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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Huckleberries: Councilman’s weight loss victory is precise percentage

Some would say that Coeur d’Alene Councilman Dan English is half the man today that he was during his years as Kootenai County clerk. But Dan is quick to correct the uninformed. He sez he’s 58 percent of the man he was 9 ½ years ago as he concluded his 15 years in the county courthouse. The proof is evident in the campaign photo that he’s planning to roll out soon when he announces his council re-election bid.

Hucks: Vote by mail? Moi? No way

In my Sunday Huckleberries column, I start with a note re: my son-in-law texting to say that he'd voted by mail from the comfy environs of his dining room. He likes to taunt me re: the ease in which Oregonians can vote. But it doesn't have much effect. I like going to the polls, to vote ... and maybe get a cookie.

Vote by mail in Idaho? Someday, not now

Okie Doke, my son-in-law in Portland, texted Tuesday to declare how glorious it is to vote by mail, especially on the initiatives jamming the Oregon ballot this year. He prefers noodling through the candidates and initiatives in the comfort of his living room rather than analyzing them in a cramped voting both. Most Oregonians and Washingtonians would agree with those sentiments.But I prefer going to my precinct, where everyone hears your name, at least once – and voting in person.

Huckleberries: Idaho’s driver’s license rules ageist

Councilman Dan English of Coeur d’Alene consoled himself last week while waiting and waiting – and waiting –for his turn to renew his driver’s license. At least, Dan thought, he would pay extra and receive a license that was good for eight years, instead of four. But that’s an option in Idaho only if you’re under age 62. Dan no longer is. So, like a teenager getting his first license, Dan was rewarded for his long wait with a four-year one. “I hope some ‘seasoned’ legislator is reading this and plans to right this (wrong) next session,” lamented Dan on his Facebook wall afterward. “Haven’t they heard that the sixties are the new forties?” No, but we now know that for those 62 and up four is the new eight at the DMV. Also tired of waiting

Huckleberries: Tree City USA is getting a little bare

In the city known as tree city USA, it's no longer safe to be a tree. A dozen or so more trees that fronted North Idaho Museum were leveled last week in the name of flood prevention. They join hundreds of trees toppled along waterfront under edict by the Army Corps of Engineers and even some knocked over by Mother Nature during Wind Storm 2015.

Huckleberries: Longtime county clerk clear on marriage license row

Dan English has more interest than most in the stand taken by Kentucky’s Kim Davis. Davis, of course, is the county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. English, as many of you know, was a multiterm county clerk in ruby-red Kootenai County until that “D” after his name caught up with him. English describes himself as a Christian and a Democrat, as Davis does. Unlike Davis, however, he would have no problem issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple. English told Huckleberries Online ( www.spokesman.com/ blogs/hbo) readers: “I would uphold my oath of office. If I couldn’t do that, my ethics and personal moral compass would require me to resign. I could respect someone who held that position but was also willing to pay the personal price to resign. Maybe they do things differently in Kentucky.” Bear in the ’hood

Huckleberries: CdA council race eerily familiar for English

Dan English is experiencing the ultimate “what goes around comes around” moment. Six years ago at this time, as Kootenai County clerk, Dan was about to circulate instructions to local towns about the approaching city elections. Among the races that fall was the one between Coeur d’Alene incumbent Mike Kennedy and challenger Jim Brannon, then the executive director of Habitat for Humanity. The Kennedy-Brannon race was going to be contested for months after the vote count, as a result of a legal action filed by Brannon and settled by the Idaho Supreme Court. On election night, Kennedy won by five votes. When the dust settled many months later, Kennedy was still declared the winner – by three votes. Now, fast forward to today. English is the executive director of Habitat for Humanity and seeking a Coeur d’Alene council seat held by an incumbent. And Brannon? He’s now the county clerk whose office will count votes in the Coeur d’Alene election in November. English has two wishes at this point: to win the three-way election for Councilman Steve Adams’ seat. And to win by way more than five votes. Sweet deal

Huckleberries: The Bard of Sherman Avenue fights cancer battle with his words

For years, The Bard of Sherman Avenue has provided short rhyme to please and uplift my print and online readers. Now, he’s in a battle with cancer that he appears to be winning. When news of his health issue reached my Huckleberries Online ( www.spokesman.com/blogs/hbo) readers Thursday, they reacted by penning their own rhymes and messages, in wishing him a return to health. Former Coeur d’Alene Councilman Mike Kennedy wrote: “As a partner with words,/Bard’s a very fleet dancer/We all hope and pray,/He beats that damn cancer.” And former Kootenai County Clerk Dan English offered: “I can’t count the times I have been uplifted, challenged, or had a smile break out because of his incredible ability to put so much into four lines of text.” At this point, the identity of The Bard remains a mystery. He was prepared to reveal his identity and take his first, long-overdue, public bow at Blogfest 2015, the annual celebration of the blogiversary of Huckleberries Online (set Saturday, Feb. 21, at Fort Ground Grill in Coeur d’Alene). That’s now in jeopardy. But I’ll leave you with a message from The Bard himself: “I would love to be there. And I HOPE to be there. And there is still a chance I’ll be there. But things may certainly not work out that way.” Gum control

