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Larry, Curly, Moe Act Less Than Boffo

Kootenai County commissioners should have been grateful that, for five years, the League of Women Voters has helped educate residents by publishing citizens guides - cheaply.

But they weren’t. In fact, they were childish and vengeful.

Commissioners Dick Compton and Dick Panabaker were bothered that the league’s name appeared on the front of material they considered to be an official county document. Commissioner Ron Rankin didn’t want the league printing its material on county presses. Period.

Rankin figured the county had no business printing brochures for any private or nonprofit groups. He also admitted he wants the league out of the courthouse partly because it has opposed his 1 percent tax cap initiative and partly because, according to Rankin, it was founded by “card-carrying communists.”

No wonder league officials decided Monday to sever ties with these Republican ingrates. The $200 saved by using the county print shop wasn’t worth listening to Rankin’s irrational comments or the meddling from his acquiescent playmates.

Frankly, we wonder if the commissioners had read the citizens guide before they laid siege to this molehill.

The pamphlets’ handy contents couldn’t be more nonpartisan. The guide provides the names, phone numbers and term expiration dates for a host of local, state and national officeholders from highway district commissioners, school trustees and Kootenai County mayors to the president. Also, the guides give local election dates and voter registration information.

The pamphlets are particularly helpful to newcomers - and there are plenty of those in rapidly growing Kootenai County.

“We’ve always found it extremely useful,” said Tom Taggart, the county administrator who was county clerk at the time the county took over printing the brochure in 1992. “The best thing to do is to get it into as many hands as possible.”

Dan English, the current county clerk, swears by the guides. Said he: “Anything I can do to combat voter apathy, I’ll do. This brochure is a big part of it.”

Occasionally, various chapters of the League of Women Voters take stands on major issues, such as Rankin’s initiative, term limits, charter schools and campaign finance reform. But the group is careful to separate its positions from crucial nonpartisan work such as candidates forums and the annual guides.

Only small-minded men would discourage the league’s efforts to inform and register the electorate.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board