Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Lesson in Ocular Trouble

My father-in-law has been battling some serious eye problems of late, which began this summer while they were back home visiting Idaho and their grandkids. I've never even worn glasses, so I thankfully don't relate to eye problems.

He sent an email to my wife to describe what he's experiencing. I'm reprinting it here (with his permission) mainly because I was amazed at the level of detail, I winced at the description, and I immediately searched for a bag of carrots in hopes of never being in the same situation.



This is your anatomy lesson.

The retina lines the back two-thirds of the eye. It is composed of millions of nerve endings that receives light signals and sends electical impluses to the brain - which translates an image. My retina peeled completly off the back wall of the eye and was lying in a puddle in the bottom of my eyeball. A good metaphor is like wall paper that doesn't stick and just slides down the wall into a heap on the floor. Because the retina receives light...and mine was in heap at the bottom of my brain wasn't receiving any light signals. So my right eye simply faded to black...nothing!

To fix this the Doc goes in with little tiny gardening tools and picks the retina back up and uses lasers to tack it onto the back of my eyeball. When it fell off, it also tore. So the Doc had to also use lasers to staple the retina back into one piece. The technique used to hold the retina in place so it will heal is to drain the vitreous out of the eyeball and pump a gas bubble into the eye. That is why I couldn't fly. My eye was filled with gas. As I would rise in elevation the gas bubble would expand and either blow the eyeball out or my brains out. Neither option was appealing.

The gas bubble begins to naturally dissipate into the body after about three weeks. The body's healing processes will naturally backfill the vitreous as the bubble dissapates. Because the gas bubble fills the eye it rubs agains the back of the lens. One of the common side effects of having your eye filled with gas is a cataract, a clouding of the lens. Once the lens gets scratched and cloudy it needs to be replaced. Similar to a camera lens. About 8 weeks after my retina surgery the doctor determined that my lens was very cloudy and couldn't be treated with drops or other polishing compounds and it needed to be replaced. On Thursday my cloudy lens was surgerically removed and a nice shiny new one was inserted. Doctors really get a kick out of this. I was supposed to immediately notice improvement. Small problem developed. The cornea (covers the lens) ruptured and blood began seeping down between the cornea and retina. If the blood breaks thru the already weakened retina in could cause serious damage and probably permanent sight loss. Fortunately they were able to stop the bleeding and I am now stable. The blood will naturally dissapate after a couple of weeks.

The second major side effect of retina surgery is that the retina sometimes dries out. The bubble doesn't always dissipate at a standard rate and the vitreous doesn't always replenish at the same rate. In my case I developed a little dry spot on the back of my eyeball where the Macula resides. The retina pulled apart just like wall paper when you don't have a good seal. A very small perforation exists. The Macula is the center of the retina and is where most of the nerves come together to send messages to the brain. It is absolutely necessary for reading and straight ahead sight. I have a hole there and cannot read out of my right eye. In fact, my right eye is really not functioning. I can see shawdows and some light, but that is all.

The repair for the Macula Hole is basically the same thing. The doc is going to go into the eye with his gardening tools and gently close up the hole using glue, spit, and lasers. He will fold the retina back over the hole and tack it down. He drains my eye and pumps it back up with gas which will hold the retina in place over the hole. Because the macula is dead center in back of the eye, I must lie on my stomach for 7 to 10 days so that the bubble will constantly push up on the retina, holding it in place, while it heals. This operation will probably take place in Mid - February.

I asked whether the gas would ruin my brand new, shiny lens. He doesn't think so because it is made out of artificial space age materials that should not cloud over due to the gas bubble.
That's all. please look at the picture below to see all these cool places.

I should have sent this to you earlier.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Windstorm in the Northwest

There were lots of amazing stories about immense wind damage and power outages for people numbering well over a million in the Northwest. I actually think that number was underreported since there were tens of thousands of residences and businesses without power in North Idaho alone that never made the national wires that I saw.

Regardless, it was an opportunity for me to see what local governments deal with in a crisis mode. The following is part of an email update that I received tonight about the state of affairs in our city alone after a storm of this magnitude.

Lots of activity and kudos to the many many staff people that were out and about tending to the damage here.

From Jon Ingalls: DAMAGE ASSESSMENT. Today's major wind storm brought a number of challenges to citizens and city staff. Some of the more significant city challenges and damage sites that I am aware of included (by department):

- Water: Numerous water wells were without power this morning, but Water staff quickly mobilized a plan for transfer of excess capacity from elsewhere in the city where power was still on. Status: As of 2pm, the Elm Street booster pump is without power and it in uncertain if Avista will have it back on line soon. This booster station is critical in serving Stanley Hill. However, Water has a generator in route from Spokane to power the booster station if necessary. All other water systems are fully operational.

- Wastewater: Six of our eight lift stations were without power this morning, and our access to one lift station in Indian Meadows was blocked by a downed power line. Wastewater worked with Avista to gain access to the Indian Meadows lift station, and they went door-to-door in efforts to ensure the lift station was restored before it reached a threatening level. Status: All lift stations are now fully operational.

- Fire: Fire responded to trees down in the Tamarack Mobile Home Park (the one north of Costco on Government Way) when downed trees damaged a number of trailer homes. Status: Fire is working with Red Cross to find alternative housing for displaced residents.

- Streets: Streets responded to about a dozen trees across the roads. Some of the locations with larger street trees and/or significant property damage included: 10th & Mullan, 6th & Spruce, 11th and Harrison, Government Way island, 3rd & Harrison, 3rd & Annie, Hubbard & College, and Garden & Lincoln. Perhaps as many as 8 cars were damaged or destroyed from falling trees. Also, numerous signals required resetting. Status: All streets open and passable.

- Parks: Parks responded to damage at 1) the City Park: one large pine tree down, one maple down and a street light pole downed, 2) Forest Cemetery: three large pines down damaging a street light pole and a fence and 3) trees downed over the Centennial Trail at Hubbard and Old Atlas Road (with fence damage). Also, Parks is assisting with clean up of several trees at the 4th Street and Wilbur well sites. Status: Tree clean-up continuing, trails clear, no imminent hazards remain.

Monday, December 11, 2006

R.I.P. - Marine Major Joseph Trane McCloud

I never met Major Joseph Trane McCloud. But my friend Meghan Johnson knows him.

In fact, to my knowledge I don't personally know any of the nearly 3000 American soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. But today's email from Meghan stopped me in my tracks to remember, again, just exactly what's happening a world away from my safe, secure family.

This year many families will experience Christmas minus the joy that normally accompanies it because they have lost a loved one in a war zone thousands of miles away. And many children won't have their Dad or Mom around to take pictures of them opening presents, as we will in our home.

Read Meghan's simple but powerful email below, and then read the story about Major McCloud, who gave the last full measure of service to his country last week.

I never met Major McCloud. But through my friend Meghan, he is being remembered, and thanked, by people he's served but never met. Keep the McCloud family, and the families of all of our troops, in your prayers this Christmas season.

