• David Frazier's memoir of Vietnam, "Drafted!", is multilayered - from the days of war in the 60s to return visits as a photography - and as complex as the place itself.
From local to national, to around the world. From inside the home to speculative. From fact to fiction - though we do take care about which is which.

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Idaho State University President Arthur C. Vailas on August 9 announced his plans for retirement. The announcement was made to the Idaho State Board of Education during its monthly meeting.

Construction of a non-motorized trail between the Redfish Lake recreation complex and the City of Stanley will soon become a reality, according to the Sawtooth National Forest.

The Bureau of Land Management on August 9 said livestock grazing will continue on BLM-managed portions of the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.

Major General Gary L. Sayler (pictured) announced on August 10 that he will retire October 31 after more than seven years as Adjutant General of the Idaho National Guard, capping a 45-year military career.

The Department of Finance announced on August 10 that financial regulators from five states, including Idaho, have reached a joint settlement agreement with two subsidiaries of IQor Holdings Inc. for failure to comply with federal and state consumer protection laws related to debt collection practices.

PHOTO Six thousand tons of alfalfa containing elevated levels of bromide could soon be bioenergy thanks to a collaboration between the state of Idaho and Idaho National Laboratory. (photo/Idaho National Laboratory)

digests

stapiluslogo1

A line of argument in politics in recent years, as in the great Lyndon Johnson books by Robert Caro, has held that the old saying is a little off: Power doesn’t so much corrupt, as it reveals. Power can make the doing of things easier and with less consequence, so we can see more clearly what lies underneath.

It turns out that a solar eclipse can do the same thing.

Friends of ours, who live in the upcoming eclipse totality zone, are hosting a couple of out of state eclipse-interested friends. (Our house, six miles away, is merely in 99.8 percent totality.) They’re not charging their friends any rent or room fee. As matters sit today, I call that a passed character test.

The eclipse, to be sure, is an understandable business opportunity, and there’s no harm and nothing immoral in taking some advantage of it. But at some point, somewhere along the line, it turns into greed, and totality areas all over the country have seen some ugly behavior and sad exposures of character.

There was, for example, the news story about a woman formerly from Idaho, now living near Washington, D.C., who booked an Idaho Falls hotel room back in October 2013. They had an agreement (for a fairly high room rate based on normal Idaho Falls levels). Some months ago the hotel said it wanted to raise the rate by $60; the couple reluctantly agreed. Then, earlier this month: “[The manager] started questioning us and telling us that our rate was way too low for this event and he wanted to raise our rates. My husband said, well you have already raised our rates once and we have a contract with you.”

That hotel in the news story now reportedly has rooms listed at $700 during the eclipse period. If you’re familiar with Idaho Falls lodging, you know this is not just a slight price increase. It is not even an outlier increase, or among the highest. Quite a few establishments regionally have been shooting far over $1,000 a night for rooms that ordinarily would rent for a tenth as much. (The Idaho attorney general’s office has fielded a number of complaints about room rentals.)

Okay: Room rates are, as a normal and reasonable matter, marketplace-flexible. They vary with seasons and holidays and location popularity, and they can sometimes be negotiated by late arrivals (at places with plenty of empty rooms that same night) or by third-party deals. There’s nothing holy about a particular rate.

But when rates rise abruptly, even during times of high popularity, by factors of seven or ten or more, you have to think something in the system, and in people’s willingness to simply take advantage of others and throw conventional rule books out the window, is wrong. There are human consequences. Good luck if you need to travel then for business, or visit a relative. Good luck if you’re not wealthy.

I don’t mean here to focus over-heavily on the lodging industry; lots of private homeowners are renting out their houses for a couple of days for almost unbelievable amounts. And I don’t mean to focus either just on rental rooms; the urge to suck up stray bucks seems to have become notably intense with this particular phase of the moon. (Airbnb reports an explosion of both requests for homes, and homes on offer.)

Consider what this kind of grasping reveals not only about our willingness to take advantage of others.

There are people in the totality zone who should, in bright light, take a good look in the mirror.

columns

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Beginning August 5 Idahoans needed to dial the area code along with the seven-digit telephone number in order to make a local call. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a new area code for the state in December 2015 to address the need for additional phone numbers. To implement the new area code, the Commission also approved mandatory 10-digit dialing for all of Idaho.

