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Mail: May 17, 2017

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Pols against Hate

Boise police are investigating two vandalism incidents near downtown Boise that they are classifying as hate crimes. On Tuesday, vandals defaced two tablets at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial with racist and anti-Semitic slurs. A second attack came early Thursday when police discovered writing in permanent marker on a sign dedicated to Bill Wassmuth as well as a nearby Greenbelt Tunnel.

Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise) issued a call to action this weekend encouraging state House and Senate leadership from both parties to voice their condemnation of the attacks. Lawmakers immediately stepped up in support, issuing a statement today representing the collective opinion of House and Senate Leadership:

"Over the past several days, racist and anti-Semitic acts of vandalism have defaced tablets and signs at and near the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise. As members of the Idaho Legislature, we join with Idahoans of good conscience to condemn these hateful, intolerant and unacceptable acts. At this time, the Boise police are treating these acts as a hate crime. Hate-based behavior and the thinking it reflects have no place in Idaho.

The defacement of the Memorial—a Memorial built to recognize and honor the struggle for our common humanity—is a strike against all Idahoans. In the midst of history at its worst, Anne Frank believed that, 'In spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.' Idahoans must show that they are 'good at heart,' by rejecting these actions completely. In the words of Anne Frank, 'Nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.'"

—Sens. Michelle Stennett, minority leader; Cherie Buckner-Webb, assistant minority leader; Maryanne Jordan, minority caucus chair; Brent Hill, president pro tempore; Bart Davis, majority leader; Chuck Winder, assistant majority leader; Todd Lakey, majority caucus chair; Reps. Scott Bedke, speaker; Mike Moyle, majority leader; Brent Crane, assistant majority leader; John Vander Woude, majority caucus chair; Mat Erpelding, minority leader; Ilana Rubel, assistant minority leader; Elaine Smith, minority caucus chair

How Long?

With the firing of James Comey and the ensuing fallout, I would like to address these questions to Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (R-Idaho). How much longer are you going to remain silent? How long before you demand an independent investigation of collusion between the president, his associates, Vladimir Putin and Russia? How can you sleep at night knowing every American rightly suspects the decision to fire FBI Director Comey was part of a cover-up? How long before you take any action on behalf of your constituents and, more importantly, your country? How long are you going to defend this nightmare of a president? As senators of the 115th Congress, how will history find you to be judged; as men of courage and compassion or of treachery and indifference? Ergo, my final question: Will either of you stand up for democracy and help save our beloved America?

—Janet Beauchamp, Meridian

What will it Take?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is an opportunity to learn something new about mental illness, recovery and ways to improve mental health. It is also a time to bust the stigma surrounding mental illness. I work for the Division of Behavioral Health at the Department of Health and Welfare. I am also a person who has experienced familial mental health challenges and seeks to learn more about mental illness, the brain and recovery. After all, one in five of us will experience mental illness at some point in our lives.

I attended Mental Health Awareness Day at the Idaho Capitol and listened while speakers shared their experiences living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. Interwoven themes emerged from their stories: a few started life as happy-go-lucky toddlers; for most their struggles, overt or internal, began early in childhood as a result of being or feeling different (e.g. behaviors of a mental disorder, giftedness, etc.); they were bullied/teased/treated poorly; they struggled to articulate their feelings and needs to others; and, for many, hope came from supportive people, appropriate services and learning resiliency techniques.

A mother who lost her 13-year-old daughter to suicide invited the audience to answer the question: What is it going to take for us to stop the loss of young lives to suicide?

It seems to me there is no one answer to that question. We know how to help some people and we need to keep searching for answers to help all people. I encourage you to find out what is going on in your community or region to learn what you can about mental illness and suicide prevention and get involved. One thing we can all do is vow to be kinder and more accepting of others—especially to those who are different from us. Because deep down, we are all more alike than we are different.

—Stephanie M. Hoffman, Boise

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