Idaho 2008 news archive

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Note: This page includes short news headlines as they happen. If you scroll through the page and read earlier headlines, information pertaining to the events in those sections may have changed significantly since the section was posted.
==Ketchum mayor recall missed deadline==

9/25/2008: Ketchum officials say a petition seeking Mayor Randy Hall's recall was not turned into the city clerk's office in time to get the vote on the November ballot.

Ketchum Clerk Sandra Cady says Idaho law requires a petition to be returned at least 45 days before an election. That means the deadline was Sept. 19.

Anne Corrock, who started the petition, says she was given mixed information from city and state officials about the deadline. Corrock says she will investigate before making a final decision on the petition.

Corrock based her petition on allegations Hall has failed to be frugal with city finances and the fact the city council voted to double his salary.

Hall says he's relieved the saga is over.[1]

Marijuana supporter sues for withdrawn funds

8/29/2008: Pro-marijuana advocate Ryan Davidson has filed a lawsuit against a national organization that seeks reform of marijuana laws.

Davidson, a former Bellevue resident, alleges in the lawsuit that the Marijuana Policy Project breached a contract four years ago when it withdrew funding for Davidson's pro-marijuana campaign in the Wood River Valley.

"They pulled the funding after the cities rejected our initiative petitions," Davidson told the Idaho Mountain Express on Tuesday. "They bailed on us and left us hanging."

Davidson, chairman of The Liberty Lobby of Idaho, received a $60,000 grant from Washington D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project when he moved to Bellevue in 2004 and started his pro-marijuana grassroots movement.

Davidson, who now lives in Garden City, Idaho, said he spent only $16,000 of the grant before it was withdrawn. Since then, Davidson has funded the movement largely on his own.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 21 in Blaine County 5th District Court. Davidson is seeking the $44,000 grant balance plus interest, attorney fees and unspecified "incidental and consequential damages." Davidson has requested a jury trial.

Davidson filed marijuana reform initiative petitions in 2004 with the cities of Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey. All three municipalities rejected the petitions. Davidson appealed the Sun Valley decision to the Idaho Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor in September 2006 and wrote that municipalities do not have the authority to determine the constitutionality of citizen initiative issues.

Since then, Davidson successfully placed marijuana reform initiatives before the electorate in Hailey in November 2007 and again in May of this year. Both times voters approved measures to legalize medical use of marijuana, to legalize industrial hemp and to make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for the city's police. Voters on both occasions rejected an initiative to mandate that the city tax and regulate marijuana sales and use.

Hailey officials have declined to enforce the voter-approved initiatives and instead are seeking a court ruling on the legality of the initiatives.

Davidson alleges in his lawsuit that the Marijuana Policy Project was aware that he would have difficulties with local government in Idaho and has since ignored his successes in his campaign for reform of marijuana laws.

"They really could have just tried to make it right," Davidson said. "They've done this all over the country and run into problems before, so they should have told someone this would be an issue."

Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, described the organization's dealings with Davidson as "difficult interactions."

"As far as I can determine we have not received it yet," Mirken said, referring to a copy of Davidson's complaint.

"I can't tell you anything of substance at this point, but maybe I can after I see it," he said. "Our inclination though is to defend ourselves vigorously."

Davidson, who is not an attorney but represented himself in numerous marijuana court actions, is represented by Pocatello attorney Charles Johnson in his lawsuit against the Marijuana Policy Project.

"I've got a lawyer on this one and he doesn't want me to say too much about it," Davidson said.[2]

Wolf protection and the anti-wolf initiative

7/24/2008: The leader of the Anti Wolf Coalition in Idaho says he will try again to put a wolf removal initiative on the ballot now that a federal judge has restored endangered species protection for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.

"We are very pleased this liberal judge did what he did," Ron Gillett told the Lewiston Tribune. "Now it will be all-out war."

He said restoring federal protection to the wolves will reinvigorate his attempts to put a ballot initiative before Idaho voters. Two previous attempts to put such an initiative before voters failed, the last one falling about 10,000 signatures short of the 45,000 needed by the May 1 deadline.

