Archive for December 2013
Well, Merry Hucksters, that's it for this year. I plan to enjoy a fairly mellow evening with Mrs. O & the Coeur d'Alene Family Oliveria tonight — and a New Year's Day with my bride's side of the local family. For personal reasons, I'm glad that 2013 is in the books. But it was a wild, wacky enjoyable year here at Hucks Central. I'll see you back here Thursday and Friday. Huckleberries will be fully operational again on Monday when the legislators descend on Boise for another year of mischief and on Tuesday when the guard changes for Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls city government. I'll post this Wild Card and head home to let the dog out …
For the final parting shot of 2013, Huckleberries Online turns to the Facebook wall of Councilwoman KerriT, who offers frozen, colors water balloons and this thought: “I'm ready for the new year and thought the remnants of my made from water balloons frozen colored ice balls are a great reminder to do silly things for the fun of it.”
On her Facebook wall, KXLY weathercaster Kris Crocker posts: “I'm pretty sure I'm not going to lose 10 pounds in 2014. I'll keep trying to eat healthy and exercise and get organized with some success, but those things are not my top priority this year. I've resolved to re-up my efforts to be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor. I've let e-mail go unanswered, phone calls unreturned and kind words left unsaid. When I talk to the people I love most in the world, I often start the conversation with “I'm so sorry, I've been so busy!” So, my loved ones near and far, expect to hear from me SOON (like it or not). Happy New Year to you all.
Question: Whether official or not, what's one resolution you'd like to follow through in 2014?
Idaho State Police Troopers will soon be adorning badges with a vintage look to mark its 75th year. The commemorative badge was specially designed to resemble the one worn by the earliest officers of the Bureau of Constabulary, the predecessor to the Idaho State Police. The badge is a five point star in a circle with the words “Idaho State Police - 75th Anniversary” and list the years “1939-2014” engraved in black. Each Trooper has his or her car number in the center of the star. The majority of the badges are silver and command staff will wear a gold badge. The badges will be worn during the entire year of 2014/ISP news release. More here.
Time 2 Vote …
Pope Francis checks time after visiting the nativity scene set in St. Peter's square following a New Year's Eve vespers service he celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican earlier today. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Monday Winner — Kim Knerl, with 8 likes: “Look, I'm #68!” and Runnerup — JohnA, with 6 likes: After failing to win their final game and advance to the playoffs for the third straight year, Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones orders all of his players to hang by their heels, beginning with the tight ends. You can see Monday Photo & all Cutline Contest entries here.
The St Vincent de Paul North Idaho Warming Center is going to be open tonight through New Year's Day night. Future nights will be extended as extreme cold persists. As the sub-25 degree temperatures continue, St Vincent’s shelter will always be open from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. Transportation will be leaving from the St Vincent de Paul Community Dining Hall at 6:45 on the nights we are open, and will transport back the next morning. Post Falls Shelter is located at 202 W. 7th St. behind the Post Falls St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in the Kamps Apartment basement.
Coeur d'Alene Police Dept reports this stolen vehicle: “1994 Ford Ranger, Idaho plates K406794 — tan in color, chrome toolbox in bed of truck, stickers on the driver's side rear window and tailgate. This vehicle was last seen at 1 today near 1000 N. 3rd Street/CdA.
At A Family Runs Through It, Idaho Dad posts this photo taken near Moscow, which he calls: “Winter Fog.”
HucksOnline numbers (for Monday, Dec. 30): 6809 page-views/3909 unique views
U.S. stocks closed out their best year in more than 15 on Tuesday, with major indexes advancing throughout 2013 on the back of the Federal Reserve's massive stimulus and expectations for accelerating growth going forward. Wall Street ended 2013 with its positive momentum intact, advancing in its final trading day of the year on the back of positive consumer confidence data. The S&P 500 rose 29.6 percent over the year, its best annual performance since 1997, while the Dow climbed 26.5 percent in its best year since 1995. The Nasdaq jumped 38.3 percent, its best year since 2009. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 finished the final trading day of 2013 at record closing highs/Ryan Vlastelika, Reuters. More here.
Question: Are you glad you stayed in the stock market?
JohnA : I look forward to the primary in May, because suddenly we have a two-party choice again, and no, Democrats aren't one of them. We have the two-party GOP on the local level, and it's time for moderate R's like me to seek out those who will defy the far righties and help them get into (or remain) in office. I see those elections next year as just as big a challenge as the school board and city elections were this year. Especially at the county level, where we've already seen the influence of a Central Committee torn apart.
Question: JohnA may have a good point. It's time for all of us to jump on the local GOP bandwagon and — for those holding your noses at the idea — ensure that the best option emerges from the spring GOPrimary. What do you think?
Employee Lara Herzog trims away leaves from pot plants, harvesting the plant's buds to be packaged and sold at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary, which is to open as a recreational retail outlet at the start of 2014, in Denver. Colorado is making final preparations for marijuana sales to begin New Year's Day, a day some are calling “Green Wednesday.” (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1. Officials at Denver International Airport installed new signs warning visitors their weed can't legally go home with them. And at a handful of shops, owners were scrambling to plan celebrations, set up coffee stations, arrange food giveaways and hire extra security to prepare for potential crowds and overnight campers ready to buy up to an ounce of legal weed. While smoking pot has been legal in Colorado for the past year, so-called Green Wednesday represents another historic milestone for the decades-old legalization movement: the unveiling of the nation's first legal pot industry.
Question: Do you think legal pot sales in nearby states, including Washington (for medicinal reasons) will affect Idaho?
Trying to decide which movie to see tonight: “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” or “Saving Mr. Banks.” Share your thoughts so I have someone to blame if the boys hate my movie choice — Cindy, via Facebook.
DFO: Hobbit, hands down.
Drivers paid less at the pump in 2013 than the previous two years, AAA reported on Tuesday. U.S. drivers paid on average $3.49 per gallon for gas in 2013, down from a peak in 2012 of $3.60. It's also down from 2011, when drivers paid an average of $3.51 per gallon, the second highest price on record.”It was a relief to see gas prices decline in 2013 following record-breaking pain at the pump in recent years,” said Jenny M. Robinson of AAA in a statement on Tuesday. “Our hope is that prices will continue to fall as cars grow increasingly fuel efficient and refineries expand production to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil.” The trend is expected to continue in 2014/Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill. More here.
Question: What did you pay for gas last time you were at the pumps (and where did you buy it)?
The bald eagle count at Lake Coeur d’Alene had climbed to 217 eagles on Monday, according to Carrie Hugo, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist. Of the 217 eagles, 196 were adults and 21, juveniles, Hugo said in an email. The numbers are up from Hugo’s last count on Dec. 18, when she found 129 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area. That was up from 86 eagles the week before that, according to Hugo’s weekly count. For decades, the eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay/SR. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: Have you been to see the eagles yet?
“We’ve done so much, with so little, for so long, that now we can do almost anything with next to nothing.” – ISP Colonel Rich Humpherys
If ever a saying captured the essence of an organization the above expression is it. The quote is taken from Kelly Kast’s recently published history of the first 75 years of the Idaho State Police entitled Without Compromise. It is a fascinating read well worth the time and price. Anyone who travels much along Idaho’s highways and byways sooner or later has a close encounter of a personal kind with an ISP trooper. Idaho is geographically large with vast distances between its cities and towns. When driving on a long journey most have a lead foot which leads to getting personally acquainted with law enforcement/Chris Carlson, Carlson Chronicles. More here.
Question: When did you last have a close encounter with a patrol officer re: a driving violation?
Atlanta Hawks forward Gustavo Ayon, left, and Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk, center, and guard Phil Pressey chase a loose ball in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday in Boston. Olynyk is a former Gonzaga star who left school early, last spring, to enter the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Back in August, the Boston Celtics took top draft pick Kelly Olynyk up to Canobie Lake Park, a New Hampshire amusement park, and put him on some rides during a community event. He didn't get a chance to try out Yankee Cannonball or the Canobie Corkscrew, but he has been riding his own roller coaster for the better part of the past six months. From being selected 13th in June's draft, to starring at the Orlando Summer League, to struggling early in his rookie campaign to elevating, to a starting role as he settled in, to suffering a severe right ankle sprain that sidelined him for 10 games, Olynyk has crammed an awful lot into his first 180 days on the job/Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston. More here.
Question: Do you follow professional careers of Zags and/or other, former Inland Northwest college stars?
Based on the numbers of people visiting their doctors with flu-like symptoms, flu season has arrived in the five northern counties. Lab tests show that H1N1, the flu virus in the 2009 pandemic, is the virus most identified in the positive flu tests so far. “The virus hasn’t really changed,” says Jeff Lee, Panhandle Health District epidemiologist. “It disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults. It’s also targeted by the flu vaccine.” Symptoms that drive people to call their doctors include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. Two vaccines are available to help prevent catching the flu. One targets three viruses and the other targets four. Both vaccines target the viruses that are showing up in most positive flu tests/Cynthia Taggart, Panhandle Health District. More here.
Question: Have you or any members of your family had — currently have — the flu?
Fund-raising letter from Wayne Hoffman/Idaho Freedom Foundation to possible contributors:
With just hours until the start of the new year, I want to take just a moment to thank you for making Idaho Freedom Foundation one of the state's most influential organizations. You're a part of something really big and very important. Our efforts since 2009 have changed Idaho for the better. We have improved countless lives. We've stopped bad public policies, presented solid alternatives to Big Government and have made government more transparent. But there's still a lot more work to do, and 2014 will be a critical year for us. Our ideas MUST be front and center during the coming political debates. Which candidates will embrace the ideology of limited government? Which candidates really believe in free markets which will merely give lip service to it? Will they rally for lower taxes or higher taxes? Will they give aid and support to Obamacare or fight it? These are things we intend to find out. We are just $3,800 short of our fundraising goal for 2013. Any contribution given before midnight tonight may be tax deductible on your 2013 tax returns. More here.
I don't do blog gut checks as much as I used to. After almost 10 years of feeding this cyber beast, I have developed a system for posting and commentary that works for me — and for most of you. Huckleberries Online has evolved into a blog that has a moderate (by Idaho standards) to center-right approach to posts and commentary. Some have complained that Huckleberries had too much of a slant over the last 18 months, from the attempted recall of Mayor Sandi Bloem and 3 council members through the 2013 Coeur d'Alene School Board and Coeur d'Alene City Council elections. I remind those who felt this way that Huckleberries is an opinion blog that posts news stories, not a straight-up news blog. However, I make no apologies for siding with individuals whom I felt had served this community well — and found themselves under attack from the usual suspects. Also, I make no apologies for siding with candidates who offered an even-handed approach to local government rather than an ideological or partisan one. I felt Coeur d'Alene was at a cross-roads — and that I couldn't afford to sit back passively and allow events to take their course as they did in the less-than-stellar 2011 Coeur d'Alene council elections. I don't expect to approach the legislative and courthouse elections with the same passion as I had over the past 18 months. After all, they're truly partisan ones. However, I'm concerned that the dominant ULUC/Pauler/Rally Right wing of the local GOP engineered a takeover of the county clerk's office. Time will tell if new Clerk Jim Brannon can handle the job. He might surprise us. Meanwhile, I'll continue to support qualified candidates over ideologues here/DFO.
Question: What changes would you like to see to Huckleberries Online in 2014?
Our SR master techs have heard your pleas & re-worked codes to allow access to comments at Huckleberries Online via your iPhones. Can those of you with iPhones check out the fix to see if you can access comments now? It's possible the problem was triggered by shutting down comment access to SR.com stories during the holidays.
A volunteer firefighter in Priest Lake says a 74-year-old woman has been found dead after a fire broke out along Highway 57, near Priest Lake. The blaze broke out around 6pm on Monday. The building is part home and part office. Firefighters fought the blaze into the night. The fire destroyed the living part of the building. Foul play has been ruled out. It's not clear how the fire started. We'll post more details as we get them/KHQ. (Photo: Pecky Cox/As the Lake Churns)
The Tea Party is facing a huge test in 2014 as establishment Republicans and business groups try to wrestle back control of the GOP. Grassroots conservative groups have ruled the roost of the House GOP conference since Republicans won back their majority in 2010, but are now under attack from forces within their own party. In December, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) repeatedly ripped into outside conservative groups over their tactics during the government shutdown fight, which he described as “ridiculous.” Allies of Boehner, who has repeatedly struggled to lead his conference as outside groups and even conservative senators have vied with him for influence, feel optimistic they’ve emerged stronger from the last year/Molly K. Hooper, The Hill. More here. (AP file photo: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio)
Question: Do you think main-stream Republicans can take back the Kootenai County party from the UCNI/Pauler/Rally Right coalition now in control?
Idaho Public Television invites Downton Abbey fans to come to a special reception and preview party this Saturday at 3 p.m at the Hampton Inn at Riverstone in Coeur d’Alene. Coeur d’Alene is one of two sites in the state to be selected for a special one-hour preview of the new Masterpiece Downton Abbey season 4 which begins on PBS next week. Saturday’s event begins at 3 p.m. with a reception, British hors d’oeuvres, music by Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy students, and a no host bar. The screening of the first episode will begin at 3:45 p.m. Prizes will be given to the best vintage outfits. Tickets are $15 and should be purchased by Dec. 31 online at www.idahoptv.org or by calling (800) 543-6868.
Question: Which major character do you expect 'Downton Abbey' to kill of this year?
Woodman (RE: Gookin balks on equipment purchase): Dan… Dan… Dan, two years at this job… come on… I know you understand the system, you just don't like the way it works.
Question: Who is more likely to eschew ideology and grow into the job in the next two years on the council — Steve Adams or Dan Gookin?
Bob Ely (RE: The big lie bit the liar): Why do you continue to give this two bit racist/homophobe space on your blog?
DFO: Costello has been the conservative columnist for the less-than-conservative Lewiston Tribune for some time now. Mebbe decades. Columnists like Wayne Hoffman and Costello offer a point of view that represents a significant number of Idahoans. Who knows? Maybe a majority. I throw them into the mix to cover the range of ideology offered by writers in the area. Do you only want me to post columns, opinion pieces and ideas that the majority here agree with?
Hereford (RE: Bonner County eyes tobacco proposal): If the issue is the health care costs paid by taxpayers, why not do genetic tests to see if the potential employee is predisposed to serious illnesses that would likewise be a drain on the taxpayers? What about alcohol, another legal substance that can have costly health care and treatment implications? What about prescription antidepressants that could lead to depression and suicide? Why are you picking on tobacco when there are so many other culprits involved in health care expenses? And at what point do employers no longer have the right to micromanage their employees lives?
Question: Should future health concerns be a component of new public hires?
MikeK (RE: Polar bears, are you ready?): You people do know that I work, right? And that I have a large family and my father has been with us for three weeks? I have only a few days left until I go from recipient of bribes back to offerer of bribes, but the truth is I would have said post it without a bribe. Anytime I can be reminded of what 65 extra pounds (and about 75 cholesterol points and 20 or 30 blood pressure points) I'm good with that. Alas I've been slowly creeping back in the wrong direction so the pic helps me remember. And, of course, even with those 65 pounds my wife thought I was a handsome devil (so she said then, anyway).
Question: Does your wife still think you're a handsome devil?
JohnA (Letter: Too many taco stands in Coeur d'Alene): Our friends, Mary and Dennis Hayes from Black Lake, own and operate the stand in the Runge's parking lot on 4th. It is far from just a 'taco' stand, though. Everything Mary cooks is fresh and tasty, especially her breakfast burritos. She also takes her business to fairs and other events, part of her typical 60-hour workweek. It was her dream to one day have her own business and she's made it happen. I love Latino food and I can say Mary's beats anything else I've had and that includes the fancier restaurants I've dined at all over the country. Like others on here, I agree that this man's rant was more about being a racist than anything else, and points out how far we still have to go to attain some measure of tolerance in north Idaho.
Question: Do you have a favorite food cart in the local area?
Singer Justin Bieber takes a “selfie” with a fan at the premiere of the feature film “Justin Bieber's Believe” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live in Los Angeles. The word selfie is on a list of among those words selected for elimination in Michigan's Lake Superior State University's 39th annual batch of words to banish due to overuse, overreliance and overall fatigue. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, Invision)
A Michigan university has issued its annual list of annoying words, and those flexible enough to take selfies of themselves twerking should take note. Since 1975, Lake Superior State University has announced a batch of words to banish due to overuse and other faults. Spokesman Tom Pink says there were more than 2,000 nominations this year. “Selfie” led the way. It means snapping a self-photo, usually with a smartphone. “Twerk” or “twerking,” a sexually provocative way of dancing, found a dominant place due to Miley Cyrus' MTV Video Music Awards performance. And Lake Superior State says enough already with “Mr. Mom,” a reference to dads who take care of kids/Associated Press. More here.
Question: Which new words annoy you most?
First Night Spokane, the multi-venue New Year’s Eve celebration downtown, kicks off at 3:30 today with Kids Night Out in the Spokane Convention Center. The full schedule of performers and activities begins at 7 p.m. in venues including Crescent Court, River Park Square, Mobius Science Center and the INB Performing Arts Center. Admission buttons can be purchased for $18 at any Cenex Zip Trip location, Auntie’s Bookstore and Auntie’s Annex, and River Park Square Concierge/SR. For a list of First Night activities, click here.
Question: Anyone planning to attend Spokane First Night tonight? If not, what are your plans?
Gonzaga isn’t moping over a run of tough luck with injuries. The Bulldogs are too busy picking up floor burns, stealing passes and uncovering new scoring sources from a make-shift lineup. The 24th-ranked Bulldogs, who learned Monday they’ll be without guard Gary Bell Jr. for 4 to 6 weeks due to a broken right hand, dominated San Francisco from tip to final buzzer in a 69-41 WCC men’s basketball victory in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Playing without Sam Dower Jr. (back injury) for the second straight game and with point guard Kevin Pangos (toe) at maybe 70 percent, the Bulldogs put five players in double figures – paced by Drew Barham’s 15 points and nine rebounds – and led by as many as 30 against a USF team that was picked fourth in the WCC preseason poll/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo: Ryan Edwards struggles for rebound).
Question: I was impressed with the coming-of-age of the new Gonzaga stars as I watched last night's game. How about you?
Sometime today, Huckleberries Online will hit 2.4 million page-views for the year. That's 200,000 less than last year when the blog reached 2.6 million page-views. But it's still a solid number. Our experience with a finicky Disqus system for more than a month in the spring depressed the number somewhat, as did my decision not to blog on weekends. Still, it's a far cry from my first year of operation, in 2004, when Huckleberries attracted 173,478 page-views total — or about the number of a lackluster month today. It has been a great ride. I'm lookng forward to Blogfest 2014 in mid-February when the blog celebrates its 10th anniversary. Thanks for following Huckleberries. Now for your Monday Wild Card …
Gonzaga junior guard Gary Bell Jr., has a broken hand and will out “for a while” according to Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who announced the injury on his weekly radio show on Monday. The Zags top three scorers have been hobbling. But No. 24 Gonzaga, in the midst of playing four games in a week, doesn’t have much time to mend with San Francisco visiting the McCarthey Athletic Center tonight. Sam Dower Jr., is nursing a sore back and will not play tonight. Kevin Pangos has been dealing with turf toe/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: How many games will the Zags lose in WCC play this year?
There's something missing in the evolution of Barbie it would seem. There is a wonderfully nonsensical debate going on as to whether or not there should be a plus size Barbie. The purists say absolutely not. I must agree to the extent that Barbie is an iconic figure in the world of children's make believe and should be left as such. On the other hand, an argument is being made that the perfectly proportioned, coiffed and dressed Barbie is representative of all things evil in this world. A perfectly proportioned, coiffed and dressed doll. I wish I had some young girls around to grill. Even if I did, however, I think they'd wonder what the heck I was talking about/Dogwalk Musings. More here. (AP/Mattel file photo)
Question: Do you think Mattel should make a full-sized Barbie?
