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Nesse runs for District 4 seat

September 12, 2014 - 10:45am

COEUR d'ALENE - Anne Nesse announced she is running for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives in District 4.

Nesse, a Coeur d'Alene Democrat, said she is running because current representatives haven't done much to help Coeur d'Alene and the surrounding area.

"Our median wages are the lowest in the nation," Nesse said. "Our high cost of living in relation to income and low investment in education for jobs puts us at the bottom of all the U.S."

Nesse is a former registered nurse, teacher, and businesswoman. She is married to Dr. Rolf Nesse, a family physician, and has three grown children. She wants to work for greater investment in education and jobs of the future.

In 2013 and this year, Nesse wrote a potential new labor law which helped generate more open discussion of low wages in Idaho. More here. CdA Press

Will North Idaho voters embrace a Dem candidate?

Throw your voice into local dialoug

September 12, 2014 - 10:15am

A new community arts project wants to put your words up in lights.

Spokane Throw invites residents to write a letter to their city. In 25 words or less, how would you finish a letter beginning, “Dear Spokane”?

Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 26. Then 10 of Spokane’s leading visual artists and poets will review the submissions. Each artist will interpret their letters of choice as inspiration for creating a stencil filter for a large light projection in downtown Spokane during the month of October.

The first light, featuring a call out for the project, was recently installed. The results can be seen every evening after sunset on the Columbia Bank building on West Riverside Avenue.

Austin Stiegemeier, program manager at Spokane Arts, said the project “will be a pairing of images and words, but the focus is on the words.” Read more. Cindy Hval, SR

In 25 words or less how would you finish a letter beginning, "Dear CdA"?

Richert: CdA negotiations overview

September 12, 2014 - 10:00am

It’s the second week of school in the Coeur d’Alene School District, and teachers are working without a contract.

While several of Idaho’s largest school districts have long since settled on contracts for 2014-15, the state’s sixth-largest district is still trying to craft a deal.

Here’s an overview.

What are the issues? One big issue is one familiar to many school districts — rising health insurance costs. The district is expecting a $500,000 increase; the Coeur d’Alene Education Association is asking the district to absorb the costs, to prevent a decrease in employee take-home pay.

Both parties have agreed to offer pay raises to teachers based on experience and education — but as the Coeur d’Alene Press reported last month, the two sides disagree on the cost. The union pegs the cost at $350,000; the district’s estimate is $700,000.

The district is wrestling a tight budget for 2014-15: a $65 million general fund, down from $67.8 million a year ago. And as a result, the district is cutting money earmarked for salaries and benefits — line items that, taken together, account for nearly 84 percent of the district’s general fund.

A flap over administrative raises: Still several district administrators received raises of 4 to 23 percent. While the raises make up only $104,000 of the $67.8 million budget for 2013-14, union members decry the move, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported this week.

“I realize that people are going to look at it sideways,” Superintendent Matt Handelman told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “But there are decisions that must be made administratively to maintain and keep a team.”

Make trustees ‘uncomfortable:’ In an Aug. 29 Facebook page post, the Coeur d’Alene Education Association urges supporters to attend board meetings, contact trustees — and “engage” trustees in conversation in the community, at a store or at church. “Human behavior suggests that the primary reasons people change their behavior is for personal reward, or because it is no longer comfortable to continue doing the same thing. The time has come to make the life of a school board member uncomfortable.”

The post struck up a lively conversation on Huckleberries Online, the popular blog hosted by D.F. Oliveria of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Asked Oliveria: “Izzit just me — or are you also bothered by the idea that the local education association is advocating that its members confront trustees at the store, at church, etc.?”

So, what happened this week? Dozens of district employees gathered at Monday’s School Board meeting to protest the possible reduction in take-home pay. Speaking to the Coeur d’Alene Press, union president Derek Kohles described the gathering as a “peaceful, professional action.”

The sentiments resonated with School Board chairwoman Christa Hazel. “I noticed many familiar faces in the audience and their presence impacted me personally,” Hazel wrote this week. “I understand there are real world ramifications that have financial impact for staff and for our district.”

What’s next? The two sides are headed to mediation. Kevin Richert, IdahoEdNews

Question: How long do you think this will go on?


