New Tax Commish, Bike Reccs 

Obama vows action on don't ask, don't tell

Langhorst on Tax Commish

Word from the Guv's office last week is that David Langhorst was named to the Idaho State Tax Commission.

Langhorst, who has served in both houses of the state Legislature, made an unsuccessful run for Ada County commissioner last year against incumbent Rick Yzaguirre. Langhorst, a Democrat, replaces Colleen Grant on the bipartisan commission.

Typically, news of tax commissioners is the kind of stuff that's about as interesting to the public at large as ... well, anything to do with taxes. But the Langhorst appointment is noteworthy, given that the commission is still trying to shake off last year's scandal, in which it was accused of favoring big business with excessive tax breaks.

During his time in the Legislature, Langhorst cultivated a reputation for playing well on both sides of the partisan fence. Of his new job, Langhorst says he's looking forward to working with the commissioners "to achieve and maintain a fair, predictable and stable tax system for the people of Idaho."

--

Rachael Daigle

Obama Vows Don't Ask Policy Shift

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, the Mountain Home Air Force pilot who faces an honorable discharge for being gay, shook President Barack Obama's hand at a recent Gay Pride event at the White House.

Fehrenbach told KTVB Channel 7 in Boise:

"I sort of made a beeline to him and introduced myself and he had that look on his face like he knew who I was. I think there were people who told him I would be there. I introduced myself, I said I'm being discharged under 'don't ask, don't tell' and the situation for me was urgent and I need your help. And, he looked me directly in the eye and said, 'we're going to get this done.'"

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has indicated that soldiers like Fehrenbach may be allowed to continue to serve until the administration works out a new policy to replace don't ask, don't tell, according to the

Air Force Times

. Gates said there could be exceptions to enforcing the policy if whomever outed the soldier had a chip on his shoulder.

"Do we need to be driven ... to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted?" Gates said.

Fehrenbach wore civvies to the White House Pride event, fearing disciplinary action for attending a "political" event with the commander in chief,

AF Times

reports.

New Bike Info in Idaho Driver's Ed Manual

"HONKING--Never honk when close to a bicyclist, it is startling."

That's one of the new recommendations that will appear in the new Idaho Driver's Manual, to be published later this summer.

Boise Sen. Elliot Werk and "statewide bike advocates" helped put together the info for new drivers about sharing the road with bikes.

But the bike info will not be on driving tests.

--Nathaniel Hoffman

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Monday, July 6, 2009, 4,325 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,460 in combat and 865 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 31,408. In the last week, five U.S. soldiers died.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 96 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 92,485 and 100,964.

Source: iraqbodycount.net

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $684,903,035,674

Source: costofwar.com

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