Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wolf Negotiations Go Awry

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Meetings between the governors of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar took a turn Monday.

"I was ready to go forward with a hunt in January of 170-something wolves,” said Mont. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, “But the governors, we couldn't come to a consensus with the Secretary of Interior about a possible legislative fix."

According to Schweitzer, Idaho and Wyoming refused to concede to the Interior Secretary's plans, including Wyoming having three years to draft an acceptable wolf-management plan. As of now, Wyoming's law lists wolves as a predator which allows wolves to be killed by any method, by anyone, without a license in over 85% of the state.

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The Obama administration has been looking to lift Endangered Species Act protections from the gray wolf, which has been a long-heated issue.

Environmentalists have opposed delisting wolves due to the threat of their successful comeback. Although wolves have surpassed their recovery goal numbers, there is still question on whether these numbers are viable for full species recovery. If delisted, the wolves would likely be opened to public hunting.

Sportsmen and ranchers, conversely, are in favor of delisting wolves. They argue the predators are decimating elk and livestock.

In April 2009, wolves were removed from the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho, while remaining on the list in Wyoming. In August 2010, Judge Molloy relisted wolves and grizzlies, stating protections cannot be awarded by political boundaries. Judge Molloy upheld that the entire range of the Rockies must be treated as a whole.

Delisting would mean the states would take control of management of approximately 1,700 wolves.

The state plans assure that the states will maintain a population of 100 wolves in Idaho and 100 in Montana.

Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter has stated on his website that “we are just as committed as ever to delisting and restoring State management of wolves as quickly as possible. We now have more time to focus on a path forward on delisting- whether that is through Congress or via the courts.”

Ken Cole, environmental policy coordinator for the Western Watershed Project said, "Essentially, ranchers and some sportsmen are upset because we keep winning our cases in court, forcing them to follow the law. They feel entitled to a predator-free environment. So, in order to get what they want, they're trying to change the law- in my opinion, this would set a terrible precedent."
Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff has stated that talks are still going on, but according to Schweitzer it is doubtful legislation on this issue will see Congress this year.

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Payette Transgender Woman Awaits Arson, Weapons Trial in Isolation

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Monday, Dec. 6, Catherine Carlson, 53, was in Payette Country Court for a preliminary hearing after a psychological evaluation earlier this month deemed her competent to stand trial.

After over an hour of testimony by city and county officials and first responders to the July 11 incident where Carlson set fire to her Payette trailer, Judge A. Lynn Krogh, found “probable cause” to proceed with the case. Carlson is scheduled to be arraigned on January 7 where a trial date will likely be set.

Facing up to 40 years in state prison, Carlson said she sees herself a martyr for an issue she has been fighting in Idaho for several years: dignity and respect for transgender citizens.

Carlson is a transgender woman who had a legal name change in California as a prerequisite to sexual reassignment surgery she had 30 years ago.

According to Carlson, the state of Idaho was not aware of her male history until it was revealed in court over a civil matter more than a decade ago by her own mother. Carlson said ever since Idaho has listed her male name as an a.k.a. despite her efforts to have the name removed.

Carlson said she was frustrated by being outed with every traffic stop or ID check by police and having that information broadcasted over police scanners., Carlson said it "puts a target on her back" in the small conservative rural community where she lives.

Asked if she plans to plead guilty, Carlson told Citydesk, “Of course I am not going to plead guilty, the reason I did what I did is because they refuse to let me live my life, so it’s up to them to do something with my life.” Carlson said if police and officials, “want to be bigots it’s going to cost them,” referring to the cost of a trial and prison.

Payette Country Sheriff, Chad Huff, told City Desk, although Carlson has been a “model inmate” she is being kept in isolation in the old jail and that Carlson is within earshot of male inmates. Asked why Carlson is not being held with other females, Huff said, “That is on the advice of my legal counsel. That is why we put her in a separate cell.” Huff reason, “that’s just what [legal counsel] told me so I follow the advice of my attorneys.” Where Carlson is being kept she is observed by male jailers where in the female pod, Huff says there is a female jailer on duty at all times.

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  • Payette County Jail

In contrast, Kristina Ross, a male-to-female transgender woman currently in Ada County Jail on another matter, is being held in general population with other female inmates.
CORRECTION: Kristina Ross, a male-to-female transgender woman currently in Ada County Jail is listed as female and is housed on the female side of the jail. However, she is not in general population as previously reported. Ross is being held in Administrative Segregation.

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P & Z Haikus

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Last night's Planning and Zoning committee meeting chugged on for a good 90 minutes before commissioners began reconsidering the proposed downtown Whole Foods development.

With ample time to mull over conditional use permits and variances—or stare blankly at the majestic Native American-inspired carpeted wall mural jutting up behind the commissioners' heads—we decided to whip out some sexy P&Z haikus to keep things entertaining. Here are a few:


Christmas garland winds
around laptops, name placards.
Commission says, "Aye."


Emotionless tone:
"Motion to reconsider.
Please ignore photos."


We disagree on
vinyl siding and concrete
but it's not over.


A public comment.
Quivering cottonmouth, cane:
"I will miss the pond."

