Archive for October, 2006

Oct 22 2006

Endorsement Sunday: wrapping up

Published by under Idaho,Washington

In Oregon, ballots already are in the mail (some may have received them Saturday, most others should on Monday), so endorsements are long done. Although the Portland Oregonian is still dealing with fallout from last Sunday’s gubernatorial endorsement of Republican Ron Saxton: the paper says that somewhere near 400 letters to the editor flooded in last week in protest.

Will any of these other regional endorsements generate such response?

They tend not to generate a lot of surprise.

SEATTLE TIMES/SENATE Not a big shocker, that the Times went for Republican Mike McGavick over Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell (whom it endorsed six years ago). But the language seemed tepid. It didn’t much blast Cantwell, who (it said) has a decent record, taking issue mostly with her “caution.” The McGavick praise seemed a little narrow, praising mostly his spirit of innovation.

So the paper left itself open to an increasingly frequent charge, really needing to address it – as it did: “Critics will note that McGavick supports the elimination of the federal estate tax, a cause for which The Seattle Times has campaigned many years. That is part of why we endorse him, but not most of it.” How much of it will be a topic for easy dispute.

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER/SENATE Elsewhere in the same large bundle of paper on Washingtonians’ doorsteps today they will find the PI‘s opposing take on the race. (Times goes R, PI goes D; okay, got it.) Their take, with a more definitive tone than the Times‘, concluded, “With America needing to fix off-track federal leadership, every Senate vote counts. Maria Cantwell is the candidate for a real change in course.” Continue Reading »

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Oct 21 2006

WA 5: (Overheard) it’s closing

Published by under Washington

Our Thursday post on the regional U.S. House races listed Washington’s 5th district contest, between incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris and Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark, as a serious contest – running up steadily to the point that it now merits serious watching.

We half-expected some counter on that from some area Republicans, and surely would have a few months ago. But conditions have changed, that assessment is mainstream, and now comes confirmation that the race is closing from none other than McMorris.

We got this courtesy of a glitch in telephone technology and Spokane Spokesman-Review political reporter Jim Camden. Camden on Thursday had dialed in to listen to a McMorris town hall session on veterans. Placed on mute (so that he couldn’t participate) – but inadvertently not on hold, like other participants, which would have blocked the private conversation – he overheard some pre-meeting chatter between McMorris and Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who chairs the Senate committee on veterans services. During that short conversation, McMorris told Craig, “It’s a closer race than I first imagined,” and advised her fellow Republican that Goldmark was “hitting very hard” on veterans issues.

Craig’s response was that nationally, “The new numbers are just devastating.”

This looks to be turning into an unusual political season.

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Oct 21 2006

Faith-based

Published by under Idaho,Washington

The ist district House race remains Topic A in Idaho – and beyond: We just got off the phone with a reporter from the Washington Post, so look for an ID-1 piece there soon – so: Here’s another log on the fire . . .

We’ll refer now to the blog byBubblehead (a term derived from his years in military submarine service, in case you wondered), a Republican who has issues with Republican 1st district House nominee Bill Sali. This paragraph in a recent post caught our attention. Continue Reading »

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Oct 20 2006

Prop 2: Right flank

Published by under Idaho

How’s this for a head-spinner: An attack on Idaho’s Proposition 2 from the right that very nearly matches with a central attack on it from the left, and center?

Robert Vasquez
Robert Vasquez

The tone is unmistakable, though: This could be no one but (retiring, but upcoming Senate candidate) Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez.

In an Idaho Statesman guest opinion, he takes after the land use initiative in part (and this is very much a loose paraphrase) based on his experience in local government, arguing that local governments, which are most closely beholden to the voters, would be superseded by a state action. In that, he joins the view of a lot of other elected officials around the state.

Then this:

Let me set the stage by reiterating the collusion between Idaho’s 1st Congressional District candidate, Bill Sali, and the Club for Growth.

Club for Growth bought the candidacy of Bill Sali for a mere $330,000 (more or less) in soft money, negative campaign ads. Then Laird Maxwell, a staunch Sali supporter, steps forward with this Proposition 2 proposal, under the guise of “free market, private property rights” that would, of course, strike a chord with the Idaho sense of independence. What Mr. Maxwell does not disclose in his efforts is the fact that the Club for Growth has contributed to the funding to get Proposition 2 on the November ballot.

Now enters Bill Sali, still serving as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives, professing to be a low-taxes, small government conservative Republican, who voted in August to raise the Idaho sales tax by 20 percent, but makes no comment when asked about his position on Proposition 2.

