Monday, January 31, 2011

Otter and Wasden Praise Florida Judge Ruling

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Idaho Attorney General Laurence Wasden released a statement praising a federal judge in Florida's ruling that the recent health-care overhaul is unconstitutional.

"Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden welcomed today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, striking down the 'Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' as an unconstitutional overstepping of congressional authority," read the statement.

Unlike most opponents' arguments that simply claim the mandate is unconstitutional and that it violates the interstate commerce clause, the Florida judge claimed the whole reform was unconstitutional. This ruling fulfills expectations that the case will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Otter and Wasden's complete statement can be read after the cut.

Continue reading »

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Federal Judge Says Health-Care Reform is Unconstitutional

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 2:00 PM

A federal judge in Florida sided with Idaho and 25 other states in their effort to derail the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled—without a full trial—that opponents to the overhaul of the nation's health-care system violated "people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance." Simply put, Vinson said the reform is unconstitutional. The case is now expected to make its way to a high-profile battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Mother of Robert Manwill Pleads Guilty

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 11:44 AM

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In a surprise statement from Ada County prosecutors, Melissa Scott Jenkins has agreed to plead guilty to aiding and abetting the murder of her 8-year-old son, Robert Manwill.

The announcement is at least partial closure in the murder case that consumed the community in July 2009. A massive search effort was mounted after the 8-year-old Manwill was reported missing. Thousands of community members looked for the boy while his family—including his mother and her boyfriend, Daniel Ehrlick, Jr.—begged for his safe return. His body was found two weeks later floating in a Kuna canal on Aug. 3, 2010.
Jenkins and Ehrlick were charged with murder, and prosecutors believe the child's death followed weeks of escalating violence, which was hidden by his mother.

As part of a guilty plea, Ada County prosecutor Greg Bower said Jenkins is expected to spend 25 years in prison without parole.

Ehrlick has pleaded not guilty, and his murder trial is scheduled to begin in April.

In a Dec. 15, 2010, interview with BW, Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong said his department will conduct an extensive review of the Manwill case when legal proceedings against Jenkins and Ehrlick are complete.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Anti-Discrimination Rally Set for Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

As written, the Idaho Human Rights Act does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. That's something a group of Idahoans is working to change, and they're rallying supporters to help them do so.

The Safe Schools and Fair Employment Rally will work to forward the cause of expanding legal protections against discrimination, as well as battling bullying in schools. Supporters are asked to gather on the steps of Idaho State Capitol at noon on Saturday, Jan. 29, to rally behind the effort.

"After I graduate college, I want to live in a place which guarantees me the freedom to live my personal life and be who I am without living in fear of being fired for talking about my partner in a work setting or putting a picture of my family on my desk," said Boise State student and rally organizer Lindsay Matson.

"The U.S. Department of Education has asked all states to create more effective anti-bullying laws, and a majority of Fortune 500 companies already include sexual orientation and gender identity in their employment policies—that is why we're doing this," she added.

The rally also seeks to bring more awareness of bullying within the school system. According to bullypolice.org, Idaho is graded at an A-, while other states—including Wyoming and New Hampshire—have A++ grades.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids feel overall unsafe in their school environment," Matson said. "Bullying is linked closely with suicide attempts, so creating laws which train teachers how to deal with harassment in the classroom, and which name categories of children which have been historically targeted, is vitally important to Idaho's children—our future."

"Legislators need to know that all Idahoans want to be part of a step toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens," Matson wrote in an e-mail to Citydesk. "We all deserve to feel safe where we work, learn and live."

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mega-load Opponents will Oppose Conoco Shipments No More

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Following months of legal challenges and high-profile opposition, a group of Central Idaho residents have decided they will no longer challenge the massive ConocoPhillips mega-loads from traveling across U.S. Highway 12.

Husband and wife Linwood Laughy and Borg Hendrickson said late Thursday they do not intend to file a further legal appeal of the shipments, scheduled to roll on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Laughy said they will not attempt to block or disrupt the mega-loads in any way.

"We think it's important for local residents to understand exactly how massive these shipments are," said Laughy. "But we do not suggest that anyone attempt to interfere with them."

The pair said they will instead focus attention on the hundreds of mega-loads planned by ExxonMobil, proposed to roll across the same route, but to continue up to the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada.

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Idaho Has More Demand, Less Money for Domestic Violence Services

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 12:43 PM

A new survey reveals a good news/bad news portrait of services for victims of domestic violence. In one 24-hour period, 517 victims of domestic violence and their children across Idaho received life-saving services from local domestic violence organizations. On the flip side, 67 requests for services went unmet, largely due to lack of funding.