Huckleberries: Gone too soon and already dearly missed

Patrick Jacobs, Coeur d’Alene’s unofficial king of food, fashion and fun who died too young last Sunday, was a huge fan of former Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem. Her Sandiness, longtime owner of Johannes Jewelry in downtown Coeur d’Alene, was known for rocking outfits and bling while presiding over Coeur d’Alene City Council meetings and riding as a passenger on the back of a Harley-Davidson at the city’s Fourth of July Parade. I dug this mini-review of Sandi’s stylish taste by Patrick after a council meeting in February 2007: “One thing is for sure: Sandi Bloem is a hard-core fashionista. Did anybody catch her outfit at the 2/20 City Council meeting? I tuned into red-hot CDA Channel 19, and my jaw dropped when I saw her squeezed delicately into a shiny plastic grey-and-black leopard print jacket and wearing her usual amount of bling. Her trademark salt-and-pepper upswept hairdo was 10x more vicious than usual. She must have decided to go with an extra-fierce look for the evening since she had to charm everybody into helping her sneak that little $3 million Kroc doo-dad through the system.” The Kroc Center, of course, is a smashing success. And Patrick’s observations about life and personalities in Coeur d’Alene are already sorely missed. Strike two

Huckleberries: A challenge to do a good deed and keep it to yourself

Facebook friend Ryan Brodwater has a message for everyone who bounces from one social media fad to the next: “Facebook sure is great at informing people what they care about, for that particular week. (Two weeks ago), it was amazing to see how many people had close, personal relationships with Robin Williams. (Last) week, everyone is suddenly committed to fighting ALS, by pouring water over their heads.” Ryan offers his own challenge, via Facebook: Donate blood. Volunteer for an hour. Clean up a public space. Ryan wants people to do “something random and meaningful that actually benefits others” – and not to post anything about it on social media. Ryan finishes his thought by repeating the words of a mountain-climbing friend: “I don’t need to sign the summit log. I know I was there.”

Huckleberries: Democrats say Alanna Brooks isn’t shooting straight

Kootenai County Democrats may not believe Alanna Brooks is a true-blue partisan running for county clerk under their banner. But she certainly looks like one in a Facebook photo, lounging in a Democratic-blue bathing suit saucily on her left side, with a handgun in each hand. In Idaho, Democratic wannabes don’t mind being photographed with guns, although the weapons of choice are usually hunting rifles and shotguns. Unimpressed, the Democrats declared Alanna’s primary opponent, Larry Belmont, the former Panhandle Health District director, to be the only “authentic Democrat” in the race. The county’s superminority Democrats have been wary of their candidates since uberconservative Larry Spencer filed as a Democrat for county assessor. Spencer bragged that some like-minded ideologues crossed over to run as Democrats for courthouse jobs and precinct openings, too. Alanna qualifies as a DINO (Democrat in Name Only). After all, she was a Ron Paul delegate to the 2008 GOP national convention in Minneapolis and lost a 2010 GOPrecinct 16 committee race to Ruthie Johnson.

Huckleberries: Idaho’s nerd ratio noteworthy

Idaho is doing well in another Estately Blog poll. Remember? Estately named Idaho as one of the states that would survive a zombie apocalypse. After all, most Spud Staters are armed to the teeth and know survivability skills. Now, Estately ranks Idaho No. 4 – behind No. 1 Utah, Alaska and Wyoming and two spots ahead of No. 6 Washington in – (drum roll, puh-leez) nerdiness. Seems Idahoans are fanatics of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Harry Potter,” “Dungeons & Dragons” and other nerd indicators. Says Estately: “Idaho is home to large numbers of live action role-players and Harry Potter enthusiasts, but it’s also one of the premier states for those into fantasy literature. The state is home to its own chapter of the Tolkien Society, and local universities actually hold classes focusing on fantasy and science fiction.” And you wonder why we Spud Staters seem somewhat “out there” at times? Rising stars

Huckleberries: To escape the walking dead, cross Idaho border

As most of you know, zombies are wreaking havoc across the United States. “Shaun of the Dead.” “Zombieland.” “The Walking Dead.” It doesn’t look good, if you live in the South or on the West Coast. And that includes the apple eaters in Washington. Who tend to dis their Country Cousins from Idaho.

Huckleberries: Idaho gets black eye from NRA’s experiment

Another day. Another bad headline for Idaho, as a result of actions by Gov. Butch Otter and/or his Republican enablers in the Idaho Legislature. No, Butch Otter isn’t appearing as a celluloid sheriff in another soft-porn movie. Rather he signed a bill passed easily by the GOP-dominated Legislature that allows guns on university campuses. The action earned this headline from e-zine Fiscal Times: “Why you shouldn’t send your child to an Idaho college.” Ouch!

Huckleberries: Plea for college board civility falls on deaf ears

It’s not every day that a college student officer asks a trustee to learn to play well with others. But that’s what happened at the Feb. 26 meeting of the North Idaho College Board of Trustees. Trustee Todd Banducci, a tea party darling who seems to hold everything about NIC in contempt, was on the receiving end of the mild reprimand. In an even, respectful tone, ASNIC President Benaiah Cheevers began a statement to Banducci by asking fellow student body officers to join him at the podium.

Balance, compromise are topics in Idaho’s District 2

The ballot looks very different in North Idaho’s most Republican legislative district this fall, now that tax-protesting four-term state Rep. Phil Hart is out and an array of new candidates are jostling for attention. Democrats are challenging Republicans for all three of District 2’s seats this fall – the first time a Democrat has appeared on the ballot there since 2002. The last time one won was in 1994.