Two of Idaho’s largest and best-known business law firms said on August 1 that, they will join forces and unite as 75 attorneys strong under the Hawley Troxell banner.
Moffatt Thomas is joining Hawley Troxell.

The first sockeye of the year recently arrived in the Stanley Basin, including a naturally produced fish on July 27 and a hatchery fish on Aug. 2. The fish completed a 900-mile journey that included passing through eight dams and swimming 6,500 vertical feet in elevation from the Pacific to Stanley.

The Idaho Department of Insurance has posted proposed health insurance premium rates and the requested increases for plan year 2018 on its website.

The biggest solar event to pass through the area in years is just a few weeks away and the city of Pocatello is helping residents, businesses, and visitors to the Gate City get prepared.

SEAL COATING Seal coat work coming to many Magic Valley highways, impacting I-84, US 93, ID 75 and many others. (photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

digests

Water rights weekly report for July 24. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

As part of its effort to restore a self-sustaining Chinook salmon population within the San Joaquin River while minimizing impacts to water contractors, the San Joaquin River Restoration Program resumed its Restoration Flows to the river July 21. Since January 4 of this year, Friant Dam releases have been managed for flood control. This precluded the program’s Restoration Flows, which include releases from Friant Dam for downstream riparian interests. With the change, water users should be aware that diversions of Restoration Flows are not allowed unless authorized by the Bureau of Reclamation, as these flows are dedicated for preservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources pursuant to Water Code section 1707 and are protected under the California Water Code.

AQUAOSO™, an early-stage water management and trading platform that helps customers manage, identify, buy and sell water rights is launching a beta version of its water trading platform. This initial roll-out is intended to better connect buyers and sellers of water rights.

Mexus Gold US President Paul Thompson and Marco Martinez, CEO of MarMar Holdings, announced on July 31 that there is substantial amount of gold in the pregnant pond and on the heap leach pad which is currently being leached.

digests

Water rights weekly report for July 24. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

Following adjournment in mid-July of a third state legislative session, Washington legislators are being pressed to return for a fourth – to deal not only with a state capital spending budget (which was left undone) but also legislation to deal with the state Supreme Court water rights decision from last fall usually called the Hirst decision.

Two North Carolina cities – Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro, located near each other in the western part of the state – approved an agreement on July 27 allowing the two to continue with plans for receiving water from the planned W. Kerr Scott Reservoir intake project.

digests

Water rights weekly report for July 24. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

A collection of cities in northwestern Arkansas are in conflict over water rights and the use of water in the area in and around their communities. The cities involved are Gravette and Centerton (the two main contestants), with impacts reaching to Hiwasse and Bella Vista.

A shift in water use and diversion by a private user has resulted in the small city of Dayton, Wyoming, deciding it too needed to change the point of diversion for its water rights.

From a statement by the group Global Witness: “It has never been deadlier to take a stand against companies that steal land and destroy the environment. Our new report Defenders of the Earth found that nearly four people were murdered every week in 2016 protecting their land and the natural world from industries like mining, logging and agribusiness.”

How do you apportion water rights that are located underground? The point was considered in a podcast based on the marketplace.org website.

digests

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The Idaho Supreme Court on July 18 sustained, in a 4-1 ruling, a veto by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter of a proposal to repeal the sales tax on many grocery items in the state.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the Bear Lake Regional Commission on July 21 announced a landmark cooperative agreement today that enhances aquatic invasive species prevention efforts in the Bear Lake area.

In an effort to reduce costs and provide more efficient service to the public, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest is constructing an Interagency Natural Resource Center that will house the IPNF Supervisor’s Office, Bureau of Land Management’s Coeur d’Alene field office and local US Fish and Wildlife Service offices.

The Canadian firm Hydro One Limited on July 19 said that it planned to acquire the Northwest utility Avista for C$67 (US$53) per share in a C$6.7 billion (US$5.3 billion) all-cash transaction.

The Pocatello City Council has put its seal of approval on the effort to raise a new and official flag for the city.

