Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Proposal for New Federal Judge for Idaho...the First in 56 Years

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 3:31 PM

On Tuesday, Citydesk paid a rare visit to the U.S. Courthouse (in preparation for Thursday's coverage of the MDL panel, examining lawsuits surround the BP Gulf oil disaster), and we were interrupted when an official in Chief Judge Lynn Winmill's office said she had to take a phone call from Rep. Walt Minnick's office.

Today (Wednesday), we know what that phone call was all about. Minnick has announced his legislation to seek a new U.S. District Judge for Idaho, which could be the first appointment in more than a half century.

"Five and a half decades have passed since we last saw an increase in the number of federal district judges in Idaho," said Winmill.

It's estimated that between 2000 and 2009, federal criminal cases in Idaho have increased 177 percent.

Minnick said he will introduce legislation, along with Rep. Mike Simpson, directing President Barack Obama to appoint a third District Judge for Idaho.

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Anti-BP March Planned For Thursday Morning

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Although the federal Judicial panel meeting tomorrow to discuss combining lawsuits against BP may have hoped large anti-BP sentiments would not be an issue in the far reaches of Idaho, their presence isn’t going to go by unnoticed.

At 7 a.m., anti-BP protestors will meet at the Northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park, and will march at 8 a.m. to the James A. McClure Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse to protest at 9 a.m. The main purpose of the event is to show disapproval with BP’s request that U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes, who has longstanding ties with the oil industry, preside over the combined lawsuits.

"This is the first step in a long legal battle and getting off on the right foot is really important," organizer Michael Parker told Citydesk.

Because most of the promotion for the event has been organized online and on Facebook, Parker said it is difficult to estimate how many people will be present. However, he indicated around 100 people would be present on the permit application he filled out to protest on federal grounds. Park said he has received positive responses for the event and its goals of ensuring the victims have a fair say.

"It's about the people down on the Gulf," Parker said. "Because this has been taken so far away from those impacted by the disaster, they need voices up here to be supportive of them."

Those interested in participating should note that no backpacks or weapons will be allowed. Protestors are encouraged to get to the park without using a car, but if driving is necessary, they are encouraged to carpool. For more information about the event, visit the group's website.

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Alternate Energy Purchases Backup Site

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 1:59 PM

An Eagle-based company that plans to build a nuclear power plant in Payette County announced today the purchase of an additional “backup site”.

Alternate Energy Holdings has plans to construct a plant on 5,000 acres of land near New Plymouth. After a month of hearings in Payette County, where the project received strong governmental support, the company made the decision to purchase a 6,000-acre backup site adjacent to the original property.

Payette County Commissioners have been supportive of the project thus far, approving changes to their comprehensive city plan in April to allow the potential site to be rezoned from agricultural to industrial usage. The publicly traded company filed a rezone application on June 22.

Developers estimate the $8 to $10 billion project will create 5,000 jobs during construction and 1,000 during operations. They predict the project will increase Idaho's GDP by $5.3 billion.

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Minnick Won't Say Whether He'd Vote for Pelosi Again

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Here's a follow-up to our Citydesk post, "Mr. Labrador Goes to Washington ... for Money."

We reported that when we asked (twice) Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo why he was supporting Raul Labrador over
Walt Minnick, he didn't even mention the Democratic incumbent by name, but did repeatedly refer to Minnick's 2009 vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

Minnick campaign spokesman John Foster wasted no time to remind us that his boss "hasn't yet made any commitment in who he would or would not support for speaker next year." Minnick opposed the speaker on three headline-grabbing bills: cap-and-trade, health-care reform and stimulus spending.

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Idaho on Life Support for Policies to Prevent Cancer

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Idaho is one of a handful of states falling miserably short on legislative solutions to prevent and fight cancer, according to a new report released on Wednesday, July 28 by the American Cancer Society's Action Network.

The new report, How Do you Measure Up? finds that Idaho and six other states, did not meet the benchmark on any of six legislative priority areas. The report provides a blueprint for six priority areas: breast and cervical cancer early detection program funding; access to care for the uninsured; colorectal screening coverage laws; smoke-free laws; tobacco prevention program funding; and tobacco taxes.

State-by-state details of the report are available at:

"The most effective solutions will save countless lives and potentially millions of dollars in health-care costs, and in many cases, it costs a state little or nothing to do the right thing," said Robert Youle, cancer survivor and chair of the ACS CAN board of directors.

