Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prairie Voice Preview

Springtime is a time for birds to return, flowers to bloom, plants and trees to regenerate and kids to play baseball. Such was the case four years ago at a local little league playground. A special fan, unable to play sports like the other kids, Jacob Bales, then 12, watched his favorite team from behind the backstop, always cheering for the Cardinals. Jake would even show up for practice. Standing behind the backstop, face swollen from his disease, faithfully at all the games. Coach Dean Jordan, a man that is totally at home with kids, noticed this and started to plan. How to get this kid a shot at being on the field in a Cardinal uniform.

One of the minors division teams, the Cardinals, managed by Dean Jordan, had a mascot. Jacob was stricken with a rare disease called Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a disease of the immune system, about seven years ago. A rare condition that normally attacks males between the ages of 30 and 50, he was diagnosed at age nine. Short of breath, weak of muscle, he cheerfully watched and cheered for his team. For two years, Jake’s parents wouldn’t let him play, due to his precarious condition. Finally, after some cajoling by Manager Dean Jordan, they relented toward the end of the season. “If there were a “most inspirational player award in little league, he would have won it, hands down, said former Cardinals manager Dean Jordan.”

With five games left, Jake proudly donned the uniform of a Cardinal. By this time, every player in the league knew of the kid that wanted so badly to play baseball, if only he could. Jake was assigned to third base. As John Shaffer, Little League president put it, “Jake was a natural. Put a bat into his hands and he would hit. When he hit a single, the team would send in a pinch runner.” Finally, in “field of dreams fashion,” the last game of the season occurred. As Shaffer, who in touring the games that day said, “I wanted to see what was going on with Jake, so I stopped by the last game.” “He went up to bat this last time, swung and missed twice, then crushed the ball.” It went sailing out of the park. Stunned, both benches emptied, as players from both teams cheered him on as he struggled around the bases. He made it to second, then slowed down, out of breath. Struggling on, Jake hobbled around third and headed for home. Manager, Dean Jordan, speaking of Jake, said, “He inspired me to be a better coach and a better person, as well.”

Jake never played again. April 3 of this year, Jake came home for the last time. His services were held at the Bayview Community Center, Thursday, April 10.A celebration of a shortened life, but one that still inspires players and adults alike, Jacob Bales was indeed a superstar.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Was Holland really at Fault?

Yesterday, I was seated next to the barge & crane crew from Kramer's. Yes, the same crew that destroyed the Kokanee spawning beds last year at Bayview Marina, now renamed Harborview Marina. The discussion floated around what they were doing at Vista Bay, which according to them was diving H-beams into the hill side so they can install retaining walls and widening the access road to 2o feet. We got along fine until I causally mentioned that Fish & Game had recently replanted 20,000 egg sac stage Kokanee where the mitigation took place.

You would have thought I insulted their mothers. Suddenly, they became very defensive to the point of getting ugly. Between the three of these fine citizens, they told me, "what does this lake need with Kokanee anyway. What's wrong with having nothing but Macinaw?" They went on to say that they really didn't care what happened there and most of us that objected might want to move to another country. That was where civilized discourse ended.

That wasn't all of the discussion, but from it I came away with the impression that they knew very well what they were doing back then, and simply didn't care. One wonders why they didn't warn Holland and his people. The answer probably lies in that they didn't want to delay the work, they had a schedule to keep and babysitting a bunch of fish wasn't in their plans. It is one thing to be unconcerned, which still my be the case at it applies to Holland, but willful disregard is entirely another thing.

If Waterford Park's sub-contractor knowingly did this deed, one also wonders if Holland could recover his damages, including two year's income from the Marina, from Kramer and company.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brokered Conventions

Many of my readers have never experienced a brokered convention. If you weren't born yet, or weren't active in politics, before 1960, you may not have ever experienced one. A brokered convention is one that a clear cut winner does not emerge prior to the start of the convention. That leaves it up to the delegate to change, stay with or punt, usually after the third ballot, individual delegates are freed from the obligation to vote for the candidate who's slate they represent. That varies from state to state, as the states control the rules for their delegations.

