tuesday during North Idaho Christian School’s water party at the Hayden City Park/Jerome A. Pollos, Coeur d’Alene Press.

For Some Reason, Harrison Came To Mind Today

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

‘Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman

Assessments Are Comin’, Assessments Are Comin

Alice Rankin: My total 2006 assessment is up $72,500 over last years. $47,110 for land and $25,450 for Dwellings. What I found interesting was that the amount that last year’s taxing districts charged was not included on the Assessment Notice, as it was last year. Only had the dates and phone numbers of the budget hearings. So we will be unable to easily compare how much they go up.

Frum Helen Back: I think I know where the devil lives. Today the property assessments were received. Mine went up $300,000. Do you think they planned on having us receive this news on 6-6-06?

DFO: Mebbe that’s what 6-6-06 is all about. Don’t go near your mailbox today. Or you might be frightened to death by your assessment notice. Any other horror stories before we storm Assessor Mike McDowell’s office at the Kootenai County Courthouse?

Mailbag: Local Spending Affects Taxes Overall

Kelly Richards: If the levy rate does not decrease somewhere in the neighborhood of the average assessed increase (in this case 40%) then the taxes each person pays out of their pocket will increase. This is a good reminder for elected officials as they set budgets for the coming year. I believe elected officials want to do the right thing, but the budget process is complex. As budgets are voted on, no one knows how each budget will impact each property owner until its all done. The familiar question in budget hearings to financial advisors is if their levy rate will still decrease, even with the increase in the budget they are about to approve. I believe elected officials should be asking not just if the levy rate will decrease, because it will in a growth market, but by how much, and then set budgets accordingly.

DFO: Bingo! Assessed values can go up all they want and not appreciably affect the average North Idaho home, if local governments keep a tight rein on budgets. That’s why the current budget process of the county commissioners, for example, is so important. If the commissioners take all that’s allowable by law, we’re going to be hit in the pocketbooks in December.

Spam Blocker Coming To A Blog Near You ASAP

Blogmeister Ryan will flip the switch on our improved letter-jumble spam blocker this around 1 p.m. It’ll require you to type in the 3 random letters and your e-mail address (which won’t be shown to the general HBO reader) to participate. If you have any problems, let me know via private e-mail ASAP. Sorry we have to take this step. But the spam situation has grown intolerable again …

Huckleberries Best of the Northwest — 6/6/06

Rancher Wayne Hage is shown in November 1997 in the area where federal agents seized 100 head of his cattle in 1991, in Meadow Canyon near Tonopah, Nev. Hage, who battled the federal government for decades over public lands and private property rights and came to epitomize Nevada’s Sagebrush Rebellion, died Monday June 5, 2006. He was married to former Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage/Mark Waite, AP photo, Elko Daily Free Press file)

Hindu: Baseball draft day: yikes! here. (M’s draft California RHP Brandon Morrow here. And SF Giants take UW RHP Tim Lincecum here.

1. North Korea has some good advice for Iran, according to Eric Devericks/Seattle Times — not, here.

2. Lawmakers from Washington state — especially Rep. Jim McDermott — as well as their spouses and staff spend a lot of time in airplanes, and not just because their districts are a continent away from Capitol Hill here.

3. Jim Risch has been Idaho’s governor for less than two weeks, and he’s already been dubbed the de facto leader of Bushlandia by one member of the international press here.

4. A 15-year-old Billings boy accused of beating another 15-year-old boy with a hockey stick was charged as an adult this morning in District Court with attempted murder here.

5. Everyone has a daily routine, be it a cup of coffee or an early morning jog. For Jamie Boutwell, it’s jumping off a 486-foot bridge here.

6. IMHO-NW: Doug Clark/Spokesman-Review (These kids are our hope?), Amelia Veneziano/WSU Daily Evergreen (Jimmy Carter: Where are you?), Sara Anderson/F-Words (Dems eye Idaho 1st District seat), Gracie Doran/WSU Daily Evergreen (In defense of body modifications), John Blanchette/Spokesman-Review (Spokane Chiefs owner does care).

Online Poll: 51.3% of 1027 respondents to a Seattle PI poll say they don’t trust either Microsoft or Google when it comes to protecting their privacy.

*Officer refuses to go to Iraq with Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade here.

*A man is missing and presumed drowned after his kayak goes over a dam in the Tri-Cities here.

