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Huckleberries: Tom Malzahn helping to let voters pick next treasurer

Again, Kootenai County owes a debt of gratitude to Treasurer Tom Malzahn for postponing his retirement 21 months to protect his office from right-wing ideologues who control the local GOP.

In Idaho, the respective parties provide up to three names for appointment by commissioners when a vacancy occurs among the courthouse elected officials. Malzahn feared that the tea party/Ron Paul wing that dominates the GOP Central Committee would bypass his competent deputy, Laurie Thomas, in favor of conservative ideologues.

His fears were justified Thursday when the local GOP did just that by nominating three conservative hard-liners to fill the county clerk vacancy created by the unexpected death of Cliff Hayes. The carefully orchestrated vote sidestepped such quality candidates as Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee and former state Sen. Jim Hammond.

On Friday, county commissioners unanimously picked the GOP’s top choice, Jim Brannon. Brannon, as you may recall, was the candidate who sued the city of Coeur d’Alene after losing by five votes to Mike Kennedy in the 2009 City Council election. It’ll be interesting to see if the tea party/Ron Paul crowd can hang on to the seat when its candidate faces the voters instead of a stacked deck in his favor.

Sipowicz at Costco

Tom Hearn was browsing at Coeur d’Alene Costco when he saw a familiar face in the meat department: Sipowicz. Or make that Dennis Franz, the actor who played Andy Sipowicz in the old cop show, “NYPD Blue.” Franz lives along the Lake Coeur d’Alene shore.

Hearn, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene School Board, told the actor that he didn’t want to sneak around like the paparazzi (read: Can I take a photo?). Sez Tom: “He was friendly and gracious.” Franz told Tom that the two of them look alike. There is a resemblance.


My dental hygienist wondered aloud Friday morning why snowfalls of 1 to 3 inches are now labeled “snow event” or something of that sort. She commutes each day over Fourth of July Pass from the Silver Valley. “Don’t people realize that we live in North Idaho?” she wondered as she worked her pick … Poet’s Corner: A tiny microbe/sneaks within ya/and then begins to/work agin ya;/it makes ya feel eight/kinds of crappy,/and when it leaves, ya/will be happy” – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“A Meditation Whilst Beset by Flu”) … Facebook Friend Jamie Lynn Morgan asks: “Why do teenage boys always smell like they have crawled out of the (butt) of a skunk who crawled out of the (butt) of another skunk?” Anyone? … Commissioners Todd Tondee and Jai Nelson might have some ’splaining to do in the GOPrimary in May, should they seek re-election. They voted in a recent 2-1 majority to give themselves a 2.5 percent raise. Sixty-four percent of the respondents to a poll on my Huckleberries blog disagreed with that vote … A moose is big. But a semi is bigger. In a collision between the machine and beast about 9:35 Thursday morning, on Highway 53 east of Rathdrum, Bullwinkle disabled the truck. But the truck totaled the moose to such an extent that it wasn’t even fit for roadkill stew. Be careful out there … Bumpersnicker parked along the Dike Road, near North Idaho College, Thursday: “Keep your theocracy out of my democracy.”

Parting shot

Councilwoman Kerri Thoreson, of Post Falls, tried to clear her head Friday morning by walking the Centennial Trail, east of Coeur d’Alene. She was overwhelmed by the holidays and the unexpected death of Cliff Hayes, the county clerk and former Post Falls police chief. As she was leaving, Kerri spotted a magnificent eagle enjoying a breakfast meal of a kokanee in a tree. Kerri: “We are blessed with so much beauty to be seen, if we just take the time to look.” So when did you take time to stop and count the eagles?

Read Dave Oliveria’s North Idaho blog, Huckleberries Online, at

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