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Updated: 17 min 47 sec ago

Huckleberries Interviews AJ Balukoff

October 23, 2014 - 1:30pm

Democrat AJ Balukoff is shown during gubernatorial debate earlier this fall at the Coeur d'Alene Library. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)

  • Huckleberries: What's the A.J. stand for?
  • A.J.: Anthony Joseph. My father's name was Anthony, my mother's name was Josephine. When I was born, my father was in the Navy, so they would write letters to one another. They didn't want to call me Tony because that's what my father was called. They didn't want to call me Joe because that's what my mom was called. So they called me A.J. And it stuck.
  • Huckleberries: Win or lose, what long-term impact will your candidacy have on the state of Idaho?
  • A.J. One of my main goals in getting into the race was to elevate discussion & attention of public education, to where constitution said it would be. I've done that. Even Butch & (Lt. Gov. Brad Little) are talking education now.
  • Huckleberries: What is something you know about North Idaho now that you didn't know when campaign began?
  • A.J. I know a lot of people that I didn't know before. That's what has been fun on this campaign -- meeting people from all over Idaho. As I've attended different kinds of events, like the Human Rights dinner here in Coeur d'Alene, I've enjoyed the great folks. I also know you can get a great ice cream cone at the Elmira Store.
  • Huckleberries: How can you be effective as a Democratic governor when GOP legislators will be working against you?
  • A.J. How effective has Gov. Otter been? Your question presumes that we're going to have trouble working together. I don't believe that's necessarily true. I've been going to the Legislature for 17 years that I've been on the school board, and I know a lot of legislators. We've been talking about the need to work together to solve problems to help people of Idaho. I'm not going to be elected to further a partisan agenda.
  • Huckleberries: Are you the type of guy that the Average Joe or Jane be comfortable having a beer with you?
  • A.J. Yeah, except being a Mormon, I don't drink beer. I'll buy them the beer & drink a root beer.
  • Huckleberries: Republicans try to paint you as an Obama acolyte. How do you differ philosophically from the president?
  • A.J. There's a big difference between an Idaho Democrat and a Washington, D.C., Democrat. Idaho Democrats are not liberal. I know in the ads they accuse me of being a liberal. I doubt there is enough evidence to convict me. I'm pretty moderate. A centrist. Funny when I read those (Republican Governors Association) ads that try to tie me to Obama. I gave money to Mitt Romney during the last election.
  • Huckleberries: What's with the bow tie?
  • A.J. I like bow ties. They're more festive. I know how to tie them. And I don't have to worry about the tie getting in my soup.

Ybarra Gets National Attention

October 23, 2014 - 1:22pm

Sherri Ybarra's campaign troubles are getting national attention. At RawStory, Travis Gettys writes: "The Republican candidate for the top education job in Idaho has been caught lying about her education, endorsements, and marital history – but she’s still leading in the polls. Sherri Ybarra has claimed throughout her campaign that she expected to earn a doctorate in education in August, but she instead received an education specialist degree from the University of Idaho, reported The Spokesman-Review." More here.

Question: So is Democrat Jana Jones doing a good job telling Idahoans why she's the better candidate? Or are Ybarra miscues obscuring her campaign, too?

Burials Becoming Impractical

October 23, 2014 - 1:19pm

Red Cedar (RE: No room at the cemetery): Perhaps, but it seems to be a difficult selling job on the part of the funereal industry to convince people they should "inurn" their loved one's "cremains" in a paid spot somewhere, when it's much cheaper, equally convenient, and sometimes more romantic to scatter their ashes in some beloved spot, or just keep grandpa in a jar on the mantle. I think the phasing out of burial is partly due to our generation's general lack of a sense of place. People move around so much that they don't feel any tie to any particular part of the country, and a "family plot" is completely impractical when the family is scattered to the four winds.

Question: Burial or cremation?

SR News Quiz -- Oct.19-24.2014

October 23, 2014 - 1:17pm

Did you know you could win movie tickets or a $50 gift card to the Davenport Hotel simply by entering the Spokesman-Review Weekly News quiz? Test your knowledge of current events and put yourself in the running for Friday's drawings. You can take the News Quiz here.

  • Answer to Question No. 1: A tunnel for wildlife.
  • Leaderboard: RaynTim, Sibulsky, TLPoelstra & SFredrickson are among the 23 current finalists for $50 Davenport Hotel gift certificate this week. Contest ends at 5 p.m. Friday.