Gillette blamed the failure on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision last March to remove wolves from the endangered species list following a decade-long restoration effort. The removal led Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to plan public wolf hunts this fall.

But those plans were derailed Friday when U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Mont., granted a preliminary injunction restoring protections for the wolves.

Molloy will eventually decide whether the injunction should be permanent. That would force the government back to the beginning in its effort to pass management of the animals to the states.

An estimated 2,000 wolves now roam the Northern Rockies, about half of them in Idaho, according to the latest estimate by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"We said there would be no delisting," said Gillett. "We said there would be no hunting. It shows we have been right all along. People are going to see for sure how they have been lied to, and the people who didn't support us on the initiative petition last time ought to be knocking our door down. We consider this a blessing that the judge ruled this way."

Officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have said that if such an initiative gets on the ballot and passes, federal rules protecting wolves would likely overrule any Idaho statutes calling for total wolf eradication.[3]

Local paper posts article in defense of Mayor to be recalled

7/10/2008: Idaho Mountain Express reported last week that Ketchum's mayor, Randy Hall is in danger of being thrown out of office after a recall petition began circulating.

This week the paper's web site posted an article arguing that many of the accusations made by Anne Corrock, who launched the recall campaign, are outright lies.

Read the article here: Idaho Mountain Express: "Recall Petition Based on Lies," July 9, 2008

Petition calls for recall of Ketchum's mayor

7/2/2008: On top of running a city embroiled in heated disputes over large-scale hotel projects and a highly contested affordable housing project, Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall now has to face an even bigger challenge.

A petition to recall Hall from Ketchum's top post was circulated last Thursday and turned into the city the following day with 24 signatures.

The petition was rejected on a minor technical error, according to City Council President Baird Gourlay, but will likely soon be back in City Hall to officially put the proceedings in motion. The petition was created by former Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commissioner Anne Corrock, who listed several reasons behind the recall effort. These included "doubling his salary during a period of a budget crisis" and the "failure to operate city finances within the established budget ordinance." At the beginning of the year, the mayor's salary increased from $1,500 per month to $3,000, the result of an ordinance adopted in August 2007 that also raised the salary for council members from $1,250 per month to $1,666. Idaho state law mandates that the mayor cannot legally raise his own salary—it is a decision that must be approved by the council.

In addition, the ordinance to do so must be in place 75 days before the following election, meaning those who created the ordinance may not actually be the ones benefiting from the increase. In regards to the operation of city finances, it would also be an illegal act for the mayor to spend more than the amount set in the city's annual ordinance to approve the budget.

While Hall was not available to respond to the petition due to a death in his family, Councilman Gourlay quickly came to Hall's defense. "We're not worrying about the city's finances right now and neither should you," Gourlay said to a crowd of nearly 200 at a special City Council meeting Monday night. "The only expenditures outside of the budget I'm aware of were for the Castle Rock Fire. During that time, Randy volunteered between 14 and 18 hours a day with the Fire Department."

"Randy's integrity and work ethic are beyond any mayor I've ever served under," Gourlay said to the crowd. "If you're going to sign the petition, I hope you're ready to serve because there will be a number of us that would drop off—I know I would." To get the recall on the next ballot, Corrock would need to collect 418 signatures of registered voters by Sept. 19. The number is based on a percentage of the number of citizens who participated in the last city election.

According to Cady, for the recall to be successful, there would need to be as many or more votes in support of the recall than originally were cast for Hall back in 2005 when he was elected. This means that at least 503 votes for the recall would be needed. A majority of the ballots cast in the recall vote would also be required.[4]

Bonners Ferry voters to decide on resort tax

6/19/2008: Along with voting for a Presidential candidate in the general election, Bonners Ferry residents will also weigh in on whether they want the city to impose a resort tax on motels when they head to the polls Nov. 6.

Earlier this month, City Council approved a measure that would levy either a bed tax on motel rooms in the city of Bonners Ferry. The levy, which requires 60-percent voter approval, will be placed on a ballot in the general election.[5]

Hailey officials will move forward with Pro-Marijuana lawsuit

6/1/2008: Hailey city officials will continue with their anti-marijuana lawsuit despite an election earlier this week in which the city's electorate approved three pro-pot initiatives for the second time.