Why? Because Club for Growth is guiding both campaigns, in hopes of fooling the Idaho voter once again into giving up their congressional representation to corporate greed, and the citizens’ right to testify in opposition at land use hearings under the existing land use law.

Whew. And concluding: “Let us send a message to the Club for Growth, and their puppets, Laird Maxwell and Bill Sali, that Idaho is not for sale.” Notice that Democratic call-out at the end? (Don’t tell us it was inadvertent.)

Appears, more and more, that Idaho voters are increasingly likely to kill this thing.

THE SALI ANGLE Sali’s role in this requires a little more explication, and happily the Nampa Idaho Press Tribune ran a piece today adding useful details.

Bear in mind the early conventional wisdom on Prop 2 was that – given the way its supportive rhetoric matches neatly with often-winning political rhetoric in Idaho – it would sail through to a win. We still don’t know for sure what will happen, but its chances of success today look considerably trimmed from a few months ago. Add to that a normal bit of political strategy, that politicians like to associate themselves with winning issues, not with losers. Watch people like Republican gubernatorial candidate C.L. “Butch” Otter struggle with Prop 2 and finally come out against it, and you can see the prevailing winds in action.

In July, the Boise Weekly‘s Shea Anderson asked 1st House district Republican nominee Bill Sali about Prop 2. He wrote that Sali said he would vote for it, and added the comment, “As John Locke said, ‘the preservation of property’ rights is the ‘end of government,'” Sali said in a statement e-mailed to BW. “Government should be a good neighbor with property owners, and Proposition 2 embodies that principle.” Based on that, Prop 2 organizer Laird Maxwell listed Sali on his web site as a supporter, which seems reasonable. Sali’s name has been there for quite a while; it is listed there still. (A quick aside: The endorsement list for Prop 2 includes one state senator out of 35, four state representatives out 70, and one incumbent local government official, out of thousands statewide. There may be a message in that.)

The Press Tribune today quoted, “Bill is still undecided on how he’ll vote on Proposition 2,” in the words of candidate spokesman Wayne Hoffman; and “I think what Bill said is that he supports the concept but he still needed to review the proposal.”

This from the man whose campaign is based around the idea of black-and-white certainty about such matters as (among others) taxes and property rights. If Hoffman’s words are literally true, then Sali must be one of the last people in Idaho tracking public affairs at all who doesn’t know what they think – pro or con – about Prop 2. And that would be remarkable.

This is a landmark development in this election season in Idaho. It speaks not just volumes but shelves about both Sali and about the proposition.

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Oct 20 2006

Another poll

Published by under Oregon

It’s a statewide nonpartisan poll, conducted October 6-8, relatively little noted, on key Oregon election issues, including the governorship and all the ballot issues. As noted by its provider, it has to be taken with caution. But it still may be of interest.

The chief cautions: A low number of respondents for Oregon statewide (the original intent had been higher), a ihgh margin of error and a survey population that’s out of whack with Oregon’s overall. It also registers a high percentage of undecideds. Still, the methodology looks reasonable, and the results may be worth noting if you adjust for basic demographic factors. It was conducted by the Linfield College (McMinnville) School of Communications.

After accounting for several adjustments, the poll suggests that (as of its survey time) Democratic Governor Ted Lulongoski held a discernible lead, though well less than the survey suggests on its face (an 18.9% lead).

Maybe of more interest, it offers the chance to compare popularity of the ballot issues against each other. Most popular: 40, 45, 47. Least: 42, 38.

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Oct 19 2006

House in review

Published by under Idaho,Oregon,Washington

The three Pacific Northwest states (those we track, anyway) have 16 U.S. House seats, 10 held by Democrats, six by Republicans. All are up for election this year; just four appear to be seriously contested. But three of those four are getting increasingly interesting. Below, we’ll do a reassessment.

By excluding some races from the ranks of “seriously contested,” we aren’t suggesting that the campaigns in all other districts are without point, but we do suggest the evidence points to them more as longshots than as prospective nailbiters on November 7. We’ll take a run through the “active” races as well.

First, the top four, in order of the likely edge-of-the-seat quality for election night, and the likely nervousness of the incumbent – and there are incumbents in all of them (just one open seat in the Northwest this year).

In the case of three of these races, a quick note. In months past, we’d periodically remark that we’d consider it very close or competitive or switching direction if certain indicators appeared on the horizon. Suffice to say: Many of them have duly (maybe surprisingly) appeared.

