Huckleberries Blog

Syndicate content
Latest posts from the blog Huckleberries Online
Updated: 16 min 36 sec ago

Teacher Talks Break Down

August 19, 2014 - 8:42am

Teacher contract talks broke down Monday in Coeur d'Alene, just two weeks before the official first day of school. Negotiating teams representing the Coeur d'Alene Education Association -- the local arm of the state teachers union - and the school district's board of trustees met at Woodland Middle School for a two-hour session, their 10th meeting since May. Both sides walked away from the bargaining table without an agreement in place, and no plan to continue negotiating. The deadlock came after the board turned down a counter-proposal made by the teachers union in response to an offer the board's negotiating team made July 30, when the groups last met/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Press photo by Shawn Gust: Tim Sanford, music teacher at Lake City High School, points to a display citing budget concerns prior to presenting an offer to the Coeur d’Alene School District board of trustees Monday)

Question: Which side do you support in these negotiations?

Fisher: Only Liberals Support Schools?

August 19, 2014 - 8:39am

As a liberal with a long paper trail, I have never entertained the idea that I could be a political candidate in the state that has been my home for nearly 40 years. Idaho has moved too far to the right for that. But it also has never occurred to me that any candidate would be assailed as being too liberal for public office simply because he supported local school levies. Yet, that is the situation in which A.J. Balukoff, this year's Democratic candidate for governor, now finds himself. "A.J. -- You're a Liberal," charges the state's big business lobby in a website attacking the Boise businessman's candidacy. That accusation is repeated several times by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry's political arm, the Idaho Prosperity Fund, but the first time it is used it refers to Balukoff's support for local school levies and school construction bonds/Jim Fisher, former Opinion Page editor, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: You're a liberal if you support school bonds & levies? Is this the message of today's Idaho Republican Party? Seriously?

No Vacancy No Option For Sheriff

August 19, 2014 - 8:33am

Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputy Josh Dunne works at a monitoring station Monday during his shift at the jail in Coeur d’Alene. Overcrowding has put a strain on the facility’s resources, prompting the sheriff to seek a solution that included a proposal for new jail. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger said he can't put a "No Vacancy" sign in front of the jail. He has to find a bed for everyone who needs to be there each day. "(The law) says the sheriff shall accept all prisoners," Wolfinger said. "So if the court sends me prisoners, I got to accept them." If a local law enforcement agency brings someone in, Wolfinger takes them. He doesn't have enough beds, and it's a problem that's nothing new. The original portion of the current jail was built in 1987, and 13 years later an expansion was approved by voters - increasing the size of the jail from 127 beds to 327 beds, Wolfinger said. "Yesterday's total of inmates was 365," the sheriff said Monday, taking a Press reporter on a tour of the facility/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: It has been obvious for quite awhile that we need to expand the jail. But there's no sentiment to do so, as far as I can tell. I don't think people care that prisoners may be a little uncomfortable packed like sardines in the jail. What do you think?


Clark: No jury duty? No fair

August 19, 2014 - 8:27am

People scratch and moan all the time about how screwed up the judicial system is. Judges too soft. Lawyers too slick. And they just don’t make felons like they used to. Yeah. Yeah. That’s all well and true. But do you want to know what’s really wrong with our courts? They’re jury-rigged, that’s what. Jury-rigged against me, anyway. Consider the following troubling statistics. I first dove into the juror eligibility pool back in 1969. That’s when I turned 18 and registered to vote in my first election. Not once during the last 45 years have I ever been called (asked, invited, begged, cajoled …) to serve on a jury. I know. I can’t believe it, either. I am ready, willing and able to convict, I mean serve, in the cause of justice. But what do I get? Zip/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: How many times have you been called for jury duty?