PHOTO The Idaho booth at the Paris Air Show, which Idaho officials and business owners visited. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter remarked, “I joined 11 Idaho-based aerospace companies last month in traveling to France for the International Paris Air Show. Idaho Department of Commerce officials and I helped showcase our Idaho companies’ products and innovative concepts at the Idaho Pavilion in Paris. With manufacturers, vendors and buyers from all over the world participating, the Paris Air Show was an invaluable sales and marketing opportunity for our Idaho businesses.” (photo/Governor Otter)

digests

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The United States Senate on July 12 unanimously confirmed Judge David C. Nye to serve as U.S. District Judge for the District of Idaho. Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch welcomed the Senate’s timely action in confirming the first of President Donald Trump’s U.S. District Judge nominees.

Representative Mike Simpson on July 12 said the Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill protects funding for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho.

Idaho’s surging economy produced $29 million more than projected in State tax revenue in June and almost $94 million more than economists expected for the fiscal year that ended June 30, enabling the State to meet the constitutional requirement for a balanced budget while beefing up its rainy day fund.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has determined that five proposed battery storage facilities qualify for contracts under PURPA based on their primary energy source, making them eligible for two-year, negotiated contracts with Idaho Power.

Representative Mike Simpson on July 143 praised U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for his announcement that Craters of the Moon National Monument is no longer under review. Further, the Secretary will recommend that no modifications should be made to the monuments.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a public hearing regarding Idaho Power Company’s proposal to construct a new transmission line in the Wood River Valley.

digests

Water rights weekly report for July 3. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

Access to clean drinking water and the nation’s water infrastructure are major concerns for Americans across the country, according to “Perspectives on America’s Water,” a new study. A total of 6,699 American adults shared their views on water-related topics in this comprehensive online study conducted on behalf of Nestlé Waters North America by the global market research firm PSB in May 2017. The study, the first of its kind to gather both the opinions of the U.S. general population and those of experts in the field, found that water is viewed as the most important natural resource in Americans’ daily lives, more so even than clean air (87 percent compared to 81 percent). Yet, 61 percent of American consumers and 66 percent of experts characterized water problems as a crisis or major issue for the United States.

How does fill in a lake, where the fill affects navigtable area, affect the public trust doctrine? The Washington Supreme Court reviewed those pieces in its July 6 decision in Chelan Basin Conservancy v. GBI Holding Co. and city of Chelan.

The Flying L Hill Country Resort will get a faster water allocation after a June 29 settlement with the Bandera (Texas) County River Authority and Groundwater District.

digests

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 10. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The 4th of July holiday led to a short week of formal activity, and members of Congress were relatively quiet during their visits back to the state. Things are likely to gear up a little this week.

The Idaho State Board of Education on July 5 made two major decisions to enable the College of Eastern Idaho to offer academic programs starting with the Fall 2017 semester.

The Idaho State Police Bureau of Criminal Identification released their annual “Crime In Idaho” report for 2016 today, July 3, 2017. The report is a synopsis of statewide crime statistics gathered from law enforcement agencies across Idaho and includes such things as the Statewide Crime Profile, Crimes against Persons, Property, Society, the Arrest Profile, Hate Crime in Idaho, Law Enforcement Officers Killed or Assaulted, crimes categorized by jurisdiction and many other statistics.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointments of Boise resident James Classen, Emmett resident Kevin Dickey, and Moscow resident Dr. Renee Breedlovestrout to the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on July 5.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney received a request by email on Friday for specific information pertaining to Idaho state voter registrations from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The city of Nampa and Nampa Parks & Recreation Department invites the public to join the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Orah Brandt Park on 2 p.m. Thursday, July 13. A short presentation will take place near Franklin Boulevard at the entrance of the Franklin Village subdivision.

PHOTO What was once a wind-blown wheat field near the small Idaho town of Genesee is now an environmental success 12 years after the Idaho Transportation Department created a thriving, marshy wetlands area where one never existed. Genesee is a quiet community in the rolling hills of the Palouse between Moscow and Lewiston. When road construction on U.S. 95 in the spring of 2005 from the top of Lewiston Hill to Genesee required using land designated as wetlands, ITD launched a mitigation project to construct wetlands as compensation. Known as “Cow Creek Wetland,” along a half-mile of Cow Creek in Latah County. (photo/Idaho Department of Transportation)

digests