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Archive for February 2013

Parting Shot: Big Tub

I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Coeur d' Alene Casino & Resort with a bunch of food writers, spa writers and marketing peeps. This tub was in the Presidential Suite of the new Spa Tower. Guess how many writers and marketing peeps can fit in it? 15.
Nevermind how I know.

Two questions: Have you ever been to the Cda Casino? And second: Are you a bath or shower person?

Thursday Wild Card 2.28.13

Hard to believe that Dave hasn't taken any vacation time this year. I mean, it's been two whole MONTHS!

I'm still figuring out this new comment system so will refrain from comment on having to register for Disqus just to moderate this blog. Grr… (Was that a comment?)

But I would like to know why Dave always has me warming up in the bullpen. I know it's some sort of baseball metaphor, but I'm at a loss to know what bulls and baseball have to do with a North Idaho blog.

Here's your wild card. Batter up?

Senate panel passes heavy-truck expansion bill

Betsy Russell reports, After an hours-long hearing, the Senate Transportation Committee has voted 5-4 in favor of SB 1117, despite much testimony against it, including from North Idaho elected officials. Those voting in favor were Sens. Brackett, Johnson, Rice, Nonini and Hagedorn. Those voting against were Sens. Keough, Winder, Bock and Buckner-Webb. The bill now moves to the full Senate. Read the full discussion here.


Chop the tree, save the wood?

Coeur d'Alene resident Zach Taylor walks past the Freedom Tree, center, today. The Norway spruce will be removed during the reconstruction of McEuen Park in downtown Coeur d'Alene. The city is asking residents to share ideas on what to do with the wood. Kathy Plonka, photo

A Norway spruce known as the Freedom Tree will be cut down to make way for a parking structure in McEuen Park in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

The city says it will salvage about 30 feet of the tree’s base in an effort to preserve the history of the tree, which was planted in the 1960s and designated in 1972 to honor Vietnam War service members taken prisoner or missing in action.

“The Freedom Tree represents a very special piece of our history, one that symbolizes the incredible bravery and courage of our veterans,” Coeur d’Alene Parks Director Doug Eastwood said in a news release. “We plan to do everything we can to ensure its legacy lives on for decades to come.” More. Scott Maben, SR

So they're chopping down the tree but want to save some of the wood. Thoughts?

NBA player’s dad cuts his allowance

Golden State Warriors rookie Klay Thompson might not have thought about the repercussions after he got into a fight during Tuesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers, one of which was that his father would take away his allowance.

In addition to the National Basketball Association’s fine against Thompson, 23, for $35,000, his father and former NBA player Mychal Thompson told ESPN Radio that the “dumb” action would cost his son.

Thompson’s paychecks are made out to his father and mother, who are managing his finances.

Mychal Thompson said he will understand the repercussions, when “he sees that cash envelope show up a little short this week.”

“I was like ‘you idiot’!” Mychal Thompson said about his son. More here.

So do/did you give your kids an allowance?

House votes to create enhanced concealed weapon permit

The House has voted unanimously in favor of creating a new, enhanced concealed weapons permit in Idaho that would require a higher level of training than a regular permit. “Right now in the state of Idaho, we have one level of concealed weapons permits,” said Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, the bill’s sponsor. “It is the easier one to get. … Idaho kind of has a reputation for having a very simple way to get a concealed weapon.” More here. Betsy Russell, EOB

Is this a good idea?

Zags game at the Bing

Gonzaga players celebrate Saturday’s 81-50 victory over San Diego.

Zag fans can watch the Gonzaga University/Brigham Young University basketball game tonight on a really big screen.

The Bing Crosby Theater will be showing the game live on its new 26-foot-by-18-foot HD screen, said theater manager Michael Smith.

The event is free, and beer and wine will be for sale at the venue, Smith said. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. game.

Gerald Dicker, who bought the theater a year ago, is a big Zags fan, Smith said.

The historic theater is located at 901 W. Sprague Ave. in downtown Spokane.

Just toured the Bing yesterday. What a fun place to watch the game! PS: They sell beer and wine and you can take it it your seat.

Where will you watch the game tonight?

Idaho is horse country

In this 2006 photo, Scott Stouder, the regional field director for Trout Unlimited, packs his horses and mules through old-growth ponderosa pines as he heads into the Rapid River roadless area drainage near Idaho's Seven Devils Wilderness.

Little-known fact: “Our state has the highest per-capita horse population to people of any place in the world.” That’s according to Ed McMillis of the Idaho Horse Council, who was among those testifying in favor of HB 220 in the House State Affairs Committee this morning. The bill permits pari-mutuel betting on “historical horse races,” a type of simulcast betting that’s becoming popular nationally that involves replays of old but unidentified races. McMillis and others from the horse industry in Idaho told lawmakers the move could help save an industry that’s struggling financially; he said Idaho’s equine industry is a $1.2 billion industry. Betsy Russell, EOB

Have you ever owned a horse?

Kootenai to float school levy

The Kootenai School District will float a supplemental replacement levy of $1.2 million per year for two years to voters on March 12.

“The levy supports student transportation, curriculum updates, staff retention, technology infrastructure, maintenance, groundskeeping and repair of our buildings and facilities,” said Lynette Ferguson, superintendent.

Ferguson said the funding would help compensate for expired federal stimulus funds and state funding reductions. The levy will not pay for any new programs.

If approved, the levy will replace a supplemental levy of $647,000 a year for two years that will expire June 30.

Annual property taxes would increase by 97 cents per $1,000 of assessed value if the proposal passes. For the owner of a $150,000 home, that equates to about $12 per month.

A vote of 50 percent plus one is needed for the levy to pass. More. Brian Walker, Cda PressD

Do you think voters will support this levy? Why or Why not?

Spokanlandia in the spring

Bashing your hometown seems to be a popular activity among some Spokanites.

Not me.

I’m an unabashed Spokane fan. In fact, one of the best gigs I get as a freelancer is writing about our city for Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine. The feedback I get from folks who see my byline when they fly is fun and universally enthusiastic – until recently.

It’s one thing for natives to bash Spokane, but when Oregonians do it, well that’s another thing entirely.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill Oakley, co-executive producer for the TV show “Portlandia,” picked up a copy of Alaska Air magazine during a flight. The publication failed to impress.

In particular, he took issue with the Spokane section and posted a picture of the story on Twitter with my byline prominently displayed. Oakley wrote, “This is the kind of thing you find in the Alaska Air in-flight magazine and it’s like a 20 page ‘special section’!” Cindy Hval, SR  Read more.

Is your hometown worthy of a 20-page special section in an airline magazine?

Senate passes cursive resolution

When the Senate took up HCR 3, the cursive writing resolution, this morning, Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, warned, “I hope you’re not expecting for my debate … to be as eloquent as the good House sponsor from across the rotunda.” Nonini told the Senate he had seven pages of hand-written cursive notes from that House sponsor, Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, regarding the resolution, which calls on the state Board of Education to include cursive writing in Idaho’s Common Core standards for what children should learn in school. “We heard the evidence presented to us that this is good information, it helps with brain development,” Nonini told the Senate. More here. Betsy Russell, EOB


Milo visits the vet

Poor Milo is at the vet as I type getting his teeth cleaned. To say he doesn't travel well is an understatement. He's shredded cardboard carriers and puked and peed in plastic ones.

This morning we forgo the carrier and he sat perched on my shoulder like a terrified parrot the entire way.(See photo above). But he didn't scratch, scream or have any accidents, so I'd say our no-carrier choice was a success.

Does your pet travel well?

Dems blame GOP policies for minimum wage ranking

Betsy Russell, EOB,  reports, Larry Kenck, the new chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, has issued a statement blaming “years of failed GOP policies” for Idaho’s ranking as the state with the highest percentage of workers earning the minimum wage. “Idaho has suffered from decades of GOP policies that do very little to encourage high-paying businesses to relocate to Idaho or to stay in Idaho,” Kenck declared; you can read his full statement here.

Agree or disagree?

Trustees to decide committee’s future

COEUR d'ALENE - When they meet Monday, school trustees in Coeur d'Alene will consider whether to put the district's Long Range Planning Committee's monthly meetings back on the calendar after the committee was placed on “hiatus” in January.

The item was put on the school board's regular meeting agenda following one of the district's “community chat” sessions held earlier this week. During that public, informal discussion, several individuals, including some who sit on the 25-member panel, shared concerns about the suspension of the committee meetings and about the way the decision to temporarily discontinue them was handled by the board. More here. Maureen Dolan, Cda Press

Do you think the Long Range Planning Committee serves a useful purpose and should continue to meet?

Birthday club for a cause

Angie Phillips, center, and Michele Dirks, right, make their donations to a charity during a birthday club monthly gathering Feb. 19 at the Magic Lantern Theatre. Instead of buying gifts, the women donate to a cause. Women celebrating birthdays are given tiaras. Jesse Tinsley, photo.

On a gloomy February afternoon the lobby of the Magic Lantern Theatre sparkled with laughter, conversation and tiaras.

The Magic Lantern Girlfriends Club had convened to celebrate February birthdays and watch a special screening of “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

For many years a group of friends met monthly in Coeur d’Alene to celebrate birthdays. They bought each other gifts and enjoyed a meal. But Catherine Reynolds, founder of the Magic Lantern Girlfriends Club, said none of the women really needed anything, and the gifts, while nice, seemed superfluous.

When that original group gradually stopped meeting, Reynolds decided to revive the birthday club – but this time with a difference. “I thought instead of buying each other gifts, we could donate $10 to a charity of our choice.” Read More. Cindy Hval, SR

I think this is a great idea and hope it catches on. Do you have a group of friends you celebrate birthdays with?

NIC considers sports arena

COEUR d'ALENE - A combination event center and sports arena may be going up in Coeur d'Alene.

North Idaho College trustees gave the go-ahead during their board meeting Wednesday for the college's administration to explore the feasibility of building an event center in the Riverstone area, provided funding for construction of the facility comes from outside sources.

NIC president Joe Dunlap told college trustees that the college's existing indoor athletic facility, the Christianson Gymnasium, was built in 1949 and is in poor condition.

“It's limped along for quite some time,” Dunlap said.

An event center would provide a new athletic facility for the college and likely a venue for other types of entertainment activities, he said. Read more. Maureen Dolan, Cda Press

NIC arena: good idea or bad idea?

Christa’s Campaign is official

Christa Hazel For School Board - Coeur d'Alene, ID

It's official. This just in from Christa Hazel:

The petition for candidacy with 10 verified electors was submitted and approved today. I am appreciative for the early support I've received to get on the ballot for School Board Zone 1. The website, is up and running, as well as the FB page ( and Twitter (

I will provide a reasonable common sense conservative voice on our school board. I have a vested interest in public education — my children attend our public schools. I have deep roots in Idaho conservative politics with real world small business experience. I also have a track record of successful leadership as well as dedicated service to our local schools. 

How do you think Christa will do against Brent Regan, if the appointee decides to seek election in his own right?

Woodward vs. Whitehouse

Bob Woodward arrives at U.S. Federal Court in 2007.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward is embroiled in an extraordinary public clash with the White House over his reporting on the sequester.

Woodward has been making the rounds to cable TV and print outlets accusing a “very senior person” in the administration of threatening him last week ahead of an op-ed he later published in the Washington Post attributing the idea for the automatic spending cuts to President Obama.

The blitz drew a harsh rebuke from former senior Obama adviser David Plouffe Wednesday night: “Watching Woodward last 2 days is like imagining my idol Mike Schmidt facing live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated,” he wrote on Twitter.

Former Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith also opined: “Woodward deserves a lot of credit for taking a macro story about DC dysfunction, competing econ theories & making it all about him,” she said. Full Story.


Do you believe Woodward's allegation that he was threatened by someone in the Obama administration?


Hump Day Wild Card — 2.27.13

Cindy will be running Huckleberries Online for the next two days, as I'm going to kick back for a four-day weekend. Yes … thus begins the never-ending vacation that helps me cope here at Huckleberries Central. Feeding the insatiable maw of the blog isn't as easy as it looks. Now, I'll re-post the Wild Card — and wave Cindy in from the bullpen …

Parting Shot — 2.27.13

First Lady Michelle Obama and Food Network chef Rachel Ray discuss lunches with students from the Eastside and Northside Elementary Schools during a “Let's Move!” program at the Clinton, Miss., schools today. The pair visited with the children and conducted a cooking contest between the schools' chefs. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JFAC OKs Higher Pay For Guv, Solons

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee set budgets this morning for the governor’s office and the legislative branch, and due to statutory requirements, both of those include salary boosts for elected officials. Specifically, the governor’s salary was required by law to rise from $115,348 to $117,000 on Jan. 1, 2013, and to rise another 1.7 percent on Jan. 1, 2014 to $119,000. The approved budget covers that increase. For state legislators, a citizens committee voted in June to recommend a 2 percent raise, from $16,116 a year to $16,438. That raise took effect in December, and became permanent when the Legislature hadn’t acted to reject it by the 25th day of this year’s legislative session; today is the 52nd day/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you have a problem with the budget committee giving legislators and the governor a modest budget increase?

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.27.13

  • 5;18 p.m. Silver Jeep & red Pontiac Grand Am involved in road rage incident @ I-90/4th St, CdA.
  • 4:47 p.m. A Dumpster fire is reported in 3400 block of Lilac Court/Post Falls.
  • 4:36 p.m. Honda SUV driving erratically, slowly on n/b Ramsey/Prairie, Hayden.
  • 4:21 p.m. CPD Blue reports disable vehicle blocking traffic @ Ramsey/Hanley, CdA.
  • 4:05 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Feb. 26-27 here.
  • 12 more items + AM Scanner Traffic link below

PM Headlines — 2.27.13

At Priest Lake, As the Lake Churns blogger Pecky Cox asks: “WHO IS going to tell them we're done serving for this winter at Casa Cox?”

Question: Do you feed deer during the winter?

Not quite the Zags

Last week I (Cindy) attended a Donkey basketball game at my son's middle school. Those donkeys traveled all the time and never got called on it. The Zags may be more thrilling to watch and probably smell better, but their games are never as funny as this one was.

Have you ever seen a donkey basketball game?

Club For Growth Targets Simpson

The anti-tax group that bankrolled one-term Congressman Bill Sali’s 2006 campaign says Idaho’s 8-term GOP Rep. Simpson is among nine “Republicans in Name Only” it aims to unseat in 2014 primaries. Club for Growth spent $1.1 million on behalf of former Idaho GOP Rep. Bill Sali in the 2006 primary and general elections, about half of all the money spent on his behalf. Sali won that race, but lost to Democrat Walt Minnick in 2008. Current Rep. Raul Labrador defeated Minnick in 2010. Simpson had a challenge from the right in both 2008 and 2010 from tea party favorite Chick Heileson. Simpson won with 58 percent in a four-way race in 2010. In a head-to-head with Heileson in 2012, Simpson won 70 percent to 30 percent/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo of Congressman Mike Simpson, left, and Gov. Butch Otter)

Question: Would you listen to a group's recommendations, after it'd spent $1.1 million to back Bill Sali?

Read more here:

Freedom Tree

Just chop the thing down
and acknowledge the fact
that freedom’s passé
since the Patriot Act.

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Idaho Leads In Minimum-Wage Jobs

More Idaho workers earned minimum wage in 2012 than in any year since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track a decade ago. The Idaho Department of Labor reports 7.7 percent of Idaho workers earned $7.25 an hour or less last year. That’s up from 5 percent in 2011. The new data show Idaho has the largest share of minimum-wage workers in the country. … The Labor Department says three in four Idaho jobs created last year were in the service sector, an area saturated with minimum wage jobs. Nationally, the share of workers earning minimum wage dropped from 5.2 percent to 4.7 percent in 2012/Emilie Ritter Saunders, StateImpact. More here. (SR file photo of a Subway restaurant worker who earns minimum wage)

Question: And you thought Idaho didn't lead the nation in any category? Pshaw …

Labrador Rips Obama On Budget

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador blasted President Barack Obama on Wednesday for lack of leadership in the sequestration spat, while hinting his willingness to accept some Democratic positions in potential immigration reform legislation. Labrador, R-Idaho, accused Obama and the media of “scare tactics” in emphasizing the impacts of automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion set to kick in Friday. “We haven’t had a lot of calls,” said Labrador, who spoke with reporters Wednesday and is considered an emerging leader among tea party conservatives. “I’ve had a few people call me concerned about what it’s going to do in the meat industry … and all those things”/Kip Hill, SR Washington correspondent. More here.

Question: I'd like to see Congressman Labrador eschew a run for governor next year and focus on a second term in the Legislature, where he might be able to lead us out of this immigration quagmire. What do you think?

Hall To Feature 50 Years Of Stones

The story of The Rolling Stones is so huge it takes 2½ floors of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to tell. The Cleveland-based museum will open “Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction,” an exclusive exhibit celebrating the archetypal rock band, on May 24. The exhibit will be open until March 2014 and will include personal and collected items that have never before been seen by the public along with film, text and interactive components and periodic lectures on the band's 50-year career. The entire exhibit will take up more than two floors of the museum/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo: Ronnie Woods and Mike Jagger in concert in December 2012)

Question: What's your all-time favorite Rolling Stones tune?

Atmospheric Ruminations, 58, RIP

Sad news to report today. I just verified with the Coos Bay Chapel in Coos Bay, Ore., that whimsical Dave Holmes, 58, (aka Atmospheric Ruminations) died of natural causes on Nov. 4. Dave, as you know, moved from his native Coeur d'Alene a few years back because he felt that Coeur d'Alene was getting too crowded. He returned last year for his 40th class reunion. I know that his father's suicide had haunted him through the years. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person before he moved to Oregon. He wasn't much of a people person. So I considered myself honored that he'd swing by the office to say goodbye. He was whimsical in his observations. But a kind soul. I'll miss him. In June 2011, Dave wrote a poignant blog post re: his family while considering the Casey Anthony trial. He wished his family was as mellow as his friend's. It'll give you some insight into this gentle but sometime tortured soul. Click here. You can also read his final blog post here. And you can read how he described himself on his blog here. H/T: Cis, for giving me a heads up re: Dave.

Of the Facebook photo inset above, Dave posted on June 10, 2012: “We locked the doors once the crowd was seated. I played for a 'captive' audience. 'Twas Friday nite at the open mic. Everyone clapped afterwards. They had to, or they wouldn't be allowed to leave. Me thrashing the Yamaha guitar I've had since 1985. Bought it for $65 from a pawnshop. It's never been in a pawnshop since, which is something of a miracle. Ask any musician how often they've had to pawn their instruments.”


Teacher’s Faith Talk In Class On Trial

Lori Pike, left, and fired public school science teacher John Freshwater, right, stand in front of a portrait of Thomas J. Moyer in the lobby of the Supreme Court before Freshwater's hearing on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. In a heated hour of arguments, Ohio Supreme Court justices sparred with lawyers over the extent to which Freshwater had the right to push his personal religious beliefs in class. Story here. (AP Photo/The Columbus Dispatch, Tom Dodge)

Question: To what extent should public school teachers be allowed to mentioned their personal religious beliefs in a classroom?

LCDC Ups McEuen Funding To $15.6M

The minutes of the Lake City Development Corporation Tuesday show the action taken by the urban renewal district to increase the funding for McEuen Field to $15.6M:

“LCDC Executive Director Berns introduced this proposed agreement amendment to the Board indicating that the existing LCDC/City of CDA McEuen Park Financing Agreement needs to be modified to reflect the January 26, 2013 decision by the LCDC Board to increase funding for the McEuen park initiative to an amount not to exceed $15,624,800. Complete minutes from Tuesday meeting here.

  • DFO: I'm trying to recall the amount of money LCDC had designated for the McEuen Field makeover prior to Tuesday's action — $11.5M?


Sho-Con: Tree Goes, I Do, Too

Sho-Con (“Lake City Freedom Tree faces ax”): I spend money in Coeur d'Alene. And, if the “view corridor” version is true, a slap in the face to our veterans for such a trivial reason reaches beyond city and county lines. Not to mention my business will be going to Hayden and Post Falls in the future if that is, in fact, the case. I hope someone can get some verification and post back here once they find out for sure.

Question: I would guess that the city will provide an upscale memorial with a Freedom Tree elsewhere at McEuen Field. Would that be sufficient to mollify individuals who want this tree to remain?

News Quiz Offers $50 Davenport Card

How much do you know about Gonzaga University basketball players, taxes on Girl Scout Cookies, new gaming systems and other current events? Take our weekly interactive quiz and find out. You could win movie tickets, EWU basketball tickets or a $50 gift card to the Davenport Hotel. You can find this week's News Quiz here.

  • Merry Hucksters on Leaderboard: Cathyanne, Big Mac, KCres, Rhodetrip, & Fishinjay.

Indiana Loses, Zags No. 1?

Second-ranked Gonzaga's game at BYU on Thursday suddenly has national significance. With No. 1 Indiana losing to Minnesota on Tuesday, the Zags might reach the top of the AP basketball poll Monday if they can beat BYU then defeat Portland on Saturday. The feat would be unprecedented for the mid-major program from the small Jesuit college in Spokane. While Gonzaga has been running with the elite teams in the nation for more than a decade, few in Spokane dreamed that coach Mark Few's gang could ever be No. 1. Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC) beat BYU 83-63 last month in Spokane. But the Bulldogs lost last year in Provo, where more than 20,000 fans make for a tough environment/Associated Press.

Question: Will you be disappointed if Gonzaga beats BYU in Provo, Portland at home, this week — and isn't No. 1 on Monday?

Sis: Smile When You Say ‘Astroturf’

Sisyphus (re: “Strategery: Luna Laws had poor PR”): Oh please. “Astroturfing” applies to the big business interests who called themselves “concerned parents” and endeavored to hide the fact that they were actually the very wealthy non-citizens, including billionaire Michael Bloomberg. If anything the IEA and NEA support was a detriment in the campaign. Both the unions and their big business opponents spent virtually equal amounts of money, with “independent” reform advocates like Vandersloot making massive last minute expenditures on Luna's behalf.

Question: I'd never heard of the term “astroturf” — other than in baseball terms — until I saw it applied to the Tea  Party movement. Now, Jeff has applied it to the IEA support for Luna Laws. What does it mean to you?

Still Running Against The Wind, Snow

Jacob Petri runs with other Mundelein High School students in a strength and conditioning class during a snow storm in Mundelein, Ill., Tuesday. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Gilbert R. Boucher II)

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.27.13

  • 11:46 a.m. Bomb squad is en route to Solid Waste Transfer station, 3650 Ramsey Road for report of undisclosed type of explosive.
  • 11:37 a.m. Caller reports tow truck speeding, cutting others off @ w/b I-90/Pleasantview, PF.
  • 11:35 a.m. PFPD Blue has recovered a stolen bike, unknown location.
  • 11:28 a.m. A vicious dog is reported @ 19th/Lunceford, CdA.
  • 11:22 a.m. Kootenai Fire EMTs are responding to gas station where female is incoherent.
  • 11:09 a.m. Firefighters are checking w/maintenance workers re: false alarm @ 1120 Idaho/PF.
  • 10:59 a.m. Undisclosed found property reported @ 125 W. Ironwood/CdA.
  • 10:37 a.m. ISP has tagged a disabled gray Chevy for removal by dark on w/b I-90/NW Blvd.
  • 10:26 a.m. Animal noise reported @ Emerald/Diamond, Emerald Estates, Hayden.
  • 10:11 a.m. Dog running loose @ Parks/Lewellen Creek roads/Athol.
  • 10:08 a.m. CPD Blue transporting male juvenile from Project to 21st/Lakeside, CdA.
  • 9:43 a.m. 58YO female w/migraine Tuesday awake but semi conscious @ Lemonwood/Silkwood/PF.
  • 9:25 a.m. 10YO boy w/fever suffering seizures in 400 block of E. First Avenue/Post Falls.
  • 9:18 a.m. Male walking along w/b I-90/MP 5 (Spokane Street/Post Falls).

NYT Spotlights Gay Marriage In INW

Henry “Digger” Johnston, a regular here since the beginning of Huckleberries, and his partner, Alex, are the subject of a New York Times article on same-sex marriage that focus on the difference in law on the controversial issue between Washington & Idaho:

The border with Washington State is just two miles from the home that Henry D. Johnston and his partner, Alex Irwin, own here in western Idaho, but for a gay couple it might as well be a thousand. Over there, just a brisk morning’s walk away, same-sex marriage was approved by a majority of statewide voters last fall; over here, the Idaho Constitution, through an amendment passed by voters in 2006, says that even a civil union granted elsewhere has no validity. “Set your clock back,” Mr. Johnston said of his daily commute home from a job in Pullman, Wash. The nation’s patchwork geography of same-sex marriage laws was not much of an issue when just a few states allowed it. But now nine states and the District of Columbia allow such unions, with Maine, Maryland and Washington voting to join the list last fall. And the More here. (Facebook photo: Henry Johnston at controls of KRFP radio show in Moscow)


Poll: Most Won’t See Hydro Races

  • Tuesday Poll: A supermajority of Hucks Nation doesn't plan to attend the hydroplane races scheduled for Lake Coeur d'Alene over the Labor Day weekend this summer. 122 of 169 respondents (72.19%) say they won't attend the races, the first in more 40 years, if they are staged as planned. 38 of 169 respondents (22.49%) said they would attend the races. 9 (5.33%) are undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Do you support Sen. Bob Nonini's bill to give a tax credit to those who contribute to private school scholarships?