JJ: Don't Put Fork In SR Yet

October 23, 2014 - 1:07pm

JJanovich (RE: I didn't get the memo): As a retired newspaperman myself, though having gravitated to the trades, instead of the more "glamorous" front end of the operations, it breaks my heart every time I hear of another layoff at any newspaper. As much criticism as the S-R attracts, it would surprise the majority of those critics to compare the S-R to most larger newspapers in the country in terms of breadth of content, amount of "news hole" and just the good read of the paper. I traveled extensively for many years, working for a west side newspaper, visiting scores of newspapers and reading every one I could get my hands on in airports and stops in between. Even when employed by others, I always was amazed to come back to Spokane and see how well the S-R compared. Yes, the cuts have significantly diminished the number and depth of stories, great staff and reporting, but it still is a pretty lively read, if thin.

Question: We usually refer to our hometown papers with a pejorative. Right-wingers, for example, call us the Socialist Review. When I worked in Kalispell, the Daily Inter Lake was referred to as The Daily Mistake. What nickname did you have for your hometown paper?

A Word Of Advice?

October 23, 2014 - 11:46am

Gov. Butch Otter and superintendent of schools candidate Sherri Ybarra engage in an intense conversation at the stop in Athol during the GOP North Idaho candidates bus tour Friday. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)

Question: What do you think Butch is telling Sherri?

AM Scanner Traffic -- 10.23.14

October 23, 2014 - 11:39am
  • 12:29 p.m. Officer has located stolen CdA vehicle that has been stripped, including tires.
  • 12:27 p.m. Domestic dispute reported on Upper Black Lake Road/St. Maries.
  • 12:19 p.m. Undisclosed parking problem reported @ 19th/Jenny Lane/Post Falls
  • 12:05 p.m. Security @ undisclosed store sees male steal fishing pole, give it to female, who tries to return it for cash.
  • 11:42 a.m. Someone @ 1000 block of Harrison/CdA needs helping getting up after fall.
  • 11:33 a.m. Possible fire burning in trees @ Mallory/Trail's End, Rathdrum.
  • 11:20 a.m. Male, now walking on Appleway, stole golf umbrella from Big 5, replacing it w/one he entered store with.
  • 11:10 a.m. 2-vehicle crash @ s/b H95/Prairie Avenue, Hayden, is blocking highway.
  • 11:05 a.m. Lights @ McGuire Road/Seltice Way, Post Falls, are completely out.
  • 10:59 a.m. Ex-employee of Hayden security firm on Govt Way is in parking lot honking horn.
  • 10:57 a.m. Driver of blue van driving recklessly on s/b NW Blvd, before turning onto River Avenue toward NIC.
  • 10:41 a.m. Resident wants to speak to KCSDeputy re: recent assault.
  • 9:28 a.m. A trucker is looked out of his semi @ Flying J Truck Stop/Post Falls.
  • 8:56 a.m. 53YO person is suffering seizure @ Coeur d'Alene, 120 Anton Ave/CdA.
  • 8:25 a.m. ISP officer stopping to check on possible wreck @ e/b I-90/MP 16, east of Sherman/CdA.

Lake City Unveils McEuen Donor Wall

October 23, 2014 - 11:09am

At McEuen Park, from left, architect Dick Stauffer, Executive Director Debbie Wilson of the Panhandle Parks Foundation, Parks Superintendent Bill Greenwood, and landscape architect Dell Hatch are shown at the new donor wall. (Photo: Coeur d'Alene Today)

City officials and a representative of the Panhandle Parks Foundation this week dedicated the donor, centrally located at the entrance to McEuen Park just off Fourth Street. For a $500 donation, citizens can have their name, family name, business or loved ones name engraved on the donor wall. To purchase space on the donor wall, email Debbie Wilson, Executive Director of the Panhandle Parks Foundation, at A donor form can also be downloaded from or interested parties can call Wilson at 446-4813. A box with donor forms will also be placed at the donor wall soon. Question: is this something you'd like to contribute to?

Poll: Ebola? What? Me Worry?

October 23, 2014 - 10:56am
  • Wednesday Poll: Hucks Nation isn't concerned about the Ebola epidemic that has claimed a victim in Texas. 143 of 234 respondents (61.11%) said, on a scale of 1-10, they rank 0-2 re: level of concern. 44 (18.8%) rate themselves 3-4. 31 (13.25%) 5-6, 11 (4.7%) 7-8, and 5 (2.14%) 9-10 (we're all gonna die!).
  • Today's Poll: How much compensation should owner Craig Jones get in the police shooting of his dog, Arfee?