This is supposed to be the season of peace. Pray for peace, and sanity and responsible leadership, in our world.


Dear friends,

My friend Maggie McCloud lost her husband last week in Iraq. This is the first person that I know who has died in Iraq. Trane's death has has really made me think about what is going on in Iraq and has made me even more angry about the whole mess.

Before Trane's death I was at the point that when I heard on the news in the mornings that we had lost more soldiers Iraq, it had no impact at all. It was just apart of the morning news, like traffic and weather. Now I can put a life with the loss. I knew Trane but more importantly, I know his wife and kids that he leaves behind. I am so worried for my sweet friend Maggie and her three precious children. Who will play ball with Hayden who is 7, who will help these kids with their math problems now? I know Maggie must be asking all these same questions just times 10,000.

I wanted to pass this along to you because I want you to think about the war in Iraq as well. I hope having a human connection to this war will make you appreciate all that you have. This morning when I was getting dressed for work, I heard another soldier was killed by a roadside bomb and it made me think about who that soldier leaves behind.

I decided this year not to give gifts to people for Christmas, but to give to a fund that was set up for the McCloud children. I said to myself "how many $50 candles can I buy my friends and does it really matter if I give them a gift or not"? We all know that it doesn't matter how many $50 candles I give or receive because it won't bring Trane back to his family nor will it bring back the nearly 3,000 soldiers we have lost in Iraq.

Just something to think about and remember in this holiday season.



Joseph Trane McCloud


Marine Major Joseph Trane McCloud lost his life on a mission in Iraq on Monday, December 4, 2006. Trane was born on December 14, 1966 in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife, Maggie (formerly of Sayville, New York) and their children, Hayden (7), Grace (5) and Meghan (2); his mother and step-father, Roma and Carl J. Anderson; father, Ron McCloud; brother, Richmond McCloud; sister, Dawn Fattore (John); in-laws, Ann and the late Jack Hayden; Jack Hayden (brother in law) and Kelly Fallon (sister in law).

After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1989, he served 17 dedicated years in the Marine Corps. He was serving in Iraq, with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, when he paid the ultimate sacrifice; the helicopter he was flying on, crash landed in a lake in the Anbar Province, near Baghdad. Trane was a devoted husband, father, son, and a Marine's Marine, who believed freedom is precious and well worth protecting. Mission accomplished Trane...farewell in peace.

Friends may call at the DEMAINE FUNERAL HOME, 520 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA, where the family will be present on Thursday, December 14, 2006 from 5 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Friday, December 15, 10 a.m. at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 8710 Mt. Vernon Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309. Interment to follow at Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.

By John Thompson
Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — “He was a good Marine, he loved the military,” Ron McCloud said Monday about his son. The proud father had learned just hours earlier that Maj. Trane McCloud had been killed in Iraq over the weekend when the helicopter he was riding in lost power.

“I know I am talking like a father, but I never saw a more talented person in my life. He could do anything, he could restore cars, he could do crown molding, he was good at everything.”

A close examination of Trane McCloud’s life demonstrates that his father was not boasting. While excelling as a military officer, McCloud also found time to make a difference for schoolteachers across the nation who teach in low-income neighborhoods. He played a key role in a loan forgiveness program for those teachers.

The McCloud family got the bad news late Sunday evening when two Marines in uniform came to their door. Details are still sketchy, but a twin-rotor CH-46 helicopter from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing experienced mechanical problems immediately after taking off from Haditha Dam in Anbar province on Sunday.

Ron McCloud said he understands the helicopter was losing altitude. The 12 Marine passengers were told to jump out into Lake Qadasiyah.

“Eight of them made it and four of them didn’t,” McCloud said. When the Marines talked with him Sunday night they told him his body had not yet been recovered from the lake, but it was now “a recovery effort rather than a rescue effort.”

Trane McCloud was born in Elizabethton but his family moved away when he was only 2 years old. The family first went to Atlanta and later to the Detroit area, where he graduated from Grosse Pointe High School.

His father remembered him as an outstanding athlete even as a young boy. He made the All-City team in football in Detroit, playing linebacker for the Grosse Pointe team. He also stood out as a center fielder in Colt League baseball for teenagers. As a 14-year-old he told his father he was going to catch someone loafing to first after making a solid hit. He was true to his word, throwing the ball to first base from center field in time to make the out.

After graduating, McCloud went to the University of Tennessee, where he studied liberal arts and history. He graduated in 1989 and enlisted in the Marine Corps just in time for Desert Storm, during which he served on the U.S.S. Missouri. His crew fired a 5-inch gun on the starboard side during the bombardment of the Kuwaiti coastline. He also served on the ship during action in Somalia.

During his time on the ship, Ron McCloud said the ship’s captain grew fond of the young Marine and encouraged him to attend Officer Candidate School. He was accepted.

His most memorable moment on board the Missouri came at Pearl Harbor, when the captain selected him to escort the first President Bush on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The captain told Bush that his Secret Service agents could stand down because the Marines would handle his security on board the ship. McCloud told his father that Bush told him he had heard he was going to OCS and he thought McCloud would be a fine officer.

After obtaining his commission, McCloud was assigned as an infantry officer. He was a reservist serving on active duty.

One of his assignments was with the Navy and Marine Corps News, where he produced a weekly television program that was broadcast weekly to sailors and Marines around the world.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, McCloud served in the Philippines, which was also fighting an Islamic extremist insurgency.

In 2003, McCloud was assigned as a military fellow to Rep. Joe Wilson, who serves on the House Committee on Armed Services.

“He really was a Marine’s Marine,” Wilson said after hearing about McCloud’s death. “He really lived the Marine Corps (motto) of semper fidelis, which means always faithful.”

Wilson’s district includes the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C.

McCloud worked in the congressman’s office for only a year, but during that time Wilson said “he was a trusted adviser to me as a member of the Armed Forces Committee. Wilson is also a member of the Education and Workforce Committee and found that McCloud was also helpful in that decidedly non-military area.

One of the major projects Wilson’s office was working on was a teacher loan forgiveness bill for teachers in schools in low-income neighborhoods.

“The person who worked on that the hardest in 2003 was Trane McCloud,” Wilson said. The bill has since become law.

Wilson also remembers the athlete. “He organized a Wilson Running Team for the 2003 Marine Corps Marathon,” Wilson said. The team included office staffers and Wilson’s son Julian, who is a lieutenant in the Army National Guard.

“Our whole family loved him,” Wilson said. “He was truly a family member for us and we will always remember him. He is a hero. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Maggie, and their three children.”

Ron McCloud said his son also had an impact on the city of Elizabethton last summer. Ron does public relations for the Carter County Car Club. While his son was stationed in Washington last year, Ron said Trane invited him up for the Washington Autorama. Dennis Gates of the “My Classic Car” television show was filming the event.

On the spur of the moment, Ron said Trane decided to ask Gates to bring his show to the weekly Carter County car shows. Using the public relations skills he acquired with the Navy and Marine Corps News, Trane soon had an information packet about the weekly shows and scenes of nearby attractions like Watauga Lake.

