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Huckleberries Online

Posts tagged: Shawn Vestal

Vestal: Con Man Brandon Earns Jeers

He said his name was Brandon. He said he was embarrassed. He said he needed gas money to drive to Coeur d’Alene and back. It was an emergency. He said he lived just down the street. I’m your neighbor, he said. I thought he looked like one of the young people I’d seen around. He said he needed to pick someone up – his mother? his wife? – and they had his wallet and he’d bring the money right back … and somehow, even as I recognized the unmistakable template of the con, I found myself believing him. Hadn’t I, in fact, seen him in the neighborhood? Didn’t he live in the house three doors down? Plus this: What is wrong with me, if my only response to a person in need is to size up their criminal potential? I didn’t have any change. So I gave him 20 bucks. And, as you no doubt have ascertained, that was the last time I saw Brandon/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

DFO: I've been hearing Scanner Traffic reports of scruffy individuals knocking on Kootenai County doors seeking work or money to help them get back to Spokane. Mebbe we should swap them for Brandon.

Question: Have you had someone come to your door begging for money?

Vestal: Hate Crimes Not Taken Lightly

Are we in the midst of a wave of anti-gay violence in Spokane? A pattern with ongoing momentum? Some people think so. But there is unquestionably a pattern emerging from several recent events, and it has to do more with the response of the gay community and Spokane at large: an outpouring of concern, outrage, indignation and passion. If there is discouraging news in recent incidents in which gay men were beaten – and there is plenty – there is also a silver lining in the insistence that such crimes not be taken lightly. “People are standing up and speaking about this,” said Matthew Cannon, board member of the Inland Northwest LGBT Center. “I don’t think this is something that’s going to go away”/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Have you ever witnesses a hate crime?

Vestal: Idaho Ignores Its Teachers

If you want to “fix schools,” apparently, there’s one group of people you should ignore. Teachers. And when, in the course of fixing schools, you ignore this group of people, you should make it clear that you are not really ignoring “the people.” They’re just teachers. If you want to fix schools and put students first – well, first after taxpayers and “customers” and federal standards and ideological opponents of unions – what you should do about this group of people is remove them from the equation altogether. Make ’em leave the room while kids learn on computers. Teachers. If only we could have schools – very cheap, very effective schools – without them/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (AP file photo of Superintendent Tom Luna)

Question: Why do Idaho political leaders have such disdain for teachers?

Washington Tops In Vaccine Paranoia

We’re No. 1. Measles will be overjoyed. A new report shows that more parents in Washington refused to have their children vaccinated than any other state in the nation. I’d have thought Mississippi would have taken that flag, but no – it’s apparently a different kind of counterculture that drives this particular paranoia, and we’ve got a big dose of it. In the 2009-’10 school year, 6.2 percent of Washington parents claimed an exemption to vaccination requirements, most of them citing philosophical objections. Idaho was at 3.8 percent. The national average was 1 percent. This information is courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which you probably know is the gang in charge of supporting, organizing and propagating the lies your doctor tells you/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Do vaccines worry you?

Vestal: Hate Depends On Outlook

Then, this week, Michael Hop came rushing to his brother’s defense. He claimed – in a long story the S-R published on its website, and a shorter version that appeared in the paper – that his brother is merely proud of his white heritage, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The reason he picketed taco trucks in Coeur d’Alene – an activity that is deeply offensive to both heart and stomach – is because the Hop brothers, being from California and all, truly understand what will happen if we let tacos and the people who make them proliferate. In his interview with the S-R, Michael Hop tried to whitewash these things the way bigots always do – it’s not that they hate anybody; it’s just that they’re proud of their race, see? Nothing wrong with that/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Are people who picket Mexican food stands in Coeur d'Alene misguided? Hateful? Or merely individuals with a pride in the white culture?

Vestal: ‘Stolen’ Hotdog Baffles Jurors

Call it the great hot dog caper. Or maybe the greatly overblown hot dog caper would be more accurate. One day last December, Eastern Washington University student John Richardson got himself a German sausage at the self-serve counter at Mitchell’s IGA in Cheney. He ate it as he shopped for peanut butter (crunchy), jelly, bread and other items. When he left, he forgot to pay for the 99-cent dog – though he did pay for more than $28 in groceries. Store managers approached him once he left the store, refused his efforts to pay for it, and held him for the police to arrive when things got heated. Thirteen weeks later, Richardson was found not guilty by a baffled jury with a minimum of deliberation/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (SR photo: Chris Anderson/John Richardson stands across the street from Mitchell’s IGA in Cheney.)

Question: Have you ever walked out of a store after forgetting to pay for an item that you've eaten or that is in your possession?

Vestal: Bullying Launches Gay Project

These days, (Terry Miller, left) – along with his famous partner, the writer Dan Savage (right) – is trying to give gay and lesbian kids a more reassuring message: It gets better. You’ve probably heard of the It Gets Better project, which started in September with a video that Miller and Savage made and exploded into a project with 10,000 videos, including one from President Barack Obama, and now a book. The idea is to show kids who may have no support or positive vision of a future that there can be a joyful light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a powerful and moving vision, a landmark in the effort to move beyond our inability to move beyond this. In an interview at Kirkus Reviews, Savage – a well-known sex columnist and activist – said that Miller’s story was key to making the first video. Since then, he has reviewed and edited videos and helped edit the book/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Have you ever seen someone bullied because she or he was gay?

