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Posts published in “Idaho”

Biological time bomb?

It did generate a headline in the Twin Falls Times News, but maybe the comments by V.C. (Lud) Prudek merit some wider attention.

The scene was the Jerome County commission, which is considering planting a moratorium on new dairies in the dairy-stuffed county. Speakers ranged pro and con, but none generated the stunned reaction Prudek did.

He is quoted as saying, "You perhaps don't realize what a hot issue you're sitting on. It isn't just dairy - it's field crops, too. We've made some huge mistakes, and we're headed for a wreck." Serious viruses could break out, he warned, some possibly as severe as ebola - simply because of the intense concentration of cattle and crops in the county. He added, "The greater the concentration, the greater the potential for a serious outbreak. You're sitting on a bomb right now."

The rebuttal was that Prudek offered no conclusive evidence for substantial risk. Still, he has credentials. Now living at Buhl, he was better known in Canada and for decades was a leader in Alberta agriculture (he joined the province's hall of fame in 2002). And he has background in agricultural research; one publication described him as "a specialty crop farmer for 50 years, was instrumental in the development of the dry bean industry in Alberta in the 1950s. Further work led to his development of gated pipe irrigation, as well as salinity and seepage control through the transportation of water in pipelines."

Consider it a moment of warning.

Open possibilities

This may fall into the category of the premature, but the politically wise oftimes are those who look a few steps ahead to the possible, not only the certain. Thus, Mike Adams' commentary today on prospective candidates for the Idaho U.S. House seat (2nd district) held by Republican Mike Simpson.

2nd district

The immediate objection is that Simpson isn't going anywhere; and the probability is that he isn't, at least not soon. But Adams, a long-time eastern Idaho Republican worker, conservative commentator and sometime candidate, points out that no one yet knows either, for sure, whether Idaho Senator Larry Craig will run next year for a fourth term. We figure the likelihood is that he will (and as Adams notes, "If Craig chooses to stay, things are not apt to change"). But as there's been no announcement yet, counter-speculation isn't out of line. And Adam's thinking, reasonably, is that if Craig opts out, there's a good chance Simpson will file to replace him. Both current Idaho Senators, as it happens, are former members of the U.S. House - there's some tradition involved. And Simpson would seem likely to win a Senate race without strain.

That much is ordinary discussion among Idaho political types. Adams' speculation today in the Idaho Falls Post-Register (online, but behind a pay wall) goes to the next move: Who are the prospects for Simpson's seat should he vacate it next year?


A home place, by reputation

Years ago, in the woods and hills north of Coeur d'Alene, the white supremacist group Aryan Nations had a substantial compound which served as its base of operations. They became well known in the area and nationally.

The compound was razed in the aftermath of an adverse legal case, and the group's leader died not long after. Those developments were cheered on by the overwhelming majority of people in the area who were sickened by the reputation their place had gotten. Now, they hoped, it could be wiped clean.

May not be that easy. The mid-Panhandle area seems now to have some meaning for some of these people, and a group of them - less visible than before, but present nonetheless - seems determined to hang in.

Last Thursday, according to an Associated Press story, "four men in their 20s started shouting Aryan Nations slogans during Tony Stewart's speech at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d'Alene. His speech was about the Nazi movement in northern Idaho and how it was defeated."

Defeated, but not wiped out, apparently. Don Robinson, an FBI agent at Coeur d'Alene, was quoted as saying, "We're very concerned about the presence of these groups in the area and it's a priority. These remaining factions are trying to establish relevance."

That sounds right. But it raises the uneasy question of what they may try to do next to "establish relevance."

Official English: A question

Now that the bill (Senate Bill 1172) declaring English the official language of Idaho has passed the Senate 20-15, and appears ready to clear the House more easily, and seems unlikely to be vetoed, we have a question:

What will be the new state motto, now that the Latin phrase "Esto Perpetua" will no longer be eligible?

Suggestions will be welcome in the comments section.

Former Idaho journalists (update)

We've had a bunch of reaction to the former Idaho journalists list (accessible through a page on the subject), and because of a slug of additional information, it's be expanded by almost half again.

And if you have more suggestions/updates/corrections/clarifications/whatever, pass them on and we'll update again.

A door-opening decision

Anderson Ranch Dam reservoir
Anderson Ranch Dam reservoir

The decision by the Idaho Supreme Court in the groundwater v. surface water case - American Falls v. Idaho Department of Water Resources - awaited for so many months with such trepidation, turned out to be an anticlimax.

