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Posts published in October 2017

A win against their customers


With the help of Idaho’s two Senators, the U.S. Senate voted on October 24 to kill a rule allowing mistreated bank customers to band together to seek redress in court. The vote allows banks to force their customers into often one-sided arbitration of grievances against the banks.

Forced arbitration clauses prevent bank customers from bringing group lawsuits to recover for improper banking practices. And, they deprive bank customers of resort to the judicial system where they can get a fair shake.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a rule in July that prevented financial institutions from requiring customers to arbitrate disputes with their banks, rather than going to court. Mandatory arbitration clauses are written into the fine print of hundreds of millions of lengthy consumer financial service contracts. The CFPB rule would have allowed consumers to join together to sue banks for their misconduct. It was good public policy and supported by the polling data. An American Future Fund poll showed 67% support for the rule, including 64% of Republicans polled.

In announcing the rule, CFPB Director Richard Cordray noted that “when Wells Fargo opened millions of deposit and credit card accounts without the knowledge or consent of customers, arbitration clauses in existing account contracts blocked their customers from bringing group lawsuits for the unauthorized account openings.” The rule was designed to protect bank customers from this type of misconduct in the future, and to give them a realistic chance of recovering their damages if it does happen.

It is impractical for an individual to arbitrate a small dollar dispute with his or her bank. If the bank has manipulated the processing of checks on an account to substantially increase the overdraft fees, resulting in an excessive charge of several hundred dollars, the cost and time consumed in arbitration is practically prohibitive. The banks know this and that is why they slip arbitration clauses into their mind-numbing consumer contracts. And, that is why very few people arbitrate their banking disputes.

If mistreated customers can aggregate their claims and join together to sue in court for banker misconduct, they have a substantially greater chance of being made whole for their losses. Going after claims of several hundred dollars for each of thousands of cheated customers makes a joint recovery feasible. Court proceeding are not weighted in favor of an economically powerful party, like arbitration can be, and those cheated can have the benefit of trial by jury.

Arbitration is a good alternative for resolving commercial disputes where large amounts are at issue and the parties stand on relatively equal ground. It is not a reasonable alternative where a weaker party is unwittingly forced into it and only a small dollar amount is involved. The more powerful parties in such disputes know that many of the arbitrators are inclined in their favor in hopes of getting repeat business. The weak party with a single small claim will not provide repeat business.

The banks lobbied hard for their win against consumers on this issue and succeeded in making it difficult to discourage mistreatment of bank customers. The vote to repeal the CFPB rule was 50-50 in the Senate, with the Vice President breaking the tie. The U.S. House of Representatives had already voted for repeal on July 25, hardly allowing the ink to dry on the July 10 rule. Both of our Congressmen voted for repeal. Too bad the bank customers did not have a lobbying arm working for them.

Dangerous and unacceptable change


I’ve always been amused at the old saw “change is constant.” Seems to me an oxymoron with “change” meaning evolving or moving and “constant” something that doesn’t evolve or move.

One of the major life issues for older persons is to either accept change and deal with it in its many forms or remain “constant” which will eventually leave you more and more alone.

Sometimes, though, change can be so vast while being so subtle, so slow, that you don’t sense it and deal with it, which will lead to confusion and uncertainty. For several decades, we’ve been experiencing a slow evolution affecting all our lives and our world. It’s becoming increasingly clear we aren’t dealing with it very well. Individually or as a nation.

For many reasons, including computer technology, education and lifestyle, constant and irrevocable change has been going on all around us. Some good. Some bad. But it’s changing everyone of us almost without notice.

Examples are many. Fraternal, business, civic and religious institutions are disappearing. Makes no difference if you’re talking about the local Rotary club, the church down the street or the chamber of commerce. Participation is waning and they’re in danger of being irrelevant or gone. Possibly not in our lifetimes but statistics are telling the sad story. We’re losing community connectedness.

The two main political parties are suffering the same lack of participation and have become less influential. They’re becoming irrelevant. Where votes have historically been their basis of clout, now it’s money from billionaires. Democrats nationally are still fighting the internal Clinton/Sanders split of 2016 and are badly divided. Significant gains in 2018 are very unlikely.