They presented the packet to Gates, who was so impressed he decided to come to Elizabethton for a show. The result was the biggest car show in Elizabethton’s history, with car buffs coming from several surrounding states.

“He really could do anything,” McCloud said of his son.

McCloud said details for the funeral are not yet decided but his son had told him he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Wilson said he would help the family with that request.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rails to Trails Success in Coeur d'Alene!


December 6, 2006


The North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation (NICTF) and the Lake City Development Corporation (LCDC) announced today a funding arrangement that enables NICTF to acquire the abandoned 5.25 mile long Union Pacific rail line in Coeur d’Alene. The Foundation plans to partner with public and private entities to create a trail that will connect to the existing Centennial Trail in Riverstone and extend northwest to near Meyer Road on the Rathdrum Prairie.

“This is a great day for the citizens of Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho” said NICTF Chairman Matt Snow. “By partnering with LCDC we were able to obtain funding to purchase the Union Pacific right of way. This is the first step towards creating a world class trail that will link our community and be an asset forever”.

Tentatively called the “Prairie Trail”, the new paved trail will be approximately 5.25 miles long and will link neighborhoods and schools with the new Kroc Community Center, Ramsey Park, Riverstone and downtown Coeur d’Alene.

“Kids and adults will be able to safely ride, run or walk from neighborhoods to schools, parks, Riverstone, Downtown and beyond” said NICTF Executive Director Kim Stearns. “The Foundation could not have done this without the support of LCDC”.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a trail that will provide recreation and alternative transportation for our community. The LCDC Board recognized that this is an asset with huge potential benefit for the public. We are pleased to be able to partner in the Foundation’s vision" said Tony Berns, Executive Director of LCDC.

NICTF filed an application with the Surface Transportation Board to “railbank” the corridor and has been negotiating with Union Pacific to purchase the abandoned line for almost 3 years. Elected officials from the City of Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County as well as U.S. Senator Larry Craig have written letters of support for the purchase by the NICTF. NICTF hopes to close on the purchase of the property by the end of the year. Actual construction of the trail will proceed in phases as funds are raised and will involve close planning with neighborhoods, schools, private developers and public entities. NICTF will begin actively fund raising, planning and designing the trail after closing on the purchase.

"We are thrilled that the Centennial Trail Foundation's dream of a community trail will become a reality" said Coeur d'Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem. "I know that the proximity of the proposed trail to the Kroc Community Center site was one of the reasons why Coeur d'Alene was selected to receive the $60+ million dollar grant."

The NICFT acquisition of the UP right of way is the first enabling step in a longer-term property transfer/acquisition process involving the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) and LCDC. Once the Spokane River stretch of the BNSF rail line is abandoned following the closure of the Stimson DeArmond mill, a portion of the BNSF right of way will revert to BLM ownership. The next step in the proposed process would be BLM trading their BNSF rail line corridor ownership to the NICTF for the UP rail line corridor. Following the trade, NICTF will transfer their newly acquired BNSF/BLM right of way to the LCDC for use in creating the "Education Corridor" in downtown Coeur d'Alene. At the end of the proposed property transfer/acquisition process, LCDC will own the BNSF/BLM right of way and the BLM will hold title to the former UP corridor with the new "Prairie Trail" being managed by the City of Coeur d'Alene.

Local BLM officials are supportive of the proposed property transfer/acquisition process as well as Coeur d'Alene's vision for the Educational Corridor. "There is a rigorous process that must be gone through to obtain approval for any land transfer involving BLM" said BLM Field Manager Eric Thomson, "but we support the project and will do everything we can to see that it succeeds."

NICTF is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation whose mission is to support and promote trail development in North Idaho. The Foundation welcomes people who are interested in contributing to the Foundation or serving on its Board of Directors. Please contact Executive Director Kim Stearns at 208-651-6271 or for more information about contributing to the Foundation or applying to serve on the Board. For further information on the Prairie Trail project please contact Vice-Chairman Mike Gridley at 208-769-2330.

LCDC is the City of Coeur d'Alene's urban renewal agency. For further information regarding LCDC please contact Executive Director Tony Berns at 208-769-2331.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Coeur d'Alene Housing Assessment Released

Preserving Our Sense of Place: A Housing Needs Assessment in Coeur d'Alene

This report is the starting point for what needs to be a deep and thorough project to improve the housing situation in Coeur d'Alene.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Wyoming Newspaper Editorializes on Affordable Housing

Protect Wyoming's Investment in Affordable Housing

As Coeur d'Alene embarks on the project of working to build real, affordable, workforce housing, we're looking to find other places that are dealing with it in creative and effective ways. There are many opinions on affordable housing, and more than one way of accomplishing it. The city's housing assessment will be finalized and published in a few days.

This editorial caught my eye because it suggested state involvement in another state with a similar political climate as Idaho's.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dumb Driver Update

This one came through in an email from a city colleague, and I thought it was classic idiot driver behavior. I don't know if the driver was drinking or not, but to do something that stupid and then leave your bumper there, one would think you'd have to be.

Not sure what the coincidence is about the same hydrant being hit same time last year - but perhaps we should hire additional security around there next November?

FIRE HYDRANT 102-A DAMAGED BY CAR ON 11/17/06. We had a car hit the fire hydrant at the corner of 23rd and Pennsylvania hard enough that the 200 plus pound top was thrown approximately 60 feet into a neighboring yard. The car then left the scene and apparently caused damage further down the street. However, they managed to leave the cars front bumper complete with the license plate at the site of the sheared fire hydrant as well as various other car parts along the path of destruction. This same fire hydrant was hit at approximately the same time last year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Leaf-Fest 2006!

I couldn't get over the number of leaves in this update. Pretty cool.

From Tim Martin, Cd'A Street Superintendent: IF LEAVES WERE GOLD OR ARE THEY? Day 4 of Leaf-Fest 2006 is currently underway and the ballet is going very well. As of this morning we currently are finished with all streets South of Harrison from the Ft. Grounds to the west and the Eastern borders of the city limits including Cherry Hill. We currently are working our way west from 15th to Gov’t Way ~ Harrison to Best/Appleway. This year’s leaf totals are up slightly from last year and currently we have hauled close to a thousand tons of leaves off our streets. These leaves are being taken to the transfer station on Ramsey Road where they are being mulched with wood to make fuel for energy sources throughout the region.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

GAO chief warns economic disaster looms

This is the problem that scares me the most about our country's current state of affairs. We can all argue about how to fight terrorism and extremism all we want, but it's hard to do that from a place of bankruptcy or where China is our national banker.

The last 6 years have been nothing short of an abject fiscal train wreck, with our national government spending uncontrolled and unmonitored amounts of my children's future earnings and tax dollars.

On financial matters, our country is being destroyed for short term political gain. This must change, and the only ones who can do it are the voters.

Vote for change in 10 days. The future of our nation depends on it.


Photo from the AP of GAO Comptroller General David Walker

(USA Today/AP) AUSTIN — David Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed."
But Walker doesn't want, or need, your vote this November. He already has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government.

Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

YouTube's Creativity Continues...

Most web sites have a logo and text if they are down for scheduled maintenance, if they have anything at all. Not YouTube, still one of the cooler sites on the web. I happened on their site tonight and this was their creative downtime message:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Plan - Big Ideas for America

Coeur d'Alene's own Bruce Reed, along with Rep. Rahm Emanuel, has written a book entitled "The Plan - Big Ideas for America". It's a good read, and actually talks about things that work and political ideas that matter. Yes, it's partisan - they are both Democrats - but I felt the book was accessible to non-Democrats as well.

The book can be purchased here on Amazon, or maybe at the local library, too.

It's worth investing an afternoon or two to read people talking about the future, about ideas, and about hope and optimism.


"Strip away the job titles and party labels, and you will find two tribes of people in Washington: political Hacks and policy Wonks. Hacks come to Washington because anywhere else they'd be bored to death. Wonks come here because nowhere else could they bore so many to death.

After two decades in Washington, we have come to the conclusion that the gap between Republicans and Democrats is nothing compared to the one between these two tribes. We should know. When we began working together in the Clinton White House, we came from different tribes -- one of us a Hack, the other a Wonk. (We're not telling which.) We made a deal to teach each other the secrets, quirks, and idioms of our respective sects.

Although Hacks have never been in short supply in our nation's capital, the rise of one-party rule in Washington over the past four years unleashed an all-out Hack attack. Every issue, every debate, every job opening was seen as an opportunity to gain partisan advantage. Internal disagreement was stifled, independent thought discouraged, party discipline strictly enforced -- and that's just how they treated their friends."

"The secret to victory isn't simply better tactics: stronger turnout, a better ground game, or, so help us, even sharper attack ads. Americans are looking for answers. Everything else is just politics. "

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gov. Ann Richards 1933 - 2006

Ann Richards had a lot to do with my political formation back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She was the candidate for Governor of Texas while I was living in Dallas and attending college. I was a young Republican from New York when I arrived at SMU and remained so until I started to realize that there were elements of the GOP's extreme wing that made me totally uncomfortable. As I was undergoing that "awakening" process, Ann Richards was there to be the face of the Democratic Party. Sunny, funny, and wicked smart, she was candid in the challenges she faced in life and unwilling to be boxed in by good-old boy exclusions. Ann Richards was a force to be reckoned with.

As Governor she kicked down a lot of doors in Texas politics, and showed lots of young people (myself included) that there was honor, dignity, and yes, potentially a lot of fun, in being involved with politics and government service.

RIP Ann Richards.


Link above and picture from the Dallas Morning News.

From the USA Today: "A longtime champion of women and minorities in government who was serving at the time as Texas state treasurer, she won cheers when she reminded delegates that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, "only backwards and in high heels."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Goodbye, Tony Blair

This is a sad article to read. I have always respected Tony Blair for his ability to shift the Labor party to the center and create a strong and lasting governing coalition in Britain. Nearly 11 years is a long time in power, to be sure. But when you read in depth the analyses of the last few years of Blair's tenure (in British online papers of all political stripes), it's clear that his close association with President George W. Bush has been a major drag on his popularity, his effectiveness, and his ability to get things done.

Looks like he'll be gone sometime mid-next year, though my gut tells me that once he's exposed his "belly", so to speak, the inevitable departure could ultimately take place much sooner than that.

Manning vs. Manning

A fraternity brother of mine from Louisiana always talked about these two Manning kids that were coming up behind him at Newman High School in new Orleans. "Archie's Kids", he'd say, referring to Archie Manning, legendary quarterback of the hapless New Orleans Saints. (Or the 'Aint's, depending on if you were inclined to make fun of them.)

"Archie's Kids" have definitely proven they were worth the hype now that they've hit the big time. Sunday night will make for great viewing for sports fans.

Go Eli.


Brothers in arms ready for first NFL showdown
By Tom Weir and Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY
Photo by Bill Kostroun, AP

NEW YORK — "When Eli Manning got beat up as a child by his older brother, it wasn't in the traditional manner. Instead of fists, Peyton Manning bruised his kid brother with bullet-like football passes.

'He was being a team player,' Peyton says of the one-sided games of catch on their front lawn in New Orleans' stately Garden District. 'He was helping his older brother get ready for his senior year of high school football.'" Get the rest of the story here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Susan Butcher

An amazing lady died today. Susan Butcher, the first person ever to win three consecutive Iditarod dog sled championships, died in Seattle after complications from a rare form of Leukemia at the age of 51.

I was honored to meet and spend a seriously great time with Susan and her husband Dave at the wedding of one of my best friends from college, Mike Hannigan, who married Susan's fabulous sister, Clo. That was in Boulder, Colorado about 11 years ago. Mike and Clo rented out this great cabin at the Chatauqua state park in Boulder, where many of us piled in and spent a week or so enjoying the surroundings before the wedding.

Susan was one tough lady, with a great sense of humor and a lovely, fun, unpretentious family.

I have a funny memory of Susan and Dave nursemaiding a few of us the morning (afternoon?) after we had taken the bachelor party consumption contests a little too seriously. Being rugged transplants to remote Alaska, they were into new age and herbal medicinal supplements and things. Susan and Dave convinced Hannigan to put a tiny little Chinese "pellet" (for lack of a better word), under his tongue that they assured him would help with his hangover by removing the toxins from his body. The rest of us promised to do the same once we saw it work on the groom-to-be.

It had an effect, alright, and it removed the toxins. It also helped him remove about four days worth of everything else he'd eaten and drank. Witnessing this happen, the rest of us decided to stick with the tried-and-true western cures we were familiar with, aspirin, diet coke, fast food, and going back to bed.

Susan will likely go down in history as one of the greatest ground-breaking female athletes ever. But more than that, she'll be missed by her husband and two daughters and an extended family that loved her deeply.

Susan Butcher 1954 - 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Don't Believe the Hype - Vote No on Prop. 2

There is a measure on the Idaho ballot that is alluring, seductive, and completely misrepresentative. If you care about managing growth and fiscal responsibility this measure will be a disaster.

For those (like myself) who are supporters of private property rights, it would appear that voting to restrict the use of Eminent Domain in light of the Supreme Court's unpopular ruling on that topic last year is a good thing.

But those selling this measure don't promote the fact it will basically gut the ability of communities to plan, zone, and determine their own futures. The linked story is a long, but informative primer on what this measure really is.

Here is an excerpt from and a link to the High Country News article Taking Liberties, written by Ray Ring:

"Libertarians and property-rights activists believe that a huge array of common government regulations on real estate, such as zoning or subdivision limits, "take" away property value. Therefore, they say, the government should compensate the owner, or back off. The extreme view of "regulatory takings" is really at the core of this campaign — not eminent domain.

