Ron Paul, Sex Books and Cab Fare

Idaho Paulites withhold six McCain votes

The Idaho delegation to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., cast 26 votes for John McCain and Sarah Palin, with its six Ron Paul supporters refusing to cast a nominating vote.

Alanna Grimm, one of Idaho's six Paul delegates, told citydesk that Ron Paul was never nominated as a candidate and thus it was not possible to cast a vote for him.

"We were Ron Paul delegates, and we just didn't vote for McCain," Grimm said.

Lt. Gov. Jim Risch announced 26 of Idaho's 32 votes for McCain in the name of Kristin Armstrong and Sarah Palin during the official nominations at the GOP convention but made no mention of the abstentions.

Grimm would not say whom she'll vote for in November, but she lauded Palin's breakthrough convention speech and said the true conservatives in the crowd were pleased: "Conservatism matters," she said.

Several months ago, Grimm told us that McCain was not electable, but Palin's nomination has made her rethink that.

Grimm also attended Paul's parallel convention, the Rally for the Republic, while in St. Paul.

While Grimm did not believe it possible to support Paul on the convention floor, The Wall Street Journal blog reported that Paul did get 15 votes at the convention, including five from Palin's home state of Alaska. And Romney got two Utah votes. Some Paul supporters complained that their state delegations censored their votes for Paul.

Prior to the presidential primary, Palin was filmed praising Romney for getting Alaskan issues and calling Ron Paul "cool."

Most Idaho candidates refuse questions

Project VoteSmart, a national database of politicians, candidates and their positions, recently released its totals for this year's Idaho surveys. Only four of nine federal candidates in Idaho agreed to answer the group's questions, and 37 percent of state office seekers responded.

They call it the Political Courage Test, and 37 percent is not a bad response rate for state offices, Project VoteSmart spokesman Brandon Horton said.

We asked Horton why Idaho candidates should care about this national survey (which happens to be based in Montana, not Washington, D.C.).

"Our test and the organization itself is completely nonpartisan," Horton said. So of the dozens of surveys candidates are asked to fill out during election season, VoteSmart has a track record, a national scale and a board of directors that warrant some attention.

The group's board includes both George McGovern and Newt Gingrich. It used to include John McCain, according to Horton, but he was forced off the board when he refused to answer the questionnaire, a requirement for all board members.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also declined the survey in her bid for governor, but maybe she should get a second chance now that she's playing in a different league.

The site is full of fascinating data, like a list of dozens of individuals whom you've never heard of who launched presidential bids this year. You can also see who answered the questionnaire from Idaho, though the site is not quite up to date.

After finding that only 10 percent of the public knew about the database, Project VoteSmart launched a national PR campaign, that includes a big voter education bus that was in Boise a few weeks ago.

Sex books back

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho reminded the Nampa Public Library Board last week that libraries are about access and freedom, not restriction and social control.

After getting a letter from the ACLU that demanded a response within a week to stave off a First Amendment lawsuit, the library board called an emergency meeting, met with its attorney and unanimously reversed its position on sequestering two how-to books about sex.

"The Nampa Public Library Board of Trustees decision upholds the mission of the public library, which allows people the freedom to read, learn and understand information equally and freely without discrimination. That's the kind of library we all want to visit," said Fonda Portales, director of public education for the ACLU of Idaho.

Back in June, the library board had decided to remove the books from the shelves and keep them in an office. They could still be checked out on special request. The move was a response to complaints from a patron and sparked a months-long debate.

"Many, many public libraries have this kind of material," said library spokesman Dan Black. "There are a lot of how-to books in the library, everything from how to make a dress to how to make a cake to how to have sex."

Library board members couched the decision to return the books to the shelves in terms of fiscal responsibility, which, in Nampa, may actually trump family values. But whatever the excuse, at press time, The Joy of Sex and The Joy of Gay Sex, are back on the shelf with no holds.

Black said the debate over two books has been a large distraction for the library, which carries 600,000 titles and is very well-used.

"Nobody wanted Nampa to be a test case on a national forum," he said.

We at citydesk wonder why the folks who brought us Joy/Sex-gate have not gotten their panties in a bunch over another title that is available in Nampa: The Joy of Solo Sex.

And no, it is not about getting off on censorship.

Taxi fare hike imminent

The Boise City Council was to consider a 30-cent-per-mile fare hike for city taxi cabs as BW went to press. Taxi drivers are subject to increased fuel costs, like everyone else, and asked the city to raise their rates to $2.50 per mile. But after a review of gas prices, comparison to similar-sized cities and a look at fuel efficiency, the city clerk's office is recommending $2.40, an increase of 30 cents on the mile.

Taxi fares have not increased since 2005, when they were raised to cover increasing fuel costs as well. According to Bobby Coffman, president of the Boise Association of Taxi Drivers, the current fare increase would also cover a small cost-of-living bump as well.

"We're trying to keep it down as much as possible but to cover the additional expenses," said Coffman, who drives for Non Smoking Taxi.

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, 4,158 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,377 in combat and 781 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 30,634. In the last week, one U.S. soldier died.

Since President George W. Bush declared "mission accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, 4,008 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 86,864 and 94,782.


COST OF IRAQ WAR: $552,602,125,205


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