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Eye On Boise

Indian Affairs Council backs new emergency communications commission, if tribes get voting member

The Idaho Indian Affairs Council has voted unanimously to support proposed legislation from Brigadier General Brad Richy, director of the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, on creating a new Emergency Communications Commission to coordinate public safety communications among agencies in Idaho, with one change: A tribal member on the panel would be a full voting member, not a non-voting ex-officio member. Richy told the council he recommended that change and thought it was appropriate; tribal leaders on the council concurred. Gary Aitken Jr., chairman of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, applauded removing the “non-voting ex-officio member” wording, saying it “smacks of … paternalism that has been so pervasive in dealing with natives.”

The legislation is backed by an array of Idaho law enforcement agencies, the Idaho Military Division, the governor’s office and the Idaho Association of Counties. It wouldn’t change anything about how public safety communications are funded, but would ease coordination.

The council also heard a presentation from Idaho National Guard Gen. Gary Sayler on an MOU signed with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, which all sides praised as a sign of respect and cooperation.

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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