The campaign to pass regulatory-takings laws began in the 1980s, when libertarians seized on the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." They’ve tried to use Congress, state legislatures and ballot initiatives to pass laws that would treat most regulations as takings. Their first big win came in November 2004, when they persuaded Oregon’s voters to pass Measure 37. That initiative blew holes in the strictest land-use system in the country, allowing longtime landowners to escape many state, county and city regulations (HCN, 11/22/04: In Oregon, a lesson learned the hard way).

The impacts of Measure 37 have been delayed by court battles, and the libertarians are determined to turn the delays to their advantage. Before the fallout in Oregon can be fully understood, they are rushing to pass similar ballot initiatives in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and California. While each initiative has its own sales pitch, they all deliberately tuck the notion inside the unrelated eminent domain controversy. The Los Angeles-based libertarian Reason Foundation mapped the strategy in a 64-page paper published in April, titled Statewide Regulatory Takings Reform: Exporting Oregon’s Measure 37 to Other States. It recommended pushing "Kelo-plus" initiatives, combining eminent domain reform with regulatory takings, to capitalize "on the tremendous public and political momentum generated in the aftermath of the Kelo ruling …"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Monsters in Lake Coeur d'Alene?

I don't know where travel writers get their urban mythology, but this one is interesting. One out of three ain't bad, since I know there is a lot of interesting history about Nell Shipman - there are some industrious fans and film buffs in Boise working on a documentary about her contributions to film history as we speak.

From Sunset Magazine and "The lakes of northern Idaho -- Coeur d'Alene, Pend Oreille and Priest -- are deep, blue and busy. Scooped out during the Ice Age, the lakes now float yachts and kayaks. On the green shores, towns draw visitors to high-end resorts, restaurants and lakefront bicycle trails.

Each lake has its legend: Native Americans told stories of monsters in Coeur d'Alene Lake; another monster, the Pend Oreille Paddler, is rumored to inhabit Lake Pend Oreille; and Priest Lake is linked to 1920s actress and filmmaker Nell Shipman, who established a wilderness movie studio in what is now Lionhead State Park."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Father's Face

In a Leo Kottke song some time back he talks about looking in the mirror and seeing his father's face.

This past week I sat in a hospital in Florida with my soon-to-be 70 year-old father. He had undergone emergency quadruple bypass surgery and the doctors were concerned that he had also suffered a minor stroke at some point in the process.

As he fitfully struggled to get some real sleep I had hours to look into his face, and turn to the left into the mirror and see his face again, about 33 years earlier.

It was among the scarier and more sobering experiences of my life to see my father laying there in such a state of vulnerability.

Dad's home and doing better now, but he has quite a road to go for recovery.

And in looking in that mirror, I have quite a road to go to myself - in more ways than one.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Popkey: Rev. Camacho ministers with love and soccer

This piece on Fr. Jesus Camacho is a wonderful testament to a wonderful man. Dan Popkey really captures the essence of this powerfully effective priest in his column.

Copyright Idaho Statesman, Written by Dan Popkey, Photo by Katherine Jones

"Amidst the shrill debate on illegal immigration, the Rev. Jesus Camacho's voice is calm and conciliatory.

Twenty-five years ago this week, Camacho immigrated to Idaho from Mexico. Though obscure to most non-Catholic Anglos, he may be the most influential figure in Hispanic Idaho. His three-hour Saturday radio program, "Chatting with Father Jesœs," airs throughout southern Idaho.

"You don't know how powerful that is," said Sam Byrd, a more recognized Hispanic leader among Anglos. "There are very few ethnic leaders, but if there is a voice, he's that voice." To read the rest click here.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Downtown Development in the Lake City

Tomorrow night, 7/5, the City Council will be on a Wednesday instead of Tuesday because of the 4th. On the agenda is the downtown development regulations public hearing - all are welcome to sign up and come make comments.

If you're interested in a little more information about it, check out the Mayor's show this week on Adelphia Cable Channel 19 with Dave Yadon, City Planning Director and John Bruning, Planning Commission Chairman. For more information and a copy of the council packet, click here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

More About Idaho Smart Growth

For more information about Idaho Smart Growth, click on the link in the title above. They do good work, they're pragmatic and practical, and people are awakening to the need to address new challenges with new approaches.

Be sure to dig around the site a while - there is a lot of information there.

Smart Growth Meetings in Coeur d'Alene

This week there will be 2 meetings at which Jon Barrett, Interim Ex. Dir. of Idaho Smart Growth is presenting on the issue of growth and how to manage it wisely.

The first presentation is scheduled for tomorrow, (Tuesday), June 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Idaho Spokesman-Review Community Rm, 608 Northwest Blvd. in Coeur d'Alene. This is an informal meeting for anyone interested in learning more about "Smart Growth" and/or having an interest in advancing its principles in our communities.

Mr. Barrett recently agreed to hold this meeting in order to generate further interest in this issue here in northern Idaho. You are welcome to attend whether or not you RSVP, but a reply would be helpful to gauge interest and estimate attendance.

If you have friends or colleagues who might be interested, feel free to let them know.

The second meeting is sponsored jointly by the City of Coeur d'Alene and the Lake City Development Corporation and is especially directed to elected officials, planning commissioners, city and county planners. This meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 7, also from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Lake City Senior Center at 1916 N. Lakewood Drive, Coeur d'Alene. Please encourage any public officials you know to attend this presentation. Pre-registration is not required.


Here is the text from the flyer about the Wednesday session targeted to elected officials but open to the public as well:

Whether you are an elected official, P & Z commissioner, or planner, you can no doubt relate to the following. The day-to-day business of implementing planning and zoning requirements rarely affords the opportunity to pause and reflect on the requirements themselves to assess whether they are resulting in the kind of development we actually prefer. How might our ordinances be modified to encourage the development of vibrant commercial areas and neighborhoods with character and lasting value?

Please join Idaho Smart Growth Interim Executive Director Jon Barrett for a presentation and interactive discussion about:

• The qualities that make for great neighborhoods

• The relationship between the comprehensive plan and the development that’s actually occurring on the ground

• How to evaluate and update land use and transportation policies related to development within city limits (i.e. infill) and in areas of city impact and beyond (i.e. greenfields) so that development better reflects the desires communicated by our comprehensive plans

• What are the barriers to updating planning and zoning-related ordinances?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Idaho Cloned Mules Win Preliminary Heats in Nevada

From Breitbart news: "Two qualifying heats, two wire-to-wire victories, two nearly identical times. It was almost like the same mule won twice. Idaho Gem, the world's first equine clone, and his brother, Idaho Star, made successful debuts Saturday in what scientists billed as the first professional competition between clones of any kind."

UPDATE 6/5: Looks like the horses didn't win in the final race on Sunday, coming in 3rd and 7th. No matter, it's fascinating (and a little unnerving) to see genetically engineered animals competing in a very traditional sport.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

City Focus Areas Ranked by Votes

This chart doesn't reproduce incredibly well in this Blogger format, but here are the areas of priority that the City Council voted for on April 13th in a public workshop. This is the first part of the budget process, and staff then took this list back to determine hard costs.

