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Posts published in “Day: June 24, 2018”

Idaho Weekly Briefing – June 25

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for June 25. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Traffic around Idaho drew a lot of attention last week, especially after a massive accident on Interstate 84 in western Ada County. A number of people said the fatal accident resulted in considerable part from lane closures during road construction, which has resulted in a review of construction protocols.

The State Board of Education approved a pilot program at its meeting on June 21, reducing tuition fees for American Indian tribal members from Idaho’s five federally recognized tribes to attend Idaho State University.

Boise Mayor David H. Bieter and members of the Boise City Council on June 19 called upon Idaho’s congressional delegation to end the Trump administration policy separating immigrant children from their parents at the nation’s southern border.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on June 21 said Netherlands-based NewCold is investing $90 million to build a 140-foot-high, 25 million cubic feet sub-zero cold storage warehouse in Burley. This will be one of the largest frozen storage facilities of its kind in the United States.

Idaho National Laboratory nuclear research will benefit from a $15 million pilot program secured by Senators Mike Crapo and James Risch, and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to recycle spent naval fuel for use in advanced nuclear reactors.

Cristina McNeil, Democratic candidate for Idaho’s 1st congressional district, has made a statement on immigrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S. border. McNeil, who immigrated from Mexico to the United States in 1995, said our immigration system is antiquated, complex and broken. She said the crisis of families being separated at the border is a direct result of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward immigrants and is completely inhumane.

Senators Jim Risch and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act. The legislation would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to give state and tribal managers more flexibility in addressing predatory sea lions in the Columbia River system that are threatening both ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

The Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a revision to sediment wasteload allocations in its plan to address elevated sediment and E. coli bacteria in the Salt River Subbasin in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming.

PHOTO The fourth annual Bengal Roar is set for June 28 at Idaho State University. The event is designed to help students planning to attend classes in the fall to register for classes, meet with advisors and learn about campus resources that might otherwise be overlooked. This year, Idaho State University is giving more than $14 million in Idaho Resident four-year recruitment, Step Ahead and Honors Scholarships to more than 2,500 new, incoming Idaho students who are admitted for fall 2018. Other scholarships are also available through the Bengal Online Scholarship System. (photo/Idaho State University)
 

Undercover with the homeless

readings

This is an opinion piece written by Idaho State Senator Mark Nye, D-Pocatello. It earlier appeared in the Idaho State Journal at Pocatello.

I had been campaigning for re-election to the Idaho Senate, getting out to learn about our needs. What I found was shocking.

It started when I stopped by the community action center. I’d helped get this going in the 1960s — with the help of Idaho Purce, Perry Swisher and others. It was nice to come back, and happened to meet the head of veteran’s programs in the hall. I ask him about his priorities for Pocatello.

He said, “Priorities? Are you kidding? I need 12 beds for homeless vets tonight! We don’t have them. No one else in town has room. Priorities? Excuse me, I’m really busy right now...” and then he left.

This was a blunt wake-up call. We hear about how bad things are, but being there and seeing it is different. This was for real. I decided to find out more.

I learned where the homeless can get a hot meal. One place is a hall near Poky High. I saw poor people lined up there waiting for the doors to open. I watched and wondered where they came from and how this could be happening in our city. I volunteered to wash dishes and watch. I did this for a couple of weeks, but this wasn’t enough.

Sixty-eight people were needing a meal and there were some children. One women was tall, with stringy hair, wild eyes and skinny like a stick. Her clothes were a mess and she wasn’t the only one like this. It was cold outside and some had coats — ratty coats. Some had no coats.

All of a sudden these people were not statistics. Idaho’s poverty numbers indicate that perhaps 20 percent of our population are under the poverty level. This didn’t matter. These people weren’t numbers; they were real.

We all have a natural sympathy for those in need, and I began to wonder what it would be like. I decided to go incognito and find out.

The next week, I put on my old Levi’s, a black T-shirt and old baseball cap and drove down to the place. I hid my car blocks away and went to the front door early to wait. About 18 people were already there. They were standing around, some on the stairs, some on the curb, some alone and in small groups. There was little talk. I was afraid what they might do to me if I was recognized.

But I had learned the walk. The walk was a slow shuffle, with head bent down and no eye contact. We waited for the door to open. I felt conspicuous but no one was watching. I was just another one standing there. Not noticed, not acknowledged, just here.

The door opened, and we went in. It was warm inside. We all just went to where the food was. It was served on plastic trays like in school. I had some, but was there to quietly watch and listen. The thought crossed my mind that as a senator I represent them, too.

I sat next to six to eight others at a long table. No one said much. I’ll never forget the four little children. They were dirty and a little disheveled but were just like other kids playing and having fun. But I couldn’t look up. I didn’t dare make eye contact and kept my baseball cap pulled down low. But being there was eye opening.

Each had a quiet dignity and was there for different reasons. As they left, I learned that it wasn’t just about the food. For them it was also being together. We shuffled and walked the walk outside together.

For a brief moment, I had been one of them. I came away feeling we can and must do better. We are from Pocatello, and I know we can and that we will.