And a good deal more limited in immediate application than a lot of people probably figured.

The case was set up as a showdown between the older (senior) water right holders, who had rights on the main surface water sources in southern Idaho, and the newer (junior) groundwater pumpers. The lower court decision, by Judge Barry Wood (a former presiding judge over the Snake River Basin Adjudication), was taken to have sided mostly with the surface water users, and the Supreme Court ruling, which overturned Wood's core conclusions, was thought to side mostly with the ground water people.

But it's a lot more convoluted than that, and the key participants in the case generally, on both sides, seem to have been wise enough to withhold their celebrations.

The decision more simply means that the state's established process for determining the relationship between surface and ground water, and the approach to regulating it, can go forward . . . to the extent it is able.

The decision offers plenty of room for interpretation and legal challenges of various sorts. And in some underlying ways, it was less a reversal of the Wood decision than some might think. If you doubt that, take a look at pages 7 and 8 of the decision, in which the justices (in an unusual gesture) said they appreciated much of Wood's logic, and added, "While this opinion does not reach those same conclusions, we nevertheless accept large parts of the district judge’s analysis and attempt to use his analysis to clarify our interpretation of the CM Rules."

More to come.

Straight Outta (Idaho) Journalism

There is a clear career path for journalists in Idaho – straight outta journalism. Is it more true in Idaho than most places? Our first impulse is to say yes (although that’s a point we want to explore more fully.)

And so we’ve compiled a list of Idahoans who worked in Idaho newsrooms once, but now work (in Idaho) doing something else. We've compiled a list of these former journalists - those we know about, to which will be added others brought to our attention. And it' a long list.

More on this page

Philosophical rankings

For your amusement - or as an argument stopper, or starter - the National Review rundown of "liberal" and "conservative" rankings for all the members of Congress.

Readers of this site will recall our frequent argument that both terms of political philosophy have been so twisted and abused by the politics of the last generation that both are meaningless as a practical matter. As a loose descriptor of where these members fit into the policy picture, though, it's worth a look (and maybe as a case in point of our point). These are, we should note, reviews of 2006 voting; this year's activity isn't factored in.

Northwest overall, on the liberal side, the highest numbers went to Washington Representative Jim McDermott, with second place to Senator Patty Murray. Top conservative numbers regionally went to - you were expecting Idaho to show up here, right? - Washington Representatives Cathy McMorris and Doc Hastings, respectively. All of the Oregon and Idaho members ranked in between.

All depends on how you count.

NW Presidential

More Northwest developments in the presidential run: Republican Mitt Romney will hold a fundraiser ($1,000 a plate, we're told) at Boise on the 13th. Early indications are that, with half the state's congressional delegation signed on, he will get plenty of support in the Gem state.

As in Washington the trend lines are looking good for Republican John McCain, who is picking up useful endorsements (former Senator Slade Gorton's, for one) and Democrat Barack Obama (who held a massive rally at Bellevue last month).

In part prompting us to launch our 2008 NW Presidential supporters list - a list of prominent (or at least politically active) supporters in the region, by state. The list of Northwest supporters is not extensive but likely to grow.

Sounds like a winner

Steven Thayn
Steven Thayn

So far Idaho House Concurrent Resolution 24 remains in the House Education Committee, but there's no denying it sounds like a winner in the Idaho House.

Here is its statement of purpose:

This concurrent resolution points out the importance of the parental role in the education and training of children. It emphasizes that early childhood education can be, and should be, delivered by parents in a home environment. It encourages the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho Department of Education to work with parents, rather than with the children under the age of five, except in unusual situations. It also encourages the Department of Education to post on its website, in a form that parents may easily access, the skills and attitudes they feel are necessary for children to learn before they enter kindergarten.

Reflecting, in that last sentence, an apparent need for the state to tell parents how to raise their early-age kids.

It is sponsored by freshman Representative Steven Thayn, R-Emmett (with support from House Majority Leader Mike Moyle). Introduced just recently, on February 22, it appears to be a response to several early-child measures this session which have been dealt with so far in the normal Idaho House fashion - deep-sixed.

This is not a group, of course, with much use for either social programs or regulation. But the core argument against the measures appeared to stem from variations on the comment by Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Iona: "What can we do to keep mom at home?"

The reaction to that has generated some unusually strong commentary. Could it be to the point that some of it actually sinks in on the solid Republican constituency?

Don't hold your breath on that last. But the comments are pretty strong.