Make no mistake about it. A church-like devotion to party loyalty is behind Idaho’s unacceptable level of corruption. It’s time for a reformation.
Some of the state’s top-tier Republicans admit Idaho has corruption problem. They finger Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s office. They say the state desperately needs an inspector general, a clearing house for conflict-of-interest investigations among legislators and executive staff. They go one further and liken placing the inspector general within the Otter administration, as proposed under House Minority Leader John Rusche’s bill, to “letting the fox guard the hen house.”
Idaho Education Network. Corrections Corporations of America. Campaign donors receiving sweetheart state contracts only to be left largely harmless when the whole thing goes bad. Top-tier lobbyists running campaigns and, after election season, pivoting and writing legislation for their paymasters. This is how Idaho works. And it’s so bad that even some of the most influential Republicans in the state can’t ignore the wasteful, dishonest plague.
Question: We're not talking about Teapublicans here. We're talking about so-called mainstream Republicans who either knowingly or unknowingly fall into line despite apparent corruption in high places in Idaho. What's wrong with you?
Gonzaga coach Lisa Fortier watches her team slowly pull away from the Idaho State Bengals Nov. 18 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (SR file photo: Jesse Tinsley)
A near sellout crowd stayed behind Feb. 19 and cheered as the Gonzaga women each climbed the ladder to cut down a piece of the net. Athletic Director Mike Roth stood at midcourt of the McCarthey Athletic Center as first-year basketball coach Lisa Fortier walked up and cut down the last strand after a record 15-0 run that earned the team’s 11th consecutive West Coast Conference championship. “She made me look like a genius,” Roth said, as he watched. Roth chose to pass the program’s torch to a career assistant after former coach Kelly Graves took an Oregon job in April. Despite some early losses, Fortier led Gonzaga back to the Sweet 16 and out of Graves’ shadow. While Fortier, 33, gave every outward appearance of control and confidence as she led her team into the season, she was anything but on the inside/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.
Question: Do you follow the women Zags, too?
In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, Opinion Editor Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune gives Jeers to ...state Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton (2nd item): "The signature act of the 2015 legislative session is a commitment to boost teacher pay by $125 million during the next five years. By the time the teacher career ladder bill cleared the House Monday, virtually everyone was on board -- Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter, the education community, most Republicans and Democrats. Everyone, that is, except McMillan and seven of her colleagues - including Reps. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, and Mike Moyle, R-Star. So what was McMillan's reason? "I'm not going to explain my vote," she told the Tribune's William L. Spence and walked off. Since when does McMillan assert the divine right of kings? She is an elected representative. No more. No less. Her constituents have every right to know why she voted to keep Idaho's teacher salaries in the nation's basement. Unless, of course, McMillan won't explain her vote because she can't. Does she blindly follow Barbieri, Palmer and Moyle without making up her own mind?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune." Full Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Does Rep. Shannon McMillan have the right, as an elected representative, not to explain why she voted a certain way?
Northerner (RE: Raul votes against rural schools): I am quite interested in what Mr. Labrador has to say on this issue. I have sent the appropriate email and called the appropriate message machine. First, however, I would like him to explain his rationale to the many rural, farming, landowners who just had to pay more on their property taxes to cover basic expenses like a doggone boiler for the High School. It snows here, Raul, sometimes a lot. See the baby in my avatar up there? Yup, he is a big, bright eyed Kindergartner in an amazing little rural school about twenty miles out of town. I bet Mr. Labrador would like to know why my son travels 20 miles to school everyday when there is an elementary school in town. Well, I'll tell him, he does so because there are over 300 kids in the towny school. There are only 105 in the toolies school...and I know every one of them. We used to have a third toolie school. But they closed it...anyone care to hazard a guess as to why? Because we couldn't afford to keep it open, that's why. 70% of my county is federal or state owned land. Instead of siding with the infinite psychosis that is the "we gonna git our land back even iffen we gotta fights fer it", perhaps Mr. Labrador should give a damn about my kid...afterall, I did vote for the guy...twice. About 20% of my county is of the "mythical magical fairy dust federal land takeover" variety. Luckily you haven't had a decent counter to vote for. Remember Bill Sali, Mr. Labrador. Remember him well. Doofuses, all of them.
