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Support GAOA

A big thank you to Congressman Mike Simpson for cosponsoring the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). This bipartisan act is a bright spot in an otherwise divided congress, and should remind all Americans of what we can accomplish when we work together.

The bill, which would address our maintenance backlog on public lands while fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), is popular with both Democrats and Republicans, and for good reason. Idahoans identify strongly with the outdoors, and watching our trails and our access slowly disappear over the years has been hard for all of us — whether you explore our public lands on foot, horseback, or dirt bike; whether you’re after photos, firewood, powder, or meat.

The GAOA would be a win any year. But 2020 has brought challenges of its own. As we look toward economic recovery, we need to take advantage of tools like the LWCF that will direct non-taxpayer dollars to Idaho’s economy. By funding recreation and conservation, the GAOA will help Idaho’s outdoor recreation sector get back on its feet, which prior to COVID-19 supported 78,000 jobs and $7.8 billion in consumer spending — on par with agriculture. It’s no wonder Rep. Simpson has cosponsored this bill; he cares about our people and places. Senators Risch and Crapo are undecided, and their votes may be the deciding factor. It’s time they join Rep. Simpson, President Trump, and hundreds of others in congress in supporting the GAOA.

Eric Oliver, Boise


Growing up in Idaho I was taught to treat others how you would like to be treated, and if the behavior was not reciprocated then do your best to treat others without condemnation. In my family my uncle and cousin are black, my aunt respectfully a lesbian, my best friend Mexican. Myself, I am a blond-haired, blue-eyed white boy, which in my mid-to-late 20s got me in some difficult situations as a truck driver.

I’ve come to understand in recent years we do not have a race, religion, criminal or gender identity problem. We have a people problem. Watching the events take place with George Floyd’s death upset me due to the ugly nature of people’s reactions incriminating peaceful protests. As Americans we follow blindly obedient to an obsolete judicial system destined to fall under its own weight. Then at the same time we give justification to the power law enforcement has.

Where do we draw the line? Surely not all law enforcement is bad. I do not see that as a case even as an incarcerated individual. I see this horrific death of George Floyd as a wake-up call around America. So many lives are destroyed by law enforcement. It’s time to Idaho for the Iron Rule Law Enforcement, conservative laws and failed prison system to start changing, or we will not only have more George Floyd’s in our community but officer-involved shootings as well.

I hope this brings more awareness to the community of Idaho continues to grow and is not adapting enough to keep up with the changes. I know firsthand the same “criminal” thinking inmates are taught against using is the same thinking the government uses to control people. That in itself should say a lot of the dire need for change.

Jonathan Thomsen, Caldwell


The Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), created in 1965, has been a crucial element in the development of parks all across Idaho. LWCF, which is funded from off-shore oil drilling leases, not tax dollars, has touched every one of Idaho’s counties.

Outdoor recreation projects were completed through the matching grant program in city parks in Rigby, Parma, Rupert, Homedale, Blackfoot, Elk City, Boise, Nampa, and nearly every other town in Idaho. LWCF kicked off construction of the Boise Greenbelt in 1971 and it was used to acquire Coeur d’Alene’s Tubb’s Hill in 1975. In 2012 the funding made the acquisition of additional land at Riverfront Park in McCall possible. It helped build tennis courts in Twin Falls, a swimming pool in Blaine County, and a sports complex in Burley. More than 90 projects have received outdoor recreation funding from the program in Idaho.

Nearly every one of Idaho’s state parks owes something to acquisition or development money from LWCF.

For decades the program was underfunded, with Congress choosing to appropriate the money collected for LWCF to other federal spending. Now, thanks to Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson’s co-sponsorship of the Great American Outdoors Act, LWCF is on the cusp of receiving full funding for the first time.

Idaho’s senators will have a chance to vote on the Great American Outdoors Act next week. They need to hear from their constituents that this program is important to Idahoans who use the recreational facilities created by LWCF every day.

Rick Just, Boise

Personal finance

It took more than 18 months before the first 1.6 million homeowners became delinquent during the Great Recession, said Andy Walden, economist and director of market research at Black Knight. There is still potential for a second wave of delinquencies in May, he added in USA Today. During this pandemic, delinquencies surged to 1.6 million in April alone. I believe personal finance should be a stand alone requirement for graduation. Just recently I had a former student contact me ask me to help her set a monthly budget because she was wanting to rent a place of her own and needed some help. She is currently doing well on her budget, but would have benefited immensely from a personal finance course. One study from Experian shows that over 76% of 18- and 19-year olds said not only should personal finance be offered in high schools but it should be REQUIRED. My students when ask this spring what math class they would like to take next year responded with 51% saying they would like to take a real-world mathematics course that will help me succeed after high school. A personal finance class would do just that and help them to be successful beyond high school and into retirement. I know there may be folks so say that this shouldn’t be taught at school it should be done at home. Our reality is that “When surveyed, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency.” — Federal Reserve. We need to start teaching these skills to strengthen our economy. I would love for personal finance to be a math requirement for graduation if you agree, please let your local school board know.

Mandy Simpson, Nampa


What happened to George Floyd was tragic, inexcusable and criminal. The perpetrators have been charged and it appears justice will be served.

