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2006 Editors' Picks Public Eye 

Editors' Picks

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

Best Place to Get Harassed by Panhandlers and Bombarded with Biblical Literature While Gathering Your Thoughts

C.W. Moore Park

Did you know that Bob Fosse, Walt Disney and Prince Valiant are all simmering in the eternal fires of Hell? Did you know that it wouldn't kill you to hand over just one dollar for a cup of coffee? We're reminded of both, uh, "facts" almost every time we walk past that quaint old waterwheel and stone archway at Boise's premier downtown pocket park.

Best Paving Paradise to Put Up a Parking Lot

Take your pick

Geez, where to start? Shall we look at the perfectly planned utopia that sings right off the tongue, Avimor? Shall we go with "The Cliffs?"--or just consider sending the developer off one? Boise hasn't been lacking for righteous frustration over developments, so on this one, we're punting; we couldn't find just one. Hey, here's another one: Maybe we ought to look out toward our own version of Pleasantville, also known as Hidden Springs. When the developers started working on the next phase of that oasis, they actually seemed to cause a landslide on Dry Creek Road.

We're down with the free market concept and all that, but Joni Mitchell's famous ditty never sounded more apt than this last year, when developers lined up in front of the Ada County Commission and had no problem getting a green light to turn more of our foothills into terra firma for starter castles.

Best New Waste of Gas

Your fat ass

We're getting a little tired of all the evidence of our newfound rotundity. We know society is getting, um, bigger, and we know that traffic is getting worse. Wouldn't you know it, someone found a way to connect the two. After reviewing medical journals and Centers for Disease Control research, a think tank found that sprawl, aside from pissing off local growthophobes, could be killing us. Since 1990, the report found, Idaho's obesity rate has nearly doubled. Connect that with the alarming growth of sprawling subdivisions and a lack of decent public transit, and blame your new plus-size pant-shopping trip on suburban sprawl. Researchers and local medical clinics said they were seeing more and more of their patients spend less and less time actually walking. You know, that activity that sets us apart from other critters? Walking upright? We don't do it so much any more. One Treasure Valley doc found that her Mexican immigrant patients were getting fatter the longer they stayed here, too. Back home, they walked more, and used transit more. But as they adopted the American Way, they swelled. Just like us.

Best Not In My Back Yard

The Idaho Legislature bans new coal-fired power plants

Call it the House that Roared. When a California power company said it would really like to build Idaho's first coal-fired power plant out near Jerome, you could barely hear yourself think over the public outcry. So when the Republican-dominated Legislature followed up, it surprised us on a number of levels. First, they followed the lead of a Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett from Ketchum, who suggested that Idaho ban the construction of such polluting monstrosities. Then, they went ahead and thumbed their noses at a major business interest with lots of money in all the right places. The moratorium against new coal-fired power plants in Idaho was a shot heard round the world, all right. Sempra politely said, "OK, have it your way," and stopped the project and withdrew from the property. We still wonder why their lobbyist continues to hand money out on their behalf hereabouts, but for now, the Idaho Legislature appears to have a case of the NIMBYs, the good kind.

Best Flipped Bird

The falcon quarter

So whose fault is it? Who was putting Dirk Kempthorne in such a pissy mood last winter? We're looking for stooges, because somebody made him mad enough at Idaho that he chose a goofy closeup of a Peregrine falcon to be the symbol of Idaho on our new quarter. No mountains? No rivers? No--gag--potatoes?

The new quarter, it seemed, had something to offend everyone. When the inscrutable two-bit piece came out this summer, the response was a resounding "Huh?" and those are the ones the family papers can print. Kempthorne recently told a BW reporter he was taking a hiatus from commenting on Idaho matters, now that he's in his new job as secretary of the Interior, safely away from Idaho. Too bad, because we've just got one question: "A ... bird?"

Maybe we can blame Jim Risch for this one, too. Maybe he was buggin' Kempthorne by showing a little too much eagerness for the top job. After all, it was Risch, our current governor, who was left to take the heat over the crappy quarter choice when he unveiled it to a chorus of boos this summer.