The study by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that more than 80 percent of Idaho domestic violence programs reported increased demand for services, while nearly the same number reported decreases in funding.

"Every day of the week, Idaho's domestic violence service providers struggle to meet the increasing and complex needs of victims and their children," said Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

On the date of the survey, September 15, three women were murdered by their intimate partners in the United States. Thirty-six babies were born to mothers living in domestic violence shelters. Three men committed suicide—one after murdering his wife, another after a failed attempt to kill his girlfriend—and the third after holding his partner hostage and a standoff with police.

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Homeless Census Underway in Idaho

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 10:11 AM

An unfortunate but crucial census is underway today throughout Idaho. Scores of service providers and volunteers are fanning out across the state to count Idaho's homeless.

The event is called Point in Time. It's designed to count those who are homeless or who may be "precariously housed" (doubled up, facing eviction, jailed or hospitalized). Trained interviewers are asking the homeless where they spent the night of Wednesday, Jan, 26. The data is required for any agency that receives funding or assistance from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

Homelessness has been on the rise in recent years according to data from the survey's previous years. In January 2010, for example, 2,346 Idahoans were countered as being homeless, a 21 percent increase from 2009. Of that number, 13 percent were identified as veterans and 15 percent said they were victims of domestic violence. In Ada County in 2010, 872 people were counted as being homeless

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Nearly Naked PETA Protestors Brave Boise's Cold

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Risking embarrassment, near freezing temperatures and possibly even arrest, two women bared their bodies Wednesday afternoon on the corner of Eighth and Idaho streets.

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Boise shopkeeper, Lil Kurek, told Citydesk she was moments away from calling the police.

“They do this every year,” said Kurek, who owns American Clothing Gallery across the street from today's protest site. But, said Kurek, this is America. “And they can protest all they want as long as they’re not blocking the entrance to my store.”

In previous years, demonstrations have included naked women wrapped in plastic and tagged like a grocery store steak (2009) and women—again naked—in open face coffins (2007).

This year's protest began at noon, when the women, one a paid PETA campaigner and the other a volunteer, dropped their jackets and huddled topless behind a banner reading, “Bare skin, don’t wear skin.”

“We want to encourage the people of Boise to make compassion their fashion,” said PETA volunteer, Nicole Matthews, through chattering teeth.

In July last year—long before this teeth-chattering cold weather—PETA named Boise one of North America's top 10 vegetarian- and vegan-friendly small cities.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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Boise State Considers Trimester

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Boise State President Bob Kustra said he's taking a hard look at evolving his university into a trimester calendar, moving from the traditional fall/spring system into three semesters. That's one of the ideas Kustra unveiled this morning before lawmakers as he sat before Idaho's Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

"I recognize fully my responsibility to continually increase the efficiency and effectiveness of this university," said Kustra.

He said he was continually challenged by declining state revenues but growing admissions.

"It has been a struggle and a true test of institutional character to advance as we have despite the dramatic reductions in funding over the last several years," said Kustra. "We are coming close to a critical point in history where only those who can afford higher education will get it, just as we need an increased workforce knowledge base to maintain the recovery and global competitiveness."

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Obama: Freeze on Spending. Crapo: Time for Constitutional Amendment

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 at 9:55 AM

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, called for a five-year freeze on all non-security discretionary spending. That echoed a vote in the House of Representatives earlier Tuesday that would see all non-defense discretionary spending pushed back to 2008 levels. That could result in a nearly 18 percent cut for most federal programs and agencies.

Meanwhile deficit hawks and doves are inching their way toward a March 4 showdown. That’s the day current stopgap funding expires and, in essence, the federal government has no funding. Some are predicting that another continuing resolution could be crafted, but all agree that a critical crossroads is approaching either in March or April.

“We could have two shutter points,” Idaho Senator Mike Crapo told Citydesk. “One over the continuing resolution and one over the debt-limit.”

Crapo said Congress may extend one or even two more continuing resolutions, but, said Crapo, "There will be very strong resistance to an unqualified debt limit increase.”

Crapo told Citydesk he strongly supports an idea that has bounced around Congress before—a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

“We have to force Congress to avoid debt-financed spending. We need to deal with the same fiscal restraint facing families and small businesses.”

Asked if there were enough votes to support a new Constitutional amendment, Crapo said he was fairly certain of majorities in both the House and Senate but said they were not necessarily super-majorities.

“It would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, and three-quarters of all state legislatures to finally become law,” said Crapo. “Even if we don’t get all those votes, I think we need to have those debates and let the American people see where their representatives stand.”

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