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Posts published by “Ridenbaugh Press”

Two books


To those readers who might be interested, I am recommending two books, which reflect my bias. The first is “Hells Heroes,” which hit bookstores this week. Published by Caxton Press of Caldwell, it is my fourth book. It is the fascinating story of how one of America’s hidden gems, Hells Canyon, finally obtained federal protection as a National Recreational Area.

It tells the story through the eyes of it’s catalytic hero, Brock Evans, who led the fight while northwest representative for the Sierra Club. Truth be told, Evans wanted National Park designation. Therein lies a story that gives a mere hint of the various politics involving the canyon that went on for years behind the scenes.

Hells Canyon, nonetheless, is truly one of those special places that leaves one awestruck. One of the deepest gashes in the surface of the earth at 7,000 feet, it is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Special places require special people who exhibit true passion for their objective. The first part of this book gives both the politics and intersperses personal anecdotes. The second part of the book is the equally compelling story of how when it came time for the Forest Service to write the regulations governing land use policies within the NRA, the leader of the Idaho Recreation Council, Sandra Mitchell, stepped forward to lead the fight to protect the right of jet boats continuing access to the Canyon. A segment of the recreation community, those who enjoy rafting and kayaking the Canyon, sought to preserve their interest in solitude by having jet boats banned. Mitchell’s story is as compelling as Evan’s and each developed respect
for the other during the process.

While they had their differences, they also had areas in which they agreed, such as the Forest Service’s mismanagement of it’s mandate. Both strongly believe that rangers within the Hells Canyon NRA still manage with a multiple use mentality, which is not good, and in fact can be detrimental to the resource they are charged with protecting.

The book also contains some fine photographs which capture some of the unique features of the Canyon. We owe these pictures to Steve Lee and Marcia Carlson.

The second book, “A Higher Loyalty,” by James Comey, the distinguished former director of the FBI and former Attorney General, who was summarily fired by President Trump for bogus reasons, because he would not pledge loyality first to the President. Comey’s book is about ethical leadership and thank God we still have Americans who are not afraid to stand up for truth and justice. For Comey, character counts and one’s loyality as a public servant is first to the truth, then to the Constitution and then to the American people. Comey does a good job of establishing how his value system developed. He recognizes there are many ambiguities and no simplicities at the top of the political pyramid. For many it comes down to, who does one trust and believe.

Comey avoids the he-said/she-said, instead focusing on facts and imperical data. He concedes that over the years he has had to work at tamping down his own healthy ego. He never claims not to have made some mistakes, nor that people can look at the same set of data and draw different conclusions.

He rightly deplores President Trump’s blatant efforts at trying to undermine public faith in our institutions. He especially deplores Trump’s attacks on the FBI, which insults thousands of good employees. His notes on meetings with the President in which Trump tried to demolish the agency’s independence are simply incredible reads.

He nails Trump for the bully that he is and draws a parallel between Trump and how he operates with how a Cosa Nostro (mafia) boss operates. It is not an exaggeration. Comey also makes enough references to Trump and the Russian investigation that one senses he believes it to all be true, right up to and including Trump covorting with Russian prostitutes. He also thinks Putin may have film.

Comey’s book should bedevil Trump for the rest of his days. Trump cannot be trusted and is simply an inveterate liar. I believe there are enough people of courage and conviction, who like Jim Comey, will stand up for the truth, who believe that no man including the President stands above the law and their voices will be heard in 2018 and 2020. God Bless James Comey who is standing up for the truth and God Damn Donald Trump.

Don’t mess with voter approval


In an Idaho Public TV gubernatorial debate on April 27, Congressman Labrador suggested that, if elected, he might try to overturn the Medicaid expansion initiative if the voters approve it. He later issued a partial walk-back but still said he would treat the initiative “like any other piece of legislation” and consider its “pros and cons” in deciding whether to abide by it.

If the people approve the initiative, it would be an act of arrogance to mess with it. Idaho voters placed the initiative in Idaho’s Constitution in 1912 just so they could address important public issues when the Legislature failed or refused to act.