Time 2 Vote …
Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar (89) scores a touchdown against Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald/ Jose Yau)
Weekend Winner (tie, w/6 likes apiece) — Charlie: Evan will soon learn that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing; and DFO: As he caught air, Evan knew relatively nothing about Newton's law of gravity. But he was about to confirm the law's bottom line. You can see Weekend Photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
On her Slight Detour blog, Marianne Love writes of another military tragedy that has hit Sandpoint: “Another sad time in Sandpoint as the community has learned that one of its own has paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. Capt. David Lyon (Lissy), a 2008 graduate of the Air Force Academy and holder of several Academy athletic records, died Dec. 27 in Kabul when an explosive device detonated near his convoy.” More here.
HucksOnline numbers (for Dec. 22-28): 27,534 page-views/16,699 unique views
A fairly routine item to buy a much-needed loader-mounted snow blower for the city streets department led to a split vote of the Coeur d'Alene City Council in the last meeting of the year. Street Superintendent Tim Martin asked the council for permission to buy a used $90,000 loader-mounted snowblower from money saved this year within the department's budget. A new piece of equipment would cost $100,000 or more, and used snowblowers are hard to find. Councilman Dan Gookin balked at the purchase because the item wasn't listed in the city's fiscal budget. A line item to purchase used equipment was removed during the depths of the Great Recession. Gookin said he would support adding the used-equipment line item into next year's budget. He was content to allow the Streets Department to continue using a 1973 loader-mounted snowblower, which is know to break down frequently — and cost much to repair. Gookin was out-voted 3-1, as council members Ron Edinger, Deanna Goodlander and Steve Adams supported the motion.
Officers responded to 3rd St and Spruce Ave at about 2:30 Sunday morning for a possible injury crash. The reporting party was Scotts Taxi. While Officers investigated the crash, it was determined that both male drivers involved had been drinking. Both drivers were arrested for DUI and booked into the Kootenai County Jail/Coeur d'Alene Police Department.
Question: Does it sound like these two drivers deserved each other?
There are two prominent governors who are potential standard bearers of their party’s nomination for President in 2016 and are modern reincarnations of the 15th century Italian Renaissance writer’s model “Prince.” Both are of Italian descent, coincidentally, and both are savvy enough not to claim Machiavelli’s rather brief primer on how to govern and the attributes a prince should have as their bedside reading. Their actions, however, speak loudly that Machiavelli is a mentor. The Republican is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. After a landslide re-election in November, he is already thought to be seeking the Republican nomination. … If for some reason former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decides not to seek the Presidency in 2016, some observers expect the Democrats will entice New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to pursue the nomination rather than risk losing with Vice President Joe Biden/Chris Carlson, The Carlson Chronicles. More here. (Duane Rasmussen file photo: Gov. Christie stumps for Gov. Otter at Coeur d'Alene Resort earlier this month)
Question: Do you expect a matchup between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president in 2016?
On his Johnson Report blog, Marc Johnson posts about two brights spots in an otherwide dismal 2013:
From the partisan breakdown in Washington politics, including the now distant memory of a pointless and costly shutdown of the federal government and the more recent abandonment of unemployment protections and reductions in food stamp benefits for millions of Americans, to the deadly and protracted civil wars in Syria and South Sudan and the near civil war in Iraq, from media fixation on the trivial ignorance of Duck Dynasty and Anthony Weiner to the incompetence of the Affordable Care Act roll out, only Pope Francis and Nelson Mandela seemed able this year to cut through the clutter and address something important. More here.
Question: Can you name a bright spot in 2013?
Think of Patrick O’Conner as an older brother with a message for the baby boomers who are resolved to getting old and harbor a malaise for life and relationships: change your mind. A year ago, O’Conner weighed 290 pounds, was on the verge of divorce and had no will to change. “I found myself in a position of having to endure being alive,” O’Conner said. “Not really suicidal, but if it came to an end tomorrow, it isn’t going to be too soon.” A horrible place for a man who to this point had an exciting life traveling the world selling Native American jewelry and art and enjoyed a soul-mate-type relationship with his wife. Today, O’Conner has lost 70 pounds and made the cover of the Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center’s magazine, wearing swim trunks and showing off his abs. His love life is rekindled, and he is actually enjoying so-called old age/Erica Curless, SR Boomer U. More here.
The Polar Bear Plunge is once again set for its traditional time and place, noon on New Year's Day at Sanders Beach. About 500 people are expected to run into the lake, dive under, and run back out even faster. The first unofficial Polar Bear Plunge occurred Nov. 21, 1978. According to local climatologist Cliff Harris, the air temperature should be around 26 to 28 degrees and partly sunny. “We have a high pressure ridge parked over the top of us right now, and pushing everything out of the way,” he said. “This is a very 'blah' weather pattern we are in.” Harris said that despite a stretch of severely cold weather a couple of weeks ago, the water temperatures should be 38 degrees on New Year's Day. As for snow, Harris said that could be another couple of weeks out/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo from Jan. 1, 2013: Kathy Plonka)
Question: Anyone planning to take the Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Coeur d'Alene on New Year's Day?
Bobblehead dolls representing Supreme Court justices are shown. They are some of the rarest bobblehead dolls ever produced. They’re released erratically. They’re given away for free, not sold. And if you get a certificate to claim one, you have to redeem it at a Washington, DC, law office. The limited edition bobbleheads are the work of law professor Ross Davies, who has been creating them for the past ten years. When finished, they arrive unannounced on the real justices’ desks, secreted there by unnamed confederates. And fans will go to some lengths to get one. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Question: I have two bobblehead dolls in my office — of superb San Francisco Giants announcer Jon Miller and of former S.F. Giants slugger Barry Bonds. How about you? Any bobbleheads?
It's been a year of change in Kootenai County. We said goodbye to many longtime local officials, and are welcoming a fresh batch of newsmakers to government leadership positions. A major change in the physical landscape of downtown Coeur d'Alene took place throughout the year, while there was a major shift in the political landscape. Join us as we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy, talked-about news stories of the past 12 months/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: I can't recall a local year as packed with local news events as 2013. Can you?
If you’re looking to be hired by Bonner County in 2014, you may want to consider kicking tobacco as a New Year’s resolution. The county is slated to reconsider a proposal to avoid hiring new employees who smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, according to Commissioner Mike Nielsen. Nielsen plans on revisiting the issue during a department head meeting on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. “It will be discussed, debated and cussed,” said Nielsen. Nielsen first tried to implement the policy in 2011, but it was not supported by former Commissioner Cornel Rasor, who has a strong libertarian bent, or Commissioner Lewie Rich, a frequent opponent of Nielsen initiatives/Keith Kinnaird, Bee. More here.
Question: Should a county adopt a policy against hiring new employees who either smoke or chew tobacco?
Freshman Idaho Rep. Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, has defaulted on his home mortgage and hasn’t paid a house payment since June of 2012, four months before he was elected to the Legislature. The news, first reported by the Caldwell Guardian and detailed in a Sunday article in the Idaho Press-Tribune, surfaced in a legal notice printed Friday in the newspaper, which said Hixon’s Caldwell home is set for auction in March. Hixon, however, says he’s been negotiating a home mortgage modification with his lender, Wells Fargo, and expects that to be completed by late January, averting any foreclosure auction/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Megan Jeffs, 19, watches the controversial megaload move through Marsing on Saturday. A handful of protestors brought signs to demonstrate against the 450-ton, 380-foot refinery equipment on its way to Canada. It's bound for the oil sands that surround Fort McMurray, though a spokeswoman for Portland-based Omega Morgan wouldn't confirm the exact destination. Story here. (Idaho Statesman/AP photo: Darin Oswald)
JohnA: Today (Saturday), we're visiting my sister and her husband at the CDA Resort, as they enjoy a free night in the Jaeger Suite. They won the poker run this summer and this is their reward. Pretty cool, since it's been a while since I've been in the suite.
Question: Have you ever been in the Hagadone suite or the Jaeger suite of the Coeur d'Alene Resort? Spend the night?
I cannot believe the city of Coeur d’Alene is allowing all these taco stands to be set up in nearly every business parking lot in town. Shame on the city! Our town is looking more like Tijuana every day. This would have never been allowed 40 years ago when I had MY business here. They wouldn’t even allow a flashing sign of any kind back then. Is the city that desperate for money, or are they giving these people a free ride just because they’re immigrants?/Richard Ochua, letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press.
Question: Do you think there are too many taco stands in Coeur d'Alene?
Organizers of a predator derby in Idaho say 21 coyotes but no wolves were shot by about 60 hunters. Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife, the weekend event's promoter, said the low tally helps prove sport hunting isn't a very effective tool in managing Idaho's wolves. The derby near Salmon in Idaho's mountains proceeded after a fight between its organizers and environmentalists in U.S. District Court. A judge Friday ruled against event foes including WildEarth Guardians who wanted the derby scotched on grounds the U.S. Forest Service hadn't issued a permit/AP, KTVB. More here.
Question: Do you think sports hunting is sufficient to control wolf numbers in Idaho?
An Air Force officer from Sandpoint died Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was struck by an explosion triggered from another vehicle carrying a bomb that approached his convoy and detonated. Capt. David I. Lyon, 28, of Sandpoint, was serving with the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron, which is based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Capt. Lyon. The loss of life pains our team deeply,” Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander, said in a news release. “We are poised to assist his family and friends in their time of need and have support services in place to facilitate those needs”/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.
If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period. If by “period” you mean, “if it hasn't changed since the law passed.” This is the time of year when this column dedicates space to reminding readers of the silliest, most ignorant and dishonest utterances of the self-anointed glitterati, illuminati and cognoscenti who lecture us, rule us and tell us what we're supposed to know, what we're supposed to believe and how we're expected to live. And this crowd has had an exceptionally bad year. And I'm not even counting the backlash against the Gaystapo who have tried to destroy Phil Robertson of the “Duck Dynasty” television show. In a one week period this fall, the New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico magazine all arrived at the identical conclusion that Obamacare's design was never intended to improve the delivery of health care, as its proponents claimed/Michael Costello, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Most online readers of The Spokesman-Review probably have discovered by now that we closed comments on our website beginning Dec. 23 and lasting through Jan. 1. We informed online readers of our decision with a prominent note on our website last weekend, but it’s a decision that is worth further explanation. The primary reason we closed comments is to help preserve the spirit of the season and to give our staffers a break from the time-consuming task of monitoring the comments. The holiday season is one that encourages and embraces thoughtfulness, sharing and family time, experiences that seem in short supply in the course of a year. It is our belief that a break from online commenting is simply a recognition that there are more important things to consider or do at this time of year/Gary Graham, SR. More here.
Question: I consider online comments at Huckleberries to be the cherry on top of the cyber sundae that we serve here. What do you think?
Master falconer David Knutson works with Taima, a Augur Hawk at his home on the West Plains (of Spokane), Dec. 18. Taima, a fixture of the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, leads the team out of the tunnel and onto the field before each home game. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)
You might call David Knutson a walking cliché. First, he turned his movie-inspired boyhood passion into a profession. His success in the latter got him noticed by some high-profile folks west of the Cascades. He pitched an idea a decade ago, and since then, Knutson has put the “hawk” in the Seattle Seahawks. Starting in 2005, Knutson’s wife, Robin, has led the Seahawks onto CenturyLink Field with the release of Taima, an augur hawk, who flies past 12-foot spires of flame, 32 cheerleaders, booming pyrotechnics and the occasional wayward referee to the padded hand of David Knutson/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.
Question: Have you witnessed an entrance by Taima at a Seattle Seahawk game?
The end-of-the-bench Olympics has been a McCarthey Athletic Center tradition since the doors opened. When the home team’s average margin of victory any given season can be 25 points, whether the scout teamers and walk-ons crack the scoring column when the bonfire is down to embers might be the only drama game night can offer. Well, no more victory cigars. Now it’s about need. Ryan Edwards, the big fella Gonzaga pulled out of Montana, had played all of six minutes this season, a nasty bout of tonsillitis complicating the usual callow freshman-itis. But there he was, trundling to check in at the scorer’s table barely four minutes into Saturday evening’s doings against Santa Clara. Not all that much later came Luke Meikle, who had played 10 minutes all month, and newly eligible Angel Nunez, his uniform still starched/John Blanchette, SR. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo: Injured Sam Dower – in street clothes – passed to his Gonzaga Bulldogs teammates during pregame warmups on Saturday)
Question: Do you find this year's Gonzaga Bulldogs to be interesting, in that they aren't an automatic win in most games like the teams of the past, or not?
As a longtime proponent of the freedom of speech for which this nation is justly revered - one who even made a career of exercising that right in daily publications - I am absolutely tickled to welcome so many newfound friends of the First Amendment. And what do I care that they are at the other end of the political spectrum from mine? Freedom always needs as many defenders as it can get. What invited the spasm of devotion to free speech I refer to is reaction to recent declarations from Phil Robertson, member of the Duck Dynasty featured in the television program of the same name. In one mere interview, Robertson proved himself as capable of attracting human critics as he is of luring mallards, mergansers and wigeons with his bird calls/Jim Fisher, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: So what's your take-away from the whole flap involving A&E suspending Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” for his GQ comments & then rescinding the suspension when viewers objected?
For those keeping score at home, a federal judge has allowed a wolf- and coyote-shooting derby to proceed in central Idaho this weekend. The Gonzaga Bulldogs will open another West Coast Conference season with a home game against Santa Clara tonight. And this posted Wild Card will self-destruct in 48 hours (read: the comments thread will go inactive to prevent the trolls from hijacking it). However, the weather's decent as we enjoy the last weekend of 2013 in the Inland Northwest. I'll see you back here at 8 a.m. Monday. Here's your Weekend Wild Card …
After a wedding photo shoot in front of the Salt Lake Temple, groom Evan Call carries his bride Samantha to help keep her dress from getting muddy. “Her feet were freezing too,” said Call as the newlyweds heading back the temple to join their wedding party on Friday in Salt Lake City, Utah. SR photographer Colin Mulvany selected this photo among several that he considers his best of 2013. He was in Salt Lake City at the time to cover Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament. You can see Colin's top photos here.
Huckleberries Online is closing in on 2.4 million page-views for the year, which isn't bad, after Disqus knocked the blog sideways in spring. At that time, I thought the blog would be lucky to post 2.2 million page-views for the year. The interesting fall elections made up for the weeks when the lack of “Recent Comments” drove off 25% to 30% of the daily traffic. The fall included the 2013 municipal elections, which attracted an SR.com blog record 22,335 page-views to Huckleberries. I'm looking forward to the 10th anniversary of Huckleberries in mid-January and another year of exchanging ideas and rim shots with all of you. Here's your TGIF Wild Card …
DFO: I'll be back at Huckleberries HQ Monday & Tuesday.
I've noticed that most media coverage of Red Lobster's woes as Darden Restaurants seeks to divest itself of the ailing chain avoids the elephant in the room: Red Lobster serves bad food. There's maybe an anti-snob thing going on where fancy-pants coastal journalists and activist investors don't want to be seen as looking down on an American casual dining classic. But there's casual dining and then there's Red Lobster, which is actually quite a bit more expensive than a Chili's or an Applebee's. If you're going to charge more money, then it'd be nice to be able to say you have a better product. But an Admiral's Feast is going to cost you more than chicken fajitas, and a lobster dish will cost you more than baby back ribs. And yet rather than being better, the Red Lobster offerings are worse/Matthew Yglesias, Slate. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: I don't know if this generic review of Red Lobster applies to the Coeur d'Alene restaurant. I haven't eaten there in years. I don't know why. I like seafood. How about you? Are you a fan of the local Red Lobster?
Time 2 Vote …
Evan Straske, 11, of Huntington Woods, Mich., takes flight after hitting a mound while sledding down a hill at Martin Road Park in Ferndale, Mich., on Thursday. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Elizabeth Conley)
Thursday Winner — Photoguy, with 6 likes: “In an odd turn of events, as Tony's toes were slowly bitten off by the aggressive fish, fingers grew off of his heels.” You can see Thursday Photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
The National Security Agency's collection of data about most calls made in the U.S. is legal, a federal judge ruled, dismissing a significant court challenge and setting the stage for a bigger legal battle over secret surveillance programs. U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in Manhattan sided with the government in his decision, calling the collection program a vital tool that represents the government's “counter-punch” against al Qaeda's diffuse terror network. The ruling comes less than two weeks after a federal judge in the District of Columbia took on the same issue and concluded in strong language that the program “almost certainly” violates the Constitution/Jennifer Smith & Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal. More here.
Question: Do you agree/disagree with Judge Pauley's decision?
No doubt about it, it can be harder to motivate yourself to work out when the weather outside turns frightful. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still make it happen (writes Jon Bell of Actively Northwest in an article titled, “4 easy ways to burn calories this winter). In fact, some common wintertime activities actually go a long way to burn calories, strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health. Here are just four of many that will help you stay fit this winter — without even knowing it (full article here):
Question: I walk, shovel snow, chop wood & lift weights during the winter. How do you burn calories during this time of the year?
While you were settling down for a long winter's nap, Coeur d'Alene city workers were fixing a broken water line on Sherman Avenue.
A broken one-inch water line on the 1300 block of Sherman Avenue kept city water staffers busy into Christmas Eve as they worked on the problem, which created icy conditions on Sherman Avenue. Water was shut off to an insurance business until permanent repairs could be made on Thursday, said city water superintendent Jim Markley. Due to the slick conditions and excavation necessary to access the broken pipe, part of Sherman Avenue was closed during repairs. “These guys came out on their Christmas holiday to make sure the problem was addressed,” Markley said. “A big thank you to the anonymous citizen who saw the crew working on Christmas Eve and purchased and dropped off coffee for them.” On-duty street crews called to the scene to spread sand also helped with excavation efforts/Keith Erickson, Coeur d'Alene Today.
Idaho Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher is asking supporters to make his challenge to GOP Gov. Butch Otter look like a serious threat come late January. Fulcher, R-Meridian, wrote supporters Friday, saying his year-end Sunshine Report “will be an important indicator of the level of Conservative grassroots support throughout the state for my campaign. By making a donation today, you commit to stand with me as I fight to resist federal control, put Idaho on the right track, and help our economy grow”/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Isn't begging for campaign funding to prove you're a serious statewide candidate somewhat self-defeating?
I guess New Year's resolutions aren't so bad after all. So here are two more, again, personal and professional: First, keep the weight off. Boring, but let's not argue with success. I feel better having lost the pounds, and I don't know, I think I look better, too. Maybe my success will be an inspiration for others looking to make the resolution they need to start a new year, too. Maybe in 2014, I can tackle a marathon. Who knows. Now the professional one: I want to spend more time listening and less time talking. I want to get to know the people around me better. Aren't we all guilty, at some level, of thinking the most beautiful sound is that of our own voice? I have the best job in the whole world, getting to meet new people all over the state and country. I'd like to do a better job hearing what others have to say/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Anyone want to share a 2014 New Year's resolution?
You know the “missed connections” section of Craigslist where people write about fleeting glances, eyes meeting across the room, love-at-first-sight magic? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, most “missed connections” posts are along the lines of, “I saw you at such-and-such place, and now I’m kicking myself for not asking you out.” So, based on tallies of “missed connections,” Walmart is a popular place for Idahoans to pine after strangers. That’s according to an analysis published in last month’s issue of Psychology Today. People in other states preferred McDonald’s, football games, their cars and — confusingly — their own homes. But Idaho was in very good company with several states where Walmart ranked as the “missed connections” hot spot/Audrey Dutton, Retail Rodeo, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: If you were single, where would you look for love?
