Saturday, August 30, 2008

New Experiences

Having become ordained two or three years ago, I never thought I'd use the license, but today I officiated at my very first wedding. I was sitting with a couple of friends a while back. They were discussing their wedding plans and brought up the subject of who was going to perform the wedding. I piped up with, "I could do that," at which time they almost fell off their bar stools. Not many if anyone knew that I was an ordained minister, albeit the Universal Life church.

I wrote the ceremony from scratch and it was short and sweet. After all, the important parts are, "do you? do you? then pronounce.It was a lot of fun. John and Mary Golden aka Mary Stirn were married at 2:00 pm in Spirit Lake at the home of Mary's Daughter, Taryn Hecker. About eighty guests were present, the weather turned out perfect and it was a rousing success. I only hope I filled out the license correctly. I probably should have went to the county and got a sample, but somebody will yell if it wasn't done right, I'm sure.

Maybe I have a new avocation, that of a marriage mill operator. Who knows what the future will bring. I noticed that it was far less nervous to preside, than as a participant.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Energy Debate

I think that the demonetization of large corporations have skewed the issue in a partisan way. Certainly, supply and demand is the primary factor in fuel pricing. This, however isn't the only side of this very multi-sided coin.

The issue of conservation and ecological protection, while very much needed, has escaped the bounds of the extremists goals of zero growth, to become a main stream issue.It is very unfortunate that two or three extreme liberals control congress at this time. That isn't to say that control of congress should switch to extreme conservatives either.

We are at a crossroads that portend disaster.Industry has for the most part, fled the country, after ecologists drove them off shore. Steel, Manufacturing, and all down the list. The idea that by sending manufacturing offshore, it will help the planet is absurd. We have just moved the pollution to other parts of the world, that same world we live in.

The current congress is controlled by a senator from San Francisco,and a long term Senator from Nevada. Well, it would be nice to have a sagebrush rebellion type on the side of the smaller populated states, what we have is a man that has his hand out for the pork that he can deliver, to the smallest populated state in the union, and he has the power to stop even his own party from bringing energy legislation to the floor. One wonders whether this nation will survive this election year.

Currently, we,in this country, manufacture next to zero electronic components. Not just Television sets or DVD players, but radar sets, and other highly defense orientated issues. Soon, we are going to find ourselves in a position where we no longer can pick and choose our allies, in a war sense. Our country has become a consumer nation, not a productive country. This is going to eventually bite us in the ass, and in case of war, which appears to be never ending throughout history.

We need, desperately, to become more independent in more that just oil. We have as much in the way of raw materials as any other country with the exception of Russia, and they are so far behind the rest of the world in developing these resources, it will take them 50 years to catch up in technology. They may, however, just revert to the old Soviet trick of,"If we cant invent it, let's steal it."

Industry has to come back to where we, as a country can control the output. Sure, we need to pay attention to our air and water quality, but not at the expense of loosing our economy. Japan lost the second world war, not because of lack of determination, nor lack of industry, they lost because they had no raw materials to feed their factories. As long as we send our raw materials to the orient for manufacture, then ship the finished product back to us, we are a third wold country.

I am not advocating total protectionism, nor wide open, which we have now.Our balance of payments with counties such as China.Japan and others, are out of whack due primarily to their willingness to sell to us, but not buy from us. That doesn't constitute trade. Those that have egregious differences in B of P, slap tariffs on them until they see the light.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tongue Firmly Planted ...

Ada County, Idaho announced today that hereafter,(no pun intended)The city of Twin Falls will have to pay an additional $150, totaling $1350 for autopsies performed by the County. In addition, the county was heard to say that in the future, due to rising costs due to rampant inflation, it will be a gross misdemeanor, for more than 15 murders committed locally. Currently, the average is 20 to 25 per year.

This new policy comes with a free gas card for anyone that wishes to transport their victims outside the city, so that it becomes a county issue. Criminals were heard to mumble, "more government interference in our affairs. When will it end." Several potential officials, 'er, future victims, wondered out loud whether their estates would have to pick up the cost, or would the county fine the perpetrator.

In other news, the Laramie Daily News, reported that in anticipation of party animal type student arrivals, signs were posted on the commons that read,"45 minute unloading only." This, an apparent reference to the fear that the first act of these kids would be to stop there and proceed to get loaded.

Gas prices are affecting everyone and everything. The Whitman County Gazette reports that a Coyote hitched a ride for five miles, when he apparently ran out of gas. After the animal was extricated from the grill of a car, it limped off still appearing out of energy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Should We Lower Drinking Ages to 18?