The order is in order of council priority, and the numbers after (H M L) indicate the number of council members (including the Mayor in this exercise) voting for each priority.

Proposed Focus Area H M L

1 Additional Police Personnel (Police) 7 0 0
2 Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance Updates (Planning Commission) 6 1 0
3 Develop & Implement Affordable Housing Strategies (Administration) 5 2 0
4 Increase the Level of Overlay Funding (Engineering) 5 2 0
5 Additional Fire Fighters (Fire) 5 2 0
6 Additional Parks Workers (Parks) 5 2 0
7 Customer Service Enhancements (Building) 5 2 0
8 Resources for Constructing ADA Compliance Initiatives (Streets) 5 2 0
9 Strengthen Code Enforcement (Legal) 4 3 0
10 Additional HEO Staffing in Streets (Streets) 4 3 0
11 Parks Irrigation Worker (Parks) 4 3 0
12 Replenish Insurance Plan (Legal) 4 2 1
13 Provide Fire Service Outside City/Transfer Revenue (Fire) 4 2 1
14 Implement a Traffic School (Police) 3 2 2
15 Effluent Reuse Pilot (Wastewater) 1 6 0
16 Implementation of Citywide GIS Program (Municipal Services) 0 6 1
17 Pursue Fernan Sewer Agreement Negotiations (Legal/Wastewater) 2 5 0
18 Support Expansion of Citylink Public Transportation (Administration) 2 5 0
19 Acceptance of HUD “Entitlement City” Designation (Administration) 1 5 1
20 Expand “North Ramsey Campus”/Land Acquisition (Administration) 1 5 1
21 Convert Inline Area of Skate Park into BMX/Skate Park (Recreation) 1 5 1
22 Continue to Implement E-Commerce (Finance) 3 4 0
23 Joint Construction of Gyms (Winton) with School District (Recreation) 3 4 0
24 Credit Card Payment & On-Line Registration/Reservation (Parks/Recreation) 3 4 0
25 Resources to Sustain Expanded Library (Library/Parks) 3 4 0
26 Park Facility Upgrades (Parks) 3 4 0
27 Project Management and Inspection for ADA Compliance (Engineering) 3 4 0
28 River District Planning Study (Administration) 2 4 1
29 Planning for Growth by ULI Advisory Committee (Administration) 2 4 1
30 Develop a Hearing Examiner Process (Legal/Finance) 1 4 2
31 Adjudication of Aquifer Water Rights by State (Water) 1 3 3
32 Become a Class I Rated City (Fire) 2 2 3
33 Weed Abatement Program/Double-Fronted Lot Maintenance (Streets) 1 2 4
34 Downtown/Midtown Roof Drain – Stormwater Separation (Wastewater) 1 2 4

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Summer Help in Coeur d'Alene

A message from Parks Director Doug Eastwood:

The CDA Parks Department is in the process of hiring summer help. The starting wage is $8.67 per hour. We work 40 hours per week and this can include weekends and holidays. The individual needs to be 16 years old or older and have a current driver’s license. We are hiring guys and gals. They will be assisting the full time staff with the daily maintenance of our parks, trails, building grounds, boulevards, and natural areas. If you know someone that might be interested, send them to City Hall and ask for Jackie Carbone. Jackie will give them an application.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Some highlights of this week's City Council Agenda

* - Proclamations on Arbor Week and Fair Housing Month
* - Housekeeping issues on the consent calendar
* - Resolution of support for St. Vincent dePaul's Homeless Grant Application
* - Discussion and vote on a new policy for water service outside city limits
* - Discussion and vote on a new bulk water use program
* - Public Hearing on Annexation and Zoning for Hawk's Nest Property adjacent to the Landings at Waterford between Atlas and Heutter Roads

The council will recess until 12 noon on Wednesday in the Council Chambers for a workshop/planning lunch on downtown development.

For more details, click here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

City of Coeur d'Alene Strategic Planning Session

This Thursday, April 13, the first component of the annual budgeting process begins with a workshop to be held at the Lake City Senior Center. The real meat of the meeting begins around 5:45 pm and will likely last until 8:30 or later.

City staff has prepared documentation that begins the process of setting priorities for projects, and it's being reviewed publicly by council members and questions will be put to staff on the various items.

Council and staff will be looking at the many different initiatives that are underway, ongoing, or potentially worth doing, and giving input into where the focus should be.

This is a public meeting - or rather a continuation of the last Council meeting - so the public is invited to attend. I encourage attendance because as a member of the Council I for one need the public input.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another Shot of Crash

New Addition to the Kennedy Family

Welcome "Crash" Kennedy

Born December 3, 2005
Yellow Lab

Looks sad in this picture, but really he's only tired, having been worked over like, well, like a dog, by the kids.

Growth Paradox in Coeur d'Alene Last Week

The following are comments I made at the March 21, 2006 City Council meeting regarding the events of last week in Coeur d'Alene.

Madame Mayor I wanted to talk just a little bit about a few things that happened last week in Coeur d’Alene. I don’t have a motion to introduce, but rather just a few brief comments and a request for some more feedback both here and in the larger community. Councilman McEvers has made mention of the need to try to spur more discussion on some issues facing the city without always having to have a vote on a specific measure, and I agree with him.

Last Tuesday, a week ago today, the Planning and Zoning Commission had a very long hearing covering several items. The same day, School District 271 was holding a school plant facilities levy election.

P&Z was handling two items on their calendar that caught my eye:
1) A request for variance to increase the height on a building on Sherman Avenue that would provide as I understand it 6 new residential units; and
2) A proposed zoning change from agricultural to city residential for annexation which facilitated a preliminary plat request for 867 new units on the prairie.

As the minutes of the P&Z meeting will attest, a number of people spoke against the 6-residential unit proposal downtown and the P&Z commissioners voted the variance down.

Later, though, not one person spoke in opposition to the annexation of the potential 867 residential new units on the prairie.

All the while, the returns were coming in indicating that the voters pretty soundly rejected a new school levy to deal with overcrowding and maintenance of old building issues in the district.

Certainly many folks have varying opinions on why the levy went down, but everyone I talk to seems to at least agree that increasing property taxes and a feeling that “new growth” should be paying for the impact on schools contributed to the levy’s defeat.

But as I read the papers the next day and read the outcome of the P&Z hearing, I couldn’t help but feel that there is a pretty serious disconnect in our community when residents clearly vote down a school levy on the very same day that an 867-unit plat annexation is being unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission with no discussion or input from residents at all.

No one has all the answers to the complex issue of managing growth effectively – I certainly don’t.

I recognize that currently the school districts cannot charge impact fees at all on new growth, so the burden falls heavily on property taxpayers. I recognize that P&Z has strict rules on what issues they can factor in when making a decision to approve or reject an annexation request. And I recognize that some folks don’t want any new heights downtown while others are very nervous about any new ordinances dealing with height and downtown development in Coeur d’Alene.

I knocked on about 1700 doors during last fall’s campaign, and when I asked regular residents an open ended question about what concerned them most about the community, to a person they talked about growth, taxes, and the changing nature of Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County.

