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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Is Ben Ysursa a ‘demented genius’?

One light moment in today's Idaho Supreme Court arguments on the Land Board case came when Justice Roger Burdick, who asked by far the most questions today, asked Deputy Attorney General Melissa Moody for an explanation of the new "premium rent" plan for state-owned cabin sites, in which, on the sale of a cabin lease, the state would get either 10 percent of the amount the seller got for the value of the lease (sale price less value of seller's improvements, including buildings), or 50 percent of the seller's profit on the lease value compared to the price for which it was purchased.

Moody explained that if someone bought a lease for $500,000 in 2006 and sold it for $700,000 in 2010, they'd pay $100,000 in premium rent, under the plan, because 50 percent of the gain is greater than 10 percent of $700,000. Burdick responded, "What demented genius came up with this?" Amid laughter, some in the full courtroom turned to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, who sat watching from the second row of the audience.

Ysursa, who chaired the Land Board's cottage site subcommittee that proposed the plan, said with a chuckle after the court proceeding, "I almost wanted to jump up and say a few words on a couple of things." He said, "We'll anxiously await the decision. I thought both sides acquitted themselves well, as far as the legal arguments. This is what the rule of law is all about."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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