The debate is raging over whether to lower the drinking age to 18, citing patriotic fervor, regarding they can fight, they can vote, etcetera. Here are my opinions on that.

I was around the last time Idaho went to 19 in the state of Idaho. At that age, people are just not mature enough to handle booze, and tend to binge. We've had several area deaths on university campuses of students that either stumble off of their third floor balconies, or die from toxic alcohol syndrome that I would not be in favor of turning this monster loose.

Now as to the points often made, such as old enough to die for their country, and old enough to vote, or even old enough to be held as an adult in the commission of a crime, I'll take these issues on by simply saying they are invalid comparisons.
I have served in the military. Most of us drank at 18 or 19 while overseas, simply because we could. The military wants people of the age group from 18-21 because they will take risks on orders that older, wiser people would not follow. In short, they think they are 10 feet tall and bullet proof, Not unlike one that is imbibing alchol.

Old enough to vote? That was a political move to attract Democratic votes, not an acknowledgment of maturity. I would venture to guess that 80% or more young people vote knee jerk how their parents do until around 25, when they start thinking unencumbered by parental or teacher brainwashing.

End Of An Era?

Budget cuts have arrived that severely curtail the neighborhood correspondent program at the Spokesman-Review. Back when the Voices editions first started a little over a year ago, we had one staff reporter, Paula Davenport. All the rest of the coverage was from correspondents, such as myself and many others. With the massive lay off of many staff reporters last Summer, we correspondents had an even larger part to play.

Since then, most of the reporters were re-hired. As it applies to the Prairie voice, my edition, we now have two full time reporters working where one was originally. Several budget cuts have occurred at the Spokesman-Review, with the last one, last week, being the most severe affecting us correspondents. The budget was cut in half. So far, I have survived, but the Bayview News will only be seen twice a month, instead of every week.

I may be able to write an occasional feature or news story, but our little area will languish, as might Athol and Farragut State Park, my beat for the last year and a half. How this will affect area advertising, I have no idea. Somehow, with advertising in the Handle Extra and also the Prairie Voice growing fast, the news content is shrinking. This doesn't make sense to me, but it apparently does to the money managers.

I have been accepted as an occasional contributor for the River Journal, published by Trish Gannon of Clark Fork. They recently changed from a weekly newspaper, to a monthly magazine format. This will enable them to enlarge the coverage area from an exclusively Bonner County paper, to a regional magazine. I hope I can contribute my share.

I will continue with my relationship with the Spokesman-Review as long as they have a use for me, but it would appear the end is near. On the other hand, maybe other writing opportunities will come along to fill the gap. I'm having far too much fun to quit now, and the feedback I get is by far, on the positive side.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Divided City

Picture from Harrison Chamber of Commerce website

I recently visited friends, John and Deena Austin on their custom built houseboat for a couple of days in Harrison, Idaho. Well, actually, part of the reason I was there, was to check out a very pretty, petite young Septuagenarian lady, who runs the City owned campground/RV park. While there, I learned a bunch about current events surrounding this lovely lakefront spa.

It seems that sensing a better deal than Kootenai County offers,Powder Horn Ranch developers, petitioned the city of Harrison, which is contiguous to the planned development, separated only by the Coeur d'Alene River, for annexation. The owners of the Powder Horn Group sweetened the pot by allegedly offering to fork over $31,000,000 for infrastructure improvements. The largest of these are apparently a total rebuild of the City's sewer system, one that uses septic tanks, collectors, and discharges into Lake Coeur d'Alene. Word on the street, has the EPA frowning the current system.

The city council is reputedly split evenly on whether to annex the land, which is approximately 1800 acres. On the conservative side of the argument is,* "hey, we're just fine the way we are without bringing in a bunch of multi-millionaires as neighbors that may take over politically." (*paraphrased collection of observances)

On the progress side, *"Thirty one million dollars isn't pocket change, and we need, badly, the infrastructure improvements to not only build the sewer system, but some streets that are sliding into oblivion. The tax base would increase hugely, and most of the residents would not be registered voters, as their homes would be second and third residences for out-of-state purchasers.

The rough current size of Harrison is about 170 residents with about 120 registered voters. Back in 1915 and again in 1923 when the old shingle mill burned down and was replaced, twice, Harrison was over 10,000 in population. Now the city officials must weigh the benefits and drawbacks to this momentous decision which apparently must be made soon, to make a difference. The new money would amount to $116,104.87 for every man, woman and child now residing in Harrison.