Lake City Doesn't Land COPS Grant

October 23, 2014 - 10:29am

News that Coeur d'Alene will not be receiving a federal grant which would have allowed the hire of three additional police officers has city officials exploring other means of generating funds. The city was pursuing a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services program. The COPS grant would have provided as much as 75 percent of the new officers' salaries and benefits for three years. The grant process was extremely competitive, said Interim City Administrator Troy Tymesen. "There were a lot of requests for those dollars," Tymesen said. The grants were awarded on a needs basis, Tymesen said, making it likely that the funds went to the towns hit hardest by the Great Recession, where there were significant layoffs/Keith Cousins, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Somewhere, Councilman Steve Adams is smiling. Thoughts?

Souza Opposes Common Core

October 23, 2014 - 10:04am

It appears that future state senator from Coeur d'Alene has climbed aboard the anti-Common Core bandwagon. In her newsletter Wednesday, Mary Souza encourages readers to attend a presentation by Mila Wood of Boise-based Idahoans for Local Education from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Coeur d'Alene Library. Future Senator Mary begins her newsletter: "Common Core is a new program of education being implemented all over our country.  It supposedly started a number of years ago as an idea from a group of Governors so their states could compare educational outcomes.  Somewhere in the process, though, it was hijacked by special interests, and now it is a different beast. To be kind, I’ll just say it’s a good idea gone bad." You can read Mary's newsletter here.

Question: Where do you stand on Common Core?

'Add The Words' Footage In Otter Ad

October 23, 2014 - 10:01am

At the Lewiston Tribune, Joel Mills reports re: ironical footage found in an ad for Idaho Gov. Butch Otter: Boise filmmaker Michael Gough got the surprise of his professional life Tuesday night while surfing campaign ads on the Internet. "All of a sudden I was like 'Wait a minute,' " Gough said of watching one of Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter's TV spots. "I rewound it and said 'Oh my God, that's my shot.'" The interior view of the Idaho Capitol dome is briefly on the screen at the 12-second mark of the ad, titled "Business Testimonial." But Gough said he instantly recognized it as footage that was cut from the documentary "Add the Words" that he produced with Cammie Pavesic earlier this year. Winner of the Audience Choice Runner-Up prize at the Bend Film Festival in Oregon, the feature-length movie follows protesters who unsuccessfully lobbied the 2014 Legislature to add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Idaho's Human Rights Act. The act bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. More here. (AP file photo of "Add the Words" protesters during 2014 Legislature)


AM Headlines -- 10.23/14

October 23, 2014 - 9:53am

Karsten Fagan, a special captain for the Vikings during Wednesday’s game, cheers with his team before kickoff. Karsten has battled a brain tumor since he was only 9 months old - he has undergone 49 surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Coeur d'Alene Press story here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Hayden Lake Man Inherits $4M

October 23, 2014 - 9:16am

Spokane is abuzz today re: a $1M inheritance left to Mayor David Condon by a 104YO woman whom he considered a second grandmother, philanthropist Myrtle Woldson. If you continue reading the front-page story in the SR, you'll see that Woldson also left a Hayden Lake man $4: "Condon’s bequest was second only to that of Mark Damon Danner, a “dear friend” of Woldson’s who lives in Hayden Lake; he received $4 million. Woldson also left $1 million to Catholic Charities “exclusively for capital improvements and replacements at the House of Charity.” She also left money to two gardeners, two of her cousins and her goddaughter." More here.

Question: Have you ever received a bequeathal?

Possible Ysursa Vote Thrills Woodings

October 23, 2014 - 9:09am

On Thursday, Rocky Barker posted on the Election Central blog of the Idaho Statesman that Secretary of State Ben Ysursa didn't vote for "the guy" when it came to voting for a successor here. Moments ago, Huckleberries received a news release from Holli Woodings campaign that said her office has been flooded with questions. Quoth: "For her part, Woodings says she’s humbled and inspired. 'If the current Secretary of State, Ben Ysursa voted for me,' she said, 'I am deeply honored by his decision. The legacy of fairness and honesty that Ben has built in his tenure is a tradition I plan to carry on into the future. It’s the reason I ran for office.'" Full news release here.

Question: What would it say to you if long-time Republican Secretary of State Ben Ysursa voted for Democrat Holli Woodings instead of former GOP House Speaker Lawerence Denney?