Idaho’s Constitution says, “The people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws, and enact the same at the polls independent of the legislature.” Those who would nullify this people power may think the people are not smart enough to run their own affairs. The Congressman often contends that effete public officials should not be able to dictate to the people but overturning a voter initiative is just the kind of action he condemns.

The initiative seeks to expand Medicaid coverage to over 60,000 Idahoans who earn too much now to get Medicaid but too little to get subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The people in this gap would have insurance coverage if Idaho did what 32 other states have done--simply expand Medicaid to cover these gap people and tell the feds to fork over the money. Our Legislature has refused to do so, or even to enact some other means of covering the folks in the gap.

Just a year ago, Mr. Labrador said, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” His comment provoked a good deal of rebuttal from medical professionals who verified that people do die because they can’t pay the cost of detection and treatment of serious illness. A number of people responded that they had lost loved ones for that very reason.

I can speak to the issue because I was billed over $600,000 last year for the diagnosis and treatment of stage 2b pancreatic cancer. Thanks to the great work of Drs. David Hartman, Akshay Gupta, Joshua Barton and Dan Zuckerman, as well as the wonderful people at MSTI, the cancer is gone. Thanks to good insurance from the State (the same coverage state elected officials get) and then Medicare Complete, I ended up paying less than $15,000. A person in the gap would not have gotten a break, not even the nearly 50% contractual reduction insurance carriers usually get on medical provider billings.

A person in the gap would not likely have felt comfortable laying out several thousand dollars for diagnostic tests of vague symptoms, which is what saved my life. It is often very costly just to find out you have a serious health issue. We really do have a moral responsibility to take the funds on offer from the federal government to provide the gap folks life-saving medical coverage.

I am hopeful that the voters will see the wisdom and moral necessity to approve the initiative. If the Medicaid gap is thus filled, I hope any would-be governor would not try to frustrate the will of the people.

Fact or factless


With the advent of radio and television (suitcase radio), the knock on newspapers was that everything in them was “yesterday’s news.” And it was, of course.

But, readers also became listeners and viewers as well. We adjusted to three main sources of information and most enjoyed the mix. With the advent of computerized information on the I-Net machine, most of us just added the fourth source and continued with our lives.

A lot of people, it seems, don’t necessarily pay attention to all media availability, choosing, instead, to rely on one or two which best fit their lives. Or, how they see the world. Accurate or not. Few of us utilize all four daily.

But, after some 40 years of broadcast and print employment, I’m one of those who seeks more informational input than most. After daily reading-listening-viewing-scanning, and with that background, I find it curious why most sources do some of the things they do.

For example, why are we being visually and mentally accosted by people being passed off as “newsmakers” who have long-since been discredited or are known serial liars?

The ubiquitous Kellyanne Conway is a prime example of both. Yet, day-after-day, there she is on our TV boxes, being given more expensive air time to mislead, argue and outright lie about whatever the subject may be. The woman has no credibility, spends more time challenging the interviewer than answering questions and has long-since proven the old adage “You know she’s lying ‘cause her mouth’s moving.” Yet, there she is.

Anthony Scaramucci is another. White House Director of Communications for a week before being fired for his lying ways and a big, foul and argumentative mouth. Why does the media keep resurrecting him in our living rooms? What “news value” could there possibly be? Why would anyone care about anything he has to say?

And Sean Spicer, disinformation and lying piled five-foot-four inches high. No official position for anything. What the Hell can he say that anyone with a grasp on reality wants to hear?

Throw in Carter Page, Roger Stone, Mike Mulvaney, Kanye West, any Kardashian, Papadopolis, Myers, Alex Jones, Coulter and a full quarter of Congress.

Consider this. According to Pentagon sources, this country has military in 73 locations around the world. More than a quarter are actively involved in hazardous areas where they can be - and often are - killed. What about their stories? What do we know of them? When do we hear about them?