"All I can say is, I didn't choose it," Risch told one crowd. Thanks, Dirk. We'll flip one for you.

Best Move

The house on stilts

We hereby applaud all nutjobs who take it upon themselves to do things the hard way. Let's say you want to restore an ancient Boise home. Now let's say that home sits on someone else's property and they intend to scrape the thing to the ground. Fugeddaboutit, right? Well, don't tell that to Jim and Monica Walker. The enterprising couple found their 101-year-old house, but it was on property owned by Cathedral of the Rockies on Fort Street. End of story? Not a chance. The Walkers wrapped the house up tight, somehow got it onto a trailer and moved it precisely one block away to safer ground and are now restoring it. What could have been a pile of boards under a bulldozer will, we all hope, turn into something more. Keep on keeping on, Walkers. We're rooting for you.

Best Political Slap-Fight

Newcomb Vs. Swindell

It had everything but the raspberry, the behind-the-back tongue-lolling, or the sly middle finger. The most childish exchange held last year in a building known for 'em had to have been the encounter between House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, a Burley (and burly) Republican, and bible-thumping camera hog Brandi Swindell. Sniffing a moment of opportunity, Swindell had come to meet with Newcomb, just hours after she slammed him for "stalling" pro-life legislation sponsored by Rep. Bill Sali. The bill's passage might have been helpful to Sali, who was at the time in a six-way Republican primary that he eventually won. But that day, times were tough; Sali's bill had been mired in committee because, lawmakers said, it was poorly written and peppered with Constitutional problems. Enter Swindell to move things along, starting with a news conference and followed by her now-famous meeting with Newcomb. Details are murky, but here's what we saw: The door closed, the door opened, Newcomb left and told reporters she'd called him a "bitch." Swindell huffed out and said she'd been booted by Newcomb. The tempest in the Capitol's teapot was the story of the day. "I have a lot of experience with people using this place for campaign issues, and that's what this smacks of to me," Newcomb said. Smack, indeed!

Best Political Honesty That Never Gets Old

Bruce "The Quote Machine" Newcomb

"That idiot is just a frigging idiot. And you can put that in the paper." OK, if you say so. How about once, twice--no, wait, how about once a week? We know that Bruce Newcomb's title is Speaker of the House, but boy does he know how to earn his sheckles. By now, Newcomb's remark about Rep. Bill Sali has been recycled so many times you'd think it was getting shopworn. Hmm, nope, guess not.

Newcomb made the remark after he and Sali clashed on the floor of the House during the 2006 Legislature. Sali was trying to make what he thought was an important point: That abortions cause breast cancer. Never mind that he was not making a whole lotta sense and was offending everyone within earshot. But when House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet stood up and walked out, her caucus followed her, and Newcomb gaveled down the House. A waiting press corps caught up with Newcomb, who delivered the above gem. The line has since become a must-have for any Democrat's brochure. The sad thing is, Newcomb has learned to regulate himself. When Sali went on to win his party's nomination for Congress, all Newcomb would say was, "I'm disappointed." Come on, Bruce. We know you can do better.

Best Natural Disaster

The Great Eagle Flood

Say it with us now: "schadenfreude." Merriam-Webster defines it, "Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." But this year, Idaho found a new synonym for the inscrutable German phrase: "Eagle Island." Start with a heavily flooded Boise River. Send that river packing through the upscale neighborhood that some enlightened soul decided to locate right in the floodplain. Next, inspire some of that subdivision's residents to consider suing the state for their problems. Now, kids, remember our new word? Scha-den-freaky! The scorn that erupted from the local populace was enough to make us actually fear for the safety of the Eagle Islanders. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and talk of the suit was dashed. But not before the high-end houses downriver of Boise became everyone's favorite target. Never mind the trouble the river caused in other places. Some folks actually began to root for the floods after that.

Best Place To Stop And Gather Your Thoughts Before Continuing On Your Way

Corner of Capitol and Main Streets (in Front of City Hall)

City Hall isn't a pretty building, and the quad out front isn't pretty, either. However, if you're making your way around downtown on foot, then its aesthetic limitations aren't the only way to weigh the place's merits. Look around: There are several benches where you can stop for a breather, make quick phone call, jot down a note, adjust your bags, tie your shoe or just clear your head for a moment. Take a seat and tune out for a bit without worrying that someone is going to run into you.

