Wednesday, June 11, 2014

U.S. Judge: Idaho's Restriction on Occupy Boise Tent City Unconstitutional

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Occupty Boise, November 2011

Occupy Boise won still another, and significant, victory in U.S. Court Wednesday with a federal judge ruling against the State of Idaho, and the Idaho Legislature in particular, in its attempt to limit protests in and around the State Capitol.

An order from U.S. Judge B. Lynn Winmill said the State of Idaho's enforcement policies of limiting around-the-clock tent city protests, such as Occupy Boise's encampment in 2011 and 2012, was unconstitutional. The ruling also chided the State for its "history of targeting Occupy" and the State's "past policy of suppressing protected speech." Simply put, Winmill's ruling said the state's attempt to ban a tent-city protest targeted "political speech for suppression" and "violates the group's First Amendment rights."

"This has been a long and costly battle over liberties that the State should treasure, not suppress," said ACLU Legal Director Ritchie Eppink. "Let's hope this permanent injunction gets our elected officials to stop and think, and to start welcoming dissent, rather than trying to squelch it."

In effect, Wednesday' ruling says that the State's rules on restricting tent-cities-as-protest no longer exist.

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UPDATE: Blaine County Commissioner Blasts Media Over Repeated Bergdahl Inquiries

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 3:49 PM

UPDATE: June 11, 2014, 3 p.m.

Blaine County Commissioners said Wednesday that they have had it up to here with reporters hounding their fellow citizens with questions about Hailey native and U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.

"They've been answering questions politely and honestly, and hoping for the sake of the family that you all go away," said Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen, according the Twin Falls Times-News.

The Twin Falls newspaper reports that Schoen said the people of Hailey "are sick of the attention and will be getting on with their lives now. He said they're tired of being stopped on the street and questioned by reporters."

"We only have wanted to support his family and to see Bowe returned safely to U.S. soil."

Schoen said the public should not "rush to judgment."

"Be patient and allow the military justice process to work," he said.


Blaine County commissioners have announced that they'll be holding a 1 p.m. press conference Wednesday. The lawmakers said the topic will be "the controversy in our community surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's return."

The Idaho native and U.S. Army sergeant gained freedom a week and a half ago after five years as the only U.S. military prisoner of war during the war in Afghanistan. Bergdahl's freedom was secured through a controversial swap of five Taliban POWs.

The city of Hailey canceled a welcome-home celebration for Bergdahl following a storm of criticism from critics of the White House's plan to swap prisoners with the Taliban.

Today's press conference is set for the Blaine County Courthouse on First Avenue in Hailey.

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Caldwell Considers Smoking Ban at Arenas

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM

The city of Caldwell is mulling a smoking ban at its public arenas.

This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Canyon County commissioners have already signed a resolution to support a smoking ban at the county-owned Gabiola Field, located next to Simplot Stadium. Now, the Caldwell City Council is expected to consider a proposed ordinance to ban tobacco or electronic cigarettes within the gated areas of Simplot Stadium, Wolfe Field Baseball Stadium, O'Connor Field House and Gabiola Field.

The Press-Tribune reports that the proposal stems from more than $1 million in upgrades to Simplot Stadium, in anticipation of the College of Idaho's new season of football, beginning this fall for the first time in 37 years.

C of I officials say the new turf at Simplot Field could easily be damaged by cigarette butts or ash.

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Coldwater Creek Sells Its Brand to New York Firm

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Following its bankruptcy announcement in April after 30 years in business, Coldwater Creek began liquidating its inventory and closing down more than 300 stores in 47 states.

And now even its name has been sold.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that New York-based equity firm Sycamore Partners has purchased the Coldwater Creek brand and other intellectual property from CWC Direct LLC. The amount was undisclosed. Sycamore has previously purchased several company brands including Hot Topic, Aeropostale, Jones New York, the Kasper Group, MGF Sourcing and Talbots, adding up to more than $3.5 billion in assets.

"Coldwater Creek is an outstanding brand with a 30-year heritage and strong support from its loyal base of longtime customers," said Sycamore in a press release.

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Montana Agrees to Deal With Feds to Beef Up Prosecutions of Sex Assault Cases

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:40 AM

The attorney general for Montana was put in the unenviable position of having to serve as a mediator between prosecutors in his own state and the U.S. Department of Justice. But as a result of that mediation, the Missoula County attorney has agreed to step up investigations and prosecutions of sexual assaults, promising to add several new positions and provide funding for experts to help their investigations.

In a scathing report issued earlier this year, the DOJ accused Missoula prosecutors of giving sexual assault cases their lowest priority, not because of evidentiary hurdles, but because of gender bias. According to the DOJ, one case involved a woman whose 5-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted by an adolescent boy but was allegedly told by a prosecutor that "boys will be boys." Another alleged victim was reportedly told by prosecutors that "all you want is revenge."

And this morning's Missoulian reports that tensions remained high at a news conference Monday, announcing a resolution of the long-standing feud. The Missoula County attorney, who has already announced his pending retirement, continued to assert that the DOJ had no authority over his office.

“The letter that (Acting U.S. Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels) issued on Feb. 14 was the single most unprofessional thing I have seen in my practice of law in 41 years," said Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg. "It hurts hugely to see my staff defamed in the way they defamed him.”

Valkenburg also pushed back against how much his department would need to spend to beef up its investigations and prosecutions.

“There is a price to things and the taxpayers have to pay that bill or their grandchildren or great-grandchildren have to pay that bill. And we should all be very cognizant of that," he said.

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Raft and Tube Rentals Will Begin Wednesday, June 18

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 9:05 AM


Rafting and tube rentals along the Boise River will launch another season next Wednesday, June 18, about the same time as 2013, a week earlier than 2012, and nearly a full month earlier than 2011.

The Ada County Parks and Waterways Department and Epley's Boise River Rentals are pointing to an unusual string of warmer days and what they say are moderate river flows in announcing the opening. Citizens are cautioned that they can float the Boise River on their own prior to the tube rental service opening, but rentals and shuttle services are only available when temperatures and water levels are optimal and the river has been swept for debris removal.

Ada County reminds rafters that the river is cold and swift, and can be very dangerous if people aren't adequately prepared and exercising caution. It is highly recommended that floaters use the designated take-out location at Ann Morrison Park. Another big reminder: alcohol and glass containers are strictly prohibited on the river.

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