Jim Morin/Miami Herald
I enjoyed a nice start to the morning. No bird in the wood stove. My 89YO mother is recovering well from her fall on Wednesday morning. And the sun is trying to shine. What a difference a day or two makes. Now, if I can only scrounge up some stories in waning days of the 2015 Legislature, we can all get busy. Here's your Thursday Wild Card ...
Sam Velis, left, and Whitney Whited ride through a mud pit at the High Lifter ATV Mud Nationals at Mud Creek Off-Road Park in Jacksonville, Texas, earlier today. The annual gathering draws thousands of people of all ages from across the country to camp, ride all-terrain vehicles and participate in and watch various ATV competitions. (AP Photo/Tyler Morning Telegraph, Sarah A. Miller)
In a report for Boise State Public Radio (KBSX 91.5 FM), Emilie Ritter Saunders writes: "Idaho's two congressmen split their votes on a bill that was overwhelmingly supported in the U.S. House Thursday that reauthorizes timber payments to rural counties with a lot of federal land. The Secure Rural Schools Act reauthorization was tucked inside a $214 billion bill that blocks cuts in doctors' Medicare payments. Just 37 House members voted against the bill, while 392 supported it. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, was one of the 'no' votes." More here.
Question: Simpson said: "The bill isn't perfect, but you'd 'have to look long and hard to find a reason to vote no.'" Obviously, Congressman Labrador knows something that Simpson and 391 other colleagues didn't about this bill. I'd like to see him explain his vote to residents of Shoshone and Boundary counties who depend on that federal money to keep their schools open. Terrible vote on Labrador's part. Thoughts?
More than a dozen lawmakers attended a lunch in a Statehouse meeting room today organized by Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, on “The True Face of Islam in Idaho.” The lunch featured Shahram Hadian, a Christian pastor from Chattaroy, Wash. and former Muslim who heads the “Truth in Love Project,” which is dedicated to exposing what it calls “the true goal of Islam and threat of Shari’ah law in America.” Hadian told the Idaho lawmakers, “I was asked to come and just share about the advancement of Islam in Idaho … the real face of Islam”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
- 5:21 p.m. Female driver complaining of neck pain after 2-car crash @ Seltice Way/Spokane St, Post Falls.
- 5:17 p.m. Male driver of white pickup w/white shell possibly DUI on e/b I-90/MP 13 (4th St/CdA).
- 5:07 p.m. A Westie is running loose along 9th St/CdA, exact location undisclosed.
- 4:50 p.m. Coeur d'Alene Police Department activities report for March 25-26 here.
- 4:40 p.m. County businessman complains for 2nd time today that same transient is going through his Dumpster.
- 4:30 p.m. Kootenai County Sheriff's Office property crimes report for March 25-26 here.
- 4:20 p.m. Jehovah's Witnesses tell resident @ 800 block of Loch Maree/Hayden that possibly drunk male in red pickup pulled into nearby apartments.
- 4:08 p.m. 1YO locks himself in residential bathroom @ 8th Ave/Adams St, Spirit Lake.
- 4:02 p.m. CPD officer warns 2 boys @ Player Drive/Kathleen Ave, CdA, not to shoot pellet gun near homes.
- 3:32 p.m. Someone has been hurt in fall @ Coeur d'Alene Library, 702 E. Front Ave/CdA.
- 3:17 p.m. Someone is suffering uncontrolled bleeding @ Emeritus, 205 Anton Ave/CdA.
- 3:12 p.m. Male driver of Prius possibly DUI @ 2nd St/Lakeside Ave, CdA.
- 3:10 p.m. Someone suffering chest pain walked into Timberlake Fire Department station #1 on H54/Worley.
- 3:07 p.m. Female was driving Ford Explorer w/baby on her lap @ w/b Crawford Ave/CdA.