Sandpoint teacher retires after inappropriate texts

September 12, 2014 - 9:25am

SANDPOINT - A longtime Sandpoint Middle School teacher is retiring after sending inappropriate text messages to a student.

Former life sciences teacher Rod Swerin was granted a leave of absence in August that transitioned into retirement.

Lake Pend Oreille School District Superintendent Shawn Woodward said he was not at liberty to discuss personnel matters, but confirmed Swerin is no longer employed with the district.

"I can tell you he's not coming back," Woodward said.

Swerin was a district employee for 17 years.

Swerin faces no criminal charges for the texts. Sandpoint Police conducted an investigation into the allegations in June, a few weeks after the messages were sent, according to a copy of the police report obtained by The Bonner County Daily Bee.

The text messages Swerin sent describe a dream he had in which the student and another student were present. Swerin said in one text that the message's recipient was clothed but the other student was not.

"Part of it you were there too but you had some clothes on. You can guess what was in my hand!" another message reads. More here. Keith Kinnaird, CdA Press


Crane faces 1st debate of 16 years in office

September 12, 2014 - 9:19am

Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane will participate in his first series of political debates since he was elected 16 years ago, reports AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi, as Crane faces Democratic challenger Deborah Silver in November. He was unopposed in the last election in 2010. Longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby told AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi it's not unusual for incumbents to shy away from sharing the same stage as their opponents, but Crane is unusual for going nearly four terms without participating in either a local or televised debate. Crane's campaign says he didn't duck debates; he just lacked opponents, or lacked opponents who met debate criteria over the years. Read more. Betsy Russel, EOB

How important are debates to the polical process?

Big story, small stage

September 12, 2014 - 9:00am

Briane Green and Henry McNulty, foreground, and Sara Miller and J.R. Haynie in Lake City Playhouse’s “Les Misérables.”

Putting on a production of “Les Misérables” is a huge risk, for a lot of reasons.

First of all, it’s been performed countless times in various capacities, and most of us can recite the beats of its story by heart. And the scope of that story is immense, stretching the course of several decades in 19th-century France. It’s almost entirely sung-through, and most of the numbers are notoriously difficult. It requires many elaborate sets and costumes, and you need a huge cast to pull it off.

But George Green, executive artistic director at Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City Playhouse, says that’s all part of the show’s appeal. He’s also directing LCP’s interpretation of “Les Mis,” which opens the theater’s 54th season with a blast of cannon fire. Nathan Weinbender, SR

We were wowed by Spokane Civic Theatre's production of Le Miz last year. Quite an ambitious undertaking for Lake City Playhouse. Have you eve seen Le Miz? Do you plan to?

Kootenai Dems hire field organizer

September 12, 2014 - 8:45am

Kootenai Democrats hire field organizer

Kristi Milan has been hired by the Kootenai County Democrats as the field organizer for the 2014 election season. A longtime teacher in District No. 271, she most recently has been the president of the Coeur d'Alene Education Association and a CEA negotiator from 2004-2013.

As coordinator, Milan will be responsible for volunteer organization, candidate support, social media and voter communication. The Kootenai County Democrats are currently sharing office space with the A.J. Balukoff campaign, 1621 N. Third, Suite 200 (corner of Spruce and Third). For more information, go to CdA Press

What do you make of this hire?


Washington’s top court holds Legislature in contempt

September 12, 2014 - 8:30am

SEATTLE – The Washington Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision Thursday holding the Legislature in contempt for its lack of progress on fixing the way the state pays for public education but withheld possible punishment until after the 2015 session.

The court promised to reconvene and impose sanctions and other remedial measures if lawmakers do not make plans to solve the problem by the end of that session.

Possible sanctions include fines for the Legislature or individual lawmakers, having the court rewrite the state budget and revoking tax exemptions. More here.


Artist defends rainbow

September 12, 2014 - 8:17am

COEUR d'ALENE - The artist who created the "Under The Rainbow" sculpture in McEuen Park said he will work with the city to enhance the piece.

Howard Meehan said in an interview Thursday that he felt a little blindsided by the city's Arts Commission when he received a letter last week criticizing the performance of his $110,000 sculpture.