Dave Reichert
Dave Reichert
Darcy Burner
Darcy Burner

1. Washington 8th – incumbent Dave Reichert, Republican, challenger Darcy Burner, Democrat. Look on any substantial national list of key House races nationwide in the last half-year, and Reichert-Burner will figure prominently. Our most recent post on this one called it a tossup, and there seems no reason to change that. Quite a few national assessments say the same. So do a lot of polls, which in the last few weeks consistently have shown these contenders within two or three points of each other, both hanging close to, often barely shy of, the 50% mark.

This race got to that point in a smooth trajectory and since appears to have become stuck in neutral, maybe in part because not many undecideds may be left. It’s become a terrific tug of war. The ad war has been fierce, and sometimes there’s been blowback. Burner has been airing a spot featuring video of Reichert saying, “So when the jeadership comes to me and says, ‘Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority,’ I do it.’” It leaves out what he says next: “There are some times where I say, ‘No, I won’t.’” And it was taken from a video presentation by TVW, which bans use of its material for political campaigns. Burner has some significant complaints too, especially about the wave of third-party ads and robocalls in the district. Reichert got the Seattle Times endorsement; Burner’s backers seem if anything energized in their responses to it. Continue Reading »

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Oct 18 2006

OR endorse: The WW list

Published by under Oregon

The longest single batch of endorsements in the Northwest is out today from Willamette Week, an entertaining read as usual but offering few surprises.

In the case of the governor’s race, you pick up an air of general disgust, though in the end WW did what you’d expect and endorsed Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski.

Most amusing endorsement, in House 29: “Flip-flop alert: Four years ago, we endorsed Riley against Republican Mary Gallegos, who painted him as a taxaholic. He lost. When the two squared off again in 2004, we backed Gallegos, who grew a set after she was elected to the House. She lost. We’re endorsing Riley this time against Republican Terry Rilling and Libertarian Scott Harwood. (And no, we’re not endorsing him in the secret hope that it will cause him to lose.)”

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Oct 18 2006

IM in emerald town

Published by under Washington

We checked out Candidates Gone Wild in Portland on Monday, and it was good for evening of solid political standup. The downside may have been that the top two candidates for governor didn’t show, but the three minor-party contenders did and proved themselves not only blessed with a sense of humor but smarts as well. (Mary Starret’s segment on “Blind candi-Date” was funnier than anything we’ve seen in a theatre for quite a while.)

Today, we have something else. For your reading pleasure, here’s Seattle Weekly‘s instant messaging transcripts between city officials and their interns. The parody is specific to the officials, but don’t let that discourage you if you’re not from Emerald Town – the barbs are clear enough on their own …

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Oct 17 2006

Pop, fizzle

Published by under Oregon

Those like us thinking this evening’s gubernatorial debate – apparently the final, and aired on KGW of Portland – between Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski and Republican challenger Ron Saxton might turn really explosive, watching a faceoff a good deal less startling than that.

As before, neither did badly, and neither overwhelmed. We heard no really inspiring rhetorical flourishes.

Of the two, Saxton’s presentation was smoother; he seemed the more comfortable. Kulongoski’s was less so (he got rid of the crutch word “suggest” but replaced it with “actually”), but he did make coherent arguments for both sides of the case: The merit of his re-election, and case for Saxton as an improvement. Saxton built a clear enough case against Kulongoski, but when asked – at one point bluntly – what vision he has for the state, he flubbed, and seemed to have little to say beyond improved efficiencies and a lid on taxes.

They disagreed on where they’re at as the campaign winds to a conclusion: Kulongoski maintained he’s comfortably ahead, and Saxton that the race is very close and he’s about to cross the line. On this issue, at least, we’ll get a definitive answer soon.

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Oct 17 2006

From uncertain foundation

Published by under Idaho

Not much else to say for now beyond what’s already there – on the airwaves, blogs and soon to be media – on the Larry Craig outing story. Briefly, a gay activist and blogger named Michael Rogers, who has written about gay members of Congress and congressional staffers in recent years, posted a blog entry and went on nationwide radio this afternoon to say that Craig participated in a number of gay sexual incidents. (Some reports notwithstanding, Rogers did not describe Craig as gay.)

Larry Craig
Larry Craig

Craig has denied, to at least the Spokane Spokesman-Review and possibly other media as well, the substance of the allegation. (Note in the link the Spokesman‘s take on dealing with the story.) Rogers does not offer any independent proof, other than his own assurances that he is certain; he does note that he has made earlier comparable allegations which proved accurate. Nor is there any suggestion of abuse of office or abuse of minors.

