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Eye on Boise: Idaho prisons agree to provide kosher meals to Jewish inmates

Inmates return to their cells June 15, 2010, at the Idaho State Correctional Institution in Boise, Idaho. (Charlie Litchfield / ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Inmates return to their cells June 15, 2010, at the Idaho State Correctional Institution in Boise, Idaho. (Charlie Litchfield / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Under a settlement agreement and court order, the Idaho Department of Correction is being required to offer a new kosher diet to state prisoners in all its prisons after four Jewish prisoners and the ACLU of Idaho sued in federal court. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale will supervise the settlement agreement to enforce its requirements, which include providing food that’s certified kosher and served in pre-packaged, sealed servings.

“Jewish prisoners will now have access to nutritious meals that meet their religious needs, in the same manner in which other prisoners would have based on their religious needs,” said Leo Morales, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho. The new diet must be made available by Nov. 1.

The lawsuit was filed this spring after the Jewish festival of Passover, during which two of the plaintiffs were provided by the prison with nothing they could eat but fruit, because IDOC refused to provide kosher meals. “For years, Jewish inmates in Idaho prisons have had to choose between going hungry or violating the tenets of their faith,” said Craig Durham of Ferguson Durham, one of the attorneys who represented the prisoners. “It is because the prisoners in this case decided to take a stand for equal justice under the law that the Idaho Department of Correction has changed its longstanding practice of denying kosher meals to the observant.”

The settlement order doesn’t end the lawsuit. The court still is considering possible damages to the prisoners for the years they were forced to violate their religion by eating religiously prohibited food.

Little, Ahlquist, Labrador face off

At a City Club of Idaho Falls forum on Thursday, the three leading GOP candidates for governor of Idaho clashed on health care, the economy and education, the Idaho Falls Post Register reports, but the sharpest differences came when the three were asked about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and President Trump’s comments afterward.

None of the candidates criticized Trump’s statements directly, writes Post Register reporter Bryan Clark, though Lt. Gov. Brad Little was forceful in his denunciation of the white supremacists who staged the demonstration there.

“There is no place for the Nazism, the racism that was exhibited there, in Idaho or in America,” Little said. “It’s not what we are.”

Developer Tommy Ahlquist also denounced the Charlottesville demonstrations, saying, “There is no place for this now, ever or in the future.”

Rep. Raul Labrador balked at being asked to react to Trump’s statements, the Post Register reported, saying only that “racism and fascism from all sides” should be condemned.

The three have been actively campaigning around the state. The GOP primary is May 15 and the general election follows on Nov. 6, 2018.

No major Democratic candidate has yet announced, but a total of 11 candidates have filed initial paperwork to run for the set, including three independents, one Democrat, and seven Republicans. Among the seven Republicans, three were recruited to run by perennial candidate Lisa Marie. Marie also is running.

Hoover back at helm of CI

The College of Idaho has announced that its president since 2015, Charlotte Borst, is stepping down to “pursue other opportunities” and “spend more time with my family,” and it has named an interim president, effective immediately: Former President Bob Hoover, who also is the former president of the University of Idaho.

Hoover was CI’s president from 2003 to 2009. He was the University of Idaho’s president from 1996 to 2003, when he resigned amid controversy over the UI’s planned $136 million University Place development in Boise, which, amid investigations and lawsuits, was ultimately scaled back to just the Idaho Water Center.

During Hoover’s tenure as the Caldwell liberal arts college’s president, enrollment boomed and the college solidified its financial footing with record fundraising.

The college credited Borst with presiding over several major construction and renovation projects and a new five-year strategic plan. “During her tenure, President Borst has been an energetic force not only at the college, but in the Caldwell and greater Boise Valley communities,” Laura Turner, chair of the college board of trustees, said in a statement. “We appreciate the tireless energy, effort and service that President Borst has brought to the college. She and her husband Rick have been a constant presence on the campus and will be missed.”

The college is launching a search for a permanent replacement for Borst, which it expects to complete in June.

Hoover most recently was president and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation, from which he retired in March 2016. He said he’s looking forward to his return to the college for “the next 10 months or so” and wants to “make sure there is a seamless transition to the 14th president.”