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Updated: 53 min 39 sec ago

Panel OKs Inspector General Office

February 26, 2015 - 9:59am

With tens of millions in legal fees, contract bailouts, settlements and more adding up for the state, it’s time for Idaho to create an office of Inspector General to receive and investigate complaints of waste, fraud, abuse and malfeasance in state government, House Minority Leader John Rusche told lawmakers today. But members of the House State Affairs Committee were deeply suspicious of Rusche’s proposal, which would set up the office under the governor, with consent of the Senate; you can read my full story here at Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Do I need to point out that Coeur d'Alene Rep. Kathy Sims, who was an activist for City Hall transparency during the McEuen Park recall days, opposed this bill? Thoughts?

Poll: Legalize Pot In Idaho

February 26, 2015 - 9:51am
  • Wednesday Poll: A supermajority of Hucks Nation says it's time to legalize marijuana in Idaho. 218 of 321 respondents (67.91%) voted that it's time to legalize pot. 97 of 321 respondents (30.22%) said pot should remain illegal in the state. 6 (1.87%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Do you support a bill by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle to end daylight-saving time in Idaho?

Cindy: Stumped During Q-and-A

February 26, 2015 - 9:05am

The question stumped me. Like Bambi caught in the headlights on Highway 2, I blinked, momentarily stunned. That’s the danger of author Q&A time at book signing events. No matter how prepared you are and no matter how well you know your subject matter (yourself and your book), there’s always a chance someone will lob a question out of left field that will render your carefully prepared notes useless. That’s what happened to me on Sunday at Auntie’s Bookstore when I fielded questions following a reading of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” Someone had asked what my next book would be about and I replied that I hoped to start working on a collection of my Front Porch columns. I said the working title is either “Put the Seat Down!, Life Among the Savages” or “Boy Crazy.” That prompted a nice lady to ask the $64,000 question: “What advice will you give to your daughter-in-laws?”/Cindy Hval, Front Porch, SR. More here.

Question: What advice did/will you give to your future daughter- or son-in-law?

Edit: Rhetorical Questions For Vito

February 26, 2015 - 8:45am

For the sake of argument, let's just concede what Rep. Vito Barbieri already knows: The Dalton Gardens Republican is the smartest man in the room. Certainly that was the case Monday when Barbieri's utter legal brilliance eluded the limited cognition of mere mortal men and women attending the House State Affairs Committee. Up for debate was a bill that aims to end the ability of rural Idaho women to access by telemedicine early and safe abortions through the use of abortion-inducing prescriptions. As Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who has provided telemedicine services testified against the measure, the political sage of our age piped up: "You mentioned the risk of colonoscopy. Can that be done by drugs?"/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.


Wife Won't Help Sex-For-Aid Suspect

February 26, 2015 - 8:38am

Originally posted 5:18 p.m. Wednesday ...

A former North Idaho College administrator in jail on charges he solicited sex from students in exchange for scholarship money wants his bail lowered. Joseph M. Bekken, who was fired Feb. 2 as NIC’s financial aid director, is in the Kootenai County Jail on $100,000 bail. He has been charged with five felonies, including attempting to procure a prostitute, attempting to misuse public money and bribery. Bekken, 36, said he can’t post bail or pay a portion of it to secure a bond. He also repeated a request for a public defender. “My financial situation is rough. My wife is unwilling to provide any financial support or help,” he wrote in a request received this week by the 1st District Court. “I am kind of stuck with receiving legal support, which I desperately need”/Scott Maben, SR. More here.


Hindu Prayer To Open Idaho Senate

February 26, 2015 - 8:28am

In what may be the first time in Idaho's history, Senate business will open Tuesday with an invocation that includes ancient Hindu mantras. Idaho Senate Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, confirmed Wednesday that Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver a prayer from Sanskrit scriptures before the Senate. "He contacted us and volunteered to do it," Hill said. "He has done this in many other states and the U.S. Congress." Hill said there is no intent to make a political statement by allowing the prayer. "We are always open to prayer from other faiths," Hill said. "This is not a statement, but it demonstrates our tolerance for other religions"/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Anyone have any problems with a Hindu prayer opening the Idaho Senate Tuesday?