The tough question here at the moment is: Does this story have legs – will it grow? – or, absent evidence, will it die away? For that, no immediate answer. Nor for now to the question of whether it might impact the hottest race in the state, the contest for the 1st congressional district.

For a range of views, we’ll refer you to the Spokesman‘s Huckleberries Online, where the comment section has been buzzing. Writer Dave Oliveria remarked in one response: “… this aired on a national radio program this afternoon. I’m not saying it’s legit. I’m telling you what’s out there. I’d be asleep at the switch if I didn’t post items of interest to North Idahoans. Do you want that? Do you want me only to post comfortable things? If this isn’t true, Mike Rogers is in a heap of trouble. If it isn’t true, it’s still a story that a top gay activist has targeted Larry Craig.”

OF NOTE Dennis Mansfield has posted thoughts on all this on his website.

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Oct 17 2006

Post-Jon & Chris

Published by under Idaho

Aquick note for those following the Boise radio situation after Jon Duane and Chris Kelly, who had been morning anchors at KIDO-AM for many years and probably the key morning radio figures in the area much of that time, departed early this year.

Idaho Radio News has an update:

KIDO picked Kimberly James and Brian Norton this summer to replace Duane & Kelly. The station parted ways with James just a few weeks ago – leaving the program in further flux. As I’ve hinted at before – CC Boise went after a number of well-know local folks to fill the morning slot – and clearly wasn’t able to come up with that big marquee name it hoped to land.

KIDO lost ground in all major demos (and overall) in the morning day part. Since Jon & Chris left midway through the book, it leaves you to wonder: what will fall look like?

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Oct 17 2006

Robo-sliming

Published by under Idaho,Washington

Next legislative cycle, proposals will be offered almost certainly to ban mass robo-calling, and there’s good cause both out of precedent and out of public service.

telephone The precedent for such a ban is in the current bans on unsolicited faxes and e-mails and telemarketing calls to land and cell phone lines. The rationales are simple: While these are inexpensive ways for people to spread a message, they place a cost – in time at least and in money as well – on the recipient, in a way that, say, direct paper mail does not. If these things can be banned, surely political robo-calls can be as well.

You see the complaints growing. In Idaho, the Larry Grant campaign last Friday posted a note saying, “A torrent of complaints is pouring into the Grant for Congress campaign about harassing, annoying, computer-generated telephone calls. It’s not us! We, too, have been getting them and find them just as annoying as everyone else. The computer-generated calls (robocalls, in political parlance) began Thursday, Oct. 12, and are continuing, apparently, across the First District. We believe two versions are being used, one that begins ‘When you go to the polls on Nov. 7 you’ll see the name ‘Larry Grant’ on the ballot. Let me tell you a little about Larry Grant….’ The other opens with ‘Larry Grant needs a lesson in Economics 101…’”

These efforts are simply a try at tossing in a bit of slime in a fast and unanswerable way. More seem to be coming in that race.

So too in Washington state’s premier legislative race, between incumbent Republican Senator Luke Esser and his challenger, Democrat (former Republican) state Representative Rodney Tom. The recording, among other things, alleges that an ethics investigation of Tom is underway; in fact, that’s not true. But the attempt to slip the idea into the subconscious of a telephone listener could be marginally effective.

Until legislative emerges banning them, these robocalls need to be recorded and dragged out into the sunshine, where they can be properly addressed. In the case of the Tom message, Horse’s Ass blogger David Goldstein has done just that. Now you can click and hear the little slice of slime – with the difference that you are forewarned as to its contents.

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Oct 17 2006

Likely not forgotten

Published by under Oregon

Atough poser for all the political junkies out there: What will be the political effect of Paul Evans’ call-up?

Paul Evans
Paul Evans

Evans, a former mayor of Monmouth, is a veteran of the Air Force and also the Oregon Air National Guard. A few days ago, he got the word: He’s been called back to the Middle East – he is a veteran of repeat tours in Iraq and Kuwait – this time to Afghanistan. He is scheduled to leave on November 5.

This is of specific note here because Evans is also a candidate in one of the two or three hottest state Senate races in Oregon, a Democrat running against respected incumbent Jackie Winters. The race is commonly considered to be close.

