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Huckleberries: Tony Stewart, Steve Widmyer linked by near-fatal river mishap

It’s hard to imagine where the long struggle for human rights in North Idaho would have been without Tony Stewart. Yet the longtime Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations leader almost wasn’t around to battle the Aryan Nations.

In spring 1979, Stewart, a North Idaho College instructor, went rafting on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River with a college tennis player and a second student named Steve. The water was high and flowing rapidly.

As they rounded a bend, the three were pushed into several trees that had fallen into the water. All were thrown from the raft. Tony was pushed under the trees and trapped. All seemed lost until the third man in the party spotted Tony’s arm above water and grabbed it, pulling Tony to safety.

Tony told Huckleberries last week: “I know I couldn’t have escaped the trap without Steve’s quick action and strong hands.” So why is the story pertinent 34 years later? Steve is now running for mayor of Coeur d’Alene – Steve Widmyer.

Killing the messenger

Jeff Selle, the bulldog reporter for the Coeur d’Alene Press and barbecue cook extraordinaire, has earned his money this city election season.

First, he outed a guy (Tom Wold of Ocean of Life Foundation) who tried to use a foundation veneer to donate $1,000 anonymously to Mary Souza’s mayoral campaign. A no-no in Idaho. For his troubles, Jeff was targeted in a telephone message from Wold, who threatened to “pursue a little farther and faster after (Selle).”

Then, Bill McCrory, a co-founder with Souza of the toxic blog, questioned Jeff’s suitability and credibility as a reporter in a lengthy blog post. Selle earned McCrory’s considerable ill will by asking tough questions of Souza, who has claimed for years that City Hall isn’t transparent – and who then tried to conceal the identity of a major contributor.

Ten more days and the Silly Season will be over.


Poet’s Corner: “The lovely leaves of red and gold/drop silently when they grow old/and drift down noiseless to the ground/and quiet lay without a sound /until the leaf blower guy shows up” – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“Autumn Tranquility”) … Patrick Jacobs, who bartends at Mic’s in downtown Coeur d’Alene, is mixing drinks with a Halloween flavor during happy hours, including one he trotted out last week – a Tootsie Roll martini. Which sounds better in a drink than in a trick-or-treat bag … Gotcha: Steve Meyer and Charlie Nipp of Parkwood Business Properties weren’t happy to find Mary Souza’s yard signs on four of their parcels recently. No one bothered to ask them for permission to place the Souza signs on their land. A no-no. They wouldn’t have given it anyway: Souza regularly targets the partners in her screeds against the movers and shakers in Coeur d’Alene … At least twice in candidate forums, Coeur d’Alene council candidate Chris Fillios has used the term “progressive liberal” in an attempt to denigrate opponent Amy Evans (because supporting progress is wrong among much of the Kootenai County GOP). But not once has she returned fire by pointing out that he joined the Patriot Action Network in 2009. Sometimes Amy’s too nice.

Parting shot

The Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, with their three Post Falls-based leaders, are known for sky-is-falling mailers and newsletters. But did they really have to send out that flier endorsing a four-person, uberconservative city election ticket in Coeur d’Alene – you know, the one that has a photo of a waving President Barack Obama and the capitalized words “NEVER AGAIN!” Some people may equate the political struggle for control of a small town in North Idaho to the famous Holocaust motto. But not many.

Read and respond to news from North Idaho and elsewhere on Dave Oliveria’s blog, Huckleberries Online, at

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