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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: Tree City USA is getting a little bare

The city of Coeur d’Alene lost part of its horticultural heritage when a historic tree fell on a historic house. A hybrid mountain ash listed in Idaho’s Big Tree registry was one of three trees that crashed into the Jewett House during the November windstorm. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
The city of Coeur d’Alene lost part of its horticultural heritage when a historic tree fell on a historic house. A hybrid mountain ash listed in Idaho’s Big Tree registry was one of three trees that crashed into the Jewett House during the November windstorm. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

As I stepped into an elevator at Kootenai Health last week, I noticed two women looking at a front-page story in the Coeur d’Alene Press.

“They’re cutting down more trees,” one said in an accusatory tone. “They” in this case being the city of Coeur d’Alene.

“Don’t blame the city this time,” I said. It’s the feds. I told them that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was forcing the city to cut down a dozen or so trees in front of the North Idaho Museum, along Northwest Boulevard. To get FEMA levy certification, the city had to cut the trees and build a 3-foot wall to protect the historic Fort Grounds residents from flooding and costly flood insurance.

Last year, the city leveled two-thirds of the trees along the Dike Road during an over-cut that satisfied the Army Corps of Engineers. But few Lake City residents.

Adding insult to injury, Mother Nature toppled two dozen more trees near the waterfront during the November windstorm. In the City Known As Tree City USA, it’s no longer safe to be a tree.

A misguided rant

Tom Hamilton, the excitable former chairman of the Coeur d’Alene School Board, stirs things up even when he doesn’t have an elected platform to do so. Hamilton, who was part of a former far-right school board that blundered into one controversy after another, made front-page headlines in the Coeur d’Alene Press last week. In a Facebook rant, published in part in the Press, he targeted a Muslim speaker at Hayden Meadows Elementary: A fourth-grade social studies lesson “included putting turbans on the students so they wouldn’t be ‘scared of’ Muslims,” he wrote. Hamilton was right about the bare facts: A guest speaker from United Arab Emirates talked to students about his country. The speaker was vetted by the principal beforehand. He avoided discussing religion and politics. Hamilton swears he wasn’t on a witch hunt. But he was.

Huckleberries

Poet’s Corner: “The pig is quite intelligent,/per the studies undertaken;/about as smart as many dogs,/plus he gives us much more bacon” – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“On the Swine’s IQ”)On my way to watch Gonzaga beat Portland at The Kennel last weekend, I ate my first hamburger and fries from venerable Dick’s Restaurant in downtown Spokane. And I met a woman and her daughter at Dick’s who’d never heard of historic Hudson’s Hamburgers in downtown Coeur d’Alene. I swear … How big was the $1.6 billion Powerball lottery last week? So big that 69 percent of my Huckleberries Online readers bought tickets … Councilman Dan English of Coeur d’Alene wonders how many remember when “term limits” were as popular among his Republican friends as dissing Obamacare is today: “Sometimes it sucks to be the party in power, especially if you want to stay in power.”

Parting shot

In a recent newsletter, Idaho congressman Raul Labrador said: “Some liberals have demonized the (Malheur Wildlife Refuge) protesters, calling them ‘domestic terrorists,’ ‘Y’all Qaida,’ ‘YokelHaram’ and ‘Vanilla ISIS.’ (He must be reading Huckleberries Online.) Sadly, such demeaning talk makes it easy for the elite media and liberals to ignore the wrongs underlying the protests.” I prefer the term “armed insurrectionists” for the Bundy gang in Oregon. But I haven’t decided on a term for elected officials who sympathize with individuals who take up arms against our government.

Follow David F. Oliveria’s blog, Huckleberries Online, at www.spokesman.com/blogs/hbo and Twitter handle, @HucksOnline.

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