Camp Chevrolet car salesman Slater Kuykendall brushes off a line of Chevy Cruze cars as snow falls in early November in Spokane. Despite that snowfall, this has been one of the driest winters for the Spokane area, according to weather experts. (SR file photo)
The lack of snow and rain in the second half of 2013 has left the Inland Northwest way behind on accumulated precipitation. The National Weather Service on Thursday posted a chart indicating that Spokane is in its 16th driest half-year on record. Snowfall records in Spokane date to 1889. Forecasters said the 6.5 inches of snow recorded at Spokane International Airport so far this season is 15.6 inches below normal. Spokane would need 38.5 inches of snow for the remainder of the season to reach normal snowfall, the weather service said. The 11.3 inches of precipitation Spokane has received in 2013 is 4.8 inches below normal. However, there is a 30 percent chance of light snow today with a wintry mix of snow or freezing drizzle possible tonight from a weak storm system descending out of Canada/Mike Prager, SR. More here.
Question: Anyone buy a new snowblower this winter?
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E's Duck Dynasty clan who was suspended from his hit reality series on Dec. 18 following some incendiary comments about gay people, won't be put on hiatus after all. The network and the Robertson family announced Friday that Phil will still be part of the series — and since he didn't miss any filming, his temporary suspension will have no effect on the upcoming fifth season/Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter. More here.
Question: What will be the net result of the A&E flipflop?
On Facebook, Dave Chamberlain offers his musings over local politics for the past year:
An interesting year in Politics. The quick rise, of the tea party tactics in the Congress and the major damage it did to the Republican party and will cause the American public to soon relegate this movement into history as it did with the peace and love movement or McCarthyism of the latter 60's. As for the politics in this city (Coeur d'Alene), a Trifecta of sorts over the hard core tea party politics of the far right organizations of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans this year in the elections process. Full post here.
Question: What are the highlights/low lights of the past 12 months in Kootenai County/North Idaho?
New York City artist Neil Freeman is selling for $35 his poster that equalizes the populations of the 50 states as a proposed Electoral College reform. Freeman puts Idaho in a new state of Salt Lake, along with eastern portions of Oregon and Washington, northern portions of Utah and Nevada and western portions of Wyoming and Montana. Freeman’s poster isn’t new — it is dated 2012 — but I just learned of it in the post-Christmas culling of an overfilled email inbox. Each state would have a population of about 6.2 million. (Freeman promises the 22-by-28 poster offers much more detail.) Politically speaking, Freeman’s vision is past a pipe dream. But as a lover of maps, I find the exercise fascinating, particularly the proposed state names/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: I personally think North Idaho should be part of a state of “Columbia” — eastern Washington, North Idaho and western Montana. What do you think of an Idaho that's part of “Salt Lake”?
The New Year's Eve Ball is photographed on the roof of One Times Square in New New York during a media event where several of the Waterford Crystal triangles were installed on the ball on Friday. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
DFO: Mrs. O & I and friends were listening to Ruth Pratt and Tuxedo Junction perform at Spokane's First Night when New Year 2013 arrived.
Question: What were you doing when the the new year arrived for 2013?
I first read James Thurber in high school. Even at that age, I enjoyed the dry wit on display in his stories, especially in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” And I was prepared for the changes that Hollywood would make in adapting that story to the big screen, especially since the first version hadn't been all that successful. I was surprised, however, at how much I did like Ben Stiller's movie/Dan Webster, SR Dually Note. Full review here.
Question: Which movies are must-sees on your holiday/early January list?
It all begins sometime mid-summer. The decorations and lights begin to appear in the stores and you think, oh, please! The intensity builds for months. Once it had been merely weeks but no more. By the time Christmas day actually arrives it's almost anticlimactic. Yet I hate to let it go. Yesterday was as near perfect as a lazy day can get. Hub had kitchen duties though being a magnanimous soul, I did help with all the clean up. In between, however, I got to laze in my chair, listen to Christmas music or watch schmaltzy movies on the tube. No headlines, no real news, not even bad weather in these parts. Nearly perfect. Today I'm dragging my feet. I came out to scan the headlines but wish I hadn't. They didn't miss a beat. More Obamacare problems, more death and destruction and man showing his inhumanity to his fellow man. It just never stops!/Dogwalk Musings. More here.
Question: Are you experiencing Christmas withdrawals, like Dogwalk is — missing that brief season when focus turns from the dire news of the day? Is there any way to extend that period of goodwill to other parts of the calendar year?
On her Facebook wall, Kerri Thoreson posts: “Frosty berries in our yard … don't mind the cold as long as there are blue skies!” I second that emotion.
HucksOnline numbers (for Thursday, Dec. 26): 5511 page-views/3194 unique views
A Northern Hawk Owl eats a rodent it caught on the banks of Paradise Creek in Moscow, Idaho. The owl, which is native to Canada, has been in Moscow for about three weeks. Because the owl is rarely seen so far south, birders from the region have been traveling to Moscow to observe and photograph it. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Geoff Crimmins)
Food is plentiful and the living easy - at least it is these days for a Northern Hawk Owl spotted around Moscow since the beginning of December. These Canadian birds normally don't make their way to this region, so people with an interest in ornithology have been excited about its extended visit. The bird has had its photograph taken so often it might want “copyrights to its image,” joked Ron Force, president of the Palouse Audubon Society. It has been sighted repeatedly on the southern side of the city, near the Eastside Marketplace on South Blaine Street/Terri Harber, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.
Question: Which predatory bird do you favor most?
After a phone hearing Friday morning, a federal judge is considering the fate of a disputed coyote and wolf derby planned for this weekend in central Idaho. In Friday's 9:30 a.m. hearing, an attorney for WildEarth Guardians told U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale she should halt the event because the U.S. Forest Service shirked its own rules by not requiring that derby organizers get a special permit normally required for commercial events. The U.S. Forest Service's federal lawyer countered that hunters would be coming to Salmon this weekend — regardless of whether there was a hunting contest. He told Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale that event foes couldn't demonstrate they'd be irreparably harmed. Dale promised a decision before the derby's start Saturday/Alison Gene Smith, Twin Falls News-Tribune. More here.
Question: Any predictions re: judge's decision?
Longtime Lewiston Tribune reporter David Johnson is finishing a lengthy run of weekly columns, written about the lives of ordinary people who were chosen at random from a phone book. Many of his columns were written in the solitude of the woods while sitting on a stump. (Lewiston Tribune photo: David Johnson)
When newspaper reporter David Johnson walked into the Cavendish Store 36 years ago, he was just looking for a good story. But the enterprising excursion into what Johnson fondly calls “the hinterlands” yielded the key to an idea that had been germinating in his curious mind for some time.“I met Leo Koch, the owner,” Johnson said of the day he got the spark that would eventually become Everyone Has a Story, the Lewiston Tribune column that ends its 30-year run today. “During our conversation, he said something like, 'Cavendish used to have a lot more oomph, a lot more people around. Now we're hardly listed in the phone book'”/Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
DFO: I was working on the news desk of the Lewiston Tribune on the day that DJ (Johnson) filed his first “Everyone Has A Story” column. I remember wondering at the time how long such a novel column would last. Now I have my answer — 30 years. David Johnson is one of those wonderful free spirits in journalism that has blessed my life over the course of 44 years in newspapering.
Gonzaga's Sam Dower, left, hangs from the rim after dunking the ball above South Alabama's Dionte Ferguson (24) and Augustine Rubit, second from right, on Dec. 14 in Seattle. Dower is recovering from a back injury suffered in a fall against Kansas State last Saturday. See story below. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Question: Have you returned a gift for something you wanted more?
A recall drive against Lake Pend Oreille School Board Chairman Steve Youngdahl has been authorized by the county. According to Bonner County Clerk Ann Dutson-Sater, recall supporters successfully collected the requisite number of signatures to set the process in motion. County clerk employees confirmed Tuesday a total 107 signatures as belonging to registered voters within school district Zone 5, a figure slightly in excess of the 104 signature requirement. With all paperwork filed and ready to go, the county’s next step is to send out letters — likely mailed Tuesday — to the school district, recall petitioners and Youngdahl. Upon receipt of the letter, Youngdahl has five days to file for resignation. If he declines to do so, the school district must order a special election for March 11 to let Zone 5 voters decide the issue/Cameron Rasmusson, Bonner County Bee. More here.
In his year-end Cheers & Jeers column, Opinion Editor Marty Trillhaase also gave a party jeer to State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna:
The man responsible for 2012's biggest political debacle - the repeal of his heavy-handed, school overhaul bills aimed at steering tax dollars into the coffers of Luna's cronies - was up to his old tricks. Luna took $2.25 million in money state lawmakers assigned for one-time school technology projects and parlayed it into a five-year plan to install Wi-Fi in Idaho high schools - an obligation that could extend into 15 years and $33.75 million. Not only did this catch lawmakers flatfooted, but Luna's shop steered the contract toward Nashville, Tenn.-based Education Networks of America - over two Idaho firms, Ednetics of Post Falls and Tek-Hut Inc., of Twin Falls.ENA contributed $6,000 to Luna's campaign. Garry Lough, Idaho director of customer services for ENA, was the Idaho GOP executive director for two years and then worked as Luna's deputy of legislative affairs. Full Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Anyone think that Luna can be re-elected this year?
In his year-end Cheers & Jeers column, Opinion Editor Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune gives his leading jeer to Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho:
What a year this Idaho politician has had. He started by voting against a must-pass bill to back away from the fiscal cliff. At about the same time, Labrador got involved in a botched coup against House Speaker John Boehner. Roll Call listed Labrador, along with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., as the ringleaders. When seatmate Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey that Labrador had torpedoed his credibility, the would-be insurgent blasted Simpson as a “bully” and “an old-school legislator that went to Washington, D.C., to compromise. … That's how you get to a $1 trillion deficit, by just tinkering around the edges.” As the fall government shutdown loomed, Labrador's fingerprints were all over it. Full Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Do you think Congressman Raul Labrador has had a good/bad year?
A former Kootenai County deputy prosecutor who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after he was fired in March 2011 has reached a settlement and has been rehired. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports the county and Kenneth Stone reached a confidential monetary settlement, the lawsuit was dismissed and Stone was returned to his position with full salary and benefits. Stone, who is 70, claimed in the lawsuit that he was pushed out of his job because of his age and for refusing to take a psychosexual examination after another deputy prosecutor accused him of “unwanted shoulder touching.” Stone argued such evaluations are reserved for “heinous sexual predators”/SR. More here.
Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, who had been considering running for Idaho Secretary of State - in part because there's currently no one from North Idaho among the state's top elected officials - has decided against a run. Here's his statement:
After careful consideration over the holidays with my wife and family, I have decided against seeking the office of Secretary of State next year. My passion for serving the State of Idaho is put to best use right now through focusing on my home district and on the issues important to my home, North Idaho. I am honored by the many people who urged me to run, and those who have reached out over the last few weeks with their advice and support. Tara and I want to thank you all. We hope you had a Merry Christmas and wish you a happy holiday season.
H/T: Eye on Boise.
Question: I think this is a good move. Malek's chance at secretary of state was long at best. OTOH, he has the makings of a good Idaho representative. More of his kind are needed in Kootenai County. Thoughts?
I trust that you survived another Christmas holiday without too much sacrificed to the battle of the bulge. Seems as though many — most? — of you are still on a Christmas hiatus. I'm here for the few who aren't. Finding fodder isn't easy at this time of the year. But I'll fill the space some how. For those of you still out there (who aren't exchanging gifts), here's your Wild Card …
Bonner County commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday calling on the governor and state lawmakers enhance protections for the right to bear arms. The resolution is patterned after a resolution the Idaho Republican Party is urging all 44 counties to adopt, but omits language that would direct Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler to prevent federal action that would violate the Second Amendment. Commissioners Cary Kelly, Glen Bailey and Mike Nielsen count themselves as strong supporters of the Second Amendment. “I definitely endorse the Second Amendment,” said Bailey/Keith Kinniard, Bonner County Bee. More here.
Question: Is this the type of resolution that Kootenai County should OK?
The fate of a disputed coyote and wolf derby planned for this weekend in central Idaho will be debated Friday in federal court. U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale scheduled a telephone hearing in an environmental group’s lawsuit for 9:30 a.m. WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups contend the U.S. Forest Service ignored federal laws by allowing the competition to proceed this Saturday and Sunday near Salmon without requiring organizers to first secure a special-use permit for a commercial event on public land. But the U.S. Forest Service says its rules don’t require a special permit/Associated Press, KTVB. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Do you support the Idaho wolf/coyote derby planned for this weekend?
A man is treated after he was bit by a palometa, a type of piranha, while wading in the Parana River in Rosario, Argentina, Wednesday. Lifeguards director Federico Cornier said Thursday that thousands of bathers were cooling off from 100 degree temperatures in the Parana River on Wednesday when bathers suddenly came to them complaining of bite marks on their hands and feet. You write the cutline. Story here. (AP Photo/La Capital, Silvina Salinas)
Tuesday Winner — Phaedrus, with one like (we had only one entry — and one vote, mine — but it was a good one): President Obama listens to yet another tale from someone who couldn't log on to healthcare.gov. Michele is apparently tired of hearing the same old story and Malia thinks, “Shoot me now.” You can see Tuesday Photo here.
As wildlife lovers and their families flock to Lake Coeur d'Alene Eagle Watch activities to view congregating bald eagles in Wolf Lodge Bay this week, let's not forget that very few if any bald eagles would be gracing our Inland Northwest skies if it weren't for the foresight of the lawmakers who passed Endangered Species Act in 1973/Rich Landers, SR Outdoors. More here.
Question: Are you a fan/opponent of the Endangered Species Act?
Question: Anyone outside of Stickman and Walkabout hiking Tubbs Hill this December?
Today has been an “I want to nap” kind of day. Well, except for that brief moment of terror when the elevator at work abruptly stopped between floors and bounced around disturbingly before finally continuing on its way — Nina Lette Culver, SR, via Facebook.
Question: What kind of a day has it been for you?
Skiers and a lone snowboarder ride a lift at Durango Mountain Resort in Durango, Colo. Snowboarding's popularity has fallen during the last five years, while skiing grew, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Snowboarders fell to 30 percent of resort visitors in 2011-12, down from a peak of 33 percent in 2009-10. Story here. (AP Photo/The Durango Herald, Steve Lewis)
Question: Snowboard or skis?
The Idaho Conservation League released an economic analysis done by a Wilderness Society economist with a Ph.D. from Northern Arizona University's School of Forestry that said the cumulative cost of Idaho taking control over most of the federal government's lands within its borders would be $2 billion over 20 years, while the analysis done by the state Department of Lands earlier this year said the state could reap between $51 million and $75 million annually in net revenue from managing those lands/Rich Landers, Outdoors. Full Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley) report here.
Question: Which side do you believe?
More than half of Idahoans live wirelessly, preferring cellular phones to landlines, the Washington Post reports. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Idaho is the only state where a majority of residents use only cellular phones—52.3 percent, according to the study. States that also scored high in terms of the percentage of residents exclusively using cellular phones include Arkansas, Mississippi and Utah, which join Idaho in having 45 percent or more of residents relying on cell service. They're also some of the states with the lowest per capita income/Harrison Berry, Boise Weekly. More here.
Question: Am I the only one in Huckleberry Land that still has land lines (as well as cell phones)?
Amanda Lowrey of Sandpoint has her sights set on engaging female hunters. (Inlander photo: Mike McCall)
Amanda Lowrey bends at the waist, and takes her next steps carefully as she watches a herd of red sheep grazing lazily in the distance. Her face is calm but stern under the brim of her cap, earrings dancing as she moves, eyes focused on her prey. Slow and steady, she drops to her knee, raises her rifle and peers down the scope. “I'm gonna take the shot,” she whispers to two onlookers, who peer at the animals through binoculars. Lowrey pauses, pulls the trigger and braces herself for the gun to kick back into her shoulder. In the distance, the sheep drops in an instant. The echo of her gun sends the herd scattering. “Hell of a shot, young lady!” one of her companions, the host of Extreme Huntress, calls out as Lowrey jumps up and down, her hat flying off her head/Leah Sottile, Inlander. More here.
Question: Are there women in your family who hunt?
In this Nov. 22 photo by Jesse Tinsley/SR, Coeur d'Alene's Austin Chadderdon (54) celebrates a seconds-left-to-play sack on Highland quarterback Tommy Jewell (1) in the state 5A title game at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow. The Vikings won the 5A Idaho High School Football championship 31-28. Photographer Tinsley picked his favorite 2013 photos. You can see them here.
The National Weather Service today said the lack of snowfall this season is likely to continue. Travel conditions will be good during daylight hours today under partly sunny skies and a high of 34. However, there is a 30 percent chance of snow and possibly freezing drizzle on Friday from a weak weather system crossing the region. Highs should get to the mid-30s with lows in the 20s. Freezing drizzle was reportedly occurring to the north of Spokane this morning. Slippery conditions were reported at Diamond Lake along U.S. Highway 2 in Pend Oreille County/Mike Prager, SR. More here.
Question: Do you mind the unseasonably good weather of late?
Four couples challenging Idaho's gay marriage ban this week asked a federal judge to block the state from intervening in their lawsuit, arguing such a move would unnecessarily add to their workload and complicate the case. They first filed their complaint in U.S. District Court in November against Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich, contending Idaho's 2006 voter-backed law banning gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection and due process guarantees. Deborah Ferguson, the couples' Boise-based lawyer, contends allowing Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to intervene on behalf of the state isn't necessary, since Otter is already an adequate representative of the state's interests/Associated Press. More here.
… I encountered a lot more trash than usual along the waterfront today. The litterbugs, unfortunately, didn't take a holiday. Of interest, I found an uneaten corn dog on a stick and a 3/4s full can of Steel Berry Bk, 8% alcohol. I guess the purchasers had second thoughts. Alson, there was a debit card receipt for a purchase of $6.49 worth of Krisp Kremes from the Spokane found. And two discarded, empty packs of Marlboros. Either Marlboros are most popular among smokers. Or Marlboro smokers are the biggest litterers. In other news, construction crews are taking advantage of the unseasonable good weather to work on the sewer expansion project. As far as people go, 3 photographers snapping photos with the lake as a back drop; a couple fed the ducks; 2 joggers; several couples, including two walking dogs. Great time of the year to enjoy an uncrowded waterfront.
This is a reminder that The Spokesman-Review has temporarily suspended online commenting on news articles during the holiday season. It’s being done both as an experiment and to help preserve the spirit of the season. Blogs remain open for commenting. Additionally, the newspaper still welcomes letters to the editor from readers wishing to express their thoughts on current events and issues of regional interest. Guidelines and instructions for submitting letters to the editor can be found on the opinion page each day or online at http://www.spokesman.com/letters/. General online commenting will be suspended through Jan. 1/SR.
Question: Aren't you glad that comments were suspended at Huckleberries Online (and Disqus “Recent Comments” are working again)?
This one's for blog partner Cindy, blog sub extraordinaire, who helps me keep the U.S.S. Huckleberries afloat during my few-and-far-between vacations ;-) On his Facebook wall, Robin Loznak, of Kellogg, Ore., says of this photograph: “It's a wrap. The cat's in the bag.” You can see more of Robin's outdoors and critter photography here.
Question: Are you disappointed that we didn't have a White Christmas?
On this eve of Christmas while pondering the latest political controversy caused by the left wing's intolerance of a God loving American's public expression of his 1st Amendment rights, instead of becoming angry I actually feel sorry for them. Traditional valued Americans love holidays starting with Easter, a time for us to acknowledge that Jesus died for us that we may have everlasting life. The left prefers to focus it on a prolific bunny. Then we have the 4th of July, a time we celebrate our nations birth through the defeat of the British and it's tyrannical centralized government by average citizen soldiers and most agree, divine providence. The left mostly ignores the 4th as it reminds them of the Tea Party/Jeff Tyler, Kootenai County Reagan Republicans newsletter. More here.
