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Eye on Boise: Gingrich’s bad check fixed, but will it matter?

BOISE – Newt Gingrich has made good on the bounced check he earlier sent to the state of Utah to file for its June 26 presidential primary election, the state’s elections chief confirms.

Utah elections director Mark Thomas said his office received a $500 cashier’s check from the Gingrich campaign, in time to make an April 20 deadline to replace an earlier bounced check and qualify Gingrich for the Utah ballot.

“They corrected the issue, so at this point we are anticipating him to be on our June 26th ballot,” Thomas said.

The only problem now: Gingrich reportedly will end his presidential campaign on Tuesday, ceding to acknowledged GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

Thomas said Friday, “Well, his name was certified to us by the Republican Party on Tuesday of this week. We have not received any withdrawal letter from his campaign, so at this point he will be on the ballot. The clerks are going to begin printing their ballots any day now.”

Two weeks ago, Gingrich told ABC News that the bounced check to Utah was “one of those goofy things,” and said it was accidentally written on a bank account that had been closed. Bounced checks also were an issue back in the 1992 election for Gingrich, when an opponent highlighted Gingrich’s having bounced 22 checks written on the House bank when he was House minority whip, at the height of the House banking scandal; Gingrich barely won the election.

Thomas said it’s not unheard of for candidates to bounce their filing fee checks to the state of Utah, but it’s certainly not common. In the six years he’s been there, “we’ve had a couple,” he said, but they were from candidates for local offices, not high-profile state or national races.

Signs of recovery

Here are some signs of economic recovery, courtesy of the Idaho Department of Labor: Thirty-seven of Idaho’s 44 counties saw total personal income rise in 2010, vs. just five in 2009, according to new estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Meanwhile, business profits rose more than wages, jumping 13 percent statewide, vs. 2.1 percent for worker paychecks.

Some examples: In Boundary County, total income was up 6.8 percent from the previous year, even though the average wage, at $31,114, fell 1.1 percent, and the number of jobs, 3,636, was down 2.5 percent. Kootenai County saw a 1.5 percent drop in the number of jobs, but a 2.2 percent rise in the average wage to $33,071; total income was up 3.3 percent. In Shoshone County, total income was up 6.4 percent, while the average wage was up 8.3 percent to $35,214, even as the number of jobs fell 3.3 percent.

Occupy battle continues

Idaho’s state Department of Administration has published new rules for use of the Capitol Mall grounds, as authorized by legislation that passed on the final day of this year’s legislative session. The new rules, which take effect immediately, include limiting protests or other events to the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The department said it won’t apply the new rules to the Occupy Boise site across from the Capitol yet, pending a June 7 federal court hearing.

Meanwhile, the Occupy group has filed arguments opposing a state move to evict their tents on an emergency basis to allow mowing, watering and maintenance at the site, despite a federal judge’s order finding that the 24-hour presence of the tents is a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. Bryan Walker, attorney for the Occupy group, called the state’s move “its latest scheme to evict Occupy Boise.”

Though the court has allowed the tents to remain, it didn’t block a new state law banning camping on the Capitol Mall grounds. That means the Occupy group can have its tents there and maintain a 24-hour vigil, but can’t sleep in them.

‘Fly in the ointment’

1st District congressional candidate Cynthia Clinkingbeard, who filed to run in the Democratic primary but then was arrested for aggravated assault on March 16 after pulling a gun on employees at a Staples store, has termed her legal case “a fly in the ointment” to her campaign. The candidate made the comment in a campaign update sent via Facebook to Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, in which she wrote: “I just got out of the hospital a couple days ago and have not quite caught up with everything yet. My media guy took off for Afghanistan so I am having to start over and gear back up. My legal case is a bit of a fly in the ointment, but I am hoping that will be closer to resolution soon.”

A court-ordered mental health evaluation for the former physician is scheduled for May 4; she is running against former pro football player and Lewiston native Jimmy Farris for a shot at challenging GOP 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador in November.