But, what about Kate Steinle? Kate was murdered by a criminal, illegal alien five years ago in San Francisco. The illegal alien had been deported five previous times and returned to California after each deportation.

There were no protests and there was NO justice for Kate.

It seems that protests and justice in the United States are selective.

Please remember Kate.

Jack Pfeffer, Eagle


I was amazed to hear Governor Little say that half of the 1.2 billion dollars given to Idaho to help with Coronavirus would be ‘rolled into’ the unemployment fund if not allocated elsewhere. While I know many people lost their jobs due to the shutdown, surely there are better ways to use this money. The CARES act provides $600/week on top of unemployment, and a $1500 benefit is now planned to help people decide to go back to work. We have more than covered this base!

What about more directly helping out the individuals, families, and communities impacted by the Coronavirus in other ways? For example, a way to forgive the mounting medical bills people now have to pay from Coronavirus-related hospital stays.

What about helping places like Nez Perce county that has only 79 confirmed cases, but 19 deaths? Almost 25% of all Coronavirus deaths in Idaho are from one county (population 40 thousand); these federal dollars can make a real difference to change this situation moving forward. Governor, you and your team can do better than this. Use this life-changing money to strategically help the people who need it most!

Harold Wilson, Meridian


I admire and support the young people that ventured out to protest for BLM in Sandpoint. As a mother of three sons it breaks my heart to imagine one of them being treated like Floyd. Fortunately, they are all white. Two open carry and one was protecting local businesses. That puts me in an awkward position!

I reluctantly have learned to honor people’s right to bear arms. However, hearing accounts of harassments of young peaceful protestors by camo clad men with semi-automatic rifles and guns using racial slurs crosses the line for me. So does blanket labeling of open gun carriers as “gun toting idiots who are trying to bully us all into submission” who are bent on starting a fascist movement similar to Nazi Germany. White supremacy presence in our community doesn’t mean that we label everyone who open carries an irresponsible vigilante.

Racial injustice is not metered out by bad individuals or events. According to Dr. Robin DiAngelo it is a systemic discrimination by one group that doesn’t perceive itself as a “race” — sanctioned by legal authority and institutional control. As white people we all perpetuate that discrimination whether we split ourselves into good/tolerant progressives and bad vigilantes/racists or good patriots and bad antifas/communists. I commend Sandpoint police chief Coon for holding a community meeting to engage the community in dialogue to address these deeper roots and would hope that Sherriff Wheeler will do the same.

Gabrielle Duebendorfer, Sandpoint


I supported Lauren McLean in her run for the mayor of Boise. Her enthusiasm and obvious pleasure when she won pleased me. I knew a number of the individuals she asked to serve on her transition boards and felt that they were good choices. I read with interest their suggestions for street planning, health, schools and mitigating homelessness, hoping that many of their suggestions could become city policy. When I saw the list at the end of the report asking for sex education beginning in pre-k and the hope for abortion on request, I laughed out loud. Mentally I thought “In your dreams, characters.” I was not prepared for the spate of letters and the demand that Lauren McLean be recalled because so many people seemed to believe that just because enough members from these citizen boards decided to ask for these things, that the Mayor would immediately implement them. A spate angry letters, rants on radio talk shows and a recall petition immediately began. Mayor McLean is a tough, clever woman who will listen to the citizens she asked to serve on these advisory groups, but ultimately, she will make her own decisions. She will do it with the help of the city council that she used to be a member of and has immense respect for.

The word abortion causes many people to loose all sense of proportion to and forget the checks and balances in American. The phrase “sex education” causes similar blindness. Voters elected a strong, intelligent person as mayor of Boise. Why do you think she will automatically implement suggestions from her citizen groups? “In your nightmares”, folks! You are as laughable as the those whose wishes you are reacting to.

Janelle Wintersteen, Boise


There has been a flood of ideas labeled as “conspiracy theories” in the last six months. Some are associated with the coronavirus, such as: 5G caused Covid-19, the coronavirus was created to reduce the earth’s population, the number of deaths by Covid-19 has been falsely inflated, and the mercy ships docked near major cities this spring were actually poised to incarcerate deplorable criminals rounded up by Trump administration. Some non-Covid “theories” include: the deep state, Obamagate, impending Total Election Fraud, the supposed murder of Timothy Klausutis’ wife, and rumors about Martin Gugino, the man in Buffalo pushed down by police.

Merriam-Webster says a theory is “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain a phenomena”. Theories are developed through the steps of the scientific method: Initial observations are made, a hypothesis is formed, data are collected, tests are conducted, analyses are completed, conclusions are reviewed, and findings are presented. After careful work is completed, a theory may be presented to explain the observations and facts. A few famous theories include the Oxygen Theory of Combustion (Lavoisier, 1770s), Plate Tectonics (Wegener, 1912; Wilson, 1960s), and General Relativity (Einstein, 1915). These theories have stood the test of time.

I predict we’ll hear many more speculations in the months leading up to the November elections that’ll be labeled conspiracy theories. I implore people to consider that not every idea that spews out of a person’s mouth is a theory, even if it comes from the president of the United States. If outlandish ideas are not based on facts, then they are simply unsubstantiated and, I believe, potentially dangerous, divisive and illegitimate claims.

Ken Neely, Boise

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