Mail and Commentary July 20, 2011 

"Why should I be the only one trying to be meaningful? I'm lowering myself to your standards. it's fun to be a dumbass like you folks."

-- biggb, boiseweekly.com (BW, Opinion, "Next Week's Column," July 13, 2011)

On Animal Torture

While I am flattered that Boise Weekly chose to make me the "Citizen" of the week in the July 13-19 edition, I need to clarify a statement in the article. George Prentice asked me: "Have you ever witnessed animals being tortured?" I have never witnessed such abhorrent actions.

The answer that was printed, "Well, I grew up on a farm near Jerome," implies, of course, that I witnessed animals being tortured on our farm. That never happened and I am appalled that the statement creates the illusion that such things are the norm on farms and ranches. Mr. Prentice and I had a lengthy conversation regarding animal torture, repeat offenders and the mission of Idaho 1 of 3 to add felony penalties for torture and repeat offenders. But I must clarify that there was absolutely no intention to imply that I have ever witnessed animals being tortured on farms or ranches or that I believe such egregious actions are in any way part of the legal farming and ranching operations in our state.

--Virginia Hemingway,Boise

Screw Big Oil

ExxonMobil and the Drive Our Economy folks have been working hard the past few months to buy good public relations in the area. ExxonMobil with its $13 billion first quarter profit has no problem buying full-page ads in local papers and air time over local radio stations in an effort to convince the public its presence in the area is already benefiting us.

The pretense that the money spent on haircuts, sandwiches, propane, fishing supplies, fun run entry fees, and motel rooms by a handful of temporary, out-of-state workers breaking down modules at the Port of Lewiston comes close to off-setting potential losses to state and local economies if these loads are given the green light, is demeaning.

The drum banging seems to be an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that expert witnesses at the contested case hearing testified that private property owners along Highway 12 may easily suffer property value losses in the millions of dollars if this highway becomes a corridor for large industrial loads. Perhaps it wants to shift our focus away from the Idaho Transportation Department's admission that funds posted by ExxonMobil cover only 30 percent of the estimated future infrastructure repair costs.

Considering the potential damage these mega-loads present to our infrastructure, property values and to North Central Idaho's tourism industry, which has grown from $149 million to $166 million per year since 2004, the highly touted contributions to our local economy appear to be more like the glass beads traded to Chief Manhattan for his island.

--Paula Willis,Kooskia

Change Ain't That Great

Over 5,000 years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel, "Pick up your shovel, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the Promised Land."

Nearly 75 years ago, President [Franklin] Roosevelt said, "Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a camel; this is the Promised Land."

Now [Barack] Hussein Obama has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price of camels and mortgaged the Promised Land. So now we know what "Change" meant: more debt, more taxes, more welfare, more regulation, more government, more corruption. How do you like change now?

--David Hewitt,Boise

Reactions to the Hollywood Market Story

Of course, we'll all miss the Hollywood Market lady. But let's be fair and balanced about this. She had a bit of a mean streak when it came to our local Basque community. I ran into this while campaigning for Mayor [Dave] Bieter. I never understood her Basque enmity but agree to forgive and forget all that now. RIP Margaret.

--D. Neil Olson,Boise

Everyone is sad to see Margaret pass away. Perhaps no one was a closer friend to Margaret than I was, but I am certain that many people felt that way. She was one of a kind and a real example of charity, loyalty and pluck to those she left behind.

Here are a few facts about Margaret's last days that were not discussed in the Boise Weekly article.

Margaret had been in the hospital frequently over the last two years (one time this spring having to be resuscitated from heart failure) and had recently asked me to review my responsibilities under her will.

There were problems at the market. For example, she was robbed each of the last four nights she was at the store and countless times before that.

She was losing about $5,000 per month on the store. Before losing her right to sell beer and wine she was losing twice that. She could no longer make change. Some people quoted in the story claimed that that had always been the case, but that is not true (previously, she was very quick with numbers and could do amazing calculations in her head).

For the last few months she was often unable to figure the amounts owed. She was no longer able to figure out the lottery machine and would ask customers to do it themselves. She could no longer use the credit card reader. She was not able to keep track of rents owed or payments received. Margaret spent 10 hours a day on her feet because she could no longer get up and she was too proud to ask for help. It was physically exhausting for her.

At her home things were falling apart. She couldn't get up from frequent falls and had to call neighbors in the middle of the night to help. Her relationship with Danny became unpredictable and very out of character. Danny needed help to cope emotionally and leaned heavily on members of his ward and on me. Margaret couldn't take care of her personal needs or those of her son, such as preparing food and proper hygiene.

The bank and I were deeply concerned because she was signing contracts and not remembering what she had signed or why. The bank and I tried to help her understand what the issues were, but she would ask the same questions repeatedly. We began writing down the questions with the answer so that she could remember what had been said. When we showed her the written notes from minutes before, she was confused and scared.

When her personal physician declared her incapacitated due to vascular dementia, every one in her immediate circle of advisors and caregivers agreed. Difficult decisions were made with regard to Margaret's best interests and Danny's. She was appointed a guardian. We decided that we could have someone assist her at the store, because we all knew that she did not want to give it up. We hired around-the-clock care for her to help her dress, bathe, prepare food and to help at the store. This was to enable her to still be with her friends, keep her safe from falls and give her help sitting down and getting up.

A few people at the store were rude to the caregiver, who witnessed the robberies, and was afraid for her safety and Margaret's. Unfortunately, it was clear that Margaret needed more help than it was possible to give at the store.

These were all hard decisions, but I can assure you that all of these moves were made with Margaret's best interest in mind. We were required by Margaret's Last Will and Testament, which she wrote in 2003, to take steps to protect her financial estate so Danny would be well cared for in case of her mental incapacity or death, which responsibility we all took seriously.

St. Luke's Hospital, Boise Behavioral Health, Willow Park Assisted Living, and Castle Rock Services were kind and professional during Margaret's last weeks.

Those concerned about Margaret's money will be happy to know that she left everything to her son, Danny. I personally have never accepted any compensation from Margaret, though she tried to pay me many times. Margaret's friends, including me, received no money or any other compensation from her will either. Healthcare providers and other professional services were compensated according to services rendered.

Margaret's family was all gathered around her bedside for the last few days of her life. Her heart, kidneys and lungs had given out. Danny and I were alone with her when she drew her last breath, Danny holding her right hand and I her left. She opened her eyes and looked at the two of us. I felt good knowing that there was some comfort for her, knowing that, as she had planned, there were people who would continue to care for her son in the future.

Margaret, God Bless you.

--Reed Hansen,Boise

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