We have American men and women in actual wars. Undeclared wars. Wars where people are dying. What about them? Dover Air Force Base receives bodies on a near-daily basis. Do we know how many? Where they died? Why they had to die? Where are the reporters?

Investors buying up media properties - like so many Monopoly pieces - have turned hard news broadcasting and many print outlets into businesses of profit and loss. Corporate “bean counters” and ratings companies determine format and content more than professional journalists or broadcasters. Focus groups are used to select “pretty people” with “likability quotients” to be “reporters” when most of them couldn’t write a lost-and-found ad.

It’s not just “fake” news to be avoided. It’s also some of the well-known outfits that have sacrificed integrity and really deep coverage of important events and people in favor of fluff and meaningless drivel. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, Sinclair and many, many others share the blame. Thanks to them, well-researched, factual coverage of people, places and events is getting harder and harder to find.

We live in a world in which technology provides us more information than ever. But, much of it is meaningless if not outright factless. As consumers, it’s no longer “what you know” but rather “Is what you think you know accurate and factual?”

Hard to tell sometimes. Not everyone you hear from is as easy to spot as Kellyanne. A true “professional.”

Idaho Weekly Briefing – May 7

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

As votes start to drop, various forms of political conflict accelerate, including sharp discussion about a new form of political mailer. Meantime, the arrival of spring coincides with a renewed look at the prospects for wildfires this year.

allot initiative to bring quality, affordable health care to 62,000 people by expanding Medicaid in the state. Over the past several months, a diverse group of volunteers, from Bonners Ferry to Driggs, have been collecting signatures from citizens covering the entire political spectrum to qualify the initiative, which would bring health coverage to residents who are caught in what’s known as “the health coverage gap.”

A 48-page printed publication called “The Idahoan,” self-described as “written by conservatives, information for everyone,” was broadly distributed around Idaho last week, evoking numerous questions and an inquiry to the Idaho secretary of state’s office.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing an $8,500 fine to Idaho State University for failing to maintain control and surveillance of one gram of radioactive material.

After more than five years of bipartisan collaboration, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined Representative Mike Simpson on May 2 at the National Interagency Fire Center to mark the end of the practice known as fire borrowing. Also present was Vicki Christiansen, Acting Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Vista Outdoor Inc. on May 1 announced its strategic business transformation plan, designed to allow the company to focus resources on pursuing growth in its core product categories.

The Bureau of Land Management marked a milestone in the administration’s effort to better align plans for managing Greater Sage-Grouse habitat on federal lands by publishing a draft environmental impact analysis of proposed changes to resource management plans in Idaho.

PHOTO U.S. Senator Mike Crapo has held scores of small meetings in recent months at communities around Idaho, many of them in communities too small to be cities, sometimes in houses where no public buildings would have been available. This photo shows one of them, a constituent meeting held at a house in Pleasantview, in Oneida County (image/Senator Crapo)

A pattern for the ballot


For the elected officials in Boise who just wanted to pass laws as they saw fit and be done with it, the initiative had become a nuisance.

Now, there is the potential for it to become more than that - as a result of the best efforts to hack it away.

The initiative, a process that gained popularity nationally a little more than a century ago, is a way for voters to pass a state law, one with the same standing as a law passed by the legislature. It’s intended to be a way for the voters to get what they want when the legislature refuses to do it. Initiatives are allowed by 24 states, each of which have different rules for getting an initiative on the ballot.

In Idaho, where 14 initiatives have passed since the process was authorized in 1912, initiative access rules have changed over time. The success of ballot measures has been a factor. The last big ballot measures contravening legislative will came in 2012, when three referenda - another type of ballot measure, aimed at rejecting (or sustaining) a legislative-passed law - killed three new laws relating to public schools. When legislators got back to Boise the next year, they passed Senate Bill 1108, which made ballot access for initiative proposals a lot harder. It made access so hard, in fact, that there have been no initiatives on the Idaho ballot since.

