March 7, 1995 in Idaho

Two New Kids On The Block Cast An Unbelievable Vote

By The Spokesman-Review

OK, children, let’s go over this slowly. The comprehensive plan is our friend. It tells us what we can and cannot do to protect the nice place where we live. It’s a no-no, for example, to put industry over the Rathdrum aquifer - unless it’s hooked to a sewer plant. We don’t want industry “gunking up” our water supply. Sound simple? You’d think so. But try telling that to our two new Kootenai County commissioners, Dick Compton and Dick Panabaker. They voted last week to allow machine shops near the Coeur d’Alene Airport without requiring sewer hookups. Even Bob Macdonald, who’s no ball of fire environmentally, knew the plan was fatally flawed and voted against it. One unhappy county planning commissioner called the votes by the new kids on the block “a rookie mistake.” Let’s hope so. I’d hate to think Compton and Panabaker knew what they were doing.

U.S. militia: Paranoia strikes deep

Why are Idaho elected leaders courting the ultraconservative United States Militia Association? Lt. Gov. Butch Otter is the latest to pay homage to the association, whose members wear olive green military-style sweaters and trousers and black boots to meetings and advocate creation of a national militia. Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa and state Superintendent of Schools Anne Fox went courtin’ first. Otter caught hell for an hour and a half from the born-again Birchers. Basically, the organization believes he and other elected officials are being duped by those who quietly are plotting to overthrow the U.S. Constitution. Americans can’t be too vigilant in protecting constitutional freedoms. Nor can they be too vigilant in watching fringe groups, from the right or the left, who want to reshape America into their own paranoid image.

Sometimes government causes paranoia

Groups like the United States Militia Association aren’t always wrong. They’re dead right, for example, in condemning the 1992 government siege of Randy Weaver’s North Idaho cabin. The more we learn about this one, the more it stinks. Now, the FBI on-site commander has fingered FBI Deputy Director Larry Potts as giving the shoot-to-kill orders, resulting in the death of Vicki Weaver. Potts has tried to lay the blame on two subordinates. FBI Director Louis J. Freeh has sided with him; in fact, after a slap on the wrist, Potts was promoted to the agency’s No. 2 man. Somebody is lying here. And you don’t have to be paranoid to think so.


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