Prior to 1960, most states didn't have primaries. Delegates were chosen by the parties leaders in that state, or by caucus. That and back to the birth of the country almost, was the method of selecting delegates. Some real abuses occurred, of course, with Tammany Hall, machines such as the Daley one in Chicago and on and on. The single one event that changed the system forever, was the advent of Television. Instead of back room or as they used to say,"smoke filled rooms," party bosses and their disciples making the rules. With the advent of TV, sound bites and direct campaigning to the public gradually eliminated most of the machine antics of yesterday. Primaries were adopted in most states, which again, eliminated the bosses and went directly to the voters.

A brokered convention isn't all bad. It's great entertainment. I remember the battle between Senator Estes Kefaufer and Senator Adlai Stevenson in a long ago Democratic convention,1952 and again in 1956 The favorite was Kefaufer, but Stevenson had better floor managers and on about the umpteenth ballot, was nominated. This is great entertainment, folks.Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, if you are a political junkie, brokered conventions are more fun than sex, and they last longer.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Economy: Out of control?

Food prices are skyrocketing. Gasoline and Diesel fuel prices are out of sight. Is this the free market, and what it portends? Perhaps not. It all starts with the oil cartel, which if they were located in this country would be called monopolies, and outlawed. There's certainly nothing "free" about that market. In addition to the oil prices being cranked up, no new refineries have been built in this country for years.

It all starts with oil. Oil is from which most fertilizers are derived. Diesel fuel runs the tractors and combines on our farms, and the trucks and trains necessary to bring the farm products to market. Ergo, grains goes up in price, as does chicken, beef, pork and other meat products, because they are fed and finished on grain. The same for vegetables, those healthy foods that have been cheap up until now. Labor costs, fuel again, and transportation to market.

Exploration for new sources of oil here in this country have been stifled by environmentalists, who in many cases, apparently want the world returned to the state it was in before man. Timber, mining, oil exploration, heavy industry all, are or sadly were, destroyed by the use of legal tactics such as delaying such activities for years by filing lawsuits without merit. We cannot solve any problems by extremism. Many good things have happened as a result of heightened ecological awareness, but that should not be license to take over the country. Government must stop allowing these extremists to dictate how the world should work at the expense of our standard of living.

Comes the current government with the panacea. Alcohol, in place of gasoline for fueling a part of the total used in transportation. Boy, does that sound good. Alternate fuels. Touchy, feely just the perfect solution, right? Not so. The decision by our federal government to push the use of corn for alcohol production is phony and not well thought out. First, it costs more to farm the corn, than it produces in alternate energy. Secondly, by pushing corn out of the food chain and into the fuel chain, we have indeed upset the applecart.

The highly motivated but sadly uninformed policy has created a ripple effect in the food chain, causing grains of all variety to hit all time highs. Even with the knowledge that waste such as the corn husks and stalks and other waste material can also produce alcohol, but without the use of grain which then is forced out of the food chain. Results, sky high meat and produce prices.

Other events that are lurking in the near future, are the stagnating of train and truck transportation as it becomes more expensive to haul products to market than is paid to the haulers. These stalwarts of the market place cannot and will not stand still for losses. It's cheaper to park a semi truck than to work it all month and show a loss. Last week, an independent truckers strike got little attention. Wait until they shut down the entire country. Already, in third world countries, food riots are happening, exports of grains and grain products are being outlawed and civil unrest which is always around the corner, is becoming critical.

One can say, "well Europe has had these king of gas prices for years." Well that is true, however, few, if any bother to check the mileages in Europe opposed the this country. To cross Europe from Ireland to the Black Sea, is only enough mileage, (kilometers if you insist) to get you from Seattle, Washington in the northwest of the U.S, to about Chicago in the Midwest. We are a large country with many wide open spaces between the highly populated east, and the west coast.

We, as an economy, are out of control. Exacerbating the cost of oil, is the unchecked fall of the dollar, which then causes everyone, but especially retired people to devalue their pensions which in most cases are close enough to cause poverty. Top it all off by the real estate market going down and at the same time, real estate prices are still too high from the recent run-up for most people to afford. To quote an old country song,"ain't nothin' goin' right."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Child Protective Services

I recently received a cry for help from a friend. Puzzling over the situation, I finally decided to write about it. There appears to be a two edged sword wielded by protective services. On the one hand, the mission statement appears to urge keeping families together and attempting to assist sincere parents in that direction.