Pankey's Tempest In A Phone Booth

August 19, 2014 - 8:19am

Idahoans looking to cast a protest vote this fall might be tempted to consider Steve Pankey. At this point, there's nobody else like him. The Constitution Party's nominee for governor is openly gay. He supports same-sex marriage - although Pankey opposes anti-discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. He thinks Idaho's attempt to defend its gay marriage ban in federal court is folly. Marijuana, Pankey told the Tribune's William L. Spence, ought to be legalized, regulated and taxed. Abortion? Up to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, it should be between the patient and her doctor, Pankey says. Politically, he's flexible. In 2008, he was the Constitution Party's candidate for Shoshone County sheriff. Four years ago, he ran in the GOP primary against Lt. Gov. Brad Little. There's just one thing you should keep in mind: Pankey brings his party with him. Actually calling this group a party is a bit of a reach.Idaho's Constitution Party is more like a tempest in a phone booth. On a good day, it may attract 5 percent of the Idaho vote/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Would the Constitutionalists have a better chance as a party if most of them hadn't migrated to the Idaho Republican Party?

Discussing Race

August 19, 2014 - 8:15am

Signe Wilkinson/Philadelphia Inquirer

Parting Shot: Saturday Sunset

August 18, 2014 - 5:00pm

Don Sausser took this viewtiful pic of Saturday night's sunset.

Gotta love our Pacific Northwest summers!

Monday Wild Card 8.18.14

August 18, 2014 - 4:41pm

The weekend included Wooden Boats, Book of Mormon and plenty of sunshine. Hope you took advantage of all our area has to offer. Me? I took advantage of an empty house for a few precious hours.

We all have our own ways of re-charging. DFO's ways apparently include 198 vacation days-- not that any of us are counting.

Here's your Wild Card.

EOB: Labrador: At least I tried to fix it

August 18, 2014 - 4:07pm

Looking back on this summer’s tumultuous Idaho Republican Party convention, which he chaired, 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador says he’s not sorry he stepped in, even though the confab ended in chaos, without any votes on leaders, resolutions or the party platform as two wings of the party fiercely opposed each other. “I think what I keep reminding people is that at least I tried to fix the problem that we had,” Labrador said. “One of my favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt about the man in the arena. I think sometimes politicians are afraid of getting right in the middle of something because they’re so worried about what happens to them politically. I actually wanted to solve the divide that existed in the party.”

Labrador noted that he spent five hours the night before the convention reached its climax trying to bring both sides to a compromise. “It was rejected, and I still don’t understand why it was rejected, but there’s nothing I could do about that,” he said. “The easy thing for me would have been to say, ‘Hey, I’m running for majority leader of the House, I should walk away from this so I don’t have anything fall on me.’ I think that would be the chicken way out, and I don’t do that.” Betsy Russell, EOB Read more.


Bond: No more Wallace Miner

August 18, 2014 - 3:43pm
David Bond via Facebook: As some of my friends may or may not know, the Wallace Miner publication has been put on hiatus by the Hagadone Corporation.
I had the privilege of editing the last three issues, which I thought we could build into an informative, readable, and commercially viable entity that would be of service to our hard-rock miners and their employers, to get a conversation going. Such was not the case, appar...ently. (Idealists and dreamers rarely get their way). Insofar as there will be no more Wallace Miner, I have registered the URL It's not active yet but I have some folks interested in making a go of it, details in a few weeks. It will be a forum for miners. I welcome your submissions by PM here or to my personal email:
I wish Hagadone Pub would reconsider their decision to bury the Wallace Miner but in the interim, let's have a go.   Thoughts?

Barker: Snake River 'Idaho's Sewer System'?

August 18, 2014 - 3:13pm

Richard Manning has made a career out of telling Western readers how the corporations on which many of us depend have reshaped our diets and our landscape.

Now he's writing about a river that runs through Idaho: the Snake.

Manning worked as a reporter in Twin Falls and Hailey before he went to Montana. His groundbreaking series showed how two companies were clear-cutting their stands of timber in Montana to prevent Wall Street raiders from buying them out. His book, "Last Stand," is a classic of environmental journalism.