"I asked if there were any problems with the piece when I received my final payment," Meehan said, adding that the city's Recreation Director, Steve Anthony, only had one question concerning programming of the lights for special events. "Then I get a call from him last week saying the piece was under-performing." Full story. Jeff Selle CdA Press

From the story: Compounding the problem, Meehan said, was the media coverage of the under-performance issues that went viral. Then people were making rude comments on social media sites.

"All those negative comments made my wife cry when she read them," he said. "I think I am getting stomped on. It is as bad as it was when I first came up there with the name."

Could Meehan be referring to us nice folks at HucksOnline?

Parting Shot: Trunk Show

September 11, 2014 - 5:05pm

Spokane firefighter Jeff Hager gives a splash of water to Carol, a 10,000-pound Asian elephant, Wednesday at the Spokane Arena. Carol, along with Patti, center background, were treated to loaves of bread after taking a quick bath from Station 6 firefighters and their pumper engine. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes show will present seven shows today through Sunday at the arena.

Thursday Wild Card 9-11-14

September 11, 2014 - 4:51pm

Dave is taking the next two days off (four if you count the weekend) to attend to personal business. I think he and his beagle may be enrolled in some kind of cell-phone aversion therapy program, but I'm just guessing.

Today marks the 13th anniversary of a day that forever changed our nation. I'll never forget my friend calling me early that morning, crying so hard she could barely speak. "Turn on the TV, turn on the TV!"

So, I did and watched in horror with the rest of the world as the second plane slammed into the Tower. My toddler son put his arms around me and kept saying, "Mama no cry. No cry." But I don't think any American who witnessed the events of that terrible day remained dry-eyed.

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001?

Mental Floss: 36 facts about cats

September 11, 2014 - 4:30pm

If there’s thing we know about the internet, it’s that the internet loves cats. But how much do you, Mr. and Mrs. Internet, really know about cats? However much you think you know about the internet’s favorite pet, we’ll bet you didn’t know all of the 36 facts about cats in this video.

This is John Green of the blog Mental Floss. Green’s whole job is to find the most obscure, interesting, or just plain weird facts about — everything. But we don’t need to know about everything. We only need to know about cats.

For instance did you know:

Pet cats outnumber pet dogs in the United States 88 to 74 —million, that is.

The brain of a cat shares 90 percent of its characteristics in common with the human brain. That’s more than dog brains.

 A typical house cat can run faster than any human being who ever lived — over 30 miles pert hour, in short bursts.

More here. You're welcome :-)


Lawmakers question need for BSU football stadium metal detectors

September 11, 2014 - 4:11pm

Two Idaho lawmakers want Boise State University to explain why it installed metal detectors at each entrance of the school’s football stadium.

Rep. Robert Anderst, R-Nampa, told Tuesday that the school should explain to the public why the detectors and the metal-sensing wands Boise State purchased and used at last Saturday’s home football opener are necessary.

“I’d like to have the answer to that question,” Anderst said. “I still don’t have any idea why those things are there in the first place.”

The school spent nearly $200,000 on the detectors and the wands in an effort, BSU officials said, to ensure a secure facility after the Idaho Legislature passed a bill that allowed concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on campus.

The legislation, though, actually stiffened the prohibition against bringing guns into sports venues like BSU’s Albertson’s Stadium. Prior to the legislation, only school policy prohibited game-goers from bringing guns into the venue; now, state law prohibits that. Full story. Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter

Do you think metal detectors are necessary at Albertson Stadium?

If Scotland can secede, so can Texas

September 11, 2014 - 3:45pm

Global markets are suddenly jittery about the prospect that Scotland, after 307 years as part of the United Kingdom, could become its own country if Scots vote for independence in a Sept. 18 referendum. If proud but tiny Scotland can do it — which polls suggest is a distinct possibility — then America’s 28th state, Texas, will certainly take notice.

If any state is fed up with the rest of America, it’s Texas. Republican Gov. Rick Perry floated the idea of seceding from the United States in 2009, though he later backpedaled. A petition for Texas to “withdraw" from the United States, lodged on the White House’s “We the People” Web page, gathered 125,000 signatures before voting closed in 2013. A group called the Texas Nationalist Movement has nearly 190,000 likes on Facebook.

Even as a state, Texas has strong anti-federal leanings. It’s a hotbed of Tea Party activity and has declined, so far, to participate in the Affordable Care Act. Perry has called Social Security, the cherished American retirement program, a Ponzi scheme. Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, also a Republican, wants to abolish the IRS. In lieu of a strong federal overlord, secessionists want to form — or rather, recreate — the Republic of Texas, which was an independent nation for a decade before Texas joined the union in 1845. More here.