This is an unusual case. The Salem Statesman Journal noted, “He likely is the nation’s only candidate who will be on active duty in the Middle East on Election Day.” There is a near-comparison: “State Rep. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, has taken leaves from his second-term campaign for military service. Boquist is a veteran Army special-operations officer, also with Iraq war service, who remains an Army reservist.” But Boquist’s re-election to the House (in the same area) is not in doubt.

Evans’ election prospects, on the other hand, are unclear. Does this callup at the tail end of campaigning season throw too big a kink into things to overcome? Does it create a wave of public sympathy for him? Does it create concern about whether he can properly serve as a legislator? (The new callup is scheduled to last just 60 days, so he would be – according to schedule – back by the time time legislature convenes.) Thoughts, please.

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Oct 16 2006

Sign control

Published by under Oregon

Auseful explanatory piece in Willamette Week explains something a number of Interstate 5 drivers in Oregon have noticed: Almost all the signs along the busiest roadways are for Republican candidates, notably gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton.

Does this mean that area is overwhelmingly Republican? Not exactly.

The paper notes, “even if Kulongoski had his signs ready to go, the man who dominates Interstate 5 between here and Salem, along with many of the busiest thoroughfares in Clackamas and Yamhill counties, wouldn’t put them up. ‘I just do this for people who can further the conservative Republican agenda,’ says Cliff Zauner, a retired two-term state representative from Woodburn. ‘I wouldn’t do it for Kulongoski for any amount of money.’ Except for a single Kulongoski sign and eight that Democratic House candidate Chuck Leesnuck placed near Salem , Zauner has given Republicans a lock on the well-traveled central I-5 corridor.”

The paper adds, “The signs Zauner erects along I-205, and highways 224 and 212 in Clackamas County, are the result of a long friendship with one of the area’s largest property owners, Terry Emmert.”

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Oct 16 2006

Ha: Ousting SayWA

Published by under Washington

These things always seem to end in such a whimper. And in this case you can understand why.

SayWA is no more.

SayWA

We took issue with it back in March when it was announced as Washington’s new state slogan. A lot of other people took issue with it in stronger terms.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports that “The tag line was pulled on the basis of a recommendation from the state’s Tourism Advisory Council, as well as market research indicating the ads weren’t doing a sufficient job of driving readers to Washington’s tourism Web site.”

New slogan, anyone?

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Oct 15 2006

Endorsement Sunday: OR

Published by under Oregon

The premier endorsement – the Oregonian’s – in the premier race in the state – the governor – is out.

PORTLAND OREGONIAN/Governor Not a big surprise here, recent news coverage notwithstanding. The Oregonian is a Portland establishment organization, and Republican Ron Saxton is a Portland establishment person. The paper hasn’t gotten along well with Democratic incumbent Ted Kulongoski for a long time. (It endorsed him four years ago, when he was running against an even more non-Portland type, Kevin Mannix.) The paper’s point was almost dispassionately stated. It characterized Kulongoski’s term as partly successful and partly not. And it noted concerns about Saxton, and cited a series of problems that Oregon has – most of which any governor has only a limited amount to do with – before concluding, “It is a leap of faith to endorse a former school board chairman over a sitting governor. If all was well, we would recommend that voters re-elect Kulongoski. But the times demand a fresh look at Oregon’s problems and Saxton brings an open, independent mind to the task. We recommend that voters select him as their next governor.” Continue Reading »

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Oct 15 2006

Endorsement Sunday: WA

Published by under Washington

Nearing the finals on newspaper endorsements, a spate of opinion pieces of note hit today’s papers around the state. An overview follows.

SEATTLE TIMES/8th House Probably not much of a surprise that the Seattle Times went with Republican incumbent Dave Reichert for re-election on the eastside. (Setting up for a Cantwell endorsement?)

What was interesting was the force behind it. While extolling Reichert’s “conscience-driven independent streak” (more than once), the edit took after Democratic challenger Darcy Burner in equally strong terms: “She missed either primary or general election votes in four years, starting in 2000. Burner shifts the blame again, arguing the only voting record that matters is Reichert’s. Right, his matters. But voting is a fundamental obligation of every citizen. It matters that she, as an adult, didn’t take it seriously. Still more disappointingly, Burner has run a mean-spirited campaign that would make Republican spinmeister Karl Rove proud. In The Seattle Times/KUOW-FM congressional debate last week, she accused Reichert of ‘lying.’ She called him ‘unprincipled’ and ‘politically crass.'” Both characterizations seem a little overstrong for two candidates who don’t exactly wear day-glo colors. Continue Reading »

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    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

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    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

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    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

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    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here