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News Shorts May 26, 2004

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Boise City Attorney Roger Cockerille has been appointed magistrate judge in Boise County.

Cockerille, who joined the city's legal team in 1999, became lead City Hall counsel following the February 2003 departure of Susan Mimura who was fired by former Mayor Carolyn Tertling-Payne and the City Council who declared a "loss of confidence" in Mimura as part of the fallout from the Coles/Lyman/City Hall scandal.

Mayor Dave Bieter plans to announce a new chief city attorney by July.

Also appointed magistrate judge for Ada County is Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James. S. Cawthon, who has been prosecuting felony cases for the county since 2000.


It's that time of year again. Flowers are in bloom and barbecues are, well, barbecuing. What a better way to celebrate then with Preservation Idaho's Annual Orchids and Onions Awards. Each year, this ceremony celebrates those who make a positive contribution to historic preservation and bring about awareness of those projects that have been insensitive to historic preservation.

Orchids are awarded to outstanding examples of preservation projects or practices.

And the Orchid Awards go to:

• Excellence in Historic Preservation: The Simpson & Company Building, Twin Falls

• Contribution to Historic Preservation: The Hutton House, James and Barbara Parker

• Preservation-Sensitive New Construction: The Veltex Building, Boise

• Friend of Preservation: Camille Schmidt and Oneida Stake Academy Foundation and the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation

• Distinguished Preservationist: Sheri Freemuth, Boise

Cultural Heritage Preservation: 5th Street Cemetery Necrogeographical Study, Jenifer Junior High School, Coeur D'Alene and Assessment of the Railroad Ranch, Harriman State Park of Idaho

Onions are awarded to those who demolish historically significant buildings or sites or new construction that is insensitive or ignorant of the neighborhood's history. This year's Onion was awarded to the First United Methodist Church of Boise.


And then there were none. This week the Idaho Attorney General's Office recused itself from investigating the University Place/University of Idaho Foundation scandal citing conflicts of interest. Last week the U.S. attorney's Idaho office also retreated from the investigation citing conflicts of interest. And last year, the Ada County Prosecutor's office said it could not handle the case due to conflicts of interest. Now, with the county, state and federal legal teams citing too many conflicts to pursue investigating the $28 million real estate deal gone amok, what happens next?

Fortunately, just because it seems the entire state has a connection to someone somehow involved in the scandal does not mean the scandal will go uninvestigated. Our neighbor to the west, Oregon, has agreed to undertake both the state and federal investigations into the seemingly untouchable case—much to the relief of those seeking justice and much to the chagrin of those seeking to avoid justice. Riding to the rescue is Portland-based federal prosecutor Allan Garten, who quickly announced plans to convene a grand jury in Boise and get this thing done.


The federal Office of Hearings and Appeals in Salt Lake City has granted a stay requested by Western Watersheds Project that blocks a Bureau of Land Management decision authorizing grazing in the Laidlaw Park Allotment of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

The stay prevents the BLM from implementing a plan that would have increased cattle and sheep numbers in the monument despite the agency's previous finding that grazing has severely degraded the area.

Judge James Heffernan put a halt to the BLM's grazing decision, ruling that more livestock grazing "may only exacerbate the poor vegetative conditions" on the Laidlaw Park Allotment and "hasten listing of the sage grouse."

"The public's interest in maintaining the integrity of its lands and sensitive species outweighs the interest of the BLM and the permittees in keeping livestock on the allotment," Heffernan noted in his ruling.

The judge ruled that the "serious and long-lasting effects" of overgrazing outweighed any economic loss incurred in the removal of livestock from the allotment. He also noted that the BLM appeared to have misrepresented its own data and analyses in its decision to allow more grazing on Laidlaw Park.


Major apologies from the FBI this week for erroneously linking a Portland man's fingerprint to one found near the scene of the March train bombings in Madrid, which killed 191 people and injured over 2,000.

As a result of the goof, Brandon Mayfield, 37, a lawyer and Muslin convert, spent two weeks in prison.

The FBI blamed its supercomputer and analysts for fingering the wrong fingerprint.


As a U.S. soldiers undergo court-martial over prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, the Pentagon announced the first in what appears to be a slew of brass changes. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is being replaced, although the move has nothing to do with the Abu Ghraib scandal insists Pentagon officials. A replacement has yet to be announced.


A new Iraq will also need a humane, well-supervised prison system. Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning.

—President George W. Bush, May 24 speech.


The Outstanding Public Debt as of May 25 is $7,195,760,011,234.67.

The estimated population of the United States is 294,140,479, so each citizen's share of this debt is $24,463.68.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.73 billion per day since September 30, 2003.



U.S. CASUALTIES: As of 10 a.m. Monday, May 24, 797 U.S. service members have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 582 in combat and 215 from noncombat-related incidents and accidents. Twelve U.S. soldiers died last week.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 9,153 and 11,010.


COST OF WAR: $114,625,000,000.


—Compiled by Cynthia Sewell and Amy Atkins