Republicans have seen their party structure disintegrate - becoming splinter groups unwilling to work together toward a common goal, fractured by religious zealots, big money, character assassination with cowardly majorities in Congress. Independent and splinter “parties” add to eroding the political power of the past for all.

Our increasing national lack of societal and political civility have overcome comity and reason. Coarseness defines our national nature. Outrageous behavior in sports, entertainment, politics and even religion have replaced common sense, caring and norms that have defied centuries of previous assault.

Kids are more violently rebelling against authority - schools are unable to cope much less educate; more children are killing themselves - and others; drugs-of-choice are used more openly - and universally- by kids and adults; outright police violence versus civil disrespect for authority; corporations are cheating customers with more concern for profits at any cost; celebrity is based on deviant behavior rather than talent; our monetary world is rife with practices abusing/cheating consumers.

There’s also a national ignorance of far too many citizens about how their government operates, i.e. what it is, how it’s run, how laws are created or abolished, the role of government in their lives and their responsibilities to it. Stunning ignorance which has resulted in intellectually vacant officeholders dreaming of lifetimes of employment rather than conducting the public’s business - if they even know of - care - what that is.

“So, Rainey,” you say. “A lot of that has been around for centuries and we’ve survived. What’s different?”

Yep, you’re right. But, something we’ve never had access to until the last 40 years or so has created a more dangerous threat to our world: computer technology. While all these things have truly been around in one form or another, computers have linked the shunned, the powerless, the outright crazies and given them voices of power and influence they’ve never had in our history.

A doped up guy in a Cleveland garage can access today’s wizardry to represent him and his delusions to the masses. Some folks have used it to talk their friends into suicides. Once personal details of our lives can now be stolen regularly to do lasting damage to otherwise upstanding people. National electrical systems can be brought down. Crackpot ideologies made to sound mainstream with millions of “adherents.” Military power can be hijacked or neutralized by a single person. World markets can be destroyed by someone with the right technology. And much, much more.

No, these words are not the result of some paranoia. They are the result of watching the evening news, reading several daily newspapers, doing some internet research. Living four score years and being observant.

Ours is an angry nation. An unforgiving nation. An out-of-control nation. The Civil War divided the country over the issue of slavery. Today, with the unlimited power of technology, we’re a fractured nation being assailed by huge pressures on every side. Better we should be split by some large single issue we can tackle and solve. As it is, we’re left to struggle individually with everything from violent children to nuclear war.

Our sense of community has disappeared. The patriotism and faith in something larger than ourselves, in too many instances, have been replaced with anxieties and a lack of national purpose.

“Change is constant.” So is the disassembling of a nation. For the old. For the young.

Idaho Briefing – October 30

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for October 30. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

Enrollment seems to be up, a bit, at most of Idaho’s colleges and universities. And several of them are reporting some striking projects - from homeless analysis to avalanche warnings - around the state.

The Idaho State Tax Commission has published the latest tax burden study, which compares Idaho’s state and local taxes with those of other states and the District of Columbia. Alan Dornfest, the Tax Commission’s property tax policy bureau chief, conducted the annual study based on data from fiscal year (FY) 2015, the latest year for which U.S. Census Bureau figures are available.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest, Sawtooth National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Idaho Falls District are providing another opportunity for the public to review and comment on the refined wilderness management plans and environmental analysis associated with the Hemingway-Boulders, White Clouds and Jim McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness areas.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter significantly restructured the State’s Workforce Development Council on October 26, seeking to close the gap between the training and education that Idaho job seekers have and the skills that Idaho employers need.

Rocky Mountain Power and the city of Idaho Falls have requested approval of an agreement that would help resolve transfers of service among existing customers in areas annexed by the city.

PHOTO Boise State University celebrated the opening of the new Honors College and Sawtooth Hall with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 24. Home to 656 students, the new five-story, $40 million building includes Honors-dedicated living and learning spaces, as well as housing for other students, a dining venue, classrooms and spaces designed to boost the student experience on campus. The 236,000-square-foot building is located in the center of campus on University Drive across the street from the Student Union Building. (Boise State University)

Absolute truth


Through most of the last generation you could find much of the edgy fringe of Idaho politics in Kootenai County, and pieces of a recent article about politics there helps locate one of the reasons things have gotten so worked up.