- 2:03 p.m. Undisclosed medical emergency @ Cottonwood Court/Aspen Way, Post Falls.
- 2:01 p.m. Silent panic alarm sounding @ Mountain West Bank, 305 W. Prairie Ave/Hayden.
- 1:56 p.m. Vehicle hit cable wire which is now lying on the ground @ 3102 N19th St/CdA.
- 1:47 p.m. Twin Lakes Elementary forgot to alert firefighters that it was conducting fire drill today.
- 1:43 p.m. PFPD officer reports boys walking through fields behind houses on Syringa St/Post Falls hid from her.
- 1:19 p.m. Someone is suffering a seizure @ Coeur d'Alene Resort, 115 2nd St/CdA.
- 1:16 p.m. KCSDeputy reports finding missing target shooter Timothy Clark, 45, of CdA in Hudlow warming hut.
- 1:11 p.m. Someone is unconscious @ Bee Hive Homes, 12th St/Sherman Ave, CdA.
- 1:03 p.m. KCSDeputy has located car belonging to missing target shooter Timothy Clark at USFS roads 392 & 802 and is following fresh tracks toward Hudlow warming center in Hayden Creek area.
- AM Scanner Traffic
A trumpeter falls off his horse as the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment parades in Hyde Park in London earlier today. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Wednesday Winner -- SLFisher, with 13 likes: "Woman demonstrates to Rep. Barbieri where the camera she just swallowed isn't showing up." You can see Wednesday photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.
How much do you know about Eastern Washington University basketball, anniversaries of classic musicals and other items in the news? Find out in our weekly interactive quiz, where you could win movie tickets or a $50 gift card to the Davenport Hotel simply by entering. You can take the weekly News Quiz here.
- Answer to Question No. 2: Auditor Troy Kelley.
- Leaderboard: Only 2 HucksOnline readers are among the 30 finalists for the $50 gift certificate -- RaynTim & EddieTorreal
In the Inlander's blog Bloglander, reporter Daniel Walters discusses how Congressman Raul Labrador has straddled a wide, partisan divide when it comes to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Idaho soldier who faces desertion charges after 5 years as a Taliban captive:
Labrador’s a long, long way from a moderate squish. ... But with, Bergdahl, it’s different. Bergdahl’s family isn’t in Labrador’s district – they’re in Mike Simpson’s, but in February of 2012, Bergdahl’s family visited him in Washington D.C. When attacks, even death threats, were streaming in against Bergdahl’s dad for growing an beard and learning the language of his son’s captors, Labrador defended him in a KBOI interview last year: "I don't think we should be judging Bowe by some of the actions of his father, by some of the comments of his father. Because his father was just trying to get his son home. And as you know, any father would do whatever they can to get their son home in a situation like this." More here.
Question: Why do you think Congressman Labrador has been treading softly when it comes to the Bowe Bergdahl matter?
Bonner County commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday calling on Congress to designate the Idaho portion of the Scotchman Peaks area as wilderness. The resolution states that the Scotchman Peaks area provides outstanding vistas and recreation opportunities for residents and viewers. It also contributes to the economic vitality of the region and provides habitat for a diverse array of native flora and fauna, the resolution said. The resolution is striking because it was adopted by a conservative commission which generally opposes wilderness designation. “The message we’re trying to send is Scotchman Peaks is the exception to the rule,” commission Chairman Cary Kelly said/Keith Kinnaird, Bonner County Daily Bee. More here.
Question: Were you surprised that conservative Bonner County commissioners backed the Scotchman Peaks wilderness designation?