"I have no intention of withdrawing it," City Councilman Don Keirn said Wednesday. "The whole purpose of the lawsuit is to get this in front of the court. We need a declaratory judgment, maybe now more than ever.

"In theory, the judge will say this whole thing is illegal and that's the end of it. I'd like to get it behind us."

Keirn, Mayor Rick Davis and Police Chief Jeff Gunter filed a lawsuit earlier this month in Blaine County 5th District Court seeking a ruling on three marijuana reform initiatives that were approved by the electorate last November.

"I have no intention of withdrawing it either," Gunter said Thursday. "Just because it passed twice doesn't mean it's not in conflict with state law and we need to have it resolved."

The three initiatives, one to legalize medical use of marijuana, another to legalize industrial hemp and a third to make enforcement of marijuana laws the city's lowest police priority, were first approved in November. They were approved by voters once again on Tuesday.

Marijuana advocate Ryan Davidson, the man who initiated petition drives to get the initiatives on the ballots, said Wednesday that Hailey city officials should follow the will of the electorate.

"If they don't do that, I think they should be recalled," said Davidson, a former Bellevue resident who now lives in Garden City and is chairman of The Liberty Lobby of Idaho.

In Tuesday's election, the medical marijuana initiative passed with a 58 percent positive vote, up from the 53 percent it received last November.

Also passed was the industrial hemp measure, which received 56.5 percent voter approval, up from the 53 percent it received in the first election.

The police priority initiative was approved at 53 percent, up from the 51 percent it received in the first vote.

Defeated for a second time was an initiative to require the city to tax and regulate distribution and use of marijuana. Forty-seven percent of the electorate voted for the initiative on Tuesday, the same percentage that voted for it in November.

"I think this is just a great expression on how people feel on the issues and they're not going to change," Davidson said. "I was right to do it the first time and I was right to do it again. When the people speak on an issue two times like that, it speaks volumes. I don't think there was any question that they knew what they were voting for this time.

"Now it's tough to ignore the mandate from the voters."

But Councilman Keirn doesn't see the vote as a mandate at all, pointing out that less than 20 percent of Hailey's electorate voted in Tuesday's election.

"We don't have a huge mandate there," he said. "You figure all the numbers and it's not that large."[6]

3 out of 4 Hailey marijuana initiatives pass

5/28/2008: A set of four initiatives aiming to loosen restrictions on marijuana in the Hailey area went to voters Tuesday.

Three out of four passed muster with voters - including questions that would make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority, a measure allowing the use of marijuana for medical use and another allowing the use of industrial hemp.

A measure creating a cannabis regulation and revenue ordinance - which would legalize pot use outright - went down to defeat.

The results match those of a similar round of balloting last year.

Most municipal laws would be superseded by Federal laws outlawing the use of addictive drugs.

Ryan Davidson, an Idaho libertarian, says a renewed vote is necessary because the town's government officials have sued over the ballot measures.

Among others, Mayor Rick Davis says the initiatives break state and federal law.[7]

City of Hailey to vote on legal marijuana

5/27/2008: A tenacious pro-pot activist is taking his bid to legalize marijuana to the polls again Tuesday, saying another vote is necessary because this central Idaho mountain town's officials are dragging their feet on ballot measures passed by voters last November.

The initiatives in Hailey would legalize medical marijuana, give the go-ahead to industrial hemp and make anti-pot law enforcement the lowest police priority for local officers. Voters will also decide whether to legalize marijuana outright, the only one of four initiatives that failed during the 2007 election.

Davis, City Councilman Don Keirn and police Chief Jeff Gunter sued earlier this month in 5th District Court to have the previously approved initiatives declared illegal.

"I knew that the city would pull something like this," said Ryan Davidson, a Boise-area resident who, as chairman of the libertarian Liberty Lobby of Idaho, got the initiatives on the ballot. "It makes it politically less viable for them to do something if they pass twice."