On a nice day, the view down the boulevard affords a nice view of the Capitol Building, which actually is pretty, with its neoclassical dome and shiny, freshly goldleafed eagle sparkling on top. The down side of this spot: the danger of extended woolgathering.

click to enlarge ERIN RUIZ

Best Highway Through a Danger Zone

Capitol Boulevard By Bodo

Dammit! Now we'll have that Kenny Loggins song stuck in our heads for the next year. But regardless, every day, we see dozens of people running through traffic where Broad St. T-bones Capitol Boulevard at BoDo. They run from the Dunkleys side to the KB's Burrito side. They run from the parking lot side to the Tully's Coffee side. They run in front of parked cars and wait in the lanes between moving ones. They run alongside us. We push past them. Sometimes we high-five in the turn lane. It's like a giant, lethal game of Red Rover, and it must end. Is the answer a crosswalk? A tunnel? A chunnel? Nay, nay and nay. We need a skybridge, and the more needlessly futuristic the better. What are you politicians waiting for? Throw another cent of sales tax on the fire. When the local populace is chasing you through downtown with pitchforks and torches, you'll need a way to cross Capitol, too.

Best "Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don't"

The candidacy of Andy Hedden-Nicely

Here's the thing: Andy is running for Congress. Andy thinks the Democrats and the Republicans are both tired political dinosaurs. Andy is the founder of this here newspaper. Andy thinks that if people give him a fair shake, he'll win the race for Congress, now generally seen as a race between Republican Bill Sali and Democrat Larry Grant. Andy's campaign has no money, but neither do many voters. Andy has great zingers and is quicker with same than either Sali or Grant. In fact, hands down, if we wanted to listen to somebody explain why politics in the United States are a mess, it would be Andy. Hence, the fun little tightrope we walk: If we write too much about Andy, we're biased toward our former boss and living in someone's political fantasy world. If we don't write enough about how he's just ... gonna ... win ... darn it! Well, we're contributing to the political malaise that inevitably sends party hacks to Washington to, well, hack.

Best "Why Is This News?"

Otter Wedding

Q. Did he make an honest woman of 'er?

A. Well, he otter!

If you opened either of the local dailies on about August 3 and flipped in a few pages, you were confronted with an Associated Press story titled "Wedding Draws Near for Otter, Easley: Couple Tying Knot After 10 Years." And of course, you would have known right away that the "Otter" in question is Republican gubernatorial candidate Butch Otter and the "Easley," his lady love, Lori.

But by the end of the 600-word parsing of the Otter-Easley wedding plans, you knew even more, and a lot more than you wanted to know. Highlights include a description of Easley's dress--a "strapless, champagne-colored" gown with a "cathedral-length train from chain retailer David's Bridal's Oleg Cassini line"; and details of their bridal registry: "One splurge: A set of Waterford crystal wedding heirloom flutes, priced at $150 each. And for the romantics, a few items for the bedroom: A baffle-box down comforter and a feather bed mattress cover." Tied for creepiest tidbit in this no-news news item? The May-December aspect of the now-wedded pair (Otter is 63 and Easley is 38) versus, well, this analysis of the couple's compatibility: "They also both hold a pageant win, of sorts. Easley, now a Meridian school administrator, was crowned Miss Idaho USA in 1991. Otter won a 'Mr. Tight Jeans' contest in a Boise bar in 1992." Shudder.

Best Worst-Named New Areas

BoDo and Bown Crossing

We love the coffee and chocolates, but aren't so fond of the name. It's too reminiscent of what we might have named our dog when we were kids. "Here, Bodo. Here, boy."

Bown. Bown? Pronounced as in, "I have to buy a new peach-colored, taffeta bridesmaid's gown," or Bown as in, "My ass has grown so much, I'm going to look like a giant carnival attraction in that peach colored dress." No matter how you say it, it's an odd name.

