/ January 21, 2021
PEOPLE compiled by
“What’s your favorite road to drive for scenic pleasure in Bonner County?” “My family likes to take the scenic route through all the pretty neighborhoods in Sandpoint when we go to football games at Memorial Field.”
Six years ago this week, the Reader came back to life after having gone out of print for two-and-a-half years. I’d like to thank all of those who helped us get off the ground in the beginning, including my business partner Chris Bessler with Keokee, former Reader Editor Cameron Rasmusson, former Advertising Sales Rep. Jen Landis and all the writers and contributors who have helped this newspaper gain a following over the years. Also, of course, I have to thank our current staff members; Editor Zach Hagadone and News Editor Lyndsie Kiebert, as well as our Ad Director Jodi Berge for keeping this paper healthy and filled with interesting content over the years. Also congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who were both sworn in at the inauguration on Jan. 20. I have hope that we, as a nation, can start the gentle swing back toward the center and avoid falling into the extreme wings of our political ideologies that only serve to polarize us more. We have a long way to go; but, today, I’m proud of our country and her people.
– Ben Olson, publisher
Rachel Alyward Student at Sandpoint Middle School Careywood
“The scenic byway by the lakeside on Hwy. 200 to Hope. I used to manage a small estate on the Hope Peninsula. I miss that drive.” Rick Braunstein Retired Kootenai
Mindy Youngman Equine artist with artwork at Tru-Art Gallery Athol “Probably the road to Schweitzer. We go up four days a week for my daughter to ski. We see wildlife, and great views of the lake.” Emily Chartrey Stay-at-home mom Ponderay “Going over the Long Bridge. The water is clear and not polluted and there is the scenic backdrop of mountains.” Shane Bunting with mother, Anne Bunting Self-employed Frequent visitors to the area Missoula, Mont.
111 Cedar Street, Suite 9 Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208)265-9724
www.sandpointreader.com Publisher: Ben Olson email@example.com Editorial: Zach Hagadone (Editor) firstname.lastname@example.org Lyndsie Kiebert (News Editor) email@example.com Cameron Rasmusson (emeritus) John Reuter (emeritus) Advertising: Jodi Berge Jodi@sandpointreader.com Contributing Artists: Ben Olson, Susan Drinkard, Bill Borders.
Conquer the Outdoors Again Office Located in the Ponderay Walmart Vision Center Call and make an appointment today: 208.255.5513
“It is not a road that comes to mind. It’s the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail, a beautiful walk that is relaxing, peaceful, and serene.”
Contributing Writers: Zach Hagadone, Ben Olson, Lyndsie Kiebert, Lorraine H. Marie, Emily Erickson, Sen. Jim Woodward, Brenden Bobby, Commissioner Dan McDonald, Mayor Shelby Rognstad, Henry Jordan. Submit stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org Printed weekly at: Tribune Publishing Co. Lewiston, ID Subscription Price: $115 per year Web Content: Keokee The Sandpoint Reader is a weekly publication owned and operated by Ben Olson and Keokee. It is devoted to the arts, entertainment, politics and lifestyle in and around Sandpoint, Idaho. We hope to provide a quality alternative by offering honest, in-depth reporting that reflects the intelligence and interests of our diverse and growing community. The Reader is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Leftover copies are collected and recycled weekly, or burned in massive bonfires to appease the gods of journalism. Free to all, limit two copies per person.
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January 21, 2021 /
Idaho is ‘scaling up’ vaccine distribution efforts Dept. of Health and Welfare announces grant program to get smaller health care providers access to doses
By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff
Idaho Gov. Brad Little and the state’s pandemic response officials are focused on speeding up the rate of distribution of both the COVID-19 vaccine and important information regarding how to access doses — a mission the governor emphasized during an AARP Telephone Town Hall event Jan. 19, during which Idahoans from rural to urban areas were able to ask questions about the vaccine. Little said the people who have called into the virtual Town Halls — which typically take place every other Tuesday at 11 a.m. PST — since they began in March have been instrumental in informing the state’s pandemic response. “They’ve urged things on this call and we’ve changed state policy as a result of it, or we knew we weren’t communicating well because of it,” Little said. “So we’re thankful for the opportunity.” Little shared his intention to ramp up vaccine distribution in coming weeks, assuming a steady stream of doses will continue to arrive from the federal level. “We’re scaling up right now, rapidly, and it’s really important … that not only if you’re in an urban area you can have access to vaccines, but if you’re in a rural area,” Little said. As of Jan. 20, 61,333 Idahoans had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while an estimated 11,778 had received both doses. In Bonner County, 1,811 people have received the shot, with 164 of those considered fully vaccinated. Currently, the state is focused on vaccinating people who fall under Groups 1 and 4 /
/ January 21, 2021
2: health care workers, people in long-term care facilities, first responders, K-12 teachers and staff, child care staff, correctional facility personnel and people over the age of 65. However, widespread appointments and an official plan for vaccinating people over 65 is expected to launch by Feb. 1. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen fielded a question about possible side effects of the vaccine during the phone call, saying that while a sore arm is to be expected in most cases — just as with the annual flu shot — side effects such as headache and fatigue happen to the minority of vaccinated people and are “very minor and do not last very long — 12 to 24 hours at the most.” He said those with a history of anaphylactic shock to other vaccines or medications should consult their physician before pursuing a COVID-19 vaccine. By and large, questions during the call centered around a single concern: When and how can I access the vaccine? An unidentified 68-year-old Bonners Ferry man called in to detail his difficulty in securing current information about accessing the vaccine in the far northern reaches of the state.
“I called my physician, who has no new information. I called the health service that is allegedly going to give vaccines, [and] they didn’t even realize 65-year-olds could get it — they have no idea when they’re going to get vaccines,” he said. “I called Panhandle Health the last couple days and looked at their website. They have no new information about when vaccines are going to be given, so I feel a little like we’ve been stranded up here in Boundary County. ...There’s no really good information to know how we go about applying.” Little said the Bonners Ferry man was correct to call the health district, and also pointed to local hospitals as a good source of information. He pointed out that the state is still more than a week away from launching the official vaccination period for people over 65, and noted that communication to that age group will be improved by then. Little added that he and Jeppesen had a conversation earlier in the week with a small independent pharmacy located in Bonners Ferry that wanted to start signing locals up for its vaccine. Such providers could see access to doses in short or-
der, thanks to a grant program IDHW announced Jan. 19. According to a press release from the governor’s office, “the new COVID-19 Vaccine Capacity, Safety and Reporting Grants can be used by enrolled vaccine provider organizations to increase staffing to administer shots, purchase needed equipment and supplies and improve vaccine access for hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations.” Jeppesen said during the AARP call that administering the grants is an integral step in making sure “that money is not a barrier for us getting out into the very rural parts of Idaho and getting people vaccinated.” IDHW officials will initiate communication with health care providers regarding the grant program, and more information is available at coronavirus.idaho.gov/covid19-vaccine. Part of the “lag” happening with vaccine distribution in Idaho can be attributed to the need for providers to be trained in administering the vaccine, as well as the need for people to make appointments to receive their doses. In addition, according to a statement from the governor’s office, the state “is receiving a disproportionately
Image courtesy CDC.
lower share of vaccine compared to other states because the federal government is not allocating vaccine on a per capita basis.” In an effort to speed up distribution, Little announced Jan. 19 that he is calling on more National Guard personnel to help with vaccine distribution, increasing their numbers from the currently active 250 to 400. “Our women and men in the Idaho National Guard have stepped in to meet critical needs at healthcare facilities across Idaho since the fall,” Little said, “and the availability of additional guardsmen to assist with vaccine distribution moving forward will help us even more in the pandemic fight.” Idaho reported 810 new cases of COVID-19 on Jan. 20, bringing the statewide total to 157,588 cases and 1,635 deaths from the virus. In Bonner County, Panhandle Health District has logged 2,484 cases, with 758 of those currently active, and 24 cases resulting in death.
Here we have Idaho By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff
As the debate over appropriate COVID-19 protocols and necessary pandemic response continues to rage in the Idaho Statehouse, the virus’ prevalence went from hypothetical to concrete as Senate President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder announced Jan. 19 that a Senate staffer had tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. Winder told reporters that the unidentified staffer came to work Jan. 15 showing no symptoms, and contracted the virus outside of the Capitol from a family member. “She was here after that exposure for a short period of time,” Winder said, according to the Associated Press. “I know that she was wearing a mask when I saw her.” Members of the Senate were warned of possible exposure Jan. 18, thanks to reporting by the Idaho Press, and a plan for recessing is in place in the case of an outbreak, AP reported. Meanwhile, business continues as usual, with bills in their early stages surfacing in both the House and Senate. Limiting emergency powers A major item on the Idaho GOP agenda during the 2021 legislative session is limiting the Idaho governor’s powers during an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Two House bills — House Joint Resolution 1 and House Concurrent Resolution 2 — saw second readings on Jan. 20, each addressing a different gubernatorial declaration. HJR 1 proposes a consti-
tutional amendment stating that the Legislature “must be convened in special session by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives in certain circumstances,” rather than exclusively by the governor, as current law states. HCR 2 “states findings of the Legislature and declares that the portion of the December 30, 2020, order regarding the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people is null, void, and of no force and effect.” Both of the aforementioned bills were filed for a third reading. In the Senate, a bill dubbed SCR 101 is slated to see its first presentation Jan. 21, and contends that “the state of disaster emergency declared by the Governor regarding novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is terminated, to provide that receipt of federal funds, benefits, or resources arising out of the state of disaster emergency shall not be affected, and to provide that the Governor may make or maintain declarations only to a certain extent.” Also in the works is HB 1, which Idaho Press Boise Bureau Chief Betsy Z. Russell characterized as making “sweeping changes to the state’s emergency laws,” including, “limiting the governor’s emergency powers, requiring all emergency declarations to end after 30 days unless extended by the Legislature, declaring all jobs in Idaho ‘essential,’ forbidding the suspension of any laws or constitutional rights during emergencies, and more.” Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, asked bill sponsor Rep. Jason Monks,
What’s happening at the Idaho Legislature this week
R-Nampa, whether public health districts fell under the HB 1 restrictions, to which Monks replied he believed they did. Health districts across the state have received staunch criticism from conservative lawmakers throughout the pandemic for enacting mandates that many see as threatening personal liberties. ‘Locking in’ 2020 drug laws Sen. C. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, has proposed an amendment to the Idaho Constitution that would make any “psychoactive drug” illegal in Idaho during the year 2020 illegal forever. The Idaho Press reports that Grow is fronting the amendment as a means to “protect the Idaho way of life,” with a plan to officially publish the list of controlled substances and their corresponding limits — as they were written in 2020 — into the state’s governing document.
“Neighboring states have legalized controlled substances, to the detriment of their children, families and communities,” Grow said, according to the Idaho Press. “This constitutional amendment prevents the erosion of Idaho statutes — as you know they can be changed each year — which currently control these substances.” The Senate committee voted to introduce Grow’s bill with a single dissenting vote from Boise Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne. Silver and gold Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, proposed a bill that would allow the State Treasurer to invest Idaho’s money into gold and silver. The Post Register reports that Nate presented the bill on the morning of Jan. 19, and the House State Affairs committee voted to formally introduce it.
The Idaho State Capitol in Boise. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.