Last week it felt to me like all three of those issues came to a head on the same day. And for lack of a better word it seemed almost schizophrenic to see two competing messages being delivered on the same day in the same city.

Citizens do look to us here, as well as to the School District, the County Commissioners and State Legislators for leadership. So I felt it was important to speak up when I saw this clear paradox in real time, and try to get some input from residents and other elected officials as to how we feel our way forward, trying to manage growth effectively while not choking off any economic expansion or opportunities.

In short, I want to hear what voters and residents are saying and I want to rely on the expertise of folks like the Planning Commissioners as well. But what concerns me is that we appear to be getting, or maybe delivering, two conflicting messages.

So on that note folks may not be prepared to have a longer discussion about it tonight, but I would like to open a discussion about the general issue of growth and how to manage it both with my fellow councilmembers, and with citizens directly. I’m all ears, and I invite people watching to contact me or any of our city councilmembers with input, thoughts, or concerns. I can be reached on my city email address at or by calling me at 664-7976.

Thank you, Madame Mayor for the time to speak.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Idaho Legislature Week Nine Report - Sen. Clint Stennett

Legislative News from the Senate Minority Leader...

Senator Clint Stennett
District 25
Legislative Week #9

This winter, Idaho saw the price of gasoline reach nearly $3.00 per gallon, and you were not alone if you needed to sit down before you opened your utility bills recently. We have been cautioned to look into alternative energy and fuels for quite some time. The time is upon us now. Every household and pocket book is feeling the pinch of our heavy reliance upon foreign oil and diminishing fossil fuels. The Idaho Legislature is waking up to the needs and the opportunities that exist in alternative energy and fuels as well.

This week a House Committee agreed to form a study committee to spend the summer researching the opportunities and possible pitfalls in implementing a mandate for adding ethanol to gasoline. My motion in a Senate Committee sent a 2% Bio-Diesel mandate to the floor for amendment. I predict this bill will end up in the summer study committee. I also predict that we will send the coal fired electric generating plant proposals to this study committee as well. This committee will be charged with developing a statewide energy plan. This plan will identify our future energy needs as well as where we should look for that energy. This effort will set the stage for the future of energy development in Idaho and Idahoans will be able to help shape that development. I support these efforts to develop alternative fuel and energy industries in Idaho.

In Idaho, we have ample resources (not fossil fuel based) that should also be implemented as a part of that plan. For example, there are enough wind resources in Idaho to provide for the entirety of our electrical energy needs. Wind and solar energy do fluctuate and hence cannot be counted on to serve a base load, or a constant source of energy. However, with natural gas fired plants to provide for peak needs in the coldest and hottest months and hydro to provide the base load, it is incumbent upon us to look to wind and solar energy as a way out of our dependence on fossil fuels.

I am intrigued with the idea of bio-diesel and ethanol to serve our motor fuel needs and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. These alternative fuels can be produced with the crops we grow, as well as with some of the waste products from food processing. While both fuels have some challenges, we must as a nation focus our efforts on developing these alternatives. I have been exploring the opportunity to develop a co-op of producers where farmers could use canola as a rotation crop and grow their own bio-diesel fuel, which could provide fuel for their own operations. As an ancillary benefit, this rotation might provide for the diversion of acres to help firm up pricing in crops such as potatoes.

Clearly, if we are to reach some sort of energy independence, we must encourage development of solar, wind, geothermal, small hydro, ethanol and bio-diesel. These resources should all be integrated into Idaho's plan. The debate about locating the Sempra coal-burning plant has helped Idaho focus on the need to develop alternative energy within our borders. We must develop our ample resources. The planning is long overdue and I encourage all Idahoans to weigh-in with their opinion. This energy plan will set the stage for the next generation of Idahoans. It will determine the movement toward renewable clean energy or coal fired electrical generation plants. I believe that Idaho has a bright future in developing clean alternative energy solutions.

As always, I welcome any suggestions, or comments you have to offer. It is my honor to serve District 25. I can be reached by calling (208) 332-1000 or toll-free 1-800-626-0471, via email at, or by mail to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720.

Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum
Senate Minority Leader
District #25

Cheering for Max

Quite the revelry in the Kennedy home this week as Max has taken to his potty training with a vengeance. You probably can't remember the last time anyone cheered when you went number one or two in the right place (i.e. not your pants) but Max has been getting constant cheers all week from his brother and sisters. Dinner the other night had the crowd chanting "Way to go, Max, way to go!!" in the rhythm you'd hear at a World Series game.

It's interesting, because we decided this weekend that it was just flat time for him to get going on this project, and sure enough he has responded amazingly well. As always Mrs. Kennedy gets most of the credit, since she spent the patient time with him in the bathroom getting acquainted with the procedures.

So there you have it - whatever else is going on in the grown-up stressful life zone, Max is digging getting cheered while he's on the toilet.

Nice work if you can get it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Kudos to John and Ann Beutler

John and Ann give $200,000 back to Cd'A

Story by Linda Ball, Cd'A Press
Photo by Jerome Pollos, Cd'A Press
Story and Link Courtesy of Cd'A Press

COEUR d'ALENE -- The Coeur d'Alene Public Library and the Salvation Army Kroc Center are both $100,000 closer to their goals thanks to a generous gift this week from John and Ann Beutler.

Ann has lived in Coeur d'Alene her entire life, and John moved here in 1975 from Clarkston, Wash., after graduating from Washington State University. Their objective with the big gifts: Give back to the community that has given so much to them.

"I remember going to the library when I was a kid all the time when it was at what's now the Harris-Dean Insurance building at Seventh and Lakeside," Ann Beutler said. "I'm sure this library will be very different, but we'd like to be able to have good opportunities for the kids of this community."

Read more here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Allen Foundation Library Grant Challenge

COEUR d’ALENE – A $100,000 grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation for the new Coeur d’Alene Public Library is a challenge to the community to provide matching funds.
The grant to the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation comes with the condition that the community must match the gift by April 1, 2007. Construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin in May this year.

“We are thrilled to be given this recognition and support from such an internationally prominent and highly respected philanthropic organization,” said Ruth Pratt, Executive Director of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation. “It’s very gratifying to everyone who worked so diligently preparing the grant proposal, which we submitted last August. The process is highly competitive and rigorous, and the vast majority of requests are not even invited to submit full proposals. Elaine Smith, our shared grant-writer, was most influential in guiding us through the process and deserves the biggest share of credit for our success.

“This affirmation of the quality of our project is definitely a shot of adrenalin. It will help us complete our fund-raising efforts to build this most critical public resource for our rapidly growing community. We hope that individuals and businesses throughout our area will rise to the challenge that the Paul Allen Family Foundation has issued so that we can wrap up our capital campaign as soon as possible.”