Manning is a muckracker in the fine tradition of the Progressive Era outlined in Doris Kearns Goodwin's "The Bully Pulpit." Kearns Goodwin showed how Theodore Roosevelt's friendship with publisher Sam McClure spotlighted the role of money in politics and led to reforms.

It was Roosevelt's Reclamation Act, coincidentally, that laid the groundwork for turning the Snake River from a natural waterway into an engineered series of 23 reservoirs and for transforming the desert into an "irrigated Eden," to use historian Mark Fiege's phrase. More here. Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.

Snake River: Irrigated Eden or Idaho's Sewer System?

Read more here:
Read more here:

Cost to raise child up slightly to $245,340

August 18, 2014 - 2:44pm

A message for new parents: get ready for sticker shock.

A child born in 2013 will cost a middle-income American family an average of $245,340 until he or she reaches the age of 18, with families living in the Northeast taking on a greater burden, according to a report out Monday. And that doesn’t include college — or expenses if a child lives at home after age 17.

Those costs that are included — food, housing, childcare and education — rose 1.8 percent over the previous year, the Agriculture Department’s new “Expenditures on Children and Families” report said. As in the past, families in the urban Northeast will spend more than families in the urban South and rural parts of the U.S., or roughly $282,480.

Yikes! Glad I'm not planning on adding to the family. Sticker shock indeed!

Look Ma! I'm an Ambassador!

August 18, 2014 - 2:19pm

So this is happening Saturday. I'll be on the sidelines, in the Press Box, in the locker rooms and goodness knows where else! My husband is an EWU grad and we're season ticket holders. This is a really big game and will be televised on ESPN! No way, was I going to turn this gig down.

I've never aspired to sports reporting, so help me out here.

 Any burning questions I should ask coaches or players? Pitfalls to avoid?


Press edit: Teachers take that fair offer

August 18, 2014 - 1:48pm

Great teachers are worth their weight in gold.

But all teachers aren't equal.

That's the fundamental problem when teachers' unions - when any public unions - push for across-the-board increases. All employees don't produce the same results, so they should be evaluated individually and they should be rewarded individually.

As Coeur d'Alene School District negotiators continue their back-and-forth "discussions" now well into the 11th hour - anybody notice that the new school year is about to start? - several disrupters have become apparent.

For one, union negotiators are either oblivious to or simply disregard the tremendous boost they received from the school district last year. Teachers received an across-the-board increase of 2.5 percent last time around, the biggest raise of its kind in the entire state. It was not one-time bonus money, either. It's now baked into every teacher's annual wages going forward. Yet there's no acknowledgment of that windfall as teachers pursue another 1 percent across-the-board increase this time around, plus additional raises based on other criteria. Complete editorial here.

Agree or disagree? Should teachers/negotiators accept the offer?

Marriage of Two Faiths

August 18, 2014 - 1:25pm

Lori and Ather Khan have been married for 27 years. What makes their marriage uncommon is that she’s a Christian and he’s Muslim.

BOISE – They’ve been married for 27 years. He says: “We’ve raised good children. We are good for each other.”

At the same time, they have big differences. She grew up in a small town in Montana; he was born and raised in Pakistan. Music is her life; he can’t carry a tune. They joke: She makes the messes and he cleans them up.

“She’s west and I’m east; she’s this way and I’m this way, completely opposite of each other.”

But what could be considered the most polarizing issue – their faith – is actually what brings the Boise couple closest together. Lori Conlon Khan is a Christian and her husband, Ather Khan, is a Muslim. Read More.

Do you and your spouse or significant other share the same religious background?

Woman’s road to health inspires others

August 18, 2014 - 1:00pm

Irene Gonzales, center, a longtime teacher, principal and administrator, poses with friends at a post-race party on May 27, 2012, her 50th birthday.