The rules had set the bar for ballot entry high already. Before 2013, advocates had to get petition signatures - valid ones, complying with a series of rules - from six percent of all registered voters. Since that allowed for a concentration of votes from the bigger urban areas as enough to pass, the 2013 rules added a provision that the six percent mark had to be reached in more than half of the state’s 36 legislative districts (that is, 18 of them). And they had to do it within a narrow time frame.

So initiative backers this year needed to collect at least 56,192 signatures, and certain portions of them had to come from within certain legislative districts - not just any Idaho voter signatures would do.

The frustration that needed to develop before organizers were able to pull together the volunteer effort needed to accomplish this must have been awe-inspiring. And it appears to be enough. The final checks are still ongoing, but there’s a good chance that the signatures turned in by the May 1 deadline will be enough to ensure a Medicaid expansion measure reaches the statewide ballot in Idaho in November.

That may make for a significant change in state law. (We’ll see: A legislature and governor still have the power to repeal it.)

But more than that, it could serve as a template for political organization.

Think about what those petition signatures - the total number of names could amount to 62,000 or so - could mean. These are people who have in effect become part of an organization, a political organization, one dedicated to changing the law and politics in Idaho. Suppose, as a result of the high level of energy and skill developed, and the contacts and reach engendered, through this ballot effort, the work is turned into future ballot issues. And beyond that: Suppose it becomes the backbone of a new political organization around the state.

For a couple of decades I’ve suggested that one of the best organizing tools Idaho Democrats (or, really, any outsider group with a still-large base of support) could use is ballot issues, partly as an indicator of what the group is for, and partly as a tool for helping it organize.

To make that work, to make it matter, an easy process for achieving ballot status would do little good, since there would be no need for a really strong and large organization.

But the harder that task is, the stronger the organization must be to get the job done.

The Medicaid expansion organization has proven itself highly capable of making a difference. The question its leaders should be asking now is: What should we do next?

President’s lapdog


The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recently released its Report on its purported investigation into Russian meddling in our nation’s 2016 election. The Report found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”

That finding is breathtakingly premature and almost certainly wrong. It reveals that the Report, like the inquiry itself, is a sham.

At the outset of the Committee’s investigation, the Chairman Devin Nunes and Ranking Member Adam Schiff promised that the Committee would fully investigate all the evidence it would collect and to follow that evidence wherever it might lead. Schiff and the minority members of the Committee did their utmost to keep that promise. Nunes and his fellow Republicans broke that promise at every turn.

Thorough and credible investigations take time and a genuine desire on the part of investigators to uncover the truth. This investigation was a rushed job, focused on concealing and distorting the truth, all in an effort to give the president cover. It appeared a partisan charade from the outset. Now, Nunes and his GOP colleagues may be accessories after-the-fact to the Administration’s ever more apparent obstruction of justice.

In response to the Committee’s Report, the Democratic members of the Committee issued a Minority Report addressing with chilling specificity the Committee’s failures. It provides a litany of the ways in which the Majority actually obstructed the investigation by refusing to call in key witnesses, refusing to request pertinent documents, and refusing to compel and enforce witness cooperation and answers to key questions.

The Minority Report also called out the Majority’s conduct as undermining Congress’ independent investigative authority: “Their repeated deferrals to the White House allowed witnesses to refuse cooperation, and permitted the Administration to dictate the terms of their interaction with Congress, or evade congressional oversight altogether, setting a damaging precedent for future non-cooperation by this President and, possibly, by his successors.”

Immediately after the Committee released its Report, the president predictably renewed his calls for an end to the Special Counsel’s investigation, as if the House Republicans’ spurious findings should be the final word. But former CIA Director John Brennan rightly rebuked the president saying, “A highly partisan, incomplete and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee means nothing. The Special Counsel’s work is being carried out by professional investigators – not political staffers. SC’s findings will be comprehensive & authoritative. Stay tuned, Mr. Trump.”

Now that the Russian lawyer who attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Kushner, Manafort, and Don. Jr. has revealed herself to be a Kremlin informant, which is to say a Russian spy, the haste with which Nunes closed up shop is even more jarring.

It’s hard to see that which is in plain sight when one is wearing a partisan blindfold. It’s easy to miss the truth when you don’t really want to find it.

