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Eye on Boise: North Idaho representation on redistricting panel down

BOISE – Idaho’s bipartisan citizen redistricting commission is gearing up to draw new legislative and congressional district lines, and this time around there’ll be just one North Idaho member: businesswoman Lorna Finman, of Rathdrum, a GOP appointee.

Ten years ago, both the Democrats and the Republicans appointed Panhandle representatives – Democrat Ray Givens and Republican Dean Haagenson – and they ended up having substantial influence on the result, which must include at least one commissioner voting with members of the other party to get a four-vote majority on the six-member commission.

Finman is the president of LCF Enterprises, a high-tech engineering and manufacturing firm based in Post Falls, and holds a doctorate in physics from Stanford University. She also founded the North Idaho Discovery Association, a nonprofit group that brings science and tech education to youngsters.

In addition to Finman, Idaho Republicans have named Boise political consultant Lou Esposito and former state Sen. Evan Frasure, of Pocatello, to the commission.

Democrats earlier named their three commissioners: former state Rep. Allen Andersen, of Pocatello; Nez Perce Tribe managing attorney Julie Kane, of Lapwai; and George Moses of Boise, a political coordinator for the Teamsters Union and a former congressional staffer.

That’s right – if you look down the list, this time around, it’s Boise and Pocatello that each has two members on the panel, one from each party. So this time, it’s those areas holding that potential card. Ten years ago, there were two Boiseans on the commission, but they were both Democrats.

The commission begins its deliberations Tuesday morning, followed by a full day of business – including setting a schedule for public hearings, which likely will include one or more North Idaho hearings – and an evening public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Capitol auditorium. It’s also scheduled a public hearing at Caldwell High School on Wednesday evening. The panel has 90 days to complete its work.

More than 210 people have accessed the state’s free software to try their hands at drawing congressional or legislative district plans; anyone can give it a try by going to the Legislature’s website, www.legislature., clicking on “Redistricting Commission,” and then on “Maptitude.”

Backing big loads

Nez Perce County last week became the sixth northern Idaho county to adopt a resolution in favor of oversize megaload transports; Nez Perce commissioners join the commissioners of Idaho, Clearwater, Lewis, Shoshone and Boundary counties in adopting such resolutions since December. “Our highways were built for commerce,” the Nez Perce county resolution declares.

The latest resolution was lauded by “Drive Our Economy,” a business group that backs the proposed giant truck shipments of oil equipment bound for the Alberta oil sands, currently the subject of a contested case at the Idaho Transportation Department regarding permits. The proposed loads also are the target of a lawsuit in Montana; opponents, including residents and businesses along the route and the Nez Perce Tribe, say they’ll harm tourism and the environment.

The new Nez Perce County resolution is titled “Resolution Supporting Commerce & Trucking in Nez Perce County.” The counties’ resolutions have some differences, with the Shoshone and Boundary resolutions headed “A Declaration Supporting Trucking in Idaho County,” even though a proposed alternative route for some of the loads that are being cut in half could bring them right through Shoshone County on Interstate 90. Ken Burgess, spokesman for Drive Our Economy, said that came about because Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt, who was the first to successfully push such a resolution, encouraged the other counties’ commissioners to follow suit.

The penalty

When Idaho’s current Democratic and Republican party chairmen shared a stage for the first time at a recent Boise City Club luncheon, the two noted a shared experience: “We both lost to Bill Sali in 2006,” said GOP Chairman Norm Semanko, who lost to Sali in the 1st District GOP primary that year, while current Democratic Chairman Larry Grant fell to Sali in the general election. “Norm and I did both lose,” Grant said, “and you might conclude from that that the penalty for losing a congressional race is to become the chairman of the party.”

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