*A letter found in the trash bin near the home of Capitol Hill shooter Kyle Huff has been released by Seattle police here.

Orbusmax Special: A Seattle school district has stripped the Chief Sealth High girls’ basketball team of two district titles for repeated recruiting violations here.

Question: When Will It Be McEuen Field’s Turn

Issue: Library nearly funded: Parker family donates $330,000; just furniture money left to be raised/Tom Greene, Coeur d’Alene Press

DFO: This is a repeat of a story that we published Saturday. But I’m reprinting it here to initiate discussion re: a related subject. With the library now on schedule to be built and the mini-skyscrapers going up downtown, it can’t be long before McEuen Field becomes the center of attention again. And I doubt that the successful retirees filling those tall buildings will be thrilled about chain-link fences and softball crowd noise at 10 p.m.

Question: What do you see happening to McEuen Field, now that the neighborhood is changing from blue-collar workers to the well-to-do?

APhoto of the Day— 6/6/06

I couldn’t find anything as good as this APhoto I published at closin’ time last night. So, I decided to use it for the cutline contest today. Here, two squirrels frolic on a sidewalk in Alexandria, Va., Monday. You write the cutline/Gerald Herbert, AP photo.

Mailbag: Jaeger: The Human Face of Hagadonia?

OrangeTV: I wanted to randomly interject…I ran into Jerry Jaeger at Safeway this evening in the cat food aisle and was totally floored that he remembered my name nearly 6 years after our last encounter when I worked at the resort and met him twice, briefly. To me that’s quite amazing and personable, and I started thinking that we should give some credit where credit’s due to those not-always-recognized folks that helped to build the HagaEmpire into what it is. Certainly Mr. H couldn’t do it without the help of kinder, gentler associates, who maybe provide the human element that has made the Resort a success, in sharp contrast to the detached, megalomania of the Man himself.

DFO: As a former Hagadone M.E. (Kalispell, 1977-82), I was amazed that the organization had some fairly nice people in positions of power — nice people, who had to toe the mark in keeping the profit margin high and occasionally doing dirty deeds to please the men. My publisher, C. Patrick King, was one. A genuinely nice guy outside the office. A pain in the tush inside. An ad salesmen who became publisher and never understood that a newspaper’s purpose was to provide news without fear or favor — not to be a shopper. He once ordered me to fire a hard-working reporter for taking artsy photos of the county fair rather than shots of kids with bunnies. After a knock-down, drag out fight, I talked him into giving the guy a dime raise. Mebbe Pat was cheap by nature. But I suspect that he was trying to pump up the profit margin for the men. I’ve always wondered what kind of guy Jaeger would have become if he hadn’t thrown his lot in with control freak Mr. H.

CDADave: Where Are Thou, Tubbs Hill?

Imagine, if you will, a tourist coming to downtown CDA in the year 2010. He has a chamber of commerce map of our area’s noteworthy features. The following would be the account of his adventures:

I looked way up in the air
At the tall building they’d built there
As I stood behind it,
I had faith I would find it
“Tubbs Hill is around here somewhere!”


Warning, Warning, HBO Poster

In our never-ending attempt to get a handle on spammers, the SR will re-introduce that letter jumble we tried a few months ago — you know, the one that requires you to type in three random letters to post. We’ve taken care of the twin server problem, so you shouldn’t have the same headaches as before in trying to post two, three and even four times. (If you do have problems, let me know immediately tomorrow morning, when we test-drive this anti-spam feature again.) Also, you’ll be required to fill in the e-mail address in the second line, but Blogmeister Ryan assures me that the software won’t even read it this time, so there’s no way that someone in the blogosphere will see it. I don’t know if you’ve noticed — because I’ve tried to be diligent in killing out spam — but I’ve been getting hammered again. If this works, I’ll be a happy camper, and we can all head into summer with great expectations …

Peanut Gallery: Unsafe @ Any Speed

UBob: LEO’s are trained to skillfully control tons of forward hurtling metal motion while talking on radios or cellphones…However, Mrs. Kasey Kalifornikate in her tasteful silver Lexus SUV has one bronze-tanned clawlike manicured hand lightly gripping the wheel and the other tucking a cellphone up to her reddening ear under her Chernobyl Blonde bleach job coiffed majesty and her open toed sandaled foot right on that accelerator and her mind somewhere between Hayden Lake and Ranch Cucamonga as she gabs with one of her equally MILF (Mothers I’d Like to Flipoff) friends piloting some 2 ton SUVosaurus as it barrels through a 20mph schoolzone at 45mph, is not.