“It is one of the more secure ways to hedge yourself against the inflation,” Nate — an economics professor at BYU-Idaho — said, according to the Post Register. Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby was the only lawmaker to vote “no” on the bill, contesting that the return on gold is not worth the investment. The Post Register reports that Nate received $1,000 campaign donations — the maximum amount allowed — from Eagle company Money Metals and, separately, from the company’s owner, in 2018. Money Metals is known to sell gold and silver. For more information — including full bill texts, agendas and status updates — go to legislature.idaho.gov. January 21, 2021 /
Your Health Idaho enrollments for 2021 down due to COVID-19
By Reader Staff At the close of the 2021 open enrollment period closed for the Your Health Idaho state health insurance exchange, officials reported more than 79,000 Idahoans signed up for coverage. However, that number is down by approximately 10,000, attributed to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health emergencies and protected coverage policies. “Given the challenges of COVID-19 and the hard choices faced by Idahoans this past year, we were not entirely surprised to see a decline in enrollments,” stated Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly in a news release. “Although our enrollment numbers are down compared to last year, we are encouraged by the percentage of Idahoans who have already effectuated, or paid for, their 2021 coverage.” According to Your Health Idaho officials, more than 86% of all enrollments have already paid for coverage for 2021, compared to 73% at the same time last year. “This tells us that those who enrolled understand the importance and peace of mind that comes with getting covered,” 6 /
/ January 21, 2021
The Your Health Idaho offices in Boise. Courtesy photo. Kelly stated. “We also anticipate that these enrollees will be more likely to maintain their health insurance through the coming year.” Of the 79,000 Idahoans enrolled for 2021, approximately 85% percent renewed their coverage from 2020, while new customers made up 15% of total enrollments. In addition, 24% of enrollees have had a plan through Your Health Idaho since 2014, when Idaho became the first state to transition off the federal platform and successfully launch a state-based marketplace. Now that the open enrollment period is over, Idahoans must experience a “qualifying life event,” like having a baby or losing employer coverage, to be eligible for coverage through a special enrollment period. More information is available on the Your Health Idaho website at yourhealthidaho.org. For information on plans and enrollment visit yourthealthidaho.org or call 1-855-944-3246. To learn more about the special enrollment period for qualifying life events, visit yourhealthidaho. org/special-enrollment.
Bits ’n’ Pieces From east, west and beyond
East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. A recent sampling, still pivoting around the U.S. Capitol: A day before the riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, Virginia’s FBI office sent a warning to D.C. about extremists planning to commit violence and “war,” The Washington Post reported, based on a review of internal documents. Prior information included instructions to, “Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from the BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.” A Jan. 5 warning report from Virginia FBI noted that it was not “finally evaluated intelligence” and that taking action on the report would require prior coordination with the bureau. The Post also noted that some Capitol Hill staffers were told by their supervisors not to come to work on Jan. 6 due to a high risk of danger. But Capitol Police did not take the typical extra precautions used for events in proximity of the Capitol. According to an Associated Press analysis of the violent Jan. 6 Capitol riot, high-level Republican Party members, including members of Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, were organizers of the rally that “ignited” the violence. The AP examined the names on public gathering permits and now it is being reported that, despite pleading ignorance of what could happen on Jan. 6, the Capitol Police were warned three days in advance in a 12-page internal intelligence report. That report included warnings about members of Congress being violently targeted and attendees being urged to be armed and bring combat gear. Those arrested for the violent invasion of the Jan. 6 Capitol building may be pleading a “public authority defense,” which means Trump gave them permission. That defense can reduce or even eliminate some punishment. But it also makes the authority granting their permission more likely to face prosecution, according to The Washington Post. To avoid another Jan. 6-style mess at the inauguration, 25,000 FBI-vetted National Guard troops were brought to the Capitol, according to the AP. The FBI also warned that QAnon planned to pose as National Guard members. The House impeachment process
By Lorraine H. Marie Reader Columnist
alleging Trump’s critical role in “inciting an insurrection,” passed on Jan. 13. Ten Republicans joined 222 House Democrats, and 197 Republicans voted against. Thirteen months ago, when the House voted to impeach, there were no Republicans, other than Mitt Romney, voting to do so, Mother Jones noted. This impeachment makes Trump the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice. Trend-bucking: It used to be that a presidential candidate was inclined to win if voters prospered under their leadership. But a Washington Post report found that trend reversed with the 2020 election. Counties that saw a decline in their economies were more likely to vote for Trump, and those who were “better off” voted for Biden. The second dose of the double-dose COVID-19 vaccine appears not to exist due to bungling by Operation Warp Speed, The Post indicates. OWS stopped stockpiling a second dose at the end of 2020. In a scramble to get that second dose where it belongs — to people three weeks after their first Pfizer dose, and four weeks after their first Moderna dose — the plan appears to be to use what is in supply and to sideline for now the seniors and others scheduled to get the vaccination beginning Saturday, Jan. 23. Blast from the (recent) past: A year ago Trump faced his first impeachment charges. The impeachment manager urged Republicans to look to the future, saying, “you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for the country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump ... He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to.” Some of the Republicans who refused to vote to impeach the second time said they feared for their safety and their loved ones if they did so. Another blast: When inaugurated in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced getting the nation back on its feet during the Great Depression. His plan: create jobs, protect people’s savings, provide relief for seniors and the sick, and give a boost to industry and agriculture. He faced stiff opposition from Republicans and some in his own party. FDR hoped to start all that within his first 100 days, when he enacted 13 major laws, including the Emergency Banking Act, which temporarily closed banks so the federal deposit insurance would be in place when they reopened. As a result, banks regained people’s trust; within two weeks half the money people had hoarded was redeposited.
Racist robocaller Scott Rhodes fined $10M for nationwide harassment campaign, including attacks on Reader and its publisher By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff Scott Rhodes, a former Sandpoint resident and last known to be living in Libby, Mont., has been fined almost $10 million by the Federal Communications Commission for a yearslong campaign consisting of thousands of racist, homophobic and otherwise threatening robocalls targeting a number of individuals and communities around the country — including Sandpoint Reader Publisher Ben Olson. The FCC announced the $9.918 million fine in a news release Jan. 14, making formal its initial claim against Rhodes filed in January 2020, which totaled $13 million. His offense: “illegally using caller ID spoofing with the intent to cause harm.” According to the commission’s statement: “This individual made thousands of spoofed robocalls targeting specific communities with harmful pre-recorded messages. The robocalls included xenophobic fearmongering (including to a victim’s family), racist attacks on political candidates, an apparent attempt to influence the jury in a domestic terrorism case and threatening language toward a local journalist.” The “local journalist” in question was Olson, whose reporting alongside former Reader Editor-in-Chief Cameron Rasmusson revealed Rhodes as the individual behind the distribution of racist CD’s at Sandpoint High School in late-2017. Subsequent news stories by Olson and Rasmusson identified Rhodes as the individual on a video podcast series linked to racist robocalls received in California, which then led to national news out-
lets reporting his identity. That prompted a sustained effort to defame Olson and the Reader, as well as targeting multiple individuals around the country. Following that reporting, Rhodes’ landlord evicted him from his home in Sandpoint in October 2018. Rhodes then made Olson, the Reader and its advertisers a continual target, with incidents of telephonic harassment continuing into early 2020, at which point he received notice that he would face a hefty fine from federal officials. “The law is clear: Spoofed caller ID robocalls used with the intent to defraud, cause harm or cheat recipients is unlawful. And the American people are sick and tired of it,” wrote FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in the Jan. 14 statement. “In this instance, not only were the calls unlawful, but the caller took them to new levels of egregiousness. With today’s fine, we once again make clear our commitment to aggressively go after those who are unlawfully bombarding the American people with spoofed robocalls.” Rhodes targeted numerous communities, keying into local controversies and hot-button issues that ostensibly served to elevate his “brand” among other avowed right-wing, racist, homophobic and assorted extremist groups, according to the 19-page Forfeiture Order filed by the commission. Among them, the FCC highlighted the case in Iowa, where Rhodes “spoofed a local number to robocall residents of the town of Brooklyn and surrounding areas with xenophobic messages referring to the arrest of an illegal alien for the murder of a local college student.” The commission also noted illegal robocalls in Virginia, where “[Rhodes] made
spoofed robocalls to residents of Charlottesville based on a false conspiracy theory in an apparent attempt to influence the jury in the murder trial of James Fields, prompting the judge to explicitly instruct the jury pool to ignore the calls. In Florida and Georgia, he made spoofed robocalls attacking gubernatorial candidates.” Those are only a few of Rhodes’ many targets, but he reserved special vitriol for Olson and the Reader. “In Idaho, he robocalled residents of the city of Sandpoint, attacking the local newspaper and its publisher after they reported the identity of the caller,” the FCC wrote, adding in its Forfeiture Order, “Rhodes does not refute that the robocalls advocated harm to Mr. Olson or the paper. In fact, his response expressed continued animosity toward the paper and Mr. Olson.” In September 2018 alone, the FCC logged 750 robocalls by Rhodes attacking Olson and Reader in general. “I am pleased to see that the FCC has held this individual accountable for the vile robocalls that advocated harm both to the Sandpoint Reader and me personally,” Olson stated. “Because the Reader was the
first newspaper to identify Scott Rhodes in print, we were repeatedly targeted, harassed, threatened and defamed for more than three years, which included robocalls, anonymous defamatory letters and intimidating videos. “Our advertisers were also repeatedly threatened and harassed, showing a clear effort by Rhodes to harm our business — a position that has now been corroborated by the FCC,” he added. “The Sandpoint Reader will never be intimidated and we will always stand up to racism and threatening behavior. We are glad Rhodes is no longer part of this community. Hate has no place in Idaho.” Rhodes is held accountable under the Truth in Caller ID Act, which forbids manipulating caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause
A screenshot of former Sandpoint resident Scott Rhodes on his racist podcast, which has been dormant since April 2020. harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value. The FCC heard his arguments against the January 2020 Notice of Apparent Liability, but found “most of them unpersuasive.” Yet, because some of his many robocalls targeting a California primary campaign were in fact the caller’s to use, the commission ruled to reduce his fine from its initial $13 million. Rhodes has 30 days to pay the fine. If he fails to do so, the matter will move to the U.S. Department of Justice for further action. What the “further action” may be remains to be seen — neither U.S. Code nor an FCC spokesman provided details as of press time.
January 21, 2021 /
Challenge to share the wealth...