Best Journalist To Get A Real Job

Wayne Hoffman

If we had a nickel for every former journalist now pulling down a better salary as a flack for a public agency, well, we wouldn't have to sell ads any more, get it? But Wayne Hoffman took it a step further. The former Idaho Statesman state reporter took off last year to work for, um, the state, belting out talking points for the Idaho Department of Agriculture. OK, fine. Seen it before. But ol' Wayne is what we call an overachiever, and he started moonlighting for Republican Tom Luna, who's now running for the State Superintendent for Public Instruction. Things got heated during the Republican primary in June when Rep. Steve Smylie, who also wanted the nomination, got tired of seeing Hoffman lurking around state education meetings while supposedly on Agriculture business. Hoffman, who says he's happy now that he gets to hobnob with Republicans like he's always wanted to, doesn't believe there's a problem, and shoot, now that we think of it, could there really be a problem here? As long as Wayne promises to buy rounds for us from one of his two paychecks, we're in!

Best One-Day News Story

Testes... one, two

Everyone join together now, it's pun time with the state's best one-day news story: Have a Ball! When Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill didn't like the way local firefighters were promoting the popular Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, she threatened to cancel the whole shebang.

Those of us not on a 24-hour news cycle could only hide while media outlets near and far pounced on the opportunity to talk about bull balls in their newspapers and television broadcasts. Let's come up with some euphemisms, shall we? Cowboy caviar, Rocky Mountain oysters, Idaho tendergroin, you name it, our local headline writers and anchorpersonages tastefully tittered over it. Before long, the national media found their way into the brouhaha, because it was summertime, they were bored and here was a prim-and-proper lady mayor who just couldn't handle a little teste talk.

Ahem: She won. Merrill got the organizers to cancel their ads that featured a foul-mouthed (and surgically impotent) bull, and the fundraiser was back on. And we had to find something real to talk about for a change.

Best Idaho Export

Idaho Prisoners Take Road Trip to Texas

When Idaho's law 'n' order cops did their jobs a little too well, we ran out of prison space. So, it's circle the wagons, fill 'em up with Idaho's Somewhat Wanted, and send them to Texas. In all, some 419 Idaho prisoners were shipped off (some had been sent to Minnesota, previously) to a Newton, Texas, slammer, where they were left to stew in their own juices in conditions that ranged from hot to crappy. Eventually, some of the prisoners got sick of the treatment and staged a nonviolent protest. Even better, two of them escaped. Last we heard, more than 500 prisoners were toughing it out in Lubbock. The guy who sent them outta here? He's gone, too: Former Department of Corrections chief Tom Beauclair announced he would "retire" after a heated meeting with Gov. Jim Risch. Former Ada County Sheriff Vaughn Killeen is now the top jailboss in Idaho, and we're still wondering where our boys in stripes are now.

Best Backhanded Celebrity to Serve The Sauce

Gratifying Graffassi

Idaho has some strange laws on the books when it comes to boozin'. It's illegal to drink on an expired ID, even if you are of age. Bars have to physically lock up their open liquor bottles when last call rolls around. And there's no selling the hard stuff on election day until after the polls close. Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi found out about Idaho's quirky quaffing statutes the hard way, by discovering that state laws prohibited them from obtaining a liquor license for the hotel they're building at Tamarack Resort. But, if you're an international sports star with a behemoth bankroll, apparently you can appeal to the state legislature to circumvent the law for you (never mind changing some of the liquor silliness altogether, though), which is exactly what Graf and Agassi did to get a license to serve.

Best News Editor Veto

The Mile-High Smackdown

Being the editor-in-chief of a newspaper can be tough work. And crazy work. But is that any excuse for Nicholas Collias to want to put the teaser "Governor Risch Joins The Mile-High Club" on the cover for a recent story about the $11,000 bill interim Governor Jim Risch racked up by gallivanting around Idaho in the official state plane? Shea Andersen, intrepid news editor, gave the idea a big "Errr ... maybeletsnotandsaywedid," preferring a slightly less innuendo-licious alternative. Collias persisted. Andersen and Collias played best seven out of 10 thumb wrestling matches. The August 2 cover, which reads "High Flier: Idaho's executive of the skies," makes it clear who won out. But if one Best Of Boise blurb gets one inappropriate laugh out of the joke that almost was, then it was all worth it.