Rice: Put All Idaho Adults In Militia

Lawmakers fearful the U.S. Supreme Court might one day reverse itself on the issue of individual gun rights aim to change the Idaho Constitution's definition of a militia to include all the state's adults. That way, argued Sen. Jim Rice of Caldwell Wednesday in the Senate State Affairs Committee, the federal government could never swoop in and disarm residents. Rice wants to put the amendment before voters in the November 2014 election, calling it an important “backstop” to existing protections of individual gun rights/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Um, do you want to be part of the Idaho militia?

12YO Lobbies For Idaho Amphibian

An Idaho House committee was bowled over today by one of the most persuasive pitches for a bill so far this legislative session – and it came from a 12-year-old. “Idaho is home to many amazing amphibians,” sixth-grader Ilah Hickman told the House State Affairs Committee. “One should be selected to represent our great state.” She proposed the Idaho giant salamander as Idaho’s state amphibian. “It bears the name of Idaho, and I think that the skin on it looks like the topographical map of our Bitterroot mountain range,” Ilah told the committee. “A lot of states have reptiles and amphibians, but Idaho doesn’t,” she noted. “Many have frogs and newts and salamanders”/Betsy Russell, SR. More here. (Betsy Russell photo: Ilah Hickman, 12, right, with Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, left, in the state Capitol on Wednesday)

Question: Do you have a favorite amphibian?

AM Headlines — 2.27.13

Angela Weekes, left, and Kari Seibel lead the Nampa Police Department's charge against domestic violence, which focuses in part on recognizing the signs and significance of strangulation. The NPD is one of the first departments in the nation to adopt a new online training program on strangulation, and it's required of all employees. (AP/Statesman photo: Katherine Jones)

Pianist Van Cliburn, 78, RIP

This Sept. 21, 2004, file photo shows pianist Van Cliburn performing during at a concert dedicated to the memory of the victims of the recent Beslan school massacre in Moscow. Cliburn, the internationally celebrated pianist whose triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular career that made him the rare classical musician to enjoy rock star status died early today at his Fort Worth home following a battle with bone cancer. He was 78. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, file)

Question: Do you remember Van Cliburn?

Speaking Of Ron Lahr …

… The Reagan Republican president tells Huckleberries that he has a speaking line of 4 words in “The Crucible,” which will be performed at the Jacklin Arts & Cultural Center, 405 William St., Post Falls, March 7-9, 14-16, under the direction of Jared Helm. Tongue firmly cheeked, Ron said: “The subject matter appealed to me.” Of play is Arthur Miller's tale of fear and accusation, focusing on the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts during 1692 and 1693. Ron notes that two other Reagan Republican board members are involved in this JAC production: Jeff Ward and Lori Gervais. He only smiled when Huckleberries asked if the Reagan Republicans have taken a position on witch trials. (BTW, two of my favorite young people, Keenan & Amanda Bianchi, are performing the lead roles.) Tickets cost $15/$10students. For more information or to book tickets, please call 208-457-8950. More information re: “The Crucible” here.

Strategery: Luna Laws Had Poor PR

In their 8-page Strategery Report, circulated to Idaho legislators Tuesday, Ron Lahr & Jeff Ward gave their version re: why the Luna Laws were soundly defeated at the polls:

The seeds of the defeat for Students Come First were planted in 2010 when the Idaho Legislature passed the reforms. The obvious opposition was the Idaho Education Association and in the midst of the debate over the bills, the IEA and allies in labor mounted loud public opposition to the actually modest reforms. Proponents muscled through the bills relying on wide Republican majorities but failed to match the asdtro-turbed public relations efforts of the IEA. Full comment here.

Question: Was the poor showing of the Luna Laws at the polls simply a matter of better public relations by the IEA and allies?

Injured Boise Baseball Fan Can Sue

A man who lost an eye after being hit by a foul ball at a baseball game can seek damages from a minor league team in Idaho. The Idaho Supreme Court decided not to impose the “Baseball Rule” of liability in the lawsuit brought by Bud Rountree, instead choosing to let a jury decide if watching baseball is an inherently dangerous activity done at the spectator's own risk. Rountree was struck by a ball while watching the Boise Hawks, a Chicago Cubs farm team. Loyola Law Sports Institute Director Daniel Lazaroff says the ruling was a rare strikeout for the Baseball Rule, which has been adopted by courts in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan and elsewhere/AP via Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: If this lawsuit is successful, could it endanger baseball play in Idaho?

Nonini Pushes Private School Credit

Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, is proposing a new version of his unsuccessful bill from last year to grant a tax credit for donations to scholarships for Idaho students to attend to private schools, saying the move will save money by having fewer students enroll in Idaho public schools. “This particular piece of legislation has a projected state savings of $3.3 million, and a projected local savings of $2.49 million, for a total overall savings of $5.8 million dollars,” Nonini told the House Rev & Tax Committee this morning/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you support/oppose this bill? Why?

Trib: Guv, Legislators Dismantling Ed

Idaho's governor and Legislature couldn't do a better job of dismantling public education if they tried. And who says they're not trying? For more than a decade, they have whittled away at the state's financial commitment to K-12. Last year Mike Ferguson (pictured), the former chief economist who now is director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, unearthed this fact: In that time, the share of Idaho's personal income devoted to schools dropped more than 20 percent, the equivalent of $550 million annually. Under the disastrous influence of then-Gov. Jim Risch, lawmakers in 2006 kicked the props out from under stable school finance by replacing property tax support with sales taxes - a foundation that crumbled under the weight of the Great Recession/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: The Tribune editorial goes on to say that the governor's proposal to eliminate the personal property tax would be disastrous for education. Do you think Otter and the Legislature are intentionally trying to harm education? Or are they doing so unintentionally?

Cutline Contest — 2.27.13

Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, left, runs into a fan and spills his drink while chasing a foul ball against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

DFO: I switched photos.

Vestal: Washington OK With Bad Cops

It’s official: If a cop lies or commits a crime, it’s not necessarily a firing offense. The Washington Legislature’s cool with that. If you’ve been paying any attention, you know this is already the state of our state. Cops who merely lie or break the laws can not only hang onto their jobs, they can expect lavish rewards if their bosses get the crazy idea that they should be fired. Arbitration rights intended to protect employees from capricious decisions by bad bosses have instead turned into a full protection plan for cops who do things that might get them fired as a grocery bagger. Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich took a run at changing that, but the idea – carried by state Rep. Kevin Parker and state Sen. Mike Padden, both local Republicans – died whimpering in committee last week/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Shouldn't cops be held to a higher standard than rank-and-file citizens, not a lower one?

Cancer Center Buys New Equipment

The Kootenai Cancer Center location in Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday showed off its new $2.3 million linear accelerator for cancer treatment and imaging. The Trilogy model linear accelerator was developed by Palo Alto, Calif.-based manufacturer Varian Medical Systems. The machine is able to completely rotate around patients and deliver radiation treatment from many different angles resulting in fewer side effects. Joe Holmes, a medical physicist for the cancer center, said, “What makes it a Trilogy is there are three photon energies, where in the past we just had two energies.” Additionally, he said, “Now we have an on-board imager that allows us to look at the patients in 3-D”/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Jerome A. Pollos Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Dr. Walt Fairfax, chief medical officer of Kootenai Health, inspects a linear accelerator recently purchased for the Kootenai Cancer Center)

Question: Has someone in your family been treated at the Kootenai Cancer Center? Was he/she treated well?

Edit: County Treasurer Did Job Well

Know this about Tom Malzahn: He's going to play more golf. But when he retires as Kootenai County treasurer this time next month, you might not see any other significant changes in the man or the way he goes about the business of life. A cancer survivor approaching his fifth anniversary in remission, Malzahn plans to keep on keepin' on pretty much the way he has been - which is well above par for the course. For a dozen years Malzahn has made his office a model of efficiency. A little bit of that was brought on by some tough times; his department at one point had 11 employees, now down to seven. But two of those positions had been devoted to administering the county's local option sales tax, now expired, and between overseeing a rigorous cross-training program and implementing new taxation/assessment software, the seven-person crew sails right along/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Do you have any complaints re: way the Kootenai County Treasurer's Office operates?

Wild Card/Tuesday — 2.26.13

The Zags are No. 2. The temperature is rising to greet March in 3 days. And the troublesome Torch/Rendezvous bikini bar has finally gone the way of the dodo, giving way to a country Western theme (not that I'd go to either). All seems right with the world as I post the Wild Card today …

Parting Shot — 2.26.13

Steve Parks shovels snow dressed as the Statue of Liberty in front of Liberty Tax in Lombard, Ill., today. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Black)

Lake City ‘Freedom Tree’ Faces Ax

The Freedom Tree in Coeur d'Alene has stood as a memorial to veterans for more than 40 years, but with the redevelopment of McEuen Park the tree will fall under the axe. The tree, which has replica dog tags hanging from lights on the tree, will be cut down to make way for the park expansion; plans call for a new tree to be planted and a new veterans memorial, but some say the process is being handled all wrong. “Its meaning to people and there's people's names on 'em and again that is something that is special,” veteran Baron Cheffer said. The tree got its name in honor of retired Air Force Lt. Col. Captain Fred McMurray, who was shot down over North Vietnam on Sept. 12, 1972 while flying as a navigator aboard an F-4E Phantom. McMurray was taken captive as a POW and eventually returned home in 1973. Many others did not/Aaron Luna, KXLY. More here. (Photo: KXLY)

Question: Is the city of Coeur d'Alene handling the removal of the Freedom Tree correctly?

Goedde’s License Bill Runs Into Ditch

It isn’t every day that a legislative committee rejects a chairman’s bill. But it happened Tuesday afternoon, when the Senate Education Committee tabled a bill that would tie teenagers’ driver’s licenses to “satisfactory academic progress.” Teen driver’s licenses are already tied to school attendance. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, proposed the academic requirement, Senate Bill 1087, after a Meridian driver’s education teacher suggested it during a Senate-House education “listening session” on Feb. 1. “I thought it was a good idea,” Goedde said after the vote/Kevin Richert, The EDge. More here.

Question: At least Goedde didn't try to tie teenager's driver's licenses to reading Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged.” That's progress, right?

PM Headlines — 2.26.13

Sen. Michael Crapo, R-Idaho, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, right, questions Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, during the committee's hearing where Bernanke delivered the central bank's Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.26.13

  • 5:36 p.m. Disabled vehicle w/Kootenai plates blocking H95/Appleway intersection/CdA.
  • 5:28 p.m. VW Pissan headed wrong way @ top of I-90/H41 onramp after crash.
  • 4:24 p.m. ISP officer is stopping to check on small child by itself @ H95/Neider, CdA.
  • 4:21 p.m. Female threatening to commit suicide @ St. James/Strahorn, Hayden.
  • 4:01 p.m. Driver of red Pontiac Grand Am possibly DUI on 2/b H95/Chilco.
  • 3:19 p.m. 65YO male is disoriented at Dirne Clinic, 1090 W. Park Place, CdA.
  • 2:38 p.m. PFPD Blue makes contact w/49YO transient (2:28 item) named Jeffrey.
  • 2:28 p.m. PFPD Blue is trying to track down transient at old River City Yamaha/Post Falls.
  • 2:22 p.m. Stop sign @ 9th & Post Falls Library is leaning at 45-degree angle.
  • 2:13 p.m. Unknown if injuries resulted from accident @ 915 Sherman/downtown Coeur d'Alene.
  • 2:05 p.m. ISP officer en route to Dirne Clinic/CdA w/compliant prisoner.
  • 1:52 p.m. Unknown Post Falls school wants police help because student isn't listening.
  • AM Scanner Traffic

Lahr’s Strategery Spreading Wings

Seems that Ron Lahr's Strategery political organization is trying to fry bigger fish as evidenced by a flyer (The Strategery Report, February issue) circulated to legislators via the state email system today. The 8-page flyer encourages Republicans to focus on winning elected positions on nonpartisan boards to eliminate Democrats from holding revenue purse strings. Also, it includes a section on why the “modest” — word use by Lahr (pictured) & Jeff Ward — reforms proposed by Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna were soundly defeated by otherwise conservative Idahoans. At the end, The Strategery Report tells the individual lawmakers: “Whether you are an incumbent, a challenger, or seeking an open seat, we at the Strategery Group would like the opportunity to help you to victory. You can read The Strategery Report yourself here.

Question: Do you think Ron Lahr and Jeff Ward will be successful in exporting their brand of Reagan Republicanism, via Strategery, throughout Idaho?

NI Blogs: Gotta Love A Sewer Plant …

… Operated by folks with a sense of humor. This is the sign on the Spokane River side of the plant, along the extended Centennial Trail. I've passed this sign often but never had the nerve to press the button. Councilman Dan Gookin, who provided this photo for Huckleberries Online, didn't either. So we'll simply let our imaginations wonder re: what would happen if you wanted a little extra “aromatherapy.”

Huckleberries numbers (for Monday, Feb. 25): 9619 page-views/5067 unique views

SR Blogs — 2.26.13

On his Slice blog, Paul Turner posts the No. 1 song from this date in 1960, Percy Faith's “Theme from a Summer Place.” Is it wrong that I know all the old songs that Paul posts? (Photo:

Bond: About Lucky Friday Reopening

In his Wallace Street Journal column, Dave Bond offers these observations re: Hecla's reopening of the Lucky Friday Mine:

  • First, that fully 90 percent of the laid-off crew returned to the mine when called back. If there's an historic precedent, I am not aware of it. (The Sunshine Mine, when I worked in the office there in the 1980s, typically would go through three times the number of actual people on the payroll at any given year – a turnover rate of 3-to-1. Hecla has accomplished essentially a zero-to-one ratio: Not many leave.)
  • Second, that Hecla fully covered the medical insurance premiums of its laid-off hourly and salaried workers for the duration of the year-long shutdown. If you have ever been laid off or left work and had to pay your own federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act to keep your family in health insurance (cutely acronymed “COBRA”) you'll understand how vicious and expensive these payments are. Full column here.

Question: Do you have any relatives who work — or have worked — in the Lucky Friday?

‘Breaking Dawn 2’ Earns Razzies

Actors, from left, Judith Shekoni, Tracey Heggins, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Christian Camargo, Peter Facinelli and Casey LaBow are shown in a scene from the film “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.” The finale to the blockbuster supernatural romance dominated the 33rd Annual Razzie Awards on Saturday, with seven awards, including worst actress for Kristen Stewart, supporting actor for Taylor Lautner, director for Bill Condon and worst screen couple for Lautner and child co-star Mackenzie Foy. (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, Andrew Cooper, SMPSP, File)

Question: What is the worst movie that you saw last year?

Idaho Senate Rejects Medical Pot, Too

Idaho senators voted along party lines Monday to declare that their state should never legalize marijuana for any purpose, but rejected another measure calling for a federal crackdown on states like Washington that have. “Idaho cannot go into any other state and enforce Idaho law there. We are looking to the federal government,” state Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, sponsor of both measures, told the Senate. But senators from both parties, who spent six hours last week railing against federal intervention in states’ rights on health care reform, said the crackdown measure went too far. “The hypocrisy and inconsistency in this bill we’re considering right now just astounds me,” said state Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise. The Senate rejected SJM 101, Winder’s nonbinding federal crackdown memorial, on a 21-13 vote/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

More Eye on Boise posts today:

Question: Do you think the Idaho Senate was correct in rejecting legalization of all pot use in Idaho, including medical marijuana?

Did Busch Water Down Beer?

Bud Light beer is shown in the aisles of Elite Beverages in Indianapolis. Beer lovers across the country have filed $5 million class-action lawsuits accusing Anheuser-Busch of watering down its Budweiser, Michelob and other brands. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Question: Do you drink any Anheuser-Busch beer?

D.C. Nightmare

More frightful than zombies
whose open sores fester,
the sharp slashing fangs of
the dreaded Sequester.

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

Just Where Is ‘Back East’?

At The Slice blog, Paul Turner asked readers what they meant when they said “Back East.” Here's a sampling:

  • “For those of us from the Great Lakes Midwest, 'Back East' refers to Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., or anyplace within 300 miles of them,” wrote Ellen Pierce.
  • “I grew up in Ohio, which was definitely called the Midwest,” wrote Lorinda Knight. “Therefore, 'Back East' must be somewhere east of Ohio.”
  • “I originally hail from upstate New York, so there is no question in my mind what 'Back East' is,” wrote John Sayles.
  • Peter Lucht said “Back East” stretches far enough west to include Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.
  • “'Back East' pertains to New England or the Mid-Atlantic states,” wrote Marianne Kutner.

Question: What do you mean when you say, “Back East”?

Ward: So Happy Together

I think everyone who attended the Kootenai County Republican Party Legislative Town Hall Meeting this past Saturday at the Coeur d'Alene Library came to the same conclusion I did. The Republican Party in Kootenai County has never been more unified and willing to fight together as allies.  The reason: opposition to the implementation of Obamacare in Idaho through a state healthcare exchange.  Although it is disappointing that some of our legislators have yet to see the state exchange as the unilateral surrender to Obamacare that it is, there is no doubt the vast (almost uniform) majority of rank-and-file Republicans in our county intently and vocally oppose the measure/Jeff Ward, Kootenai Weekly Conservative. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Jeff that the vast majority of rank-and-file Republicans in our county intently and vocally oppose the governor's state-run health exchange?

Happy Zags Soar To New Heights

It isn’t easy to illustrate team chemistry, but here goes. Drew Barham was on Gonzaga’s campus for less than a week when he and sophomore guard Kevin Pangos started working on a trick-shot video. Guy Landry Edi and Elias Harris went to Cold Stone for ice cream Sunday night, then hung out at a house shared by Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk and David Stockton. A few nights ago, Barham and Pangos snap-chatted (ask a teenager) home-made music videos to teammates. However you want to define team chemistry, it seems the Gonzaga men’s basketball team has plenty of it/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (Colin Mulvany SR photo: Gonzaga players celebrate Saturday’s 81-50 victory over San Diego)

Question: Is the 2012-13 Zags your favorite Gonzaga men's basketball team?

Single Mom True To Special Family

“You have to roll with the punches,” said Hayden Lake resident Stacey Sprock as she prepared for a job interview on Oct. 29, 2012. Stacey has four children, each with special needs. She and her husband separated in 2008. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka) See Kathy's slideshow of the Sprock family here.

Meet Stacey Sprock. She’s a mom doing the best she can with a life that may seem impossible to fathom. Unemployed and separated from her husband, Sprock is raising four children in a rental house in Hayden Lake. Her youngest son is disabled from birth defects that will keep him dependent on others his whole life. It was only in recent years, however, that Sprock learned each of her children has a developmental disorder or life-changing condition – a result of coincidence, not genetics or environmental causes, as far as anyone can determine. “I still feel there’s something out there that’s not answered, but I’m to that point I don’t know how to get that answer anymore,” she said. “It seems like I’ve done every test I’ve read about”/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: Are their any special needs children in your family? How have they enriched you?

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.26.13

  • 11:33 a.m. Dustin has returned a call to CPD HQ re: hit-and-run crash that occurred Monday.
  • 11:11 a.m. Avista reports it doesn't service 609 N. Calgary Court/PF, where natural gas is smelled.
  • 11:09 a.m. Undisclosed medical emergency in 1100 block of W. Wilbur/Hayden.
  • 11:01 a.m. Driver of semi on w/b H53 from McGuire/Hauser Lake possibly DUI.
  • 10:51 a.m. Homeless man w/backpack allegedly taking items from restroom of e/b Huetter rest stop to set up camp 20 feet behind the Dumpsters on the public property.
  • 10:42 a.m. Holiday Inn Express/CdA employee sez female named Amanda is refusing to leave premises after her credit card was declined.
  • 10:37 a.m. Undisclosed medical emergency reported in 7300 block of H53/Rathdrum.
  • 10:33 p.m. Several callers report possible DUI Volvo driver on w/b Boekel from H95/Hayden.
  • 10:31 p.m. Deputy reports female hitchhiker drawing attention along H95 but not road hazard.
  • 10:26 a.m. PFPD Blue plans to write up case against 2 kids repeatedly dialing 911.
  • 10:18 a.m. CPD Blues looking for female's car at Kroc Center suspect possible prank call.
  • 9:43 a.m. Female in gray Honda driving recklessly on Upriver, 1.5 miles west of H95.
  • 9:29 a.m. Loose dog reported in 1800 block of Nettleton Gulch/CdA.

Poll: Zags Worthy Of No. 2

  • Monday Poll: Almost a supermajority at Hucks Nation sez the Gonzaga Bulldogs are worthy of their No. 2 national ranking. 96 of 148 respondents (64.86%) say the Zags deserve to be No. 2, with their 27-2 record. 36 of 148 respondents (24.32%) say they don't. 16 (10.81%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Do you plan to attend the Diamond Cup Regatta hydroplane races on Lake Coeur d'Alene over the Labor Day Weekend?

Sequester: D’s Underestimated R’s

Amid the rampant finger-pointing over which party is to blame for the imminent sequester, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Democrats underestimated the “irresponsibility” of Republicans to allow the across-the-board cuts to take effect. The minority whip said Democrats backed the sequester only as a desperation move to prevent a government default 18 months ago, when GOP leaders were insisting on sharp spending cuts to accompany a last-minute debt-ceiling hike. But no one, Hoyer said, thought Republicans would let those cuts kick in – until now/Mike Lillis, The Hill. More here.

Question: Which party deserves the blame/credit, should sequestration become a reality — Democrats, Republicans, both?

Country Replaces Old Bikini Bar

Moose Lounge owner Dave Pulis and company are chasing a niche in the market they can't believe hasn't yet been tapped in the heart of North Idaho. Wine bars, biker bars, sports bars, even high-end locales with fancy appetizers dot Coeur d'Alene's dining and drinking landscape - not that there's anything wrong with that. But something, Pulis said Monday, has always seemed to be missing. The biggest city in the otherwise rural Idaho Panhandle doesn't have a kick-your-heels-up kind of country music bar. Not a bar that hangs a poster of John Wayne and calls itself the Wild, Wild West, but a good ol' fashioned country bar with a music stage, dance floor and a casual atmosphere where you eat “peanuts and popcorn and throw your shells on the floor.” “I just felt the Coeur d'Alene market was perfect for country,” said Pulis, touring the 5,500-square foot-building Monday, formerly home to the Rendezvous night club, that will house the new live music hall, The Country Club/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Question: Are you glad to see the official end of The Torch/Rendezvous era in downtown Coeur d'Alene?

Panel Suspended Sans Board Action

Christa Hazel reports on the community chat conducted by the Coeur d'Alene School District:

Last night's community chat provided an opportunity for questions regarding the hiatus “decision” (by the School Board re: the Long-Range Planning Committee).  Tom Hamilton was not in attendance due to illness. Superintendent Bauman explained Mr. Hamilton has been 'mistaken' with his assertions that the Board made and official decision about LRP.   She stated she spoke with him about this earlier in the day.  No official vote was made prior to placing Long Range Planning on hiatus and therefore no meeting minutes regarding this decision are available.  This was a decision made between the Board Chair and the Superintendent.  The board plans to rectify this at the March 4 board meeting. Based on comments last night, the board may or may not choose to reinstate this community-based committee.  Committee members serve 4 year appointments and meet monthly to update the Long Range Plan, study district buildings and programs plus help provide feedback regarding levies.”


Hydro Race Tickets To Go On Sale

Graphic designer Molly Quinn/SR provides this sketch of the proposed Diamond Cup Regatta race course.

The enthusiasm for bringing hydroplane racing back to Lake Coeur d’Alene after a 45-year absence will be revealed by ticket sales for the Diamond Cup Regatta on Labor Day weekend. Tickets go on sale Friday, and organizers hope the high-speed sport draws a crowd of more than 50,000 over two days of racing. The world’s fastest boats last raced near City Beach and Tubbs Hill in 1968. Previous attempts to bring them back met with public resistance, and in 1996 city voters approved an initiative banning hydro races along city limits. Diamond Cup officials have obtained permits from Kootenai County and the state to stage the races outside the city, along Silver Beach east of the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: Later in the article, Diamond Cup Regatta president Doug Miller pooh-poohs the recent resignation of at least half of the organization's board of directors. Am I the only one who thinks there's more to the resignations than anyone is letting on?

AM Headlines — 2.26.13

Senior Riley Moreen has helped lead LC to Idaho 5A tournament. See story below. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Cutline Contest — 2.26.13

Milwaukee Brewers' Taylor Jungmann flips a ball in the dugout during an exhibition spring training baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Monday in Phoenix. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Court Upholds Perv Registration

The Idaho Supreme Court says a Coeur d'Alene man must continue to register as a sex offender even though the crime he was sentenced for in 1991 wasn't declared a permanently registerable offense until 2009.   
The Supreme Court ruled Monday in 55-year-old Randall P. Bottum's appeal. He was sentenced to five years of probation for felony lewd conduct with a minor. Idaho's 1993 sex offender registration statute required anyone who was in prison or on probation at the time to register for 10 years after they were discharged from probation, and after that time they could seek an exemption. Another law passed in 2009 requiring those convicted of lewd conduct to permanently register/KHQ. More here.

