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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: North Idaho’s right turn being driven by exiles

On Tuesday, we’ll learn whether Kootenai County archconservatives who call themselves “Republicans” for politics’ sake will keep total control of the Coeur d’Alene School Board. And establish beachheads on the Post Falls School Board and Kootenai Hospital Board. The end game for the ideological radicals is the overthrow of the Coeur d’Alene City Council this fall.

How did the uber-cons annex the GOP Central Committee and Kootenai County politics? Reporter Sierra Crane-Murdoch connects the dots in the new issue of High Country News in her article, “How right-wing emigrants conquered North Idaho.” That’s right – Far Right – operatives have migrated from California (Tina Jacobson, John Cross, Dan Gookin and Bob Pedersen), from Washington state (Ron Lahr and former congressman George Nethercutt aide Jeff Ward) and from elsewhere to grab power in the Coeur d’Alene area. All five mentioned above are included in Crane-Murdoch’s extensive article, which traces the archconservative invasion back to the late Ron Rankin, the father of Idaho’s anti-property tax movement who moved his family from Southern California to Coeur d’Alene in the mid-’60s.

Crane-Murdoch observes: “By the time Rankin died in 2004, local politics had shifted so drastically to the right that some conservatives considered him too liberal.” Rankin considered such people “the far righteous.” Wonder what he would say about those trying to wear his mantle today?

Romancing a ghost

Jacobson told the High Country News reporter that she quit as Kootenai County GOP Central Committee chairman last spring to write a paranormal romance novel. The plot line follows an ambitious anti-tax crusader who is elected to the Idaho Legislature and falls in love with a ghost. Which is a nice twist because most Idaho legislators fall in love with the sound of their voices … So how did Coeur d’Alene survive the apostrophe purge by the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names for 113 years? The apostrophe in the “d’Alene” part isn’t possessive. The feds, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, eschew apostrophes in geographic names because they imply private ownership of a public place (see: Pikes Peak) … For the past week, gangsta tag graffiti – six separate white-on-black, spray-paint drawings – have besmirched the Centennial Trail along the Spokane River between the Coeur d’Alene sewer plant and the Highway 95 bridge, including a despicable word for a female. Seems a city crew working on the City Beach seawall last Monday ignored my heads-up about the vandalism.


Herb Huseland, of Bayview, saw the silver lining when his son broke his arm playing softball at school, requiring surgery. Quips Herb: “The important thing is he was safe at second.” … Russ Heistuman has the solution for Coeur d’Alene residents seeking life change: Go to Coeur d’Alene Costco. Facebooks Russ: “They switched the men’s and the women’s clothing sections.” Hey, we’re easy to please in the Lake City … Names being batted around as possible uberconservative candidates for Coeur d’Alene mayor this fall include Jim Brannon, Mary Souza and Councilman Dan Gookin. Brannon, who lost his 2009 bid to unseat Councilman Mike Kennedy by three votes (after court challenge), reportedly has picked a campaign treasurer.

Parting shot

Coeur d’Alene residents aren’t happy that mother ship KXLY pulled the plug on KVNI’s “Main Street Mondays” and other local programming, featuring “North Idaho Joe” Paisley and Post Falls Councilwoman Kerri Thoreson. Oh well, as long as KVNI keeps broadcasting Seattle Mariners games, we’ll still tune in.

Read Dave Oliveria’s blog, Huckleberries Online, at

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