The article by Anne Helen Petersen on the site Buzzfeed is called “Here’s what happens when Republicans have no one to fight” (it is at It describes in detail the evolution over the last half-century or so of local Republican politics, especially the relatively recent splintering between sundry pachyderms, Reagan Republicans, redoubters and others.

The most central current figure in the article is Brent Regan, chair of the Kootenai Republican Party Central Committee, where at meetings “people come to him, as if before a ruler, or a king.”

He apparently is not shy about expressing himself, writer Peterson said, and “when I asked him to help refine my understanding of liberty-minded conservative beliefs, Regan protested my use of ‘beliefs,’ which infers that they are, in fact, decisions — instead of ‘immutable truths.’”

The article quoted an email from Regan: “There is a right and a wrong, good and evil, and beneficial and detrimental. Society cannot thrive under Cartesian Relativism because it devolves into a muddle of conflicting ‘truths.’ The truths are that American Exceptionalism is the product of Judeo-Christian morality (The Ten Commandments) and of Logos (try to speak Truth), Greco-Roman philosophy (democracy and the idea that nature can be understood) and Anglo-Saxon Law (Magna Carta, the laws apply to all, even the King). The result is articulated in the most powerful political statement in history, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution is a covenant between the states to create a federal government. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights, it forbids the government from infringing on those rights which “are endowed by their Creator.”


I reject his premise: These are not immutable truths. These are interpretations, analyses - ideas, opinions, which may have merit or not, but most certainly are not facts. Facts and opinions are different things. It’s a fact that Regan was quoted in the article as the last paragraph indicates. This column is opinion and analysis, and so is the quote from the Regan email.

Some of what Regan says here is just silly. American exceptionalism is the outgrowth of the Ten Commandments? Really? Other parts seem more sensible. I would agree that the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence is among the most powerful political statements ever, but how is that contention fact and not opinion?

This is not mere philosophical hair-splitting. The inability to discern between fact and opinion is subtle but also one of the most serious real political problems we have these days, and it’s getting worse.

A big part of what we as Americans suffer from is an inability to compromise - which is another way of saying, the ability of the widely varied 323 million or so of us to get along and to work together. A society made up of people convinced of their own absolute, unquestioning rightness, the lack of any need to learn anything new - much less about their fellow citizens - can keep our country from functioning. It can blow a society apart.

You want to turn America into an updated version of the 90s-era Balkans? Evidently, you can find a prescription for that kind of future up in Kootenai County.

No slogans


I want to applaud Director Cameron and former Director Armstrong for their creative and courageous work to bring down health care costs for all Idahoans and bring more of our neighbors out from under the threat of medical bankruptcy.

If more of us would pay attention to this critical problem that all of us face maybe we could get past the slogans and sound bites and do some work for the common good. It shouldn’t be about Democrats or Republicans, because we are all in this mess together.

The Medicaid expansion I fought for under the Affordable Care Act was not a final solution. No, it would have been a simple first step: get all Idahoans covered by some health insurance plan. No more Catastrophic Fund tax burdens, no more liens filed on weak assets and medical bankruptcy ensured. Unburden our low wage workers from this threat. But that didn’t happen. Maybe the voters will consider the initiative and it could move forward. But their path is steep.

If Idaho would have (or chooses to) expand Medicaid coverage, the next step for all insurers (Medicaid is an insurance) would have been exactly what Armstrong and Cameron have proposed. Managing the most expensive patients is the holy grail for lowering health care costs. Fifty percent of all health care costs can be attributed to 10 percent of the population.

Can private insurance companies do this better, or a government program, such as the Directors have proposed? I believe the market could have answered this. Whether Medicaid or private insurers had better success, the voters could have decided where these patients are best served, on the exchange, or on Medicaid. I would hope in such a consideration the voting public would consider the justice of such a program, not just what it would mean to their own pocketbook.