Question: Do you occasionally look at the sex offender registry to see who's in it — and how many offenders live nearby?

Craig & Tap-Tap Jokes Return

Larry Craig of Idaho left the US Senate in 2008. His impact is still being felt — both as a lobbyist and as a defendant in a lawsuit. The details are well developed in the McClatchy article below. What isn't so clear is how this re-surfacing of Larry Craig's highly embarrassing public bathroom episode will serve him. Is it the money? Is it some type of obscure and “official” Senate duty (which may help MANY other elected officials who feel it is warranted to use donor dollars for legal expenses. For me, it's just odd that just when we thought it was “safe” to come out of the water-closet, we're all back there again. The “tap, tap” jokes. The “wide stance” stuff. The black-eyed-potato comments/Dennis Mansfield. More here. (AP file photo: Larry Craig, with Gov. Butch Otter standing by him, announces his resignation on Sept. 1, 2007)

Question: Will we still be talking about this embarrassing incident 10 years from now?

Hall: What Me Worry — About Future?

I heard something the other day that made me start worrying about the old age of my unborn great-grandson. And I don't mean Social Security or the national debt or the cost of false teeth in the future when the wee ones of today become the elders of tomorrow. I mean the temperature of the world in which he will be living. I mean the likelihood the alleged Chicken Littles among us are correct that global warming will be reaching its peak by the end of this century. Normally, those of us in the most selfish generation don't worry our old bald heads and our sagging bosoms about trifles like whatever plagues the world at the end of this century in 2099. That's 86 years from now. Ours is not a generation that is famous for worrying about younger generations. We have our hands full worrying about our own needs - our meds, our capital gains taxes, our Tea Party dues/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you ever worry about the world your grandchildren's children will face?

Parker: Time To Rise Up, RINOs

RINO-hunting, the long popular political sport that morphed in 2008 into a sort of hysteria-driven obsession, lately has become a suicide mission. RINO, of course, refers to Republicans In Name Only and is the pejorative term used against those who fail to march in lockstep with the so-called conservative base. I used “so-called” because, though the hard-right faction of the party tends to be viewed as The Base, this isn't necessarily so. My guess is there are now more RINOs than those who, though evangelical in their zeal, are poison to their party's ability to win national elections.Yet, as always, the base manages to control the message because it is vocal, loud and, most important, makes for “Good TeeVee.” Spittle sells. Stay calm and carry on … right past the elevators and leave your visitor badge on the counter on your way out the door/Kathleen Parker, Washington Post. More here.

Question: Does this have an Idaho application?

Silver Mountain On Auction Block

A skier takes advantage of the snowy conditions at Silver Mountain in Kellogg on Monday. The Oregon company trying to sell Silver Mountain Resort has extended the auction process until March 18. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

The owner of Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg has extended an online auction for the property in expectation of getting more qualified bidders. As it stands, 20 potential buyers have signed nondisclosure forms and have been given access to the resort complex’s financial records, said J. Murph Yule, of Waterford Development Corp., a Boston-based management consulting firm. An original January deadline to sell parts of the resort, ski area, golf course and other properties was canceled and the deadline extended to March 19, Yule said/Tom Sowa, SR. More here.

Question: Do you ski at Silver?

Public School, Charter Fight Looms

Facing up to a fight over charter schools. A measure over facilities funding points to larger issues over education funding. Alan Millarsays he hopes conflict can be avoided. His group, the Idaho Charter School Network is pushing the proposal to fund buildings. But he says a fight is possible.   “If the traditional education establishment isn’t willing to accept that charters are an integral part of the education landscape in Idaho, then we’re going to continue down this same kind of road,” Millar says.  His group and others in the charter community have taken pains to avoid conflict. They met for months with the organizations that represent school boards and school administrators/Kestrel West Morning Memo. More here.

Question: Do you consider charter schools to be an integral part of the public school system?

Stay With Sheep — Or Else

AP wins for best lead sentence of the day: A legislative proposal from the Idaho Wool Growers Association would give ranchers more options should their employees walk away and leave a herd untended. John Miller had fun writing the story:

“In Idaho, Little Bo Peep better keep up with her sheep.  The livestock industry wants a new law, to charge shepherds who abandon their animals on the open range or in the lambing sheds with a misdemeanor crime.  The Senate State Affairs Committee agreed to introduce the bill Monday, to punish sheepherders who go on the lam with up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. Helping somebody to leave their sheep would merit the same treatment, under the bill“/Kestrel West Morning Memo. More here.

Question: We need someone from southern Idaho to explain this bill? Sisyphus?

Clark: The Real Story Behind ‘Argo’

Newly crowned best picture “Argo” is about a fake science fiction movie that was created as a ruse to bring home six American diplomats who were hiding out during the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran. But after watching “Argo” over the weekend, I’m thinking the finished product is nearly as fanciful as the film that was never meant to be made. That’s the trouble when you know more facts than you should about something, I guess. What happened in Iran more than three decades ago always boils down to a couple of deeply personal things to me: The biggest scoop I ever had. And the most meaningful decision of my newsmongering career. My unexpected intrusion into this international crisis centered on a U.S. agricultural attaché who was serving in Tehran when militants stormed our embassy on Nov. 4, 1979. His name is Lee Schatz/Doug Clark, SR. More here. (SR file photo circa 1980, of Lee Schatz)

Question: Have you seen “Argo”?

Ramirez: Bite-Size Sequestration

Michael Ramirez/Investor's Business Daily

Wild Card/Monday — 2.25.13

North Idaho College wrestlers have returned as national co-champions after a solid weekend in Des Moines. Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her terrific portrayal of “Fantine” in “Les Miserables.” The roads are starting to thaw — and the slideoffs and crashes are diminishing this morning. And all seems right with the world, despite a brief return of winter. Here's your first Wild Card of the week …

Parting Shot — 2.25.13

Fans seek autographs through a fence during an exhibition spring training baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners today in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Spudbob: Pre-1750 Books I’ve Read

Spudbob: I am just ordering a book written by Galileo and it got me to thinking about books written before 1750 that I have read. Here is what I came up with off the top of my head. There may be a couple more: The Compleat Angler, Journal of the Plague Year, Robinson Caruso, The Decameron, a couple of Shakespeare’s plays, and Machiavelli’s “The Prince.” Knowing that there are some English majors (and many very well read people) posting on HBO, what olde books have others read that are not on my list?

DFO: Bible ;-)

Anyone else?

Best Picture ‘Argo’ Has Post Falls Tie

He lists Iran, Iraq, India and more than two dozen other nations among the places he’s worked. H. Lee Schatz’ 31 years with the Foreign Agricultural Service shows the University of Idaho agricultural economics graduate is brave, resourceful and committed to making the world a better place. He’s also the only agricultural economist to trod the red carpet in October's Beverly Hills premier of Ben Affleck’s new movie “Argo.” It portrays a 1980 U.S.-Canada covert operation to extract six Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis. Lee Schatz was one of the six. That’s why he was on the CBS Sunday Morning show Oct. 7. A 2007 Wired Magazine story talked about the rescue, focusing on the CIA’s role, which was kept secret at the time to protect Americans still held hostage. Schatz, pictured, grew up on the Rathdrum Prairie on a small family farm near Post Falls/University of Idaho news release. More here. (Photo courtesy of University of Idaho)

Question: Do you remember the Iran Hostage Crisis?

PM Headlines — 2.25.13

Walkabout snapped this photo of two bald eagles hanging in an osprey nest across the Spokane River from the Dike Road adjacent to North Idaho College.

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.25.13

  • 5:29 p.m. Unknown medical emergency at Guardian Angel Homes, 1050 E. Mullan/PF.
  • 5:19 p.m. Computers at county 911 system are down.
  • 4:45 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Feb. 24-25 here.
  • 4:36 p.m. A disabled truck on a blind corner on w/b I-90/MP 53.7 (west of Kellogg), causing hazard.
  • 4:34 p.m. 71YO male fell 5 feet from ladder onto hip & can't sit down on Harbor Drive/CdA.
  • 3:55 p.m. Woman leaves toddler in car seat at unknown location; PFPD Blues are responding.
  • 10 more items + AM Scanner Traffic below

North Idaho Blogs — 2.25.13

“The Idaho Burger is back by popular demand but only in Japan,” posts Stebbijo/Stebbijo's Place. “This burger “features a quarter-pound beef patty, melted cheese, a deep-fried hash brown, strips of bacon, onions and pepper-and-mustard sauce.” The calorie count is 713. Something is wrong, you think?” That's Stebbijo's brother with a burger in Tokyo. More here.

Huckleberries numbers (for week of Feb. 17-23): 47,861 page-views/26.961 unique views

Vick, Nuxoll Fail To Send ‘Message’

Betsy Russell/Eye on Boise reports that 2 North Idaho senators — Steve Vick, R- Dalton Gardens, and Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood — were behind a failed minority move that would have cost the state federal Medicaid dollars:

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, led a move to cut out the $225,900 in state funds. Along with Sens. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, and Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, Thayn proposed a budget motion slicing out that state money, saying, “This is something that’s required by the federal government. I think this is $225,000 that we could be using in other areas. Since it’s their policy, I think we should be using their money.” However, by failing to provide the state match, Idaho could lose the entire $1.46 million in federal funds, putting it into a position of non-compliance with the federal law. More here.

Question: Are you as tired as I am of these symbolic attempts by North Idaho legislators to send a message to Washington — a message that would hurt important funding for Idaho?

Bill To Protect Health Workers Dies

Kootenai Medical Center says its workers are being violently assaulted more and more frequently - to the point that it wants to make any attack on a health care worker in Idaho a felony.  “We’ve seen an increasing number of individuals who come in through the emergency room who are exhibiting very violent behavior,” David Lehman, lobbyist for KMC, told the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. Many are seeking prescription drugs/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Other Eye on Boise posts today:

Cross Denounces Malek Stand

John Cross of Post Falls, to the left of emcee Bruce Maddox of Rathdrum, denounces the stand taken by state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, in favor of the governor's state-run health exchange during the legislative forum at the Coeur d'Alene Library Saturday. Cross is the GOP Region 1 chairman. According to the Coeur d'Alene Press, Cross told Malek he could no longer support Malek's political career as a result of the freshman's state exchange stance, Malek said: “I'm honored, honored to have this seat, but I'm not going to sacrifice my principals.” Coeur d'Alene Press story here. (Duane Rasmussen photo for Huckleberries Online)

DFO: I find it extremely refreshing that newcomer Reps. Malek and Ed Morse aren't walking lock-step with the conservative hardliners in control of the Kootenai County GOP machinery. Only last year, the local GOP, including the Reagan Republicans and all legislative candidates, lined up en masse behind state Superintendent Tom Luna's so-called education reform proposals — only to watch as Idahoans overwhelmingly rejected that dangerous experiment. It wouldn't surprise me that, beyond the local GOP power structure, that most Idahoans see wisdom in the governor's plan to have the state control the health exchange rather than the feds. Those who are still fighting Obamacare after the Supreme Court decision in favor of it are in serious need of a reality check.

LCDC Seeks Alternate McEuen Parking

In the Lake City Development Corporation minutes from meeting last week, is this discussion re: alternative parking during McEuen Field/Front Avenue reconstruction this summer:

“Parking Committee Chair Jim Elder shared that planning efforts are underway to develop temporary parking solutions for the upcoming 2013 McEuen Park construction project wherein the remainder of the existing 3rd street surface parking lot will be removed for park construction. Commissioner Elder invited Terry Cooper, Downtown Association Manager, to visit with the Board on this matter. Commissioner Elder asked if there will be any temporary parking available to the public in the McEuen Park construction zone once construction commences this spring?

  • Mr. Cooper shared that no temporary public parking will be available on the McEuen construction site once construction commences.
  • Mr. Cooper shared that he is working on temporary parking solutions for the construction time period.
  • Complete minutes of LCDC meeting Wednesday here.

Question: Do you fear that parking in downtown Coeur d'Alene will be a nightmare this summer?

Risch To Appear On Beck Show

As you may recall, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, was declared the most conservative U.S. senator by the National Review, which asked: “Who's he?” Risch explained his relative invisibility in U.S. Senate by saying he's not much of a publicity seeker. Seems he's gotten over his camera shyness. This just in:

U.S. Senator Jim Risch will appear on The Glenn Beck Program tomorrow morning, February 26, 2013 at 10:35 am ET, 8:35 am MT and 7:35 am PT. Risch and Beck will discuss current issues facing the nation. You can stream the show live online or catch it on a local radio syndicate. The link for streaming can be found here:

Question: Would The Glenn Beck Program be your go-to radio show if you wanted to increase your public profile?

Idaho Most Underrated State?

Jon Heder, left, and Efren Ramirez are seen in this scene from the film “Napoleon Dynamite.” Many people think of someone like Napoleon Dynamite when they think of Idaho residents (if they think of us at all). However, Buzzfeed lists 45 reasons why Idaho might be the most underrated state in the union. You can see why here. (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Aaron Ruell)

Question: Why do/don't you think Idaho is under-rated?

Pitts: System Will Slap Baby, Too

The first kick I took was when I hit the ground.” Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the U.S.A.”

So now, Jonah has received a lesson in How Things Are. He is 19 months old. Sitting on his mother’s lap on a recent Delta Airlines flight on approach to Atlanta, he was doing what babies tend to do on airplanes, particularly airplanes that are changing altitude. He was crying his little head off. Shut that “(N-word) baby” up. Those were the alleged words of the alleged man in the next seat just before he allegedly slapped the baby with an open palm, leaving a scratch below his right eye. The alleged man, 60-year-old Joe Rickey Hundley, of Hayden, denies this sequence of events, and his attorney last week said Hundley would plead not guilty to a charge of simple assault. But at least one witness corroborates the story, as told by Jonah’s mother, 33-year-old Jessica Bennett. She and her husband are white. Their adopted son is African-American/Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald. More here. (Facebook photo: Jessica Bennett and son, Jonah)

Question: At least national columnist Pitts didn't mention that the Aryan Nations were also from Hayden Lake. That's a win, right?

Post Falls Man Heads Idaho Dems

Idaho Democratic activists chose Larry Kenck of Post Falls as Chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party. Kenck replaces Larry Grant, who stepped down after two years in the position. The vote came on Saturday during the activist events surrounding the Frank and Bethine Church Gala weekend, an annual fundraiser for the IDP that drew about 600 people from across the state. Kenck told the crowd Saturday night that he is focused on uniting Democrats and working toward a common cause: “We are the Democrats of Idaho and we are joining hands to show the state that we will bring balance back to Idaho,” said Kenck. More here.

Question: Do you expect a revival of Idaho Democrats in the next decade?

Bill Targets Cops Enforcing Gun Laws

Idaho law enforcement officers who help the federal government confiscate newly-banned firearms or ammunition would be guilty of a crime. That's according to a measure introduced Monday in the House State Affairs Committee seeking to interfere with attempts by President Obama and Congress to ban semiautomatic weapons or other firearms following the massacre of Connecticut elementary school students. Government employees in Idaho who help enforce new federal firearms restrictions or registration requirements would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable with jail and a $1,000 fine. Rep. Mark Patterson of Boise said he seeks to ensure Idaho residents' “inalienable God-given rights to defend themselves” are forever protected/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Questionable: Would this bill, should it become law, be enforceable?

Senate Rejects Anti-Pot Memorial

Here’s how Idaho senators voted on SJM 101, the memorial to Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice calling for the federal government to enforce federal drug laws in all states – including those that have voted to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. The measure was defeated on a 13-21 vote; one senator, Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, was absent.

  • Voting yes: Sens. Bair, Brackett, Cameron, Davis, Fulcher, Guthrie, Heider, Hill, Lakey, Lodge, Martin, Tippets and Winder.
  • Voting no: Sens. Bayer, Bock, Buckner-Webb, Durst, Hagedorn, Johnson, Keough, Lacey, McKenzie, Mortimer, Nonini, Nuxoll, Patrick, Pearce, Rice, Schmidt, Siddoway, Stennett, Thayn, Vick and Werk.

Question: It's a bit strange that anti-fed Idaho would call on the federal government to enforce drug laws rejected by other states. Am I bottom-lining this one correctly?

Lincoln Day Flyers Are Out

The Kootenai County Republican Party has issued its flyer for the annual Lincoln Day Dinner on March 8. The main speakers are former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who will deliver the keynote address, and former Bonner County Commissioner Cornel Rasor, who will discuss 2nd Amendment rights. A firearms raffle will be part of the annual event.

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.25.13

  • 11:48 a.m. Driver of red pickup w/Kootenai plates possibly DUI e/b on Canfield from H95, CdA.
  • 11:26 a.m. Someone is suffering chest pain at St. Vinny's, 201 E. Harrison, CdA.
  • 11:13 a.m. Ambulance en route to Kootenai Medical w/patient suffering acute appendicitis.
  • 11:07 a.m. A pole truck is stuck on BNSF tracks near H95/Garwood.
  • 10:48 a.m. Driver of white Cadillac has corrected himself after going wrong-way on H95.
  • 10:44 a.m. BOSS hit on possible stolen 1996 green Ford Aspire on e/b I-90.
  • 10:07 a.m. Traffic lights are flashing red in all directions @ H95/Garwood.
  • 9:38 a.m. A tree is down across H97 on Beauty Bay Hill, north of Mineral Ridge, Lake CdA.
  • 9:27 a.m. ITD won't close H95/Mica Hill, where 20 cars are backed up; ITD sending de-icer truck.
  • 9:18 a.m. ISP officer asks that s/b H95 be shut down @ Mica Hill until plows, gravel available.
  • 9:17 a.m. 2009 Lincoln Continental crashes on s/b H95/Mica Hill, blocking highway.
  • 9:11 a.m. Officer reports traffic backing up on H95/Mica Hill, south of Coeur d'Alene.
  • 9:05 a.m. ISP seeks help in dealing w/several spunout semis @ H95/MP 421 (Mica Hill)
  • 8:48 a.m. Slideoff crash has damaged decorative city light @ 1006 N4th/Midtown Coeur d'Alene.
  • 8:31 a.m. Several slideoffs and crashes @ intersection H41/H53, Rathdrum, block road.
  • 8:12 a.m. 2-vehiclecrash blocking intersection of H95/Chocolate Bear Road, south of CdA.
  • 8:07 a.m. Disabled semi is blocking s/b H95/MP 451.5 (north of Bonner County line).
  • 8:07 a.m. Several crashes on H95/MP 453 (Granite Hill, north of Bonner County line).

Poll: House Will OK Exchange, Too

  • Weekend Poll: A near supermajority of Hucks Nation says the Idaho House will follow suit with the Senate and approve Gov. Butch Otter's state-operated health insurance exchange. 96 of 147 respondents (65.31%) took that position. Only 40 of 147 respondents (27.21%) predicted the House would reject Otter's proposal. 11 (7.48%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Is the men's basketball team at Gonzaga worthy of a No. 2 national ranking?

Gonzaga Rises To No. 2 In Polls

Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk pulls down a rebound against San Diego during the first half of their men's basketball game on Saturday in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Gonzaga defeated San Diego 81-50 and has risen to No. 2 in the nation in the latest polls. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)

Following a Saturday win over San Diego, 81-50, the Gonzaga University Bulldogs rose to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. Indiana was No. 1 in the rankings for week 17 in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Rankings. Filling out the top five in the AP poll were Duke (3), Michigan (4) and Miami (5). The USA Today Coaches poll listed Duke, Michigan and Kansas at 3, 4 and 5. More here.

Question: Will Gonzaga get to No. 1 before the regular basketball season is over?

Idaho Hall Of Shame Keeps Growing

A Sunday editorial in the Coeur d'Alene Press begins:

From notorious to just plain nutty, Idaho keeps cranking out more than its fair of undesirable headline-makers. You start with Richard Butler of the Aryan Nations and you think there's nowhere to go but up, right? Well, you can go laterally - with an extra wide stance in a Minneapolis airport men's room. Thanks for that, Senator Craig.

Then, the editorial focuses on the latest embarrassment:

All of these Spud State embarrassments made the rounds of national newspapers, TV programs and blogs, and the trend is assured extended life due to the recent alleged racial incident involving a Kootenai County man. No, silly, not the school board guy; the business guy. When reports spread far and wide that Hayden resident and business exec Joe Rickey Hundley allegedly slapped and racially insulted a 2-year-old child on a commercial flight, even the mighty Onion couldn't help but shed some tears of mirth. Complete editorial here.

Question: Is there something in the water in Idaho?

Census Dropping Term ‘Negro’

After more than a century, the Census Bureau is dropping its use of the word “Negro” to describe black Americans in surveys. Instead of the term that came into use during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, census forms will use the more modern labels “black” or “African-American.” Nicholas Jones is chief of the Census Bureau's racial statistics branch. He tells The Associated Press that the change will take effect next year, when the bureau distributes its annual American Community Survey to more than 3.5 million U.S. households. According to Jones, months of public feedback and census research concluded that few black Americans still identify with being Negro, and many view the term as offensive and outdated/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Way beyond time?

AM Headlines — 2.25.13

Carol Goodman, in blue coat, holds up a sign Saturday telling legislators during a town hall meeting Saturday she doesn't support a state health insurance exchange in Idaho. Bonner County Tea Party leader Pam Stout, in the gray coat, holds up the same sign. Coeur d'Alene Press story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Tom Hasslinger)

Malek On Hot Seat

After the formal presentation by legislators at the Saturday forum, appointed Trustee Brent Regan, left, of the Coeur d'Alene School Board engages in an intense discussion with state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, right. Regan opposes the state exchange proposed by Gov. Butch Otter and supported by Malek and a freshman delegation of 16. John Cross, one area Republican leader has threatened to oppose Malek's political future as a result of the freshman representative's support of the governor's plan. (Duane Rasmussen photo for Huckleberries Online)

Huffing and puffing (from Tom Hasslinger's Coeur d'Alene Press story)”

  • When John Cross told Malek he could no longer support Malek's political career as a result of the freshman's state exchange stance, Malek said: “I'm honored, honored to have this seat, but I'm not going to sacrifice my principals.”
  • “This issue is: Are we going to fight for liberty?” Jeff Ward, chair of a local Republican political group, asked the legislators. Or does the state instead plan to succumb to “tyranny,” he asked.
  • “In their hearts they're doing the right thing,” Nonini said of state exchange supporters, like Malek and Sen. John Goedde, who was also on hand. “But in their minds they're not.”

Question: The Reagan Republicans supported the three Kootenai County legislators who favor the state-run exchange — Malek, Morse & Goedde. Do you suppose they're having buyers' remorse?

Legislators Get Earful On Obamacare

District 2 legislators, from left, Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, Sen. Steve Vick, R-Hayden Lake, and Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, listen to the public during a legislative forum at Coeur d'Alene Library. (Duane Rasmussen photo for Huckleberries Online)

Around 200 people packed the Coeur d'Alene Public Library on Saturday to listen to, question, praise and scold North Idaho legislators. The weekend town hall was held to update the public on what legislators are working on while they're in Boise during the session, but one topic - whether Idaho should adopt a state health insurance exchange - dominated the discussion as lawmakers are on the cusp of doing so. A state exchange seems likely after 16 GOP freshman pledged their support for the governor's bill to establish one that helped it pass the Senate last week. Newly-elected Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d'Alene organized the freshmen support, and explained his reasoning Saturday to a divided crowd. “It will be a part of our insurance landscape. Period,” Malek said of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.” “If we do it now, the feds have to pay”/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you think the individuals who attend these forums represent rank-and-file Kootenai County residents? Or are simply organized hardliners trying to force their agenda on the rest of us?

I Can’t Hear You

Members of the audience hold up signs, provided by the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, opposing Gov. Butch Otter's proposed state health exchange, while state Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, explains why he reluctantly supports the plan during a legislative forum Saturday. Notice the individual with his hands over his ears? Story here. (Duane Rasmussen photo for Huckleberries Online)

Question: Do you get the impression that those who oppose Gov. Butch Otter's state-run exchange want to be heard but don't want to listen?

Rathdrum Angler 2nd At Classic

Brandon Palaniuk, 25, of Rathdrum entered the third and final day of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic today needing to make up a 7-pound deficit.  And he nearly did it! Palaniuk, who has a BASS elite champion ranking, finished as the runner-up in the 43rd annual World Championship of bass fishing at Grand Lake O' the Cherokees near Tulsa, Okla. He caught a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 51 pounds 8 ounces, short of the 14 bass totaling 54 pounds 12 ounces ounces caught by 32-year-old winner Cliff Pace. Pace, from Petal, Miss., earned $500,000.  Palaniuk won $45,000/Rich Landers, SR Outdoors blog. More here.

Question: Do you enjoy fishing for bass?