Long after this Administration is gone, the Committee’s response to an attack on our country will live on as a sorry reminder of the damage done when one branch of government surrenders its independence to another, when — as the Minority Report makes clear — Congress becomes the President’s complicit lapdog.

The Carlson endorsements


Some readers have asked for my preferences in the May 15th Primary. Here’s my list. First, in full disclosure I voted an absentee unaffiliated ballot and it's been posted and mailed. I like the convenience of vote by mail and in this highly charged partisan environment it avoids any conflicts or snide asides at the polling place.

Democrat for Governor: A.J. Balukoff, hands down. An experienced and successful businessman and one who can work across the aisle. He learned much from his first gubernatorial campaign four years ago. And he is the only candidate running positive looking forward and support public education tv ads. Depending on who wins the GOP primary, A.J.just might surprise in November.

Former Rep. Paulette Jordan simply is not ready to be chief executive of a state. She has zero management experience and is more attracted to publicity than to solving tough problems. It says something when none of her former legislative colleagues have endorsed her.

Republican for Governor: I have vacillated on this one. I was so disappointed to see Brad Little join Tommy Ahlquist in going with awful, distortive negative tv ads. I’ve been tougher on Ahlquist, however, partly because I see enormous room for growth.

Its been fascinating however to watch the alleged front-runner, Raul Labrador get put on the defensive by Ahlquist’s attack ads. He’s badly mishandled it.

Face it. Idaho’s been stuck in a rut for the last few years, just poking along being too comfortable with the status quo. While Idaho’s economy is doing well we continue to underfund public education. As a percentage of household income we continue to slide.

Yet all three GOP candidates are paying allegiance to the God of tax cuts that are not needed and can only come at the expense of public education. In Ahlquist I see real potential to break out of that restrictive mold. He has talent, charisma, ability and charm. Yes, he will have to figure out how to work with a cantankerous, head in the sand legislature but he’s a quick learner.

Besides, the good ole boy network within the GOP has been passing the governorship along to party loyalists for 24 years. Their system has produced one good governor, Phil Batt, one mediocre governor, Butch Otter, one AWOL governor, Dirk Kempthorne, and one who set the state back 20 years (Risch). It’s time for a fresh face not from the traditional pool.

Ahlquist tells it straight and while I don’t think he had to go negative he is the only one of the three that exhibits enthusiasm and is not pretending to be something he is not. If he takes 50% of the 40% undecided he wins.

GOP Lt. Governor: There’s only one choice and that is State Senator Marv Hagedorn from Meridian. In the race for governor and lt. governor he is the only veteran having served as a Naval officer for 20 years. Following retirement he went into and founded a successful business. He is the only candidate for the second spot that can lay claim to what Cece Andrus referred to as the “hook and bullet” crowd, those that own an Idaho hunting and fishing license. He’s had one for 45 years.

He’s the only candidate that wouldn’t let State Senator Bob Nonini squirm and waffle away on Nonini’s much quoted statement that any woman having an abortion should be punished. He looked Nonini right in the eye and in effect said you can’t blame the media or say you were misquoted. You’re on the record saying it in several places. Kudos to him. He deserves your vote.

GOP Nomination for First CD: David Leroy is heads above everyone else. His experience as state attorney general and lt. governor shows. He is a constitutional conservative who can work with others, has a superior grasp of the issues, doesn’t engage in demagoguery and will bring intelligence and thoughtfulness to the complex challenges America faces.

He’s a true happy warrior on the campaign trail. He doesn’t hesitate to walk into a room or a restaurant and introduce himself. He meets and greets well looking every voter in the eye. It is easy to see why he came so close to upsetting Cecil Andrus in 1986. Former State Senator Russ Fulcher is running a close second supported almost entirely by the hard right Club for Growth which has underwritten Fulcher’s tv.

Leroy has run a better campaign and is better organized which is why he will emerge as the First District congressman elect on May 15th. It will be good for Idaho to have his services once again.