Best Indication That Idaho Drivers Are Getting Dumber

Illegal U-turns

If we were to type, in six-point font, the list of traffic violations, annoyances and pet peeves that Idaho drivers frequently violate and print it out on that old dot-matrix perforated paper (you know, the kind that was a contiguous strip of paper until the pages were neatly torn apart), we'd have enough paper to blaze a trail out to Canyon County and back. But, in the immortal words of The Highlander, there can be only one. This year it was a tie between cell-phone drivers and illegal u-turners. Cell-phone drivers have twisted our panties tight enough to merit their own blurb (see the next Best Of), and therefore, rightly earning this year's title of "Idiots of the Road" are all of you who think it's perfectly legal to flip a bitch wherever and at whatever point in time you realize that your wisdom is not infinite and your directional skills have failed you miserably. But, in addition to slapping your hand, we'll also offer a surefire remedy: Go the extra nine meters down to the next intersection, get in the turn lane and legally reverse the direction of your path, my friend.

Best Reason Not To Get Botox

Because It Ain't Botox

(Written in the style of a Boise Weekly "I Saw You")

I saw you in the mall. You had just finished petting the puppies and were about to head over to Pretzel Maker for another free sample when you got that look on your face. Sure, everybody tells you that you look great for your age, but they don't know your wrinkles as well as you do, do they? And there was that one insignificant comment your significant other made the other day. Gawd, getting old sucks ... Do you think anyone would even notice a change if you went into the Skinovative Laser Center? Probably not. They'd just think you look better somehow, and they'd be right. And according to that Dr Ivyl Wells in the Skinovative Center, it's not half as expensive as you thought it would be. Your "other" wouldn't even notice the money missing. Staying young forever ... the perfect crime.

Sound familiar? Then maybe you were one of the 200 or so mallrats who became labrats of Dr. Wells last year at his Boise Towne Square de-wrinkling kiosk. Wells pled guilty to adulterating a drug with intent to defraud and a few other charges earlier this year after he ordered 13 shipments of research-grade Botulinum Type A toxin from the charmingly titled Toxin Research International and then proceeded to squirt the savings into you.

Best Other Reason Not To Get Botox

Because you look like an idiot

Hate to be the ones to tell you.

Best Thing About Getting to Visit the Simplot Mansion

"His" and "hers" Everything

Oh, where to begin the appeal of finally getting to wander through the new Governor's mansion this June with 500 of our sweatiest fellow citizens ...

"His and hers" may be an outdated notion, but not up there in Idaho's potato-powered version of Dynasty. Esther had an "ES" bootjack in her garage. In JR's (much smaller) garage, he had a "JS" to match. In her immense bathroom, next to her immense bedroom, the carpet ran right up to the toilet and bathtub--the latter of which inspired one BW employee to break all rules of decency and use, fully clothed, while on the tour. His: Same, but smaller and in a slightly manlier color. And then there are those towering two-story windows--what a fantastic spot to watch a bunch of boneheads risking their lives to trespass on your property. If we were the S's, we probably would have shot all of your iceblocking asses with a BB gun from the balcony years ago.

Best Reason to Defend Idaho

Because The Guardian UK made us cry

Criminy, do we have to revisit this again? Our governor is an "affable rancher" acting as "the de facto leader of this nation-within-a-nation." Our state is "redneck country, famous only for its potato industry and its white supremacists." We shoot Democrats for sport and, of course, "sexual relations with livestock are still commonplace." This all according to Oliver Burkemann, a reporter whose story, "Journey To The Heart of Bushlandia: The wide open spaces of Idaho have little room for anti-war sentiment" made even the anti-Bushites among us cringe. Then we read it again, noticed all the descriptive inaccuracies and questionable quotes, and Burkemann's lame charicature changed from a scary monster in the dark corner back to the laundry basket of cliches that it is.