Blanchette: Zags Enjoy The Moment

The point has been reached on the calendar, and on the scoreboard, where it is a challenge to live in the moment. The score mushrooms. March and its madness looms. Giddy anticipation befogs even the undeniable appeal of the here and now, and if the Gonzaga Bulldogs don’t much want to hear about it, they are responsible for it. In that respect, they are too good right now for their own good. On an incandescent afternoon in Spokane, the Zags turned the lights out again on another poor victim, the University of San Diego Toreros this time – a team that took Gonzaga down to the last shot just three weeks ago barely putting up resistance through the first TV timeout Saturday. The final score was 81-50. That made it the nail biter of the week/John Blanchette, SR. More here. (Colin Mulvany SR photo: Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos goes up for lay-up again San Diego)


Question: Are you enjoying the Zags run this year, too?

Patty Duke Begins Third Act

Winning an Oscar is a dream for every actor who makes a movie. For one woman in North Idaho, it was a reality 50 years ago. And, as she enters her third act, the woman the world knows as Patty Duke is looking back on that historic night in 1963. “The feeling I had was being in awe,” she says, remembering that magical Hollywood night. “Bette Davis was there, Gregory Peck…” In the midst of those legends sat a 16-year old girl, given name Anna Duke, who was about to become one herself. She was up against Hollywood heavy hitters like Angela Lansbury. A novelty because of her young age, Duke was an icon already because of the role for which she was nominated. “The role itself - the dominating spirit of Hellen Keller as a child,” Duke says, describing her role in The Miracle Worker. “The rage that is inside, because she's trapped in there. She exists. She's not just deaf, dumb and blind - there's a soul in there!”/Melissa Luck, KXLY executive producer. More here.

Question: Have you ever met Patty Duke?

Cutline Contest — 2.25.13

Jennifer Lawrence stumbles as she walks on stage to accept the award for best actress in a leading role for “Silver Linings Playbook” during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday in Los Angeles. You write the cutline. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Affleck’s ‘Argo’ Wins Best Picture

Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” a film about a fake movie, has earned a very real prize: best picture at the Academy Awards. In share-the-wealth mode, Oscar voters spread Sunday’s honors among a range of films, with “Argo” winning three trophies but “Life of Pi” leading with four. Daniel Day-Lewis became the first person to win three best-actor Oscars, the latest coming for “Lincoln,” while “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence triumphed in Hollywood’s big games as best actress for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Ang Lee pulled off a major upset, winning best director for the shipwreck story “Life of Pi,” taking the prize over Steven Spielberg, who had been favored for “Lincoln.” It was the second directing Oscar for Lee, who also won for “Brokeback Mountain”/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo of Director Ben Affleck with Oscar for Best Picture)

Question: Which movie of the ones nominated for Best Picture do you plan to see next? Why?

Facebook Bullying Concerns Schools

A Facebook page focusing on a Spokane high school turned vicious this week, prompting the school’s principal to issue a stern warning about possible legal action. “I’m trying to make sure people understand how serious this is,” said Lewis and Clark High School Principal Shawn Jordan. He said his warning about legal action pertained to possible civil suits by individuals. “Our young people still don’t understand the seriousness of what they say,” he said. The Facebook page, LCHS Confessions, has been removed. Lewis and Clark is the most recent of Spokane Public Schools’ high schools to deal with the issue. “We know of two (Facebook pages) at North Central, one at Ferris, one at Shadle and one at LC,” said Kristy Mylroie, a district spokeswoman/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR. More here.

Question: Do you know any high schoolers who have been bullied via Facebook?

Hucks: Regatta Directors Jump Ship

You may know that hydroplane races are set to return to Lake Coeur d’Alene on Labor Day weekend this year. But did you know that half of the directors of the Diamond Cup Regatta resigned from the board during the first week of February? A look at the secretary of state’s business directory reveals that four directors quit Feb. 1-4 – Art Flagan, Jim Addis, Craig Brosenne and David Bobbitt. Additionally, there’s a correction on the secretary of state’s site that shows Kiki Miller quit her post April 13, 2012. Inadvertently, Miller was still listed as a director until that Feb. 7 correction was recorded. According to the secretary of state, the remaining directors are Doug Miller, Rick Sousa and Brad Hagadone. Trouble in paradise?/DFO, Sunday Huckleberries. More here.

SR weekend columns:

Anderson: Holdouts

Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle

Weekend Wild Card — 2.23-24.13

You don't have to go to Spokane or wait for the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre to see good theater locally.. Mrs. O & I spent Friday evening at the Lake City Playhouse's version of “Sweeney Todd.” The cast crushed it. Strong singing voices for all the leads. Strong choreography. “Sweeney” has four more performances — tonight and Thursday through Saturday next week. Do yourself a favor and check out what I mean. You can thank me later. Now for the weekend Wild Card …

Gonzaga 81, San Diego 50

San Diego's Christopher Anderson (00) attempts to drive against Gonzaga's Elias Harris during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Spokane, Wash., on Saturday. Gonzaga defeated San Diego 81-50. Game story and boxscore here. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Parting Shot — 2.22.13

Mixed martial arts fighter UFC bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, left, and opponent Liz Carmouche face off at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., today. Champion Rousey will fight Liz Carmouche in the main event at UFC 157 at the Honda Center on Saturday in the first women's bout in the UFC promotion's history. Story here. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Question: Would you buy pay-per-view to see a mixed martial arts fight between women?

Racist FB Post Rattles GOP Official

The chairwoman of the Yellowstone County Republicans is under fire after several blogs reported a racist photo posted to her Facebook page. Jennifer Olsen has told her Yellowstone County Central Committee that she did not post on her Facebook page an image of a box trap baited with a watermelon to capture President Barack Obama. A screen-captured image from the Facebook page was posted to a local right-leaning blog Feb. 15 and quickly went viral. It has been re-posted on the Daily Kos, a liberal website with 2.5 million unique monthly visitors. Commentors on several blogs are calling Olsen racist for the post. Olsen did not respond to email and phone calls placed by The Billings Gazette/Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette. More here.

Question: You be the adviser. What would you tell elected officials or party leaders with Facebook/social media pages?

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.22.13

  • 5:22 p.m. Caller reports 16YO grandson breaking things on Cedar Grove Lane/Hayden.
  • 5:15 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Feb. 21-22 here.
  • 4:45 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department report 5 slideoff/crashes in city limits here.
  • 4:36 p.m. 1st ISP officer: “You're not going to make it up (Mica Hill) unless you're moving. 2nd ISP officer: “I'm not sure I can make it up (Mica Hill) even if I am moving.”
  • 4:33 p.m. Green SUV has crashed off H95/MP 415, near Fighting Creek Store/Worley.
  • 4:26 p.m. Small silver SUV has slidden off H95 in Mica Hill area/MP 420.
  • 4:21 p.m. Crashes, slide-offs have slowed traffic to stand-still on H95 in Mica Hill area. One officer reported the grade is extremely slick & his car slid sideways going up it.
  • 16 more items + AM Scanner Traffic below

Ibanez Back Where He Belongs

Seattle Mariners right fielder Raul Ibanez tries to get control of the ball after missing a fly ball for an error which was hit by San Diego Padres' Will Venable during an exhibition spring training baseball game today in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Question: Everything seems right with the world today — after all, Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse are back in Seattle Mariners uniforms as spring trainging kicks off. Do you share my excitement?

NIdaho Blogs: Laura Bush Ate Here

Marianne Love's road trip with hubby, Bill, has taken her to Arizona. More here.

Huckleberries numbers (for Thursday, Feb. 21): 8581 page-views, 4873 unique views

Druid: I’ll Keep Beating Dead Horse

At least half the letters to the editors in the Coeur d’Alene Press involved writers coming to the defense of Brent Regan. In fact, at least one of the letter writers declared that Obama had earned the “scary” title. Not exactly, in my opinion. Obama’s a Democrat, the people writing in Regan’s defense are Republican. Given the nature of extreme politics locally, the GOP are simply projecting “scary” onto the President just because. The commenters at Huckleberries online wanted an end to Regan constantly getting a public spanking. Sure, that can always happen. On the other hand, the long knives can be drawn on the Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force for even daring to demand that Regan behave like a civilized human being. So, as long as the letter writers insist on keeping Regan in the news. Then as far as I am concerned, he can continue to take a public spanking/Arch Druid. More here.

Question: When does a controversy officially end?

SR Blogs: Duvall Zoned 50 Years Ago

“50 years ago on 'Twilight Zone,'” notes Paul Turner, The Slice, “An episode called 'Miniature' first aired on Feb. 21, 1963. Robert Duvall plays a guy who falls for a resident of a dollhouse. They said it would never work! Never one of my favorites. But it's diverting to watch Duvall in his Boo Radley era. (Photo:

Question: How would you explain the “Twilight Zone” to a kid who's caught up in the 3D, special effects, sci-fi of today?

Diamond Cup Directors Abandon Ship

You may know that hydroplane races are scheduled on Lake Coeur d'Alene for Labor Day weekend this year. But did you know that directors of the Diamond Cup Regatta are dropping like flies? A look at the Secretary of State's business directory reveal that four directors abruptly resigned their posts in the first week of this month — Art Flagan, Jim Addis, Craig Brosenne and David Bobbitt. Additionally, there's a correction on the Secretary of State's site that shows Kiki Miller had been inadvertently listed as a director. She resigned her post last April 13. According to Secretary of State files, the remaining directors are Rick Sousa, Doug Miller and Brad Hagadone. (SR file photo: David Williams pilots the “Miss Wahoo” on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010, the first time any hydroplne had been on the lake in 42 years)

Question: Anyone know what's up with the mass exodus from the Diamond Cup Regatta, in a year when it appears that the hydroplane races would happen?

Body Found In Hotel Water Tank

This still image taken from a security video was released on Feb. 13, 2013, by the Los Angeles Police Department in connection with the search for 21-year-old missing Canadian tourist Elisa Lam. In this image, a woman believed to be Lam appears to hide in an elevator in the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, Jan. 31, the last day she was seen alive. A maintenance worker at the hotel found Lam's body in a water cistern on the building's roof on Tuesday, more than two weeks after she had gone missing. Story here. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Police Department)

Question: What would you do now, if you'd used that hotel's water during the two weeks that Lam was missing?

Spokane7 To Live-Blog Oscar

Longtime Spokane writer, film reviewer and Spokane7 blogger, Dan Webster, is live-blogging the Oscars throughout the 85th Annual Academy Awards this Sunday. The Spokane Public Radio “Movies 101” co-host will give you his take as the action unrolls. Will Ben Affleck, spurned at a chance for Best Director, enjoy the last laugh, if his film “Argo” steals Best Picture honors from “Lincoln?” Will overwhelming Best Actor favorite Daniel Day-Lewis watch as another two-time Oscar winner — Denzel Washington — walks away with that little gold statuette? Watch with Dan and get instant insight by checking in on the Spokane 7 Blog.

Question: How many hours of Oscar coverage do you plan to watch Sunday night?

Folo NIC Wrestlers/Nat’ls On Twitter

Stacy Hudson of the North Idaho College Press Room is live-tweeting the action at the National Junior College wrestling tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. You can follow those tweets @NorthIdaho on Twitter. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still follow Tweets at BTW, North Iaho College is doing very well on opening day. Tweets Stacy: “At the end of Session 1, No. 1-ranked @NorthIdaho takes lead at @njcaa nationals with 32.5 points over Labette (29.5) and Northwest (26).”

For Those Keeping Score At Home …

… The Seattle Mariners were trailing 6-0 to the San Diego Padres during my daily noon walk around the city of Coeur d'Alene. I listened on my radio head set as back-to-the-future newcomers Michael Morse struck out and Raul Ibanez tapped out to pitcher in the second inning. Announcer Aaron Goldsmith and color man Rick Rizz were reporting the action during the first game of spring training. The exhibition season is opening a week earlier this year. The snow was flying sideways as I walked. But Mariners baseball in Peoria, Ariz., created a bit of sunshine in my soul.

City Explains McEuen Field PR Need

Construction on McEuen Park picks up again next month.  To help facilitate the flow of information between the general contractor and the community, the City is considering hiring a construction ombudsman. This last phase of the project addresses all of the design elements planned for the park as well as improvements to Front Avenue. Bids for the general contractor will be opened March 5, with City Council approving the contractor at a special meeting March 7. The construction project will be sizable and things like project status, road closures, upcoming work, how to access businesses, temporary water outages and many other seen and unforeseen issues will need to be managed and communicated properly to those affected/Kristina Lyman, Coeur d'Alene Today. More here.

Question: Are you sold on the concept yet?

Snow, Snow, Go Away

Workers with CN Railroad clear snow off of the switches near the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium during a snowfall this morning in Dubuque, Iowa. The snowstorm left behind varying amounts of snow and ice across the Midwest, causing difficult travel conditions. Powerful wind gusts created large snow drifts on many roadways, making navigating the slick conditions a challenge. (AP Photo/The Telegraph Herald, Dave Kettering)

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.22.13

  • 11:53 a.m. Post Falls 911 reports caller disconnected after reporting friends wants to kill himself.
  • 11:27 a.m. Officer wants CdA streets dept to remove debris, survey pole car hit on 3rd Street.
  • 11:15 a.m. Water has pushed up manhole cover on Sherwood Court, Hayden, creating hazard.
  • 10:10 a.m. Someone suffering chest pain in 4200 block of Arrowhead/CdA.
  • 9:46 a.m. Small blue car w/2 occupants has slid off H41/MP (Twin Lakes Road) 12.5 into trees.
  • 9:27 a.m. Male @ Ramsey/Brunner, Hayden, has hurt himself in fall in kitchen.
  • 9:02 a.m. Disabled semi is blocking e/b lane of H58/I-90, near Coeur d'Alene Casino, Worley.
  • 9:01 a.m. Caller willing to sign complaint vs. reckless driver of Ford Ranger on e/b I-90/H95, CdA.
  • 8:53 a.m. Disabled car w/hood up parked along w/b I-90/MP 35 (Bentley Creek).
  • 8:52 a.m. Disabled pickup partly blocking n/b H41/MP 12 (north of dump near Twin Lakes Road).

3rd Street Lot To Be Shut For Week

The City of Coeur d’Alene announces that the city-owned parking lot located off of Third Street next to the Coeur d’Alene Resort will be closed on Monday through Friday, March 1. The closure will allow for a trench to be dug to move the utility lines which run to the Resort out of the right of way along Front Avenue. It was originally hoped that the utility lines could be run over the storm main but they be routed under the main which means that the trench will need to be dug deeper and wider than anticipated, which will take more time to excavate and backfill. Diamond Parking has agreed to allow those holding monthly parking passes at the Third Street lot to park in lots that they manage/City of Coeur d'Alene news release.

Question: Anyone care to imagine what life on the waterfront will be like when Front Avenue is closed for McEuen Field reconstruction this spring and summer?

Senate: Tax Commission Too Tough

The Senate has voted 18-16 in favor of SB 1103, a $200,000 supplemental appropriation for staff in the audits and collections program and the revenue operations division of the state Tax Commission, barely passing the bill and sending it to the House. Several senators said they wanted to send a message to the Tax Commission that it’s too hard on Idaho taxpayers; Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, said he heard from a constituent that the Tax Commission treated him far worse than the IRS when the constituent had a dispute with both/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

DFO: My only contacts with the Idaho Tax Commission has been very positive. Does that mean i should call Sen. Pearce and tell him to appropriate more supplemental money to Tax Commission?

Question: What have your dealings with Idaho Tax Commission been like?

Abandoned Tot’s Pop Faces Charge

The 36-year-old father of a toddler, pictured, who was found wandering alone along Government Way near Sully's Pub earlier this month is scheduled to be arraigned on March 5. Jesse W. Edwards Jr., of Coeur d'Alene, has been charged with injury to a child for the Feb. 10 incident, according to court documents. Edwards didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday. Witnesses told The Press the 2-year-old boy was wandering close to traffic on Government Way and drivers were stopping to check on the boy's safety. The boy was brought into the bar and employees there called police. The boy told police he didn't know where his father was, and police found Edwards later that day at the Hayden Walmart/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (KXLY photo)

Question: How should this case play out?

Why Did The Bison Cross The Road?

This Jan. 3, 2003, file photo shows a lone bison crossing a road ahead of a pack of snowmobilers in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. The National Park Service has been studying and taking comment on an initial plan to allow up to 480 snowmobiles plus 60 multiple passenger snow coaches per day into Yellowstone during the winter (AP Photos/Craig Moore, file)

Question: Have you ever ridden a snowmobile in Yellowstone Park? Tell us about it?

Poll: Don’t Hire McEuen PR Person

  • Thursday Poll: A supermajority of Hucks Nation opposes the move by the city of Coeur d'Alene and Lake City Development Corporation to spend a combined $24,000 to hire a PR person for McEuen Field reconstruction. 83 of 120 respondents (69.17%) opposed the move. 30 of 120 (25%) supported it.. And 7 (5.83%) were undecided.
  • Weekend Poll: Do you think the Idaho House will also approve Gov. Butch Otter's proposed state-run insurance exchange?

Analysis: Tax Cut Would Hurt Schools

The draft bill released last week by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter to phase out the state’s personal property tax on business equipment would have a “devastating” impact on the state’s public schools, according to a new analysis by Mike Ferguson, the former longtime chief state economist who now heads the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy; you can read it here. “Other state programs (colleges and universities, health and human services, public safety, etc.) would be adversely impacted, but none to the degree of public schools,” Ferguson writes/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: If Gov. Otter cared about schools, why is he still pushing to eliminate the personal property tax and help his big-business friends? Oh.

AM Headlines — 2.22.13

Senators Bob Nonini, R-Bonneville, left, Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Bonneville, Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, and Chuck Winder, R-Boise, confer Thursday in Boise. Idaho senators voted Thursday to back the governor's plan to create a state-based nonprofit insurance exchange, rather than defaulting to an exchange run by the federal government, as many other Republican-led states have done. Betsy Russell story here. (AP/Statesman photo: Katherine Jones)

Tom RE: Why Committee Isn’t Meeting

In the comments section, Chairman Tom Hamilton of the Coeur d'Alene School Board reacted to a comment by “T” that the board had unilaterally cancelled the monthly meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee:

“The Board elected to put the LRPC on temporary hold until we get through the bidding phases of the Bond projects since there truly is little work for them to accomplish during that period. Why convene a committee without having any work for them to do?” Hamilton assured readers that the move was a temporary one — and that the voice of parents and constituents would continue to be heard by the board.

Ron Burgundy reacted to Hamilton's explanation by saying:

Chairman Tom - when was that decision made? Was it in a public meeting? When was it expressed to the committee chair? Was that in a public meeting? Have the members of the committee been formally notified? Where are the minutes of that meeting? Are there emails with deliberations on this topic between board trustees and/or staff on this topic? Inquiring minds want to know!


DFO: If ‘Ultra-Con’ Fits, Embrace It

Earlier this week, Jeff Ward of the Reagan Republicans reacted strongly when I used “ultraconservative” to describe a group of North Idaho Republicans who strategized in secret against the state health exchange. He said: “Ultraconservatives? What does that even mean? Every rank and file conservative Republican I know (right wing, traditional, libertarian, old guard, Reaganite, fiscal, social, and christian) opposes a state exchange not just your scapegoated 'ultraconservatives.' The only Republicans I know who support a state exchange are some Legislators, the Governor and a bunch of lobbyists.” Well, you can now add 23 senators to the list of key individuals who have enough common sense to realize that Obamacare — love it or hate it — is the law of the land and that the state is in the best position to handle a health exchange — not the feds. So it appears that Jeff and others attempting to knock this train off the rails are a bit to the right of the very conservative Idaho Senate. Then what else is new. Last year Jeff and every GOP legislator and candidate supported the voter-rejected Luna Laws — another indication that local Republicans may be out of step with Idaho Republicans elsewhere. Those on the Far Right of the county GOP spectrum enjoy besmirching anyone to their left (which is the majority of Kootenai County if you consider moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats) as “liberals.” Could it be that a fair number of Republicans in Kootenai County have taken conservatism further to the right than the rest of Idaho's dominant conservative movement? — DFO.

Question: Do you think Kootenai County Republicans are further to the right than Republicans elsewhere in Idaho?

It’s Still Winter In Minnesota

Jackie Arrandondo, 19, is covered with snow as she waits for the city bus, Friday in Minneapolis. A major snowstorm that buried parts of the Midwest grazed southern Minnesota, where two to three inches of snow snarled the morning commute in the Twin Cities area. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Elizabeth Flores)

Question: And you're complaining about the skiff of snow this morning, why?

Edit: Legislature Shouldn’t Defy Voters

Editorial: Will the Republican majority in the Idaho Legislature reject the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who described the nation’s system as “government of the people, by the people and for the people” in his famous Gettysburg Address? Will Republican legislators rebuke the members of the public who elected them by resuscitating education-reform laws that voters overturned overwhelmingly in a statewide referendum in November? And, will they change another law to make it more difficult for voters to challenge the decisions of the Legislature? The stage is set for both to happen, but neither should/Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley). More here.

Question: Have you contacted your district legislators to warn them not to mess with the initiative/referendum process and not to be part of reviving the Luna Laws?

Concealed Weapon Demand Soars

Due to the daunting volume of applications, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office is increasing the number of days it issues and processes concealed weapons permits, the agency announced on Thursday. Starting on Monday, the sheriff's office will conduct CWP services five days a week, instead of the two days scheduled before. “The numbers have gone up so much, we need to expand the service to process them in a timely fashion,” said Sheriff Ben Wolfinger. “It takes time to do it all.” With potential federal gun regulation still looming after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, the number of permit applications has ballooned in Kootenai County. The sheriff's office processed 655 regular permits from Jan. 1 to Feb. 21 this year, the agency reported/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you think there'll come a day when concealed weapons are as numerous as cell phones in Kootenai County?

Commish To Spruce Up Office

Seems Kootenai County commissioners will be sprucing things around the office shortly. Item under “New Business” under minutes of Jan. 28 meeting:

Commissioner Nelson presented to the Board a quote from the Hayworth Line for a furniture package totaling approximately $24,855 for the administrative cube area to include new panels, overhead cube storage and chairs. Commissioner Nelson will acquire two more quotes before making any firm decisions. (A contract has been signed in the amount of 26-thousand dollars +/-)  Approximately 2,000 square feet of carpet is needed for the remodel. An estimated total cost for carpet replacement is $6,500. More below.

Letter: Hayden = Bigotry? Hatred”

Having moved here some years ago from the Midwest, my wife and I immediately feel in love with the lifestyle and beautiful surroundings. We were proud to say we were from Hayden, Idaho, and told many of our friends back east what a wonderful place this is. However, the cloud of racism can drift far and wide and we sometimes found ourselves in the uncomfortable and embarrassing position of explaining to our more enlightened friends back east the hatred Richard Butler and his ignorant tribe spread nationwide. We wanted to believe Butler and his followers were cancerous anomalies among otherwise open minded and compassionate people. But, just as we began to relax, along comes Joe Rickey Hundley (pictured). His attorney would have us believe that an encounter he had with a 19-month-old child, somehow, escalated into a racist incident. But please be assured she states further, “… I want to be clear he is not a racist”/Michael Paquin of Hayden. letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: The letter writer goes on to say that Hayden, once again, is becoming synonymous with “racial bigotry, hatred, and pure meanness.” Is that a possibility?

Cutline Contest

A model displays an Autumn/Winter design by Howl by Maria Glu¨ck during Madrid's Fashion Week, in Madrid, Spain, today. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa De Olza)

Senate OKs Health Exchange 23-12

After a six-hour debate, the Idaho Senate voted 23-12 Thursday in favor of Gov. Butch Otter’s state health insurance exchange bill, marking a key victory for the GOP governor and sending his signature proposal of the legislative session to the House. Outnumbered opponents extended the debate – which ran from 9:45 a.m. to nearly 4 p.m. – asking questions, proposing motions that were voted down and threatening to go even longer. Under the national health care reform law, states can choose to set up their own exchanges – Internet-based portals where residents can shop for health insurance plans and access federal subsidies – or the federal government will run exchanges for them/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here. (AP photo: Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, listens as the Senate votes on SB 1042)

Question: Will this bill become a litmus test for future candidates running in GOP primaries?

Jury Will Hear Jorgenson Battery Case

A jury trial has been scheduled for former Republican state Sen. Mike Jorgenson (pictured) on March 18 in his misdemeanor battery case. Jorgenson, 64, of Hayden Lake, is accused of throwing a now-former employee of his restaurant to the ground over a dispute about the employee's pay. Jorgenson entered a not guilty plea to the charge in Kootenai County, which stems from the incident at his restaurant, The Copa. The alleged victim, a bartender and server Benjamin Chavez III, 41, told deputies he found out his wages had been cut when picking up his paycheck and confronted Jorgenson. He became enraged, yelled for Chavez to get out of the restaurant then threw Chavez to the ground, witnesses told Kootenai County Sheriff's Department deputies/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.