Present at a town meeting called by the Urban renewal committee, Wednesday evening, were many local residents and of course, the anti-urban renewal champion, Spirit Lake, Idaho resident and general all around Gadfly,Larry Spencer. One wag was heard to say,"why doesn't he stay home to answer all of the complaints surrounding his mobile home repo business. This is our town, not his." Apparently, that attitude fell on deaf ears.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Athol Daze Pictures

Don Hollen, Equestrian Winner

Carol & David Harms, Commercial Winners

Money In The Straw

L-R Myrtle Dane, accepting "Citizen of the Year Award," with former Athol fire Chief, Jorene Bohn in attendence

Unidentified Escapee From the County Chain Gang

Athol Daze, Aftermath

Athol daze has come and gone once more. Flashing bolts of lightning and rumbles of thunder greeted most participants of Saturday's parade, as they prepared for the day. Around 7:30 am, torrential rain, thunder, lightning, hail ... everything but famine and pestilence came down on Athol,causing many to look up in trepidation, but by parade time, the sun was back out and everything went smoothly. Over thirty parade entrants took part in what started out as a potential washout.

Some of the first prize winners by category, were Bob Pekar, Senior float, the Lone Piper, American Legion Auxiliary , Chipmaster, by Carol Harms, with brother David, as outrider,Timberlake Fire District, looking ready to answer the next alarm, Athol Home Schoolers, Equestrian, Don Hollen, 57 T-bird by Roger Haines, Old '42, the Farragut fire Engine, driven by Errin and Megan, Disabled Vets with their transport van, Rick Currie with his Republican Party entry and honorable mention, was Sheriff Rocky Watson, still trudging along as part of the chain Gang.

After the parade, many gathered in the city park where booths were lined up with food, drinks, arts and crafts, and of course the t-shirt lady. The "money in the straw game was a huge success, with urchins everywhere. The annual fund raising auction for the park was held, and once again, donated items were plentiful. Next year marks the Athol Centenial.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Intellect vs Knowledge

I have recently encountered a trend in the blogosphere, whereby educated youths of lower to mid-twenties seem to think they have a lock on smarts. Obviously, most of these fine young people will one day grow up to be intelligent productive adults.

Unfortunately, many think that by the dint of a college degree, they have reached the pinnacle of acquired knowledge. When they look back at these formative years, an epiphany will occur. Suddenly, thy will realize how really dumb they were prior to gaining age, maturity and acquired knowledge.

The process of learning just starts where formal education ends. If one has an inquiring mind and an open view toward knowledge, it will come rapidly, year after year. Without the curiosity to find answers to questions that baffle, no learning takes place.

As I said, most will reach a place around forty where they will look back with wonder at how little they actually knew back then. Some, of course, bathing in the belief that their intellect surpasses that of most if not all others, won't agree. They will go through life smug with the feeling that all is well and no further tolerance of other opinions or sources of information are necessary.

In the mean while, this old codger is still learning new things every day about life, people and really, nothing has changed. I was, too, one of those brash youngsters of which I am speaking about.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A blog Is Not Jounalism in it's Common Form

Recently, some folks that disagree with my positions on community affairs, have questioned my "journalistic ethics." So that everyone, including those that know very little about journalism will understand, I will attempt to explain the difference.

When I write my column, or an article for publication in the spokesman-Review, or for that matter, any other publication that might seek my work, that is journalism. A blog, however, is a private, no holds barred, opinion oriented forum that really has no parallel to professional journalism.

I encourage those that consistently disagree with my opinions to seek other methods of entertainment, as I'm really not interested in having outsiders control my site. In most cases, I have tried to be somewhat democratic about allowing diverse opinions that may disagree with those that I have published online. I do however, draw the line at giving a person a soap box on MY blog site, the forum to tear me down.

Recently, we have had what I consider a community busting event which was covered in previous posts. That issue is dead now, except for those that will wonder why the Chamber of commerce in Bayview is paying legal fees for something they could have found out for themselves through discussing it with former officers or, (gasp) actually called the Idaho state regulatory group designated to handle such inquiries.

The obvious of course, will prevail. Meaning that those of us that were right to begin with will be vilified for our style, opposition and whatever other side issues that can be brought forth. I have observed over my lengthy lifespan that it is much easier to forgive those who are wrong than to ever forgive those who showed you were wrong and that they were right.