Bouquets: • I’d like to give a Bouquet to Bonner County Commissioner Dan McDonald. Dan and I have had our conflicts over the years, but I will always give credit where it is due. I think Dan’s responses to an interview conducted by Reader Editor Zach Hagadone in this week’s Reader story about the Capitol insurrection (Pages 14-16) were thoughtful and showed a level of integrity that rises above partisanship. I will always appreciate truthfulness and concern for our community, as well as our country. While I may disagree with Dan on many topics, it was a breath of fresh air to read his rational answers to these questions about that dark day on Jan. 6 at our nation’s Capitol. Barbs: • I’m going to put on my old man hat for a second here and yell at some clouds. You know what chaps my hide? Litter. I know we’ve all seen those little baggies filled with dog poop set carefully beside the trails like gumdrops marking the way to Poo Forest. I know we all swear we pick them up on the way back to the car, but that’s not always the case. Try walking away from the trailhead at first with your pooch then double back and coax that sweet nectar from his hind end while you’re closer to the car. More poop for you, less for me. Deal. You know what else gets my goat? Annoying people whining about everything on social media. There are sadists among us who throw red meat into the cage every once in a while with an inflammatory post, which riles the hoopleheads up for another go at nothing, biting like rats in a cage. Just read a book and chill out already. Finally, f--- you, winter rain. What in the hell kind of winter is this? Powder one day on Schweitzer and asphalt the next. It’s heartbreaking. There is nothing sadder than a grimy black hat sitting on the lawn atop a puddle of mud that was once a snowman. Bring back the snow! If I see it rain one more time this winter, there’s going to be hell to pay. OK, I think I feel better now. 8 /
/ January 21, 2021
Dear editor, We received our $600 each from the U.S. Treasury today. It really goes against the grain to receive this when I know there are so many others who need it so much more than we do. I feel that money should have been distributed in a much smarter way so it would have benefited those who need it the most. For example, it could have been used to increase unemployment benefits or by extending the time folks could get unemployment benefits. We have decided to donate at least part of that money to organizations that help the unemployed, the homeless, etc. I have written two checks already and am considering where to send the next. I challenge all who don’t really need that money to join me in sharing it with those who do. Velta Ashbrook Sandpoint
Crazy uncle… Dear editor, We can all breathe a sigh of relief. The crazy uncle has left the house. Steve Johnson Sagle
Take back our flag… Dear editor, I propose a campaign to take back our flag. The flag is ours. It is a symbol of being an American citizen and loving this country. It means I am patriotic to the ideals upon which this country was grounded. It does not mean I agree with where the country has gone in recent years. It does not mean that I am proud of slavery, of lower wages for women, of racism and sexism, or the wage gap and tax inequality. It means I have hope that with our Constitution and laws that we can do better because we have the tools in place to do so. I am patriotic. Don’t tell me I am not just because I am not storming the White House! I care about the people of all colors and all races who live in this country. I care about our water and clean air and wildlife. I am sick of the term “environmentalist” being used as a dirty word. Yes, I hug trees and care about leaving a natural world intact for your grandchildren as well as mine. When did that become wrong? We have allowed the far right to take away the meaning of our flag and, frankly, that pisses me off. It is time to take the power of being an American back. The US flag should not stand for Trump or his crazy followers. It should stand for the America that we love and that once made us so proud. It should stand for the hope that the future can be better, and that we are not on some downward spiral. Let’s take it back! My suggestion: Hang an American flag this week to show that you support the America that makes us proud. Jane Hoover Sandpoint
Back to Boise By Sen. Jim Woodward Special to the Reader Your northern Idaho legislators have gone south for the winter again. Representative Dixon, Representative Scott, and I arrived in Boise this past week for the first session of the 66th Idaho Legislature. My first few days were spent in a committee, which projects tax revenues for the upcoming year. Per our Idaho Constitution, we cannot spend more than we take in. To set a balanced budget for the coming year, we have to make our best guess of what income tax and sales tax collections will be next year. The process involves hearing from many segments of the business community, an association representing taxpayers, the Idaho Tax Commission and economists, both private sector and government. My most significant takeaway from those hearings is that we truly are in a great position in Idaho. Unemployment is low, the economy is strong, and our state government finances are in order. As a result of our Idaho values and the position we’ve placed ourselves in, the biggest challenge moving forward is managing growth as many folks around the country look to join us here. The kickoff to every legislative session is the governor’s State of the State address. This year, Gov. Brad Little has laid out a path forward that I consider a well-balanced, threepronged approach. First, the plan addresses tax relief both in the short and long terms. Second, the plan makes significant capital investments throughout Idaho, including transportation projects and broadband infrastructure. Finally, the plan also adds to our rainy day funds, reflecting our fiscally conservative Idaho approach. Details of the proposal can be found at gov.idaho.gov. The next step in bringing these improvements to Idahoans is the legislative process. With 105 members on the legislative team, there are always many ideas and sometimes a bit of wrangling, but the end result is typically a reflection of our cross-section here in the state. The windstorm this past week caused severe damage to the electrical transmission and distribution system in the area. We are used to an occasional outage due to downed trees on our distribution lines. Electrical providers budget for the small to medium-sized events. When the high-voltage transmission lines are damaged or storm damage is widespread, the costs become significant. Part of the response to an incident like this is the declaration of an emergency. The declaration recognizes the event significance and makes more assets available to remedy the situation. Boundary, Bonner and Kootenai counties have declared an emergency in regard to the windstorm. If the damage is costly enough, a state declaration will be issued, which allows
District 1 Sen. Jim Woodward. Courtesy photo. the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide financial assistance. FEMA operates with our federal taxpayer dollars. We pay into the program. I think it makes sense to utilize our own federal money to assist our local response. By the same logic and method, in the state of Idaho, we are currently using FEMA dollars to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. National Guard members are mobilized to assist overworked hospitals, conduct COVID testing and distribute the new vaccines. In addition, FEMA funding is covering the cost of Personal Protective Equipment for hospitals and nursing homes. In just the first three months of 2021, Idaho will receive $20 million of our federal tax dollars for these purposes. If we don’t use our federal tax dollars to pay these bills, we will end up paying a second time with our state tax dollars. We are all frustrated with the pandemic and ready to move on. It has caused inconvenience, discomfort, sickness and loss of life. I have heard from many who would like to lift the state of emergency. I want to make sure we all understand that lifting the emergency will result in loss of access to our current FEMA federal dollars which will increase the burden on our doctors, nurses and other frontline people who are already stretched to capacity. Lifting the emergency declaration will not change the health restrictions currently in place. The health restrictions are authorized under a different section of Idaho law. Thank you for the opportunity to represent the community at the state level. I look forward to hearing concerns and input on legislative actions. The easiest way to track legislation is on the legislative website, legislature.idaho. gov. Email is the best way to reach me. firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim Woodward is a second-term Republican member of the Idaho Senate, representing District 1. He serves as vice-chairman of the Transportation Committee and on the Joint Finance-Appropriations and Education committees.
A column by and about Millennials
Precedent and change By Emily Erickson Reader Columnist
Exactly four years ago I was packing up my old silver Subaru, a vehicle I had purchased as soon as I set my heart on moving to the mountains — which only lasted five months of actual mountain driving — and prepared to move out West. Two weeks later, I’d navigated my way through several mountain resort towns and more than a few snowdrifts piled over Interstate 80, and finally had my “Long Bridge moment,” when the snowstorm hanging above Sandpoint blew away. Four years is not a long time, really, especially when gauged against community “lifers” who don’t consider anyone a local until decades have gone by. But it is enough time to witness change; changes in both our surroundings and the people and community within them. It’s enough time to watch our trajectory and wonder about the direction of its future. Four years are enough temporal space for one-way streets to transform into two lanes, for grassy fields to be paved into tidy suburban neighborhoods, for businesses to open and close, for rent and homes to rise in price, for protesters to line the bridge, and for masks to shift the way we see and understand one another. Changes in culture and community can feel like passive things; like something we float around inside, hoping
that when we pop up, it’s in a place that resembles where we started. But, in considering change as something that happens to us, we disregard an important facet of our collective agency: precedent. The things we do and the things we take a clear stance on influence the course of our change and the trajectory of our shifting community. In this, “setting a precedent” can be thought of as the act of establishing a standard or setting the stage for the future, even if those actions don’t have immediate repercussions. Setting precedents can happen at the individual level, but often have significant impact when implemented within our institutions. When Tom Chasse, president and CEO of Schweitzer Mountain Resort, wrote a letter to the community taking a firm and clear stance on mask-wearing for the protection of his staff and in order to keep the mountain open, he was setting a precedent. He wrote, “Due to an over-
whelming lack of compliance with our mask policies and social distancing ... I have made the decision that we will not be offering twilight skiing over the MLK holiday weekend. I will not continue to tolerate the verbal abuse that has been directed toward our staff as they have attempted to enforce our safety requirements. “We hope this ‘pause’ in our twilight skiing operation will provide our staff a much-needed break from the constant struggle of trying to operate safely during the pandemic as well as a reminder to our guests of our commitment to our safety protocols.” More than these words having an immediate effect on our ability to twilight ski, they had the power to establish that we’re the type of community that acknowledges COVID-19, setting a precedent that it is our collective duty to protect one another in hard times. When some of the biggest cities in our nation skirted their bureaucratic red tape to paint the streets with the words “Black Lives Matter,” they were doing more than closing down a block’s worth of traffic — they were setting a precedent that, sometimes, some things are more nuanced than what we can capture in city codes and established they were the types of cities prepared to acknowledge injustice. When we dissolved into fights about sidewalk chalk art, we too were setting a precedent about what and who we would tolerate.
Precedents have the power to signal to outsiders the type of community we are, and the type of fabric newcomers will be a part of when they move here. They have an ability to remind us that change isn’t an entirely passive thing, and that we have the agency to steer our trajectory through firm stances and clear actions. When our city and community leaders decide that precedent is important; that barriers
can be put up against corrosive aspects of change and taken down in front of positive contributions, we can reclaim some control of where we are headed. We can do so much more than ride the wave of change or tumble around within it. We can carve out our course through intentionality and, maybe, recognize our surroundings when we land onshore.
January 21, 2021 /
Mad about Science:
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domesticated rabbits By Brenden Bobby Reader Columnist Spring is fast approaching, though it seemed like winter was barely ever here; famous last words, as a massive snowstorm strikes on the day of printing and you’re reading this after a fourhour snow shoveling marathon, cursing my name all the while. Regardless, a new year means different things for all of us; but, for me, it means replenishing the farm stock that I had traded or lost over the last year. Chickens and waterfowl are still a few weeks from arriving, so I thought it might be fun to look into another animal that can often act as a gateway into independent agriculture: the rabbit. Rabbits are one of the easier forms of livestock to tend, compared to things like cattle, alpacas, or even chickens and ducks. Rabbits require similar living conditions to dogs and cats, meaning many people are easily able to accommodate them without a large investment, such as a coop for chickens. Though it’s possible to get started with a rabbit indoors, their urine is particularly smelly and can quickly stink up an entire room even when regularly tended to. Whenever possible, it’s generally preferable to raise rabbits outdoors, or in a shed with access to artificial lights, though sunlight is always preferable. Rabbits can be raised in small cages, but they will always be happiest if they have plenty of room to run around and at least two feet of dirt beneath them to dig. Rabbits love to dig. Because of this, they are phenomenal escape artists if their pen isn’t 10 /
/ January 21, 2021
properly designed. Some tall dog cages can be partially buried so that the rabbit inside is allowed to burrow, but not escape. If you simply set them up with a bottomless cage, I can guarantee your furry friend will tunnel out to freedom at the first possible opportunity. Burying a layer of metal mesh — often called hardware cloth — two feet around the perimeter of a pen will usually deter most rabbits from trying to escape. Rabbits also need food and water, but you can’t just give them your dog’s bowl and a handful of your dog’s food and expect them to be happy and healthy. Rabbits will frequently and quickly knock over a bowl of standing water or soil it with urine. The easiest way to keep clean water for your rabbit is to hang a bottle with a metal nipple on the side of its hutch. As for food, rabbits are strictly herbivores, and throwing them all manner of kitchen scraps just won’t do. They enjoy leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce, but it’s generally better to buy them a bag of rabbit feed from the farm and feed store, as it’s inexpensive for 50 pounds of feed and it has all of the nutrients they need for a well-balanced diet. Never feed them the green tops of carrots, as they are poisonous and will make rabbits sick or even kill them. Bugs Bunny lied to us all. One last point about rabbits is that if you or your neighbors are gardeners your rabbits will become your new best friends (provided they aren’t marauding their patch). Rabbit manure — which I often call bunny berries due to their round shape and brown hue — composts into some of the best fertilizer you
will find anywhere short of fish emulsion. Due to the relatively low nitrogen levels compared to chicken manure, it can be applied directly to flowers. Note: Always compost manure for at least 90 days (preferably more) before applying it to plants you intend on eating. Not doing so can cause fecal contamination that will make you sick or even spread parasites your furry friends may be carrying. Ready for your first rabbit, but not sure what to get? Here are a couple of breeds to get you started. New Zealand rabbit — meat These rabbits are bred to grow up to 12 pounds and reproduce very quickly, having a gestational period of about a month. With a roster of about 30 rabbits, it’s possible to have a rotating schedule to butcher and process several pounds of meat every two weeks, providing the most efficient source of lean white meat of any livestock. Don’t expect to put them into a box and pull out perfectly packaged cuts, however. Butchering takes a lot of time, practice and work, as well as a dedicated workspace. Angora rabbit — wool The angora rabbit is one of the oldest domesticated rabbit breeds in the world. These rabbits grow long, luxuriously soft fur that can be used to make wool for textiles to craft things like sweaters, socks, scarves and hats. The best part of all? You don’t even have to harm the rabbit to retrieve the wool. Angora fur takes some work and investment to maintain a high quality, requiring regularly brushing the rabbit and trimming matted fur — particularly around their
hindquarters which can become soiled and stinky. It’s worth it, though, if you value high-quality yarns or clothing, or are able to sell or trade to someone who regularly uses it.
trademarked downturned ears and gentle demeanor. Rabbit shows can offer serious cash rewards, turning your hobby into a business. Plus, they’re just so darned cute.