Ramirez: Gas Prices

Michael Ramirez/Investor's Business Daily

Wild Card/Thursday — 2.21.13

It's D-day for the Hard Right in the fight to pass Gov. Butch Otter's proposal for a state-run health exchange. The Senate is debating the bill as we speak. Wayne Hoffman and his Idaho Freedom Foundation staffers are tweeting a mile a minute re: the debate. Betsy Russell, of course, is posting everything on her Eye on Boise blog. Odds are that we'll survive the latest political earthquake in the state. So I'll post today's Wild Card and wait with you to see what happens …

Parting Shot — 2.21.13

A squirrel in Salina, Kan., nibbles on a kernal of corn recently. (AP Photo/Salina Journal, Tom Dorsey)

Ward: Disappointed In Idaho Senate

On his Facebook wall, Jeff Ward of the Reagan Republicans expresses disappointment in the 23-12 Idaho Senate vote in favor of Gov. Otter's proposed state health exchange:

So disappointed in our State Senate. Reagan Republicans have fought against Obamacare in every form since our founding and unlike others, we refuse to give up, surrender freely forgo our rights as Americans. We have not lost! Our hope to stand against Obamacare lies in the Idaho House of Representatives where we pray there are enough Republicans who will not surrender our liberties. Attend the Town Hall Saturday or call your Representative today.

Question: Do you think the House will also support the health exchange?

Canfield Teacher Is Idaho’s Best

Before she became an honors college student and was named 2013 Idaho Teacher of the Year, Katie Pemberton struggled mightily in the classroom. Pemberton, a math teacher at Coeur d’Alene School District’s Canfield Middle School, grew up in Spokane, Wash. In the first and second grades, Pemberton wasn’t able to keep up with her peers in reading. “I remember being pulled out for special reading programs,” Pemberton said. She received special attention from her teacher. Her family members encouraged her progress. And she devoted extra time to reading and schoolwork/Clark Corbin, IdahoED News. More here.

Question: What was your most difficult subject in high school?

Oliver Addresses Reagan Republicans

Neil Oliver, chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (standing), waits in the wings as Jeff Ward introduces him to speak at the Reagan Republicans at Fedora's this afternoon. Responding to one question, Oliver said he supported the Idaho GOP platform that calls for repeal of the 17th amendment, the amendment that allows American citizens to vote directly for U.S. senators rather than allow them to be chosen by the legislature of each state. (Duane Rasmussen photo special for Huckleberries Online)

Question: Do you support the repeal of the 17th Amendment?

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.21.13

  • 5:26 p.m. Unsafe merging by black Dodge pickup almost caused crash e/b I-90/H41, Post Falls.
  • 4:15 p.m. Undisclosed theft reported in 1200 block of Lincoln Way/CdA.
  • 4:07 p.m. Officer reports sitting through light that didn't change 4 cycles @ e/b Prairie/H41.
  • 4:06 p.m. Someone accidentally tripped commercial fire alarm @ 600 N. Cecil/Post Falls.
  • 3:39 p.m. CPD Blue told trouble men he's with was trespassed from Eagles in 2008 and another Coeur d'Alene business the previous year. But has been good since then.
  • 3:01 p.m. Undisclosed medical emergency in 800 block of N. Williams/Post Falls.
  • 3:04 p.m. Alarm @ Wells Fargo Bank, 204 W. Hayden Avenue, proves to be a false one.
  • 2:50 p.m. CityLink driver reports male bloody after fight at Coeur d'Alene bus stop.
  • 2:19 p.m. A white sedan has crashed on n/b H41/Diagonal, Rathdrum. No one hurt.
  • 2:16 p.m. Several PFPD Blues are chasing at least one person on foot through an old mill site toward Greensferry and the Post Falls Skate Park area. Unknown reason for chase.
  • 1:36 p.m. Someone is threatening to commit suicide @ Loyalton Apartments, 205 E. Anton, CdA.
  • 1:13 p.m. Dalton Gardens resident reports disorderly son is high on pot & leaving house.
  • AM Scanner Traffic

Post Falls Wrestler Sets Sights On #1

This has been sort of a confirmation wrestling season for Post Falls sophomore Drake Foster. Not that he has anything to prove. After all, he went 42-3 last year on his way to capturing a 5A state championship at 106 pounds. Historically, though, the lighter weights are chock full of freshmen. Foster cruised through his weight, never facing a junior or senior. That will be different when the state tournament begins Friday at Holt Arena in Pocatello. Foster sports a 48-2 record and is seeded No. 1 at 120/Greg Lee, SR. More here.

Question: Did you wrestle in high school or college? Were you any good?

Transient Gets 20 Years In Stabbing

A man who stabbed another man in a transient camp in Coeur d’Alene last summer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. James H. Kountz, 56, stabbed James Hoglen, 43, last June during an argument at the camp near Wilbur Avenue and Highway 95. According to court documents, Hoglen said Kountz came after him with a knife and cut him in the face and then on his left side. Hoglen tried to defend himself by throwing a camp chair at Kountz, who said he was going to kill Hoglen. Hoglen sustained a cut near his left eye and three injuries on his torso. Kountz will be eligible for parole after four years, with credit for time served/SR. More here.

Councilman Calls Guv ‘Lying Whore’

Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, in a fundraising letter sent to supporters of his anti-tax efforts, calls Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.” The letter, which was signed by Fagan and the two other co-directors of Voters Want More Choices, was part of a mass email soliciting money for the group. Voters Want More Choices advocates for lower taxes through statewide voter initiatives. Tim Eyman, another co-director who signed the letter, confirmed the letter was sent by Voters Want More Choices. “Candidate Inslee repeatedly promised to veto any tax increase,” the letter said. “He said no way to higher transportation taxes in 2013. Inslee said he’d grow jobs to generate more tax revenue. What a lying whore he turned out to be”/Jonathan Brunt, SR. More here.

Question: Councilman Fagan isn't one of ours. But to say his description of the Washington governor represents conduct unbecoming an elected official is an understatement. I'm glad I'm not one of Fagan's constituents. What do you think?

North Idaho Blogs — 2.21.13

During a trip to Montana and Utah, Marianne Love/Slight Detour discovered a doughnut that literally could be to die for — at the Calf-A at Dell, Mont. She posts: “Probably 5000 calories per $1 donut but worth every bite. Carmel glaze, fresh from the fryer, melt-in-your-mouth.” You can read more about Marianne's adventures and see more of her travel photos here and here.

Huckleberries numbers (for Wednesday, Feb. 20): 9152 page-views/5069 unique views

Question: Can you think of a specialty food that you ate at some out of the way place that you'd describe as “to die for”?

Senate OKs Exchange 23-12

Eye on Boise reports: The Senate has voted 23-12 in favor of SB 1042, the governor's state health insurance exchange bill. The measure now moves to the House side. Here's how the senators voted:

Voting yes:  Sens. Steve Bair, R-Blackfoot; Les Bock, D-Boise; Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson; Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise; Dean Cameron, R-Rupert; Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls; John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene; Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon; Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian; Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls; Brent Hill, R-Rexburg; Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint; Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello; Todd Lakey, R-Nampa; Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston; Fred Martin, R-Boise; Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls; Jim Rice, R-Caldwell; Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow; Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum; John Tippets, R-Montpelier; and Elliot Werk, D-Boise.

Voting no:  Sens. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise; Branden Durst, D-Boise; Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian; Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa; Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls; Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene; Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood; Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth; Steven Thayn, R-Emmett; Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens; and Chuck Winder, R-Boise.

Question: Is this vote an indication that the Idaho Senate hasn't been taken over by the Uber-Cons?

A Journalist’s Deal With The Devil

One thing people in newsrooms enjoy discussing is the salaries of ex-journalists currently working in public relations. One school of thought holds that even a big bump in pay would be seriously eroded by the need to purchase a lot of self-medicating spirits. Of course, not all PR jobs are alike — just as not all media careers are the same. And, in Washington, the whole marijuana thing might have interesting implications for being able to live with your particular deal with the devil/Paul Turner, The Slice. More here.

Question: Did you know that journalists aren't fond of their kind leaving the newsroom for bigger dollars and a career in public relations?

SR Blogs — 2.21.13

On his Slice blog, Paul Turner asks “When is a prom dress too expensive?” And then offers this possible answers: A) $100. B) $500. C) $750. D) When the amount is in the same ballpark as a year of college. E) Other. (Photo:

Question: What would you be willing to pay for your daughter's prom dress?

Stars Come Out On Sherman Avenue

Country Western singer Hunter Hayes poses with Micah Brunner at the Bonsai Bistro in downtown Coeur d'Alene Wednesday night. Micah was having dinner with her husband, Derrick, when the singer stopped in around 7:45 to eat dinner. Kelsey Saintz, Micah's envious sister, tells Huckleberries that Micah “texted me around 7:45 last night to BRAG (I'm a huge fan) and said there were loads of teenage girls hovering around the table for autographs and such. He was really nice to Micah and asked her name and met with lots of people, including little kids. He sounds like a real gentleman!” Also, there were a number of Carrie Underwood sightings in downtown Coeur d'Alene last night. Hayes will perform in Underwood's Blown Away Tour tonight at the Spokane Arena. (Courtesy photo used with Micah's permission)

Question: Who's your favorite country Western singer?

Nonini Adamantly Opposes Exchange

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene,  just told the Senate that he thinks the debate will continue for several more hours. Everyone looked at each other. That seems fairly unlikely at this point; the Senate has been debating now for just under five hours. Nonini read extensively from various sources to back up his arguments against the bill and his belief that it will increase rather than decrease costs. “I could go on and on,  Mr. Chairman,” he said, “I think I’ll have that opportunity, as many of us will be debating the bill for a second time.” He urged senators, who appear to be leaning in favor of the bill by a comfortable majority, to vote against it “if there is a reasonable doubt in your minds”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Does Sen. Nonini's adamant opposition to a state-run insurance exchange make you more/less likely to support Gov. Otter's proposed legislation?

Warrant Issued In Jan. 27 Accident

A warrant has been issued for Timothy J. Freund, 38, of Coeur d'Alene, who was injured along with his 3-year-old daughter when the car he was driving crashed into a tree at Miles and Avondale Loop, Hayden Lake, about 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. Freund allegedly had a blood-alochol level of .32 at the time of the crash — or four times the legal limit. Freund was arrested for DUI after refusing medical aid for his daughter and him at the scene of the crash. Both accident victims were bruised and bleeding. The girl was treated at Kootenai Medical Center and later Sacred Heart in Spokane. A judge found probably cause Tuesday to charge Freund with felony injury to child, felony aggravated DUI and felony DUI. In 2007, he was arrested on separate occasions for boating under the influence and DUI. A bond of $50,000 has been set upon his arrest/Lt. Stu Miller, Kootenai County Sheriff's Office. Complete news release here.

The Slice Asks …

… How many people who use the expression “Big Brother” have actually read “1984”? See: Paul Turner's blog, The Slice here. (Photo:

DFO: I've read “1984,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Brave New World,” “Animal Farm” and probably a few that I've forgotten. How about you?

Question: Have you read “1984” or any similar books?

News Quiz Offers Tickets, Gift Card

You don't have to be well-versed in current events to win this week's interactive news quiz, but it can't hurt. All entrants can win two movie tickets or four EWU men's basketball tickets. And the overall champ takes home a $50 gift card to the Davenport Hotel. Good luck! You can find the latest quiz here.

  • Leaderboard: Only 3 Hucksters on Leaderboard so far this week — Photoguy, Rational Universe & KCres

Oldly Wed Game: Experience Counts

The crowd in the lobby at Touchmark on South Hill buzzed with anticipation on Valentine’s Day as the contestants filed in for the fifth annual Not So Newlywed Game. Modeled after the TV show “The Newlywed Game,” Touchmark’s variation featured four couples competing to show just how well they know each other. Betty Doerschlag, life enrichment director, introduced the couples – most of whom were a bit more “wed” than “newly”/Cindy Hval, SR.  More here. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

Question: Would you and your mate do well participating in a version of the newly wed game?

Bill Offers $1.4M For Charter Facilities

Members of the House Education Committee voted unanimously Thursday to introduce a groundbreaking — and potentially controversial — charter school funding bill. The bill would provide $1.4 million to offset charter schools facility costs. Because Thursday’s hearing was only an introductory print hearing, legislators did not allow testimony from education stakeholders or the public. Now that the legislation has been introduced, a full public hearing one the charter school proposal will likely occur in the coming days or weeks/Kevin Richert, IdahoED News. More here.

Question: Should Idaho provide $1.4M for charter school facility costs?

Goedde: We Lost Obamacare Fight

The Senate is now back to debate on SB 1042. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “If we opt for a federal exchange, there’s only two choices. … They only have to provide two, and you can bet your bottom dollar neither one of those two will be an Idaho company.” Goedde, who disclosed for the record that he’s a licensed insurance agent, said, “We’re not here to debate Obamacare. We’re here to debate exchanges.” He said when Idaho joined other states to challenge the national health care law in the U.S. Supreme Court, “That was our best chance. … And guess what? We lost”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do you think that those pushing hardest against a state health exchange are simply refusing to believe that they lost the Obamacare fight?

TWolf22: Zag Fans Went Too Far

In the Cutline Contest comments section re: the 4 Gonzaga fans dissing a Santa Clara player, TWolf comments:

Maybe just remember the time when fans did have class and acted like civilized individuals who respected the competitors on both teams. There is nothing wrong with cheering loudly, but comments directed at individual players is cowardly. If you want to “taunt” you should have to back it up. In my day, that meant putting your fists where your mouth was. I have gone to so many college games in my life, 50+ years, and still see plenty of fans who behave in a respectful manner. It is usually just a minority of clowns who probably wouldn't know what a jock strap was for, who act like idiots.

DFO: I don't know if Zag fans do this when a play goes against their team. But I believe it's inappropriate for a Catholic school to start chanting the equivalent of “BS,” as Saint Mary's fans did in the Gaels home game with Gonzaga. The administration should stop that nonsense.

Question: How far should college fans be allowed to go in rooting against the visiting team?

1000 Gymnasts Coming To Lake City

Jim Tighe, with Tighe Gym Sales, left, works with Scott Wolf, of the host club Inland Empire Gymnastics, to adjust the parallel bars Wednesday while making preparations for this weekend's Great West Gym Fest at the Coeur d'Alene Resort. Story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Question: Did you — or any of your family — participate in gymnastics?

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.21.13

  • 11:54 a.m. Dogs are running loose @ Hayden/Finucane, Hayden.
  • 11:52 a.m. Motorist reports seeing a male strike a female in the face in front of county fairgrounds.
  • 11:22 a.m. PFPD Blue recommends that F&G officer come to Post Falls school and dart moose and her baby, to remove them for protection of students.
  • 11:17 a.m. A dog is running loose @ 2829 W. Apperson Drive, CdA.
  • 11:04 a.m. Coeur d'Alene garbage truck blocking n/b H95/I-90 after minor accident.
  • 10:51 a.m. 76YO male suffering undisclosed medical emergency in 7100 block of Cornerstone.
  • 10:11 a.m. Patrol officer reports stopping same male for driving w/invalid license for 2nd time in 2 days; officer wants to get a warrant to search the vehicle.
  • 9:52 a.m. Resident reports males cutting trees down near Beachouse on Lake Coeur d'Alene Drive.
  • 9:21 a.m. A moose is standing in road blocking traffic @ 3rd/William, Post Falls.
  • 8:32 a.m. Male in cream sweatshirt walking on e/b I-90/Pleasantview, making obscene gestures.
  • 8:31 a.m. Caller wants to see PFPD Blue to report battery @ Post Falls High Saturday.
  • 8:29 a.m. CPD Blue reports 16YO runaway juvenile named Gabriel has returned home.
  • 8:24 a.m. 90YO female is conscious but not responsive @ 515 Garden Plaza/Post Falls.

Evaluating UI’s Public Restrooms

At the University of Idaho Argonaut, Kasen Christensen reviews public bathrooms on campus:

I have a confession to make. I use the bathroom. A lot. The biggest reason is that I have a hard time passing a drinking fountain without stopping. This presents two hazards. First, a significant number of drinking fountains on campus taste, as my brother once said, “like blood.” It’s actually iron, but iron makes blood taste like blood. The second hazard is the need to find a bathroom at a moment’s notice. Anybody who has spent any time with me knows I am quite adept at finding bathrooms. And with a plentitude of bathrooms on campus, I have discovered some fantastic places to answer nature’s call.” More here. (Argonaut photo: Abi Stomberg)

Question: Which public restrooms are the best in Kootenai County/North Idaho?

Poll: Glad To Have Person Deal Done

  • Wednesday Poll: Only 24 of 140 respondents (17.14%) didn't think the city of Coeur d'Alene overpaid the School District for the purchase of Person and Bryan playfields. 53 of 140 respondents (37.86%) said the city overpaid for the parks. An even greater number — 57 of 140 respondents (40.71%) didn't care if the city overpaid, as long as the parks are now safe in city hands.
  • Today's Poll: Should the city/LCDC hire someone to handle public relations for the McEuen Field reconstruction this year?

Carrie Underwood In Coeur d’Alene

Seems singer Carrie Underwood was in downtown Coeur d'Alene Wednesday. Underwood will perform at the Spokane Arena tonight.

KHQ Right Now - News and Weather for Spokane and North Idaho |

Question: Are you a Carrie Underwood fan?

Pearce, Others Resist Exchange

Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, told the Senate, “I know there’s a lot of work that has gone into this.” But, he said, “Sovereignty is supreme power, supremacy. So when we’re told that states are supreme, I ask the question: What are we doing?” He read from the law Idaho passed three years ago, the Idaho Health Freedom Act, calling for a legal challenge of the national health care reform law, and said, “I guess my question is, what’s changed in three years?” He said, “States are not agents of the federal government. We created the federal government basically to be our servant, not our master.” He said, “This is our role – we are the final voice in regulation”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

More Eye on Boise posts re: insurance exchange debate this AM:

Winter Hangs on — Elsewhere

Tom McReynolds clears snow from a neigbors' house in Wichita, Kans., this morning. Kansas was the epicenter of the winter storm, with parts of Wichita buried under 13 inches of still-falling snow, but winter storm warnings stretched eastern Colorado through Illinois. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Jaime Greene)

Question: Anyone want to complain about the mild winter that we've had in the Inland Northwest?

Marijuana Measures Move On

At the end of a long hearing in the Capitol auditorium, the Senate State Affairs committee voted to move forward with two anti-marijuana measures. More than 150 people — including teens sporting red “Don't let Idaho go to pot'' t-shirts — packed a Capitol auditorium Wednesday to weigh in on a resolution affirming the state's position against use of marijuana in any form. The resolution doesn't create any new state laws.  But Boise Republican Sen. Chuck Winder says it sends an important message urging the federal government to enforce existing laws.  Opponents … say the resolution adds barriers for people using marijuana for medical purposes.  But law enforcement and doctors backing the measure decried pot as a gateway drug that dangerously impairs users/Kestrel West Morning Memo. Full story here.

Question: Why do/don't you support Sen. Winder's resolution?

Quotable Quote

In conclusion, I have no vote on the Affordable Care Act. The choice before me is whether Idaho citizens will use a federal or state exchange to access options for purchasing insurance should they voluntarily choose to use an exchange. I support a state exchange over a federally imposed exchange as the option that best prevents any steps toward a nationalized single-payer health care system. I also believe this path best protects the citizens of Idaho.” — Rep. Wendy Horman, letter to constituents via the blog of Rep. Kelley Packer. More here.

  • H/T: Kestrel West Morning Memo

Question: The reasoning of Rep. Horman, Gov. Butch Otter and the freshman “Gang of 16” seems sound to me. Obamacare is the law of the land. I don't particularly like that. But who'd you rather have overseeing administration of the exchange — the state of Idaho or the feds? What do you think?

Brock: Hunters Should Thank Obama

Every right-thinking patriot knows President Barack Obama is intent on destroying America. That's pretty much a given, right? But did you know Obama also helped raise more money for state fish and game agencies and, ultimately, America's hunters than any president in U.S. history? How is that possible, what with Obama being a gun-snatchin' socialist and all? Here's how. The National Rifle Association and other shrill apparatchiks of the firearms industry have convinced a lot of people that Obama is coming for their guns. The upshot is that firearms sales have gone through the roof. Yessir, gun sales are up here, there and everywhere across this well-armed country of ours. And thanks to an 11 percent federal excise tax on guns and ammo, there is more money than ever to pay for hunter safety programs, wildlife habitat and other projects that directly benefit hunters/William Brock, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.

Question: Do you agree/disagree with columnist Brock's opinion that hunters ought to thank President Obama?

Trib: Luna Laws In Merry Land Of Oz

There came a moment two weeks ago when the curtain briefly lifted and the Wizard of Oz was exposed. It was during an Idaho Press Club breakfast meeting. The topic was the Idaho School Board Association's efforts to resurrect portions of the Students Come First reforms. Voters soundly rejected the legislation last fall, but ISBA feels some of the changes still have widespread support. Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter was asked how he'll decide if that's true. “The proof of the pudding on consensus is going to be the vote on the floor, how the Legislature treats it,” he replied. “That's my signal.” There, in a nutshell, is all one needs to know about the Statehouse mind-set. The whole point of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 was that legislative priorities don't always reflect the public will. More than 370,000 voters sent a clear message: “Don't stuff your consensus down our throats.”Yet the attitude here continues to be Oz knows best: “If we reach consensus, it must be so”/William L. Spence, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Why isn't there outrage that Gov. Butch Otter and GOP legislative leaders are trying to ignore the clear will of the people by resurrecting the Luna Laws this session?

RRepub: Who You Callin’ Uber-Con?

Reagan Repub (RE: Huckleberries hears region's ultraconservatives oppose state health exchange): Ultraconservatives? What does that even mean? Every rank and file conservative Republican I know (right wing, traditional, libertarian, old guard, Reaganite, fiscal, social, and christian) opposes a state exchange not just your scapegoated “ultraconservatives.” The only Republicans I know who support a state exchange are some Legislators, the Governor and a bunch of lobbyists. Opposing a state exchange has actually brought together many Republican rivals from the last couple of years. Ron Mendive and Jeff Tyler who slugged it out in the 3rd District Republican Primary both oppose the state exchange. Same with Vito Barbieri and Mark Fisher from the 2nd. Even Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward are on the same page on this issue. This is not dividing North Idaho Republicans but creating a new unity against a very bad idea.

Question: Jeff has a good point. In a time when RINOs abound on both sides of the Kootenai County GOP, it's hard to distinguish the various shades of conservatism. Moderates are liberals. Democrats, I suppose, in Kootenai County GOPspeak, are of the debbil. How do you distinguish the various shades of Republican?

Cutline Contest — 2.21.13

Gonzaga's student fans taunt the Santa Clara Broncos during player introductions Wednesday night at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane. You write the cutline. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)

DFO: Feel free to judge the cutline contest yourself by clicking like/dislike buttons in this thread.

Warehouse Sports To Shut Stores

The new owner of the former Warehouse Sports outdoor and sporting equipment outlets in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene will close the two stores in mid-March. Employees at the stores said company officers informed them on Wednesday that their stores’ final day will be March 10. The announcement was a sudden reversal, following last week’s announcement that Warehouse Sports was selling 14 U.S. stores back to Sportsman’s Warehouse, a Utah company, and a partner, Alamo Group. That announcement came from Calgary-based UFA Co-operative Ltd., which had purchased the 14 U.S. Sportsman’s Warehouse stores for roughly $800 million in 2008/Tom Sowa, SR. More here.

Question: Did you shop at Warehouse Sports?

McEuen Field Construction PIO Likely

The McEuen Field project could have a public face during construction season this year, and it won't be a crane, dump truck or even need a hard hat. The downtown project will likely have a public information officer to answer questions and share info with nearby property owners once the multi-million transformation gets under way in earnest at the end of March. The city of Coeur d'Alene and its urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., are pitching the idea of contracting the position. They would split the cost down the middle, tentatively estimated at $75 an hour up to $24,000/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Necessary expense?

Anderson: Deadline Approaches

Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle

Hump Day Wild Card — 2.20.13

I'm breathing easier now that Person and Bryan playfields are safely out of the hands of the Coeur d'Alene School District — and will be preserved and upgraded by the city of Coeur d'Alene. I wonder whether the School Board would have dug in, if negotiations for the two parks hadn't been hammered out in public. Now, it'll be interesting to see if the School District plays hardball with the city re: use of school facilities — or negotiates with the public's best interest in mind. Just a thought. Now for today's Wild Card …

Gonzaga 85, Santa Clara 42

Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk (13) slam dunks the ball in the first half against Santa Clara tonight in the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane. Gonzaga won 85-42. ESPN boxscore here.(AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

 Elias Harris scored 17 points and No. 3 Gonzaga crushed Santa Clara 85-42 on Wednesday night, the ninth win in a row for the Zags. Kelly Olynyk added 15 points for Gonzaga (26-2, 13-0 West Coast), which is riding its best ranking in the poll ever. Brandon Clark led Santa Clara (19-9, 7-6) with 14 points. Leading scorer Kevin Foster was saddled with three fouls in the first half and finished with just four points, 14 below his average. Gonzaga needs one more victory to claim at least a share of the WCC regular-season title it lost last season. The Broncos are battling to finish in the top four to earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament next month. Santa Clara averages 75 points per game, and had not scored less than 60 points in a game all season. They lost just 81-74 at home against Gonzaga/Associated Press. More here.

