Friday, November 11, 2011

Occupy Boise Works to Maintain Positive Public Relations

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM

As the Occupy Boise encampment prepares to enter its second week, protesters are just starting to settle in and get comfortable.

“The first day was really cold. I don’t know if it’s that we adjusted or that it’s been less cold, but it seems like it’s been getting easier as time goes on,” said Jake Krahn, a member of the group.


On a typical evening this week, just as the workday was ending, occupiers were busy having conversations about politics and campground logistics, working on their shelters, holding a workshop, and playing music.

Citydesk spoke with a few passersby near the area to catch some public opinion on the encampment.

“I’ve heard about it through the news, but I don’t really know a lot about it,” said Christopher Wallace, a local businessman. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re free to do it.“

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Army Sergeant Convicted of War Crimes

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was found guilty today of all charges for his role as an accused ringleader in a series of war crimes. Gibbs was convicted in a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, outside of Seattle.

On Sept. 22, Boise Pfc. Andrew Holmes was sentenced to seven years in prison for killing an unarmed 15-year-old Afghan boy as part of the string of crimes. The so-called "kill team" was accused of slaying Afghan civilians in January 2010.

Gibbs was convicted of three counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder, impeding an investigation and dereliction of duty. A court martial panel will determine if Gibbs will face life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.

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Feds, Local Agencies Bust Alleged Gang Members

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM

U.S. Atty Wendy Olson is flanked by local, state and federal authorities during Thursdays announcement
  • U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, flanked by local, state and federal authorities Thursday, announces the arrests of alleged Canyon County Nortendo gang members.

Federal law-enforcement agents told Citydesk this afternoon that the so-called "Norteno," or Northside, street gang boasts as many as 250 members in the Treasure Valley, primarily Canyon County. But the feds also announced that a half-dozen members of the gang, along with five others, were indicted and busted on a string of weapons and drug-trafficking charges.

A 14-month probe by the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crimes Task Force resulted in the seizure of a cache of weapons, including sawed-off shotguns and pistols, and the seizure of methamphetamine smuggled in from Mexico.

Federal drug trafficking can be punishable by up to 20 years behind bars. Unlawful possession of a firearm can result in 10 years in prison.

A string of law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation, including the FBI, ATF, IDOC, and Boise, Caldwell and Nampa police. U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson made the announcement.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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IDOC Releases Protest Guidelines for Execution

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 3:23 PM

The Idaho Department of Correction, IDOC, has released a set of "standards of behavior" required of demonstrators—for or against—the Nov. 18 execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades.

In an effort to allow the public to exercise their First Amendment rights, says IDOC, they're "providing specific areas for the purpose of allowing the public to demonstrate..." made available from 5 a.m. until two hours after the execution has been completed.

Of nine safety considerations outlined, they range from the specific: "Users may not carry placards or signs attached to wood or metal posts of any type," to the obvious: "Possession of firearms or weapons is prohibited on IDOC property."

Participating minors must be accompanied by an adult at all times, everybody is subject to search with hand-held metal detectors, and personal items such as backpacks and purses are subject to inspection.

There's also a stipulation about the noise level. PA systems and bullhorns are prohibited, but if the noise of the event is considered "disruptive," demonstrators will be asked to "reduce the sound level to acceptable levels."

Should the execution be stayed, the areas will be closed at the discretion of IDOC.

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Former Gov. Andrus Rips into Current GOP Establishment

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 3:15 PM

During the lunch hour today, Cecil D. Andrus and his biographer Chris Carlson took the stage at the Boise City Club. Amid Chinese food and brownies, the audience drank up the color exuded from the 80-year-old former state senator, governor and secretary of the Interior under President Jimmy Carter.


While Andrus regaled the crowd with stories, he was nothing short of candid about the current administration of the Gem State.

"It infuriates me what they're doing now, and what they're trying to do to sell it to you, the public," said Andrus, speaking of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reforms during the introduction. "I hope we get to that."

Later, when a student asked if he supported Luna's plans:

"No I do not. In no way, shape or form. The most important item in a classroom is the teacher. They puffed out their chests and said, 'We did not raise your taxes,'" said Andrus.

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Feds to Drillers: Disclose Fracking Chemicals

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM

A subcommittee of the U.S. Department of Energy unveiled a series of recommendations today, including disclosure of all chemicals used for fracking, the controversial method of injecting high-pressured fluids into natural-gas wells to enchance gas flows.

