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Mail and Commentary June 2, 2010

"Swooping in on a disaster, taking a group of kids out of their country. Was Laura starting an orphanage or a showroom?"

--justaguy (boiseweekly.com, Opinion, "A Wing and a Prayer," May 26, 2010)

Big Oil Moving Through Idaho

A major environmental and economic issue has arisen in North Idaho and, unfortunately, is flying under the public radar. ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil wants to truck giant earth drills weighing 350,000 pounds each up the narrow Highway 12 winding alongside the Middle Fork of the Clearwater and Lochsa, both designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. These behemoths go from Port of Lewiston to the destructive Tar Sands Project in Alberta.

The issues are: 1. Safety and stoppage of traffic. The fragile highways and small bridges simply cannot accommodate these mammoth loads. What if one of these monsters tumbled into the river? 2. Disastrous impacts on the quiet rural lifestyle and economies of north central Idahoans. 3. Visual damage to the intrinsic values of the Wild and Scenic Rivers and disruption of rafting, camping and fishing.

The Clearwater and Lochsa river corridors would be industrialized. It would have a pronounced detrimental effect on the $3.4 billion Idaho tourism industry, most particularly on the tourism-based livelihoods of Highway 12 communities.

Why indeed should North Idaho taxpayers have their scenic river highway corridors trashed for Big Oil? ExxonMobil would make billions on the backs of North Idaho and Montana taxpayers. It's obscene. Look at the national catastrophe BP and Department of Interior malfeasance has wrought! Please e-mail Mr. Alan Frew of ITD and tell ITD absolutely not to allow the necessary oversize load permits for this outrageous proposal. Alan.Frew@itd.idaho.gov. Copy Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter at governor@gov.idaho.gov.

Please understand that this would be ruinous for the environment and tourism economy of North Idaho. It is heartless Black Oil vs. little people deja vu. Please contact ITD immediately. Insist that public hearings be held and a full EIS prepared per the law. Contact me for detailed information at ScottyPhi@cox.net.

Repeat: This issue is of monumental importance. Time is critical.

--Scott Phillips, Hailey

I hope I speak for all Idahoans when I say that I am completely outraged with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the Idaho Transportation Department for working in secrecy and failing to involve and inform the public about the Kearl Oil Sands Project tearing through the heart of Idaho. There has been absolutely no opportunity for public input and involvement, and until recently, there has been zero media coverage. In a few months, maybe sooner, the Pacific Northwest Scenic Byway will be assaulted by a couple hundred half-million-ton industrial megarigs headed to the tar sands strip mining project in Alberta, Canada. Highway 12 is about to be transformed into a corporate oil raceway and the Idaho public is barely aware of it. At least Montana citizens had a 30-day period to comment on the project. Unlike Idaho, Montana has a state constitution that calls for an environmental review and gives its citizenry an opportunity to attend public meetings before a decision has been made. Why don't we have this in Idaho? Both Gov. Otter and this current system need to be replaced with leadership and legislation that value and protect the landscape and includes the public in decision making. The time to act is now. We must stop ExxonMobil from destroying Highway 12.

--Brett Haverstick,Moscow

And Now, Time for Poetry

I listen closely on the radio to the war,

I listen and learn that we need something more,

It's about the money.

We shouldn't fight for that honey.

We need peace and love.

I wish I were a dove.

NO War.

If there was I could just fly away.

There was an oil spill, not today.

It happened a while ago,

And it has been pouring into the ocean.

I am afraid.

--Marlowe McBride, age 10, Boise

Road Sharing 101

Patrick T. Storey's letter (BW, Opinion, May 26, 2010) on road sharing contained so many misconceptions that it would be impossible to address them all in a short letter. I would simply suggest that he (and all cyclists) just follow the guidelines contained in "Idaho Bicycling Street Smarts" (a publication funded by the ACHD and ITD), especially Chapter 2, titled "Where to Ride on the Road." This can be ordered free of charge at: itd.idaho.gov/bike_ped/Commuter_StreetSmarts.html.

--Robert Tencate,Boise

On Hidden Patios

I was sad to see that the patio at The Flicks wasn't in your article. (BW, Food, "Boise's Hidden Patios," May 26, 2010.) It's my favorite, and I don't think many people know about it, or that The Flicks actually has a great menu as far as theaters go.

I'd love to see a piece on their patio.

--Morgan Ross,Boise

17 Amendment

Mark Klinger's letter to the editor of BW [May 19] criticizing Raul Labrador for supporting repeal of the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution is misguided (BW, Opinion, May 19, 2010). He made the argument that allowing senators to be appointed by state legislatures instead of being directly elected by the people would return us to the days of "back rooms filled with cigar smoke where the good old boys ... picked ... their best buds to go to Washington ..." 

The framers of the U.S. Constitution completely disagreed with Mr. Klinger.  They saw a need to give the people a direct voice in the federal government through the House of Representatives, thus providing a check on the aristocracy, which, if allowed to go unchecked can oppress the people. However, having seen the equally disastrous effects of a populous unleashed, the framers saw the need to balance the voice of the people with the voice of the states. Thus, the Senate was meant to represent the states' voice on the national stage and the House was meant to represent the people's.

History has shown that the voice of the people can be just as dangerous to democracy as consolidated power is. Since the 17th Amendment's ratification in 1913, states' rights have been lessened to the point of near non-existence when compared to the growth of the federal government. If big government is annoying to anyone, for the source of that annoyance they need look no further than the amendment that Idaho's illustrious Sen. William Borah helped enact almost 100 years ago. Look at the fruits of each tree, one bearing that of directly elected senators and one bearing that of legislatively appointed ones: Are the fruits of the former really so much better than the latter?

--Nic Chamberlain,Boise