DFO: A “Chernobyl Blonde bleach job.” Her mind “somewhere between Hayden Lake and Ranch Cucamonga.” “Some 2 Ton SUVosaurus.” Dang! That’s gold.

Top Cutlines — 6/5/06

Wyatt Rinsch, 9, of Birds, Ill., and his pet pigeon “Teardrop” wait their turn to participate in the Oil Boom Days Festival pet contest Sunday at Lanterman Park in Bridgeport, Ill. You write the cutline/Kevin J. Kilmer, AP Photo/The Sun-Commercial.

Top Cutlines

In A League of His Own: “No reason to scream/nor cry out with dread,/’tis but the pigeon/that nests on my head — The Bard of Sherman Avenue.

1. “Name That Pigeon”: It is Clay? Nope. … Ahh … Is it Gus? Nope, but you are getting closer. … Hmm … Is it Stool? Yes, ladies and gentlemen we have our winner! Congratulations! — VFW.

2. A confused pigeon mistakes a child for a statue, thankfully the lad is too focused on his GameBoy to notice — HC.

3. Wyatt Rinsch, 9, of Birds, Ill learns 1st hand the proper juxtaposition of lifes pecking order — Dave Tolle.

HM: A Token D

For the rest of the terrific entries in today’s cutline contest, click here.

Brian Plonka Does “Sundog”

A “Sundog” appears over the North Idaho sky, June 3. The atmospheric optical phenomena occurs when sunlight is reflected by ice crystals found in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds/Brian Plonka, The Spokesman-Review.

Blogmeister Ken Paulman: It’s a day late and a dollar short, but I’ve got a slideshow of sun dog photos up on the home page. If anyone has any non-Photoshopped pictures they want to submit, send them to me at Fame and forture are sure to follow…

Paulos: DOTC Is Prototype Idaho Demo Candidate

Dan English is proving once again why the Democrat Party has a member of that party sitting in the office of Kootenai County Clerk, the lone Democrat who holds an elected county position. I believe it is true that Kootenai County is the most Republican county in the most Republican state in the Union. It’s the simple truth that Dan does an outstanding, sometimes inventive job. One of the most difficult jobs a county clerk has is satisfying the needs of the news media on a county election night. I can’t recall a time when I have heard a serious complaint from the media about county election returns that could be traced to inefficiency or indifference on Dan’s part. The entire efficiency of the office is directly traceable to Dan and the competent staff he has assembled.

Occasionally, old Bob Paulos/Coeur d’Alene Press gets it right. For the rest of his Dan of the County comment, click here.

Huckleberries Best of the Northwest — 6/5/06

JoAnn McGuckin, whose several armed children held police at bay for five days outside their home in Sandpoint, Idaho, after she was arrested on child injury charges five years ago, is shown on May 16 at her home in Kootenai. Now the siblings, all teens or older, and JoAnn McGuckin are trying to get on with normal lives here.

Stapilus: “What if the real estate market slows or stops (in places like Kootenai County)?” here.

1. Founder Michael Powell, 65, passes reins of world famous Portland bookstore to 27-year-old daughter, Emily, here.

2. The Nez Perce Tribe of northern Idaho is one of three Indian tribes to observe a bicentennial event to commemorate the Lewis & Clark expedition, but it isn’t celebrating here.

3. Most people go to Zip’s Drive-in to fill their bellies. Owner John Carlson goes to fill his fuel tank. Carlson recently converted his 1993 Chevrolet pickup to run on kitchen grease, and he proudly advertises its fuel source with a large “This truck is powered by French Fry Oil!” decal on the tailgate here.

4. Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise was one of the thousand people who waited in Boise’s heavy heat Sunday for a chance to view the new governor’s mansion donated by J.R. Simplot here.

5. The signature of Battle Ground, Wash., pilot Dick Ionata has become part of the Smithsonian Institution’s aviation collection, along with the Wright Brothers’ first flying machine and the Spirit of St. Louis piloted by Charles Lindbergh here.

6. IMHO-NW: Doug Clark/Spokesman-Review (Cheap things to do this summer), Frank Miele/Kalispell Daily Inter Lake (Let’s TP nation’s capitol), Rebecca Nappi/Spokesman-Review (Immigrants still proud of stories), Olympian (Someone must pay protest costs), and Bruce Kauffmann/Oregonian (Weatherman decided D-Day’s go).