Is there any state you'd like to see secede?

Tim Tebow joins Good Morning America

September 11, 2014 - 3:12pm

We're about to find out if Tim Tebow can “pass” back to the studio.

The former NFL quarterback is joining “Good Morning America” as a contributor, ABC News announced Thursday.

Tebow's first day will be Monday, Sept. 15. The first-ever college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy will help launch “GMA's” “Motivate Me Monday” series, featuring individuals and their stories of triumph. Tebow will appear both in-studio and live on location in towns across America. More here.

Wait. Good Morning America is still on TV? Not a fan of morning "news" programs. How about you?

A tasty book

September 11, 2014 - 2:48pm

So, I got "War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation" off to the publisher by my September 1st deadline, and am now trying to catch up with the rest of my life!

You can see, Thor thinks War Bonds is a very tasty book, but then again Thor thinks just about everything is tasty. The only things he doesn't care for is bread and popcorn.

Is your pet a finicky eater?

David Bond: From Ruby Bridges to Ruby Ridge

September 11, 2014 - 2:27pm

Wallace, Idaho – Sometimes a thing just strikes you as odd. Fifty-four years ago, a little six-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges, escorted by U.S. Marshals, became the first black child to enter an all-white grade school in New Orleans.

They confronted taunts and outright hatred. People hurled unmentionable curses and objects at her. The little girl held her mud and the Marshals, protecting her, endured their share of abuse, too.

That first year, Ruby Bridges attended school practically alone. White parents pulled their kids out of William Frantz Elementary School in protest of the black child's presence, yet the daily heckling did not abate. Ruby, who turns 60 this year, attended school every day taught by the single teacher who did not boycott her admittance.

Her father lost his job as a result of her attending a white-only school, and the grocery-store her family had long shopped at refused them service.

Not to diminish the incredible courage of this child and her family (Ruby now is an inspirational speaker and her father eventually got another job) but she likely would not have survived, emotionally or physically, without the good graces of the U.S. Marshals, all of them white, who escorted her to school every day and stood between her and the racist chaos that was the South.

Fast-forward to 1992. We have shifted from Ruby Bridges to Ruby Ridge. (See, you knew we'd get there.)

More below.


Gabriel: A Day To Remember

September 11, 2014 - 1:10pm
Today we commemorate 13 years in which the fire and police services are forever connected. Your Fire and Police Departments are tied by our commitment to be the domestic defenders of all those in need.  The remembrance today is twofold, of the emotional heartbreak and pride of selfless service and the awe and inspiration by those who unfalteringly fulfilled their duty. No passage of time will change the nature of these events, nor the character of the men and women who stood in defiance of these threats and defense of our values. Today is a day of remembrance, a day when we honor those who were true to their oaths, when we pray for their families. Today is a day that we remember them all and gain strength from their memories. Today is a day we pray that when we are called on we will show the same kind of courage and loyalty. Today is a day that we remember that evil does exist and that we can find comfort that we have extraordinary men and women who will face it and defeat it, regardless of risk/Fire Chief Kenny Gabriel, Coeur d'Alene Fire Department. More here.  


September 11, 2014 - 1:09pm
God bless those firemen and those cops
who headed for the building tops
up coal black stairs toward hell above --
"No man hath any greater love."

The Bar of Sherman Avenue

Museum writes off $26,000 from 2010 hydroplane event

September 11, 2014 - 12:00pm

COEUR d'ALENE - The Museum of North Idaho had to write off $26,000, stemming from a vintage hydroplane historical exhibition and failed fundraiser in 2010.

The write-off was listed on the museum's 2014 newsletter. Dorothy Dahlgren, the museum director, confirmed the write-off.

She said Tuesday she is holding out hope that Diamond Cup president Doug Miller can repay the money in the future.

"Doug would like to make it right with us one way or another," she said.

She said the museum anticipated the money would be paid after the 2013 Diamond Cup. When that didn't work, the museum just decided to get it off the books.

The event cost more than $58,000 to put on, and brought in nearly $32,000, she said. Read more. David Cole, CdA Press