The old-time photographer at Higgens Point continues his eternal pursuit of the perfect photograph of Lake Coeur d'Alene. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
A 12-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the lower leg Wednesday evening on East Jacobs Road north of Spokane Valley. Spokane County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of an accidental shooting around 8:45 p.m. The boy and his grandfather were roughhousing together in the living room of a home on the 14000 block of East Jacobs Road when a handgun in a concealed holster on the grandfather’s belt went off, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The bullet went through the boy’s right calf. The injury wasn’t life-threatening, the Sheriff’s Office said, and the boy was taken to a local hospital for treatment/SR. More SR briefs here.
Question: You're rough-housing with a grandchild while packing concealed heat? Seriously?
It is that time of year when it seems everyone produces a Top 10 List of something – the best new restaurants, the hottest celebrities, or the best books. I did something this year that I have never done before. I kept track of everything I read. The list is eclectic, heavy on non-fiction, and while it is a long list I hope next year to make it even longer. If you love books, as I do, you may consider your own list for 2014. It’s a great way to recall that book and author you read in January and can’t quite recall in November. So here goes – my own Top Ten best reads of 2013. The best new book I read this year was 1913 – The Search for the World Before the Great War by an British writer Charles Emmerson who takes us on a 23 city tour of the world on the brink of the war that shaped the 20th Century/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Post. More here.
Question: Which book is the best one you read this year?
Christian Starr feeds the ranch’s oldest bison, Likeable, right, who is mostly blind. Thunder, center, has taken the older bison’s place as the dominant bull. L3 Ranches are creating a sustainable supply of popular game meat. Story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)
It was 50 years ago today, Kabir Bhatia from in Cleveland reminds our Newscast Desk, that Capitol Records released the Beatles' I Want To Hold Your Hand in the U.S. The fab four, as he says, had “sold millions of records in Europe throughout 1963, but had flopped in the U.S. after several releases on small, regional labels.” Then came I Want To Hold Your Hand. Capitol, , had planned to release the song in early 1964. But “, a Washington, D.C., deejay began playing a U.K. import of I Want to Hold Your Hand on WWDC radio. Faced with unprecedented public demand, Capitol released the single ahead of schedule in late December”/Mark Memmott, NPR. More here.
Question: Your favorite, all-time Beatle's song?
In the annals of Hval holiday lore, one story is guaranteed to get trotted out each Christmas. My children call it, “Mom’s Christmas Tree Meltdown.” I call it, “Too Many Children, Not Enough Tree,” but whatever its title, the tale marks an embarrassingly Grinch-like episode in my holiday history. My family finds the story hilarious. I do not. The exact year of this event is unclear, but I think our sons were 4, 6 and 8 because they all remember it. Thankfully, Sam was not yet born, so he didn’t witness the debacle. When our boys were little, our tree-trimming tradition was that they decorated the bottom and backside of the tree. In my opinion this strategy was sheer genius. It allowed the boys to participate and hang their nonbreakable ornaments, while I got to create my imagined Martha Stewart-like perfection on top/Cindy Hval, SR Front Porch. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Are you a perfectionist?
So what stories do you think were the biggest ones of Huckleberries Online in 2013? I have a couple of suggestions for a starting point. But you should feel free to nominate your own:
Democrats have lost their advantage and Republicans now have a slight edge in the battle for control of Congress, according to a new national poll. A CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday also indicates that President Barack Obama may be dragging down Democratic congressional candidates, and that the 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to be a low-turnout event, with only three in 10 registered voters extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year. Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates/Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Ticker. More here.
Question: Will Obamacare be the death of congressional Democrats?
Two-thirds of people in the United States say the current Congress is the worst of their lifetime, a new poll by CNN/ORC International found. People of all demographics — men, women, rich, poor, young and old — feel that way, according to CNN polling director Keating Holland. “Older Americans — who have lived through more congresses — hold more negative views of the 113th Congress than younger Americans,” he said Thursday. “Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree that this has been the worst session of Congress in their lifetimes.” More than 70 percent of people surveyed say this Congress has so far done nothing to address the country’s problems; one in four people disagreed/Rebecca Shabad, The Hill. More here.
Question: Do you consider the current Congress to be the worst of your lifetime?
The New York Times this week invited online readers to take a quiz meant to point out differences in the way people residing in different sections of the United States pronounce certain words or use different words to say the same thing. The quiz was based on a 2003 survey conducted by researchers at Harvard University studying regional dialects. One of the questions, for instance asked people whether they refer to carbonated soft drinks as “pop,” “soda,” “coke” or “soft drink.” Of the 82 people surveyed from Idaho, a small sample to be sure, 60 percent reported using “pop,” followed by 31 percent who say “soda,” 4 percent who use “soft drink” and 3 percent who say “coke,” which could refer to a product of the Coca Cola company or another pop. Boise resident Calvin Chelellakl Marshall said he's used both “pop” and “soda”/John Sowell, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you speak with an accent of any sort?
Pastor Darrin Lee poses at his Cornerstone Baptist Church in Farmington Hills, Mich., Tuesday. Some pastors are eager to update the age-old practice of luring in worshippers with messages on marquees out front of the church. Long the place for Gospel quotes and Christmas Eve sermon hours, now the signs are often clever, pithy or funny. But pastors are finding that joking about religion is a serious business, and it's easy to cross a line. Story here. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Question: Do you like/dislike church marquee signs that offer clever, pithy or even funny comments?
The West Coast Conference weekly release dutifully trumpets its non-conference winning percentage. It was nearly 69 percent just over a week ago but has slipped to 67. All 10 WCC programs sport winning records. Saint Mary’s was one of the nation’s last 10 unbeatens before falling to South Carolina on Sunday. Four WCC teams were in the RPI top 25 prior to a rough pre-Christmas patch. BYU (16), Pacific (35) and Gonzaga (36) remain in the top 40. Saint Mary’s lost three straight in Hawaii and dropped to 49. Early results indicate the lower half of the league is more competitive/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (AP file photo: Gonzaga’s, led by guard Gary Bell, Jr. (center), has won or shared 12 of the last 13 West Coast Conference championships)
Question: Will Gonzaga men win another West Coast Conference title this year?
Twas the night after Christmas
When all through the blog.
Not a person was posting,
Not even Ol' Bob.
The keyboards were hung
By the laptops with care,
In hopes that St. DFO
Soon would be there.
JohnA's 'Night Before Christmas' continues here
I'm pulling the plug early today. I appreciates those of you who hung out with me on this holiday. I'll be back Thursday and Friday to round out Christmas week. I wish you a Merry Christmas with your family & I'll be back next week to wish you a Happy New Year. Now, I'll re-post the Wild Card (which has a 48-hour shelf life) that'll get us to Thursday morning …
On his Facebook wall, Thom George posts from Shanghai: “Started a new Christmas Eve tradition of buying eyeglasses (before the health insurance benefit for the year expires) and then ate a wonderful meal of short ribs, spicy beef, spring rolls, green beans in shrimp paste, noodles, fried rice and chicken in green onions at Lost Heaven. We capped the night by making my mother very happy and attending mass at St Peter's Catholic Church. The stockings are hung by the tv with care and soon it will be time to turn out the lights. Merry Christmas! To my non-believing friends, Merry Christmas to you, too!
Question: Have you started any new Christmas family traditions in last five years?
On Dec. 21, 2005, the Coeur d'Alene Press published a column by Kerri Rankin Thoreson, written two months after the death of her father, former Kootenai County commissioner Ron Rankin. She was hurting, as many people are this Christmas Eve:
“My father was Santa Claus, the only Santa I knew for my whole entire life. This year would be my first Christmas without him and I couldn’t bear the thought. Every song and jingle bell and twinkling Christmas light broke my heart a little bit. It had been only two months since he’d passed away and I asked my childrens’ and grandchildrens’ understanding that I just wanted to spend the holiday without family or fanfare. I urged them to stay at home… making and celebrating new traditions. My husband and I would spend a quiet Christmas at a lodge in Montana, away from everything familiar and sad.” Full column here.
A flock of Canada geese fly past Rachel Rowley, Jenni Niemann and Amy Gates as they participate in a paddle board yoga class, July 18, 2013 in Lake Coeur d'Alene. SR photographer Dan Pelle included this shot among his best photos of the 2013. You can see all those photos here.
Did you know you could win two movie tickets or a $50 gift card to the Davenport Hotel simply by entering our weekly interactive quiz? All entrants go into a drawing for the movie tickets, and the overall champ takes the gift card. Give it your best shot, and you'll be in the running. You can take the SR News Quiz here.
On the Coeur d'Alene Police Department Facebook wall: “Some of our local businesses and citizens are dropping off goodies for our police personnel who will be on-duty through the holidays and away from their families. We are very grateful for the kindness, and can we assure you between our officers and our civilian support staff we will eat all of it! The fellas don't let much go to waste around here. Merry Christmas to all from the Coeur d'Alene Police Department.”
Question: What treat would you make for the local police department?
Every year in Idaho, the Legislature reviews various proposed rules submitted by state agencies and departments to determine if they are appropriate and consistent with state statute and legislative intent. One such rule change proposed by the Idaho Transportation Department would add new regulations to the “Rules Governing Safety Rest Areas” (39.03.50). Among other changes, the proposal would prohibit “Begging, panhandling, hitchhiking and asking for or accepting donations unless specifically authorized by the Idaho Transportation Department.” It would also prohibit the “offering of any service for … monetary gain”/Parrish Miller, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: Should ITD be allowed to ban begging, panhandling & hitchhiking from state rest areas?
For Lara Mueller, it kicks in at the same time every week, like clockwork. “Sunday just has this sad feeling to it, after about 5 p.m.,” said the St. Louis Park, Minn., resident. “There is a sort of umbrella hanging over the evening.” She tries to buoy herself, buying a few “goodies” at the grocery store, making plans for midweek. Still, every Sunday evening, when she thinks about “the stress of the week, the busyness of the week,” she feels her mood descend. What Mueller suffers from isn’t debilitating or particularly new. Austrian psychotherapist Viktor Frankl coined the phrase “Sunday night blues” in 1946. But it is real, and surprisingly widespread – affecting schoolkids, office workers, even recent retirees/Bill Ward, McClatchy-Tribune. More here. (AP file illustration)
Question: Do you suffer the Sunday Night Blues regularly?
Wyman Duggan, left, and Joe Schorno look through one of the lighted Christmas decorations that line Interstate 90 from just west of Moses Lake to near George, Wash., on Wednesday. The men work for agriculture supplier Quincy Farm Chemicals, which maintains and puts up Christmas decorations along the freeway. The displays are powered by outlets built into center-pivot irrigation lines. (SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)
The stretch of interstate between Moses Lake and George can be a dark and empty place for night travelers most of the time. Not so between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. For years, holiday motorists headed over the river and through the mountains between Spokane and Seattle have been treated to an array of some 20 flashing light displays that seem to appear magically out of the plowed fields just beyond the frontage roads. Frosty the Snowman waves. Penguins slide down a hill. A locomotive pulls cars. A race car flashes. A man dodges a snowball. Many travelers zoom by just grateful for a break in the landscape that diverts young passengers from demanding “When are we going to be there?” But some might wonder about the story behind the annual Country Christmas display. It’s a story in two chapters/Jim Camden, SR. More here.
Question: Have you seen this display?
Regulators authorize 3-cent increase in first-class stamps to 49 cents effective Jan. 26/Associated Press.
Question: How much do you rely on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your mail and packets?
Another way I almost died: I was shopping for hand lotion for grandma, and while smelling samples, I accidentally squirted some up my nose — Melissa Davlin.
Question: Have you incurred any Christmas shopping injuries this year?
It will be a merrier Christmas for many local families, thanks in part to Coeur d’Alene firefighters who donated their time over the past several evenings to spread cheer and collect donations during the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department’s annual “Santa in a Big Red Fire Engine” event, which concluded Monday night. Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Lauper said 2,075 pounds of food was collected to share with the local food bank—a record for the annual event. Firefighters, volunteering their time, also accepted $400 in donations, collected many toys for the Toys for Tots program, and passed out 1,500 candy canes. “It was amazing,” said Cd’A Fire Chief Kenny Gabriel. “The amount of community support was huge and I can’t count the number of smiles and ‘thank yous’ our folks received.” The Firefighter Santa effort is made possible entirely by local firefighters who donate their time to give back to the community. There are no taxpayer dollars involved, Chief Gabriel said. “The amount of community support was overwhelming.” The chief also thanked the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, which provided an escort for Santa’s “sleigh”/Keith Erickson, Coeur d'Alene Today. (SR file photo: Jesse Tinsley)
Question: Did you donate to the annual 'Santa in a Big Red Fire Engine' event this year?
Ellen Travolta Bannon and Jack Bannon explain how they came to Coeur d'Alene and joined Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre. Did you know that Jack Bannon once played a character of the “Beverly Hillbillies,” named Bolt Upright? This bit of trivia comes from Paul Turner's blog, The Slice.
Question: Are you fans of Ellen Travolta & Jack Bannon?
A 27-year-old felon who has been in and out of state custody since age 14 is now facing eight years in Montana State Prison for violating terms of his release and six months in the county jail for fracturing his girlfriend’s face in three places. Pacer Anthony Ferguson, pictured, appeared in Yellowstone County District Court twice on Monday. He appeared first before District Judge G. Todd Baugh for sentencing on a recent misdemeanor assault conviction for punching his girlfriend. Baugh gave Ferguson the maximum allowed sentence of six months in the county jail, with credit for seven days served. He also ordered Ferguson to write “boys do not hit girls” 5,000 times. He told Ferguson to number the list, sign it and mail it to him by May 23. Ferguson also has to pay more than $3,800 in restitution for his victim’s medical bills/Billings Gazette. More here. (Courtesy photo)
Question: Do you think the unorthodox addition to this jerk's sentence will have any impact?
At Right Argument, blogger Michael Haugen focuses on the recent hubbubs involving Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” and PR executive Justin Sacco:
It might well be me (I am younger so forgive any youthful ignorance–and correct if necessary), but does it seem that the stakes of speaking one’s two cents have evolved over the years? That we’ve perhaps traded thick skin for brittle eggshells? It feels like it. I get the since in absorbing commentary on days departed that folks then were more likely to confront opposing opinions or creeds with equally vociferous dissent, rather than mere offense. Dissent is the desired quality over offense, as at least dissent stands the chance of advancing a discussion towards a conclusion (it nary matters which conclusion). Offense, however, spells the end of the talk as the aggrieved party is now focused not on the merits of the point of contention, but how it makes them feel. Many an argument has died on that alter of political correctness.
On The Slice blog, Paul Turner posts this comic front page of Batman looking at a yearbook mention of his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who is designated as “most likely to succeed as a detective.” (illustration: comicsalliance.com)
HucksOnline numbers (for Monday, Dec. 23): 6591 page-views/3747 unique views
Question: Do you remember the classmate who was designated as “most likely to succeed” in your senior class. Did he? Did she?
I asked the holiday poll question based on my own experience. I grew up in a Catholic home that opened its gifts on Christmas Eve. First, my parents would pack all six of us kids up in whatever car they were driving at the time — all 8 of us fit in it. And then we'd attend midnight service at the Catholic Church in my old home town, a church where my aunt and uncle were among the first to marry during the World War I era. We kids could hardly contain ourselves through the Mass. We knew what awaited at home. Then, we'd head home and open our gifts, with only the “stocking gift” remaining to be open on Christmas morning. However, Mrs. O had the tradition of opening the gifts on Christmas morning. We alternated at first. But eventually she won out. (Of course.) Now, we open our gifts Christmas morning. It doesn't seem as enchanting. But there's give and take in a marriage. That's one of my gives. How about you?
Question: Did you have any gift-opening conflicts when you married?
Newborn baby Dallas Soffel is shown in her Christmas stocking at Redlands Community Hospital in Redlands, Calif. Thursday. Redlands Community Hospital has had a program for many years in which babies born in December are sent home in a Christmas stocking. The stockings are made by volunteers in the community. (AP Photo/The Press-Enterprise, Kurt Miller)
Idaho Sen. Jim Risch called today on Americans to count their blessing over the holidays and remember the brave and dedicated men and women in the military who keep our nation free. Risch's remarks were made in the weekly, national Republican address. “As we reach for one of those gifts under the tree and untie a bow, I encourage all of us to remember the bountiful and most prized gifts we enjoy—the gifts of freedom and worship,” Risch said. “Even though we have problems in our country, this is the time of year to look at all the good things and all the blessings that we have”/Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Are you merry or heavy-hearted as Christmas approaches?
Fifteen Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flights were canceled Sunday and at least nine were canceled Monday due to crews that were too sick to fly, an airline official told KGW. “Cold and flu season has hit a lot of [crews] in the last day and a half – particularly Horizon Air crews,” said an Alaska Airlines spokeswoman. “There are a high number of pilots and attendants too sick to fly.” Alaska Airlines was asking crews to work on their days off and switching flights to bigger planes. But the canceled flights meant that Alaska had to give refunds to around 200 travelers who were not able to get to their intended destinations/Sara Roth, KGW. More here.
Question: Have you ever been on a flight that was canceled?
In the Coeur d'Alene Press, Rob Stratton tells of Christmas 2005, which became his best and worst Christmas ever:
A few years ago I was driving from Seattle to our home in Rathdrum. I was somewhere near Ellensburg listening to a Wenatchee radio station. They were doing a special where they would have listeners call in to relate their best or worst Christmas. I knew, without question, that my best and worst Christmas were one and the same. Unfortunately, I was living in the moment and wasn't ready to tell my story to the world. Recently, I found myself reliving that moment, just as I often relive many moments from that fateful winter. I realized that it was time to share my Christmas tale. The night of Dec. 6, 2005, was particularly cold, below zero. Rest of the story here.
Question: Do you remember your worst Christmas?
Miss Idaho Sarah Downs, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Idaho Potato mascot Spuddy Buddy pose for a photograph before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl NCAA college football game between Buffalo and San Diego State in Boise on Saturday. San Diego State won 49-24. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
J.J. White belts out a karaoke tune at Studio K. (Inlander photo: Steven Schlange)
It's a Friday night, and people are getting drunk. The bar is producing rounds of shots in the dozens. Every table is packed. It's the kind of night when big groups of friends grab each other by the shoulders when the speakers emit their favorite songs, sloppily yelling the lyrics as their beers slosh to the floor. Most nights, groups of friends come here — a working class South Hill bar called Studio K — to get liquored up enough to belt out Journey and Dixie Chicks and Bon Jovi in the karaoke room and not care what anyone else thinks. Tonight, a crowd of about 15 people huddle around two microphones and shout the B-52s' “Love Shack” horribly. But nobody's really listening. Everyone's just worried that their name will be called next. So no one seems to notice when the cocktail waitress steps up to the microphone/Leah Sottile, Inlander. More here.
Question: The Inlander article goes on to say how the bar room becomes transfixed when J.J. White begins singing. Do you know someone with a surprisingly good singing voice?
