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Keeping seasonal beliefs aloft

My son, Seth, is a 31-year-old doctor today, in his first year of neurosurgery residency at the University of Florida. But 26 years ago, he was a kindergartner suffering a crisis of faith in Post Falls. (Spoiler alert: Don’t allow small children star-struck by Santa Claus to read further.) In September 1984, we moved from Lewiston to Post Falls, after I accepted a job as a government reporter in the Coeur d’Alene office of The Spokesman-Review. Sometime that fall, Ben Clark, the precocious son of friends Doug and Sherry Clark, had spilled the beans to Seth. Ben had alleged there was no Santa Claus. The revelation hit Junior hard. He moped around much of the holiday season, challenging Mrs. O and I, whenever we mentioned the Jolly Old Elf. We were wondering how to lift Junior’s spirits when Santa and his reindeer appeared to do the heavy lifting for us. Junior was questioning the existence of St. Nick again when I pointed out the window one evening and said: “Well, if Santa Claus doesn’t exist, who’s that up in the sky?” I still cherish the look on Junior’s face as he saw Santa & Co. flying overhead. Thanks to those old Tidyman’s Santa helicopter flyovers, we gained one more Christmas of cherished memories as Junior again believed. Who knows? Maybe he still does.

Why me, Lord?

First, you should recall that County Clerk Dan English was a key defense witness during the Jim Brannon election trial earlier this fall, fielding two days of tedious questions from Brannon’s attorney, Starr Kelso. Then, you’ll understand why English was stunned that Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, was MIA during a House Ethics Committee hearing into a complaint against Hart on Monday. Rather, Hart relied on his attorney – Kelso, again – to protect his interests in a case that involves his taking of state timber without payment years ago. Hart kept in contact with the barrister via phone. Comments English at Huckleberries Online: “What kind of accountability and transparency to the public is that? I find it especially ironic in that the attorney is the same one that had me on the stand for almost eight hours over two days in the Coeur d’Alene election contest. I answer for myself and in person.” We’ll miss Dan’s honesty and candor when he steps down in January.


Sam Taylor, a Coeur d’Alene High/University of Idaho grad who interned with the SR’s Coeur d’Alene office, is the latest journalist to abandon the news biz. Nah, Sam isn’t hanging up his notebook for a lucrative public relations gig. He’s jumping to the public sector, after accepting a job as city clerk for Ferndale, Wash. The job begins Jan. 7. … Poll: Hucks Nation likes the “cute” Beatle, too. On the recent 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, my Merry Hucksters preferred “Sir Paul” McCartney to Lennon by a 2-to-1 margin. Ringo and George finished back in the pack … I’d loved to have been a fly on the wall around 5:15-20 p.m. last Monday when solons John Goedde, Kathy Sims, Bob Nonini, & Phil Hart encountered Judge John Mitchell near the security area of the old courthouse – yeah, the same Judge Mitchell who squashed Hart’s legal attempt to forestall the Idaho Tax Commission from coming after $53,523 in state income tax Hart owes” … During a recent hearing for a number of residual motions in the never-ending Brannon election case, Brannon attorney Kelso noted that defendant Mike Kennedy hadn’t sat at the counsel table as his client had, choosing instead to sit at the back of the courtroom. Tongue firmly cheeked, defense counselor Mike Haman responded that Kennedy is well fed – and, therefore, couldn’t fit at the defense table. Badabump. Onward.

Parting shot

Dustin Hurst, an ex-North Idaho College student who reports for the online Idaho Reporter, did a superb job tweeting the House Ethics Committee hearing about Rep. Hart. My favorite tweet occurred at 11:09 (PDT) Monday: “I think Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenn Ferry, just fell asleep at Hart ethics hearing. Pretty sure that just happened.” Wills woke up in time to resist committee Chairman Tom Loertscher’s valiant attempt to sweep the latest complaint against Hart under the rug and voted in the 6-1 majority for a further investigation into the questionable ways of Athol’s Artful Tax Dodger.

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