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In Rush Toward Backwardness, Rankin Ahead In 3-Way Race

Thu., Dec. 18, 1997

There was no need to drag Martin Luther King Jr. into a recent Kootenai County commissioner debate about county holidays. Or presidents Lincoln and Washington, for that matter. But the current courthouse threesome has a tendency toward gratuitous actions and statements about racial matters. Remember the not-so-great English-only debate? Now, we have the commissioners dissing Columbus Day in favor of a floating holiday. No problem there. But Commissioner Ron Rankin wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie. He just had to say that, if he had his preference, he’d rather torpedo the King holiday than Columbus Day. And you were wondering why we have the reputation we do?

Tragedies, I.Q. mitigates murder sentence?

So, murderer Stephen Cherry’s life has been so tragic that it would be a shame to send him to the gallows? C’mon. Here we have a guy who stalked his girlfriend to her Hauser home, shot her to death with a highpowered rifle, shot and wounded her new beau and then tried to kill himself. Apparently, the suicide attempt impressed 1st District Judge James Judd. In sentencing Cherry to life in prison without parole, Judd pointed to the muffed suicide as proof that Cherry wasn’t a cold-blooded killer. (All it really means, however, is he didn’t have his heart in the attempt - or at least in his crosshairs.) Judd also wrung his hands about the fact that (violins, please) three of Cherry’s brothers were dead, one by his own hand. His mother was dead. And his father was physically and mentally abusive. Then, the judge noted, Cherry’s not all that bright. Duh! I guess we’re lucky Judd didn’t give Cherry credit for time served and then set him free - a la the infamous au pair.

Horiuchi deserves company on hot seat

Do you suppose things would have been different if FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi had shot accurately on Ruby Ridge? I do. If he had killed Kevin Harris rather than Randy Weaver’s wife, the standoff might have ended earlier. Who knows? Horiuchi might be viewed as a hero today rather than the goat. He probably wouldn’t be in court now fighting to stay out of prison. There’s something about killing a woman with a babe in her arms that bothers people. However, I still think Horiuchi is the fall guy in all of this. Sure, he pulled the trigger. But someone in high FBI places gave the shoot-to-kill order that’s at the heart of this matter. That person never has been fingered. He may never be. So, we’ll have satisfy ourselves by watching Horiuchi twist in the wind.

, DataTimes MEMO: D.F. Oliveria’s “Hot Potatoes” runs Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can comment on the items by calling (800) 344-6718 or (208) 765-7125, or by sending e-mail to

D.F. Oliveria’s “Hot Potatoes” runs Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can comment on the items by calling (800) 344-6718 or (208) 765-7125, or by sending e-mail to

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