The other side, more ugly, are the many drug and alcohol infested homes with children the victims. Certainly, if hard drugs are being used or worse, manufactured in a home with children, those children need to be relocated. What sometimes complicates the issue, is the sometimes treacherous non-custodial parent, who sometimes tries to manufacture a negative situation to either gain custody, or to discredit the custodial parent.

In the case of the party that contacted me, it was a woman that I know not to be either of the above mentioned alcohol or drug Moms. What she apparently did, was leave her eleven year old son in charge of his younger siblings, the youngest being four years old. He had the number of where Mom was, which was close by. Non-custodial
Dad who appears to be creating trouble out of bitterness, called the kids when Mom was out. When the son told him Mom wasn't there, he instructed his son to call the police, who then located Mom quickly,cited the Mom and in subsequent actions, Idaho Child Protective Services eventually took the children and placed them in various foster homes, separating the children from not just the mother, but from each other.

This woman is a working mother, who lives next door to the maternal grandmother. both are known to me as responsible people. The question then here, is why,without the extenuating circumstances previously mentioned, were these children taken away. I have related here one side of the story. Unfortunately, child protective services seal the files, making the only time they have to justify anything, is if a child is killed and it becomes a criminal situation.

Certainly, not all parents that claim foul in these custody situations are right. Many children are in need of intervention, but the taking of children out of a parents home and turning them over to strangers should be a last resort. One questions whether leaving these children in a "latch key" situation, rises to the level of those actions by CPS. In this case, neither the mother nor grandmother have access or visitation rights to these kids. That, on the face of it appears dead wrong.

Asking CPS for their side of the story, privacy issues are quoted, even if the parent involved wants the information out. This smells. Somehow, someway, we need to shine a light on both over protection and in real sad cases, under protection. These public employees need to be accountable.

One would think, that considering the financial cost of foster care, that providing child care, or at least subsidizing it, would be cheaper by far, and would have the obvious advantage of keeping a family together. When children are kept from either natural parent, and the child knows that they are available, it has to be a gut wrenching experience, no, a continuing nightmare for both. There are way too many one parent households. The problem can't help but get worse. Perhaps we need an agency called,"Family Protective Services."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Politically Incorrect ... Again

A subject that among many others, as life flits by is the Heterosexual vs Gay/lesbian lifestyle. What is interesting, perhaps more so than the central issue. is that nobody wants to talk about it. The reason? Politically incorrect to question or criticize anyone that lives in this place.

This is an issue that when I was young, had never arisen. you see, those that lived in that black hole that nature created didn't talk about it, nor did they act in any way that could be construed as trans-sexual behavior. Guys acted macho, Gals acted effeminate, and none were the wiser. Well, there might have been one guy that started playing with dolls in elementary School and was obvious, but for the most part, these people that were born with this curse lived in the shadows.

The reason I chose to bring this up, are twofold. One, dialog needs to be heard about everything in life. Two, there is a wave of emotion about this affliction that is wrong from both standpoints. Those that adamantly swear that homosexuals/lesbians chose this lifestyle are sadly misinformed. The second is the one I am going to talk about here.

What brought all this on was a recent episode, where a gay writer dissed an entire town in a rude and unprecedented manner, and did it in print. But that isn't the issue either. What I found, by cruising the internet, was that people chose up sides not based on the issue, but based on their sexual persuasion. What started many years ago as an in the closet shameful secret now has segued into a pressure group that seems to be demanding privileged treatment. Laws that prohibit assault, aren't enough. Now if a person becomes obnoxious, strikes another in a social situation, then claims it was because of his or her sexual orientation, the crime rises from a misdemeanor to the level of a felony.

So it would seem that obnoxious behavior by someone of a different sexual persuasion is acceptable, but not for the others. In less than one generation, Gays have gone from vilified to expectations of a privileged class. Why not just equal?

While I am certainly aware of the changes that have taken place since I was born lo those many years ago in 1938, I am finding that some are for the good and some not. The attack on the nuclear family is, of course, not just the fault of Gays. But the incessant attacks come from lack of respect,lack of cohesiveness as a community, lack of patriotism, in short, we are witnessing some of the same things that brought down the Roman Empire and others. The breakdown of morality, in all of it's forms.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lake Pend Oreille

I'm reproducing portions of my Spokesman-Review, Handle Extra story for those outside the paper's circulation area. This version is slightly different due lack of editing.