Irene Gonzales did her milestone 50th birthday so big she landed on NBC’s “Today” show Aug. 8 to share her infectious enthusiasm with the entire country.

Like many baby boomers looking to do something extraordinary to mark the big 5-0, Gonzales, the principal at Spokane’s Franklin Elementary, decided to run a marathon on her actual birthday. But unlike most, she was joined by 50 friends she rounded up by starting a fitness Facebook page called Fit Fifty.

“I was feeling not very fit and complaining about it with a girlfriend on Facebook,” Gonzales said. “She said, ‘Well Irene, you have to make a decision. Are you going to be a fit 50 or a fat 50?’ ” Full Story. Erica Curless, SR

Did you do anything memorable to celebrate your 50th birthday?

Obama action on immigration worries his party

August 18, 2014 - 12:25pm

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is facing potential rifts with members of his own party in tough re-election contests as he barrels toward a fall fight with Republicans over his ability to change immigration policies.

If Obama takes the broadest action under consideration – removing the threat of deportation for millions of people in this country illegally – the short-term risks appear greatest for Senate Democrats in conservative-leaning states. Weeks before the November vote, they could find themselves on the hot seat for their views not only on immigration but also on Obama’s use of his presidential powers.

Wary of what could be coming, some of those lawmakers have said Obama should act with caution. Full Story.


Artful Ambition

August 18, 2014 - 12:00pm

COEUR D’ALENE – Just as art can inspire flights of fancy, so too art galleries.

“People imagine this is an easy job,” says a bemused Steve Gibbs, owner of The Art Spirit Gallery at 415 Sherman Ave. “Just sit behind a desk, greet people who wander in and talk about art.

“It’s true that’s one of the wonderful things I get to do,” he acknowledges. “But the behind-the-scenes work – meeting with artists, cataloging their work, marketing it, getting everything hung, then stored – is huge. I probably average 70 hours a week.” Read More. Michael Guilfoil, SR

How often do you visit art galleries?

Idaho Supremes: Scouts may sell Camp Easton

August 18, 2014 - 11:26am

The Boy Scouts of America has the authority to sell or swap Camp Easton on Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Idaho Supreme Court has ruled. The Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts has no plans to do so, and in fact it plans to invest in upgrades at the longtime camp. But when the council was considering moving the camp across the lake in 2011 and 2012, a group called Camp Easton Forever along with two local Scouts, Daniel and Matthew Edwards, sued the council. The plaintiffs argued that the 85-year-old donation of land that established the popular camp on Gotham Bay prohibited the council from selling or trading the land. The council’s attorneys argued that the land deed was unambiguous and contains no restrictions on selling the property, and a District Court in 2012 agreed. The Supreme Court affirmed that decision on Friday.

Smooth sailing at Cd'A Crossing

August 18, 2014 - 11:25am

COEUR d'ALENE - The crowd quieted and moved closer as the splashing arms and bobbing swim cap drew near.

First a few claps, then cheers erupted as the swimmer emerged from the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Kade Hern, 17, of Coeur d'Alene, was the top finisher in the third annual Coeur d'Alene Crossing, which took place Saturday morning. Although he was slightly winded and a bit tired after swimming 2.4 miles from Discovery Marina at Arrow Point to the beach at the Hagadone Event Center, the aquatically inclined youth said he was feeling good.

"It wasn't too choppy or anything," he said. "It was pretty smooth for today."

Kade swims with the Coeur d'Alene Area Swim Team (CAST) and spends about 15 hours of his week in water practicing. With a time of 48:59, it seemed he was far ahead of the other 174 swimmers, but really it was just by a few minutes. Devin Heilman, CdA Press

I'll be honest. I can't remember when I actually last swam in Lake Coeur d'Alene. I've waded. I've trailed my fingers and dangled my legs from a boat or dock, but full immerstion? Nope. When is the last time you actually swam in the lake?