Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mountain Home Soldier Gets Six Months In Brig for Child Endangerment

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 4:35 PM

The stepfather of a 5 year old who accidentally shot a Mountain Home high schooler was convicted by court-martial for reckless endangerment of a child.

Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Harman, of the 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was sentenced to six months in confinement and forefeiture of $3,000 pay, after being found guilty of wrongfully and recklessly causing a loaded firearm to be unsecured and accessible to a child.

Prosecutors say Harman left a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol next to his mattress the morning of the shooting. Prosecutors say later that morning, Harman's stepson found the gun, and while playing in his yard, accidentally shot the teenager who was walking nearby.

Elmore County law enforcement turned the case over to military authorities, who prosecuted Harman under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Prosecutors said "the fact that SSgt. Harman had observed his stepson climbing on top of cabinets to reach that loaded handgun on top of the refrigerator just three days prior to the shooting, highlighted Harman's recklessness and disregard for basic firearms safety."

Harman is expected to be transferred to a Department of Defense regional confinement facility within the next two weeks.

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From Idaho To West Virginia, With Hate

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 4:16 PM

The small town of Falling Waters, West Virginia, is talking about flyers from white supremacists who say Idaho is their home-base.

The flyers contain the address of the Aryan Nations national headquarters in Athol, Idaho. The pamphlets, found attached to small orange bags filled with gravel, started appearing yesterday morning in the small town near the Maryland state line.

The flyers also reference the Maryland chapter of the Aryan Nations. The Journal newspaper of Martinsburg, WV, reported that a local woman called a representative of the Aryan Nations' Maryland chapter and was told there were more than 200 people from the Aryan Nations distributing flyers in the area Monday night. The Journal published photos of the flyers in today's edition.

Aryan Nation Flyer Discovered in WV
  • The Journal, Martinsburg, WV
  • Aryan Nation Flyer Discovered in WV

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How Did You Spend Your Summer Vacation, Rep. Athol?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

A special ethics committee has been launched to investigate Rep. Phil Hart (R-Athol).

Hart admits to not paying his state or federal income taxes for several years because he considered them unconstitutional.

An ethics complaint, formally requested by House Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston, charges a possible conflict of interest due to Hart's service on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and possible abuse of legislative privilege.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Hart told the Idaho Tax commission he could delay filing an appeal on some tax claims for as long as the Legislature was in session.

Idaho House Speaker Lawrence Denney appointed a seven-member ethics committee to look into the matter. The Chairman will be Rep. Thomas Loertscher (R-Iona). Co-chair will be Rep. Wendy Jaquet (D-Ketchum). The panel will include Republicans Dell Raybould, John Stevenson and Richard Wills, as well as Democrats Bill Killen and George Sayler. The committee is expected to begin meeting in August.

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Corps & Water Resource Board Study New Dams on Boise River

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 2:37 PM

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Idaho Water Resource Board have narrowed to three their preferred sites for new water storage dams on the Boise River: Arrowrock (where they're proposing a new downstream dam that's 74 feet higher), Alexander Flats on the Middle Fork of the Boise (where there would be a proposed new 265-foot dam) and Twin Springs, also on the Middle Fork (where there would be a proposed new 365-foot dam).

The Corps and the IDWR are holding a series of informational meetings this week on their latest feasibility study: one this afternoon at Boise City Hall, another this evening at Eagle City Hall, and another tomorrow evening in Idaho City. The three were culled from 12 possible sites.

Meanwhile, outside the City Hall meeting, members of Idaho Rivers United were expressing their anxiety over the proposal.

"The state of Idaho and the Corps have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on these feasibility studies, " said Bill Sedivy, the group's executive director, "at a time when neither the state nor the government has a lot of loose cash hanging around."

Sedivy says his groups' main concerns include the priceless recreational value of the Middle and North forks of the Boise River.

"One of the reasons our region has been so economically successful, and environmentally vibrant is because of our proximity to the river," said Sedivy. "If they get serious about these new dams, we're going to lose all that."

One issue both sides agree on is encouraging public comment, which is being solicited until July 31. The next step will be the Corps of Engineers and IDWR drafting, which is expected to be the final feasibility evaluation, pending adequate federal and state funding.

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Will Prop. 8 Decision Affect Idaho LGBT Community?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Both civil rights advocates and religious conservatives are waiting in anticipation of Federal Chief District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision in California’s Proposition 8 landmark Perry v. Schwarzenegger case.

Filed over a year ago, the January trial challenged the constitutionality of the voter-initiative that banned same-sex marriage by just 52 percent of the popular vote in the November 2008 election.

Either way Walker decides, it’s likely to spark outrage. Should the decision go the way of the plaintiffs and Prop. 8 is overturned, many wonder how that will affect states like Idaho with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. The consensus is there is likely to be a long court battle before we have a final answer.

Idaho Attorney General’s office spokesperson, Bob Cooper said, “It’s anticipated that it will be appealed both to the Ninth Circuit and to the Supreme Court regardless of which way it goes, so it’s really impossible to speculate on what impact, if any, it would have on Idaho. It’s going to depend on where it becomes a question of settled law and what the decision is.”

ACLU of Idaho executive director, Monica Hopkins concurred. “It is difficult to speculate on these legal issues. However if Prop 8 is struck down we may see the issue before the Supreme Court. Until the legal question is solved by the courts we have no way of knowing how this may affect the Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage."