Lop rabbit — showing You can show virtually any type of rabbit, but if you want the cutest and one of the most eye-catching breeds, you’re going to want the lop with its
Planning on hopping on the bunny bandwagon? Hit up the library for some great guide books to really get you started. Stay curious, 7B!
Random Corner ntial inaugurations?
Don’t know much about preside • George Washington was inaugurated in two different cities. On April 30, 1789, Washington took the presidential oath on the balcony of New York City’s Federal Hall. His second inauguration took place on March 4, 1793, at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, which was then the nation’s capital. Washington’s bank account was so dry that he actually had to borrow money to travel to New York City for his first inauguration. • Inaugurations used to happen in March. The date of March 4 was declared Inauguration Day until the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president inaugurated on the new date for his second inauguration on Jan. 20, 1937. • John Adams was the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration. While Adams and his successor — Thomas Jefferson — had been close friends at one time, they fell out of favor and became rivals. When Jefferson was inaugurated on March 4, 1801, Adams was nowhere to be found. He left Washington eight hours before the big event. History repeated itself when John Quincy Adams boycotted Andrew Jackson’s
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inauguration 28 years later. • John Quincy Adams was also the first president to wear long pants to his inauguration. In previous years, knee breeches were the standard uniform. • Andrew Johnson was halfsoused before his vice presidential inauguration in 1865. Johnson was ill from typhoid fever and drank whiskey to numb the aches and pains, except he overdid it and ended up slurring his way through the oaths. After trying to swear in new senators, he got confused and had to let a Senate clerk complete his duties. Michigan Sen. Zachariah Chandler commented to his wife, “The inauguration went off very well except that the Vice President Elect was too drunk to perform his duties and disgraced himself and the Senate by making a drunken foolish speech. I was never so mortified in my life, had I been able to find a hole I would have dropped through it out of sight.” President Abraham Lincoln assured the public later that Johnson, “made a slip the other day, but you need not be scared; Andy ain’t a drunkard.”
The 2021 Idaho legislative session through the eyes of county commissioners By Dan McDonald Special to the Reader Each year, January brings a new legislative session for our Idaho legislators. For county commissioners in Idaho it brings a hope of potentially some good things to come and some hesitation as to what else may be handed down to the Idaho counties. In the past four years I have been a commissioner we have seen some confusing decisions made by the Legislature with some ending up being unfunded mandates that get handed down to the counties to determine how to pay for some of the legislature’s “good ideas.” Fortunately, we have good working relationships with Rep. Sage Dixon and Sen. Jim Woodward, who do fine jobs of always being open to conversations about our concerns and working toward actions to resolve them. They are however, only two of the 105 who represent all corners of the state. This year will be especially interesting considering the governor’s unilateral actions regarding COVID-19, along with his distribution of Cares Act money, an authority that is supposed to be under the Legislature and not the Executive Branch. Additionally, I appreciate the bills and resolutions currently being debated regarding the state of emergency, COVID-related policies and the Legislature having the ability to call itself back into session. I am consistently uncomfortable with one person — in this case the governor — being the sole arbiter of how to proceed under these kinds of conditions. Our form of government is supposed to include our local representatives and I believe more ideas are better than fewer. There are two issues, one old, one new, that we look forward to seeing the Legislature offer some potential solutions and clarity, as both will directly affect each of the counties in Idaho and especially Bonner County. The first issue is Medicaid expansion. Funding is becoming the key issue and the individual counties are looking at some potential cost increases, which would take several years of a full 3% tax increase to cover and continue to cover. The current plan is to eliminate the funding for the state’s Catastrophic Health Care fund, which assists counties by picking up the cost of medical treatment for those who qualify after the county covers the initial $11,000. The thinking is many of those reliant on the CAT fund would easily qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage under the parameters set forth in the legislation. Here’s the problem: Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act we’ve seen
some positive but mostly negative results. While a small percentage of the country who were without insurance were able to receive subsidized coverage under the ACA, that subsidized bill was rolled onto all other policies that were not subsidized under the ACA along with private policies, as well. More devastating was the market multiplier effect that the ACA had due to the subsidized costs and increased regulations that increased the cost of actual health care. This sets up our current dilemma. The increase in health care insurance and actual health care is widening the gap that Medicaid expansion was expected to cover. With the gap moving up the income scale, we are seeing CAT fund applications coming in from folks who don’t qualify for expanded Medicaid but can’t afford the inflated insurance, let alone the co-pay to pay for the inflated cost of treatment. So how does this affect the county? The county pays only the first $11,000, with the CAT fund paying the balance. With the state using CAT fund moneys to pay for expanded Medicaid access, the counties will be on the hook for covering not just the first $11,000 but having to cover the entire medical bill for those in the new gap not covered by Medicaid expansion, and the counties will also be on the hook for the mental health portion in indigent care, as that won’t be funded under expanded Medicaid. We review and approve these bills every week and I also serve on the CAT board. Many of these invoices are in the $200,000 to $300,000 range. If we get more than three of these in a year without having the CAT fund to back us up, we will exceed the amount of money that can be raised by law with a tax increase. That will mean cuts in other county services should this happen. Based on our experience, this won’t be an if, it will be a when. We are hoping the Legislature finds a funding solution that will not pass the burden onto the counties, which have fixed yearly budgets while the state is enjoying a revenue surplus. The other issue is one being generated by a state representative in Ada County regarding the revision of the statutes regulating counties’ ability to levy yearly property taxes. After discussing this controversial issue with commissioners in other counties through a conference call with the Idaho Association of Counties, we see several issues with the initial plan. The first offering from the southern Idaho representative was to eliminate the county’s ability to realize new construction revenue and eliminate foregone balances that are on the books. New construction revenues are what we
have been using here in Bonner County to offset inflation and increases in operating costs that have allowed us to not increase taxes over the past three years. Additionally, if you were to not realize the new construction or new additions to the tax rolls, we would have a constitutional issue as properties would not be taxed under a system that treats all properties the same. Last year our new construction revenue was more than $500,000. Not having that revenue to offset expenses would assure tax increases and possible cuts in services. Foregone is the money not realized by a taxing entity that has the ability to tax up to an increase of 3% per year. For the past three years, we have not taken the 3% increase that we are by statute able to take, so that money goes into the foregone account. This account is basically a bookkeeping entry that the state tracks. Our account has grown to well over $2 million — money we can access in part or in whole during our yearly budget process. What foregone represents to most taxpayers is the county’s ability to go back in time and capture tax increases they hadn’t taken in the past and raise the taxable yearly rate. In most every circle, foregone is a dirty word. With the county commissioners over my past four years we also classify it as a dirty word and look upon foregone as an “in case of emergency, break glass” fund. We refuse to use it and are allowing it to continue to grow. Because we choose not to use it doesn’t mean future commissioners might not want to access it for a pet project. While we don’t want to use it, we also don’t want to lose it; it’s like punishing us for being responsible with our budget and spending. I have offered a compromise idea to cap foregone at a percentage of each county’s budget to avoid these funds from getting too large and reduce the temptation for commissioners to use it for anything other than a real emergency. Bonner County is one of only a few counties that have a foregone account, with many of them having already drained their accounts. Other areas of reform for property taxes is to scrutinize forest and ag exemptions. For those properties that have legitimate forestry and ag operations it’s a great tool; however, we are seeing more and more property owners who are taking advantage of the system and not living up to the details of the program. This results in a tax shift to all other property owners. An additional issue we are seeing now — which we also saw back in the post 2008 housing market crash — is a shifting of property tax liability from commer-
cial properties to residential properties. In post-2008, with the housing values dropping but commercial remaining high, the larger share of property taxes was shifted to commercial properties. Our assessor at the time saw this and quickly moved to create a discount multiplier for commercial property that rebalanced the sheet and created fair distribution of the property tax liability. Now it’s happening in reverse of 2008, in that residential housing is increasing in value rapidly — outpacing commercial and creating a similar imbalance with respect to property tax liability. We are asking as part of the property tax reform that the Legislature include language to require county assessors to review and rebalance the tax liability as it relates to both the current trends for residential compared to commercial properties on a yearly basis. These are but a few of our hopes and concerns as the Legislature works its way through the 2021 legislative session. Dan McDonald serves as chair of the Bonner County Board of Commissioners.
January 21, 2021 /
Mayor’s Roundtable: By Mayor Shelby Rognstad Reader Contributor
a monumental step toward protecting the public media space from social and political manipThe insurrection upon ulation and deterioour nation’s Capitol on Jan. ration. Twitter first 6 was a natural consequence began censoring to the massive misinformaTrump’s tweets tion campaign that has been after weeks of his launched by former-President baseless election Donald Trump and perpetfraud claims. The uated by his enablers in ex-president’s inciteCongress since the election ment of violence at Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad. in November. In 63 out of 64 the Capitol on Jan. 6 instances, courts across the nation found apparently was the last straw. The same no credible evidence of widespread voter fate was handed to his advisers, Rudy fraud. There is no consequence for makGiuliani and Michael Flynn, who were ing up rumors and spreading them on so- also de-platformed. A few days later, cial media; but, in a court of law, under Amazon halted service to Parler — the oath, lies and hearsay are not admissible. Twitter alternative made famous reThey are not evidence. In fact, there are cently for its popularity among far-right consequences for lying or misrepresentextremists and their advocates. Apple ing the truth under oath. and Google booted the app from their Fortunately, there are honorable app stores. Collectively, this represents patriots in the Republican Party who a momentous shift in responsibility serve with integrity and hold the sanctity of social media platforms to moderate of our democratic institutions above the public dialogue to protect the integrity opportunism of short-term political gain. of the media landscape and ultimately Embarrassingly, there were more than public safety. 147 congressional members who sponThis was absolutely the right call for sored Trump’s election fraud conspiracy these platforms to take responsibility to (including Idaho’s U.S. Rep. Russ Fulprotect our nation from further damage cher) and some 70% of Republicans nafrom a narcissistic ex-president who is tionwide that ultimately came to believe apparently willing to threaten the safety the election was. How could this happen of a co-equal branch of government for when nearly every court, with overhis own objectives. whelmingly Republican judges, found no This move does, however, invite a credible evidence that would substantiate larger conversation on how we can provoter fraud? This election saw record tect the public from potential abuse by court challenges and recounts, making it Big Tech on what are now perceived as the most validated election in history. public platforms. The First Amendment Social media platforms own a lot protects the public from government of the responsibility for perpetuating control of free speech, but it doesn’t misinformation. The ad model, which protect the public from private/corporate drives profitability, favors sensational control of free speech. We, as a society, content and conflict over truth, facts and will have to work together to figure reality. Humans are seven times more out what is the appropriate regulatory likely to click and share something that approach to ensure open, free, public provokes anger, outrage or shock than forums that also don’t encourage and something that appeals to reason. Outpromote misinformation — literally rage sells, it is shared and it is believed. driving us crazy and ultimately threatenTruth, not so much. ing national security and public welfare. The action by Twitter, Facebook, Tech companies, for their part, need to Reddit, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram revise their algorithms to discourage, and others to suspend Trump’s accounts rather than propagate radicalization. as well as a few of his enablers represent Restoring faith in media and redis/ January 21, 2021
covering a consensus reality are the most critical factors in our mission to heal this nation. Of course, the conventional news channels, television, print and radio, need to internalize this event as a learning moment and recommit to honesty and integrity in reporting. Consumers, like you and I, need to do better at discerning media, validating sources and recognizing bias in reporting. We also need to recognize our own biases and challenge our assumptions. If there is one thing I’ve continued to learn in my life, it is that the world is always more complex than I previously believed it to be. The convenient truth about conspiracy theories is that they offer a simplified, comprehensive understanding of everything and all information always serves to reinforce the conspiracy. This makes it really hard to get out of once one becomes a believer. What makes a fantastic conspiracy theory like QAnon so compelling is that it takes the next step and empowers everyday believers to be part of the solution. Now is a time to hold our leadership accountable. It is criminal that our elected officials perpetuated lies toxic to our democracy for their short term political gain. This is the antithesis of leadership. If we do not hold elected officials and others in leadership accountable, we will continue to get more of the same. For four years I’ve avoided discussing national politics in this office despite the horror that has been this past presidency. My intention has been to focus on issues relevant to the city of Sandpoint and its citizens. Since our nation’s Capitol was stormed by self-described patriots Jan. 6, however, it has become clear to me that we are a nation on the brink of civil war and the time to remain silent is over. I must do what I can to save our nation from collapse. As a true patriot, I will continue to speak truth to fiction and expose anti-Americanism for what it is. I expect every other elected official to do the same. Please join me for the Mayor’s Roundtable to discuss all this and more on Friday, Jan. 22 at 4 p.m. on Facebook live: Mayor Shelby Rognstad.