Online Poll: 64% of 191 respondents to a Lewiston Tribune poll say that humans are the most dangerous predator in the woods.

*Real Life Ministries in Post Falls is one of the nation’s fastest-growing churches here.

*Report: Idaho 7th in the nation in housing appreciation rates here.

*Number of Idaho businesses offering health insurance to fulltime workers drops 6% here.

*Beautiful weather phenomenon awes Spokane skygazers here.

Orbusmax Special: About 40 percent of Washington’s prison dental budget goes toward teeth ravaged by meth here.

Bumpersnickers …

… on a red Ford parked at Tomato Street Sunday evening: “Could you drive better if I shoved that cell phone up your butt?” and “USA: God bless America.”

In The Making Lemonade Outta Lemons Dept …

Wild Meadows residents Brian Week and Meri Hower paddle up the flooded drainage ditch running between homes in the subdivision in Kuna, Idaho, Sunday. They had spent the earlier part of the day placing sandbags to protect their home and wanted to have some fun too here/Darin Oswald, AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman.

Quotable Quote re: Property Tax Relief

As for whether to call a special session, House Speaker Bruce Newcomb said, “That’s the governor’s call.” But Newcomb, a rancher, noted that he’s been castrating calves on his ranch, and sported a bandaged finger as a result. “In my life I’ve probably done 10,000 calves,” he said, “and it’s a lot easier than property tax relief.”

Hat Tip: Betsy Russell

UBob: Things To Do In North Idaho This Summer

Bearable Bob picks up on columnist Doug Clark’s theme Sunday re: things to do in the Inland NW if you’re not rich:

“I’ve heard the Acres O’ Trailers tours through the trailerparks of Kootenai and Bonner counties are pretty cool…

“One of the parks, I can’t remember which one, has a Tinfoil Museum set up in a yard shed. I think it’s called “Tinfoil Over the Years” and represents the evolution of tinfoil products and applications for radio, cellphone, microwave disruption and blocking.

“If you’re lucky on the tour you may catch one of the trailerparkians willing to teach a quick do it yourself workshop on jumping electricity from powerlines to a homemade box.

“If that doesn’t spark your interest then it’s on to Spirit Lake where everyone gets to don decontamination suits and join Kootenai Co. Sheriff’s deputies on a Clandestine Meth Lab Breakdown and Barbecue.

“Some of the Spirit Lake area parks also have interesting displays of Harley Davidson engine and frame part yard ornaments. These are always worth a gander!

“I kind of like the less fussy and more organic let nature reclaim the classic cars and pickups of the 1980s auto-landscaping motifs seen on all points of the trailer tour.

“There’s so much more - for the scholarly there are always the field-generated experiments in dog breeding and hybridization of the rottweiler and pit bull types.

“The Foster Family Olympics (don’t miss the 400meter Convenience Store Sprint) usually runs sometimes in June.

“I could go on. Rami Amaro billboards, barbed wire gated neighborhoods, squirrels on the grill, 78-87 Subaru Brat collections, felons possessing handguns…

“Tour slogan: ‘North Idaho — It’s not just for rich people who live in houses and stuff.’”

Peanut Gallery: Neurosis Star Relocates Here

OrangeTV: All you Death Rock fans (I know you’re out there) may be interested in the fact that Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till recently relocated from San Fran to here.

DFO: Over the weekend, HBOers tried to figure out how many stars and near-stars are now living in the Inland Northwest. Claude de Waalz came up with these: 1. The parents of the late Rick Griffin, creator of “Murph the Surf” and later, master graffic artist for the Grateful Dead and others. ( source- Jim “Bossman”). 2. The mother and step-father of climbing legend Lynn Hill, who visits periodically ( source-Lee @ NI Fitness). Can you think of anyone else?

Berry Pickers Analyze Circumhorizontal Arc


Since all the pictures here have been doctored so badly, I thought I’d post mine to give people an idea of what the phenomenon really looked like — Scott.

DFO: The crack team of scientists at Huckleberries Online unraveled the source of that mysterious circumnaviagational arc that appeared in our skies Saturday.