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the non-profit organization funding the plaintiffs and assembled the legal team lead by Theodore Olson and David Boies. Spokesperson Robb Yusef told BW, “We’re eagerly waiting to see how the court will rule and trust the court will make the right decision. Either way the court rules the other side will appeal this to the circuit court and then we expect this to be appealed to the Supreme Court. We have committed to take this case all the way because we believe that people fundamental rights need to be guaranteed once and for all.”

The California Supreme Court ruled May 15, 2008, in a 4-3 decision that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Marriage license for gays and lesbians began being issued June 1, 2008. Until the passage of Prop 8, 18,000 same-sex couples have been legally married. Thus far, efforts to invalidate those marriages have been unsuccessful and the outcome of this case will not affect them.

Boise Weekly's requests for comment from Protect Marriage, the organization leading the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign, have not been returned. Protect Marriage received $40 million in donations from all over the county. Of that sum, $22 million was from members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. At least $419,000 came from Idahoans, with the largest donation of $100,000 coming from Belinda VanderSloot, the wife of Idaho Falls conservative millionaire and Melaleuca CEO Frank L. VanderSloot.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Minnick Voices Support to Financial Overhaul Compromise

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Early on Friday, June 25, a 20-hour marathon by members of the U.S. House and Senate hammered out a reconciliation bill that could transform financial regulation. Their proposal would make lending agreements easier to understand, protect small borrowers from hidden penalties and fees and restrict trading by banks for their own benefit. The approval clears the way for both houses of Congress to vote on the full financial regulatory bill next week.

Idaho First District Rep. Walt Minnick tells Citydesk that in spite of aspects of the bill that "may result in unnecessary cost and government interference, there is more good than bad," in the legislative package.

"Based on my my initial understanding of the legislation, I'm inclined to support the bill," he said.

Minnick said the next step will be new legislation which he is crafting to oversee commercial real estate. Minnick cites a White House blue-ribbon panel which reported a 43 percent decline in commercial real estate assets in the last two years.

"And it's larger now," Minnick told Citydesk. "More individuals are credit-worthy for loans to sustain or build their businesses, but small lending institutions are stressed by collateral assets [commercial real estate] that are declining in value," he said. "They simply can't make the loans, even to eligible lenders."

Minnick told Citydesk he expects his commercial real estate reform legislation to surface before Labor Day.

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Hands Across the Sand

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Idahoans will get their opportunity to show support for coastal communities impacted by the Gulf oil spill, considered by many as the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Saturday, June 26, citizens across the globe will take part in Hands Across the Sand. Here in the Treasure Valley, the event will take place near the Boise River. The local chapter of the Sierra Club is asking participants to meet at 11 a.m. in Ann Morrison Park near the Underaid/Boise Rock School Youth Stage at this weekend's Boise Rec Fest.

Meanwhile, as of this morning, more than 240 lawsuits have been lodged against British Petroleum, citing BP's responsibility for the tragedy. A U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to meet in Boise on Tuesday, July 29, to consider how best to combine many of the existing lawsuits.

High seas and rough winds are forecast for today in the Gulf region, posing a new threat. The national hurricane center says a low pressure system in the Caribbean is moving Northwest and could possibly develop into a tropical cyclone.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Congress Says No to Unemployed

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 5:12 PM

The U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation late on Thursday, June 24, that would have extended unemployment benefits for more than 1 million of the nation's jobless, including approximately 22,000 Idahoans.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans got enough votes to prevent a measure (which would have extended benefits) from ever going to the floor of the Senate for a vote. According to the National Employment Law Project, without Congressional action, 1.2 million Americans will exhaust their jobless benefits by the end of June.

The Idaho Department of Labor estimates as many as 22,000 Idahoans could exhaust their jobless benefits in the next three months. The agency says more than 4,000 lost jobless benefits earlier this month.

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Idaho Settles with Micron, Five Others for Alleged Price-fixing

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Idaho is one of 33 states participating in a $173 million price-fixing settlement with a half dozen manufacturers of Dynamic Random Access Memory. Micron, NEC, Infineon, Hynix, Elpda and Mosel-Vietelic all manufacture DRAM, a computer chip used in personal computers, servers and workstations.

According to Idaho's Attorney General's office, the six manufacturers were accused of fixing DRAM prices. The manufacturers did not admit any violations. The amount to be distributed to Idaho consumers and businesses will be determined later.

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One and Done: Nampa Classical Academy's Charter Pulled

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Idaho's Public Charter School Commission has yanked the charter of the Nampa Classical Academy, after only one year of operating. The academy spent the better part of its freshman year debating the use of religious texts, bot it was the school's dire financial straits that led to their doom. This morning, the state commission voted unanimously to revoke NCA's charter for "failure to demonstrate fiscal soundness." An independent report to the commission says NCA finished its school year with a deficit of $140,000 and is expected to have another deficit of $140,000 in its next fiscal year.
75 teachers and parents filled a conference room at the JR Williams State Office Building in Boise this (Thursday) morning to hear NCA Board Chairman Terry McMasters ask the state commission for "grace and mercy."


The meeting got underway at 8:20. By 9:00, the Nampa Classical Academy's charter was revoked. Immediately following the vote, NCA board member Erik Makrush shouted "It's a bad day for charter schools," and stormed out of the room, with school administrators, teachers, and parents in tow. In the hallway, parents held up a big poster board, showcasing approximately 500 students who attended NCA this past school year.

Board member Makrush says Nampa Classical Academy will appeal today's decision to the Idaho Board of Education, but admitted, "we can't survive without the charter and the funding that comes with it."

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