An error, quoting Chip Corsi, Region 1 F&G Supervisor, saying the following is incorrect. the quote was confused with another: Chip points out correctly, that Bull trout and Cutthroat trout would have gone that far upriver, but not kokanee.

First the Cabinet Gorge Dam in Montana, chopped off the river seven miles upstream. Removing the 75 or 80 miles of upriver spawning habitat.

Lake Pend Oreille is dying. It isn’t dying from toxic waste or pollution, but is dying economically. This pristine body of water, once the home of commercial fishing, is in a slump that many experts are afraid may be irreversible. The death of this lake was caused by human interruption of the food chain. Re-intervention to try to right the wrongs of the past are in motion, but hold only small hope for recovery. In this, the first of two parts, we are going to visit the causes. Part two will address what is being done to mitigate and thirdly, the results as projected. We will as well, talk to business owners around the lake regarding the economic effect of this crisis.

Many years ago, in 1925, Macinaw, a long lived char or Lake Trout,” were planted in Lake Pend Oreille and priest Lake by the then, “U.S. Fish Commission,” later reformed as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission. Land locked Sockeye Salmon, locally referred to as kokanee, Blueback or Silvers, were flushed down the Clark Fork River, from Flathead Lake in Montana during the regular spring floods of the day. In 1941, Idaho Fish & Game, brought both Gerrard Rainbow Trout, and later, in the sixties, Mysis shrimp from Kootenai Lake in British Columbia, to Lake Pend Oreille.

The apparent thinking at the time, was Idaho needed trout capable of attaining record size. It was also felt that since Mysis Shrimp were present in Kootenai Lake, and was a feed source for the kokanee, that they would be an additional value. The problem though, was that shrimp feed on the surface of the water at night, and go deep during daylight hours. In Kootenai Lake, the West Arm being fairly shallow, this caused no problems. In Lake Pend Oreille it did. kokanee couldn’t reach the shrimp at the depths they sank to in Lake Pend Oreille because of the 1150 foot depth of the lake. In Lake Pend Oreille, the shrimp dive down 400 to 600 feet deep during daylight hours.

What the addition of Mysis Shrimp did do however, is create a huge food source for the deep living Macinaw, and also Whitefish, the largest species in terms of numbers in the lake. creating an explosion in their juvenile population. Macinaw, can live up to twenty years old,or longer, and Gerrard Trout, seven to ten. Both, when attaining a size of about sixteen inches, start feeding on smaller fish. Prior to that they are basically insect eaters. The ideal size from the Macinaw perspective, is the one to two year old kokanee fry. The larger the predator grows, the larger fish they consume.

After introduction in the Forties, both kokanee and Rainbow Trout flourished in a sustainable pattern. The World Record Gerrard Rainbow was caught in 1947, by Wes Hamlet. During World War Two, hardly any fishing went on. In 1945-46 and after, the untouched fishery produced huge numbers of kokanee and the record Rainbow Trout of 37 pounds. At one time, kokanee were fished commercially. Many old timers remember their Fathers hand lining with jigs, for wash tubs full of 12 to 15 inch kokanee. Commercial fishing was finally closed in 1973. The Old smoke house still stands sentinel at the south end of the Long Bridge in Sandpoint, but long since stopped the major business of smoking kokanee.

While this was going on, the Mysis Shrimp were quietly reproducing at phenomenal rates, without, seemingly any natural enemies, at least those that could reach them. All was still well until 1952. This was the year that two very significant dams were built. Cabinet Gorge, on the Clark Fork River in Montana and Albeni Falls on the Pend Oreille River at Priest River, Idaho. These two dams were to the Lake Pend Oreille fishery, the death knell, but for different reasons.

First the Cabinet Gorge Dam in Montana, chopped off the river seven miles upstream. Removing the 75 or 80 miles of upriver spawning habitat. After the Clark Fork ceased to be of use, only the strain of kokanee that had adapted to spawning in the lake shore gravels were left. kokanee spawn in the late fall, usually late November and early December. Granite Creek, on the east side of Lake Pend Oreille and a few very small creeks were left, mostly too steep for fish to swim up. Albeni Falls was the final nail in their coffin. During the 1960's, the Bonneville Power Administration managed to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, controllers of the dam, to radically lower the lake level, producing more flow for the Columbia River system and subsequently more Winter power generation.