Left to right, Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan and Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos get ready to take the court before an NCAA Sweet Sixteen tournament practice at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, today. You can see SR photog Colin Mulvany's photo package of the practice here. (The Spokesman-Review)
- Hang time/Idaho Dad
- Hazy shade of Schweitzer/On Tap
- But for the grace of God/Slight Detour
- Another 4 years of driving/Simple Mind
- Ranking NCAA women's mascots/Slice
- Gobbler hunting seasons coming up/Outdoors
- Crick in your neck? Move your tablet/Tech Deck
- NCAA seems to like coming to Spokane/Grip on Sports
- 'It Follows' plods patiently, chillingly toward horror/7 Blog
HucksOnline numbers (for Wednesday, March 25): 9,288 page-views/6,027 unique views
Schweitzer Mountain Resort will close for the season after the end of operations on Sunday, officials announced. “We fought a good fight, but Mother Nature certainly had other plans for the Pacific Northwest this winter,” said Tom Chasse, the resort’s chief executive officer. “We had a break from the warmer temps in late February and early March that enabled us to make some snow and improve the coverage on the lower elevations. The warmer temps and recent rain literally washed away our hopes to keep the mountain going until early April.” Since Feb. 5, Schweitzer has operated on limited terrain/SR. More here.
Despite bipartisan opposition, last week the Idaho House of Representatives passed a memorial to Congress calling for the impeachment of federal judges. North Idaho Representative Paul Shepherd, who said during the debate that he wished he could have impeached Chief Justice Earl Warren, sponsored the measure. Besides chairing the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and serving a decade as governor of California, Earl Warren is best known for a series of Supreme Court decisions. Under Warren, the court ended school segregation, strengthened the rights of the accused, ended public school-sponsored prayers, and instituted the "one man, one vote" rules for congressional apportionment. The decisions of the Warren Court have become fundamental pillars in protecting the minority and the individual from the totalitarian rule of the majority/John T. Reuter, Inlander. More here.
Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan (21) heads downcourt in the second half of the NCAA men's tournament basketball game against Iowa on Sunday at KeyArena in Seattle. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)
At his self-described lowest point, when Eric McClellan was one of those national footnotes of disdain and weighed down by his own remorse, he didn’t so much lean on those close to him as solicit their belief. He did it with his friends, old coaches, his family – but mostly his mother. “I’m going to make this right,” he told Kimberly Woody, and he said it often. Just how right, nobody could quite imagine. At a time of year when there are no do-overs – the NCAA basketball tournament being the cruel lose-and-cruise vessel that it is – Eric McClellan’s restart with the Gonzaga Bulldogs is one of those happy exceptions to the rule/John Blanchette, SR. More here.
Question: Have you ever made the most of a second chance?
It was 31 years ago this coming week when Winston Smith began his life of crime. Returning to his small London flat one evening, Smith quaffed down a burning cup of gin and stepped into an alcove where he could work unobserved. Taking a large, blank book from a desk, he opened it to the first page and wrote, "Down with Big Brother." The date was April 4, 1984. Many of us here in the Ministry of Truth share the fact-starved sense of desperation that drove Smith to commit his subversive act in George Orwell's "1984." It's at this point in the Idaho legislative session when we feel most in the dark. We know things are happening -- decisions being made, options discarded -- but they often take place behind the scenes. And when the decisions are explained, if they're explained, we know the answers won't be enlightening.To figure out what's really going on, we're left looking for clues and subtle hints. We have to read the tea leaves/William L. Spence, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Update: The Kootenai County Sheriff’ Office has located target shooter Timothy Clark, 45, of Coeur d'Alene this afternoon at the Hudlow warming station off of Hudlow Road. He is safe and will be reunited soon with his family.
At about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Coeur d’Alene Police officers took a report of a missing person. Timothy Clark was reported missing by his wife. He is described as being 45, 6-foot-1, 190lbs, with blond hair and blue eyes. Mrs. Clark said her husband left their residence in the afternoon to go target shooting in the Hayden Creek area. Clark texted his wife a photo of the area he was in at 5:20 p.m. He did not come home last night, and his wife has not received any other communication from him. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the search for him. Anyone with information about this disappearance can contact the Coeur d’Alene Police Department at 208-769-2320 or the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office at 208-446-1300/Sgt. Christie Wood, Coeur d'Alene Police Department.
Zip Stop: $2.17
701 E. Sherman & N. 7th