URA Files Condemnation Suit

February 26, 2015 - 8:21am

Construction continues on the Greensferry overpass project along Interstate-90 in Post Falls. A lawsuit has recently been filed to address the rights to a piece of property adjacent to the project on the north side of the freeway that is owned by Coeur d’Alene RV Resort. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

The Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency's quest to secure right of way for the under-construction Greensferry overpass has resulted in another condemnation lawsuit. The URA, which is funding the $15 million overpass expected to be completed this fall, filed suit in First District Court against Coeur d'Alene RV Resort, Inc. and Downey Enterprises, a Washington partnership, to obtain a strip of property on the east side of Greensferry north of Interstate 90 to widen the road for an overpass approach. "This is part of the process," said Jerry Baltzell, URA chairman, adding that he believes the defendants are willing to negotiate a price for the half-acre property. "This is the way that they prefer we proceed." Baltzell said the URA is acquiring a similar strip on the east side of Greensferry north of I-90 for properties owned by Knudtsen Chevrolet and Parker Subaru/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you support/oppose condemnation proceedings against a land owner in a situation like this, where the land is needed for an important public project?

Idaho GOP Feud Threatens Road Fix

February 26, 2015 - 8:18am

In case you missed it, last week was the annual Joe Cocker performance at the Statehouse, when U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch come in and serenade lawmakers with a tag-team rendition of "You Are So Beautiful." The senators never actually break into song, but they do heap praise on the Idaho Legislature. They point out how screwed up Congress is and how lovely it is in the Gem State, where budgets are balanced, government overreach is limited and devotion to states' rights is steadfast.It's a favorite tune around here. Nothing pumps this crowd up more than hearing how much better and wiser they are than those idiots back East. This may be a case, though, of absence making the heart grow fonder. Unbeknownst to Crapo and Risch, the blush is off the rose: The clear divide between Congress and the Legislature is beginning to blur/William Spence, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Would you rather have Idaho GOP legislators united in their vision for the state? Or somewhat divided?

Drone Disturbs Lake CdA Rescue

February 26, 2015 - 8:12am

Police were trying to persuade a suicidal man to come out of the frigid lake near the Coeur d’Alene Resort earlier this month when overhead a small drone darted about, distracting them. The unmanned aerial vehicle was about 75 feet in the air – “close enough that the noise from it was a problem while they were trying to talk to the victim,” Coeur d’Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood said. Units from the Coeur d’Alene police and fire departments and the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office participated in the Feb. 12 rescue in Lake Coeur d’Alene next to Tubbs Hill. The shirtless man spent nearly two hours in the cold water and emerged with hypothermia. The constant movement of the drone was visually distracting to the responders, Wood said Wednesday/Scott Maben, SR. More here.


The Alamo

February 26, 2015 - 8:05am

Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle

Hump Day Wild Card -- 2.25.15

February 25, 2015 - 5:30pm

State Rep. Vito Barbieri's bumbling attempt to cross swords with a doctor and the aborted "Christian state" vote at the Kootenai County GOP Central Committee meeting last night got us to the midpoint of the week. Now, we'll see where our wacky politicians and political parties will take us the rest of the week. Those running things should realize this fact: Often, we're not laughing WITH you. Here's your Hump Day Wild Card ...

Parting Shot -- 2.25.15

February 25, 2015 - 5:28pm

Scott Leininger, left, owner of Red Oak Landscaping, and Kiel Weston, his cousin, pose atop a giant snowman in the front of Leininger's home in Guilderland, N.Y., that they have been building since last November. (AP Photo/The Daily Gazette, Patrick Dodson)

Wife Won't Help Sex-For-Aid Suspect

February 25, 2015 - 5:18pm

A former North Idaho College administrator in jail on charges he solicited sex from students in exchange for scholarship money wants his bail lowered. Joseph M. Bekken, who was fired Feb. 2 as NIC’s financial aid director, is in the Kootenai County Jail on $100,000 bail. He has been charged with five felonies, including attempting to procure a prostitute, attempting to misuse public money and bribery. Bekken, 36, said he can’t post bail or pay a portion of it to secure a bond. He also repeated a request for a public defender. “My financial situation is rough. My wife is unwilling to provide any financial support or help,” he wrote in a request received this week by the 1st District Court. “I am kind of stuck with receiving legal support, which I desperately need”/Scott Maben, SR. More here.


