Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Michael Bloomberg, Simplot, Intermountain Gas Among Donors to Pro-Luna Laws Group

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 3:44 PM

As promised, representatives of Education Voters of Idaho complied with a judge's order Wednesday afternoon by disclosing campaign finance reports with the Idaho Secretary of State's Office.

Until now, the group's donors remained anonymous despite spending more than $200,000 on a statewide advertising campaign advocating the controversial Students Come First package, better known as the Luna Laws.

Top contributors to the pro-Luna Laws effort include $200,000 from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and $250,000 from Joseph B. Scott, chairman of the board of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

Also included on list was $5,000 from Simplot (through the report doesn't indicate whether the donation was from the Simplot family or the J.R. Simplot Company), $25,000 from Wyoming anti-tax activist Foster Friess, $10,000 each from Intermountain Gas Company and Idaho Forest Group, $5,000 from 13D Research (listing a Virgin Islands address), $2,500 from Blackfoot-based engineering company Premier Technology, $2,500 from Boise-based radioactive waste service provider US Ecology Inc. and $1,000 from Boise-based firearms distributor GSA Direct.

A full list of donations and expenditures was submitted to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa (see the full report below).

The Students Come First initiatives face voter approval or rejection on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election ballot in the form of Propositions 1, 2 and 3.




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Son of Idaho Senator Accidentally Shoots Wife in Buttocks

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 2:30 PM

The son of eastern Idaho Democratic Sen. Edgar Malepeai reportedly shot his wife in the buttocks earlier this week.

The Idaho Falls Post-Register reports that 37-year-old Ian Malepeai was hunting with his wife, 31-year-old Hailey Hodges, on Monday, when, while removing a 7 mm rifle from their pickup truck, he discharged the weapon, sending a bullet into her backside.

Bonneville County Sheriff's deputies told the Post-Register that Hodges was transported to a hospital, where she was in stable condition after treatment.

Edgar Malepeai, a five-term legislator and outgoing Senate minority Leader, announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.

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Studies: Expect More Spiraling Storms

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Evidence continues to mount that warmer years mean more, stronger hurricanes.
  • NOAA
  • Evidence continues to mount that warmer years mean more, stronger hurricanes.

While millions of Americans face a massive cleanup in the wake of the latest natural disaster, researchers are quick to add that science tells us to expect more extreme weather sooner than later.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Oct. 15 used tide records dating back to 1923 to show that the severity of hurricanes is increasing. Specifically, warmer years are associated with greater numbers of storms and stronger storms. They are also associated with bigger storm surges—surges that caused billions of dollars in damage to New York City and New Jersey. Sandy's storm surge in lower Manhattan reached almost 14 feet, the largest ever recorded in the area.

An earlier study, published in Geophysical Research Letters in May, also suggested that rising ocean temperatures are increasing the intensity of storms. The researchers, led by Dev Niyogi of Purdue University, used satellite data from the last 25 years to see if these tropical cyclones are changing over time. They found that the storms are tending to intensify more quickly, and that they end up becoming higher category storms.

A third study, led by James Elsner of Florida State University, looked at hurricane data from across the world between 1981 and 2006. They published their data in the journal Nature in 2008. They found a 31 percent increase in strong storms (those in the top fifth in a ranking of storms by their intensities), from 13 to 17 strong cyclones for a 1.8ยบ F rise in ocean temperature.

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Wall Street Turns The Lights Back On: Gas, Lumber Futures Soar

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Wall Street came back to life this morning after shuttering for its longest weekday shutdown in more than a century.

Shares moved immediately lower in the shadow of Hurricane Sandy, which has killed at least 50 people and may cause up to $15 billion in insured losses.

But U.S. gasoline futures surged in the face of potentially long-term supply disruptions. Those futures hit their highest level in more than two weeks.

Additionally, lumber futures soared on expectations for increased demand.

As the New York Stock Exchange re-opened, not everything was back to normal. Cellphone reception was sketchy on the NYSE floor as traders headed to exits to make calls, email or text.

Of local interest, Micron shares held steady on the NASDAQ exchange at $5.46 per share as Hewlett-Packard dropped 23 cents to $13.86 per share as of midday.

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Former Meridian School Counselor Says He's Innocent of Child Porn Charges

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Mark Saltzer, 43, is being held on $1 million bond.
  • Courtesy: Ada County Jail
  • Mark Saltzer, 43, is being held on $1 million bond for alleged sexual exploitation of a child.

It will be April 2013 before a former Meridian Middle School counselor faces trial for 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Officials with the Meridian School District insist that any alleged crimes committed by 43-year-old Mark Saltzer "took place completely outside our school system." Saltzer, an employee of the Meridian district since 2007, was put on leave over the summer.