Medicaid already cares for many disabled and expensive care patients. Private insurers see these folks as outliers in their actuarial calculations. Before the ACA, these patients would have been denied coverage. No, a couple dozen expensive medical conditions in a small insurance pool will drive up costs for all. I can imagine the insurance industry would gladly welcome the Armstrong/ Cameron proposal. Will Idaho taxpayers commit to support folks with these expensive conditions when the next economic downturn hits and revenues drop? Will budget writers cut schools, or expensive cancer patients?

Their proposal means we will sort sick people for insurance by their diagnosis and prognosis. Does this remind you of the slogan of a former Vice-Presidential candidate? I am trying to avoid slogans. I ask the careful reader to consider what it means to sort people in such a way. Does such a law, such a program fit your sense of justice? It doesn’t fit mine.

The inscription carved in marble above the US Supreme Court pillars reads: “Equal Justice Under Law”. I can think of no higher ideal.

All people deserve access to appropriate health care. We can afford it. We already spend twice as much per capita on health care as other developed counties. We just have to think more of the common good.



October 8th was the sixty-first anniversary of one of the great sports events of all time: Don Larsen, pitching game five of the 1956 World Series, threw the only perfect game in series history. Twenty-seven Brooklyn Dodgers came to the plate, and 27 walked back to the dugout as Larsen led the New York Yankees to a 2-0 win.

Most baseball fans have seen the famous picture of the joyous Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra, rushing the mound to jump into Larsen’s arms. While there have been regular season no hitters pitched since then and even another Divisional play-off no hitter, there never has been another perfect game and some baseball pundits don’t believe there will ever be another.

The last survivor of those who played in that historic game is none other than Larsen himself. Since he and his spouse, Corrine, retired 23 years ago, the Larsens have lived quietly at Hayden Lake. He makes occasional appearances at Yankee Old-Timer events and signs a baseball now and then.

Otherwise he enjoys fishing on various Idaho lakes and streams. A few days before the anniversary a mutual friend arranged for my wife and I to have lunch with Don and Corrine. It was one of the most delightful two hour lunches I’ve spent in years.

My first surprise was how tall he still is, easily 6’5”, still slim, still ramrod straight and his mind and memory were still sharp. Not bad for one who turned 88 in August. Born in Indiana, the fmaily moved to San Diego when he was 14 where he attended Point Loma H.S. and was known more for his basketball skills (my second surprise) than his pitching talent.

His senior year he was named to the first team all-Southern California High School basketball team but he turned down basketball scholarship offers from St. Mary’s and Oregon. While playing baseball he caught the eye of a scout for the St. Louis Browns who signed him for a signing bonus of $850 (about $10,000 in today’s dollars) and in June of 1947 reported to his first minor league team. He rose steadily but in early 1951 was drafted into the Army and served for two years during the Korean War before being honorably discharged in early 1953.

During the spring he made the major league roster of the St. Louis Browns and made his major league debut on April 18, 1953. That winter the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. Larsen struggled during the 1954 season, winning three and losing 21 games.

Two of his three wins though were against the Yankees and their manager, Casey Stengal, insisted Larsen be included in a large swap of players in 1955. Stengal saw something no one else did for there is virtually nothing in Larsen’s early career that hinted he had a date with destiny and baseball immortality. On that October day though even Larsen admits he had incredible control of his pitches.

Larsen was not aware that the 27th and last out against pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell has become the subject of some college philosophy classes on life’s ambiguity. Mitchell had a ball one, two strike count when Larsen let loose with his 97th pitch. Mitchell, started to swing then he claims checked his swing because he thought it would be ball three. The home plate umpire called it strike three and the game was over.

To his dying day Mitchell insisted it was a ball. The umpire retired after the game and never spoke about it again. At this lunch, Larsen growled “he swung and it was strike three. Game over.”

Asked who was the toughest out in the Dodger line-up, Larsen growled again,”they were all tough outs. These were the Dodgers after all.”

My third surprise was learning that Larsen “on his way down” as he put it, pitched in Spokane against the Spokane Indians while a member of the 1966 Phoenix Giants. He also pitched in Tacoma early in the 1967 season. His last major leaue appearance came with the Cubs on July 7th, 1967. He retired shortly thereafter.

His final record was 81 wins and 91 losses, an earned run average of 3.78 and 869 strike outs. It appears to be an average record for someone who spent 15 seasons in the majors. Packed in there though is that one magic October day when he pitched the only perfect World Series game.