I Didn't Get The Memo

October 23, 2014 - 8:45am

In discussing the buyouts being offered at The Spokesman-Review this fall, the Inlander included one line that caught my eye: "Further cost-saving measures have come in closing the North Idaho bureau in Coeur d'Alene and consolidating news sections in print, translating to a thinner paper." (Full story here.) Yeah, things have been tight in this scary new world of the newspaper industry. But I'm typing in my relatively new 1st floor office of the SR's Coeur d'Alene office -- and apparently didn't get the memo. The front desk of the North Idaho bureau has been closed for months. But our office is staffed by 10 people, including Victor Correa of KHQ. When the buyouts were offered, I called Editor Gary Graham to say I had no interest in retiring -- and he responded that he was glad I didn't. The Coeur d'Alene office continues on. And so does Huckleberries Online.


Should Idaho Or Obama Decide?

October 23, 2014 - 8:42am

Two paths confront Idaho's Boulder-White Cloud Range. Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, finally could achieve his aim of passing the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act -- a signature measure he's been pursuing for more than a dozen years. Or President Barack Obama could declare the area a national monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act. CIEDRA is the Idaho plan. Acting as an honest broker of information, Simpson worked out compromises among county officials, environmentalists, ranchers and recreationists. It calls for 332,775 acres of wilderness, opening another 130,453 acres for multiple use, access for motorized recreation, money for trail maintenance and protection for ranchers. Once Congress has acted, the issue is settled. No wilderness bill has ever led to protracted litigation. But it's been stymied by political betrayal and gridlock/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Frankly, if Idaho can't get off the dime re: Boulder-White Cloud Range, I have no problem with President Obama declaring it to be a monument under the Antiquities Act. How about you?

Dylan's Music Spans Generations

October 23, 2014 - 8:32am

The sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle erupted into cheers Sunday night when a small figure in a white hat strode onto the darkened stage. “This is the best day of my life!” my son Zach said. At 73, Bob Dylan can still pack a house. When Zach heard that Dylan would be playing in Seattle, he quickly bought tickets for himself, his younger brother and his parents. “It’s my birthday present to me,” he said. Zach turned 20 on Oct. 9. He owns 33 Dylan CDs and frequently plays the iconic folk musician’s tunes at his own shows. In fact, Dylan’s music is responsible for Zach’s harmonica prowess, too. I’m delighted that my son enjoys the music of someone old enough to be his grandfather. It proves music can cross all barriers, including generational ones/Cindy Hval, SR. More here. (AP file photo: Dylan in France in 2012)

Question: How do you explain to a non-Dylan fan why his music touches you to the core?


No Room At The Cemetery

October 23, 2014 - 8:26am

Kevin Palmer, cemetery sexton, right and John Best replace a headstone in the Evergreen Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon. The Post Falls City Council is discussing expanding the 11-acre cemetery to the South and increasing burial fees. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Tess Freeman)

With Evergreen Cemetery estimated to be full in three and a half years, the Post Falls City Council is exploring future options for the site along Spokane Street. During a workshop on Tuesday night, the council directed staff to compile financial data on the cemetery before it makes any decisions regarding the cemetery's future. Most of the council members appeared to support lot increases to help make the cemetery self-sustaining and to help fund a possible future expansion. "I think that the expansion and cemetery need to be self-supporting," council member Skip Hissong said. The cemetery is 11 acres, but the city owns an adjacent 6.5 vacant acres to the south for future expansion/Brian Walker, Press. More here.

Question: Have you picked out a place to be planted?

Clark: Driven Mad By Political Signs

October 23, 2014 - 8:21am

Today we celebrate the winners of my Sign Gripe Contest, which rewards readers for picking the most hideous examples of real estate infected by campaign signs. Before getting to that, however, I would first like to name the contest’s undisputed loser. That would be me. I must’ve been asleep at the switch. But it didn’t dawn on me that judging entries meant that I would waste a half-tank of gas and the better part of two days driving around and staring at the one thing I hate more than just about anything else. Political pollution. My contempt for campaign signage is what started this. Now I’m suffering from PTBS or Post-Traumatic Blowhard Syndrome. I’m seeing Judge Leland signs in my sleep. Or I’ll close my eyes a moment and see the giant word “OZZIE” flashing behind my eyelids. Make it stop!/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Why do you think there are so few political yard signs in Kootenai County this election cycle?