Blast From The Past: 2001 McGuckin Drama

“We were living in a mixture of heaven and hell,” she said. “We had some of the worst living conditions you could imagine — no running water, no heat, little food — but on the other hand, we had a library with 1,500 volumes. We had our property (40 acres of woods, with a pond in the back). Our parents were incredibly intelligent. Not only were we well-educated, our parents taught us to think with foresight, to think for ourselves.”

For the rest of the Idaho Statesman story looking back at the McGuckin family tragedy five years ago, click here.

DFO: I’m still amazed that no one got killed — and still ticked that the property was sold for a pittance and that Bonner County kept all of the proceeds.

From The Peanut Gallery — Low-Key Immigrants

Claude de Waalz: Some low profile recents immigrants to CDA. 1.The parents of the late Rick Griffin, creator of “Murph the Surf” and later, master graffic artist for the Grateful Dead and others. ( source- Jim “Bossman”). 2. The mother and step-father of climbing legend Lynn Hill, who visits periodically.
( source-Lee @ NI Fitness)

Question: Anyone else know real or close-to-real celebs in our midst?

Mailbag: The “Hagadone Look”

CDADave: I actually heard, from a young lady who worked at the Rezzort, that there IS such a thing as the “Hagadone Look”. Maybe he envisions himself as CDA’s answer to “Hef”?

DFO: I’ve heard people mention the “Hagadone look.” But I don’t know what it is exactly. Does anyone out there?

Question of the Day — Local Property Values

Issue: Property values going up, up, up: (40%) increase represents third straight year of record-setting valuation changes/Marc Stewart, Coeur d’Alene Press

DFO: When I saw the headline this week that property values had gone up 16 or 18 percent in Spokane County, I sniffed and said: That ain’t nothing. But I wasn’t expecting an average of 40 percent in Kootenai County. Good grief! At this rate, we’ll all be selling out and moving to Owyhee County, Idaho, to get a break from property taxes.

Question: Should North Idaho legislators demand that Risch calls a special session to hammer out tax relief … on Monday or Tuesday?

Chief Hayes Responds To Selle Comment

“I have never written a letter to the editor, nor have I ever posted comments on a blog, so this is a first for me.

“I felt providing a copy of the Police incident report may be helpful to your readers to understand what Mr. Selle is referring to.
At this time I have not had an opportunity to review any audio/video tapes of this event. That will be done early next week if necessary.
If these items indicate anything could have been improved upon, we will act accordingly.

“As you can see from the report, when Police Officers arrive at a fight call and people are bleeding and a person involved does not cooperate, steps have to be taken to secure the situation. It appears from the report that Mr. Pena (the individual that was tased) was given several orders to stop moving around while the Officers tried to sort out what was going on. When an individual refuses to comply, and a scene is not secure in the Officers mind for their safety and the safety of others present, action needs to be taken.

“If we act to fast we are criticized for not having patience;

“If we act to slow we are criticized for not doing our job;

“If we act just right we have to educate an onlooker who doesn’t think we did.

“In this case the report indicates even the tazed person and his wife ‘understood’ our actions. I do not say they agree with them, but they seem to understand why we acted the way we did.

“The tazer is one of the best tools to come along for Law Enforcement personnel. It provides an opportunity to control individuals without having to go “hands on” with a suspect. In the old days, the Officers would have tackled Mr. Pena and tried to control and handcuff him. This technique had been used for years but with many injuries to suspects and to Patrol Officers. The use of tazers is another conversation separate from this event and is far to involved to go into in this forum.

“I would prefer not to respond to questions about this event on a blog and would welcome a telephone call from any person who has comments or questions. I can be reached at 773-3517(work), or 773-3193 (home). Please use the work phone unless you feel it is very important to talk to me at home.”

Cliff Hayes
Post Falls PD

P.S. You can find the link to the Post Falls Police Department report re: the incident here.

Thom George: CDA Library Breaks Ground

Coeur d’Alene Library Groundbreaking Ceremony. City Councilman Mike Kennedy, Coeur d’Alene Tribal Vice Chairman Francis SiJohn and HBO’s very own Jesse Tinsley (aka the hardest working man in photojournalism)

P.S. It was announced that when the story concerning the building cost increases appeared,The Jim Parker Family stepped up to the plate BIG TIME to the tune of $330,000 in addition to the $75,000 they had previously donated!

CDADave: Coeur d’Alene Embraces Gridlock

I drove in north CDA a while
Exhibiting patience and style
Stoplights did abound
As I drove, I found
It took 20 minutes to travel a mile.