Parting Shot — 2.20.13

New York Yankees' Kyle Higashioka, from left, Francisco Cervelli, Joe Girardi, Bobby Wilson and J.R. Murphy follow a pop up during a workout at baseball spring training on Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Kellogg Recalls Special K Red Berries

Kellogg announced of their voluntarily recalling of Special K Red Berries cereal because of possible glass fragments inside the packaging. The company is to recall three different sizes of 11.2-ounce, 22.4-ounce and 37-ounce boxes sold in the U.S. “Please check any packages you have in your home and if your package matches the following criteria, please do not eat the product and contact us for a replacement coupon,” the alert said. “We may also make arrangements to retrieve the product for further evaluation”/KpopStarz. More here.

Question: What kind of breakfast cereal do you eat?

Keough: Check It Out Yourself

On her Facebook wall, state Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, posts:

Apparently there is an interest in sources of my campaign contributions (which is putting a nice face on being accused of being bought and paid for by insurance companies). Here is the link to the posting on the Secretary of State's web site of donations my campaign has received along with all other state legislators. Lots of sunshine in Idaho! And that is the way I like it - all in the light of the day! Here is mine (with the list of Districts 1 to 13). And here is the page with the other legislative districts.

Question: Any guesses re: what this is all about?

North Idaho Blogs — 2.20.13

On her Facebook wall, Kerri Thoreson posts: “Another 'I Love Where I Live' moment … when a team returns on a Sunday afternoon with a state championship trophy there's a police and fire truck escort for the caravan through town with people waving from the sidewalks and front porches. Congratulations and welcome home Post Falls Trojan Girls Basketball team!

Huckleberries numbers (for Tuesday, Feb. 19): 9025 page-views, 4990 unique views

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.20.13

Driver Gary Allen, 75, of Priest River, died at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane due to exposure in sub-freezing water after he crashed into water at Bear Paw Road and Highway 57 at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday. Allen was in his vehicle, which was submerged to the window opening, when the Bonner County EMS and West Pend Oreille Fire District personnel arrived. The strong current hampered dive team rescue efforts/Bonner County Sheriff's Department news release/photo. KHQ story here.

  • 5:34 p.m. Female in gray Nissan Armada planning to kill herself in PFPD parking lot.
  • 5:02 p.m. Post Falls resident reports 9YO son out-of-control in back yard, screaming.
  • 4:45 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Feb. 19-20 here.
  • 4:30 p.m. Officer doesn't know why 3 vehicles are parked, blocking H53/Pleasantview, Hauser.
  • 12 more items + AP Scanner Traffic below

Huckleberries Hears …

… That, on Monday night, 18 or so leaders of most conservative and Republican groups in Kootenai, Bonner and Boundary Counties met in a downtown Coeur d'Alene restaurant. The consensus of those gathered was that Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, and the freshmen Gang of 16's bill (to tweak Gov. Otter's plan) changes nothing in its unified opposition to the proposal to initiate a state healthcare exchange. The group felt that area legislators “need to know how universal the opposition to a state exchange is among Republicans in North Idaho.  It is especially important that Reps. Malek, Morse and Henderson understand their constituents are overwhelming against the exchange which implements Obamacare in Idaho.” Seems as though the health exchange issue will serve as a litmus test for GOPrimary candidates in spring 2014.

Question: Are you as adamantly opposed to Gov. Otter's health insurance exchange as ultraconservatives in Kootenai County/North Idaho?

TSA Removes Kalispell Body Scanner

The Transportation Security Administration is removing its full-body scanner from Glacier Park International Airport (Kalispell, Mont.) today, meaning the return of the enhanced pat-down and “perhaps longer wait times” for departing passengers, airport director Cindi Martin said. The millimeter-wave Advanced Imaging Technology machine was installed at Glacier Park International in March 2012. Martin said the scanner was well-received and  streamlined the boarding process. “We’re really disappointed that the TSA is removing them from our airport,” Martin said. “It is a great disservice to the flying public. “People had become comfortable with the scanner. It certainly did speed the process and removed the need for the enhanced pat-down”/The Daily Inter Lake. More here. (AP file photo for illustrative purposes)

Question: Would you rather go through a full-body scanner at an airport or an enhanced pat down?

Administrator Mentions Hydro Races

In her draft minutes of the City Council meeting Tuesday, City Clerk Renate McLeod reports this note from City Administrator Wendy Gabriels' report:

“City staff recently met with Sheriff Wolfinger to discuss what effects a Labor Day unlimited hydroplane race will have on the City, even though the event will be held out of the city limits.  The City will not be the first responders; however, the event sponsors expect 30,000 to 100,000 visitors to the race that will come to and through Coeur d’Alene.  The Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive acquisition discussion will come forward in March.” Complete council minutes here.

DFO: I keep hearing reports of key individuals quitting the Diamond Cup Hydroplane Board of Directors. Anyone know whether this year's proposed hydroplane races are on solid financial footing?

Question: Would you like to see the city of Coeur d'Alene acquire Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive?

Just Wondering …

Soon, candidates will begin emerging for the Coeur d'Alene School Board. Christa Hazel (running for appointee Brent Regan's seat) has her paperwork ready to file. Ditto Tom Hearn (who will be running for appointee Jim Hightower's seat). Everyone knows that the Reagan Republicans are raising money to keep the two seats on the controversial, ultraconservative school board. And that the Reagan Republicans are skilled at promoting their candidates as the only ideologically pure Republican candidates in nonpartisan races, via mailings and their ground troops who knock on doors. So here's the question:

Question: How would you advise Hazel or Hearn re: how to beat a Reagan Republican candidate, if you were his/her campaign manager?

SR Blogs Rdp: Controlled Substances

On his Slice blog, Paul Turner asks of the photo above: “Should these be controlled substances. Or at least accurately labeled to reflect their addicting nature. Something along the lines of, say, Cocaine Sandies or Meth Patties.” (Photo:

Question: I've never found Girl Scout cookies addictive. How about you?

Teaching The Teachers

On his Facebook wall, colleague Jesse Tinsley posts re: this photo: “Yesterday I got to sit in a class where teachers got to learn how an iPad works. Most of them had never used one before.”

Question: Have you ever used an iPad?

Prepsters Scoring Higher On AP Tests

More Idaho high school students are taking Advanced Placement exams and scoring high enough to earn college credit, the College Board and the state Department of Education announced today. In 2012, 18.4 percent of Idaho’s public high school graduates had taken at least one AP exam, up from 15.3 percent in 2007 and 11.3 percent in 2002. For the same 2012 graduating class, 12.3 percent had scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, qualifying for college credit; the comparable figure in 2007 was 9.8 percent and in 2002, 7.3 percent/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Are Idaho high schoolers getting smarter? Or are they better at taking tests?

Dover Bridge Manager Gets Probation

Kip David Harris, 38, of Boulder, Mont., was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene to three years’ probation for making a false statement, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Harris to pay a $750 fine. He pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 4. Harris was the lead superintendent of the Dover Bridge Project, the majority of which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Federal Highway Administration. The project called for the existing steel-truss bridge located on U.S. 2 near Dover to be replaced with a new steel bridge. According to court documents, Harris directed laborers to modify nonconforming anchor bolts so it would appear to the inspection team that the bolts were in compliance. Harris admitted that he knew the anchor bolts did not conform to contract specifications. The safety and soundness of the project was not affected. The case was investigated by the United States Department of Transportation and the FBI. (Kathy Plonka SR file photo of old Dover Bridge)


#1 Conservative Risch Not Surprised

Kip Hill, the SR's Washington, D.C., correspondent, asked U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, about his ranking as the most conservative U.S. senator by the National Review:

Sen. James Risch said Wednesday he wasn't surprised by his ranking atop the list of conservative voters in the U.S. Senate. “One of these lists comes out every month or so, and I'm always in the top three or four or five,” Risch said in a phone interview. Risch said Idaho voters sent him to Washington to vote conservatively, and that's what he continues to do. Risch was one of 22 senators who opposed passage of the Violence Against Women Act, citing concerns about the federal government impeding on state and local authority. He also voted against the debt ceiling measure proposed by House Republicans in January, decrying its lack of spending reductions to offset spending increases. More below.

Question: Are you surprised that former Idaho governor Risch doesn't have a higher profile in Washington, D.C.?

Panel Rejects Road DUI Memorials

Idaho already has plenty of informal memorials to highway fatalities, erected by grieving family members. But the state isn't slated to get an official, state-sponsored program to honor those killed by drunk drivers, after a House panel rejected the proposal on Wednesday. Democratic Rep. Shirley Ringo of Moscow brought the plan to the House State Affairs Committee, saying erecting signs to remember victims could warn people about the dangers of driving while drunk. Ringo was asked to promote the bill on behalf of former Rep. Rep. Tom Trail, who lost a family member in such an accident/Associated Press. More here. (Kathy Plonka SR file photo of a cross that once stood along Highway 95)

DFO: I appreciated the road side crosses that served as memorials and reminders of fatalities, during the five years I lived in Montana. I never found them to be a distraction. How about you?

Question: Do you agree/disagree with the decision by the House State Affairs Committee not to allow state-sponsored signs along roadways to remind drivers of those killed by drunken drivers?

VP: Shotgun Offers Better Protection

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans don't need semi-automatic weapons to protect their homes because a couple of blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders. “Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun,” the vice president encouraged those worried about defending themselves. He was speaking in an online video as part of a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine on the administration's strategy for reducing gun violence, which he has led at the direction of President Barack Obama. Biden said he keeps two shotguns and shells locked up at home and he's told his wife, Jill, to use them if she needs protection. He presumably was speaking about before he became vice president, a position that gives the couple full-time Secret Service protection/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Do you agree with VP Biden that a shotbun is more effective against a home intruder than a semi-automatic weapon?

Live-Tweeting Birth Of A Baby

A new father signals thumbs up after his wife delivered a baby boy this morning in Houston, Texas. A routine cesarean section delivery at the Houston hospital went live with the surgery on Twitter on Wednesday, broadcasting snippets of information along with graphic pictures and video, part of a growing and ever more popular trend as hospitals and doctors hungry for clients use social media to promote their services. This photo was posted on its Twitter feed during the surgery. The patient and her family members were not identified in the Twitter feed. (AP Photo/Women's Memorial Hermann Hospital)

Question: Would you consider live-tweeting of a birth of one of your children?

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.20.13

  • 11:20 a.m. Driver of dirty station wagon w/b on I-90 @ M/P 19 (Memorial Bridge) possibly DUI.
  • 10:35 a.m. Lakes Middle School student reports being followed to school by stranger.
  • 10:21 a.m. St. Maries ambulance running code to Worley to transport patient to Medstar.
  • 10:11 a.m. Lakes Middle School reports girl showed up for school but not in class today.
  • 10:09 a.m. Resident reports her dog is unconscious in house as a result of workers hitting natural gas main in 9500 block of Juno, between Hayden & Loralee/Hayden.
  • 9:51 a.m. A white Ford Windstar is disabled in median of H95/Rockford Junction, partly blocking.
  • 9:13 a.m. Someone wants to see KCSDeputy in lobby re: recent battery.
  • 8:17 a.m. 9YO has called 911 dispatch to protest having to go to school.

Boise Weekly: The Freshman 16

I've never known Luke Malek to be a separatist, but there he was on Feb. 13, the newly elected representative from Coeur d'Alene, standing at a podium flanked by fellow freshman House members and announcing to the press that he'd crafted a “trailer” bill to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's state-based health insurance exchange proposal. As in the past, President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act has sent the GOP into a tizzy. … The hard-right wing of the Idaho GOP is so set against health care reform that it doesn't even support Otter's idea for a state-based exchange—a plan that falls short of the governor's own initial saber rattling about suing the feds. For the ideologues, the ultimate solution is nullification; and we all know how well that worked for the South back in the 1800s. Malek's proposal, meanwhile, is modest: more oversight of the exchange, including by legislators/Zach Hagadone, Boise Weekly. More here.

DFO: I agree with Zach Hagadone that Malek appears to offer a pinprick of common sense among a group of North Idaho legislators who are trying to out-Tea Party one another. (BTW, I hear that 17-18 Hard Right types met Tuesday night out of concern that Luke and Rep. Ed Morse are standing with the governor on Obamacare.)

Question: Which Kootenai County representatives value their constituents as a whole rather than Hard Right ideology?

Dems Denounce Referendum Attack

House and Senate Democrats came out strongly against SB 1108 today, the bill proposed by the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation to make it tougher to qualify an initiative or referendum measure for the Idaho ballot. “This bill is part of a troubling trend that makes it easier for lawmakers and government officials to ignore the will of the people,” Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, the Senate minority leader, declared at a Statehouse press conference this morning. “Today, we call on Idahoans of all political affiliations to speak out against Senate Bill 1108”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

More Eye on Boise posts today:

Question: Are you taking this attack on the initiative/referendum process by the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and some GOP legislative leaders seriously?

AM Headlines — 2.20.13

The heavy equipment has returned to McEuen Field to shove dirt around in preparation for heavier construction that will begin next month when bids are opened for the remainder of the upgrade this year. A bid opening for the next phase of the McEuen Field work is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 5.

Poll: OK With Drones

  • Tuesday Poll: 89 of 165 respondents (53.94%) said they are comfortable with increased use of drones by United States. 67 of 165 respondents (40.61%) said they are not. 9 (5.45%) were undecided.
  • Cookie Tax: 112 of 154 respondents (72.73%) said the Idaho Legislature should exempt Girl Scout cookies from the sales tax. (Idaho & Hawaii are the only two states that tax Girl Scout cookies.) Only 39 of 154 respondents (25.32%) support the continued taxing of Girl Scount cookies. 3 (1.95%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Did the city of Coeur d'Alene overpay the School District for Person and Bryan playfields?

Dave: City Overpaid For Parks

On his Facebook wall, Dave Chamberlain posts:

The Coeur d'Alene School board has chosen to use an inflated appraisal to “blackmail”, according to council person Goodlander, the city of Coeur d'Alene to pay 100K more for the property than was discussed, and agreed upon by the two parties in a public meeting. You could feel the frustration in the voices of long term members such and Ron Edinger and the newer, more conservative member of the current city council, Dan Gookin .I think this is just another showing of the quality of the current school board led by Jeff Ward and the Reagan Republicans. Although this is just moving money from one pocket to the other for the taxpayers, it just goes to show you the animosity that is being created by the Hamilton/Regan/Hightower far-right, anti-union, anti-UN, anti-education of ALL non-Christian religion faction that current is running our school district into a path of disintegration. More here.

DFO: Also under that Facebook thread, Chamberlain FB Friend Tom Hearn announces that he's running for the District 5 position now held by appointee Jim Hightower, a Reagan Republican director.

Question: Did the city of Coeur d'Alene pay the School District too much for Person and Bryan playfields?

Cutline Contest — 2.20.13

Naked Museum visitors look at pictures of the show “Nude Men from 1800 to Today” during a special opening to friends of nudism at the Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria. The show “Nude Men from 1800 to Today” looks at how artists have dealt with the theme of male nudity over the centuries. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

DFO: I've brought back the cutline contest at the request of a Berry Picker who attended Blogfest 2013. I'm not going to judge the cutlines at the end of the day as I did before. You can vote for your favorite cutline simply by clicking the up or down arrows under an individual comment in the DISQUS system.

Quotable Quote

“If you buy something from the store and it’s a dollar, you have to pay an additional 6 cents. I kind of think it’s a downer because instead of paying a dollar you have to pull out another 6 cents” — 12YO Hailey Murray, a Girl Scout lobbying the Idaho Legislature to eliminate the tax on the sale of Girl Scout cookies. Story here.

  • H/T: Kestrel West Morning Memo

Most Conservative US Senator? Risch

When people think about conservative “all stars” in the Senate (if people ever actually think about such a thing), a few names probably come to mind. There’s Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who before leaving the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation—a conservative Think Tank—was the godfather of the tea party in the upper chamber. Then of course there is Rand Paul, son of Ron, libertarian champion from Kentucky. A little less known, but still with some name recognition, are Mike Lee of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, former head of the Club for Growth. All of these guys rank on National Journal’s most conservative list, but none of them hold the top spot. That honor goes to James Risch of Idaho, a senator so obscure that he might as well be dubbed the Ann Veal of the Senate/National Journal. More here.

Question: Did you have any idea that Sen. Risch was this conservative?

Otter Hurt Politically By Hurlock Vote

C.L. (Butch) Otter lost more than a confirmation battle the day the Idaho Senate rejected his appointment of Joan Hurlock to the Fish and Game Commission. He lost political capital. He became a weaker governor. Chosen last summer to represent the Magic Valley region, the Buhl woman lost on a 19-16 Senate vote. But this was not simply another of the hundreds of appointments Otter selects. At Fish and Game, the State Tax Commission, the Idaho Transportation Board and the State Board of Education, the governor picks the board. The board then hires the administrators, sets policy and allocates the money. These top-tier slots are extensions of Otter's cabinet. To deny a governor his choice is almost unheard of/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you agree/disagree with Opinion Editor Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune that Gov. Butch Otter lost political capital when the Senate rejected F&G nominee Joan Hurlock?

Boise Bar Prize: Breast Enhancement

I love Boise. I really do. I've lived in dozen of cities, eight different states across this grand nation. And Boise has always been, hands down, my favorite place to live. But for the first time ever, I have to admit that I am ashamed to live in Boise. Why? Because for Mardi Gras, several of the bars in downtown Boise got together to give away the “ultimate” door prize: fake boobs. I know Mardi Gras was never supposed to be about improving your body image — some of the revelers probably couldn't even remember what they looked like when the night was through. And Boise is certainly no New Orleans. But to use plastic surgery as an enticement to get people to the bars on Mardi Gras? Seriously? “We're just trying to put some fun back into Mardi Gras,” bar owner Ted Challenger explained. And nothing says fun like fake boobs!/Mary Pritchard, Huffington Post. More here.

Question: Clever door prize? Or tacky beyond belief?

North Korea Dreams Of USA On Fire

People watch a television program showing a propaganda video released by North Korea at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, earlier today. The new North Korean video portrays President Barack Obama and American troops in flames and says the North conducted its recent nuclear test because of U.S. hostility. The letters on the screen read “the U.S. has essentially led North Korea to conduct a nuclear test so we cannot help saying we owe it to the U.S.” Story here. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Question: So, does this mean that President Obama and the USA are no longer on North Korea's Christmas card list?

Letter: Props For Vigilante Deer Killer

We live very close to where the current poached deer have been found, and though I don’t agree at all with the fact they’re being left for dead, I completely support whoever is getting rid of these deer as they’re a complete nuisance around here just like the wolves are in other areas. We have had several years worth of meetings with Dalton City Hall about how something needs to be done about this epidemic, and they offer no solutions and not much more than an attitude of “quit your whining, we think they’re cute.” They destroy almost everything my parents and neighbors plant for livelihood. I’ve hit one and have to spend about $100 I don’t have to replace my headlight. They are as prevalent around here as rats in NYC and they need to be stopped as they just keep breeding/Lisa Nelson, Dalton Gardens, letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Should the Coeur d'Alene area consider killing urban deer — as Helena, Mont., does — to make roads and gardens safer?

Done Deal For Person, Bryan Fields

The city of Coeur d'Alene agreed to purchase Person and Bryan fields from the Coeur d'Alene School District Tuesday night, ending an at times rocky negotiating process that lasted several months between the two entities. The city agreed to pay $750,000 for the roughly 2-acre Bryan Field and the 3.8-acre portion of the 7-acre Person Field owned by the district. The council, however, reiterated some arguments it has voiced throughout the negotiating process before agreeing to the purchase - namely, it felt it was coming up on the short end of the financial deal. “I'm tired of this issue, we have debated it long enough,” City Councilman Mike Kennedy said. “At the end of the day, let's just move forward”/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: All's well that ends well?

Signe: Hacker Alert

Signe Wilkinson/Philadelphia Inquirer

Wild Card/Tuesday — 2.19.13

Political rumors — and that's all they are at this point of the year — are fun. I've heard Lawerence Denney is trying to boost his profile in North Idaho for a possible congressional run by speaking at the Lincoln Day Dinner. Of course, that would mean that Raul would run for governor. Then, there's state Sen. Bob Nonini who wouldn't mind being called “congressman” either. At the city level, the rumor is that Councilman Mike Kennedy won't seek re-election. Deanna Goodlander will. Ditto for Mayor Sandi Bloem. Interesting stuff for speculation. But that's all it is at this point. Now for the daily Wild Card …

Parting Shot — 2.19.13

In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, Seattle Mariners position players run sprints during a baseball spring training workout in Peoria, Ariz., today (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Question: Have you ever run wind sprints?

Absent-Minded Journalist

I've been thinking about the dilemma KXLY weathercaster Kris Crocker finds herself in this PM — after inadvertently putting her library books in a USPS drop box. I've never done that. But I'm extremely absent-minded. Last week, I almost backed out of the garage without opening the garage door. Luckily, I was going so slowly (because I know I'm capable of doing something like this) that I felt the slight bump against the garage door and stopped. No damage. I've done other things like drive off with a cup of coffee or my glasses on the hood or roof of the vehicle. How about you?

Question: Are you absent-minded? Describe something you did while not paying attention.

Dogwalk: Spare Me From Stupid Men!

RE: Colorado legislator comment: Women don't need guns, even if they fear sexual assault

The debate goes on as to whether guns and campuses are compatible.  I'm a little surprised that Colorado is taking the stance that they are not.  This is macho outdoorsy rugged individual country. Maybe the macho part of it is the problem.  You know, the women as property, barefoot and pregnant, etc. I'd not expect so much of that on a campus and certainly not in the legislature, but here we are. That being the case I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that  one Joe Salazar, a state representative feels rape is due to gender inequity and that women really needn't be permitted to carry a gun for protection. In essence because they are too flighty and emotional making them prone to shoot prematurely if they feel threatened. You know, like being followed in a dark and deserted area  when that's all it is — being followed/Dogwalk Musings. More here.

Question: Dogwalk Musings has a point. An unusual amount of clueless men get elected to office. Is that there fault? Or are they able to hide their stupidity from voters until they're elected?

Huckleberries Blogos — 2.19.13

Christie Wood, a North Idaho College trustee and spokeswoman for the Coeur d'Alene Police Department, and Duane Rasmussen listen to DFO's State of the Blog speech during the Blogfest 2013 at Steve Widmyer's Fort Ground Grill Saturday. Photographer Don Sasser has provided an album of photos for the last three blogfests: 2013, and: 2012, and: 2011. Enjoy.

Huckleberries numbers (for Monday, Feb. 18): 7156 page-views/4097 unique views

Alleged ‘Toddler Slapper’ Free On Bail

Also: Joe Hundley, 'Toddler Slapper' & lawyer get hate mail: 'He is not a racist'/Brittney Villalva, Christian Post Reporter

An Idaho man charged with slapping a toddler on a Minneapolis-to-Atlanta flight has made an initial appearance in federal court. Joe Rickey Hundley (pictured in SR file photo by Kathy Plonka) surrendered to federal agents Tuesday morning and then stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel H. Williams via video at the federal courthouse in Coeur d'Alene. Hundley, of Hayden,  was released by the magistrate on $10,000 bond. As conditions of his release, the 60-year-old cannot drink alcohol or possess firearms and must surrender his passport. He cannot travel outside of Idaho, eastern Washington state, or the northern district of Georgia, where the case will be tried/Associated Press. More here.


PM Scanner Traffic — 2.19.13

  • 5:42 p.m. 911 gets 4 calls re: wrong-way driver w/b on e/b I-90/MP 24 (Wolf Lodge Creek bridge).
  • 5:07 p.m. Caller reports neighbor's son destroying neighbor's house but mother won't call police.
  • 5:05 p.m. Mother fears son may have accidentally overdosed on prescription medicine.
  • 4:45 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Feb. 18-19 here.
  • 4:32 p.m. Bike rider laying along Appleway, east of Ramsey Road, reports he was hit by vehicle and that his knee is hurting. There are no other signs of trauma.
  • 10 more items + AM Scanner Traffic link below

Court Overturns ‘Absurd’ Conviction

It was an icy morning in 2009 when Richard W. Wright slid off a North Idaho road and hit a speed limit sign. But the retired Florida police officer and then-Kootenai County coffee shop owner didn’t expect to be charged with the misdemeanor crime of leaving the scene of an accident for proceeding on to work. Wright, who represented himself in court, received a withheld judgment, paid a $200 fine, served two days on a county work program and had his license suspended for a year – all for an accident that only damaged a piece of plastic door molding on his own car and a roadside sign that cost about $200 to fix; Wright paid for that. Today, the Idaho Court of Appeals overturned Wright’s conviction, saying the leaving-the-scene crime applies to multi-car accidents, requiring drivers not to leave before exchanging information – not to a single car bumping into a sign/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Are you as amazed as I am that this driver was charged & convcicted in the first place?

Reagan Repubs Announce Officers

The Reagan Republicans have announced their 2013-14 officers:

This year Ron Lahr was re-elected as President of KCRR and will lead a new leadership team consisting of Jeff Tyler, first vice president; Lora Gervais, first VP of activism; Rob Moser. VP of citizenship; Jacquie Mayo, VP of training and education; Larry Seward, VP of membership; Doug Shevalier, VP of operations; Rep. Ed Morse, VP of political affairs; Becky Brewer-Fund, secretary; Jeff Ward, treasurer.  At-large board members are Jim Pierce, Jim Hightower, Bob Brooke, Mark Fisher, and Luke Sommer. Complete Weekly Conservative column.