Voices in the Wilderness
Wild places near and far
By Henry Jorden Reader Contributor I don’t think I truly understood how unique our wild places are until I saw the New York City skyline jutting out from the horizon for the very first time. From an early age, I remember listening to my mother recount the visceral reaction she had to her first glimpse of the Rocky Mountain Front. A Michigan transplant, she would express how difficult it was for her to believe that those abrupt peaks were real. How could something so incredible have been kept from her for this long? More than 30 years later, she still calls the Front her home in north-central Montana. Growing up in their shadow, I took those mountains for granted. Weekend trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness were expected; I didn’t see them as anything particularly special. Those trips became less frequent as I became preoccupied with high school sports and playing cowboy on my friend’s ranch. Later, in my early 20s, I worked as a trail dog in the Frank Church and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness areas. My crew and I were tasked with cutting out ancient Western Red Cedars that had fallen across the trail. The Western Red Cedar can grow 125 feet tall, and can live up to 1,000 years. Imagine living in a place for 1,000 years. For them, place isn’t something they find or seek out. Place is who they are. A thousand wicked winters and this tree chose the one I happened to wander in uninvited to crumble under its enormous weight for my partner and I to cross cut our way through. Taking out a beast of a tree leaves you with a certain respect. The rhythm you and your partner must keep for the crosscut to continue cutting smoothly, the smell of cedar sap filling your nose — the whole endeavor is spiritual and sensory. Ideally, there’s a hill (of which there are many along the Selway River) for you to kick down the section of tree you’ve just cut out. We would cheer with joy
as timber met the river below. These whales of the forest, returning to the water with a satisfying splash. My crew mostly came from far off places like Omaha, Milwaukee and Chicago. They told me horrible, frightening tales of places that lacked topological diversity. Apparently the food was decent, but there wasn’t the same kind of deep escape into public lands when the private ones became too much. Still, I didn’t understand how my mother felt in those stories about mountains first coming into view. That is, until I took my first trip to New York City. As I descended toward the runway, the bright lights of the megalopolis spread endlessly beneath me. Here was a land dominated by humans. How did they do it? What feat of cooperation enabled this? I could barely get my crew to agree on how much cheese to pack for the chili-mac we’d share on our final night over the campfire. I couldn’t believe it was real. We landed and the river of humanity washed over me, swimming from terminal to shuttle to train without a second to breathe. Intense new feelings of competition welled up inside of me. Resource scarcity. At my final stop I continued treading water out the doors and through the train station before coming up for air on the sidewalk. There, staring down on me, pulling me in was the bright glowing moon in all of her fullness. For whatever reason this glowing celestial mass brought me back to Earth. Her familiarity gave me just enough calm to find my bearings and forge on. There was something about this new place that drew me in and ultimately led me to stay. There are places for peace and places for competition, for failure and success. For now, I find myself in this foreign place. A place I can’t believe is real, learning about its intricacies and strange beauties for the first time. Over here on the East Coast, it takes a lot more effort to find a spot without the sounds of some machine or the eyes of other people, but there are places. And those wild places will
always call to me, no matter where I might be. Henry Jorden is the Lincoln County Outreach Coordinator for the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. He is currently working remotely and attending the Columbia School of Social Work in New York City. Jorden has
Henry Jordan of FSPW. Courtesy photo. been involved in elections administration, forestry, wilderness therapy, and outdoor education across Montana and Idaho. His passion lies at the intersection of community engagement, outdoor education and mental health.
January 21, 2021 /
‘Just pure chaos’ Local, national observers weigh in on the Capitol ‘insurrection’ and how we can all get along in a post-Trump world By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff
oseph R. Biden Jr. took the oath of office Jan. 20 as the 46th president of the United States, swearing to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The president spoke those words — as has every chief executive since George Washington in April 1789 — in performance of a ritual that certifies the nation’s hallmark peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. Though this inauguration followed many of the prescribed aspects of those that have come before it, everything from the muted crowd to the presence of more than 25,000 heavily armed National Guard members to the face coverings worn by those in attendance on the Capitol balcony, underscored the unprecedented circumstances surrounding his assumption of the office. Two weeks prior to the day, on Jan. 6, the very spot where Biden stood swearing his oath on his family’s 128-year-old Bible — held by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — was filled with rioters who breached the Capitol amid a destructive protest that resulted in the death of five people, the injury of dozens more and nearly 100 arrests and counting. The unrest — which, according to the article of impeachment against now-former President Donald Trump passed by both Democratic and Republican House members on Jan. 13, was an “insurrection” — took place amid a massive pro-Trump rally, where loyalists gathered to hear the president falsely claim that Biden’s election was fraudulent and “stolen.” After months of such claims and more than 60 failed lawsuits, no credible evidence has yet been presented that such fraud occurred, yet Trump’s claims to the contrary “provoked” many individuals to attack the Capitol, 14 /
/ January 21, 2021
said outgoing Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Jan. 19, a day before Biden’s inauguration and amid Trump’s last full day in office. “The mob was fed lies,” said the longtime Kentucky congressman on the floor of the Senate, which was also the scene of vandalism and terror on Jan. 6, as rioters entered the chamber and forced the evacuation of lawmakers who had gathered there to formally count the Electoral College votes that would certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. In the eerie calm of the inauguration Jan. 20 — locked down both for security reasons and to guard against the spread of COVID-19 — President Biden stressed in his remarks that, while, “on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries.” Stressing themes of unity, comity and — most important — truth, Biden emphasized that, “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” The new president called for an end to “this uncivil war,” that has drawn its fuel from a flood of lies from the former president and his partisans, breaking over the nation from its seat of government to the kitchen tables of its families. That’s a message that even many of Trump’s most ardent partisans have echoed — both locally and nationwide — stressing that the nation must now enter a period of lessened tensions if it’s to hold together as a meaningful demo-
cratic republican system. First, however, is a necessary reckoning with what happened in Washington, D.C. in recent weeks. Deconstructing Jan. 6 Though more than two weeks have passed since the events of Jan. 6, the shockwaves will continue well into the future, as the FBI proceeds with 330 open investigations into the perpetrators of the attack on the Capitol and will undoubtedly add many more in the coming months. Speaking to the Reader on Jan. 11, Portland, Ore.-based Guardian reporter Jason Wilson — who specializes in tracking right-wing extremism, including in the Northwest — said the upheaval in Washington, D.C., witnessed by the world earlier this month shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to those who had been listening to the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric coming from the extreme fringes of the right wing. “It didn’t take a lot of prescience on my part,” said Wilson, who appeared on the radio program Democracy Now on the morning of Jan. 6, predicting that he expected a high likelihood of violence that day. “[F]olks were on social media on Parler, particularly, announcing their intention really to engage in forms of protest, up to and including violence. Before anyone got to D.C., people were effectively making threats of violence toward people in Congress and others on social media. “I wasn’t looking into my crystal ball. I was just seeing what those folks were saying and taking it seriously,” he added. The question of who, exactly, those folks were has been and will continue to be the subject of debate. While countless social media newsfeeds, television broadcasts and photographs showed rioters surging the Capitol under a collec-
tion of pro-Trump flags, Gadsden flags, conspiracy QAnon placards, Confederate battle flags and many others related to paramilitary and militia groups, conservative observers — from media personalities to lawmakers to everyday citizens — have pushed back against the notion that the mob assault was specifically comprised of “pro-Trump” activists. “Lame-stream media continue to universally misrepresent the events of Jan. 5 and 6, 2020 [sic] and instead focus on the small group of lawbreakers and Antifa that broke windows and destroyed property at the Capitol, many of whom were let in by Capitol police who opened Capitol doors,” wrote Sandpoint attorney Colton Boyles in an email to the Reader. Boyles traveled to Washington, D.C. and was present during the events that unfolded there Jan. 6. Most recently, Boyles helped craft the amicus brief for the state of Idaho to join Texas in its lawsuit alleging election irregularities and challenging the Electoral College vote count that ultimately led to Biden’s victory over Trump. Blanchard Republican Rep. Heather Scott was also a key member of that effort, which was signed onto by Gov. Brad Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, though it was dismissed soon after in court. Boyles was also the initial lead attorney for Davillier Law — though has since left the firm to start his own practice, Boyles Law, in Sandpoint — representing Bonner County in its lawsuit against the city of Sandpoint over The Festival at Sandpoint’s weapons prohibition at publicly owned War Memorial Field. That suit was also dismissed, though is on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. Continued Boyles: “No coverage, credit or praise is given to the 99.999% of restrained, loving Patriots who denounced violence
and peacefully attended the rally. Instead, traitorous politicians and pundits label the diverse crowd ‘white supremacists.’ That is insipid and ironic ad hominem considering how many beautiful and peaceful black, brown, red, yellow and white attendees peacefully assembled that week. “Witnessing the spin reminds me of how much I love Bonner County because of our strong county leadership, love, tolerance and peace,” he added. “We need to unite locally if we are to successfully combat the scourge of communism plainly visible in our Capitol today.” Despite such claims, no firm evidence has been presented to corroborate that any group such as Antifa spurred or participated in the Capitol breach of Jan. 6, and none of those so far arrested have been linked in any way to the organization. “No, this was not an Antifa action,” said Wilson, with the U.K.-based Guardian. “The most I’ve seen, which has yet to be confirmed, is that maybe there was a stray Antifa guy or two kind of with the mob. But look at the people who have been arrested. We’ve had conspiracy theories about Antifa all year. I saw this in Oregon as well. People claiming in summer Antifa were going around lighting fires up in the Cascade Mountains to burn out people’s homes — there was never any evidence for that, but it’s hard to prove a negative.” FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono said on a call with national reporters Jan. 8 that the agency had uncovered “no indication … at this time” of Antifa infiltration among the apparent pro-Trump rioters, contradicting earlier claims by Florida U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, all Republicans. Since then, no such indication
< see CAPITOL, page 15 >
< CAPITOL, con’t from page 14 >
that activated a much larger show has been confirmed. of armed force in Coeur d’Alene Chairman of the Bonner Coun- the day before. As with the Capitol ty Board of Commissioners Dan riot, no credible evidence was McDonald denounced the breach presented to support that claim. of the Capitol and its attendant In subsequent BLM demonviolence, though in a lengthy strations, organizers specifically conversation with the Reader on stated that, “We reject the notion Jan. 11 was quick to draw a line that armed militia members are of comparison between what haphere for protester protection. It pened in D.C. and the civil unrest serves only to intimidate the free witnessed throughout the country and lawful expression of speech.” in summer 2020 centered on racial Reflecting on that incident injustice and police brutality. — which he called “such a B.S. “Not unlike what went on all story” — McDonald recognized summer with Antifa and BLM, that there are certain similarities when you start breaking into between the narrative laying buildings and doing damage, that’s the blame for the Jan. 6 riots on just wrong. I thought it [the CapiTrump and those who argued he tol attack] was a bad move. I have empowered or even activated no problem with peaceful protest; the armed patrols in downtown I think that’s totally appropriate, Sandpoint last June. “People have but when you start taking it too called me the Trump of Bonner far, that’s a problem. I think it County,” he joked. created more problems than it was However, McDonald added worth,” he said. in seriousness, “I’m not ruling “I think it was a big mistake. it out [that Antifa was in some Just from a political standpoint — way involved in what transpired left vs. right — I think it’s wrong in D.C.]; we’ve seen things like because it gives the left a hammer this happen before, even with the to use against the folks that are good summer riots … [but] everybody folks,” McDonald added. “I think it cool your jets, let’s get some facts was wrongheaded at the very least first, let’s stop with the conspiraand not well thought out.” cy theories. I’ve never been a big High-tension protests are not conspiracy theory guy.” unfamiliar with Idahoans. Last A&P’s owner Travis Thompyear, ahead of a planned BLM son was present in D.C. on Jan. demonstration by local young peo- 6 and posted several videos and ple, McDonald posted a message statements to his Facebook news to Facebook warning of potential feed amid the mounting chaos. He protest-related danger and wrote, said he traveled to the capital to “It would be great to have some witness history. of the Bonner County folks come “I wanted to see it,” he told the out to help counter anything that Reader. “That [the riot] was the might get out of hand.” last thing that I ever expected to Many observers — includhappen.” ing the Georgetown Institute for For Thompson, he intended to Constitutional Advocacy and be present as part of his duty as a Protection in a June 19 letter to citizen. McDonald “You can and Sandpoint go and have “...there is a group that has either Mayor Shelby finally had it with Trump, or this particular your voice be Rognstad — incident is just, you know, vandalizing the heard — and saw that as a this isn’t a Capitol is just too much. Violence at the call to action conservative Capitol is just too much for them. For now. for “militia or liberal bent We’ll see.” members” to on anything -Guardian reporter Jason Wilson — this is us,” patrol local streets. A numhe said. “We ber of armed individuals did turn should be able to freely access out to ostensibly escort and protect our system so that we can have BLM marchers across the Long our voices heard. But if in the Bridge on June 2, and that number process of doing that, if something grew throughout the evening, with gets broken, that’s not OK. We’re more than one telling the Reader done. That’s not what we stand for that they had it on good authority and that should be for both sides.” that Antifa elements were being Based on what he saw and bussed into the area to start trouheard, Thompson said he is sure ble — an unsubstantiated rumor that groups outside the pro-Trump