President Barack Obama, looks to a yawning first lady Michelle Obama as Sasha Obama puts her head down during the final minutes of the Oregon State University versus University of Akron college basketball game at the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Sunday. Michell Obama's bother, Craig Robinson, is coach of Oregon State. The first family is in Hawaii for their annual holiday vacation. Akron won 83-71. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Monday Winner (tie, with 7 likes apiece) — Cindy: Unfortunately, on Sunday the Sea Gals kicking was far better than Hauschka's, and — Marc Stewart: Shortly after this photograph was taken, Santa Claus used his north pole magic to make Seahawks' kicker Stephen Hauschka miss a critical field goal. Santa is believed to be part of a vast NFL conspiracy to keep Seattle out of the Super Bowl this year. Santa reportedly said, “Those cheerleaders put me over the edge. They were wearing blue Santa outfits, which are not approved by me or the league. Sorry Seahawk fans, you're getting coal this Christmas.” You can see Monday Photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
A Facebook Friend posts:
Christmas Eve! After 4 days in bed, I think I'm recovering. Another time I want to kick myself for not wearing a mask while flying. A friend said she puts vaseline in her nose when she flies and that avoids germs. Yuk! but better than the crud I've had the last 4 days.
Question: Have you ever gotten sick from a bug that you figured you caught during a flight?
Question: Are you frazzled as Christmas approaches?
A Facebook Friend provides his “in depth” review of “Hobbit II):
My “in depth” Hobbit II review: As a movie about some dwarves and a hobbit and some elves, it was pretty darn good 4/5 stars. As “The Hobbit”, it was pretty worthless except for Smaug and the Mirkwood Spiders. I take that back, the first parts of Smaug and the Mirkwood spiders. I think about 328 orcs were killed and an elf fell in love with a dwarf. About it. 1/5 stars.
Question: How many stars would you give Hobbit II?
The grieving woman on the radio said the ghosts are everywhere in her small town of Newtown, Conn. The town has 26,000 people. That means almost everyone in Newtown knows several of the families who lost someone to an addled gunman a year ago. We almost all see familiar ghosts from time to time, whether that involves the tragic loss of a wee one or the exit of someone who gently expires of old age after a long, happy life. While I am not superstitious enough to believe in classic, actual Hollywood ghosts, from time to time I do see missing friends and family members. Most of us, lost in thought at the grocery store or the shopping mall, come back in focus from our daydreams and there she is. Or there he is. The most frequent such “ghost” in my life has been my mother, especially in the first year or two after she hit the road to higher places/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Do you occasionally “see” a missing loved one?
Idaho remains a small enough, young enough state that its people remain on a first-name basis with their leaders. It's not Gov. Otter. It's Butch. It's not Sen. Crapo. It's Mike. It's not former Gov. Andrus. It's Cece.So it was with a woman generations of Idahoans knew simply as Bethine. Bethine Church, an Idaho political icon, died Saturday at her Boise home. She was 90 years old. She left behind a legacy that included a two-decade campaign to protect one of Idaho's jewels, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, from commercial encroachment and the development of the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University, established in her late husband's honor/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (AP file photo of Bethine Church in 2004)
Question: Did you ever meet Bethine Church?
The bare bones facts are simple and straightforward. Doug Johnson and Teresa, his wife of 35 years, have taken up the ambitious hobby of restoring and modernizing vintage travel trailers. In fact, the Johnsons’ hobby is as much about evoking smiles as anything. I started grinning like a fool the moment I laid eyes on the couple’s current cutie: a baby-blue and white-striped 1956 Aloha whose curvy shape lives up to the “canned ham” nickname that trailers of this era are known by/Doug Clark, SR. More here. (Colin Mulvany SR photo: Doug Jensen, who recently retired from Central Pre-Mix, sits in his 1956 Aloha travel trailer he restored)
Question: Have you ever tried your hand at restoring vintage things?
Imbued with a commitment to real-world reader service, photographer Kathy Plonka and I sallied forth from the Review Tower late Monday morning on a mission to help holiday season procrastinators. Yes, it was time for a little man-on-the-street journalism. And who better to ask for last-minute gift ideas than the American people? Or, at least, a few shoppers we dragooned in downtown Spokane. Here is a full and faithful narrative of our adventure. “I’m the totally wrong person to ask,” said the first person we approached, a pleasant sixtyish woman walking north on Lincoln Street. “My husband and I are very low-key. We don’t celebrate much.” She didn’t want to give me her name. So, with that, we were underway/Paul Turner, SR. More here.
Question: Is there anyone out there still buying gifts today?
Two days until Christmas, nine until New Year's Day, and a few days beyond that until a new mayors and council members are sworn in at Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls — and the mischief begins again in the Idaho Legislature. A new year means a new election season begins in our seemingly never-ending political campaigns in Kootenai County. With that happy thought, I'll post today's Wild Card …
Question: What advice would you give my friend?
From Fort Boise: NYT Sunday Review has a little quiz you might like, about what the way you speak says about where you're from. The last time I had a go at this, it came out murkier, most likely because my answers straddled my youthful and my current ways of speaking. Plus, I may not have had the best 25 sample of the hundred-some questions. My dialect is not what it was, although the discerning can detect my roots. This time, I tried to answer as immediately and reflexively as possible, and it identified my neighborhoods quite well. Full post here.
DFO: My accent comes pretty much from the western United States. But I was surprised that I most speak like people in Denver, Wichita, Kan., and Lincoln, Neb.
Question: How does your dialect match up?
December 22: Soon the days will offer daylight noticeably longer. The shadows of 4:30 will disappear and sunshine will linger. Some believe that depression is greatest this time of year. Take George Bailey who tries to kill himself in “It’s a Wonderful Life” by jumping off a bridge into the December darkness. Clarence – an angel, of course – saves him. Poor George was motivated to end his life by money – or the missing of it. The belief of increased suicide attempts at the holidays is actually statistically unsupported. It’s spring that grabs that credit. Perhaps it is the debt to the IRS come April 15 that renders hopelessness or longing for something just beyond one’s reach/Catherine Johnston, End Notes. More here. (AP file photo, of James Stewart and Donna Reed from “It's A Wonderful Life.”)
Question: Have you ever imagined yourself in George Bailey's shoes, considering what life would be like for those around you, if you'd never been born?
Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka (4) warms up near Seattle Seahawks Sea Gals cheerleaders before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Weekend Photo: JohnA, with 3 votes: “Ah, yes, Mr. Rod-man, we know we have no one over five foot four but we still must compete against NBA, because Mr. Yung-un say so.” You can see Weekend Photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
There were two different species of trees that made their way into my childhood home each Christmas. It's because my parents had different tastes in evergreens. My dad preferred the Colorado Blue Spruce with its asymmetrically spaced branches. My mom though the Blue Spruces looked like Charlie Brown trees. She favored the fuller bushiness of the Douglas Fir. They compromised and set up an every other year swap. One year, it was Dad's choice. The next year it was Mom's/Nic, Faithful Geek. More here.
Question: What kind of tree do you have in your living room this year?
Item: Trail, Front Avenue changes proposed by Coeur d'Alene Resort/Scott Maben, SR
Q (from Randy Myers): I am still puzzled by the lack of information presented by the new city public relations man on the City/Hagadone cooperative that will change traffic downtown so dramatically. … I guess it's a done deal but we know so little. How wide will the trail be ? (etc etc etc )
DFO: It is a done deal unless someone appeals the Planning Commission decision in favor of the Front Avenue/1st Street parking lot changes. Then, the City Council would be involved. Now, the matter is in the hands of city staff, which is dotting i's and crossing t's. The council didn't discuss the matter at its meeting last Tuesday. The only mention of anything related to the Front Avenue changes was public comment provided by Susie Snedaker, who briefly discussed plans to remove the public, circular parking area on the lawn in front of the Hagadone Corp. HQ. City Clerk Renata McLeod's draft minutes report Snedaker's brief comments here.
Sometime last week I must have blasphemed. Or treated my neighbor poorly. Or lusted after a Super Bowl in my heart. I must have done something to force the almighty to curse us with such vigor. It is the only logical explanation for the past 48 hours. Cougars. Eagles. Zags. And now the invincible Seahawks. On a Sunday in Seattle no less. I can't make sense of it all. I know I am a good person. I know you are good people (though I have some doubts about you and you, ya, you know who you are). But still such catastrophes occur. Listen carefully. You can hear the wailing in the streets. Sports fans throughout the area have fallen to their knees, throwing snow into the air, lifting their eyes upward and asking the ancient question, why? And I have no answers. Even worse, social media has no answers. We are doomed/Vince Grippi, A Grip on Sports, SportsLink. More here. (AP photo: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) makes a catch for a touchdown)
DFO: And my Fantasy Football team laid an egg in the championship game this week.
Question: Can you explain why fans of Inland Northwest/Seattle Seahawks teams rolled snake eyes over the weekend? Are boils next?
Coeur d'Alene Mayor-elect Steve Widmyer and his son, Ben, handled an afternoon shift ringing bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle fundraiser at Fred Meyer Dec. 14. The event, which also included Coeur d'Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and Post Falls Mayor-elect Ron Jacobson, raised almost $25,000, including $5000 in matching money from Fred Meyer. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
HucksOnline numbers (for week of Dec. 15-21): 44,305 page-views/24,903 unique views
Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick looks to pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Boise. Southwick said he was unfairly dismissed from the Hawaii Bowl, arguing he was falsely accused of urinating from a hotel balcony. Southwick, a senior who was sent home Friday by interim head coach Bob Gregory shortly after the team arrived in Hawaii. Story here. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger, File)
WiseGuy (RE: Treasurer Malzahn allows voter pick): Calling this group “Tea Party” is way off base. Most Tea Party groups are loosely organized ad hoc organizations sharing a set of common conservative values. This group fills the definition of a political sect or cult without any trappings of a democratic process, open membership or common decency. This is a hierarchical pseudo-religious authoritarian collective whose members serve in lockstep behind a megalomaniacal messianic leader. I just hope they do not serve Kool-aid at their next meeting.
Question: So which factions control the so-called “Republican” Central Committee?
The fall of Idaho conservation leader Marv Hoyt this month was of Shakespearean proportions. A year ago, his interview with actor Aasif Mandvi was the center of a “Daily Show” report on Comedy Central that told millions of viewers about selenium pollution from Idaho’s phosphate industry and the JR Simplot Co. It followed a New York Times article that had captured national attention over two-headed fish that appeared in a Simplot report. The 2012 stories brought national attention to an issue that Hoyt had worked on fearlessly for years. A sentencing last week by 6th District Magistrate David Evans in Pocatello revealed that Hoyt had pleaded guilty in November to killing three elk and leaving two in the woods to rot/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Is there any animal lower than a poacher in the woods?
This photo could have been taken during the first game I saw at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. I think it was 1987 or maybe 1988. Will “The Thrill” Clark was thrilling that afternoon and had a career day – seven RBI’s my memory says – and about 1,500 people showed up for a game in the middle of the week. I loved it all on a beautiful summer day. Love the Giants still and, while I’m ready for Christmas I’m really ready for spring training and harboring a strangely nostalgic feeling about The Stick. The 49ers football team will play the last game at The Stick tonight and one more old ballpark will go the way of the wrecking ball. Most will say “good riddance.” I’ll be left, like so much that is my life with baseball, with memories. I fell in love all over again with the great game at The Stick all those years ago/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.
Question: Do you miss any of the old ballparks that you attended as a kid?
An American Robin searches for food on a frozen tree in Augusta, Maine, Sunday. More than a quarter inch of ice coated tree branches and wires in the Augusta and Gardiner areas at noon. Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said those areas could end up with about a half inch of ice accumulating by storm's end tomorrow. (AP Photo/Kennebec Journal, Andy Molloy)
Question: Do you remember Coeur d'Alene's ice storm?
Nancy Hughes, pictured, was tired of yard work and calling the plumber for every drip and leak. She wanted fun: golfing, long cruises and the freedom of spontaneity. So following the trend of many older Americans and baby boomers, Hughes sold her 2,200-square-foot home and large yard on the South Hill and downsized into a retirement community in August. “It seemed like time,” Hughes said from her fifth-floor, 1,400-square-foot apartment at Rockwood Lane Retirement Community with enviable views of Mount Spokane and downtown. “I wanted to move here while I was still young enough to do all these activities and enjoy life.” There was no pressing health issue and no pressure from her son. Hughes, 71 and long divorced, just wanted more freedom and less commitment to a large home/Erica Curless, SR Boomer U. More here. (SR photo: Tyler Tjomsland)
Question: Would you like to live in a retirement center when you're old enough to do so?
After being unanimously selected by county commissioners as the next clerk Friday, Jim Brannon, left, visits with Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee and Commissioners Todd Tondee and Jai Nelson. Brannon received 31 votes, including 27 first-place votes, from the Tea Party/Pauler wing of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, to be considered the frontrunner of three men nominated to replace the late County Clerk Cliff Hayes, who died unexpectedly at home earlier this month. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
On her Facebook wall, Cindy posts:
Interviewed a guy in Arkansas this morning. I started by saying, “Thank you for your time during this busy season of the year.”
He replied, “You're not kidding I need to do my Christmas shopping as soon as we're done here.” This is me refraining from making a sexist remark about men who do Christmas shopping at the last possible moment. But seriously …
Question (from Cindy): Is this just a guy thing or are ladies equally guilty at gift-buying procrastination?
In the Sunday edition, The Spokesman-Review announced:
The Spokesman-Review is closing online comments on news stories on our website starting Monday and lasting through Jan. 1. We’re doing this both as an experiment and to preserve the spirit of the season. Blogs will be open for commenting during that time period. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. We’ll see you back online in 2014.
DFO: The move doesn't affect commenting on Huckleberries Online. I'll be here for your per usual.
Did anyone “triple-dog dare” him to stick his tongue on an icy wrought- iron fence? No one knows for sure — and no one’s talking — but an unnamed little Butte boy who dared to touch his tongue on a fence Thursday may never speak of it again. The predicament evoked shades of the tongue-stuck-on-a-pole scene from “A Christmas Story,” the much-beloved, kick-in-the-pants retro holiday movie from 1983 that reminds us of real-life kid shenanigans that remain slapstick funny. A Kennedy Elementary School boy found himself in the same jam Thursday; an adult neighbor rescued him from the tight spot/Renata Birkenbuel, Montana Standard. More here.
Question: Have you ever done something stupid, on a dare?
Cracker Barrel has heeded to an old adage: The customer is always right. Late Sunday, the Tennessee-based restaurant chain, which has 625 locations in 42 states, reversed course and said it would resume selling “Duck Dynasty” merchandise. Customer outcry, the company said, forced it to reevaluate its decision to stop carrying merchandise from the popular reality TV show after controversial comments made by the show's star in a recent magazine interview. “You told us we made a mistake,” the company said on its Facebook page. “And, you weren't shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores”/Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times. More here. (A&E/AP file photo: Phil Robertson is shown flanked by his sons Jase Robertson, left, and Willie Robertson)
Question: Do you agree/disagree with Cracker Barrel decision?
Her pet name for the longest serving Democratic U.S. Senator from Idaho was “Frosty.” They almost always traveled together during their frequent trips to Idaho, both during campaign season and the few non-election years when they could pare back a bit. The daughter of one Idaho governor, and the niece of another Idaho governor as well as a U.S. Senator, Bethine Church, who passed away on December 21st at the age of 90, was a skilled politician in her own right. Along with Frank Church’s long-time administrative assistant, Verda Barnes, she was the Senator’s top advisor on most matters, especially those that pertained to the politics of the home state. Most folks in Idaho, and within the D.C. Beltway, recognized her as the third Senator from Idaho/Chris Carlson, The Carlson Chronicles. More here. (2008 AP file photo: Bethine Church cheers as she introduces Hillary Clinton at the Ada County Democratic Caucus in Boise)
Other tributes to Bethine Church:
More than three dozen police and emergency vehicles formed a procession across the Spokane Street Bridge, led by the restored 1980 Malibu that the late Cliff Hayes used during his tenure as Post Falls Chief of Police. A celebration of life for Hayes drew more than 300 people to the Lions Grand Pavilion at Q'emiln Park on Saturday afternoon. Story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Kerri Thoreson)
On $7.25 an hour, no minimum-wage Idaho worker will escape abject poverty unless:
One world view says that's a lot of taxpayer-provided freebies to the worker. The other sees billions of taxpayer-provided subsidies to the employers/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune More here.
I'm beginning to like Obamacare. Oh, I still hope Obamacare fails. I hope that it fails so catastrophically that the news media cannot cover it up. I want it to fail because it is bad law. And I want it to fail for the same reason that Democrats fear its failure. Obamacare's failure could drive a stake through the heart of big government liberalism. Obamacare will not be the first big government initiative to fail, but it's likely to be the one that Democrats cannot escape from.The website failure only exposes the incompetence of the people who have granted themselves the power to administer this fraud. Obamacare's ultimate failure will come because of the inherently impossible assumptions it makes. But the website hides Obamacare's real weakness/Michael Costello, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Do you agree/disagree that the Democrats have been hurt by Obamacare missteps?
An Idaho outfitter is organizing a post-Christmas contest where two-person teams of hunters will be awarded $2,000 in cash prizes and trophies for shooting wolves and coyotes, angering animal advocates who brand it as a “wolf slaughter.” Shane McAfee, who guides clients on hunts around Salmon, Idaho, downplays the bloodlust angle of this hunting derby, which encourages kids to participate. He expects relatively few predators to be shot during the Dec. 28-29 event. McAfee contends he’s mostly aiming to boost local business – 300 hunters might participate, he said – and raise awareness about a parasite he believes could be transmitted from wolf feces to domestic dogs and possibly humans/John Miller, Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Do you see support/oppose this proposed wolf derby?
In less remarkable times, it might be less remarkable to hear a sheriff – a GOP sheriff in an ultra-red county, no less – remark that his job is enforcing laws. Not writing laws. Not ignoring laws. Not independently deciding the constitutionality of laws. And not turning over allegiance from the country and the county they serve to the wishes of political parties and their central committees. No, Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger had it exactly right when he told the Kootenai County Commission earlier this week: “It’s not our job to pass the laws, it’s not our job to interpret the laws. It’s just our job to enforce the laws.” Now maybe Wolfinger could go on a speaking tour of the country’s other red-state sheriffs, many of whom have gotten the idea that they are more than simply law-enforcement officers. They are kings/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.
Question: Why do individuals, like many in the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, who swear with a straight face that they support the Constitution, not understand the separation of powers and that federal law trumps local law?
More Info: Jim Brannon was unanimously chosen Friday by the Kootenai County commissioners as the county's new clerk. Work starts at 8 a.m. Monday for Brannon, who will be leaning on current Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee as he gets started. Brannon will serve out the last year of former Clerk Cliff Hayes' term after Hayes died last week. Brannon was the overwhelming favorite after being the top of three potential picks forwarded by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. “I'm saddened that I'm here under these circumstances,” Brannon said in an interview after being sworn in by Commissioner Todd Tondee.
Question: How would you operate the clerk's office for the next year if you were in Brannon's shoes now?
In this 2003 photograph, Bethine Church looks at a picture of her late Husband Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho, at her home in Boise. Bethine Church, 90, the grand dame of the Idaho Democratic Party, died Saturday. (AP file photo: Matt Cilley)
Bethine Church, the widow of four-term Idaho Sen. Frank Church and the grand dame of Idaho Democrats, died Saturday, her son said. In a Facebook post, Chase Church said Bethine Church died “from old age,” and had spent her past two weeks at home on hospice care. She was 90. Bethine Church was the daughter of Chase Clark, an Idaho governor in the 1940s. She grew up in Mackay and Idaho Falls. Frank Church grew up in Boise. They married in 1947. Sen. Church was the most influential Idaho politician ever. Bethine was his partner in his public career/Idaho Statesman. More here.
Item: Coeur d'Alene wraps up election issues: City attorney: almost everyone in compliance/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Coeur d'Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley said on Friday that he wrapped up a number of investigations related to last month's city elections. “For the most part, everyone has come into compliance,” Gridley said, explaining that was the city's goal in the first place. Gridley investigated several complaints of election misconduct, but most of those cases involved campaign finance reporting errors that the city was able to correct.
Question: Much ado about nothing?