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Mr. Labrador Goes to Washington ... for Money

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Raul Labrador embraces the role of "outsider" in his campaign for Idaho's First Congressional seat. But tomorrow (Thursday, July 29), Labrador is going inside ... way inside. Thursday morning, Labrador will be rubbing elbows with Washington, D.C.'s GOP elite in a fundraiser at the swanky Capitol Hill Club.

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, and Rep. Mike Simpson will be hosting the breakfast fundraiser. Members of the host committee are expected to contribute $2,500 to the Labrador campaign. Some political action committees will kick in $1,000 and Thursday attendees will pay $500 for the meet and greet. That's one expensive cup of coffee.

Citydesk spoke to Crapo about the event. When we asked why Labrador would make a better Congressman than the Democratic incumbent, Crapo didn't even mention Rep. Walt Minnick by name. But he did mention Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—four times.

"I support Raul, because we need to change the leadership of the House," said Crapo. "Nancy Pelosi has been the wrong leader at the wrong time. In my opinion the whole question comes down to who Idaho's representative will vote for Speaker."

Before Thursday's event, the Minnick campaign had more than $1 million in its warchest; Labrador counted under $100,000.

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Turbulence for F-35

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 9:47 AM

While Idaho officials fight to make a "short list" of possible bases to house the training and/or operations of the F-35, manufacturers announced July 27 that parts of the prototype fighter jets are failing.

Officials with Lockheed Martin said parts of the strike fighter were causing problems with flight testing. The parts include cooling fans, hydraulics, valves, switches and power system components. At the same time, company officials said the problems should not delay delivery of the first planes next year.

Idaho and five other communities are competing for the chance to house the jets, and reap millions of dollars of economic activity expected to come along for the ride.

Recently Citydesk hopped in the "cockpit" of an F-35 simulator.

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Payette Forest Orders 70 Percent Reduction in Domestic Sheep Grazing

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 9:46 AM

In the early 20th century, Idaho had 2.6 million domestic sheep. Today, about 170,000 are left. That's primarily due to the shrinking number of ranchers.

It's estimated that the American West once had more than 2 million bighorn sheep. Today, the U.S. Forest Service estimates about 70,000 remain. Only about 850 can be found in Hells Canyon. That's due, in large part, to disease.

Scientists say domestic sheep carry bacteria that can be deadly to bighorns.

Today (Wednesday, July 28), officials with the Payette National Forest are expected to unveil their plan to protect the bighorn by a 70 percent reduction of domestic sheep grazing by 2013. The areas impacted the most are Hells Canyon, and along the Salmon River East of Riggins.

The decision will result in the number of acres where domestic sheep will be allowed to graze to shrink from about 100,000 to just more than 31,500 acres in three years. According to a Forest Service analysis, the grazing reductions could lead to the loss of 28 jobs.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Idaho Soldier Gets Standing Ovation in Congress

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 5:58 PM

A severely wounded Marine from Cottonwood received a standing ovation on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday. Lt. Cpl. Randal Wright is receiving treatment at Walter Reed Hospital for injuries suffered due to an IED blast in Afghanistan where he lost both legs and an arm.

At the invitation of Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick, Wright was invited to tour the Capitol with his family. As an extra surprise, he was escorted to the floor of the House and was introduced and praised by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Minnick told Citydesk that in September he'll introduce legislation to expand the new GI Bill to include job training at vocational schools and grant full credit National Guardsmen.

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Less than 25 Percent of Idaho Appliance Rebate Fund Remains

Posted By on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Those hoping to save a few bucks on a new energy-efficient dishwasher or refrigerator don’t have much more time to act until these extra savings expire. The Office of Energy Resources recently announced that the Idaho Appliance Rebate Program, launched in March using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, has already used more than 75 percent of the original $1.2 million.

More than 3,600 rebates have already been issued through the program, including 1,346 rebates on clothes washers and 1,011 dishwashers. Consumers can receive a $75 mail-in rebate on a clothes washer or refrigerator and $50 on a dishwasher when replacing an older appliance.

Currently there is $255,178 remaining in the program, and once that is used up, no more rebates will be available. For a list of eligible appliances and instructions visit the Idaho Office of Energy website.

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