constituency took part in the said, “I think we’re past that.” upheaval. Though he emphasized McDonald, too, saw the arthat he crossed no barriers and did guments being fronted regarding not enter the Capitol, he criticized Pence’s power to overturn the those he saw directing others via Electoral College votes as unconbullhorn to commit the acts of stitutional. violence — smashing windows “This didn’t help. If anything it and breaking police lines — that hurt. The legitimacy that we may resulted in the breach of the have had has been tarnished,” he Capitol. said. “I was right there. I watched “I’m a big fan of the Constiit,” he said, tution; we going on to “You get so many people on my side have legal describe indiof the aisle that say, ‘I stand behind remedies viduals “telling through the the Constitution.’ Well I say, ‘Liseverybody else Constitution ten, why don’t you start reading it … I think to do things you’re apparent- instead of standing behind it?’” this just went ly unwilling to -Bonner Co. Commissioner Dan McDonald too far; it got do yourself.” out of hand,” “With a McDonald MAGA hat on, that doesn’t auadded. “You get so many people tomatically make them a Trump on my side of the aisle that say, supporter,” Thompson said, yet ‘I stand behind the Constitution.’ added, “I’m not going to say there Well I say, ‘Listen, why don’t you weren’t Trump supporters there, start reading it instead of standing because there were. … It was just behind it?’” pure chaos.” Summing up the experience, Calls for calm but, ‘we’ll see’ Thompson said, “It doesn’t make According to longtime watchsense. … It’s totally against every- ers of extremist politics like Jason thing that we believe. Wilson, with The Guardian, it “If you’re breaking something; seems likely the violence seen by the world on Jan. 6 isn’t going if you’re entering some place that away anytime soon. you don’t have lawful entry to or “It’s really hard to say, but what you’re disrupting a proceeding, I we do know is that a large numdisavow all that,” he added. ber of people have been involved Asked if that wasn’t the point in and energized in the context of the gathering in the first place, Thompson responded: “Not really.” of an anti-democratic movement and they’ve shown that they’re “Almost everybody was a not in the mood to respect norms spectator … [I]n negotiations in business, if you’re physically pres- and niceties and they’ve shown they’re prepared to use violence ent, that’s the thing,” he said. and destroy things,” he said. “So, I Still, Thompson said he never don’t know. I hope that people are believed that former-Vice Preschastened by what happened last ident Mike Pence had the contime, but I can’t say that for sure. stitutional authority to overturn I think there’s a good chance that or throw out Electoral College we’ll see more of this stuff.” votes — what Trump pressured At the same time, Bonner his second-in-command to do and County officials — as well as their the reason the rioters invaded the national counterparts — are stressSenate floor, where Pence was to ing calm in the coming weeks perform his constitutional duty to of transition from the Trump to preside over the vote count. Biden administrations. “I don’t believe Pence had It seems a far cry from the authority in the proceedings, Washington, D.C., and the heady and some of the people who politics of the national mood to the hear that are going to get pissed, comfortable confines of Bonner but we don’t ever have in our County, but the “movement” to government any one person who which Trump referred in his farehas unilateral authority over well speech Jan. 19 has deep roots anything; there’s all these checks and balances,” Thompson said. “I and authority in the Northwest and North Idaho, in particular. didn’t believe it before anything Sights of a mob at “siege” in [happened]. He’s just presiding a Capitol Building are not new over the proceedings.” to Gem State residents. Famous Regarding the legitimacy of anti-government activist Ammon Biden’s presidency, Thompson
Bundy helped lead a similar, albeit far less damaging, incursion at the Idaho Statehouse last year, which resulted in property damage and disruption of the functioning of government as lawmakers met in Boise during an extraordinary session in August to address COVID-19 protocols — specifically targeting the emergency powers of Gov. Brad Little as he and his administrators have instituted a phased reopening of Idaho’s economy, which has included mandated business closures and historic state intervention in a number of areas of public life, including health care and longsince-lapsed stay-at-home orders. Shortly after, agitation around The Festival at Sandpoint’s weapons prohibition, as well as the armed presence surrounding the summer’s peaceful BLM demonstration have landed North Idaho in more than a few national and international news stories. McDonald has been a fairly regular figure in pieces in The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News and other news outlets over the past year, owing in large part to the discontent of summer of 2020 — a level of national notoriety that he said keeps his wife up at night — and it’s no secret that Idaho has long been widely regarded by members of the far right as a haven for their politics. While McDonald bristled at the idea that so-called “outsiders’’ have brought a level of political virulence to the area that hadn’t hitherto existed, said, “I’m always committed to being the voice of calm. You gotta start thinking for yourselves.” Rather than blinkered partisanship, the alternative — as McDonald put it, to “use your brain” — is being echoed by such officials as Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, himself no stranger to political controversy, being a key party with the county in The Festival gun suit, a vocal opponent of the state’s COVID-19 lockdown orders and, previously, participating in such activities as the Priest River demonstration in 2015 related to the Veterans Administration’s attempt to seize the firearms of a military vet deemed incapable of owning firearms. That action — orchestrated in part by disgraced Spokane Valley Republican Rep. Matt Shea and Blanchard Republi-
< see CAPITOL, page 16 > January 21, 2021 /
events January 21-28, 2021
THURSDAY, January 21
Trivia at the Longshot 6pm @ The Longshot Trivia night every other Thursday
FriDAY, January 22 Live Music w/ Cris Lucas 5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery Known as singer-songwriter from popular Spokane band The Rub. Pop, alt, rock and more Winter Paint and Sip 6:30pm @ Uncorked Paint (Cedar St. Br.) Paint “Bird’s Eye View,” bring your sips and enjoy muchies while you paint. $35 per guest. RSVP: 208-219-7915
Toyota Free Ski Friday @ Schweitzer Mountain Resort Drive your Toyota, Scion or Lexus to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and get one free lift ticket for the day! COVID-19 restrictions apply Live Music w/ Kevin Dorin 7:30-9:30pm @ The Back Door A modern take on the blues
SATURDAY, January 23
Live Music w/ Daniel Mills 5-8pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery From the band Son of Brad, using live loops to create a full range of sound Live Music w/ Kerry Leigh 7:30-9:30pm @ The Back Door
Ross Creek Cedars Snowshoe hike @ Ross Creek Cedars (Montana) Led by Friends of Scotchman’s Peak Wilderness volunteers. Visit the FSPW Winter Hike page to sign up
SunDAY, January 24
Sandpoint Chess Club 9am @ Evans Brothers Coffee Meets every Sunday at 9am
Bingo Night at the Winery 6pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery Free to play, with limited occupancy/ seating. Fun prizes, great food and wine
Piano Sunday w/ Dwayne Parsons 3-5pm @ Pend d’Oreille Winery A local pianist who brings a story to his music. Apres ski specials!
monDAY, January 25
Outdoor Experience Monday Night Group Run – All levels welcome 6pm @ Outdoor Experience Lifetree Cafe • 2pm @ Jalapeño’s Restaurant “A Day in the Life of the Hidden Homeless”
Monday Night Blues Jam w/ Truck Mills 7pm @ Eichardt’s Pub
/ January 21, 2021
< CAPITOL, con’t from page 15 > can Rep. Heather Scott — featured in a December 2019 report on domestic terrorism and right-wing extremism commissioned by the Washington House of Representatives. In a “letter to Bonner County citizens” posted Jan. 16 on Facebook, Wheeler wrote of “a myriad of unsound political advice peddled to people who have legitimate concerns for their future.” The self-proclaimed “constitutional sheriff,” meaning he conceives of his duties as only being beholden to a strict, originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, wrote of “well intentioned persons herded across the country in hopes that their presence would change the results of the Presidential Election. “The fallout from all of this played out in a very predictable fashion,” he wrote. Wheeler also wrote in his letter to warn of “various nefarious events” and “more saber-rattling/virtue signaling events” that may occur during the week of the inauguration of President Biden. Reassuring county residents that their Second Amendment rights are in no danger, and cautioning them to avoid “hyper-partisan bickering” and “take[ing] the bait by rushing into the streets to make a show of force,” he asked that those with grievances seek the legislative process for redress. In a Jan. 19 email to the Reader, Wheeler, wrote, “It has been my long-held belief that it is more important to find common ground with our neighbors than to emphasize our differences. And when it comes to our differences, being respectful is more important than forcing agreement.” He added that during several times in his term as sheriff he has “delivered a strong message related to law enforcement. I endeavor to do these things when there are no other options. My letter on Jan. 16 is such an example. “While many do not totally understand the beauty of our republic or the specifics that led me to say what I said, I think most people agree with my logic. An explanation of every comment would further the divisions that exist,” he added. Wheeler wrote that, “Both sides of the aisle have been intentionally adding fuel to the fire. While one side mostly offends by virtue signaling, the other side responds with saber-rattling. Although I recognize that everyone has a right to do these things, I do not encourage the back and forth when the vitriol rises to a level where violence can easily be anticipated. We are at that place right now.” According to the sheriff, his office is monitoring future events by gathering information from a variety of sources, but is “asking the community to not light any sparks right now.” In a follow-up email to the Reader on Jan. 20, McDonald wrote that he saw the
impeachment of Trump as “more political theater than anything,” and “a childish move at best on the part of the Speaker of the House and House Democrats who are driving the narrative.” He reiterated his support for peaceful protest, adding that he has no knowledge of any armed groups locally or elsewhere planning any kind of action either for or against the inauguration of President Biden. “In fact, everyone I’ve approached over the last week are wondering who is promoting this and these groups are recommending just the opposite,” he wrote, adding in reference to Wheeler’s letter of Jan. 16, “As far as nefarious deeds, again, I have heard of none nor have I seen any plans for anything nefarious out of Second Amendment or Patriot Groups ... I know and have been in contact with local groups as well as groups across the country. Nothing is being planned by any of these groups and no one seems to know the origin of the propaganda.” McDonald doubled down on his call for calm, telling the Reader that “If we start caring about each other more — and this sounds a little corny — but if we start caring about each other more and stop fighting with each other more, a lot of these problems will resolve themselves. … “Stop making it about personality. Step back, take a look at the bigger picture. Understand that even with the people who you might think are our enemies right now, we agree on some things. Let’s talk about those and see if we can influence people to agree with us on other things. Resorting to violence, that’s not going to get it done.” For Thompson, the owner of A&P’s and a lifetime Sandpoint resident, it’s even simpler: “The biggest problem that I see going forward is maintaining that civility in our community so that we can continue to exist with one another without it just being us getting into these shouting matches … That’s not productive. And that’s the main goal.” It remains to be seen whether the divisions that have defined American life in the Trump era are so easily healed. Much of it will hinge on the consequences faced by those who have participated or enabled the fracturing of the national dialogue — or both — in recent years. Guardian reporter Wilson told the Reader that there remains a group, whether it’s a minority or not is unclear, that remains committed to doubling down on Trump’s various spurious claims. “But there is a group, you can see that among Republicans, there is a group that has either finally had it with Trump, or this particular incident is just, you know, vandalizing the Capitol is just too much. Violence at the Capitol is just too much for them. For now. We’ll see. I think it’s useful that so many people are backing away from Trump, but we’ll see.” Additional reporting by Ben Olson.