For that he was named the World Series MVP and garnered baseball immortality. Understandably he is proud of that incredible achievement, but he has handled the ensuing years, which had both ups and downs, with dignity and grace.

Before leaving he signed a baseball for me and wrote on it “a perfect Dad.” I’ll treasure it as long as I live, undeserved though it is.

Drug company greed kills


CBS’ 60 Minutes and the Washington Post are to be commended for derailing the President’s appointment of a shill for the drug industry as the nation’s drug czar.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) withdrew his nomination when it was revealed that he had engineered passage of a bill in 2016 that hamstrung the ability of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to stop drug sales fueling the opioid epidemic. He had raked in about $100,000 from the pharmaceutical industry for his efforts. While a swamp creature bit the dust, there is more to the story of drug company greed.

When I was Idaho Attorney General in the late 1980s, it was known that hydrocodone and oxycodone were effective pain relievers, but highly addictive. At that time, the use of these opioids was generally limited to severe pain cases because of their addictive properties. However, in the 1990s some opioid makers saw gold in them thar hills and started aggressively marketing opioids, such as Purdue Pharma’s Oxycontin, as a general remedy for pain. Endo Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson joined in to peddle their opioids for wide use.

Advertisements in reputable medical journals hyped the use of opioid products as safe and effective pain relievers. Pharmaceutical companies reached into continuing education courses for doctors and medical school curricula to promote the widespread use of opioids. Attractive drug representatives assured doctors there was no need to be concerned that patients would become addicted to opioids. Lobbyists were employed to smooth the way for marketing these addictive painkillers without regulatory interference.

The drug companies obviously knew that these products were addictive and that many people who used them would become hooked, but the bright side was massive profits. The chances of being criminally prosecuted were remote, so they went full steam ahead.

As disclosed in the CBS/Post report, the major drug distributors got in on the act, making massive sales of opioid pills to pill-mill pharmacies that were obviously selling them to drug addicts. The DEA took note and began targeting suspicious drug shipments, which led to passage of the bill neutering the DEA’s enforcement effort. Rep. Marino was also able in the process to get rid of the DEA agent who was trying to stop the distributors’ drug trafficking. This occurred at the height of the opioid crisis when tens of thousands of Americans were dying of opioid overdoses each year (almost 65,000 in 2016). Nevertheless, both houses of Congress passed the Marino bill last year with nary a whimper. Talk about Congress being asleep at the switch. Perhaps some of the slumbers were aided by the millions of dollars of drug industry money pouring into congressional campaign coffers.

It seems to me that companies which sell a product, knowing that it is being abused and that it is killing people, should have to answer under the criminal law.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to prosecute low-level drug dealers and subject them to mandatory minimum sentences. Shouldn’t he focus some enforcement effort against high-level drug company executives whose greed drives them to carelessly pedal addiction and death to the public?

The Idaho congressional delegation can help by working to overturn the 2016 legislation and demanding that the Justice Department go after the corporate drug pushers.

Fear and the presidency


My father - born in 1904 - used to tell me he was lucky to have seen the “best years” of mankind’s development. He’d cite invention of radio and television, development of flight, automobiles and other inventions for the masses, computers, the booming years of industry, space travel, etc. He saw ‘em all.

But, there’s one thing he didn’t see and never, never imagined: a President of the United States of America - with malice of forethought and by deliberate action on his part - cause terrible hardship for millions of his fellow citizens. He never saw a President set out to destroy whole departments of our federal government by filling his Cabinet with totally unqualified zealots holding personal contempt for various official responsibilities given them.

My father’s lifelong respect for government was badly eroded when he learned of Richard Nixon’s ruthless lying, racism and outright anti-Semitism. Those were traits my well-educated father just never would have imagined in anyone elected President of this country. While I was living in Washington D.C. late in his life, and watching Watergate unfold, he was a pillar of his small community in Central Oregon - Masonic bodies, church, successful small business, etc.. But Richard Nixon destroyed my father’s near-blind faith in the goodness and honesty of the presidency.

I regularly give thanks he didn’t see much worse - that he never knew of Donald J. Trump.