We’ll see on the morning of May 16th how good a prognosticator I am. One thing for certain there will be some surprises.

Lady liberty is weeping


Ever since the Statue of Liberty raised her torch in New York Harbor, she has welcomed the “homeless, tempest-tossed” masses from foreign shores. Those masses have played a central role in making America the powerful nation it is and the moral beacon it was. America’s government has decided to pull up the welcome mat to foreigners and relinquish its role as moral leader of the world.

With ever-increasing intensity, the Trump administration has been closing America’s door to refugees and asylum seekers; clamping down on immigration; and working to eject non-citizens. The administration’s Muslim ban, which was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on April 25, has drawn a good deal of public attention but it is just the tip of the iceberg. The government is conducting a full court press against foreigners.

With regard to refugees, the administration has capped the number that can be admitted to the country at 45,000, which is less than half of the yearly average taken in by the U.S. since 1980. However, we will likely give refuge to less than half of the cap because the administration is slow-walking the admission process. For example, Idaho received 1,118 refugees in fiscal year (FY) 2016, but only 629 in FY 2017 and we will be lucky to get 300 in FY 2018.

Do we have a responsibility to give safe harbor to refugees? These are people who were brutalized by their governments and had to flee for their very lives. The U.S. has played a major role in creating the massive refugee flow from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen by wars we have started or supported. We certainly have some responsibility to provide refuge to at least a few of the victims of those wars.

With regard to people seeking asylum, particularly those fleeing terrible violence in Central American countries, we have pretty much turned a blind eye. When parents arrive at the border with their minor children to ask for asylum, the kids are often taken and detained separately from the parents--more than 700 since October of 2017. John Kelly had suggested the policy as a deterrent for asylum seekers. On another front, Jeff Sessions wants to eliminate domestic abuse as a ground for obtaining asylum.

Much is happening on the immigration front. The President wants to reduce legal immigration by half and eject many people who are presently here, legally or not.

Many people who were admitted to the country on a temporary basis because of calamities at home are set to be removed from the country. That includes about 200, 000 Salvadorans who came to the U.S. following a couple of 2001 earthquakes. Even though their status was initially expected to be temporary, these folks have established roots in the country and have been contributing. Now they have been notified to leave. The same has happened to Haitians, Liberians, and Hondurans, among others.

The DACA issue has gotten a good deal of coverage and it is not clear what the administration intends to do with these individuals who were brought to the country as minors and are now in jeopardy of being deported. The signals coming from the President continue to be conflicting. What does seem to be clear is that Dreamers are being held hostage as bargaining fodder for funding to build a costly and ineffective border wall and legislation to substantially restrict legal immigration.

Much more has been and is being done to make the United States a hostile environment for foreigners. It is contrary to our very being and will come back to haunt us in future years. Please, Lady Liberty, save us from ourselves.

A dishonorable evening


By now, most everyone watched the entire televised Washington D.C. Capital Correspondent’s dinner Saturday, sat through some of the grotesque outtakes or read the disastrous - and deserved - criticism.

I’m a former card-carrying member of that organization and have attended a couple of the soirees. As such, I’m embarrassed and deeply ashamed of what that formerly worthy and hugely entertaining event has become.

The evening had honorable roots. There were several reasons for its original purpose. The most important was to celebrate raising funds for journalism scholarships. Recipients were - and are - journalists in the field wanting to continue their educations. Some media folks you respect and enjoy may have had their careers advanced by the Correspondent’s Association.

The second reason was to see some excellent entertainers of the time - in my case, 1970-71. One year, it was Pearl Bailey who charmed everyone in the sizable Shoreham Hotel Ballroom. The next year it was George Carlin, the hippy-dippy weatherman and just plain comedic genius. Each year, most of the program was just that - entertainment.

Thirdly, it was a private time for D.C. politicians and the media members who covered them to have some off-the-record relaxation and fun, taking a few jabs at each other. Nothing was televised. Spouses weren’t generally invited if they weren’t in the media business. It was a white tie affair. If you wanted, you could bring one friend. Period.