Question: The board of directors of the Reagan Republicans has proven to be a launching pad for political office. Morse, running while a board member, upended Phil Hart in the GOPrimary last spring. Tyler was barely edged by Ron Mendive in the same primary election. Trustee Hightower, of course, still serves on the board. Which Reagan Republicans do you expect to run for office in the near future?

Reagan Repubs Honor CdA Trustees

From the Kootenai Weekly Conservative, Treasurer Jeff Ward announces that the Reagan Republcans have bestowed the “Gipper Award” on the entire Coeur d'Alene School Board:

Each year KCRR honors political courage with “The Gipper” Award. This year we honor the commitment and courage, in spite of merciless political attacks, of the Trustees of the Coeur d'Alene School Board (Brent Regan, Tom Hamilton, Terri Seymour, Ann Seddon, and Jim Hightower.)  Complete Weekly Conservative column here.

Question: Will the Reagan Republicans be able to help the three appointees they favor to win election to full terms this spring?

Juror Pay Could Jump To $50/Day

After 45 years of paying jurors no more than $10 daily, Idahoans called for jury duty could soon be paid up to $50 for each day they serve in court. The House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee voted unanimously to advance legislation Tuesday that gives county commissioners the option to boost juror pay. People who serve a half day would get up to $25, up from $5 under current law. Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Kathy Sims said many counties have trouble attracting jurors at current rates, which she said hardly covers the cost of gas for people driving from rural areas to court/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Stop the presses! Rep. Kathy Sims and I agree on something — the boost in juror pay. What do you think about it?

SR Blogs — 2.19.13

“If you're anything like me,” posts Tricia Jo Webster/Dually Noted, “you fall asleep thinking about what you're going to eat tomorrow. But sometimes my mind is so busy whirring through the possibilities that I lay there for hours, trying to make a decision.” More here.

Question: I rarely think about the next meal, let alone fall asleep thinking about what I will eat the following day. How about you?

Idaho Reps Expect Sequester Cuts

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, right, and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, discuss the federal deficit and looming budget cuts in Boise earlier today. (AP Photo/Todd Dvorak)

Idaho’s senior senator and congressman both said today that they expect the automatic federal budget cuts required by sequestration to kick in as scheduled on March 1, forcing devastating cuts. “The one thing I’ve discovered is for every complex problem, there is a simple solution that doesn’t work,” said 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson. “I think sequestration is going to kick into effect, because I don’t see the will on either side of the aisle to try to address what are painfully stupid cuts – it’s a meat ax”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Other Eye on Boise blogs posts today:

Girl Scouts Lobby For Tax Exemption

These young Girl Scouts brush-up on their phone-banking skills. (StateImpact photo: Emilie Ritter Saunders)

Famous for its potatoes, trout fishing, and blue AstroTurf, Idaho might not have much in common with Hawaii. But here’s one thing: Idaho and Hawaii are the only two states in the country to tax Girl Scout Cookies. Now, some local Scouts are beefing up their sales pitches and learning to lobby. Girl Scouts across the country are getting amped up to sell as many boxes of their famed Samoas, Thin Mints, and Tag-a-longs as they possibly can. They have about a month to close the deal with neighbors, friends and grandmothers/Emilie Ritter Saunders, StateImpact. More here.

Question: Should Idaho continue to tax Girl Scout cookies?

Genesis Of A Ha-Huge Library Fine

On her Facebook wall, KXLY weathercaster Kris Crocker posts: “And I just accidentally dropped my library books to return into the downtown post office box. Suggestions?”

DFO: First, I'm glad that I'm not the only absent-minded person capable of doing something like this. (No, I never have. But it is a possiblity given my level of distraction most of the time.)

Question: What would you do if you were in Kris' situation?

Ward Rallies Troops Vs. Obamacare

On the Reagan Republicans Facebook wall, Jeff Ward is lobbying followers to pressure North Idaho state Sens. John Goedde and Shawn Keough to vote against the health exchange. Writes Ward:

“This in from Senator Russ Fulcher: “Idaho Senate will debate and vote on Health Exchange bill Thursday, Feb. 21 - Senate bill 1042 will be debated and voted on this coming Thursday morning, Feb 21. - probably starting around 9:45AM.” In North Idaho, Senators Bob Nonini and Senator Steve Vick have committed to vote “no.” Please contact Senator John Goedde and Senator Shawn Keough ASAP and urge them to oppose implementing Obamacare in Idaho through a federally controlled Idaho state health-care exchange.”


U-Dem: Run, Mike, Run

Unapologetic Democrat: Where did you hear that rumor about Mike Kennedy not seeking re-election? If so that is unfortunate in my opinion.

DFO: Certainly not from Mike himself. A lot of people are speculating that he'd be foolish to put himself through another 4 years like the last 4 when he was sued after winning an election by a handful of votes. His business also is prospering, demanding a lot of time. And he has a young, growing family. Also, I doubt that his wife would want him to go through the type of battering he has over the last 8 years. He remains Public Enemy No. 1 in almost all the Republican factions, which can't stand to see a bonafide Democrat in any elected position in the county.

Question: Of the four council members facing re-election in the fall — Mayor Sandi Bloem and council members Mike Kennedy, Woody McEvers and Deanna Goodlander — who do you expect to see run again?

Survey: Idaho 7th Happiest State

Sorry, Louisiana, you are the saddest state. And Hawaii (shocker!) you are the happiest. That's according to a team at the Vermont Complex Systems Center, who posted their new analysis of 10 million geotagged tweets to to They call their creation a “hedonometer.” They also found that the Bible belt stretching across the American south and into Texas was less happy than the west or New England. The saddest town of the 373 urban areas studied was Beaumont in east Texas. The happiest was Napa, California, home of many drunk people wine makers. The only town among the 15 saddest that was not in the south or Rust Belt was Waterbury, Connecticut/Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic. More here. (Dan Pelle SR file photo of clock tower in Riverfront Park on frigid December 2010 day)

  • Also: The article goes on to say that Spokane is the 11th happiest city — and lists Idaho (No. 7) and Washington (No. 9) among the happy states.
  • H/T: Phaedrus

Question: Would you describe yourself as a happy person?

Phaedrus Is King Of The Commenters

The new Disqus system keeps track of the number of comments that you've made on Huckleberries Online over the year. All you have to do is click on your name in the comments section. Phaedrus brought that to my attention this morning by announcing that he has hit the 10,000-comment threshold. Curious, I checked out the number of comments that I've made over the years — 8517. Stickman has made 8113. Digger checked the number of comments that he has made — 2285.

Question: Without looking, can you guess how many comments that you've made over the years (then look and see how that checks out with reality).

Cutline Contest — 2.19.13

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman stretches during a spring training baseball workout today in Viera, Fla. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.19.13

  • 11:48 a.m. Driver of white pickup w/blue canopy @ e/b I-90/Pleasantview possibly DUI.
  • 11:46 a.m. 19YO male disoriented after extreme headache for 3 days in 1300 block of 9th/CdA.
  • 11:31 a.m. Owner in 5500 block of H54/Athol asks for animal control officer who cited him for dogs running loose without licenses. Dogs are now contained — and have licenses.
  • 11:16 a.m. Deputy is trying to locate owner of found arrow on Woodlyn Court/Hayden.
  • 11:13 a.m. Female wants husband stopped from removing items from house on Marceille/CdA.
  • 10:41 a.m. A red sedan is traveling w/b in e/b lanes of I-90/MP 11 (NW Blvd/CdA).
  • 10:38 a.m. Debra has questions for deputy re: deer poachings at Dalton Gardens.
  • 10:12 a.m. Suspicious male in blue bandana walking near Perfection Tire, Govt Way/Kathleen.
  • 10:04 a.m. Driver of teal pickup e/b on Prairie Avenue from H41/Rathdrum Prairie may be DUI.
  • 9:36 a.m. 77YO male wasn't hurt by fall in shower, needs lift help in Anton Avenue/CdA apartment.
  • 8:59 a.m. Spokane father seeking whereabouts of son w/mental issues who has been using credit card in Hayden & Sagle during last 36 hours.
  • 8:51 a.m. Female 15 weeks pregnant felt “pop” in her back when she bent over at a Sherman Avenue business and can't stand now.
  • 8:44 a.m. Erratic elderly driver just turned from H95 onto w/b Hayden Avenue.
  • 8:36 p.m. Driver of flathead truck changing tire on w/b I-90/MP 19.5 (Yellowstone Trail).
  • 8:31 a.m. Someone at Ramsey Elementary, 1351 W. Kathleen/CdA, is having trouble breathing.

Poll: BNSF Refueling Depot Is Safe

  • Monday Poll: 78 of 160 respondents (48.75%) are satisfied that the BNSF refueling depot at Hauser Lake poses little threat to the aquifer, as a result of safety measures taken by the railroad. However, 55 of 160 respondents (34.38%) said the depot can never be made safe enough to eliminate all riskes to the sole-source aquifer below. 21 of 160 respondents (13.13%) said they aren't satisfied that the depot is safe. 6 (3.75%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Are you comfortable with the increasing use of drones by the United States?

Obama: Sequestration=Airport Delays

President Obama warned on Tuesday that airline passengers might face longer travel times if automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration” are allowed to take effect. In a pitch to lawmakers made against a backdrop of emergency first responders, Obama included cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a long list of what he said would be stark consequences of allowing the sequester to take place. “Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country,” Obama said/Keith Laing, The Hill. More here.

Question: Are you worried about the impact of sequestration? Or do you even know what it is?

House OKs Restoring $30M To Schools

HB 65, the bill to restore the $30 million to the current year’s public school budget that was put in limbo when voters repealed the “Students Come First” laws in November, has passed the House unanimously on a 69-0 vote – with no debate. “I would suggest that it’s impossible to define what the voters meant,” House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, told the House. “The bottom line is we don’t know. Let me tell you what we do know, though. We do know that each one of us in this body as well as the body across the rotunda were elected to try to improve our state, and by extension to try to improve our education system”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

DFO: Funny, I have a good idea what the voters meant when they rejected the three Luna Laws that the Legislature and Gov. Otter tried to foist on the state. The voters didn't want to turn the state education system over to an online experiment without a track record. They also didn't want to throw the state's teachers under the bus as GOP legislators and the School Board Association did (and still does).

Question: Do you know what voters meant when they rejected the Luna Laws?

AM Headlines — 2.19.13

Gonzaga guard Drew Barham (43) reacts to fans after defeating San Francisco during the second half of a college basketball game in late January in Spokane. Gonzaga won the game 66-52. Barham is one of three Gonzaga Bulldogs who have already earned their degrees. See Jim Meehan story below. (SR file photo: Tyler Tjomsland)

Hecla Reopens Lucky Friday Mine

After being closed for more than a year, Hecla’s Lucky Friday silver mine reopened this week, following a series of safety upgrades that cost more than $30 million. The mine was closed on orders from federal mine inspectors following a rock burst that injured seven workers in December 2011. The mile-deep silver mine in Mullan, Idaho, is expected to return to full production later this year. The company announced all employees were recalled and received supplemental safety training. The rock burst injuries followed fatal accidents at the Lucky Friday that killed two miners in April and November of 2011/Tom Sowa, SR. More here.

Question: Does your family have a mining heritage?

Delivering Twin Twins

Tressa Montalvo places her hand on her newborn son, Blaine, at The Women's Hospital of Texas on Monday  in Houston. Montalvo gave birth to two sets of identical twins on Valentine's Day, born at 31 weeks. The arrival of Ace and Blaine then Cash and Dylan a minute later was even more unusual because the Montalvos did not take fertility drugs or use in-vitro fertilization. (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Brett Coomer )

Question: Do you have twins in your family?

Council Will Hear Person Field Update

I see nothing that would indicate another night of delightful fireworks when the Coeur d'Alene City Council convenes for the second time this month, at 6 o'clock tonight. I switched to Time-Warner earlier this year largely because I wanted to tune in for the best reality television that Coeur d'Alene TV Channel 19 has to offer. One item on the agenda announces that Bruce Drewes will present the “Road Scholar” program. Dunno if that's suppose to be Rhodes Scholar or something else. Finance Director Troy Tymesen will provide an update re: Person Field negotiations. Also, there's a public hearing on “water rates/fees,” which probably means we'll be paying more for water this gardening season. Keep your finger crossed that the public comments/council comments portions of the meeting will be interesting. You can see the agenda here.

Question: See anything on the agenda that interests you?

A Listening Idaho Legislator? Ahaha

Now ending its sixth week, the 2013 Idaho Legislature is shaping up as the “not listening tour.” Who cares if 74,000 people - 56 percent more than required - signed petitions subjecting schools Superintendent Tom Luna's flawed school overhaul package to a referendum? The Farm Bureau says it's time to gut the initiative/referendum process - and it gets a bill introduced. Does it matter that 371,224 Idaho voters - or 57.1 percent - voted to repeal the Luna laws' assault on teachers' collective bargaining rights? Not to the Idaho School Board Association, which plowed right on ahead with measures re-enacting those laws. So why is anyone surprised that lawmakers seem poised to ignore owners of more than 1 million residential telephone numbers? That's the number of entries on the state's do-not-call list. You can't say that's 1 million Idahoans/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Why should Idaho GOP legislators listen to the public when they can do anything they want during a session and still get re-elected simply by having their name on the ballot with an “R” after it?

Gun Rights Rally Set For Lewiston

Two members of the Lewis and Clark Tea Party Patriots are hoping Pioneer Park will be loaded with gun rights advocates Saturday for a Second Amendment rally. Marvin Dugger of Lewiston and Rose Bunch of Clarkston are hosting the event on behalf of the Tea Party group.The rally will begin at 1 p.m. in the Lewiston park, complete with guest speakers and food and beverages. One speaker the group has secured is Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik. Dugger said the pair planned the event with relatively short notice, but got the idea from other places around the country that have recently had “enormously successful” Second Amendment rallies since discussion of gun control reform began on a national level/Kelcie Moseley, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (AP file photo: Hundreds gather at the Bonneville Courthouse for the Save Our Second Amendment Rally on Saturday)

Question: What affect do Second Amendment rallies have?

Zombies To Address Lincoln Day?

Lincoln Day Committee Chairman Matt Robinson has circulated the following message to members of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee:

The Lincoln Day Dinner is quickly approaching and we need help from each and everyone of you to help make this year's event successful. The best way to do that is to participate and to share the experience with others. Please sponsor tables, donate goods and/or services and buy raffle tickets for the firearms raffle. This will be a fundraiser style dinner where tickets are only $50 per plate. Similar style fundraising dinners usually start at $500 per plate; this is an tremendous opportunity to introduce others to the Republican Party and our elected officials. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: A political wag noted that former House Speaker Lawerence Denney and former Bonner County Commissioner Cornel Rasor will be speaking, both of whom lost re-election bids last year. Tongue firmly cheeked, the quipster said that the Far Right wing of the local Republican Party is “reaching out from their political graves.  Maybe we should call it a Zombie's Dinner or Zombie Ball.” Is this Lincoln Day Dinner going to launch the Zombie Apocalypse in the Inland Northwest?

There’s A Drone Out Tonight

A U.S. Predator drone flies over the moon above Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan. The number of U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan jumped 72 percent in 2012, killing at least 16 civilians in a sharp increase from the previous year, the U.N. said today in a sign of the changing mission as international forces prepare to withdraw combat forces in less than two years. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Question: Are you comfortable with the increasing use of drones by the United States?

Last Of 11 Wilhelm Brothers Dies

Harold Wilhelm loved to play practical jokes - and he had plenty of company doing it growing up. Wilhelm, among 11 brothers with a household Post Falls name, died at 89 of natural causes in Spokane on Monday. He was the last surviving brother. “This was a dynasty,” said David Wilhelm, Harold's son. “This was an era. It's been special being a part of it. If one uncle couldn't do something for you, another one could.” The brothers moved to this area from North Dakota with their parents Mike and Monica Wilhelm in the 1930s/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you come from a big family?

Letter: Who Is John Goedde?

I was bemused to learn of Senator Goedde’s bill to require students in Idaho to read and pass a test on the book “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. I read “Atlas Shrugged” while I was stationed in Texas assigned to Casual Barracks awaiting orders. It was the late 1950s and the book hadn’t been out too long. The book was large and daunting, but because I had nothing else to do for a week or so, I persevered. I doubt if I will ever read anything else by Ayn Rand. She managed to say in any 10 pages what she should have said in one. I would classify Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, as materialist-atheist-existential philosophy/Philip A. Clements, letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: After all the controversy re: state Sen. John Goedde's bill to require that all high schoolers read Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged,” Are you more/less impressed by Goedde?

Benson: Road To Recovery?

Lisa Benson/Washington Post Writer's Group

Wild Card/Monday — 2.18.13

It's Monday. Which means Huckleberries Online has survived another Blogfest. And Downton Abbey fans have the entire offseason to recover from the last scene of Season 3. However, the sun is shining as Huckleberries begins its 10th year of existence. Yeah, yeah, I know, a bunch of you slackers on the public payroll are enjoying a day off. Which means things probably will be quieter today than usual at the start of the week. But we'll soldier on. Now for the first Wild Card of the 10th year of Huckleberries …

Parting Shot — 2.18.13

George Washington presidential presenter C. Roger Cooper welcomes a young visitor during the Presidents Day celebration at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif., earlier today. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Question: Who's your favorite president, besides George Washington and/or Abraham Lincoln? Please explain choice.

Down & Out Of Gas

A Facebook Friend must have used her cell phone to post this on her Facebook wall this evening: “Just ran out of gas for first time in forever. Damn it. Oh well, a walk will do me good.” I can't remember the last time — if ever — that I've run out of gas. Now, I've broken down in some odd places, including Connell, Wash. But I usually watch my gas guage closely. How about you?

Question: When did you last run out of gas?

Rumorama Update: It’ll Be Denney

Huckleberries hears That former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, pictured, will be the speaker at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner of the Kootenai County Republicans. There was a rumor that local Republicans were trying to get U.S. Sen. Rand Paul as the speaker for the March 8 event. The Powers That Be had remained mum about the possible speaker long after confirming Denney to handle the speaking duties. Mebbe the PTB didn't want a repeat of last year's snafu, when “Sheriff (Richard) Mack” was invited/disinvited & finally invited during a whirlwind of special votes, parliamentary maneuvering and even a proxy vote challenge that found its way into a Coeur d'Alene police report. The news should be out Tuesday.

Question: Are you impressed that former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, is the Lincoln Day speaker for the Kootenai County Republicans, after losing his job to Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, in early December?

Agony Of Defeat

Coeur d'Alene's Brittany Tackett (14) reacts during the final moments of the girls Class 5A State Championship high school basketball game against Post Falls on Saturday in Nampa. Post Falls won 46-44. (AP Photo/Robby Milo)

Question: Were you ever part of a team that came close to winning a state title?

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.18.13

  • 5:17 p.m. Someone is suffering breathing problems in 600 block of W. Harrison/CdA.
  • 5:06 p.m. ITD on scene to clear debris from 2-vehicle crash @ w/b onramp of I-90/H95, CdA.
  • 4:36 p.m. Female w/curly black hair is road raging in white Toyota van @ w/b I-90/MP 14 (15th Street/CdA). She brake-checked another driver after cutting her off.
  • 4:26 p.m. Semi truck kicking up dust and rocks by traveling on shoulder of I-90/MP 10.
  • 4:15 p.m. Vehicle w/b on Prairie Avenue from H95 appears to be driven by 10YO male.
  • 4:01 p.m. Driver of light blue semi w/white trailer speeding & littering @ w/b I-90/Pleasantview, PF.
  • 10 more items + AM Scanner Traffic below

Huckleberries Blogos — 2.18.13

Stickman, with the stick he carved for Bayview Herb, checks out photos from Blogfest 2012 on Don Sausser's photo while DFO makes a “hand pistol” that would get him kicked off most elementary school playgrounds. Herb provides his view of Blogfest 2013 at the Fort Ground Grill here.

Huckleberries numbers (for week of Feb. 10-16): 48,046 page-views/27,411 unique views

SR Blogs: Gone But Not Forgotten

On his blog, The Slice, Paul Turner made me feel old without trying, we he posted this headline on the photo of the Dave Clark 5 photo album above: “Only two of them are still alive.” (Photo:

Craig Memorializes Late Legislators

Today is the day that both the House and the Senate hold their memorial services to remember those former members who have died in the past year. In the Senate this morning, formers Sens.  Larry Craig and Denton Darrington returned to take part in the ceremony; here, Craig is recalling the late Sen. Lyle Cobbs of Ada County. More here. (Eye on Boise photo: Betsy Russell)

AGC Statement RE: Slapping Arrest

AGC Aerospace & Defense has issued this statement re: the alleged behavior of former Unitech Composites president Joe Ricky Hundley of Hayden:

“Reports of the recent behavior of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel are offensive and disturbing. We have taken this matter very seriously and worked diligently to examine it since learning of the matter on Friday afternoon. As of Sunday, the executive is no longer employed with the company. We wish to emphasize that the behavior that has been described is contradictory to our values, embarrassing and does not in any way reflect the patriotic character of the men and women of diverse backgrounds who work tirelessly in our business.”


How Many Local GOP Sects Are There?

After Blogfest 2013, I hung out with three conservatives who attended the annual event: Jennifer Locke, Bjorn Handeen and Northerner from Bonners Ferry. We discussed the difference between the Tea Party and United Conservaties of North Idaho, and the Tea Party and Reagan Republicans. Duane Rasmussen has assured me that the Tea Party is a distinct group from the other two. Jennifer and Bjorn agreed. So, Bjorn figured their might be 7 different factions of local Republicans on the Central Committee alone. So here's an attempt by Huckleberries to identify them (in no particular order):

  • Tea Party
  • Reagan Republicans
  • Rally Right (religious right)
  • United Conservatives of North Idaho
  • Reasonable Republicans
  • Ron Paulers
  • Republican Women/Pachyderm clubs (social)

Question: Who did I leave out?

Singer Mindy McCready, 37, RIP

In this undated file photo, country singer Mindy McCready performs in Nashville, Tenn. McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died Sunday of an apparent suicide. She was 37. Daily Beast story here. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

We Don’t Want No Stinkin’ Media

Heath Cole/KXLY (@HeathCole) tweets: “The former company of the accused baby slapper in Hayden Id is refusing to talk to media.Hired security to stop media.”

First Lady: Midlife Crisis Led To Bangs

Michelle Obama jokingly says a midlife crisis is what inspired her new haircut with bangs. The first lady revealed the new hairstyle last month on her 49th birthday, which came a few days before the festivities for President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Mrs. Obama was asked about the new haircut during an interview with talk-show host Rachael Ray. Said Mrs. Obama: “This is my midlife crisis.” She added that she cut her bangs because she can't get a sports car and won't be allowed to bungee jump/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: I can't remember having a midlife crisis. Can you?

Local Governments Vs. Guv Tax Cut

The associations representing Idaho cities, counties and school boards all have come out against the initial draft bill the governor’s office released last week to phase out the personal property tax on business equipment, reports Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. “The legislation will result in a significant shift in property tax burden to homeowners, farms, and small businesses,” the heads of the three associations wrote in a letter to Gov. Butch Otter on Friday; you can read Richert’s full report here, and read the letter here.

Question: Who said Gov. Otter doesn't fight for ideas (Luna Laws, personal property tax elimination) he believes in — even if they're against the overwhelming will of most of his constituents?

Girl Scouts Decry Idaho Sales Tax

As Girl Scouts fan out across the state for their annual cookie sale, 22 cents of every $3.75 box they sell in Idaho will go to the state, rather than to Girl Scout programs, under current tax policy. The Girl Scouts of the Silver Sage Council aim to change that, so they’re pushing for legislation this year to end Idaho’s distinction as one of just two states – Hawaii is the other – that still taxes Girl Scout cookies. Removing Idaho’s 6 percent sales tax from the fundraiser cookies would cost the state roughly $140,000 a year, according to legislation being sponsored by state Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, and co-sponsored by state Rep. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise. But the Girl Scouts say the money goes to a great cause: 23 percent of Silver Sage girl scouts are on scholarship, and the money to pay for their membership fees, badges, sashes and for camp comes from the cookie sale/Betsy Russell, SR. More here. (Betsy Russell photo: Reps. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, left, and Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, talk to Brownie Ella Marcum-Hart, 9, Monday)

Question: Should the Girls Scouts get an exemption from Idaho for their cookies?

Gonzaga Climbs To No. 3

The Gonzaga Bulldogs continue to win, and as a result climb up the national rankings. Gonzaga moves up two spots in this week's Associated Press Poll, now ranked third in the nation.  They remain third in the USA Today Coaches Poll, picking up three first place votes.  The Bulldogs received two first place votes in the AP.  Indiana is first in both polls, followed by Miami then Gonzaga.  This ties the highest AP ranking the 'Zags have ever received, matching the final two polls of  the 2004 season/KHQ. Complete rankings here.

Question: Fugeddabout the poll rankings for a minute. Do you think Gonzaga deserves one of the 4 No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament?