It’s no exaggeration to write in this space that I fear for our country and for our collective futures. The man is an ignorant fool, unwilling to learn or listen. He’s like a destructive child wanting to break all his toys in fits of anger. His election buffoonery has turned to unbridled rage at the President who preceded him and he’s carrying out a child-like tantrum to destroy anything with Barack Obama’s name attached. He has shown himself to be a vile, treacherous human being.

His outrageous attack on the ACA - Obamacare - will not only result in the loss of heath care for millions of Americans, it will assuredly result in the death of many. Children with life-long, pre-existing conditions, adults needing specialized medical attention, seniors who can’t afford prescriptions, anyone whose needs exceed their ability to pay- all will be left to uncertain futures. And, again, even death.

The nearly unanimous voices of health care professionals - and their institutions of healing - said “NO.” Americans by the hundreds of millions said “NO.” Even the insurance industry said “NO.” But he shunned all and uprooted the foundations of America’s health systems which will, eventually, affect just about anyone in the country.

He’s undertaken other destructive acts against the government and the governed. But the most destructive of all was to name a Cabinet of zealots dedicated to undermining - and in some cases - destroying the very agencies they oversee.

Justice, Health & Human Services, Treasury, EPA and the rest are being ransacked while Trump keeps everyone’s attention with his outrageousness. Professionals necessary to carry out missions are resigning by the thousands. Trump spies have been inserted in all agencies. Regulations designed to protect are being shredded. Hundreds of attempts are underway to privatize everything from the post office to air traffic control. Even the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA). Just about any service or government support role.

You can add his deliberate verbal attacks on our European and other international allies. He’s severely undermined American’s role as a world leader. Our nation is now looked upon as unreliable in our treaties, our promises of aid and our military protection should those become necessary. We are regarded with universal suspicion and anger.

He’s threatened to abandon an American protectorate following a massive hurricane which has left the entire population in danger. He is ignorant of our laws regarding our responsibilities to citizens of such countries and has been petulant about coming to their aid and assistance.

Finally, he’s playing “nuclear chicken” with another madman. I’ve come to pray each night there’ll be a world to wake up to in the morning. He talks of “nuclear war” with absolute disregard of the accompanying nuclear devastation. His childlike belligerence in such verbosity is frightening people all over the world. Even his fellow Republicans have openly expressed the hope there are enough “adults” around Trump to keep him from starting a nuclear conflagration.

Yes, I’m glad Dad never met “President” Donald J. Trump. I’m also sorry that, as a solid middle class American in the first years of the 20th Century, he had to come to the late realization that honesty, sincerity and service-above-self, didn’t always describe an American President.

Trump just plain scares me to death!

Idaho Briefing – October 23

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for October 23. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at

A familiar name on the ballot has entered the race against incumbent Republican 2nd District Representative Mike Simpson. Peter Rickards, a Twin Falls podiatrist, a long-time nuclear power critic and candidate for several offices over the years, said he will file for the seat held by Simpson since 1998.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest has spent the past several months documenting the current conditions and trends on the forest and in the surrounding communities. That assessment will soon be available in draft form. A series of public meetings November 6-14 will feature a chance to talk to the Salmon-Challis’ leadership and forest plan revision team about the findings.

Idaho’s September seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased for the seventh consecutive month to 2.8 percent — the lowest unemployment rate on record — dating back to January 1976. September’s decrease was due to a robust increase in the number of Idahoans working and a continued drop in the number of unemployed. Total employment grew by 4,154 in September — the largest monthly increase since July 1993 — driving the total number of people with jobs to 800,629.

Boise State University’s official enrollment for the fall 2017 semester is 24,154 — the highest in university history. Boise State served a total of more than 30,000 students over the course of the scholastic year last year, but the fall snapshot is the official enrollment for state and federal reporting purposes.

The city of Nampa has released an updated Snow and Ice Control Plan on its website, bracing for what has been forecasted another brutal winter.

PHOTO Elegant new entrance signs on U.S. 20 at the borders of the INL desert Site serve as an important branding and advertising tool for the thousands of passersby who cross the high desert each year. This sign is on the western border near Arco. (Idaho National Laboratory)