McEuen Park Or McEuen Field?

February 25, 2015 - 5:02pm

I just heard a 911 dispatcher announce that a loose dog has been caught at "McEuen Field." Since the makeover, I've been calling the renovated greenspace on the waterfront "McEuen Park." Before the makeover, I switched the two names. Is there a difference between a park and a field when referring to a recreation area? What should McEuen be called?

Cutline Contest -- Time2Vote

February 25, 2015 - 4:57pm

Sun Prairie Mayor Jon Freund, left, leans in for Jimmy's prognostication just before being bitten on ear by the groundhog during the Groundhogs Day celebration in Sun Prairie, Wis. Adding insult to injury finished third in a three-way race for mayor recently. You write the cutline. (AP Photo/The Star, Christopher Mertes, File)

Tuesday Winner -- ThomG with 7 likes: "It snot cold" he shivered. You can see Tuesday photo and all Cutline Contest entries here.

Civics Test Bill Barely Alive

February 25, 2015 - 4:53pm

Sen. Jim Patrick’s (pictured) bill to require high school students to pass a civics test is alive — but just barely. The Senate Education Committee sent the bill to the Senate floor for amendments late Wednesday afternoon — after attempts to pass the bill, and defeat the bill, failed on identical tied votes. The split on the committee reflected the divided testimony on Patrick’s Senate Bill 1071. Supporters echoed the Twin Falls Republican’s contention that a test will give graduates a better understanding of civics and government. Ada County chief deputy clerk Phil McGrane said the test could even help stem a “steady, constant decline” in voting and voter registration. “Something needs to be done”/Kevin Richert, More here (second item).

Question: We had a civics-test requirement to graduate high school back in the day in my town. Obviously, I passed. No big deal. But I don't know if I support this legislation. Thoughts?

Gun Activists Won't Ap-hollow-gize

February 25, 2015 - 4:50pm

A day after Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, spoke out on the House floor about supporters of a concealed-carry bill harassing lawmakers’ families, the Associated Press reports that the National Association for Gun Rights posted a picture online of Loertscher superimposed over the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The image also contained his phone number and urged people to call him because he's blocking the bill. "There are a lot of angry gun owners that want a hearing on House Bill 89," Greg Pruett, the group's president, told the AP/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Any time a group posts a legislator's photo & phone number on its Web site, for harassment purposes, it has stepped over the line, no matter what the issue. Thoughts?

PM Scanner Traffic -- 2.25.15

February 25, 2015 - 4:38pm

Stolen Vehicle: A vehicle similar to this (2003 black, four-door Saturn Vue, Washington plates ADF5233) was last seen in the 4000 block of W. Fairway Drive, CdA, Monday. If you see this vehicle call Coeur d'Alene police 208-769-2320.

