Huffaker Flip-Flops on Smoking Ban
The City of Eagle was well on its way to becoming the first smoke-free city in Idaho ... until last week, at least. Councilman Michael Huffaker put a stop to the city's Clean Indoor Air Ordinance when he changed his vote on June 23.
The ordinance would have prohibited smoking at all businesses with more than five employees, including stand-alone bars, and would limit where smokers could light up outside within city limits.
At the June 9 City Council meeting, the ordinance was read for the first time and passed with a vote of 3 to 2. It seemed as if residents would soon breathe fresh air in Eagle. There were few objections to the ordinance except for a sprinkling of residents who were concerned about over-regulation.
Huffaker joined the skeptics last week when he changed his vote to oppose the ordinance, saying that possible detriments to the City of Eagle outweighed the benefits. Huffaker cited a study claiming that if barflies can't smoke in their favorite bar in Eagle, they will drive to neighboring cities to get their fix and then drive home drunk.
In a statement to the citizens of Eagle, Huffaker said, "I came to the Council meeting on June 23 fully prepared to vote the same as I did on June 9, but after listening to all the arguments again both for and against the ordinance, I felt myself being persuaded that although the intent and purpose of Ordinance 622 was good, that passing this particular ordinance was not the best way to accomplish that purpose ... It was a very difficult decision to make but I felt I had to vote my conscience and for what I thought would be in the best interest of the city as a whole."
Eagle City Council hasn't quite stopped fighting for clean air altogether, though the ordinance has been tabled. They plan to send a resolution letter to the Idaho Legislature to encourage a statewide ban.
BW Publisher Voted on to Alt Weeklies Board
Boise WeeklyPublisher Sally Freeman was elected to the board of directors of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies last week during the group's annual meeting in Tucson, Ariz. Freeman will serve as an at-large member for the association, which is made up of about 130 papers from cities across the country.
"As a member of the board of AAN, I will work towards catapulting alternative weeklies to continue to represent the cutting edge in media in both print and digital journalism," Freeman said. "Though the association represents a coalition of many alt weeklies of different sizes and formats, our mission and challenges remain the same.
Boise Weeklywill continue to work toward being the best independent media source in the Treasure Valley representing our local community."
Alt weeklies have evolved in recent years as journalism has moved online. Much of the focus at this year's convention was on new ways to present information, deliver advertising and engage readers. But alternative press fundamentals--the honest practice of journalism--remains the link between AAN papers: "What ties them together are a strong focus on local news, culture and the arts; an informal and sometimes profane style; an emphasis on point-of-view reporting and narrative journalism; a tolerance for individual freedoms and social differences; and an eagerness to report on issues and communities that many mainstream media outlets ignore," according to the association Web site.
BWEditor Rachael Daigle, Art Director Leila Ramella and citydesk curator Nathaniel Hoffman also attended the raucous confab in Tucson, earning Boise a spot in yet another Top 10 list, the Wisest Company Cost Cutting in the Alt Weekly Association list: While all the other, big-shot editors paid $6 for beers and $22 for steak sandwiches at the posh golf resort south of town, the
BWcrew holed up in our rooms with vodka and avocados from Safeway.
It also may have bettered our chances of hosting the event in, maybe, 2011, after all the verdant golf resorts in Arizona dry up and whither.
CWI Nabs Former TVCC Chief
The College of Western Idaho, the Treasure Valley's nascent community college, has hired former Treasure Valley Community College President Dr. Berton L. Glandon to run its Nampa campus.
Glandon ran TVCC in Ontario, Ore., for eight years. TVCC also offers two-year degrees in Caldwell, at a new campus just down the road from CWI. He moved to the helm of Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo., in 2002.
"Community colleges are an integral part of the higher education system, offering a broad range of people the opportunity to better themselves and contribute to their families, communities and state. There are unlimited possibilities for CWI and its students, and I look forward to helping CWI reach its utmost potential," Glandon said. He starts July 13, replacing Dennis Griffin.
Idaho Healthcare Stats
In its push for healthcare reform, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has pulled together a series of statistics for the states. Here are Idaho numbers, courtesy of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and healthreform.gov, her new Web site.
• Roughly 894,000 people in Idaho get health insurance on the job, where annual family premiums average $12,467.
• Since 2000, average family premiums have increased by 78 percent in Idaho.
• Household budgets are strained by high costs: 19 percent of middle-income Idaho families spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care.
• High costs block access to care: 17 percent of people in Idaho report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.
• Idaho businesses and families shoulder a hidden health tax of roughly $1,700 per year on premiums as a direct result of subsidizing the costs of the uninsured.
• 15 percent of people in Idaho are uninsured, and 82 percent of them are in families with at least one full-time worker.
• The percent of Idahoans with employer coverage is declining: from 63 to 60 percent between 2000 and 2007.
• Much of the decline is among workers in small businesses. While small businesses make up 82 percent of Idaho businesses, only 34 percent of them offered health coverage benefits in 2006.
• Choice of health insurance is limited in Idaho. Blue Cross of Idaho alone constitutes 46 percent of the health insurance market share in Idaho, with the top two insurance providers accounting for 75 percent.
• Choice is even more limited for people with pre-existing conditions. In Idaho, premiums can vary, within limits, based on demographic factors and health status, and coverage can exclude pre-existing conditions.
• The overall quality of care in Idaho is rated as "average."
• Preventative measures that could keep Idahoans healthier and out of the hospital are deficient, leading to problems across the age spectrum.
war in Iraq
U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Monday, June 29, 2009, 4,320 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,455 in combat and 865 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 31,368. In the last week, two U.S. soldiers died.
Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 91 soldiers have died.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense
IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 92,435 and 100,911.
COST OF IRAQ WAR: $682,860,776,740