Unpacking Sandy Compton’s newest book, The Dog With His Head On Sideways By Ben Olson Reader Staff For local author and man-aboutcountry Sandy Compton, writing about his native land and the characters who occupy it is... complicated. Like any steadfast native of this region, Compton walks a thin line between capturing the quirks and oddities of living in such a region and bringing too much attention to a place that has already been discovered by too many people. In his newest book from Blue Creek Press, The Dog With His Head On Sideways and Nineteen Other Sappy Sentimental Stories, Compton penned 20 short stories that largely take place in the fictional town of “Shoreline,” which bears a striking resemblance to Sandpoint — just don’t tell anyone. “Shoreline is a mythical town I discovered during Y2K while casting around for a tale to tell for the Idaho 2000 fiction contest sponsored by (I think) the Idaho Humanities Commission,” Compton wrote in the book’s introduction. “In the mind of its creator, Shoreline is a small town on a big river somewhere in the central part of the state. It’s over 50 miles from the nearest Walmart, and the river is undammed in both directions for at least 30 miles — though there was a plan to dam Crooked Neck Canyon at one time. Shoreline would have been flooded. The most defining thing I know about the town geographically is that the Shoreline Loggers play Grangeville in school sports, and, win or lose, it’s a long bus ride in both directions.” Compton divided the book into four sections of five stories each: Dog Stories, Love Stories, Purely Shoreline and Potpourri. “Some of the stories fit into more than one category,” Compton said, “but I tried to put them where they belong best. Many are fraught with dreams and encounters with the Spirit, but Shoreline has always been a dreamy, spirit-laden place. Its residents seem to think they have all the time in the world. I some-
times wonder if I didn’t accidentally stumble onto some iteration of heaven.” Compton’s stories mostly follow his style of writing, which is humorous, wry, cathartic and filled with intriguing — sometimes odd — characters of the Northwest. Like the famed Irish beer cocktail Black and Tan with dark beer and light lager suspended together in harmony, Compton’s stories embrace the oddity and humor of life encased in an attempt to understand our spiritual position in the great rural liminal space of North Idaho and western Montana. That’s fitting, as Compton was raised — and still lives — somewhere between the border of Idaho and Montana in a special place untouched by time; a place where love still exists, where people are somewhat outside of time, living out their days suspended in a halcyonic bliss. It is this western landscape that is always a character in Compton’s stories, from “A Cold Day in Hell,” which entails a woman’s Christmas Day fight with barbed wire, a white tail buck and her own abiding anger, to “Dyin’ Ain’t as Easy as All That,” which serves reminders of things that can go wrong in a life. Beneath it all, most of Compton’s stories have something to say about the efficacy of love, forgiveness and forbearance. “Rosalie Sorrels once said that the trouble with stories is that we never know when they are going to end,” Compton said. “Sometimes, the end is not quite what the storyteller had in mind, but when a good story has come to a proper place to stop, it will, like a good pack mule, refuse to go farther. If you listen to your characters, they will show you a good place to pull up.” Lots of stories in this book are new creations, but Compton also dug deep
in the archives to include some unpublished gems, such as “Redemption at the Hand of Alice Lundberg,” which was written in 1983. “I searched through almost 40 years of files to put this together,” Compton said. “It’s my seventh book of fiction — I think — and I’m pleased with how it came out. I like my characters, and I believe in their stories — even though some of them are out on the edge of believability. But so is all of life.” The Dog With His Head On Sideways and Nineteen Other Sappy Sen-
Left: Author Sandy Compton. Right: The cover of The Dog With His Head On Sideways. Courtesy photos. timental Stories is available at select bookstores, and online at bluecreekpress.com/books or Amazon.
January 21, 2021 /
/ January 21, 2021
STAGE & SCREEN
Banff Mountain Film Festival to offer virtual screenings By Ben Olson Reader Staff There are a handful of annual events in Sandpoint that really draw people out of the woodwork. Banff Mountain Film Festival has always packed the Panida Theater in years past, highlighting the Banff Centre’s top picks for outdoors-related films, with funds raised to support worthwhile local programs. Due to COVID-19, this year will be a little different, but have no fear: Banff is still on — just in a virtual format. This year, there are two programs available. The 2020/21 World Tour Bundle features the Amber and Onyx programs, with a total of four hours of mountain and adventure films available for $28. The alternate Ruby and Sapphire bundles will also include four hours of different films for $28. Both programs are accessible by visiting mountainfever.us and following the links to rent the films. Once you start watching, both packages will be available to view for 14 days. The Amber/Onyx Bundle is available now until Oct. 28 and the Ruby/Sapphire Program will
become available to rent starting Feb. 4. Films are only available via streaming — viewers will not be able to download any films. Michael Boge, the longtime local tour host for the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Sandpoint, said this year has been a challenge, but the show must go on. “On hearing the word that there would be an online program, we decided as a family that we would market as effectively as we could, watching our costs and giving back to groups we have supported in the past,” Boge told the Reader. “Banff is gracious and has allowed for a portion of the proceeds to go to us for films that are booked through our site [mountainfever.us] thus we have let folks know to book through us if they want their local group to benefit.” Boge said for 2021 he has decided to give back “whatever we get from Banff and the Sandpoint shows to our Panida Theater. Our decision was based on our love for the theater and really, we gotta help the place that has hosted our events the last 26 years. It only makes sense and we want the Panida to survive this mess.”
Slowpiercer By Zach Hagadone Reader Staff When Snowpiercer appeared in theaters in 2013, few American viewers knew the work of Korean director Bong Joon-ho. Yet, the film — one of the most expensive in Korean movie history — met with widespread critical acclaim for its gritty claustrophobic mood, inventive camera work (remember that strobe-lit ax fight?), and stellar lead performances by Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. Seven years later, Bong is one of the most highly regarded auteurs in the world — especially after his Korean-language horror-comedy Parasite became the first international film to win a Best Picture Oscar in 2019. Likewise, the 2013 Snowpiercer (now streaming on Netflix) has settled into its place as part of the contemporary sci-fi canon. Given that success, it’s perhaps
no surprise that Snowpiercer has been reimagined as a series. What is surprising is that its power is more locomehtive than locomotive. While Bong is listed as executive producer of the show — which premiered on TNT in May with a Season 1 run of 10 episodes, all of which are now available on HBO Max — it bears only a passing resemblance to his earlier film. It’s a deceptively simple story: an attempt to reverse global warming has resulted in turning Earth into a frozen waste, killing almost everything on the planet. The sole human survivors have packed themselves on a specialized 1,001car train constructed by a billionaire known only as Mr. Wilford, intended to serve as an “ark” for civilization with its perpetual motion engine piercing through snow and ice on its revolutions around the now-dead world. Based on the French graphic
The virtual format assures that the show will go on, but Boge estimates a severe revenue drop for 2021. “I anticipate a 95% revenue drop for 2021,” he said. “We are really fortunate on this, as theater, equipment, hotels, rental equipment and promotion have all been shelved so are not needed for the virtual event.” Worthy programs Boge has donated to in the past have included the Satipo Kids Project, a philanthropic effort started by Boge and his wife in 2005 that provided support for dozens of school age children to attend school in Satipo, Peru. “The Satipo Kids Project which we had run for so many years was completed this year with our final student, Miguel, who will be graduating from college in engineering,” Boge said. “At one point we had 34 kids that all graduated from high school as well as three other girls who we managed to put through college. In the end, while the world is in a mess, we have been very fortunate on the timing as we have completed our long-term goals on the
Satipo Kids Project because of our Banff shows and Sandpoint’s support over the years.” Looking back on the history of the film festival in Sandpoint, Boge said this town has built up quite a reputation with the Banff Centre. “It is the energy of the audience in our Sandpoint community that makes our little town ‘rock it’ compared to other audiences that host the films,” Boge said. “It was a very simple idea of wanting to take a hand at producing shows while being a member on the Panida Theater board and taking the chance on the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which I had never attended in the past.” Boge smiled as he remembered being told he would be lucky to
A still frame from Zepplin Skiing, a film offered in the Ruby bundle. Courtesy photo. get 100 people to attend, but in its first Sandpoint appearance, the film festival packed the house with 450 people. “I knew right then that I was on to something special and have worked it for all it was worth with our three-night program that we have now hosted for many years,” he said. “What a ride it has been and, while things might or will change in the future, I do believe we will get the chance to host live shows again... hopefully in 2022.” To view the Banff Mountain Film Festival selections for 2021, visit mountainfever.us. Proceeds will benefit the Panida Theater.
TNT’s Snowpiercer series is worth the ride, but don’t expect First Class
novel created and published by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette in 1982 (titled Le Transperceneige), the train itself serves as the narrative structure of the story, as it is divided into strict social, economic and therefore political classes based on their proximity to the almighty engine. Those in the back are the lowest order, living in a grotty chain of frigid, starved cabooses, while the ascending orders contain service workers, law enforcement and military personnel, scientists and various administrators and, finally, the 1% of ultra-rich passengers who live out the new ice age in extreme comfort and safety — maintained, of course, by the lives and labor of those “downtrain.” Naturally, this extreme inequality breeds discontent, with the trains neverending “revolutions” spawning a real revolution. That’s pretty much where the tracks diverge between the 2013
film and 2020 series. Season 1 puts a police procedural spin on things as former detective Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) is hauled up from the back of the train to solve a murder in First Class. What he discovers helps spark an uprising that draws in a much broader cast of characters than in the film. Of special note is Jennifer Connelly as Melanie Cavill, whose position as head of the train’s Hospitality Department gives her enormous powers over life and death. The character played by Alison Wright (The Americans) serves as Cavill’s right hand with a maniacal fervor, bordering on religious devotion, to Mr. Wilford and the order on his “ark.” Unlike the film, the Snowpiercer series is a true ensemble effort, which through secondary
Jennifer Connelly, Mike O’Malley and Daveed Diggs star in Netflix’s Snowpiercer. Courtesy photo. and tertiary characters delves far deeper into the world of the train. That’s engaging, for a while. It seems to forget, however, that the beauty of the graphic novel and film is its beguiling simplicity. Too often the series gets bogged down in exposition. Also, its basic cable origins on TNT mean it’s a much less visceral experience. Board the train, but don’t expect too thrilling of a ride. Next departure: Monday, Jan. 25 on TNT. January 21, 2021 /
COMMUNITY Valentine’s Cards for Seniors aims to spread a little love in Sandpoint
By Ben Olson Reader Staff It’s always a good idea to respect our elders, but it’s also great to show them a little love, too. Sandpointian Donna Price started a new outreach program with local businesses to gather more than 200 Valentine’s Day cards to give to senior citizens through the Sandpoint Senior Center. “My goal is to collect at least 200 Valentine’s Day cards and drop them at the Senior Center,” Price told the Reader. “If there are more, we’ll drop them off to assisted living facilities throughout town, too.” Participating in the program is easy. More than a dozen local businesses have signed up as drop locations so far, with red baskets festooned with hearts collecting non-specific Valentine’s Day cards. “They can be handmade or store bought,” Price said. “People can drop them off at various locations in the pink-and-red baskets around town.” Price started a Facebook page called “Sandpoint Valentine’s Cards
/ January 21, 2021
for Seniors,” with all the information local businesses or participants need. So far, the following businesses around Sandpoint have signed up to host baskets for cards to be dropped, including: Java Bear, Pierce Auto, Fry Veterinary, Monarch Mountain Coffee, Panhandle Cone and Coffee, Jalapeños, Kokanee Coffee, Litehouse YMCA, North Idaho College Head Start, Evans Brothers Coffee, Finan McDonald, 7B Boardshop, Joel’s Mexican Restaurant and Sandpoint Super Drug. Businesses interested in hosting a card drop bucket can contact Price through the Facebook page. The goal is to have all cards delivered to the buckets no later than Thursday, Feb. 11 so Price can pick them up and deliver to seniors on Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Feb. 14. “After starting this project just 24 hours ago, I was amazed at all the positive response from the community on this project,” Price said. For more information, view the Sandpoint Valentine’s Cards for Seniors Facebook page.