Fracking is an integral part of new rules drafted by the Idaho Department of Lands following an exhaustive negotiating process that lasted through much of this summer. The rules are expected to be presented to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, chaired by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, next week.

A U.S. DOE advisory board subcommittee was tasked with making recommendations to improve the safety and environmental performance of natural-gas fracking. In addition to disclosure, recommendations included extensive testing, monitoring and disclosure of air pollution associated with gas development.

"Barring some small changes, these recommendations should be finalized and implemented as soon as possible," said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney for Earthjustice, who testified before the DOE. "The people downstream and downwind from the gas fields don't have any more time to waste."

In a BW investigation published Oct. 5, we examined a series of stumbles from Bridge Resources, the company that successfully drilled seven of 11 natural-gas wells in Payette County. Following the resignations of the company's top three executives, Bridge announced last week that it was selling its Idaho drilling operations.

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Idaho Labor Chief, Dems Feud Over Extended Jobless Benefits

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Idaho's Department of Labor director Roger Madsen is locked in a war of words with state Democrats over his calling for an end to further extensions of jobless benefits.

Madsen wrote to Idaho's congressional delegation calling for a cessation of unemployment benefits that provide support up to 99 weeks. Madsen said the extended payments "hurt the country's ability to strengthen its economy," saying the payouts add to the nation's deficit.

Idaho Dems fired back, saying Madsen wanted "to throw the unemployed in our state to the wolves to prove his tea party, anti-government credentials."

Democratic Party chair Larry Grant called on Madsen to resign.

"As head of the Idaho Department of Labor, it is Madsen's job to make sure every unemployed person in Idaho has the help and support they need, not cut the very funding their survival depends on," said Grant.

In a statement today, Madsen responded, "As for resigning, I serve at the pleasure of Gov. Otter, who has yet to ask for my resignation. Until he does, my goal is to stay on as director and strengthen Idaho's unemployment insurance program."

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IDFG to Buy Hammer Flat From Boise

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.

As expected, Fish and Game announced that its commission voted this morning to move ahead with the Hammer Flat negotiations.

"This is a tremendous victory for those who love Boise's Foothills and want to seem them preserved," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

A public information session regarding the potential purchase will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The time and place will be announced next week.


A little-known but high-impact item is on today's agenda when the Idaho Fish and Game Commission meets in Coeur d'Alene. Agenda item No. 11 is simply entitled, "Land Acquisitions." The item concerns Fish and Game's intention to purchase Hammer Flat from the City of Boise.

In March 2010, the city used $4.1 million in Foothills Levy funds to purchase the 701-acre Hammer Flat, about one mile east of the city and adjacent to the Boise River.

"Of all the incredible land acquisitions made through the Foothills serial levy, this is the most significant," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter at the time of the purchase.

Once upon a time, developers coveted Hammer Flat, hoping to build up to 1,350 homes in a planned subdivision known as the Cliffs, but the city's purchase brought all of that to a halt.

Shortly after the purchase, the city's Parks and Recreation Department locked access gates to Hammer Flat and posted no-trespassing signs. At the time, city officials said they still needed to determine what would be appropriate access. That frustrated a number of recreationists who sailed over the valley as paraglider pilots.

If commissioners approve the initiative today, Fish and Game is well on its way to purchasing the land from the city (for approximately the same amount that the city paid), using mitigation funds from the Bonneville Power Administration.

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Death Row Inmate's Mother Hopes Son's Life Will Be Spared

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 8:27 AM

With a little more than a week left until Paul Ezra Rhoades' pending execution, his family is apologizing to his victims and pleading for his life.

Rhoades is awaiting death by lethal injection, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18, at the Idaho Maximum Security Institute south of Boise. He is being executed for the 1987 kidnappings and murders of 21-year-old Stacy Baldwin and 34-year-old Susan Michelbacher of eastern Idaho. Rhoades was also convicted of the murder of 20-year-old Nolan Haddon but was sentenced to life behind bars for that crime.

"We know there is nothing we can say or do to console their families or understand the pain they have endured all of these years," read a statement from the Rhoades family. "We want them to know that Paul is not the same man he was in 1987. We want them to know that over the past 24 years, he has returned to being the same caring and unselfish person he was before we lost him to drugs. And we want them to know he has taken responsibility for his actions, and he is doing everything in his power to make up for what he did."

Rhoades was denied a clemency hearing late last week by the Idaho Commission on Pardons and Paroles.

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