Alive & Well

On her Facebook wall, Kerri Thoreson offers proof that Dick Haugen, former KVNI voice of North Idaho, is alive and well — and still following sports. Posts Kerri: “Coming home from Boise via Salt Lake City we shared a flight with Dick Haugen and three North Idaho College basketball players, Aimee Durbidge, Renae Mokrzycki and Georgia Stirton. The Cardinal women played Saturday in Salt Lake. Note how great Dick is looking these days after he had a heart attack while accompanying the NIC men's team in Arizona a few months back!”

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.18.13

  • 11:42 a.m. Ex-husband reports seeing blood on kitchen floor as he arrived to pickup children for visitation rights @ 7th & Locust, CdA. No one is answering the door.
  • 11:39 a.m. Abandoned boat reported @ Idaho & Prairie/Post Falls.
  • 11:24 a.m. Female @ Post Falls parks reports another female harassing her.
  • 11:18 a.m. ISP officer is checking a hitchhiker @ I-90/East Sherman, CdA.
  • 11:16 a.m. Undisclosed vandalism to property reported @ 701 Front Ave/CdA.
  • 12 more items below

State Of The Blog 2013

Jennifer Locke brought the youngest and cutest follower of Huckleberries Online to Blogfest 2013. Jennifer, Bjorn Handeen, Northerner and I had a good conversation re: “astroturf” and the number of Republican factions in the Kootenai County area. We stopped counting the latter at 7. (Don Sausser photo special to Huckleberries Online)

I enjoyed another blogfest Saturday — and was energized by it. I find it easy to get unfocused re: the impact of Huckleberries Online, when I'm dealing with the occasional troll, angry commenter or complaint off-blog. But Blogfest brings things into perspective. I know something's happening here when individuals with different agendas, politics and religious persuasions — and even somewhat hostile to one another in cyberspace — can break bread together and discuss common ground. I had the pleasure of watch Adamsfly, a regular critic of Dan Gookin and Tom Hamilton, introduce himself to Gookin at Blogfest 2013. The two men then had a constructive conversation. I spotted only one bonafide Democrat at Blogfest (Dan of the Community). But I suppose the Far Right will continue to say Huckleberries is run by and for “libruls.” Reagan Republicans, United Conservatives of North Idaho and Libertarians were well represented at Blogfest. Saturday's event was held on the exact date that I began this exercise 9 years ago, Feb. 16. During those nine years, it has evolved from something best described as the Wild West of the Blogosphere into one of the few newspaper blogs in this country that attracts civil discussion. I'm proud of that. I'm thankful that the SR continues to pay me to be a full-time blogger, serving Kootenai County and North Idaho. Huckleberries has been able to show that most of us have more in common than we think. The blog has grown to almost 11,000 readers in the last nine years. I'm happy about that, too. God willing, I'll be around for Blogfest 2014 — and two more beyond. As we approach Blogfest 2016, I'll see what shape I'm in and if I want to continue on. Until then, let's continue to enjoy the moment — DFO.

Poll: Schools Won’t Be Safer

  • Weekend Poll: 93 of 193 respondents (48.19%) said Coeur d'Alene schools won't be safer, even if voters approve this spring's levy calling for $1.4M in district security upgrades. 65 of 193 respondents (33.68%), however, said the schools would be “somewhat safer,” and 15 of 193 (7.77%) said the schools will be “a lot” safer. On the other side, 9 of 193 respondents (4.66%) said the schools will be less safe if the levy is approved and security measures put inplace. 11 (5.7%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Are you satisfied, after 10 years of operations without a serious incident, that the BNSF re-fueling operation over the Rathdrum Prairie is a safe one?

Re-Fueling Inspections To Continue

Inspections will continue as usual at the train refueling depot in Hauser, even after a conditional agreement for the facility sunsets. Kootenai County commissioners recently met with Idaho Department of Environmental Quality officials in the commissioners' chambers, to discuss future oversight of the BNSF Railway depot. The DEQ's 10-year agreement with BNSF for the depot - detailing aquifer protection activities and public outreach - is in its last year, confirmed Dan Redline, DEQ regional administrator. The agency wanted to hammer out any necessary agreements with the county to ensure monitoring activities continue smoothly, he said. “This helps us figure out what we need to do,” Redline said/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Are you satisfied, after 10 years of operations without a serious incident, that the BNSF re-fueling operation over the Rathdrum Prairie is a safe one?

AM Headlines — 2.18.13

Brittany Tackett from Coeur d'Alene High tries to avoid a collision with Post Falls High's Hallie Gennett in the girls 5A state basketball tournament in Nampa Saturday. Post Falls won 46-44 in overtime. Jason Elliott/CdA Press story here. And: More photos by Jerome A. Pollos/Coeur d'Alene Press here.

And He Walked Away

Top Fuel driver Antron Brown's dragster bursts into flames after crashing in the second round of eliminations at the NHRA Winternationals auto racing event on Sunday in Pomona, Calif. Brown walked away from the fiery crash with only minor injuries. (AP Photo/The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Will Lester)

Question: Have you ever escaped relatively uninjured from a spectacular crash?

Exec Fired After Alleged Tot Slap

Also: 'Heinous and hateful': Parents describe Idaho man's attack on toddler/Dave Berggren, KARE11, KTVB

A man charged with slapping a toddler on a Minneapolis-to-Atlanta flight is out of a job, his former employer said Sunday. Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, pictured, is no longer an employee of AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group, Daniel Keeney of DPK Public Relations confirmed Sunday night. Al Haase, president and CEO of AGC, issued a statement early Sunday that, while not referring to Hundley by name, called reports of behavior by one of its executives on recent personal travel “offensive and disturbing” and said he “is no longer employed with the company.” Keeney would not say whether Hundley was fired or resigned. Hundley was president of AGC’s Hayden-based Unitech Composites and Structures unit/Associated Press. More here.

Earlier Huckleberries threads:

Question: Did Hundley deserved to be fired before his innocence or guilty was determined?

Airport Lounges Windows On USA

So I was sitting in an airport lounge recently, eating salad and drinking wine and listening to the two doctors seated behind me talk about how many cadavers each of their students would need for their coming demonstrations. It's a question I've asked myself many times. People often wonder if there will be enough cadavers to go around for things like arts and crafts projects, science experiments and things of that nature.And how, by the way, does one go about obtaining a cadaver when you really need it? I would have asked the doctors but my mouth was full of salad. This is what I like about travel. You are thrown together with all sorts of folks from all over the place and for a few hours you share air, space, germs, conversation and fate/Kathy Hedberg, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you talk much with other passengers on a plane ride?

Trib: Try Living On $7.25 Per Hour

In a different political era, Idaho legislators quit talking about poverty in the abstract and experienced it first-hand. Then, it was Sen. Cecil Ingram, R-Boise, and 30 of his fellow lawmakers who tried living on food stamps. For Ingram, it was an eye-opener. He found it nearly impossible to stretch the stipend across the month. The epiphany influenced his approach to social programs from then on. Which brings us to the minimum wage. In Idaho, it's $7.25 an hour, unchanged since 2007. Lawmakers could do more. They don't have to wait on President Obama's plan to boost the wage to $9 an hour. Nineteen states exceed the federal floor. At $9.19 an hour, Washington's rate is highest. Just for the sake of argument, what would happen if today's generation of Idaho lawmakers followed Ingram's example? If they tried to live on $7.25 an hour, what would they discover?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Could you live on $7.25 per hour?

Vatican Changes Put US In Play

Conventional wisdom holds that no one from the United States could be elected pope, that the superpower has more than enough worldly influence without an American in the seat of St. Peter. But after Pope Benedict XVI’s extraordinary abdication, church analysts are wondering whether old assumptions still apply, including whether the idea of a U.S. pontiff remains off the table. Benedict himself has set a tone for change with his dramatic personal example. He is the first pontiff in six centuries to step down. Church leaders and canon lawyers are scrambling to resolve a litany of dilemmas they had never anticipated, such as scheduling a conclave without a funeral first and choosing a title for a former pope/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo: Pope Benedict offers a blessing at Ash Wednesday services last week)

Question: Would you like to see an American pope?

Blogfest 2013: Food & Camaraderie

Bloggers, commenters and blurkers didn't have to be asked twice to fill their plates at Blogfest 2013 at Steve Widmyer's Fort Ground Grill in the historic Fortgrounds area Saturday. Bent's BBQ and Steve's side dishes were worth the price of admission. Toss in the camaraderie among those who share this corner of the blogosphere and my State of the Blog address (which received no standing O's) — and a good time was had by all. I think. (Don Sausser photo special for Huckleberries Online)

Dalton Gardens Poacher Kills 8 Deer

Five more deer were found shot dead Thursday and Friday in Dalton Gardens, bringing the total to eight deer fatally shot by poachers in the last week. Three of the deer were does that were carrying fawns, and a small caliber weapon was used in each instance, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “They are likely being shot at night or in the very early morning,” said Phil Cooper, an IDFG spokesman, on the string of shootings around residential neighborhoods in the small town north of Coeur d'Alene. “It's hard to believe nobody heard any shot”/David Cole & Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Tom Hasslinger's Press photo: A deer stands outside a Dalton Gardens home Friday afternoon)

Question: Do you think the poacher(s) is someone fed up with urban deer? Or simply someone who likes to kill animals?

Task Force OK w/Regan Apology

Trustee Brent Regan of the Coeur d’Alene School District has performed proper contrition for his insensitive anti-Obama joke at a recent legislative forum. Tony Stewart told Huckleberries that his Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations is satisfied with Regan’s apology to district students, parents, administrators and teachers. The task force, which was instrumental in bankrupting the Aryan Nations, is also satisfied that other trustees took the inappropriateness of Regan’s comment seriously. At a press conference, the task force had called on Regan to apologize for his remark – and for other trustees to provide their views on it. The task force, admitted Stewart, was criticized for staging the press conference, with some saying that the presser was overreacting to a bad joke and others saying that it hadn’t gone far enough/DFO, SR Huckleberries. More here.

Other weekend SR columns:

Old Charge Blocks Weapons Permit

A Hayden resident believes his rights were violated when he was disqualified from obtaining a concealed weapons permit because of a felony charge from over 40 years ago. “Why are you trying to stop me from buying a gun, just because I'm charged with a crime?” said Frank Burnette. A spokesman for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office, however, insists the agency is following state law and Burnette has options to correct the situation. “By no means do we want to restrict or keep people from obtaining a concealed weapon permit,” said Lt. Stu Miller. “However, if they have certain crimes on their criminal history, such as a felony charge, then we cannot issue a permit”/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Should Frank Burnette be given a concealed weapons permit?

Benson: Kool-Aid

Lisa Benson/Washington Post Writers Group

Weekend Wild Card — 2.16-17.13

A lot of things happening this weekend. Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls will mix it up in Nampa for the girls state 5A basketball championship. The Zags will try to get a clean sweep of Bay Area teams by facing host San Francisco after stomping Saint Marys Thursday. And, of course, Blogfest 2013 kicks off at Steve Widmyer's Fort Ground Grill at 1 p.m. All invited. Food & pop are free, as long as it lasts. I'll see you there. Or I'll see you back here on Monday …

Post Falls 46, Coeur d’Alene 44 In OT

In Nampa, Mark Nelke/Coeur d'Alene Press reports via Twitter that Post Falls won its first girls state title since 2003 by stopping rival Coeur d'Alene 46-44 in overtime. Tweets Mark: “Last second shot falls off…Post Falls wins the state 5A championship 46-44 in overtime against Coeur d'Alene girls.” This is Post Falls first 5A state championship since its back-to-back state titles in the early 2000s were at the 4A level. Congratulations to the two best girls basketball teams in the state of Idaho.

Blogfest 2013 Now In Rear-View Mirror

For the first time in years, Digger couldn't attend a Blogfest, due to a work commitment. But he was there in spirit. And photographically, too. Here, DFO holds up a photo of Digger that Don Sausser brought to Steve Widmyer's Fort Ground Grill for Blogfest 2013. Digger was missed. But everyone enjoyed seeing this photo. Don, of course, also took this photo. You can see more of Don's photos from today's Blogfest by clicking on this link here.

Mother: Toddler Traumatized By Slap

A Minneapolis woman says her 2-year-old son was traumatized by a man accused of slapping the boy and calling him a racial slur during an Atlanta-bound flight. The boy’s mother, Jessica Bennett, said in a statement today that her son has become “apprehensive to strangers” since the Feb. 8 flight from Minneapolis. Joe Rickey Hundley, of Hayden, has been charged with simple assault. His attorney said he will plead not guilty. Bennett, 33, told authorities her son was crying as the Delta Air Lines flight prepared for landing. Hundley, 60, was sitting next to her and slapped the boy in his face, causing a scratch under his right eye, she said. Hundley told her to shut the baby up, using a racial slur, FBI special agent Daron Cheney said in a sworn statement. “Ms. Bennett received assistance from several people on the plane”/Associated Press. More here.

DFO: The article goes on to say that Hundley has been suspended from his job as president of Unitech Composites and Structures.


Gonzaga 71, San Francisco 61

San Francisco's Cole Dickerson, left, passes the ball away from Gonzaga's Gary Bell Jr. during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday in San Francisco. Gonzaga beat San Francisco 71-61 to remain undefeated in West Coast Conference play. AP game story and ESPN boxscore here. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Blogfest 2013 From 1-4 PM Today

Owner Steve Widmyer of the Fort Ground Grill (River Avenue near North Idaho College in old Fortgrounds area) tells Huckleberries that Bent's BBQ sandwiches and all the side dishes'll be ready at 1 o'clock today (Saturday, Feb. 16) when the 2013 Blogfest kicks off. I have RSVPs from Christa, Christie, Herb, Dan Gookin, Sara Meyer and others for the annual event. Spokesman-Review Editor Gary Graham will be there, too. The purpose of blogfest is for you North Idaho bloggers, commenters and blurkers to get together to talk about the things we experience on this blog throughout the past year. Food and pop are free. You don't have to stay the full 3 hours to enjoy the event. But it helps. See you there this afternoon — DFO.

Parting Shot — 2.15.13

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas blows a chewing gum bubble during a spring training baseball workout on Friday in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Question: Can you blow a bubble?

CdA, Post Falls To Meet For 5A Title

Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene proved they are the two best girls high school basketball teams in Idaho on Friday in the 5A tournament at the Idaho Center. All that’s left to decide now is who is No. 1. Post Falls (23-1) survived third-ranked Highland 42-41, while CdA (21-5) dispensed of Capital 55-39 to set up the title game tonight at 7 (PST). The area rivals have already met three times this season. CdA snapped Post Falls’ 15-game winning streak in their first meeting, but the Trojans have won the last two matchups/Jason Chatraw, SR. More here.

Montana May Make Sheriffs Supreme

Montana is a step closer to declaring that local sheriffs are the supreme law of the land, and to also nullifying any federal crackdown on assault rifles. The measures are among a slate of gun rights bills that cleared the Legislature's House Judiciary Committee on Friday. Those bills met with staunch opposition from Democrats, who argue the moves violate the U.S. Constitution. The so-called “sheriffs first” bill says that federal agents must get a sheriff's permission before making arrests or serving warrants. They'd risk local kidnapping or trespass charges/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Would you like your sheriff to be declared supreme law of the county?

PM Headlines — 2.15.13

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger spoke to the Panhandle Pachydermclub about law enforcement and gun issues at Red Lion Templin's in Post Falls on Friday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

PM Scanner Traffic — 2.15.13

  • 5:49 p.m. Driver of newer black pickup possible DUI, doesn't have headlights on.
  • 5:44 p.m. Parents frantic b/c child locked in second-story apartment @ 3732 E. 3rd/Post Falls.
  • 5:38 p.m. Kootenai Medical reports drunk Rathdrum male left hospital w/o release.
  • 5:12 p.m. PT Cruiser is disabled on n/b H95/MP 439 (Garwood Road).
  • 5;04 p.m. 3 juveniles, on bike & longboards, are riding through yards on Syringa/CdA.
  • 4:45 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for Feb. 14-15 here.
  • 12 more items + AM Scanner Traffic link below

Idaho Dad: What? Me Worry?

What do you worry about? Are most of your worries based on perception rather than reality? I’ve found that since I no longer watch TV news, my list of fears has decreased dramatically. I used to dwell on things that had very little chance of actually happening to me, just because the talking heads on the TV news told me I should be afraid. But then I’d forget about the slippery bathtub in my house or the artery-clogging hamburger I was eating/Idaho Dad, A Family Runs Through It. More here.

Question: Are you a worry wart?

Hucks Blogos: A ‘Winter’ BBQ

On his Facebook wall, SR buddy Jesse Tinsey writes: “Salmon and baby back ribs on my smoker. The calendar says winter but the grill says 'spring.'” During my noon waterfront walk today, I saw most of the benches overlooking City Beach filled with sun worshippers, including a kissing couple. Also, I saw a number of older couples walking hand-in-hand. Altogether a brilliant day to be outside.

Huckleberries numbers (for Thursday, Feb. 14): 7430 page-views/4228 unique views

Question: When do you plan to stage your first barbecue this winter, er, spring, er whatever it is?

Live In Lake City? Want A Tree?

The City of Coeur d'Alene is offering to plant free “street trees” — trees in public rights-of-way, like between a curb and a sidewalk — for anyone who's willing to give them a little TLC. (New trees need extra water for their first couple years.)  The offer comes because the city charges a fee for street trees on its building permits. If the builder plants a tree, they get their money back. If not, the Parks Department uses that money to buy a tree and plant it themselves. Right now, they've got about 60 trees worth of fees they're looking to plant in May. They prefer planting in recently constructed neighborhoods that might be lacking foliage, like the Hawk's Nest or Landings developments on near Atlas and Prairie, says Katie Kosanke from the city's urban forestry program/Heidi Grover, Inlander. More here. (Courtesy photo: Inlander)

Question: How many trees do you have in your yard?

Hayden Man Charged w/Slapping Tot

In this Oct. 14, 2012, SR file photo, J.R.(Rick) Hundley, president of Unitec Composites and Structures talked about the future of the company in Hayden. Now, Hundley is facing a simple assault charge for allegedly slapping a baby on a Delta flight landing in Atlanta. (SR file photo: Kathy Plonka)

Unitech Composites president also allegedly uttered racial epithet at mother and crying toddler

After demanding that the mother of a crying toddler “shut that (racial epithet deleted) baby up,” a male \passenger allegedly slapped the 19-month-old across the face as a flight prepared to land in Atlanta last Friday evening, The Smoking Gun has learned. The shocking February 8 incident aboard Delta Airlines Flight 721 resulted in Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, being charged with simple assault, according to a U.S. District Court affidavit. Hundley, seen at right, is president of an aircraft parts manufacturer headquartered in Hayden, Idaho. In an interview, Hundley denied striking the toddler or using a racial slur, though he did acknowledge that he “asked the mother to quiet the child.” Hundley, who said he was traveling to Atlanta to visit a hospitalized relative, described himself as “distraught” on the flight, during which he said he consumed a single alcoholic drink/The Smoking Gun. More here. H/T: KXLY (which provided courtesy booking photo)


Hurlock Told Nursing Board Better Fit

The Twin Falls Times News is carrying a story re: a report by Rocky Barker/Idaho Statesman that state Sen. Monte Pearce tried to get Fish & Game Commissioner Joan Hurlock (shown in AP file photo) to withdraw her nomination without a fight. Pearce, the Senate Resources and Environment Committee chairman, was afraid that his committee and the Senate would “look like a bunch of men beating up on a young woman” if Hurlock pursued the nomination. This, according to Hurlock. Then, Hurlock said Pearce told her: “He said if I withdrew, ‘I am sure the governor could appoint you to another commission, maybe the nursing board.'” To which Hurlock said she responded: “I told him, 'Senator, I’m not qualified to serve on the nursing board.'” More here. H/T: James Bond

Question: And Pearce is the chairman of a Senate committee? Really?

Fighting For The Ball

Post Falls High's Shayna Allert takes a swipe at the ball after falling behind McKensey Herron from Mountain View High. Coeur d'Alene Press photographer Jerome A. Pollos provides more photos from the opening day of competition for Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene high schools here. Both girls team won the openers easily. If they win again today, they'll find themselves playing each other for the state title in Nampa Saturday.

Bill To Help Early Grads Advances

More gifted Idaho high school students are one step closer to having an expedited path to one of the state's public universities under a bill approved by the Senate. The Senate signed off on a bipartisan bill Friday that makes permanent a pilot program offering high-achieving students college scholarships equal to about $1,400 if they graduate early from high school. That bill will now move to the House. Republican Sen. Steve Thayn, of Emmett, said over $40,000 in scholarships was dispersed last year. He said Idaho saved $150,000 that year because the state's cost of educating one student annually is higher than the average award/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Did your children receive scholarships to help them attend college?

Task Force Satisfied With Apology

Tony Stewart (pictured in SR file photo) tells Huckleberries that the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations is satisfied with the apology offered by Trustee Brent Regan to students, parents, administrators and constituents of the Coeur d'Alene School District. Regan has apologized on three separate occasions re: an insensitive, anti-Obama “joke” he told at a legislative forum earlier this winter. Also, Stewart said remarks by School Board Chairman Tom Hamilton and one other trustee at a recent School Board member indicated that the board took the error in judgment by Regan seriously. Stewart told Huckleberries that the task force was criticized by some for calling a press conference to denounce Regan's comment and by others for not going far enough. The task force took a stand, he said, for three reasons: 1. To let all students in the Coeur d'Alene district know they're important; 2. To let office holders know that they have a serious responsibility to watch what they say in public, and 3. To send a message to minorities that everyone is to be treated with dignify in this community.


Slice: Zag Title Isn’t A Cure-All

“There seems to be some confusion about the possible implications of the Gonzaga men’s basketball team winning the national championship, writes SR buddy Paul Turner, The Slice. “So let’s clear up a few misunderstandings.”

  • Q: If the Zags win it all, will that erase the burdensome outstanding balances on my credit cards?
  • A: No, it won’t.
  • Q: If GU goes all the way, will I suddenly find myself at my ideal weight?
  • A: No. You’ll have to take care of that on your own.
  • Q: If Gonzaga at least makes it to the Final Four, will my rotting roof magically heal itself?
  • A: Probably not.
  • More here.

Question: What magical thing will happen to you if Gonzaga wins the national title?

NIC’s Dunlap Addresses Pachyderms

President Joe Dunlap of North Idaho College holds up a North Idaho College fact and Information brochure during a speech to the North Idaho Pachyderm Club this morning. (Duane Rasmussen photo special to Huckleberries Online)

According to Duane Rasmussen, President Dunlap told the Pachyderms “that athletes at NIC have a higher grade point average than the average student.  The average student has a gpa of 2.6 while the athletes have an average of 2.9.  He said North Idaho College ranks “48th in higher education attainment.” Dunlap also said that he has moved his residence to Idaho, where he has also registered to vote. He refused to say what party he registered with or whether he had even registered as belonging to a party.  He said that matters of religion and politics were personal matters which he would not discuss.  When asked if we would have look it up ourselves, since it was public record, he said 'yes.'”

Question: If someone asked, would you tell them which political party you belong to?

AM Scanner Traffic — 2.15.13

  • 11:58 a.m. Caller in beige Riviera parked at curb @ Courselles/Rosseau, CdA, reports that squatters told to leave her husband's rental are taking items out.
  • 11:40 a.m. Officer reports 1 male resting on ground & 1 drinking beer b/n rows @ PF WalMart.
  • 11:34 a.m. County resident suffering breathing problems, having trouble staying awake.
  • 11:03 a.m. Suspect in threatening incident is standing at CdA casino CityLink stop.
  • 12 more items below

For Those Keeping Score At Home …

… Workers are removing ponderosa trees in the education corridor to expand the sewer plant to the northeast. At least that's what sports scribe Greg Lee and I were told Wedneday when we walked through there. Actually, we had to detour because the road past the island of trees, just east of Harbor Center, was blocked by signs. Workers were still removing the towering pines on Thursday. They seem to be trying to leave a skirting of trees to keep the overall green appeal of the property.

Poll: CdA Out-Romances Spokane

  • Thursday Poll: Overwhelmingly, Hucks Nation says Coeur d'Alene is a more romantic city than Spokane. 114 of 162 respondents (70.37%) on Valentine's Day said Coeur d'Alene is the more romantic Inland Northwest city. Only 7 of 162 respondents (4.32%) said Spokane was more romantic. Meanwhile, 33 of 162 (20.37%) said neither city is romantic. 4 of 162 (2.47%) said both cities are romantic. 4 (2.47%) were undecided.
  • Weekend Poll: How much safer do you think Coeur d'Alene schools will be if voters OK $1.4M for security, in next levy?

Can CdA Levy Stop School Shootings?

Coeur d'Alene High School Principal Warren Olson says the school may install new security measures. (Inlander photo: Stephen Schlange)

Coeur d’Alene School District Superintendent Hazel Bauman is still haunted by the memory. Five years ago, a woman called the Sheriff’s Office to report that her suicidal son was missing, may have stolen several guns and was at risk of “doing a Columbine.” Watching over the Lake City High School surveillance system with the building on lockdown, a school resource officer spotted the teen pulling into the parking lot. Police quickly arrested the student and later found a loaded shotgun and three stolen high-powered rifles in his vehicle. The thought of what might have been still frightens Bauman/Daniel Walters, Inlander.