Boise Police raided Saltzer's home Aug. 17, when they said they discovered nearly 400 pornographic images of children. Prosecutors said Saltzer was part of an online group that traded self-produced porn files.

Saltzer, who pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday, is being held at the Ada county Jail on a $1 million bond.

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Things That Go Vote in the Night: Idaho Dems' Pre-Election Halloween

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Ada County Democratic Chairwoman Colleen Fellows dons a cow costume at the Boo, Brew and Blue event.
  • Idaho Democratic Party
  • Ada County Democratic Chairwoman Colleen Fellows dons a cow costume at the Boo, Brew and Blue event.

Tuesday night, the Idaho Democratic Party hosted a party partly to celebrate Halloween, but with a week before Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, it also offered a chance to talk politics.

Billed as a "Boo, Brew and Blue" party, the event included live music by local musicians, food and a costume contest at the Visual Arts Collective in Garden City.

"[The goal] was really three-fold," said Dean Ferguson, spokesman for the Idaho Democratic Party. "One, it was a fundraiser, so any extra funds above cost, which were really low, go to our voter mobilization campaign, which is basically get out the vote. Also, anybody who registered to vote got in at a lower price. And the third one was to have fun."

Ferguson guessed about 100 people came out, including some in costumes. One man dressed in a grim reaper outfit while another woman wore a 1040 personal income tax form.

Two things inevitable in life: death and taxes.

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Secretive Luna Law Support Donations May Be Revealed Today

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 9:12 AM

In the continued debate over three education reform referendums on Tuesday's ballot, political groups and private donors have contributed large amounts of money to both sides.

But one group, Education Voters of Idaho, has been fighting to keep its donor list secret. That could change today, following a court order.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa sued to enforce the disclosure requirements of the state's Sunshine Law, which requires groups to reveal the source of funds used in campaigns.

EVI contributed funds to a statewide TV ad campaign in support of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, which would uphold a series of education reforms implemented during the last legislative session.

On Tuesday, 4th District Judge Mike Wetherell ordered the group to disclose its sources of funding by 3 p.m. today.

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Mountain Express: Plum TV Goes Dark

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Plum TV, which provided programming to Sun Valley and other resort communities across the United States, has gone dark without notifying Sun Valley cable provider Cox Communications.

This morning's Idaho Mountain Express reports that Plum TV filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 11, suspending its local operations and laying off five Sun Valley employees. But Plum TV continued to provide nationally syndicated content on Channels 13 and 14 in Sun Valley.

That is until viewers were greeted by static on Oct. 18.

"We were not given advance notice of their plans," said Cox spokeswoman Gail Graveve, who added that Cox was under the impression that Plum TV would cease operations in 2013.

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Federal Judge Denies Satellite Voting For Native Americans on Remote Reservations

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 9:06 AM

A federal judge has denied an emergency order sought by a group of American Indians looking for satellite voting accommodations since they live in extremely remote sections of Montana.

The Native Americans from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations say they must travel more than 120 miles roundtrip to vote at the nearest polling place, in Chinnok, Mont.

But the Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull said regardless of whether voting discrimination exists, the plaintiffs did not show they were unable to vote for the candidates of their choice.

"I'm not arguing that the opportunity is equal for Indian persons as it is to non-Indians," Cebull said. "Because of poverty, because of the lack of vehicles and that sort of thing, it's probably not equal. However, you have to prove ... that they can't elect candidates of their choice."

The Native Americans' attorney said there was too little time before the election to appeal Cebull's ruling.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys submitted court filings in support of the Native Americans. Those included a deposition from a University of Wyoming geography professor who said American Indians from the reservations must drive at least twice as far as whites to vote before Election Day.

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AP: Woman Charged With Abandoning Children On Idaho Highway

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Shannon Germanton, 27, is charged with negligent driving.
  • Spokane County Jail
  • Shannon Germanton, 27, is charged with negligent driving.

A Washington state woman was sent to the Spokane County lockup Tuesday night, but she told law enforcement she had only left her car on Idaho's Interstate 90 to go get some gas. Sheriff's deputies said that may be true but she abandoned her two young sons along the Interstate.

The Associated Press reports that the boys, aged 6 and 3, were placed in foster care after being found in Post Falls, near the Idaho-Washington border.

The suspect, 27-year-old Shannon Germanton, is charged with negligent driving. Idaho authorities are looking to add additional charges of child abandonment and child neglect.

After rescuing the children, law enforcement tried to contact Germanton on her cellphone, but police said she was "evasive about her whereabouts and kept hanging up."

She was found later inside a Spokane area home.

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