There was a lot of joking among participants which usually included the sitting President of the time. Though I had no use for Richard Nixon, twice I watched him sit on the dias taking “hits” from media people. Not professional comics. It was all journalists, writers and producers active in day-to-day news work.

In each case, Nixon got up and gave as good as he got. It was funny stuff. Both ways. The “humor” got a little close for comfort sometimes. For both the media and the politicians. Alcohol consumed in liberal quantities can do that. But it wasn’t the cutting, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed crap the nation witnessed Saturday last.

Fnally, the whole evening was the best damned job-hunting experience a young reporter could ever have. As I said, white tie. So, there we were, in our rented tuxes, pockets filled with folded resumes as we spent hours before and after the main event going from one hospitality suite to the next. All the networks sponsored one. Tidbits of food and lots of free booze.

But, it was also a place to find people like Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner, David Brinkley, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Harry Smith and many more. Their producers and directors were also noshing and imbibing. Nothing like rubbing shoulders with the top of your profession while trying to get some of those resumes in the right hands. Someone like a Don Hewitt from “Sixty Minutes.” Some of the people you see and hear now may have gotten their “big break” at a Correspondent’s Dinner.

No longer. It’s become a “meat market” appearance for “celebrities” and wannabe’s trying to get noticed. It’s an embarrassing experience for truly professional people. Even some who may have been ordered to attend by their employers to “carry the corporate flag.”

What used to be an evening of good natured humor between professionals has given way to belligerent, foul mouthed , non-media “comedians” throwing piles of crap both ways. It’s no longer the “Correspondent’s Dinner.” It’s now a junior varsity Emmy or Oscar publicity event drawing hundreds of people who aren’t media “professionals.” A lot of ‘em couldn’t write a “help wanted” ad much less a cohesive news story.

There were scholarships presented this year. Several of ‘em. There were respected members of both politics and mass media in attendance. There was good fellowship and conviviality enjoyed by many.

But, what the public saw Saturday night was a verbal dung heap, passed off as televised “entertainment” with none of the original class and good natured humor.

I sincerely hope the Correspondent’s Board takes quick action to get the cameras and microphones out, send the hangers-on back to the streets and return what used to be a very honorable and rewarding evening, back to the professionals.

Idaho Briefing – April 30

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

Early voting is about to kick in, and the various primary contests – a considerable number of them, in both parties – are reaching their final pitches. Lots of endorsements are coming in (and need to; they’d do little good in another couple of weeks).

About 1.7 million acres of forest land in Idaho is family-owned, representing about 36,000 landowners and 56 percent of all privately-owned forest land in the state. As much as 560,000 acres, or 33 percent of family owned forests in Idaho, are likely to have new owners within five years, according to a new survey released on April 24.

The Challis-Yankee Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork Ranger Districts recently advertised five timber sales for public bid. Four sales on the Challis-Yankee Fork and Middle Fork Ranger Districts are salvage timber sales, which is material being harvested that is dead or dying and is being removed in order to improve the health of the stand.

The City of Boise on April 24 released its bi-annual Livability Report to highlight and outline progress on the broad array of city initiatives that are enhancing Boise’s celebrated livability.

Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently set rules for the 2018 migratory bird season, which includes ducks, geese, mourning doves, American crow, snipe and coots, and sandhill cranes.

Idaho Power has proposed decreasing the portion of its rates that changes every year due to the variable costs of providing power to its customers.

Idaho public health officials are warning Idahoans to avoid consumption of products that contain kratom because they could be contaminated with Salmonella. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho Public Health Districts, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating on the investigation of Salmonella infections linked to the consumption of products containing the plant substance kratom.

State regulators have suspended a surcharge that helps qualified Idahoans afford basic telephone service for the second consecutive year as the number of recipients and contributors continues to decline.

PHOTO The state Department of Lands is launching a program to try to block invasive insect species from invading Idaho, setting up trapping sites at various locations around the state. This rtap set is located near the Canadian border. (image/Department of Lands)