Again, Kootenai County owes a debt of gratitude to Treasurer Tom Malzahn for postponing his retirement 21 months to protect his office from right-wing ideologues who control the local GOP. In Idaho, the respective parties provide up to three names for appointment by commissioners when a vacancy occurs among the courthouse elected officials. Malzahn feared that the tea party/Ron Paul wing that dominates the GOP Central Committee would bypass his competent deputy, Laurie Thomas, in favor of conservative ideologues. His fears were justified Thursday when the local GOP did just that by nominating three conservative hard-liners to fill the county clerk vacancy created by the unexpected death of Cliff Hayes. The carefully orchestrated vote sidestepped such quality candidates as Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee and former state Sen. Jim Hammond. On Friday, county commissioners unanimously picked the GOP’s top choice, Jim Brannon/DFO, Sunday Huckleberries. More here.
Other SR weekend column links:
Question: Does Jim Brannon become the odds-on favorite to win election as county clerk next fall?
Well, we have a new county clerk who would have finished a distant third had he decided to run for Coeur d'Alene mayor in November. But he was the best of three less-than-stellar choices engineered by the dominant Tea Party/Ron Pauler wing of the Kootenai County “GOP” Central Committee. Amazing. OTOH, you have to hand it to Jim Brannon for persistence. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of the competent Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee in the weeks to come. Life takes some unexpected twists and turns. See you back here Monday. Here's your Weekend Wild Card …
Commissioner Todd Tondee swears in Jim Brannon as the new Kootenai County clerk, as Commissioners Dan Green and Jai Nelson look on. The county commissioners unanimously selected Brannon to the the next clerk, in place of the late Cliff Hayes, Friday afternoon. He was there choice from a list of three candidates submitted by the Kootenai County GOP Central Committee that included Bjorn Handeen and Dean Isaacson. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
Readers of HucksOnline shouldn't be surprised — at all — that the GOP RINOs ignored more qualified candidates — like former Post Falls city administrator and state senator Jim Hammond — to set the stage for favorite son Jim Brannon to ascend to the county clerk's seat. I told you that this is what they'd probably do days ago. The conservative RINOs in charge of the local GOP are nothing, if they aren't predictable. Now we'll see if county commissioners have received their marching orders, too. With that happy thought, I'll play today's Wild Card …
Update: On a 3-0 vote, following a motion by Commissioner Dan Green, county commissioners appointed Republicam Jim Brannon to replace the late Cliff Hayes as Kootenai County clerk. Brannon was immediately sworn into office.
That 24 people are attending the commissioner interviews with the three men nominated by the Kootenai County GOP Central Committee to replace the late County Clerk Cliff Hayes. The number includes the three candidates, the three commissioners and a clerk. Others present include Prosecutor Barry McHugh, Matt Roetter, Councilman Dan Gookin, Donna Montgomery, Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee, and Assessor Mike McDowell. At 4:23 p.m., the commissioners are conducting a question-and-answer period.
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, second from right, and an interpreter watch a basketball practice session in Pyongyang, North Korea earlier today. Rodman selected the members of the North Korean team who will play in Pyongyang against visiting NBA stars on Jan. 8, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Thursday Winner — Fort Boise, with 3 likes: “Army cadets consider coach Rich Ellerson a giant among men.” You can see Thursday Photo and all the Cutline Contest entries here.
A&E “Duck Dynasty” stars are shown, from left, Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson, Si Robertson and Willie Robertson. (AP Photo/A&E, Zach Dilgard)
Representative Lawerence Denney says recent controversy over anti-gay comments made by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson will not deter him from bringing the reality stars to Idaho in March for a fundraiser for his campaign for Secretary of State. In fact, he says he supports the family and that they've expressed their religious viewpoint. “Our family proudly stands in support of the Robertson family in its’ modeling and expression of our Christian family values and heritage. We expressed that support when we spoke to the Robertson family yesterday,” Denney said/KTVB. More here.
Question: Will the appearance of the “Duck Dynasty” Robertsons for Denney's Secretary of State campaign help/hurt Denney?
“One of the more common street side businesses that I notice around Shanghai neighborhoods are shoe shine stands,” posts Thom George/Eye on Shanghai. The former Kootenai County resident offers daily observations about life in Shanghai here.
HucksOnline numbers (for Thursday, Dec. 19): 7709 pageviews/4229 unique views
Here's another photo SR photographer Kathy Plonka selected as her best of 2013: Kendall Sprock-Parrett listens for tones during a hearing test at St.Joseph's Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic in Post Falls on December 7, 2012. Kendall was diagnosed with Cholesteatoma, a cyst located in the middle ear and skull bone. Kendall is deaf in his left ear and has lost half his hearing in his right. More Kathy Plonka 2013 photos here.
A federal judge struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban Friday in a decision that brings a growing shift toward allowing gay marriage to a conservative state where the Mormon church has long been against it. The Salt Lake County clerk's office started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Deputy Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee said the district attorney authorized her office to begin issuing the licenses but she couldn't immediately say how many have been issued so far. Just hours earlier, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling saying Utah's law passed by voters in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment/Associated Press. More here.
Gov. Butch Otter on Friday appointed freshman Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking to fill the vacant Senate seat formerly held by Branden Durst. Durst, a member of the Senate Education Committee, resigned Dec. 1 after he had been living out of his district part-time. Durst said he stepped down to focus on family needs. … Democrats from legislative District 18 put Ward-Engelking, a fellow Boise Democrat who served on the House Education Committee, at the top of their three-person list to replace Durst. Otter made the appointment official Friday. His selection is final and does not need to be confirmed by the Senate/Kevin Richert, The EDge. More here.
Huckleberries has received one of the white slips of paper (see copy of one above) handed out by the UCNI/Pauler/Rally Right crowd to some but not all of the local GOP precinct committee members, directing them who to support for county clerk — and in which order to support them. Twenty-seven of 31 votes were first-place ones. Nineteen of 25 votes for Isaacson were second-place ones. Twenty-two of Handeen's 28 votes were third-place ones. Also of interest … Isaacson obviously didn't vote for himself with a first-place, red chip.
Question: So now what do you think of the selection process to pick three names for county clerk appointment?
In this Aug. 29, 2013, file photo by Kathy Plonka, 14-year-old Isaac Sanders, of Rathdrum, demonstrates a ballet move. Sanders has been recruited by the Bolshoi Ballet, in Moscow Russia. Photographer Plonka, of the Coeur d'Alene bureau of The Spokesman-Review, has selected favorite photos that she shot this year. You can see them here.
Question: Which 2013 photo by Kathy Plonka did you like best? Why?
My dental hygienist wondered aloud this morning why snowfalls of 1 to 3 inches are now labeled “snow event” or something of that sort. She commutes each day over Fourth of July Pass from the Silver Valley. “Don't people realize that we live in North Idaho?” she wondered, as she worked her pick. I agreed. In the 36+ years I've lived in the Inland Northwest, including 5 years in Kalispell, Mont., most residents would turn their noses up at a relative skiff of 1-3 inches. So here's the question:
Question: Do you think 1-3 inches of snow is significant?
Coeur d'Alene City Hall will be closed for Christmas on Wednesday. Other city offices and facilities will be closed as well. Emergency calls for police, fire, and streets can be made by dialing 911. Other city facilities have emergency numbers and can be reached if the need arises: Sewer back-up 769-2241; water 755-9729. Coeur d'Alene garbage pickup will be delayed by one day. City Hall and other city facilities will open Thursday at 8:00 a.m. For more information, please call 769-2300.
Two-thirds of the public believes the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, according to a new poll. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found a record 50 percent of respondents “strongly” believe the 12-year war was not worth fighting, and 66 percent felt it was not worth the cost. The negative response to the Afghan war in the latest poll is 1 percentage point lower than the record disapproval in July. A majority of respondents in the Post/ABC News poll have felt the war was not worth fighting since 2010/The Hill. More here.
Question: Anyone out there think the Afghan war is worth fighting?
Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC, a Coeur d'Alene-based investment firm, plans to break ground in May on a new 31,766-square-foot headquarters building. The firm has been in leased office space at 2141 Merritt Creek Loop in Riverstone since 2004, and in Coeur d'Alene since 1997. The new facility will give Pinkerton's headquarters 40 offices, an increase from 22, providing room for growth, said Dan Pinkerton, the founder and CEO. He and his wife, Kathryn, will own the building. Since the business moved to Coeur d'Alene in 1997, when it had five employees, it has expanded to 27 employees. That growth includes the addition of four additional certified financial planners this month, up from three on staff. The new building will be on one-and-a-half acres of property next to the 10-acre Riverstone pond, property the Pinkertons purchased four years ago/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Coeur d'Alene Press courtesy photo, of artist rendering)
Question: Do you like this proposal?
I wonder if the commissioners are being lobbied re: their choice of a successor to the late county clerk, Cliff Hayes? In April 2012, he expressed unhappiness that he'd been lobbied re: the commissioners' appointment to fill a Coeur d'Alene School Board vacancy. Remember? On April 27, 2012, Huckleberries posted this comment from Christa Hazel, who was rejected by commissioners in favor of James Purtee and who was elected to the School Board last spring:
Question: Is it right/wrong for constituents to lobby county commissioners who are making important appointments, like the one for county clerk today?
The three nominees to become the next Kootenai County clerk are, from left: Dean Isaacson, Jim Brannon and Bjorn Handeen. (Facebook photo: Councilwoman KerriT)
Commissioner Dan Green told Huckleberries moments ago that the Kootenai County Commission is prepared to select the next county clerk at a meeting this afternoon. All three nominees — Jim Brannon, Bjorn Handeen and Dean Isaacson — were told last night at the county GOP Central Committee meeting to be at the meeting, which begins at 3:30 p.m. in the first-floor meeting room in the administrative building. Green said he doesn't know Isaacson. However, he added, “It is our intent to get someone sworn in as clerk today.” Commissioners have 15 days to make a selection. They have the option of not selecting any of the three names. If that happens, the GOP Central Committee would then choose the next clerk.
Question: Can county commissioners make a wise choice among these three in a hands-on meeting today?
An outfit called the Idaho New Years Commission has announced plans to lower a 16-foot-long glowing potato from the US Bank Building in downtown Boise to commemorate New Year’s Eve and Idaho’s sesquicentennial. The event will include live music in the Grove and along 8th Street, magic shows, street performers and local food vendors; a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Boise Rock School. Headliners will include Hollow Wood, Audio Moonshine, Matt Hopper and the Roman Candles, Carolina Morning and more; the event has an array of sponsors including KTVB and Mix 106/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here. (AP file photo of Idaho mascot, Spuddy Buddy)
Question: Are you as tired as I am re: being represented by a potato?
Above, Jim Brannon and his wife at the 2009 watch party for the Coeur d'Alene City Council elections. (File photo: Duane Rasmussen)
No one who reads this blog should be surprised that the Tea Party/Ron Paul wing of the county GOP Central Committee has engineered a selection that guarantees that a conservative hardliner will be the next county clerk. Commissioners have been handed three names for the important role of county clerk that deserve full vetting — not a rush to pick one. The obvious choice of the Central Committee hardliners for the job is Jim Brannon, who was involved for some time in a divisive lawsuit in which he challenged a five-vote Coeur d'Alene City Council loss to Mike Kennedy in 2009. The end result of the sour-grapes litigation was a net gain of 2 votes and more than $100,000 of wasted public money (to fight the suit). Bjorn Handeen is a former Constitutionalist who was soundly rejected this spring in his bid to become a Coeur d'Alene School Board member. Dean Isaacson is a relative unknown outside of the Central Committee. I doubt any of the three would win a GOPrimary race against three accomplished individuals who were rejected by the GOP hardliners: Jim Hammond, Rick Currie or Pat Raffee. At this point, the conventional wisdom would be for commissioners to select Tea Party/Ron Pauler favorite Brannon. However, they do have two other choices. They could pick someone other than Brannan — and watch, with the rest of us, how they perform in office over the next six months to a year. The performance of Handeen or Isaacson in a high-profile public office like clerk could provide a wake-up call to voters for the spring GOPrimary. Commissioners also could decline to pick any of the three, to show their displeasure at the choices — and force the Central Committee to make the final decision. That would let moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats know that none of the picks was acceptable and set the stage for another candidate to run, win and represent voters across the spectrum rather than radical operatives in what passes for the county Republican Party/DFO.
Prior to the Kootenai County GOP dog-and-pony show to help pick 3 names as county clerk nominees, candidate Dean Isaacson handed out flyers with the following wording:
Also support Jim Brannon and Bjorn Handeen
Lake City High School senior Ashley Lewis stands next to the 8-foot-tall horse that she made out of driftwood at the school in Coeur d’Alene on Tuesday. She plans to sell it to help pay for horse feed. Scott Maben SR story here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
Here are the results of the votes cast by the Kootenai County Republican” Central Committee for county clerk candidates last night:
Red= First Choice
White= Second Choice
Blue= Third Choice
Red White Blue Total
Raffee 7 5 2 14
Currie 5 6 3 14
Brannon 27 4 0 31
Issacson 0 19 6 25
Handeen 1 5 22 28
Hammond 4 4 2 10
Ward 4 4 9 17
Banta 1 0 2 3
Question: Am I the only one who sees a pattern here?
At the east end of Coeur d’Alene, bald eagles swoop and dive over the lake as excited onlookers snap pictures or watch with spotting scopes, and others stroll by on the Centennial Trail with their dogs, enjoying the winter wildlife show. This is where a temporary onramp will be constructed to allow three giant, Montana-bound megaloads of oil refinery equipment to complete their roundabout journey through the area in January and February and trundle back onto Interstate 90 on the far side of the tall stretch of Veterans Memorial Bridge. On Thursday night, more than 50 people turned out for a public meeting about the hauls, with questions about everything from safety to fisheries/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Oh joy?
The argument that “everyone else is doing it” is no more compelling now than it was when you first tried that excuse with your parents. Egging the neighbor’s house, skipping school, drinking to excess. These are things you should not do because your friends are doing it. Your mom usually scolded you for thinking that way. Mom would ask me, “If your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you?” It didn’t happen much. I was a good kid. Really. Likewise, tax policy shouldn’t be governed merely because everyone else is engaging in dumb behavior. To be sure, there is a lot of dumb behavior disguised as good public policy. Corporate welfare is endemic. That’s no reason we should do it, too. If that sounds a bit harsh right before Christmas, I apologize. But the legislative session is quickly approaching. Lawmakers are trying to decide now what to “give” us during 2014/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Item: Schools beef up hiring protocol: Accused Cd'A teacher was working under conditional certificate/Keith Cousins & Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: School officials in Coeur d'Alene are taking a hard look at teacher hiring practices, and putting some new screening steps in place, following this week's arrest of a district high school teacher accused of rape and other felony sex crimes involving a child. Daniel Taylor, 32, a science teacher at Venture High School, was arrested Monday and remained Thursday in Kootenai County jail where he is being held on a $50,000 bond. Although the alleged child victim in the case is not a student, the matter raises questions about teacher hiring practices in Coeur d'Alene and the state of Idaho
Question: Can any hiring system prevent questionable characters from snagging teacher positions?
Item: Kootenai County GOP picks Brannon, Handeen, Isaacson as county clerk nominees/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press
DFO: It's obvious that someone behind the scenes set this up to make Jim Brannon the easy choice for county commissioners. There were people on the list far more acceptable to the vast majority of county voters politically than the 2 wing men that the dominant Tea Party/Ron Pauler wing of the local Republicans put forward with Brannon. Hammond. Raffee. Currie. This vote should make it obvious to the vast majority of Kootenai County residents who don't gulp tea that the local Republican Party is not to be trusted with political decisions. County commissioners could make a statement by refusing to appoint anyone on this list, forcing the GOP Central Committee to make the choice and casting serious questions about the Central Committee's judgment. HucksOnline story, comments thread here.
Question: Do you believe that these three men were the most qualified individuals among the eight names put forward?
Kathleen Saylor, chair of the library board of trustees, left, shares a moment of reflection with outgoing Coeur d’Alene City Council member Deanna Goodlander Thursday during a party to honor her and Mike Kennedy's service. Coeur d'Alene Press story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)
Question: What will be the legacies for both Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander and Councilman Mike Kennedy?
Quick: What's the last big Post Falls city controversy you remember? How about a small one? Without controversy, it's hard to sell newspapers. But controversy can also leave nasty scars, and Post Falls has been spared many of them. For that, Mayor Clay Larkin deserves much of the credit. Larkin, who has been leading his community for 13 years, has faced health challenges recently and opted not to try to extend his tenure - which already was the longest in Post Falls mayoral history. With Coeur d'Alene's Sandi Bloem and Hayden's Ron McIntire, Larkin gave Kootenai County's three largest cities leadership that played no small part in countless regional success stories/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.
Question: What will be Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin's legacy?
In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, Opinion Editor Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune give jeers to Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch:
To steal a line from former Vice President Spiro Agnew (who himself borrowed it from speechwriter William Safire), they have become “nattering nabobs of negativism” who act like a pair of bricks plopped onto the “no” button. Case in point: Wednesday's budget vote. Here's a modest compromise - worked out by House Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Democrat Patty Murray of Washington -to avoid more Washington, D.C., dysfunction while trimming the deficit by $23 billion during the next decade. Even a majority of House Republicans - including Idaho's Mike Simpson - went along.In the Senate, the story was different. Only because a handful of Republicans - among them John McCain of Arizona and Orrin Hatch of Utah - joined Democrats did the deal survive a filibuster attempt. Then the measure passed 64 to 36. Full Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Have Crapo and Risch become nattering nabobs of negativity?
The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee have selected three nominees to the County Commission for their appointment as the next county clerk: Jim Brannon, Bjorn Handeen, and Dean Isaacson. The three, from the hardline conservative wing of the Republican Party, were selected from eight candidates nominated at a special Central Committee meeting tonight. Other nominees were Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee, former Commissioner Rick Currie, former state senator Jim Hammond, Ania Banta, and Reagan Republican founder Jeff Ward. Brannon was the leading vote getter with 31 votes (including 27 first-place votes). Handeen was second with 28 votes, and Isaacson third with 25 votes. Others received the following votes: Ward 17; Raffee and Currie, 14 apiece, Hammond 10, and Banta 3.
You might want to check back later tonight to see who the Kootenai County RINO Central Committee picks as its three candidates for the County Clerk's vacancy created by the unexpected death of Cliff Hayes last week. If the Central Committee takes action tonight and I get the names, I'll post them ASAP. Two of the three names I suspect will be on the list are: Tina Jacobson and Jim Brannon. 'Twill be an interesting evening. Now for your re-posted Wild Card …
Coeur d'Alene High postermeister Bruce Twitchell produced this poster for the Coeur d'Alene High girls' cross-country team after they won their second straight Idaho State 5A title this fall (story here). Bruce posted it on his Facebook wall.
If you have been worried about high blood pressure, you may be able to relax a bit. New guidelines were released Wednesday that suggest that people over 60 can have a higher blood pressure than previously thought. High blood pressure is not something to be taken lightly. It is often referred to as the 'silent killer' because many times there are little or no symptoms and it can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. One in three Americans has high blood pressure. In the past, patients were given medication if their blood pressure exceeded 140/90. But now, for patients 60 years or older, the new guidelines say their blood pressure can reach up to 150/90 without treatment. But, local family physician, Dr. Hope Short, says this new guideline is not for everyone/Alexa Vogt, KETK. More here.
Question: Do these guidelines change things for you re: the need for blood-pressure medication?
The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously affirmed on Thursday the right of same-sex partners to marry in the state, reasoning that the “protections and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally” to them and to opposite-sex couples. With the ruling, which takes effect immediately, New Mexico becomes one of 17 states and the District of Columbia to permit same-sex marriage. (Thirty-three states limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and 10 recognize civil unions and partnerships.)/Fernanda Santos, New York Times. More here.