The campaign cabinet meets every week to strategize and report on the progress of their ongoing efforts to raise the remainder of the private funds necessary to finish construction. Members of this team include Jim Elder, Denny Davis, Sandy Patano, Steve Wetzel, Mary Sanderson, Jon and Cyndi Hippler, LuAnn Ganz, Sally Dodge, Judi Messina, Bette Ammon, Bob Nonini and Pratt.

“This will be the most historically significant public building constructed in our lifetime, so it is a unique opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the values and opportunities that a great public library represents for current and future generations,” Pratt said. The cabinet and Library Foundation are trying to raise the remaining $1.4 million required to complete construction of the new 38,000-square-foot library.

Pratt said that since the final phase of the campaign began in January close to $600, 000 has been raised.

“Time is of the essence,” she said. “The City is committed to beginning the project in May to avoid additional escalation in construction costs. We are giving everyone the opportunity to pay their pledges over a five-year period to make their investment as affordable as possible.”

“Many of us have been working on the foundation board for more than 10 years to gain recognition and support for a new public library, she said. “We feel, as Andrew Carnegie said, that a ‘library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.’ We want to complete this most public of projects so that citizens of all ages in our area have free access to the wealth of treasures our new library will hold. It’s nice to know that the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation agrees.”

Through the “Leave a Legacy in the Library” campaign, individuals and businesses are being asked to make pledges for various naming opportunities in the new library. For information about donor opportunities, contact the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation at 208/665-0040, 424 E. Sherman Ave. The floor plans and other drawings of the new library can be seen at by clicking on the “Building Project” link.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bono Rocks the National Prayer Breakfast excerpt...

"God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. “If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places”

It’s not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. [You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.] ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor."

Full text here: Hunger for Justice

Friday, January 13, 2006

Idaho Legislature Week One Report - by Rep. Wendy Jaquet

Governor Kempthorne presented his last state of the state and budget to the legislature and the public on Monday night, January 9. In this first column I'm going to list some of his initiatives and my concerns for your consideration.

Public employee pay raises: He stepped up to the plate and said we should give raises immediately in this fiscal year. He wants to add 3% to the base. A 1% raise was authorized last session based on revenues which far exceeded expectations. Our state employees are far under the market rate of their private economy counterparts, on an average of 16%. I support this and hope for more.

Public schools: He recommended raising the starting pay for teachers to $30,000, but offered only a 2.2 to 2.5% raise to everyone else. I think the public school employees should get the same raises as the public employees.

Property taxes: He suggested a higher qualifying net income for the circuit breaker program, a property tax relief program for low income seniors and the disabled, $30,000, but kept the benefit payment at $1200. This is too low for our communities who have escalating values. I think $28,000 with a $1320 maximum benefit is better. He also offered a deferred property tax program. He failed to lead on state required property tax initiatives such as raising the homeowner's exemption and the repeal of the developer discount agriculture/development statute that has cost counties valuable revenue and shifted the cost of services to other tax payers. I will be working in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee for property tax solutions.

School Buildings: He suggested that we lower the super majority vote approval for school buildings to 60% with the votes on the primary or general election days. This will need a 2/3 vote by the House and Senate to go on the ballot for a constitutional change and is in response to the Supreme Court telling the legislature to help fund a safe learning environment for Idaho's children. He said we should increase funds to the interest subsidy program that Wendell and 23 other districts have used to build a new schools but with 114 districts with who knows how many unsafe schools, this could take forever. I will work to get the Interim Property Tax Committee's recommendation to require impact fees for new schools passed. "Make Growth Pay for Itself", said the people who testified in the hearings before the committee this summer.

Community Colleges: He addressed the issue of a more integrated community college throughout the state by suggesting that classes taught by adjunct professors (part time) could be presented in community libraries, county buildings, k-12 schools at a cheaper cost which is a creative and good idea. However, he didn't offer how we can create equity in this community college system which is partially funded by property tax payers in Jerome, Twin Falls and Kootenai counties, but not in other counties such as Ada and Canyon who really need a community college.

Governor's Mansion: He suggested that the state purchase additional acreage below the "donated" Simplot home which is to be the Governor's mansion. At $2 million dollars, it seems like the Simplots should sell that land to a developer and the mansion be in a neighborhood. The $2 million dollars needs to go to schools in areas where there are low property values and the interest subsidy won't help enough.

Experiencing Idaho: He suggested that we fund a new park in Eastern Idaho and improve a few parks around the state including Billingsley. I want to help the Hagerman site, but I'm worried about spending money on improvements when most parks need an infusion of cash just to take care of needed maintenance. I'm concerned about last year's Connecting Idaho, the highway construction initiative that is effecting scheduled highway improvements like the highway between Shoshone and Timmerman. I'm not sure we can afford a new initiative.

Energy Assistance: The Governor wants to send everyone $50 to offset their power bills this winter. I would rather see the money go to families who qualify through the Community Action Agency energy assistance programs around the state. They already have a system in place. It would cost the state $400,000 to send out those $50 checks. Does everyone need this?

Lots of ideas to think about. If you have suggestions/different ideas, please contact me at 800/ 626-0471 or I appreciate hearing from you. Have a good week.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Library Fundraising Needed!

By MARC STEWART, Coeur d'Alene Press Staff writer

Organizers determined to continue fund-raisers before construction starts

COEUR d'ALENE -- Overdue fees won't cover the $1.4 million needed to build a new downtown library.

The city of Coeur d'Alene is committed to building a $7.2 million facility -- even if all the money isn't in place when construction is scheduled to start in May.

"We're determined to get this rolling because the longer we wait, the more the cost goes up," Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander said Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Idaho Opinion Survey - BSU

I've always found this annual survey of Idaho opinion on public policy done by Boise State University's Social Science Research Center to be thorough and well done. Occasionally I may quibble with the wording of a question (which means everything in a survey like this) but I think this year's results are instructive. Jim Weatherby, who has a lot of involvement in this survey, is a keen observer of Idaho's public policy.

Property taxes may be a major issue in high-growth areas like Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai County. But they don't seem to be trumping everything else, which doesn't bode well for reform and relief for places that need help from the legislature to modify how they assess needed impact fees for new development. No pressure on Southern Idaho legislative leaders means little change. The Governor showed that he doesn't care too much about property tax relief in last night's State of the State and Budget Addresses.

Let's hope this year's legislature spends more time on important economic and educational public policy issues than they do on far less important social issues put up simply to be divisive and political.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

CDA Press - Wolfinger Welcomes Replacement

Mike Kennedy, right, is joined by his family as he receives his certificate after being sworn in as the newest member of the Coeur d'Alene City Council on Tuesday. Family from left, Will, Maggie, Nora, wife Kathleen, Quinn, and Max.

Kennedy replaces sheriff's captain on Cd'A City Council

Story By MARC STEWART, Staff writer

"COEUR d'ALENE -- Tuesday's City Council meeting had very little on the agenda except for some very big changes.

Ben Wolfinger said goodbye, accepted some parting gifts, and welcomed his replacement, Mike Kennedy.

"It has been a very fast five years," Wolfinger said. "It's been a wonderful experience. Mike's going to do a great job, and I am glad to be a resident."

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