This week’s RLW by Zach Hagadone
Playing their part
Suzuki String Academy hosts parent workshops in tradition of giving students the best support system possible
By Lyndsie Kiebert Reader Staff
Suzuki String Academy in Sandpoint is named for the teaching philosophy of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, who believed that music could be learned like a native language if children were given the opportunity and proper support system. A guiding piece of the Suzuki philosophy is the belief that parents play an integral part in a student’s successful musical journey. Not only are parents expected to observe lessons, but also to take part in parent-specific workshops when they’re offered. Suzuki String Academy is holding a handful of those workshops this week, taking place Jan. 21 and Jan. 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. at 102 S. Euclid Ave., Suite No. 106 in Sandpoint, as well as on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Workshops give parents the tools to help their child properly learn their chosen instrument — violin or cello — with specific instruction on proper bow placement, how to hold the instrument and the seven basic Suzuki rhythms. The goal, according to Suzuki String Academy owner and teacher Ruth Klinginsmith, is to facilitate successful home practices where both student and parent are knowledgeable and engaged. The emphasis on building relationships is something that drew Klinginsmith — a longtime violin instructor — to the Suzuki method. “It really makes a great connection for the parent and child because it shows the child, ‘Oh wow, my parent is very
As we turn the final page on the Trump era, no doubt mountains of books will be written in the coming years attempting to explain what just happened. At this historic turning point, it’s worth it to return to iconic reporter Bob Woodward’s 2018 book Fear: Trump in the White House. Though it seems like a lifetime ago, Woodward’s narrative explores the first two years of the administration — an important reminder of how the stage was set for the messy, tragic endgame through which we’ve only now come.
invested in learning also,’ which they don’t get to witness very often,” she said, adding later: “The parent understands that it is challenging and difficult to learn a stringed instrument, so the parent has a lot of empathy.” The adult workshops also help create connections between the parents of academy students, which Klinginsmith said is a unique aspect of the Suzuki way of teaching music. “We try to build a really nice support system community between the families, and the parents,” she said, noting that students take part in individual and group lessons twice a week. “That just makes them feel like they’re part of something bigger. Getting to play with other children, they also can see the next level, and the parents can see where their kids are going.” Seeing as the pandemic has prevented local Suzuki students from performing their custom-
ary recitals or playing at events around town, Klinginsmith said she is looking forward to the day when she and her young musicians — some as young as three years old — can once more share their gifts with the community. “We just try to give the kids a lot of opportunity to share their music, because that’s what music is meant for — to bring joy, share it, and share it together,” she said. In the meantime, children and parents alike will continue the Suzuki tradition of learning music while also keeping an ear on the most important lessons a young musician can learn. Klinginsmith said her academy remains true to one of Dr. Suzuki’s most treasured teachings: “Character first, ability second.” “We view music as an avenue to teach so many other character qualities, like self discipline, commitment,
Left: River Brockman playing in a group class. Right: Bianca Prado working with cello student Hunter Klinginsmith. Courtesy photos. following through, patience,” Klinginsmith said. “Our focus is just developing a child’s heart. They don’t have to become a concert performer … It’s not all about that. It’s about the relationship building and the character development and building a beautiful heart.” Suzuki String Academy parent workshops are $150, and participants will receive learning materials, a binder, a bag and a practice bow. Parents of current Suzuki students and those interested in enrolling their children in the future are all welcome. Register online at suzukistringacademy.com or email email@example.com. Space is limited.
Fans of David Byrne will find much to love with South London post-punk group Shame’s sophomore album Drunk Tank Pink. Released Jan. 15, the album cycles between angsty, guitar buzzers like “Alphabet”; jumpy, groovy tracks like “Water in the Well”; and boppy call-and-response tacks like “March Day.” Shot through the entire album is a sense of loopy anxiety — as well as some measure of optimism — over the strange times in which we live.
In its bid to strike a blow in the streaming wars, HBO Max has been pulling out the stops, making available several film collections — including the entire Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies — but the most welcome offering is the catalog of animated films from Studio Ghibli. From Nausica to Princess Monoke to the utterly gorgeous Howl’s Moving Castle, anything from Ghibli is a treat.
January 21, 2021 /
BACK OF THE BOOK
Trumpoleon in exile By Ben Olson Reader Staff
From Northern Idaho News, January 23, 1923
BONNER CO. GETS BIG MOVIE STUDIO Construction of a large motion picture studio at the upper end of Priest lake, Idaho is to be started by Miss Nell Shipman as soon as the weather permits. About it will be grouped a score of artistic buildings which will compose a complete motion picture colony, with laboratories, indoor stage, executive offices, projection rooms, dark rooms and power plant. The center will be the permanent home of Nell Shipman productions. Definite announcement of the plans for establishing a big moving picture center in Bonner county’s wildest and most picturesque territory were made the past week by Bert Ban Tuyle, general manager and director for Miss Shipman, following their return from New York city. Arrangements have been made for the release of “The Grub Stake,” which was made at Minnehaha, near Spokane last year, on a basis which guarantees carrying through their extensive plans. “We will spend many thousands of dollars in the erection of permanent buildings at the lake,” says Mr. Van Tuyle. “The building activities will start as soon as weather permits.” Mr. Van Tuyle and Miss Shipman arrived at Priest lake, over the Great Northern Wednesday evening last. Miss Shipman went at once to the winter quarters of the company, where the zoo, valued at $80,000, was established last year, while Mr. Van Tuyle went to Spokane to attend to business matters. 22 /
/ January 21, 2021
Napoleon Bonaparte is arguably one of the world’s greatest military strategists. He was also the hemorrhoidal posterboy for “small man syndrome” and eventually exiled to an island for his attempts at conquering the world. After enduring total defeat and losing Spain to the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba in 1814, but escaped to France the next year to raise a new Grand Army that enjoyed some success before its ultimate crushing defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon was then exiled to a more remote island — St. Helena off the coast of Africa — where he lived out the remainder of his life before dying six years later of apparent stomach cancer. Now, President Donald Trump is no Napoleon, but perhaps we should embrace history and give him the Napoleonic treatment by sending him to an island after he leaves office. The more I think about this idea, the more I love it. We can select an uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and claim it in the name of Trump. The now-former president can use some of the $207 million grifted from his supporters since Election Day to build a fancy island bungalow festooned with gold-plated crappers and Trump flags. He can build a golf course and several McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A restaurants and live out the rest of his life on the island playing golf, eating burgers and ruminating in a replica Oval Office to pretend that he’s still president. After all, playing golf and eating burgers took up an historic amount of his time as the most powerful man in the world. This “exile” shouldn’t be viewed as a punitive measure, by any means, but as a “severance package” for the man who has risen to an almost God-like status among his
more fervent supporters. In fact, there will be free land given to any of his more ardent followers who want to establish a new Trump colony to live under their dear leader’s rule. As governor of this new island nation, Trump can establish a system of government that is more to his liking after spending more than four years disparaging the United States. He can pass tax laws that benefit his rich friends, banish people of color from owning property, build a wall around the island and make the dolphins pay for it. Whatever he wants, it’s his island. He can avoid “widespread voter fraud” by eliminating the vote altogether, since he’ll be the supreme leader for life. There would be some conditions, however. First, there will be no outbound contact with the rest of the world on Trump Island. There will be an island intranet, though, where Trump can start his own media platform and social media to remind his subjects hourly who they should hate. There will even be a curated incoming television signal, so our former president can keep up with the world and his favorite mudslingers on Fox, Newsmax and OANN. Second, Trump will not be allowed to leave the island for any reason, but he shouldn’t need to because he’ll have everything he needs to live comfortably. He’ll have a golf course with Proud Boys caddying for him, beating up anyone who accuses the ex-president of cheating on his scorecard. He’ll have an island nation filled with his most sycophantic followers who will pay daily tributes to him through fantastic Trump flag displays and three word chants. Naturally, his presidential library will also be located on the island, consisting of a 55,000-square-foot MAGA gift shop and one shelf of ghost-written books. Finally, Trump’s adult children will all join him on the island, as well as his closest
Trumpoleon, the ruler of Trump Island. Photo illustration by Ben Olson. advisers. Just imagine the fun times with Stephen Miller; Steve Bannon; Kellyanne Conway; Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Donald Trump, Jr.; Eric Trump; Ivanka and Jared; Matt Gaetz; Lindsey Graham; Josh Hawley; Ted Cruz; and all the rest. All the best people. On Trump Island, perhaps Trumpoleon will finally receive the universal adulation he so desperately desires. The world will continue without him, safe in knowing that thousands of miles out at sea, a small man in a golf cart is still regaling his loyal subjects with stories of the Great Election of 2016, or perhaps the Capitol Riot of 2021, his Waterloo, when he almost conquered the world.
Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.
Solution on page 22
Woorf tdhe Week
CROSSWORD By Bill Borders
[adjective] 1. apt to take offense.
“The umbrageous crowd waited for the speaker to start before shouting him down in protest. ” Corrections: In last week’s Reader, the published time for the Virtual Idaho Womxn’s March was listed as 3:30 p.m., but the press release did not include that it was Mountain Standard Time. The event starts at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, Jan. 23. – BO
Solution on page 22
ACROSS 1. Marsh 6. Laser light 10. 20th-century art movement 14. A clique 15. If not 16. Holly 17. Anoint (archaic) 18. Tight 19. Window ledge 20. Deadly nightshade 22. Grotto 23. Faked out an opponent 24. Snouts 25. Office fill-in 29. Experienced 31. A 180-degree turn of a road 33. British soldier 37. Not down 38. Mountain range 39. Expresses a doubt 41. Right 42. Revolutionary 44. Throw 45. Long-tailed parrot 48. Flow control device 50. Sweeping story 51. Child or grandchild 56. Sourish 57. Decorative case 58. Eagle’s nest 59. Behold, in old Rome
Solution on page 22 9. Of higher order 10. Bewilder 11. Pseudonym 12. Look closely 13. Wheel shafts 21. Contrived 24. Lowest point DOWN 25. Defrost 1. It forms on a wound 26. Every single one 2. Diminish 27. Bog 3. Cain’s brother 28. Prolonged 4. Shopping center 30. Clear up 5. Implore 32. “Hogwash!” 6. Foreshadow (archaic) 34. Chocolate cookie 7. Bird of prey also 35. Circle fragments called a kite 36. Makes lace 8. Apart 60. Low-fat 61. Temporary lodgings 62. Marsh plant 63. Doing nothing 64. Secret meeting
40. Held (someone’s attention) 41. Heat until oxydation 43. Nonchalant 45. Gauge 46. Quickly 47. “Odyssey” sorceress 49. Make into law 51. Sandwich shop 52. Costly 53. Ground forces 54. Bites 55. Exam
January 21, 2021 /
Idaho 'scaling up' vaccine distribution. Racist robocaller Scott Rhodes fined $10M for nationwide harassment campaign, including attacks on...