Question: Do you think Idaho will recognize same-sex marriage within the next decade?
Reese Kinnerson, 6, takes one giant leap, launching an air-powered, paper rocket to the “moon” at Fernan Elementary Wednesday when Shelley Best, right, with the Discovery Center of Idaho taught students about overcoming the challenges of space travel. Story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Gabe Green)
Army cadets hold a large photo of Army head coach Rich Ellerson during an NCAA college football game against Navy, Saturday, in Philadelphia. Navy won 34-7. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
Wednesday Winner (tie, with 3 votes apiece) — Sibulsky: “The Randall Children's Hospital had no chimney, so Santa and his elves had to improvise!” and — DFO: “Santa and an elf pick up extra spending money at Christmas, preferring washing windows to delivering pizzas for Domino's.” You can see Wednesday Photo & all Cutline Contest entries here.
Tom Hearn, the Coeur d'Alene School Board chairman, ran into actor Dennis Franz at Coeur d'Alene Costco during the lunch hour. Tom made this post on his Facebook wall: “I told him I didn't want to sneak around and be a paparazzi and asked if I could take his picture. He was friendly and gracious.” In a subsequent comment, Tom added that Franz said the two of them look alike. There is a resemblance.
Question: What would you do if you encountered an actor at a public place?
HucksOnline numbers (for Wednesday, Dec. 18): 8031 page-views/4361 unique views
Emilee Intlekofer smiles at Roo as he bounces around her during a photo shoot at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle office in Cheyenne, Wyo. Intlekofer is the foster parent of Roo, who was born without his front legs, after picking him up from the Black Dog Animal Rescue. Story here. (AP Photo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Blaine McCartney)
Question: Would you adopt a special-needs pet?
JohnA: For those who missed the Lake CDA hydroplane races earlier, you can watch them on CBSSports Network Sunday at 10:00 AM. That is channel 221 on DirecTV, 251 on Time Warner and 158 on DISH. Check out the pontoon party boat tethered to the log boom on the back stretch if you get a chance. :)
Question: Is this something you want to watch, if you remember to do so?
Yesterday, I walked out the front door without my wallet or my checkbook. I didn't realize it until after I was at my office. About lunch time, I recognized an emptiness in my back pocket that is not usually there. So today, I made extra effort sure I had my wallet and my checkbook when I left for work. However, I forgot my phone. I intended to take a break to run home and get it, but that break never happened. A full day at work with out my phone. I felt naked. It's weird what technology has done to us. When I was in high school, I felt naked when I wasn't wearing a hat. Now, I feel naked when this rectangular object made from aluminum, glass, and circuitry isn't with me/Nic, Faithful Geek. More here.
Question: Do you feel weird when you don't have access to your electronic gadgetry?
Target says that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear. The chain said that accounts of customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have been exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards. The data breach did not affect online purchases. The breach affected all cards, including Target store brand cards and major card brands such as Visa and MasterCard/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Did you use a credit or debit card to make a purchase at Target between Nov. 27-Dec. 15? If so, are you going to take steps to protect yourself?
On her Facebook wall, Councilwoman KerriT posts: “Feeling heavy-hearted with the loss of a friend and overwhelmed by the holidays so early this morning I had some Zen time at the pool and then walked the Centennial Trail near Higgens Point to clear my head. As I was driving away, I noticed this magnificent eagle enjoying breakfast of Kokanee salmon in a tree near the road. Yes my friends … another incredible North Idaho visual taken from my car with my auto focus camera. We are blessed with so much beauty to be seen, if we just take the time to look.”
Question: Do you ever take time to stop and count the eagles or osprey or whitecaps in our viewtiful part of the Inland Northwest?
Question: Do you care whether or not megaloads come through Coeur d'Alene?
A Friday snow storm should arrive in time for the official start of winter and cover the Inland Northwest in a layer of white prior to Christmas. Winter officially begins at 9:11 a.m. on Saturday. Forecasters for the National Weather Service have issued special outlooks for varying amounts of snow across the region on Friday. Spokane and Coeur d’Alene should see 1 to 3 inches of snow while the Palouse region, Silver Valley and central Idaho Panhandle could see as much as 5 inches. Those areas are under a winter storm watch/SR. More here.
Question: Does it matter to you whether or not we have a White Christmas?
Idaho’s State Board of Education has approved the “material terms” of employment for Bryan Harsin, the new head football coach at Boise State University; further details will be brought before the board in February for final approval. The terms approved by the board today include a fixed contract term of five years, with compensation of $1 million in each of the first two years, $1.3 million in year 3, $1.55 million in year 4, and $1.65 million in year 5, with additional pay for performance to be determined/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Will Bryan Harsin keep Boise State among the Top 25, as his two predecessors have done, more or less?
Duct tape: You can use it to make wallets. You can use it to remove warts(!). You can use it to hem your pants, to catch pesky flies, to create a makeshift bandage, or, should it come to that, to save your life during an aborted space mission. And add one more use to the list: Duct tape can also help you to protect your privacy as you use your computer. Maybe even the computer you are using to read these very words right now. Because you know how the camera that's built into many machines is supposed to indicate its on-ness or off-ness with a light? And how you are taught to assume, quite logically, that an off light means an off camera? Not always, apparently/Megan Garber, The Atlantic. More here. (Wikipedia photo)
Question: Are you currently using duct tape to hold anything together? What?
A 56-year-old married woman has won half of the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot in U.S. history and has taken the cash option, which after taxes, will be about $120 million, Georgia Lottery President Debbie Alford said Wednesday. Ira Curry, of Stone Mountain, came to the lottery office with the winning ticket of hand-picked numbers, a mix of family birthdays and the lucky number 7. She did not appear at the afternoon lottery announcement in Atlanta. Curry bought the ticket at the end of the day Friday and it was a last-minute decision, Alford said/Q13Fox.com. More here. (AP photo: A clerk operates a lottery machine to print out Mega Millions lottery tickets for a customer in Muncie, Ind.)
Question: What would be your first purchase if you won $120 million free and clear?
The photo above by Linda Lantzy/Idaho Scenic Images is of Big Creek, near the Silver Valley town of Osburn. It is the November photo on Linda's 16-month, 2014 calendar that's available at local retailers, including Postal Annex in Coeur d'Alene, Prairie Shopping Center, all Idaho Super 1 Foods locations, Hastings, Sunflower in Midtown Coeur d'Alene and Angel Gallery on Sherman Avenue. You can also buy Linda's calendar ($13.95 each) with it' viewtiful scenes on her Web site here.
I'm not optimistic that the Kootenai County GOP Central Committee will put qualifications for the job ahead of ideology when it picks its (up to 3) nominees for County Clerk tonight. The Tea Party/Ron Paul wing that dominates the local Central Committee surely sees the vacancy in the office, created by the unexpected death of by-the-book County Clerk Cliff Hayes, as a golden opportunity to put one of its own in a key county office. The Tea Party/Ron Paul wing has been unsuccessful in winning a courthouse seat through the elective process. By picking names of three ideologues to send to commissioners, uberconservaties would guarantee that one of their own would hold the office for the next year — and possibly become a frontrunner in the GOPrimary in May. And that could be allright. Consider the former Coeur d'Alene School Board. Via election and three appointments, it was entirely controlled by conservative hardliners who created one controversy after another in their year to 18 months of control. As a result, Coeur d'Alene residents had had their fill of ideologues by the time the School Board election rolled around last May. They replaced the three appointed seats with moderate individuals by solid margins. The backlash was felt again in the Coeur d'Alene mayoral and City Council elections when 4 middle-of-the-road candidates easily beat conservative hardliners. The world won't end if the Central Committee opts for political picks for the vacancy in the clerk's office. In fact, it may set the stage for another backlash/DFO.
For the first time in weeks, we believe embattled Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise, made the right call: He announced he will resign after serving only one year in the Idaho House of Representatives. He reportedly will send a letter stating his intentions to Gov. Butch Otter in the coming days. We'd like to think that Patterson realized he had become ineffective as an elected official and a distraction to his constituents and the Republican Party, but we aren't betting on such an epiphany/Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. More here.
The Coeur d’Alene School District circulated the following message to teachers and staff members this morning re: the recent arrest of Coeur d’Alene teacher Daniel Taylor on 4 felony sex abuse counts:
Many of our staff, students, families and public are asking questions about the recent arrest of Daniel Taylor, one of our teachers at Venture High School. As a district team, we have been working the last several days in trying to be as responsive and informative as we can to media and public information requests while balancing the district’s responsibility to respect the privacy of Mr. Taylor and the young child connected with this issue as this personal matter, that has become very public, runs its course outside of our school system. Full text here.
Detective Paul Jagosh, left, and Officer Brek Orton provided security for the District 15 Republican committee meeting on Tuesday in Boise. Republican officials from Boise voted Tuesday to urge Rep. Mark Patterson to resign, saying they have “no confidence” in his ability to serve his district or Idaho after disclosure of his guilty plea in a 1974 rape case. Patterson announced Wednesday that he would resign soon. (Statesman photo: Katherine Jones)
If you’ve lived in Spokane for long, chances are you, your children or your grandchildren have sat on Jim Burney’s lap. In 1974, when he first affixed a snowy beard to his clean-shaven face and donned a red, fur-trimmed suit, Santas were a dime a dozen downtown. “We had five department stores in downtown alone, each one with their own Santa Claus,” he said. When he heard about a Claus opening at JCPenney, he thought it sounded fun. “I’d taken some acting classes in college,” Burney said. He practiced his ho ho ho’s, and at the ripe old age of 26, he took his place on the upholstered chair at Penney’s. That was 39 years ago and he hasn’t missed a Christmas gig since/Cindy Hval, SR. More here. And: Q-and-A with Santa Claus here. (Colin Mulvany SR photo: After they had their picture taken, twins, Maddie and Erik Cathcart, 2, tell Santa what they want for Christmas at River Park Square on Saturday)
Question: Do you have a memorable Santa story?
JohnA: The city council does not vote on individual projects funded by LCDC, but they are in the loop via their representative, in this instance it is Deanna Goodlander. As far as a new council representative, like any member of the LCDC board, they are recommended by the mayor and approved by a majority of the council. Regarding that, I am not sure if Deanna will wish to remain on the board in another capacity once her term expires next month.
City spokesman Keith Erickson: Since the LCDC was formed by the City Council in 1997, the council has had a representative on the urban renewal’s agency’s board of commissioners serving as a liaison between the two entities. Once the new council is seated in January, Mayor Steve Widmyer has several options regarding the commission post currently held by City Councilwoman Deanne Goodlander. He could propose to keep her seated on the LCDC board, thereby eliminating the council liaison; he could propose to appoint another seated council member to the board; or he could propose to appoint another member of the community, which would also mean no council representation on the board. Widmyers’ recommendation must be endorsed by a majority of the council.
Question: Do you support having a council member serving on the Lake City Development Corp. board as a liaison to the City Council?
A Coeur d'Alene Police Department report indicates that a public school teacher accused of sex crimes involving a child told investigators that the victim's allegations are true. Daniel Taylor, 32, is on paid administrative leave from the Coeur d'Alene School District and faces up to life in prison if found guilty. The alleged incident did not involve a student or take place on school grounds. According to the police report, the alleged victim's mother contacted the police department Dec. 5 to report a sex offense. The girl's mother told investigators that in the fall of 2012, the girl, now 7, and Taylor were taking a shower when a rape allegedly took place/Keith Cousins, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
In a seemingly never-ending battle to vilify and treat wolves as inhumanely as possible, Idaho state officials and Idaho For Wildlife, which pretends to be dedicated to the preservation of the state's wildlife, have once again combined to embarrass the Gem State and solidify the fact it is incapable of responsibly and ethically managing the predator. To start, the good people at Idaho For Wildlife sponsored the first statewide competition in decades to hunt wolves and coyotes in Idaho. The event, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 28-29 in Salmon, is the first to be held in the continental United States since 1974, the year wolves across the country came under protection of the Endangered Species Act. The tournament offers cash and trophies for killing the largest wolf and the most female coyotes. Children as young as 10 are welcomed to compete — what a way to instill a proper respect for wildlife/Devin Rokyta, Moscow-Pullman Daily News Editorial Board. More here.
Question: Do you support/oppose the wolf/coyote hunt in Salmon Dec. 28-29?
Nearly four years ago, the Idaho State Planning Council on Mental Health issued a warning: Continue to balance the budget on the backs of Idaho's mentally ill and reap a whirlwind:
Its warning disregarded, the council watched as the budget-strapped Department of Health and Welfare closed some of its satellite offices in smaller communities and laid off 35 staffers, including 28 clinicians, from its Adult Mental Health Program/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Does Idaho have the money to significantly address mental health problems in the state?
Sarah Palin expressed solidarity with one of the stars of the television show “Duck Dynasty” after he was suspended from the program for making anti-gay comments. Palin said reality TV star Phil Robertson was only voicing his personal opinions, adding that “free speech is an endangered species.” “Those 'intolerants' hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” the former Alaska governor wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday night. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said he found many of Robertson's remarks offensive but said people are entitled to express their own views. The “Dynasty” family lives in Louisiana. “It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended,” Jindal said in a statement/Mario Trujillo, The Hill. More here. (AP photo, of Phil Robertson holding up the 1 millionth duck call assembled for 2013 at Duck Commander warehouse in West Monroe, La.)
Kootenai County commissioners showed admirable respect for the rule of law Tuesday in tabling a proposal that would have directed Sheriff Ben Wolfinger to not enforce federal gun laws. Told by Prosecutor Barry McHugh that any action they took would likely be nonbinding, commissioners Jai Nelson, Dan Green and Todd Tondee chose not to make an empty gesture that might have satisfied Second Amendment supporters but also confused the public regarding the legitimate exercise of authority. The sheriff’s powers are independent of those of the commissioners. But a good sheriff knows his or her limits. Wolfinger clearly does. His summary of a sheriff’s purview: “It’s not our job to pass the laws. It’s not our job to interpret the laws. It’s our job to enforce the laws.” Too many sheriffs around the United States have forgotten that simple truth/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here. (Duane Rasmussen photo, of Prosecutor Barry McHugh, left, and Sheriff Ben Wolfinger listening to discussion of the KCGOPCC resolution this week)
Question: Does it help the cause of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee to pass resolutions that may satisfy their dominant Tea Party members but have no chance of passing constitutional muster?
The ashes of Stephen Crowder’s wife and other items were stolen from his home in the Spokane Valley. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)
Stephen Crowder, who lost his wife of 20 years to ovarian cancer in 2008, was greeted by the unthinkable when he returned to the home he’s renovating in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. A box containing Nancy Crowder’s ashes was among the items stolen by burglars during a break-in earlier this week. Stephen Crowder said the theft of her remains, among other items valued in the thousands of dollars, is the hardest to comprehend. “It’s almost like she died all over again,” Crowder said. “Because she was gone unexpectedly, and now she’s gone unexpectedly”/Kip Hill, SR. More here.
Question: Every time I think I seen how low an individual can stoop to hurt another individual, a two-bit thief like the one who stole the ashes of this man's wife comes along. Thoughts?
The Lake City Development Corp. gave developers of a new 39-lot, gated subdivision the approval they needed to proceed with the project near the northeast corner of Atlas Road and Seltice Way. “This is a classic urban renewal effort,” said LCDC Commissioner Brad Jordan. “The piece of land where the subdivision is going in has always been under-utilized for as long as I can remember.” Active West Development of Coeur d'Alene asked the LCDC to consider reimbursing the cost of extending 2,800 feet of sewer line along the north side of Seltice Way. Combined with the demolition of the existing building on its land and some curbing infrastructure, the company was seeking $371,000/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Is this a good project for LCDC to be involved in?
We’re less than a week away from that magical day when that Holly Jolly Fat Man makes his annual appearance. And for the record I mean Santa, not rare sightings of the county prosecutor. As usual, many of you out there are in the throes of a Scroogelike funk. Because of that I’ve devised the following Christmas Chaos Quiz, which will scientifically measure the distance between your current mental state and the nearest psych ward. Just put an X on the answers that most suit your mood. We’ll tally your score at the end to see how you rate/Doug Clark, SR. More here.
Question: How stressed are you this Christmas (what did you score)?
I enjoyed the Christmas orchestra concert at Coeur d'Alene High last night, including the solo performed on the clarinet by Councilman Mike Kennedy's son, Will. My nephew Will was on the trumpet elsewhere in the orchestra at the time. Nice to have another generation of Oliverias involved in extracurricular activities at one of the local high schools. Junior graduated from there in 1997. Sis graduated from Lake City High in 2004. I wonder how many parents in town have had kids graduate from each of the local high schools? With that thought, I'll post today's Wild Card …
As time goes by, and we get older… some have to deal with caretakers for their parents… Sometimes it is family. Sometimes it is agencies. And some times it is health care centers, (use to be called nursing homes). Over the years, there have been large families.. Use to be in the same town. Brothers and sisters. So when Mom or Dad, started to fail, there was family members close by to step up to the plate. Some of them took the parents into their homes. To raise the children and care for the parents. In those days, the wife was the one who did most of it, as she didn't work. Then wives started with careers of their own. But still with so many children, there was enough support system/From A Simple Mind. More here.
Question: Is your family involved with caring for older parents?
Court records released Wednesday show a Coeur d'Alene High School teacher accused of raping and molesting a young family member admitted that he touched the child and that he did so for sexual gratification. Daniel Taylor, a teacher at Venture High School, was arrested Monday and charged with rape and lewd conduct, charges that carry a possible sentence of life in prison. The court records contain extremely graphic and disturbing descriptions of what the child and Taylor told police; for that reason, we will only describe what was said in general terms/Melissa Luck, KXLY. More here.
Members of the North Idaho College wrestling team hand out free books and materials to hundreds of children who lined up for the annual giveaway this summer. The team, under the direction of Coach Pat Whitcomb, received the A+ for Education Award from the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce Education Committee at the Upbeat Breakfast. The award is given to individuals and groups who support local education. Story here. (Press Room photo: Tom Greene)
Question: Do you find dog poop in your yard often (from animals other than your own)? Have you done anything about it?
The holiday season is not the time of year I like to sit in doctors waiting rooms but this year I seem to be doing little else. It has gotten me to wondering about what sort of experiences those affected by the ACA insurance debacle will be facing come the new year. I recently got a new primary care physician. I like him and have found that there are times when a change can be advantageous. Even so, long term associations that have been good are hard to let go even if you get to a point of diminishing returns. Which I had/Dogwalk Musings. More here.
Question: Have you switched doctor or dentist lately? Was it an unsettling experience?
On his Slice blog, Paul Turner asks whether you deny ever liking Hall & Oates. Then, he adds that the tandem's song, “Maneater,” was No. 1 on this date in 1982. (Photo: www.newdust.com)
HucksOnline numbers (for Tuesday, Dec. 17): 8618 page-views/4770 unique views
Both Mitch Toryanski and Evan Frasure announced today that they’ll formally announce their candidacies for Idaho Secretary of State on Thursday, Toryanski at 11:45 a.m. in 2nd floor rotunda of the state Capitol, and Frasure at 11:15 a.m. on the steps of the Bannock County Courthouse in Pocatello. Toryanski is a an attorney and former GOP state senator from Boise; Frasure is a former GOP state senator from Pocatello who also ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of State in 2002. Frasure is listing endorsements from Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, several other GOP lawmakers, three Bannock County commissioners and the mayors of Pocatello and Chubbuck in his news release; Toryanski says Freda Cenarrusa, widow of the late longtime Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, will be his honorary campaign chairman/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Any of the announced Secretary of State candidates appeal to you yet?