That did it. kokanee, the key food fish for larger fish began to disappear rapidly. They did this because in the beginning, Albeni Dam lowered the lake level, after the kokanee had spawned, thereby leaving redds or egg nests high and dry. Even then, everyone was still in denial. This practice continued until finally, in 1996, IDFG and the Corps of Engineers reached agreement to lower the lake prior to the kokanee spawn. Fish & Game Department closed fishing for kokanee altogether in 2000. Avista ponied up large amounts of cash for mitigation, but it began to look like to little, too late. One such result of mitigation, was that Idaho Fish & Game opened an office in Bayview, nestled at the south end of the lake. The purpose of this office was to establish an unprecedented massive effort to recover the kokanee population.

It needs to be explained that kokanee are a Salmon that spawns every fourth year, then dies. Using Buck Rogers like equipment, Fish & Game cris-cross the lake all Summer long using hydro-acoustic sonar. This equipment can type, size and count the fish as it passes over them. Based on these counts, here are the numbers for 2007, keeping in mind that predation accounts for the first and second year.

Fry 1-2" 3.8 million

1st year 2.2 million

2nd year 72,400

3rd year 18,108

4th year, a statistical zero, with only a scattered few spawners located. ...

More to follow the publishing of part two in next Saturday's Handle Extra.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


It must finally be spring. It's 50 degrees out. My maple tree is budding, and perched atop a limb is one of the two robins that nest therein, checking out the accommodations for the season. Construction is in full swing and well, some destruction as well.

Reverberating around the community and also the County offices, is the latest screw up of Bob Holland. Well, at least he's consistent. I haven't had too much to say about the Waterford operations this winter, as Winter activity is down. It is notable, however, that appearances at Vista Bay Marina, other than the allegedly unlawful destruction of the restaurant, are markers that could be construed as intent to widen the road leading into the marina. As we understand it, some of that roadway is leased from Idaho Fish & Game. We will follow up on that assertion and report back.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


This started out as a comment to a previous comment on Huckleberries online, a blog sponsored by the Spokesman-Review and mentored by Dave Olivarria. My post is in answer to a comment by a person that uses the on-line name of Idawa, which seems to suggest that he can't make up his mind where he is, Washington State, or Idaho, but then that's alright. He then attempted to define a conservative, which I thought he did rather well. Here is my response:

Well, Idawa, one thing you said resonated with me.

"one who embraces tradition and urges gradual change"

It is interesting though, that most definitions of liberal/conservatives are made by the other group, leaving both liberals and conservatives to be defined by someone that disagrees with their philosophy. It would be a freshening breeze, if we were allowed to define ourselves. I see nothing wrong, however with Idawa's definition of a conservative. When one gets into differing degrees is where the rubber hits the road.

I also see nothing wrong with the above definition insofar as being cautious and promoting gradual change seems to be a virtue opposed to an objection. Change in a social or governmental sense is alright, as long as it isn't sudden and all encompassing without the cushion of history and tradition to keep things from blowing out of hand. That, of course is well covered in our constitution, which was worded very carefully, so that radicals couldn't set this country ablaze with a will-of-the-wisp temporary aberration. One hopes that this buffer will long endure.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Deja Vu, All Over Again

The Vista Bay Marina is undergoing more problems as Waterford Park Marinas allegedly went past what they were permitted for in remodeling the old restaurant there. Those close to the situation tell us that they had a permit to do some limited demolition,essentially,to replace the roof,which turned out to be a whole new building, or close to it. Pictured above, is what is left of the once proud Vista Bay restaurant. Note the lower right corner, where the un-permitted showers were built four years ago. I suppose though, that under the circumstances, that is a moot point.

Closed for the ten years prior to Waterford Park purchasing the marina, many changes have taken place. It is my understanding that the decision to turn the building into a clubhouse prompted the rebuild. Having participated in the original remodel back in 2004, it appeared to me that the building was sound, other than a blanket of bat guano that covered the attic floor.Long gone are the mobile home renters that had as their Summer homes, lived there many years. Some wonder why the company didn't get all their permits prior to evicting the tenants, but then it's only money, right?