Mailbag: What’s Been Happenin’ Around Here?

Granati: i feel lost. i’ve been gone all week (on vacation in oregon) and i haven’t been able to access hbo. what has happened?

DFO: Granati, it’d take too long to explain. Go back to election day and work your way to the courthouse blog ban two days later. From there, it takes off by itself. We’ve had some of the best photoshopping ever as a result of the election and meltdown by county commissioners.

TGIF Wild Card — 6/2/06

We’ve had some fun this morning with the remnants of the Courthouse Blog Ban. There’s other threads out there, of course. You can use this Wild Card to start your own …


(Gov. Jim) Risch also fanned the flames of speculation about whether he’ll call a special session of the Legislature this summer on property tax reform. “The property tax system was adopted long ago, when property values were reasonable and stable,” Risch told a crowd of several hundred. “Today they are neither” — Betsy Russell/Eye On Boise here.

Question: Should Gov. Risch call the Idaho Legislature into session to provide property tax relief?

Best of Gus Photoshopping …

The Winner

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Second Place


Third Place


DFO: BTW, my personal favorites were two that weren’t among the finalists: Dang’s photoshop of Katie, Gus and myself as Butch, Sundance and the Lady Friend … and the “Brokeback Mountain” post by Fly-on-the-Wall yesterday. If I was to offer a new ballot, it’d also include Dang’s “Whose Your Daddy” photoshop today of me giving Gus a noogy. Everyone, take a bow.

FlyOTW: “The Rehabilitation Of Gus”

DFO: The clock is ticking on our All Gus All The Time fun here at HBO. 78 more minutes and we’re going to have to cut the Gusmeister lose to finish out his term while we go looking for now fodder. (BTW, you guys are laughing with me and not at me, right?) Until then …

CDADave: Et Tu, Spokesman-Review?

“I think the S-R needs to understand that NO LOCAL RESIDENTS EVEN CARE about “hundred-thousand-dollar showers which work simultaneously on six zones of the body”. Most local residents cannot BEGIN to relate to “a two-story waterfall, running at 80 gallons per minute, (which) mimics the muted roar of a stream during snowmelt.” No one who’s scrambling to make a living around here is going to spend $45 on a manicure, or $110 for a hot stone massage, or fer cryin’ out loud, indulging in a CAVIAR FACIAL, where FISH EGGS are SPREAD ON YOUR FACE! That’ll run ya $190; more if you want a second helping of black fish eggs. ‘Oh’, you say, “but the resort caters to tourists”. Well, yeah!”

For the rest of the post by CDADave/Thin Air re: the Coeur d’Alene Resort spa (and the SR’s story), click here.

From The Peanut Gallery …

“Gonzaga Prep’s 2006 Annuals bear a ‘failed WASL’ spelling: GONAZAGA PREPARTORY on the spine. All is not lost however, the printer’s offered the Bullpups $4 a copy to put up with the hazing they will take from GSL compatriots” — Bob West.

DFO: Anyone have a Gonazaga Prepartory kid with a yearbook who can verify this?

Take 5: Who’ll Be The Next In Line?


Now that Amaro-Mitchell has moved off stage and Trust Gus is soon to follow, what’ll be the next issue to light things up at Huckleberries Online?

1. Hagadone decides its time to add some “sizzle” to The Coeur d’Alene Resort by annexing McEuen Field, once and for all, to build his memorial garden in honor of his parents.

2. If you can’t beat ‘im, buy ‘im out, figures Rich and Todd, as they offer DFO a lucrative deal to handle PR for the new county commissioner board.

3. HBO’s photoshopping geniuses are awarded the Nobel Prize in online journalism for bringing Idaho state government to a standstill with hilarious over-the-top posts involving new governor, Jim Risch, and various big-game animals.

4. Local weatherman is declared Public Enemy No. 1 for sending sunshine through the week and rain clouds on weekends all spring and into the summer.

5. Other?

Dallas Paper: Take Us To Demo Leader

Issue: Take Us to Your Leader: Dems could use one, and an agenda, by fall/Dallas Morning News editorial

“Democrats also lack a telegenic spokesperson capable of convincingly pitching the party to Red America. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a brittle San Francisco liberal who panicked party operatives when she suggested that a Democratic House would pursue impeaching President Bush (she has since recanted). Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate chief, has the milquetoast demeanor of a parson. Party chairman Howard Dean is … Howard Dean. And the Democrats’ only leading presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, is as likely to play in Peoria as Tom DeLay is to blow away Berkeley.”