In the “Take It with a Grain of Salt” Dept, Huckleberries hears … that the Tea Party faction of the Kootenai County RINO Central Committee is pushing to have three names submitted to county commissioners for the next County Clerk: Jim Brannon, Larry Spencer and Bob Pedersen. Such a lineup would mean that Brannon would be a shoo-in. But I'd categorize this one as total rumor. Among other rumors swirling out there today … include a possible struggle within the RINO CC, with one faction supporting Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee and another backing former commissioner Rick Currie. Reagan Republican Jeff Ward's name has been mentioned as a prospect, too — as has former county clerk candidate Anita Banta. Other names that have been mentioned include: Tina Jacobson, Bjorn Handeen and John Green.
Question: Who would be your choice among the names mentioned above? Why?
Owner Young Soo Lee basks in the attention at her small Alliance Center office building newsstand in Atlanta today, after lottery officials said one of two winning Mega Millions lottery tickets were purchased from her store in Tuesday's $636 million drawing, The store owner said she sold 1,300 lottery tickets on Tuesday rather than the normal sales of about 100 tickets. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Question: Better luck next time?
The Portland International Airport ranks No. 6 on the Thrillist list of best airports for beer snobs. You can see the Top 10 on the list here. I have never had beer, wine or a hard drink at an airport. Mebbe I'm too busy changing planes or grabbing a bite. How about you?
Question: Is there an airport that you'd recommend to friends for a drink between flights?
The number of weeks with a North Idaho winner in the SR News Quiz contest came to an end last week, as two Spokane residents claimed the two available prizes. An Idaho winner had claimed one of the two prizes for six weeks in a row prior to last week. It's time to begin a new streak. Did you know you could win movie tickets or a $50 gift card to the Davenport Hotel simply by entering our weekly news quiz? All entrants this week are eligible to win two tickets to area cinemas, and our overall champ, drawn from among the top scores, will earn the gift card. Good luck! You can take the SR News Quiz here.
TWolf22: Well, when I was a kid in school, we had to take a shower after gym, and we took showers after practices and games because we knew we stunk and it felt better to be clean. I teach and coach, and it is the rare kid who takes a shower. In fact, part of the problem is that the kids don't want to put much effort into class, so that they won't have to sweat and take a shower. It is so bad, that some kids remind me of the Charlie Brown character Pig Pen with a vapor trail following them. Some kids breath is so bad and the odor is so bad that you can't get within 5-10 feet. Again, I think this reflects what happens in these kids homes. If I had smelled like some of these kids, my mom would have physically thrown me into the shower. I think that kids, boys in particular, are more concerned that people will compare them and talk about them, so many never actually strip down and change, as used to be done without a second thought. Bottom line, in my opinion, it's just another sign of the decay and decline in our society.
Question: Were you required to shower after physcial education classes in high school?
A self-described workaholic, Jon Ingalls, pictured, remembers his first “real” job. It was back in 1972 working as a bus boy at the Iron Horse restaurant in downtown Coeur d’Alene. He has fond reflections of that job, but says his performance was a “mixed bag.” His first boss, Iron Horse owner Tom Robb, remembers things differently. “He was obviously the same hard worker then as he is now,” Robb said. “He was a delightful kid; a hard worker, and he caught on quick.” Robb adds, “Let’s put it this way, Jon’s a hard guy to forget.” As Ingalls prepares to step down from his position as deputy city administrator at Coeur d’Alene City Hall—a role he’s filled aptly for 8 years—many of his co-workers remember similar stories about Jon: A hard worker, dedicated public servant and team player who was usually on the job early and among the last to leave/Keith Erickson, Coeur d'Alene Today. More here. (Photo: Coeur d'Alene Today)
Question: Has someone's recent retirement left a hole in your life?
Perhaps you are as confused as I am about the recent mixed messages from the federal government about cell phone use on airplanes. (I know, you’re shocked that our government is sending mixed messages.) Let’s just say this: I know what the policy should be – no cell phone calls on airplanes. None. Zilch. With so very much glamor involved these days in hauling your body on to a Canadair regional jet – the planes with tiny overhead bins and a restroom right sized for the Munchkins from Oz – or spreading out in the sleek Airbus 310 with its expansive five inches of leg room (or less then the jerk in the row ahead of you insists on putting his seat all the way back) why risk diminishing the sophistication of modern air travel with something as crass as a public phone call originating from 11B?/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.
Question: Can you think of a dumber idea re: air flights than allowing passengers to talk on cell phones?
A window washing Santa Claus and his elves made the windows of the Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel extra bright Monday in Portland, Ore. The window washers, employed by Millennium Building Services, as been washing the hospital's windows for 22 years. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Beth Nakamura)
Tuesday Contest — TwoZeroEight, with 12 likes: “You don't need to tell me what you want for Christmas. The NSA already knows.” And Runnerup — Nic: “Even under my Christmas exchange program, you will be able to keep your old Christmas presents. I promise.” You can see Tuesday Photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
Russell Wilson has guided the Seahawks to the NFL's best record (12-2). He is the winningest second-year quarterback in NFL history. And now he can help you out at the airport. Anyone wearing a Russell Wilson jersey can get priority boarding on Seattle-departing Alaska Airlines flights. Alaska Air Spokesperson Bobbie Egan tells KING 5 the promotion is good for the duration of the Seattle Seahawks season. On Tuesday, Russell Wilson was named official spokesperson for Alaska Airlines. So what if the response is overwhelming? Alaska Airlines expects an outpouring of Seahawks support and says they're ready for it/Jennifer King, KREM. More here. (AP file photo, of Russell Wilson)
DFO: I wonder what would happen if I wore a Colin Kaepernick 49er jersey on my next Alaska Airlines flight?
Question: Would you wear a Russell Wilson jersey to get priority treatment from Alaska Airlines?
We don’t want to write an elegy to Koko. We just want to keep admiring her picture – all eager eyes and beautiful brown markings – and think about dogs in general. The love, the loyalty and the utter joy they bring. The writer Roger Caras said, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.” This isn’t true for everyone, but it was true for Dan Pelle and his family, who lost their beloved pet to a vicious attack that never should’ve happened. Pelle, a photographer for The Spokesman-Review, was walking Koko last Thursday in a South Hill field, as he had done countless times before. But on this day two young men were walking a pair of unleashed pit bulls. The dogs spotted Koko and charged. Two frantic minutes later, a beloved 11-year-old Australian Kelpie-spaniel mix was mortally wounded. Pelle escaped terrified but not seriously harmed/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.
Question: If I ruled the universe, I'd ban pit bulls. Fuhgeddabout leash, license laws. They are simply too dangerous. What do you think?
Update: Patterson will resign this week/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise
Republican officials from Boise voted Tuesday to urge Rep. Mark Patterson to resign, saying they have “no confidence” in his ability to serve his district or Idaho after disclosure of his guilty plea in a 1974 rape case. Precinct committee members from District 15, which Patterson represents, voted unanimously to ask him to quit at the conclusion of a three-hour meeting, most of which was held behind closed doors at a Boise retirement home. “In the current climate, this committee has no confidence in Rep. Patterson's ability to represent the people of District 15 and the state of Idaho in the Idaho House of Representatives,” according to a statement from the committee. “This committee requests that Rep. Patterson tender his resignation”/John Miller, AP. More here.
Question: Why would Rep. Patterson possibly want to stick around now?
Bob Pedersen of Rally Right and Kootenai County GOP precinct committeeman Matt Roetter exchange words after Pedersen loudly referred to Prosecutor Barry McHugh as “a liberal” following a Kootenai County commissioner meeting. Reporter David Cole of the Coeur d'Alene Press is in the background. Seems Pedersen was upset by McHugh's comments re: a GOP Central Committee request that the county adopt a resolution giving the sheriff authority to reject federal gun laws Tuesday. Commissioners tabled the matter. Story here. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
The current issue of the Lake City Development Corp. newsletter includes a feature story on the two women who will join the Coeur d'Alene City Council next month: Kiki Miller and Amy Evans. The article by LCDC spokesman Keith Erickson begins:
Energy. Ambition. Vision. You can bank on all three of these attributes when Coeur d’Alene’s two new City Council members are sworn into office on January 7. Kiki Miller, pictured, and Amy Evans have proven track records as community leaders—and they’re both ready to roll up their sleeves and put their experience to work following impressive victories in November’s election. “I’m not a politician; it wasn’t something that was on my bucket list … but when I was asked to run and contacted friends and relatives, I got a very positive response,” Miller says. “They convinced me that I am an involved citizen with a lot to offer, so I threw my hat in the ring.” You can view the article and the newsletter here.
Question: Do you expect controversy next year with the new mayor and City Council?
Carly Kerby, a mom of four girls, doesn't have the greatest track record as the Tooth Fairy, but it was another family tradition that nearly did her in: The Elf on the Shelf. In case you've been hitting the egg nog a little too hard all these years, the elf is a big seller. It involves a picture book and a stuffed, felt elf that serves as a scout for Santa and has to be moved stealthily every night, traditionally around Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. The elf's mission? To report back to the boss in red on who's been naughty or nice. After eight years on the market, more than 6 million of the kits, book and elf, have been sold, and it has climbed high on best-seller lists, with two sexes and different skin tones now available. Kerby, in Salt Lake City, thought it sounded like fun when she took it on last Christmas/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo)
DFO: I'd never heard of Elf on the Shelf until someone mentioned it in the Cutline Contest Tuesday.
Question: Have you had hands on experience with Elf on the Shelf?
Idaho's Republican U.S. senators both voted against a bipartisan budget deal that now goes to President Obama for his signature. Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch on Tuesday opposed the plan that passed 67-33. Like Crapo and Risch, all those against the measure were from the Senate's minority GOP side. The deal marked a modest congressional accomplishment at the end of a year punctuated by a partial government shutdown, a near-default by the U.S. Treasury and congressional gridlock on issues ranging from immigration to gun control. In all, only one Idaho lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, supported the agreement forged during talks led by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Rep. Raul Labrador, a GOP lawmaker from Idaho's 1st District, also voted against the bill last week/Associated Press.
Question: Did the U.S. senators from Idaho oppose this modest budget deal on principle or out of fear from the Tea Party?
Last week, Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, voted against a modest, bipartisan budget bill that avoids another government shutdown or two. The reason? The deal cancels about $63 billion in spending cuts between defense and ordinary, so-called “discretionary” government programs - part of a larger package of reductions dubbed the “sequester.” “Those spending increases gut the hard-won spending cuts Republicans fought for during the debt ceiling battle of 2011, otherwise known as the 'sequester,' ” Labrador said. “The 'sequester' - which ended up generating bipartisan support, and was signed into law by President Obama - forced necessary and long-overdue cuts in discretionary spending.” Setting aside the argument that when the dust settles, this deal cuts the deficit by $23 billion during the next decade, why is Labrador so enamored of the sequester?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Has Labrador simply become a no vote for the Idaho Tea Party?
A popular charter school in Rathdrum has been approved to expand from its current K-8 focus into high school grades – over the objections of the local school district, which says the move will siphon away money that now provides more course choices for students in its regular high schools. Lakeland School District officials have high praise for the North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, which focuses on science and math and uses an innovative project-based learning approach. But they say under Idaho’s school-funding system, expanding the charter means cutting funding for Lakeland and Timberlake high schools. “There’s very little recognition of the impact it has on districts when they lose students,” said Tom Taggart, director of business and operations for the Lakeland district. “We actually took that hit last year when they opened and we lost about 130 students to the school. That’s a big hit financially”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here. (Kathy Plonka SR photo: North Idaho STEM Charter Academy fifth-grader Allison Russum watches her robot maneuver through the course during class in Rathdrum on Tuesday)
Question: Should Idaho conduct a study re: the financial impact of charter schools on public schools?
Prosecutor Barry McHugh and Sheriff Ben Wolfinger listen as Neil Oliver, chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, asks Kootenai County commissioners to adopt an ordinance making the sheriff the final authority on constitutionality of federal gun laws. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
Question: How could McHugh and the GOP Central Committee make this blatantly unconstitutional proposal acceptable enough for the commissioners to pattern an ordinance after?
Building a multi-family home in the Fort Grounds neighborhood just got a little tougher. The Fort Grounds Homeowners Association petitioned the Coeur d'Alene City Council Tuesday night to lower one of the thresholds for property owners in R-12 and R-8 residential zones who want to overlay portions of their neighborhood with special use restrictions. Members of the homeowners association in the Fort Grounds tried earlier this year to secure enough signatures to prevent a condominium project in their historic single-family home neighborhood. Currently, multi-family homes are allowed in the Fort Grounds area because it is zoned R-12, explained Warren Wilson, deputy city attorney/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: How often do you visit or drive through the Fort Grounds area?
On Dec. 13 in the article “Giving themselves a raise,” two greedy members of our community voted to give themselves more money instead of focusing on the needs of others around them. This is just like Congress, who every few years decide to vote on adding more to their pay also. Too much government I say. The county commissioners’ average income is now $72,585 whereas compared to many teachers who earn $55,000 if they’re very, very lucky. They have not had ANY raises in years, and last I checked they have a bigger impact on the future kids than these “great leaders, the commissioners” (sarcasm implied). Instead of deciding to help in the city of Coeur d’Alene’s 10 year-plan to end homelessness or giving more care to the food bank or improving horrible schools with out-of-date books and equipment, they think they deserve the money more for doing “such a great job” (more sarcasm)/Caleb Weeks, letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you think voters will remember this pay raise six months from now, when Commissioners Jai Nelson and Todd Tondee face possible GOPrimary challenges?
I'm back to a regular schedule today, after two weeks of taking care of newby Beagle pup, Huckleberry, in the mornings while Mrs. O visited Junior in Florida. Also, Huckleberries again is fully operational, with “Recent Comments” feature functioning properly, after super techs at Spokane office fixed the Disqus problem Monday. So we're all good at Huckleberries Central as we head for Christmas and the New Year. Now for the first Wild Card in the rest of our lives …
There's no snow on the ground at Quail Ridge Golf Course in Clarkston this week, just a little fog and cool air to deal with. So there's no reason not to get nine or 18 holes of golf in when you're in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. (Lewiston Tribune photo: Barry Kough)
Question: During mild winter days like this one, don't you wish you were living in the Lewiston-Clarkston banana belt?
Kootenai County commissioners opted to not vote Tuesday on a proposed ordinance declaring all federal gun laws invalid and directing the sheriff to prevent enforcement of such laws. “Ultimately it’s not enforceable,” county Prosecutor Barry McHugh said of the proposal from the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. The federal courts have the authority to determine if federal laws are constitutional, McHugh told the commissioners. He also said the board of commissioners has no statutory authority to direct the sheriff to enforce or not enforce any laws. Sheriff Ben Wolfinger echoed that view. “It’s not our job to pass the laws, it’s not our job to interpret the laws. It’s just our job to enforce the laws,” Wolfinger said/Scott Maben, SR. More below.
Question: Good call?
Don Sausser Facebooks this “drop-dead, sky-wide sunset” tonight.
President Barack Obama greets children dressed like elves at the National Building Museum in Washington, Sunday. The first family is attending the taping of the annual 2013 Christmas in Washington, celebrating its 32nd year anniversary. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Monday Winner — CindyH, with 16 likes: “Some days it's really difficult to get your ducks in a row,” and Runnerup — Nic, with 15 likes: “Careful, there are quacks on the ice.” You can see Monday Photo and read all Cutline Contest entries here.
A popular charter school in Rathdrum, Idaho has been approved to expand from its current K-8 focus into high school grades – over the objections of the local school district, which says the move will funnel away money that now provides more course choices for students in its regular high schools. Lakeland School District officials have high praise for the North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, which focuses on science and math and uses an innovative project-based learning approach. But they say under Idaho’s school funding system, expanding the charter means cutting funding for Lakeland and Timberlake high schools/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Do you worry that charter schools take too much funding from regular public schools?
Boise Republicans were expected to weigh in at a meeting on the political future of Rep. Mark Patterson amid calls for his resignation after the disclosure of his guilty plea in a 1974 sexual assault case in Florida. Patterson, a first-term GOP lawmaker from Boise, has been invited to appear Tuesday at the Legislative District 15 precinct committee meeting. Some Republican officials including Sen. Fred Martin of Boise said they will seek his resignation. It was not clear if Patterson planned to attend the meeting. Martin has arranged extra security for the meeting to be held at a Boise retirement home. Some members of the 15-person GOP committee said they're worried about their safety as they discuss the emotionally charged issue/John Miller, Associated Press. More here.
Question: They need security? Seriously?
Gabe Green of Coeur d'Alene Press sets up photo for Wreaths Across America photo, after speakers left the platform at Forest Cemetery. The annual Wreaths Across America program provides wreaths for fallen veterans. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
HucksOnline numbers (for Monday, Dec. 16): 7641 page-views/4274 unique views
Venture High School instructor Daniel Taylor is shown today during a 1st District Court appearance. Gabe Cohen/KHQ reports that Taylor is being held on a $50,000 bond. (Photo: Gabe Cohen)
The Coeur d'Alene School District has issued the following statement re: the arrest of Venture High School teacher Dan Taylor on sexual allegations:
The Coeur d’Alene School District confirmed with Coeur d’Alene Police that late yesterday Daniel Taylor was arrested on four sexual assault charges involving a minor. Mr. Taylor is a Science teacher at Venture High School and has been employed with the district since August 2011. The police department confirmed that the allegations and charges do not involve any of Mr. Taylor’s students at Venture High School nor did any of the alleged events occur on school property. The school district continues to work closely with the police department. Daniel Taylor is on administrative leave until the district receives additional information from law enforcement and our judicial system. Full statement here.
Downtown visitors and workers can now park long-term at the recently opened parking structure along Front Avenue thanks to the recent installation of an unmanned pay station. The parking facility partially opened just before Thanksgiving and offers stalls for about 180 vehicles. Parking is free for the first two hours; however, motorists are advised to collect a ticket from the pay station regardless how long they will park, said city finance director Troy Tymeson. A fee schedule is posted on the pay station, which is similar to those at the Independence Point and Museum of North Idaho lots. Like other downtown parking opportunities, the parking facility is being managed by Diamond Parking. The pay station is located on an island just inside the Third Street entrance on the south side/Keith Erickson, Coeur d'Alene Today.
Facebook Friend Robin Loznak of Kellogg, Ore., provides this description of the photo above re: his dog Molly and a rough skinned newt: “The little rough skinned newt is one of the most toxic animals known to science. One study estimated as many as 25,000 mice could be killed using the toxin in just one newt.” You can see more of Robin's outdoor photography on his Facebook page here.
The Kootenai County commissioners will discuss a resolution from the local GOP Central Committee, seeking an ordinance that would recognize the sheriff as the ultimate authority in deciding constitutionality of federal gun laws. The commissioners will discuss the matter at 3 o'clock today at the courthouse. They have asked Prosecutor Barry McHugh and Sheriff Ben Wolfinger to give their views on the issue. County Republicans prevented the Republican sheriff from addressing the issue at a recent Central Committee meeting.
Commissioner Dan Green tells Huckleberries that the county GOP Central Committee has 15 days to submit 3 names to replace the late County Clerk Cliff Hayes and then the county commissioners have another 15 days to appoint one of the three. If none of the three nominees are acceptable, commissioners can decide not to appoint any of them. In that case, the Central Committee would be given time to make the appointment. Idaho Statute 59-906 covers this process. Click here to read it.
DFO: I would prefer that the Central Committee take the full 15 days to make the nominations and that commissioners take their time in making the appointment, out of respect to the late County Clerk Cliff Hayes and his family.
… I noticed that the good weather this week has enabled construction to begin again, for the Coeur d'Alene wastewater treatment plant expansion and the new West Lakeshore Condominiums at West Lakeshore & Military/Fortgrounds area. Construction workers have the foundations in place at the condominium project. As far as my da