  • 5:34 p.m. Someone is unconscious @ 800 block of W. Lacey Ave/Hayden.
  • 5:29 p.m. Someone is suffering a seizure @ Rehabilition Hospital Northwest, 3372 Janalan Ave, Post Falls.
  • 5:13 p.m. Driver of white pickup @ n/b 4th St/Appleway tailgating, unsafe passing, flipping off others.
  • 5:10 p.m. Driver of tan Subaru is pulling 2 teen boys on skateboards in traffic @ s/b NW Blvd/Lakewood Drive, CdA.
  • 5:06 p.m. 2 skateboarders are riding in middle of Sherman Ave/2nd St, CdA; now stopped @ Paul Bunyan's.
  • 4:55 p.m. Kootenai County Sheriff's Office property crimes report Feb. 24-25 here.
  • 4:49 p.m. Loose dog contained @ McEuen Park.
  • 4:34 p.m. Male driver of Honda Camri was speeding @ 90 mph on I-90 & now has door open @ NW Blvd/Ironwood.
  • 4:28 p.m. 65YO female unconscious & barely breathing @ 11800 block of Kelly Rae Drive/CdA.
  • 4:14 p.m. Driver of green Chevy Silverado @ w/b Canfield Ave from Govt Way/CdA possibly involved in stalking.
  • 4:10 p.m. A rolling domestic fight b/n male & female reported @ 15th St/Dalton Ave/CdA.
  • 3:58 p.m. Groggy female is sitting in van outside Rimrock Road home has taken handful of Xanax.
  • 3:42 p.m. Male in black hoodie at DMV Station 4 is wanted on outstanding warrant.
  • 3:32 p.m. Officer can't find teens fighting, 911 dispatcher tells him that combatants have dispersed toward Violet Ave.
  • 3:26 p.m. Fight among 15 male and female teens @ E. Timber Lane/Honeysuckle Ave, near Church of Nazarene.
  • 3:21 p.m. 76YO female has breathing problem @ Chateau Mobile Home Park, 1356 H41/Post Falls.
  • 3:04 p.m. Non-injury, non-blocking accident @ Canfield Ave/Government Way, CdA.
  • 3:03 p.m. Driver of red Camaro pulling 2 teen boys on long board @ e/b Ichabod Ave, from Neider/4th St, CdA.
  • 2:25 p.m. Male adult in gray hoodie photographing 2, 10YO girls @ Q'emiln Park/Post Falls.
  • 1:59 p.m. 77YO female is suffering heart problems @ 500 block of Larch Lane.
  • 1:53 p.m. Abandoned vehicle reported @ 1602 E. Seltice Way/Post Falls.
  • 1:41 p.m. State worker reports confronting female who was shaking child at Chilco area house.
  • 1:20 p.m. Caller reports semi driver is either tired or DUI after seeing truck almost hit guardrail @ I-90/H41, Post Falls.
  • 1:14 p.m. Front entryway alarm sounding @ Hastings, 101 E. Appleway/CdA.
  • 1:11 p.m. Undisclosed medical emergency for 72YO female reported @ 3rd Ave/Ridgewood Drive/Post Falls.
  • 1:09 p.m. Hayden resident is threatening to grab his shotgun unless unwanted people leave his property.
  • AM Scanner Traffic

5 Years Ago: Zag Now CPD Blue

February 25, 2015 - 4:09pm

On Feb. 25, 2010, one of the stories making the news at Huckleberries was the Coeur d'Alene Police Department's hiring of former Gonzaga Bulldog player Winston Brooks:

Now that Winston Brooks is back, you might recognize him. If he pulls you over, it's all right to tell Coeur d'Alene's new police officer you've seen his face somewhere while you fish for your license. "I get that a lot," Winston said. "They say, 'Hey, don't I know you?'" It's probably from TV, or the sports pages. Gonzaga University basketball fans probably still remember the 96-95 loss to the University of Arizona during the second round of the 2003 NCAA tournament, the first double-overtime thriller in bracket play/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

DFO: Brooks moved from the Coeur d'Alene Police Department to the Spokane Police Department in November 2013.

House OKs Parental Rights Law

February 25, 2015 - 3:45pm

After a fervent, hour-long debate, the House has voted 37-31 in favor of HB 113, Rep. Janet Trujillo’s parental rights bill. Backers included Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, who told a story about objecting to his teenage daughter’s school health class mentioning masturbation, and being allowed to have her leave the class when those subjects were covered. Opponents included House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, who said the measure is fraught with “unintended consequences,” and could allow a parent to demand that their child be taught Sharia law in public school, or taught only in Spanish. “Every parent could then say they want their own specific textbook for their own child,” he said. “I don’t know what the cost of that is going to be”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Also by Eye on Boise today: