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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Male-female ratio has officials humming along

Betsy Z. Russell The Spokesman-Review

North Idaho College President Michael Burke made the rounds of legislative committees last week, giving his budget pitch and briefing the House and Senate education committees.

At the Senate Ed Committee on Wednesday, he revealed that NIC’s enrollment is now 63 percent female, and the number has been rising every year.

“If you follow that trend line, in about the year 2030 we will enroll the last male student at North Idaho College,” Burke said to laughter.

Sen. Mike Burkett, D-Boise, said, “I now think I understand why so many boys from this community are going up to the place with the beach and the gender imbalance.”

Added Sen. Bert Marley, D-McCammon, “I couldn’t help but think about the song ‘Surf City’ – the beach and two girls for every guy …”

Or, as the classic Jan & Dean beach song has it, “We’re goin’ to Surf City, ‘cause it’s two to one, You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now, Two girls for every boy!”

Dueling press conferences

There were plenty of Capitol security guards around, but there was no duel or clash when the two groups on opposite sides of the gay marriage issue showed up in the same place at the same time Thursday. Actually, it turns out the Interfaith Alliance was planning to be there to respond to the Marriage Protection Alliance’s press conference. So the one group had its press conference, and then the media did interviews with both sides.

“We’re up here to stand in support of traditional marriage,” said Julie Lynde, of the Cornerstone Institute, opening a news conference that revealed that the Alliance Defense Fund, a group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., wrote the language in Idaho’s anti-gay marriage amendment.

That group and the national Christian group Focus on the Family voiced their support and noted that the Alliance Defense Fund has been involved in similar efforts in 17 other states.

Rabbi Dan Fink, of the Interfaith Alliance, said, “We just planned to come out and show that there are lots of people on the other side of this issue.”

That group distributed a statement calling such amendments “unnecessary and divisive.”

Joking matter

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, didn’t initially get the answer he expected when he asked University of Idaho President Tim White on Thursday if he planned to expand the university’s Post Falls research facility.

Goedde, in his question, noted that he’d toured the facility, which he called “unbelievable,” and added, “A $200,000 investment brought $4.3 million to Idaho. … Are you planning anything on expansion of that facility?”

“I think we ought to close it,” White deadpanned.

There was a little uneasy laughter in the packed Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee hearing room, before he went on to say that the Post Falls facility is the “epitome” of what the university should be doing, and that the university will “be taking an aggressive role” in North Idaho, in partnership with North Idaho College and Lewis-Clark State College, to provide for the area’s educational and research needs. “I appreciate your observation,” White told Goedde.

Radio waves

Sandpoint Police Chief Mark Lockwood had a full house Wednesday when he briefed the Senate State Affairs Committee on the work of the Statewide Interoperability Executive Council, which he leads. The committee room was standing-room only, and people spilled out the doorway.

“The events of 9/11 illustrated the lack of interoperable communications around the country,” Lockwood said. “We want to make sure we are better prepared in Idaho if something happens again.”

The state’s microwave radio backbone that stretches from Bonners Ferry to Pocatello is “one of the largest in the country, and Idaho’s greatest asset for communication,” Lockwood said.

The crowd in the room wasn’t unduly excited about the topic, however. They were there for a big hearing on whether the Ada County Courthouse should be demolished and replaced, or renovated. The state owns the historic structure across the street from the state Capitol, and it has sat vacant while lawmakers debated the question for more than a year. The issue was up next after Lockwood’s talk.