Though the subject of this campaign has raised eyebrows of some in this blue-collar neighbor to upscale Sun Valley and Ketchum just a few miles north up State Highway 75, there isn't a real surge of controversy about Davidson's campaign. For instance, there is no sign of election placards, either in support or against the measures.

Still, government officials, including Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, have reiterated their stance that legalizing marijuana in any form in Idaho breaks the law. The state's top law enforcement agency hasn't wavered from its position that municipalities do not have the authority to repeal state or federal criminal laws.

Last November, voters supported the medical marijuana and industrial hemp measures by about 54 percent, while 51 percent supported making pot arrests the lowest police priority. The initiative to legalize pot sales to adults was supported by only 46 percent.

Davidson expects similar results this time.

"It's kind of an insurance policy," he said. "If I hadn't put them on the ballot again, they probably would have killed them all by now."[8]

Wolf initiative fails to make ballot

5/7/2008: Idaho voters won’t have the chance to vote wolves in or out of the state this fall. A grass roots petition drive aimed at putting an initiative on the November ballot that would call for the removal from Idaho of all introduced wolves failed to collect enough signatures by the May 1 deadline.

Ron Gillett, founder of the Idaho Anti Wolf Coalition, said the petition drive was about 15,000 signatures short of the more than 45,000 needed to land the initiative on the ballot. Gillett, of Stanley, believes his group’s effort was hampered when the federal government removed wolves from Endangered Species Act protection and state’s like Idaho pledged to have hunting seasons.

He vowed the petition will make it on the ballot in 2010. “We fought this thing hard,” he said. “I can assure we are not quitting now.”[9]

See also:Idaho Wolf Regulation Initiative (2008)

Effort to recall Sheriff fails

4/21/2008: A recall attempt against Lewis County Sheriff Phil Steen in northern Idaho has been abandoned.

Terry Jackson, owner of Jackson's Wrecking Service in Kamiah, says he's given up the effort.

The deadline for the recall petitions to be turned into the Lewis County Clerk's office was Wednesday.

Jackson started the petition drive in January after Steen fired the president of the Lewis County Search and Rescue team.

Six other members of the rescue team then resigned, telling county commissioners they couldn't work with the sheriff.[10]

Senate votes on Primary Election bill

4/6/2008. The state Senate voted 20-15 on April 2, 2008, to make public the party ballot choices of voters in Idaho's primary elections.

The House declined to take up the bill before the Legislature adjourned today. But the vote immediately drew barbs from critics who said the Senate should rise above issues of political expediency.

The bill approved by the Senate would have made a public record out of whether voters choose Republican, Democratic or other party ballots. It also would have let Republicans pay for their own primary elections, if they still weren't satisfied.

All Senate Democrats voted against the measure, saying they don't want to change Idaho's primary. They say the GOP allowed an intraparty issue to improperly spill over into the Legislature.

Majority Republicans who voted for the bill said they did so to help GOP Chairman Kirk Sullivan survive a challenge from conservatives who want him replaced at the party's state convention in Sandpoint in June.

Sullivan has opposed efforts by former Republican state Sen. Rod Beck and other members of the party's arch-conservative wing to close Idaho's 36-year-old open primary. Beck's group wants the primary closed to prevent Democrats from switching sides and skewing results in favor of more moderate candidates.

Keith Allred, who heads up the good-government group The Common Interest, had proposed a primary election alternative that would have let Republicans vote in Republican primaries, Democrats vote in theirs and give unregistered independents the choice of either ballot. It didn't get a vote on the Senate floor, despite a favorable recommendation from the Senate State Affairs Committee.[11]

Primary Election Reform Bill is Approved

3/30/2008: The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 4 to 2 on Friday to advance a bill that would record what ballot a voter choses and make it public, if a political party demands it.

The full Senate is considering a separate proposal to confine registered Democrats and Republicans to their own party primaries but still give unaffiliated voters their choice.

Both measures follow a federal lawsuit last year by conservative Republicans who want to close Idaho's primaries, arguing that crossover voters were skewing results toward more moderate candidates.

Rod Beck, who led that failed legal challenge, says the Republican Party would likely sue if either bill passes.[12]

References

See also