Fighting Racism A Taco At A Time

Matt Anderson stopped for lunch at El Chiludo taco truck in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday. An Aryan Nations group picketed the stand recently. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

I’m late to this bandwagon, which has been rolling on Huckleberries, an S-R blog run by Dave Oliveria. The two recent Aryan protests already prompted plenty of people to show their support, one taco at a time. The man taking orders at El Chiludo on Government Way – the target of two recent protests – said business was booming during Friday’s picketing. He didn’t want to do an interview without his boss’s permission, and I couldn’t reach his boss, but he said that apart from that day, things have been unfortunately slow. It sounds like business has been a bit brisker a few blocks away at Taco Works, where owner Oscar Magdalena said lots of people tell him they’re coming in “to prove we are on your side”/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Do you plan to buy a taco or other food fare from El Chiludo or Taco Works, to protest against the racist picket of the Mexican Food Stands?

Shawn: Holdout Loertscher Has Point

So it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that (Rep. Tom) Loertscher is ethically dim. Craven. Corrupt. I had my brickbats ready. But then, as we talked about it, I started seeing his point. Sort of. “I’m not a fan of Phil Hart’s, but I think he deserves a fair shake in this,” he said. “By that, I mean I’m not trying to defend him or his behavior. I don’t think that’s appropriate for me to do. I think it’s up to the voters. … I would not have pursued this as he did.” Loertscher says the ethics committee has already ruled on the tax question, and he’s right, however lousy that ruling was. He’s one of the people responsible for its lousiness. As for the theft of the logs, it did happen 14 years ago, before Hart was a lawmaker. Still, I’m not persuaded/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Should Tom Loertscher be chairing the House Ethics Committee hearing into a complaint about Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol?

Vestal: BNSF No ‘Good Neighbor’

Remember Livingston. Whatever the outcome of the BNSF Railway Co.’s lawsuit against Kootenai County – in which the railroad argues that the county has no power to make sure it’s not spilling fuel into our drinking water – remember Livingston. Remember Livingston? It’s a great little Montana town, full of artists and writers and good bars and perhaps a touch too much fly-fishing romance, in a valley named Paradise on the road to Yellowstone National Park. And it’s got a Superfund site, where BNSF for years dumped diesel, solvents and asbestos into the soil and water – and then for years wrangled with the state and the people whose health and property it fouled. That’s what things look like on the back end of a big BNSF problem/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Anyone out there willing to say a good word for the railroad?

Vestal: De-stupidifying Med Marijuana

It’s time to de-stupidify medical marijuana. Earlier this month, the local gendarmes once again expended a bunch of time and effort bringing down a medical marijuana dispensary. If someone breaks into your garage, don’t hold your breath waiting for an officer. But if you’re growing medical marijuana in that garage, they’ll find a way to send a car. Last September, city police busted Change, a North Side marijuana dispensary. Two men face felony charges from that bust, with trial set to begin Sept. 27. Then, earlier this month, county sheriff’s deputies busted the Med Mar Dis, a Spokane Valley dispensary. The owner faces felony charges. Everybody feel safer now?/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Should Idaho allow medical marijuana dispensaries?

Vestal: Kirkpatrick’s Lecture Irrelevant

Basic information about the shooting of Wayne Scott Creach has been slow to emerge and shamefully scarce. Just days earlier, (Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s) department had issued a news release describing the Aug. 25 event as a “close encounter” with a “verbal exchange” – paltry, insufficient generalities that could have accurately been stated the morning after the shooting. Other facts, such as the now notorious vacation of Deputy Brian Hirzel, dribbled out while the cops played PR defense. The idea that the department owes the public an accounting – or that this vacation might strike us as outrageous – seemed not to register. So when Kirkpatrick began making her statement on Tuesday, one could have been forgiven for assuming she planned to discuss the shooting. … But no. What Kirkpatrick did was offer a lecture on “fatal shooting officer-involved protocol,” an irrelevancy that seemed aimed primarily at rescuing the sheriff’s reputation/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (SR file photo, of Anne Kirkpatrick)

Question: Why do police — particularly Spokane authorities — spend so much time covering their tails when one of theirs goofs up? Do they think people are going to simply quit asking about a controversy like the shooting of a pastor on his property?

Slim Pickings For Teen Job Hunters

Teenagers looking for summer jobs are running into a wall. Teen hiring in May – typically the kick-off for seasonal jobs kids get to save for college or pay for fun – was worse than it’s been in more than 40 years. Grant Gillies and Caleb Peck decided to hire themselves. Gillies, 18, and Peck, 19, have a classic summer job – mowing lawns, doing yardwork – but they’re giving it a professional gloss. They have a business name, GNC Lawn Care, and are adding equipment as the calls come in. “We’ve been very busy,” said Gillies. With some hustle and hard work, the two longtime friends and 2009 Mead High School graduates are circumventing a problem facing a lot of their peers – a historically bad job market for the young/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Cutline: Grant Gillies, left, and Caleb Peck, 18 and 19 respectively, weed the backyard of a house in the Mead area on Tuesday. The two started GNC Lawn Care and have been building their business for the summer. (SR Photo)

Question: What are your teen children doing for jobs this summer? And/Or: What did you do as a teen to earn money during the summer?

Kellogg Alternative School Faces Ax

So Kellogg is cutting its funding for a lot of sports, which fills up the room at school board meetings with concerned parents, of course. But it’s also saving $84,000 – of more than $800,000 in cuts – by closing the Silver Valley Alternative School. Thus far, concerned citizens have yet to crowd the school board’s schedule. This is unfortunate, because alternative schools are a crucial piece of the puzzle for plenty of kids – those with troubles at home, problems studying or behaving, or simply carrying the stigma of being unconventional/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Which would you rank as a higher priority to fund for a school district — an alternative school or sports?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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