Question: Who has the best chance of leading the Democrats out of the wilderness this fall? By the 2008 presidential campaign?

Mailbag: Wanted — Dan of the County Action Hero Pix

Average Joe: I think the HBO stable of photoshopping geniuses need to start creating Dan of the County super hero images. I see him on a white steed or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. He is the unlikely hero of this county saga.

DFO: Great idea, Average Joe. Attention, Photoshoppers, I’ve set the ball on the tee for you by posting Dan The Man’s photo above. Mighty Mouse Dan? Superman Dan? Justice League Dan? Idaho Constitution Man Dan? Surprise us.

Fly: Can’t. Stop. Thinkin’. About. Tomorrow


Illustration: Fly-on-the-Wall

APhoto of the Day — 6/2/06

A Shih Tzu named Allee sits on a piece of carpet between wig mannequins in the front window of Bernie’s Hair Emporium this week in Danville, Pa. You write the cutline/Jimmy May, AP Photo/The Bloomsburg Press Enterprise.

Road Signs at Seltice & Highway 41

No archers in sight
no bowmen at hand
yet more arrows here
than Custer’s Last Stand.

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Gus: Commish Tired Of HBO ‘Character Assassination’

Dan of the County: I can’t imagine that the public feels it is within the rights of one public officer to tell them (members of the public) how they can converse with another elected official,” English wrote, adding, “I believe it is poor public policy.”

More Info: Gus Johnson said the commission was tired of the “character assassination” on the blog. Johnson also said that The Spokesman-Review was allowing the publication of “hurtful” actions against him on its Web site. “I feel it’s unfair and actually revengeful,” Johnson said in an interview Tuesday, his first since his defeat. “No human should have to go through that.”

DFO: Character assassination? None of the fun began here until Gus had been pouting two days after his election loss and refused to talk to the press. He and Katie need to ap-hollow-gize for an abuse of power in censoring the press.

For today’s Spokesman-Review story on the lifting of the courthouse ban against Huckleberries Online, click here.

Wild Card/Thursday — 6/1/06

We’ve survived the primary campaign, the election, and 8 days in May of being banned at the Kootenai County Courthouse. Dunno where we’re going to go from here. But I know we’re going to get there. You can start the fun in the summer sun today by using this Wild Card to begin your own thread …

Fly: “I Just Can’t Quit You”

Illustration: Fly-On-The-Wall

PMailbag: Housing Market Calming Down?

Dan of the County: I just noticed an interesting trend as I was putting some numbers on a spreadsheet I keep for the volume of business in our Recorders Office. The volume of recordings (including deeds, etc. for home purchases and re-fi’s) for April and May are down to levels of 3-4 years ago … wonder if this will make “stopthecrazygrowthguy” happy …

DFO: Your post, Dan, provides an opportunity to thank you for your service to community by questioning the commissioners’ attempt to censor this blog. Here’s hoping there’s always a Dan of the County to stand in the breach when local pols are abusing their power.

Top Cutlines — 6/1/06

Matt Lauer has to sit back as Katie Couric, left, his departing co-host of the NBC “Today” television program, gets a goodbye kiss from news anchor Ann Curry during Couric’s final NBC “Today” televison show, in New York on Wednesday.Couric is leaving to become the next anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” You write the cutline/AP photo.

Top Cutlines (1st & 2nd are interchangeable today):

1. Apparently Katie meant it when she said she wasn’t going to have a man as a partner anymore — A Token D.

2. Matt leans back and suddenly, unbidden, he hears a voice with a familiar Scottish brogue coming from somewhere in the vicinity of Katie’s facelift scars - Cap’n I canna hold her much longer, she’s gonna blow! — Bob.

3. Come on Ann … it’ll be fun. You saw what it did for Madonna and Brittany Spears! — Deal With It.

HM: Susan

For all of today’s other terrific cutlines, click here.

Ah’m Your Huckleberry

First, you should know some of the definitions for “jungle fever” from the Urban dictionary, including an addiction to Cocaine; a white person dating a person of color; an inter-racial relationship, namely between a white person and a black person; when a non-black person is atracted sexually to black people. (Originally it was used for when a white woman dates black men, but now it could refer to a white man who thinks black women are hot and wants to date them.) Stevie Wonder sang about black man/white woman love: “She’s gon black guy crazy/He’s gone white girl hazy/They got jungle fever.” The Urban Dictionary also mentions that Spike Lee made “Jungle Fever” into a movie starring Wesley Snipes, but it’s still an insult to use the word.