At some point, the community as a whole will either make honest attempts to heal wounds, or they will nurture the ones already held. That would of course be terribly unfortunate, and non-productive. To those that have opposed me in the recent effort, just remember if you can, all of those times that I lined up on your side of an issue. If you can't, then your admiration isn't necessary anyway. Most of you haven't availed yourself of my "site meter,: that little box at the end of my blog page. When clicked on, it will give you many stats reflective of who, where and why people read me. I personally find the acceptance of my forum around the world and the country, very fulfilling. Currently I am holding at 75 visits and 165 page views per day, with over the last three and one half years, over 35,000 visits and 62,000 page views. In short, it you don't like what I'm doing, stick it in your ear! Start your own forum. Do something besides criticizing others that do.

After a few days, I will, as I am accustomed to doing, forgive all of the harsh words that have been aimed at me locally. Right now, I'm still upset. It has occurred to me, and might to some of the rest of you, that if I hadn't been contacted by the chamber secretary, asking me to intercede with the attorney that the board hired, they probably would, as they pointed out to me, have recommended that a redraw occur, and the previous winner be disqualified. Regardless of her motive, unknown at this time, Claire, secretary asked for my input and it turned the situation around. Spruance, the attorney involved, actually was gracious enough to tell me that had I not brought my point of view forth, all three lawyers in the office would have concurred in the negative. Now, all we have to do is pick up the pieces.

All's Well That Ends Well

Ralph Jones wins the $1000 raffle prize. News reached me a few minutes ago from the Law offices of Doug Spruance, attorney-at-law. In a fruitful conversation last Friday, I pointed out the points of law that my position was standing on. We had a good exchange of ideas, and he followed my suggestion which was, "call the State of Idaho Bingo & Raffle Advisory Board." He did, and the state properly informed him that there was no law broken in a board member receiving the prize.

Some organizations do prohibit officers and or employees from participating in these types of fund raisers as a matter of policy. The purpose is of course to avoid the appearance of impropriety. In the case of our small town and the difficulty in fund raising, I would advise against doing anything that would discourage the more active members in our community from participating.

During the period between July 5, the day of the drawing and today, many hurtful things have been said to and about pretty much everyone involved, some in writing. Mr. Spruance suggested that gloating or in any other way, stepping on those that delayed the process, perhaps ill advised, but apparently done in good faith, would be non-productive and divisive. I agree. We need to stop committing communal suicide. Perhaps I have been more passionate about this that I could have been. Others have seen to it that the errors of my ways didn't go unnoticed. There have been mean spirited statements from many different sources. We need to go back and recapture the good will that along the way got trashed in the fight for justice.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I was finally contacted this morning by a member of the Bayview Chamber of Commerce. Ralph Jones, still hasn't been called or spoken to about what is going on with the now infamous raffle. I was asked to contact an attorney in Spokane regarding some of my concerns. I did so and had a fruitful conversation with him. We had some disagreement over the definition of the word, "proceeds" which we will both research further.

One possible good thing that has come from this exchange of opinions, is that the attorney found a state bureau called: "The Bingo & Raffle Advisory Group." We both agreed that since an issue at law, and specifically criminal law was at stake, that he would approach this board or bureau or whatever, to get their take on this problem. If they say, hey, no problem, Ralph's Grandson gets paid. If they say, no way, a redraw will occur.

Much of the rancor and anger in the community can be found in the total secrecy that the board has perhaps unintentionally created. Working a problem of this magnitude in the dark breeds a fear that one's motives aren't pure. Hopefully hereinafter, we can provide our investigations in public, and prior to the event, rather than after.

As to the public lynching Ralph Jones experienced at the hands of the board,I consider that indefensible. This man has given more to this community for less recognition than anyone I know.He was criticized for holding the drawing at his business, like he should shut down on the busiest week-end of the year? With a raffle that has gone on for fifteen years, he was told he should have known better, even though many previous board members have won the big one. Whether a raffle in this town will ever be viable again is problematic. The board threw all these jobs at Ralph and he didn't complain, just went out and did them. He has many friends in this area that do not like the way he has been treated.

I have taken notice that where the fear that one or more business owners would take control of the Chamber, it appears that a radical element has indeed done that. Of the six marinas, and about four other businesses, only Ralph's and Macdonald's and perhaps one or two more still actively support the chamber. These are updated figures that reflect the dismay from many businesses that are experiencing anti-business attitudes. Perhaps less confrontation would be helpful as well.Perhaps it's time we work with, rather than against the marina operators. It would appear that the real estate market slowdown will offer new opportunities to approach development without a chip on our shoulders. (heresy)