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Nigeria Takes on Cheney

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Former Vice President Dick Cheney might want to think more than twice about planning any trips to Africa any time soon. The government of Nigeria has filed formal bribery charges against Cheney in connection to a case involving KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton—which Cheney headed before moving to Washington, D.C.

KBR pleaded guilty last year to bribing government officials in conjunction with a liquefied natural gas project. Cheney's lawyer has—not surprisingly—stated that the charges are baseless.

Check out the full story as reported by BBC.

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Planning and Zoning Unanimously Approves Whole Foods

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 11:49 AM

“We’re ecstatic,” beamed Brad Schlosser, president of Schlosser Development, amid a sea of back-pats at the Dec. 6 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting. This was the third time in two months that the Austin, Texas-based developer had traveled to Boise to make his case for a proposed 35,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery and adjacent 15,000-square-foot Walgreens retail store, which would both occupy the vacant lot bordered by Broadway Avenue and Front and Myrtle streets.

Though initial requests to rezone the long-fallow 5.66 acre site from residential/office to commercial were shot down at an Oct. 4 P&Z meeting, the developers were granted a reconsideration on the grounds that they tweak their proposal to better comply with the River-Myrtle Plan, and apply for a special exception for the Walgreens drive-through instead of a rezone.

“The special exception … applies to a specific-use project, it does not change the range of uses allowed or the dimensional standards of the existing zone,” explained P&Z City Planner Cody Riddle. “The special exception is only required for the small retail building at the corner. The grocery store … is a conditionally allowed use.”

New plans presented at the Dec. 6 meeting by Schlosser’s Rick Duggan included a number of changes: a 10 percent decrease in surface parking spaces, reductions in parking setbacks, alterations to the Walgreens retail drive-through and a pedestrian node adjacent to Julia Davis Park to shield the buildings from the street.

“With its polished-granite boulders rising from shallow pools surrounded by evergreens and seating areas, this corner will become an important landmark for the surrounding community,” explained Duggan.

But one element that was not altered was a request for small (3-8 feet) variances from front and street-side building setbacks. Citing no obvious hardships, P&Z staff recommended denying the variances. But Schlosser explained their necessity.

“The hardship is the fact that we are proposing that we build the project in a phased arrangement … you would therefore push phase two into a situation where you would disorient the opportunity to build structured parking, the very essence of the vertical mixed use,” said Schlosser.

“Every foot counts here,” added Duggan.

Property owner Jim Kissler also assured commissioners that phase two of the project—vertical mixed-use retail and residential development—will proceed as planned.

“I’ll continue to own the 1.77 acres that’s going to be the space for future development,” said Kissler. “It’s got to go vertical for the amount of money we’ve got in the total lot.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the CUP and the variances, and to recommend approval of the special exception for the drive-through to City Council on the condition that both buildings are completed within six months of each other.

“The next step is to go in front of the Design Review committee … and to get the plans started so that we can start construction by the second or third quarter of next year,” said Schlosser.

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Top White House Officials Consider INL Report

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 11:47 AM

White House officials are mulling a report from the Idaho National Laboratory calling for increased support to kickstart the nuclear energy industry.

The report, authored by scientists at the INL and the centrist-Democratic group Third Way, is urging the Obama administration and the new Congress to increase money for loan guarantees for nuclear power plants. You may recall earlier this year when feds guaranteed a $2 billion loan to French-owned Areva to build a nuclear facility in Easter Idaho.

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu, White House Energy Advisor Carol Browner and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko are participating in a Tuesday meeting in Washington, D.C., hosted by Third Way and INL.

In Wednesday's edition of the BW, we visit the recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in Payette County, where officials considered greenlighting a proposed nuclear reactor for 5,000 acres near New Plymouth.

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Survey: Idaho Ninth Healthiest State

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Idaho has become a healthier place to live, at least according to the latest survey from the United Health Foundation.

UHF ranks Idaho as the ninth healthiest state in the nation. Elsewhere in the region, Oregon ranked 15th, Washington came in at 11th and Montana was 25th. A year ago, Idaho was 14th.

The survey points to Idaho's strengths including a low incidence of infectious disease, a low rate of preventable hospitalizations and a low rate of cancer deaths. On the minus side, Idaho has a limited availability of primary care physicians and a high rate of uninsured residents (approximately 15 percent of Idaho's population).

The unhealthiest state in the nation: Mississippi. The healthiest: Vermont.

You can read the full report here.

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116th Officially Begins Iraq Mission

Posted By on Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Idaho's Cavalry Brigade Combat Team has assumed command over Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, Iraq.

Col. Guy Thomas (left) and Command Sgt. Major Steven Woodall (right) uncase the 116th CBCT colors.
  • 116th CBCT
  • Col. Guy Thomas (left) and Command Sgt. Major Steven Woodall (right) uncase the 116th CBCT colors.

Some 1,500 Idaho soldiers, along with 600 each from Oregon and Montana make up the 116th. Their new "home" is now known as "Task Force Snake," an office not unlike a city or state government office, responsible for maintaining infrastructure and support services to thousands of U.S. military and civilians occupying VBC. Operating as a garrison command includes departments for public works, logistics, human resources, operations and camp mayors. The departments and "mayor cells" cooperatively to ensure VBC resident have adequate housing, electricity, water and other resources.

The 116th CBCT is expected back home in 10 months.

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