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citydesk: Don't ask and Bieter tells all

Mtn. Home pilot challenges don't ask, don't tell

A decorated pilot from Mountain Home Air Force Base went on national television last week to publicly oppose the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Barring intervention from Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, an F-15E weapons systems officer, will be honorably discharged, according toAir Force Times


The reason for his dismissal: Fehrenbach is gay.

Fehrenbach will not receive his retirement benefits if discharged.

Fehrenbach, an 18-year Air Force veteran who was born on a base, has flown 88 combat missions, including over Iraq, and has nine air medals to his name. He told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he does not want a moratorium to the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy, even if it would help him personally. He wants it repealed.

"I did have hope that President [Barack] Obama would follow through on his commitment to change the policy and initiate a policy of nondiscrimination," Fehrenbach said. "I think we need a permanent solution from Congress."

The Obama Administration has begun talks of ending the Clinton-era policy.

"President Obama has been clear in his direction to Secretary [Robert] Gates and [Joint Chiefs] Chairman [Mike] Mullen that he is committed to repeal the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. He has also been clear that he is committed to do it in a way that is least disruptive to our troops, especially given that they have been simultaneously waging two wars for six years now," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell stated last week.

You can watch the MSNBC interview at or below.

Bieter touts new Boise economy

In an address last week to Boise Young Professionals, a group affiliated with the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter touted the success of Idaho's garage inventor class and the number of startups in town.

Nearly everyone in the room--actually, the bar at the Basque Center--knew people who had been laid off. But Bieter said young and tech savvy workers are well positioned.

"People my age and older are freaking out," he said. "Probably more than you are."

Bieter touted companies like MarkMonitor, which monitors domain names for large companies across the globe, and WhiteCloud Analytics, which sells software to hospitals.

The annual BYP speech is seen as a preview of Bieter's State of the City speech, scheduled for June 3. Bieter spoke about the economy, the city's efforts to combat climate change and his hope for a downtown trolley and rail transit. And in another State of the City tradition, he ran through a bunch of the new Top 10 lists that Boise made.

Bieter did not mention the city making the Top 10 foreclosures list, but did respond to a question from BWabout it. The list included the entire Treasure Valley and Boise has seen relatively fewer foreclosures than other nearby cities, he said.

Bieter also responded to questions about quality-of-life issues and the arts, hinting that a 700 to 1,000 seat performing arts venue may soon be coming to downtown.

"I can't say that I'm culturally enlightened," Bieter said of the arts. "I just say go."

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Tuesday, May. 26, 2009, 4,303 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,446 in combat and 857 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 31,285. In the last week, six U.S. soldiers died.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 74 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 92,126 and 100,580.


COST OF IRAQ WAR: $672,420,260,281