Question: What definition was the Excel Foundation using when they choose the theme “Jungle Fever” for their annual fund-raiser at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds on Sept. 23.

Hat Tip: Taryn Brodwater

Mailbag: Hat’s Off To Our Miss Katie

Jeff: Hat’s off to Katie for doing the RIGHT thing and taking on Gus and Rick. Folks, we made a mistake, the county is going to miss her. She is a very smart women. What I like most is that she is not afraid to voice your opinion.

DFO: Actually, Rick Currie flipped first — Tuesday morning. Katie musta made it 2-to-1 sometime late yesterday. Otherwise, Jeff, your analysis is correct. Katie woulda made a dyne-oh!-mite commissioner is she’d been given a second term. I fear a train crash coming in 7 months. Stay tuned.

Noonan: Time For A New Political Party

“Right now the Republicans and Democrats in Washington seem, from the outside, to be an elite colluding against the voter. They’re in agreement: immigration should not be controlled but increased, spending will increase, etc.
Are there some dramatic differences? Yes. But both parties act as if they see them not as important questions (gay marriage, for instance) but as wedge issues. Which is, actually, abusive of people on both sides of the question. If it’s a serious issue, face it. Don’t play with it. I don’t see any potential party, or potential candidate, on the scene right now who can harness the disaffection of growing portions of the electorate. But a new group or entity that could define the problem correctly—that sees the big divide not as something between the parties but between America’s ruling elite and its people—would be making long strides in putting third party ideas in play in America again.”

For the rest of the column by Peggy Noonan/Wall Street Journal, click here.

DFO: I used to be a Repub. Now, I consider myself an Independent with Repub leanings. I’m sick to death of the mess in Congress, created by elitists from both parties that have lost touch with their constituents. ‘Tis too bad that we don’t change them regularly like we do county commissioners. Alas, we all know that third parties don’t go anywhere. What are we to do?

Commissioners Lift Courthouse HBO Ban


“County employees are encouraged to use the Internet to its fullest potential to:

•Further the operation of the County;
•Provide effective service to the public;
•Identify innovative and creative methods to utilize resources and improve service;
•Promote professional development.

“With those parameters in mind, the Internet access to local blogs has been restored for appropriate use as seen fit by supervisors, department heads and elected officials.

“Thank you one and all for all you do to make this County run efficiently, effectively and be cost-effective.”

HBO hears that this memo was circulated under Commish Katie Brodie’s signature via mass e-mail this morning.

APhoto of the Day — 6/1/06

Matt Lauer has to sit back as Katie Couric, left, his departing co-host of the NBC “Today” television program, gets a goodbye kiss from news anchor Ann Curry during Couric’s final NBC “Today” televison show, in New York on Wednesday.Couric is leaving to become the next anchor of the “CBS Evening News.” You write the cutline/AP photo.

Mailbag: Best Pix Of Gus

Best Pic Of Gus: Let’s Vote for the best pic of Gus! Without a doubt I vote for the “Wheel of Fortune” picture. Please move it to the front page.

DFO: Your wish is my command. We’ll get around to it today. Mebbe this afternoon. And run the contest through tomorrow.

Mailbag: Bob’s Formula For Ending Ban

Bob: I think all these awesome Gus graphics should be put into downloadable pdf’s or something so county employees can print em out at home and tack or tape em up at work (clandestinely, of course) and bring Gus to his pre-ban knees. I also think there must be a way to maturely mediate and break this logjam, these two alpha males crouchin in their corners, snarling at each other. I’m probably not the one to suggest anything in the vein of conflict resolution, BUT! here is what I think would work:

1. Gus reverses his block decision
2. DFO sends Gus a huckleberry pie
3. They both go to one of those photo places that has the western themed prop you stand behind to look like cowboys and get their pic taken.
4. DFO posts the cowboy Dave and cowboy Gus pic and bans anymore photoshopping of Gus as long as the ban remains relinquished.
5. I get a pie for solving this!

DFO: So, if Gus drops the blog ban, I’d be stuck with this question re: future Gus photoshopping: To Gus or not to Gus? No question here. We’ll Gus.

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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.

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