Best Indication Boise Has Outgrown Its Small-Town Pants

National Chains Have Arrived

Like an invasion of big city aliens who've come to snatch real estate property in sleepy Boise, large nationwide chains have arrived, spawned and invited kinsmen to plant roots in the here. We here at BW are so old, we remember the days when there were no Starbucks in Idaho--now the green giant is as pervasive and damaging to the local eco(nomic)-system as the annual Mormon Cricket infestation. And now there's Cabela's, The Cheesecake Factory, multiple locations of Goodwood BBQ, a million and one Applebee's, a million and five Wal-Marts, P.F. Chang's ... the list goes on and on ... and on.

click to enlarge LEILA RAMELLA

Best Way to Build the Local Infrastructure

Parking Tickets

Her name is Julie, and she writes the tickets that make the young drivers cry. For the last three years, she's driven a small Boise City parking enforcement cart on the east side of downtown Boise, marking car tires with a piece of chalk taped to the end of a golf club shaft. She penalizes the people who park too long on the same block, who park twice on the same block on the same day and who park on the block rather than next to it (which is particularly hazardous over by the National Federation of the Blind offices, we're told). But despite what you think, she's not really out to get you. She's out to get Nicholas Collias.

Our dunderheaded editor was on the fast track to financial ruin earlier this year when Julie stepped in. "What am I going to do with you?" she yelled (she insists she didn't yell) at him in front of all his homies and hotties at the Flying M. "You've got to learn to put coins in the meter!" A humiliated shell of a man, he has since changed his ways. He still parks illegally, but uses a complex combination of voodoo, black magic and ninja camouflage techniques that have kept the ticket budget in the manageable two-digit range. Thanks, Julie.

Best Correction in BW

The Zone Gets Their Correction In the End

We normally don't like to broadcast when we make an error so egregious that it requires a formal correction. But in our defense, this was really more of a clarification than a correction.

In our annual Coldest Beer in Boise issue (this year dubbed "Coldest Beer In The World"), one of our highly professional temperature testers made the following judgment of the popular Boise State football haunt The End Zone: "Definitely a dude-bar." After we received a panicked call from someone over at the Zone asking why we had, uh, "outed" them, we started laughing. We may stop someday, but it'll probably be long after Boise State has won a national championship, the Cubs win the World Series and Satan's army of angry angels make their final stand against the heavenly host. Until then, this apology will have to suffice: "The writer was not implying that the dudes in said 'zone' are more likely to prefer the 'ends' of other dudes than any other dudes in any other bar. Dig?"

Best Legislative FUBAR

Marriage Amendment

"The prosperity of a country depends on the proper maintenance of the relations between husband and wife quite as much as its outer strength and however great and powerful a country may seem to be, if these domestic relations are unhealthy, if the wife has not her place in the social polity, that country is rotten to the core, and its complete decay and demoralization are inevitable."

"Marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life has been the definition of marriage in western culture for millennia ... Any weakening of the traditional Judeo-Christian definition of marriage will undermine the foundation of Western culture and result in deep, permanent fractures that will fundamentally alter American culture and all of Western civilization."

Can you tell which of these quotes was written as an anti-women's suffrage op-ed in the Idaho Statesman in 1893, and which is from the Web site of the pro-marriage amendment group the Idaho Values Alliance? Does it really matter? In an election-year embarrassment, your state legislators have passed the buck--that is, House Joint Resolution 2--to you. Even though several of them voted against a similar bill last year. And even though several of them said they opposed it but caved to constituent pressure. And even though others admitted they would have voted against it if their vote "had mattered."

So, on the November 7 ballot, it will read, "Shall Article III of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a new Section 28, to provide that a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state?"

When you answer, ask yourself this: What century is it again?

Best Thing to Do With the Boise Tower Hole

Fill it!

This was our answer last year as well, but our idea at that time was for every person in Boise to carry around a spoon at all times, and every time they walk by the hole, throw a single spoonful of dirt in. Ideally, this was supposed to fill the hole by this year's Best Of issue. Did it work? No, it didn't, you lazy DOGS! What did work--and when we say "work," we're knocking on wood at 90 bpm--was a few million spoonfuls of the green stuff. The new "sounds too good to be true" solution, a 31-story behemoth tentatively called "Boise Place," to be developed by McCall-based developer Gary Rogers, could be started by this Christmas and finished by next. Forgive us if we don't start planning any weddings on the observation deck just yet. We're still a little hole-shy.

Best News Story We Had No Idea Would Get All Crazy

Dwight's Fight

On the surface, it doesn't sound like much of a controversy. Nobody was arrested, nobody sued, nobody got hurt--there wasn't even a citation issued. But when a pair of officers from the Department of Homeland Security approached local government employee Dwight Scarborough and told him that his truck's anti-Bush and antiwar bumper stickers violated federal signage laws--the ones relating to advertising and posting brochures on federal property--it struck an international nerve.

We ran a cover story about the incident back in February, complete with an unedited transcript of Scarbrough's conversation with the agents (gotta love a peace activist who carries a tape recorder!). Within days, he was doing the rounds on national talk shows, the story was getting rehashed everywhere from The Progressive to Daily Kos to Playboy (who ripped off our quotes and photos without giving us credit, the jerks), and our Web site was getting unprecedented traffic from around the globe. We still get the occasional, "That's messed up!" letter from unlikely readers in Belgium, Italy and Elmore County.

At last check, Dwight was still parking in the same spot and no agents had made any followup visits--which some took as a concession that they were wrong to have hassled him in the first place. Oh, well. We were just happy that for one brief moment, Idaho contributed to rabid global paranoia with a horror story of our very own.

Best Temporarily Illegal, Temporarily Extant Shelter

Sanctuary

A nondenominational, non-evangelical homeless shelter--it seems like a no-brainer, right? Up until a year ago, Boise had one. Then Community House closed, there was nowhere left where homeless families could stay in the downtown core without being separated, and nowhere not affiliated with the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries. Local homeless advocates complained. Then they put their man-hours where their mouths were and opened the rudimentary but nonetheless pioneering shelter Sanctuary in an old storefront on Jefferson Street. Sanctuary closed on a miserable rainy night in March, but its organizers, a far-ranging coalition including the Idaho Interfaith Alliance, Roman Catholic Diocese, First Congregational United Church of Christ, El-Ada Community Action Agency and many others banded together to form the nonprofit Sanctuary Inc. They plan to obtain a permanent building and hopefully have Boise's next non-denominational, non-evangelical homeless shelter in place by this winter.

Hallelujah.

Best Graffiti

"Heterosexuals only"

Plenty of people probably didn't understand their message, but that was OK with the small group of activists who fanned out across Boise on March 6 and put over 150 signs reading "HETEROSEXUALS ONLY" on downtown benches, fountains and even in the Idaho Statehouse Bathrooms.

The signs, made to look like "WHITES ONLY" and "COLORED ONLY" signage from the South in the 1950s, weren't somebody's idea of a cruel joke. In a climate when it's become acceptable for mainstream politicians to treat America's gay and lesbian community like a scourge and a menace, the activists put them out on the 41st anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" march in Selma, Alabama. They hoped that it would challenge the Idaho Legislature to recognize the historic parallels of their recent anti-gay actions--in particular the marriage amendment soon to be before voters--and challenge the local gay and gay-friendly community to not lie down before local bigots.

"I would hope that [Boiseans] would see this and say, 'That's just going too far,'" one of the activists behind the demonstration told us the next day. "Then it might cause them to consider that the point we're already at--maybe that's too far."

Best New Digs

Idaho State Historical Society

This immense, sunlit stone and wood building located over by the old Idaho Penitentiary is everything anyone could want a state's most important historical resource to be. The Idaho State Library and Archives, formerly cramped into a musty little corner cave with prehistoric carpeting, now stretch out comfortably across several un-crowded and odor-devoid rooms. Sure, the empty snack bar at the new center is a bit of a joke at this point, but the almost pathological friendliness of the staff--from the security guards to the research helpers to the administration--makes it impossible to say anything bad about the place.

"What, no pens are allowed? Anything you want, guys. Just please don't make me have to go back to work/school/the present tense."

Previous Winners

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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