Monthly Archives: May 2016

Group Wants Federal Hate Crime Charges, Changes to State Law, in Nelson Death

The group ‘Better Idaho’ wants federal hate crime charges filed, changes to Idaho state law, following the beating death of Steven Nelson last month. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley has more. (1:13)

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Police say 49 year old Steven Nelson of Nampa was robbed and beaten on April 29th near Lake Lowell. He later died of cardiac arrest. Four men have been charged in the case.

Nelson was gay and the Canyon County Sheriff says the attack against him was planned. The FBI and the Idaho US Attorney are investigating Nelson’s death to determine if it qualifies as a hate crime.

Jordan Brady, research director for the group ‘Better Idaho,’ spoke at a press conference at the State Capitol Thursday that was also live on Facebook, and said the petition asks Idaho’s U.S. Attorney to file hate crime charges against the four men.

Brady said Idaho’s law related to hate crimes was drafted in 1983 and doesn’t cover gay or transgender citizens:

Jordan Brady: “It’s unfortunate that we have to seek help from the federal government for this case when Idaho should be capable of protecting and bringing justice to its own citizens.”

‘Better Idaho’ wants to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the groups covered by Idaho’s malicious harassment laws.

The petition carries 1,533 signatures, 1,078 of those from Idaho.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Online:

http://www.betteridaho.org/

Posted May 20, 2016

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U-Idaho Spring Commencement: “If Not You…Then Who?”

More than 1,300 students were eligible to receive degrees from the University of Idaho in Moscow this year. Commencement ceremonies were held Saturday. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:02)

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As always, commencement began with a procession on campus, down University Avenue to the Kibbie Dome. When the graduating students got there and took their seats, they heard from UI alum Brigadier General Erik Peterson, Class of  1986, who urged them to be involved:

General Peterson: “And when you hesitate, or inevitably ponder the easier, disengaged, un-involved path, please consider this question: If not you, the world’s educated elite, those who benefit from relative prosperity and security, free in person, speech, and idea, then who?”

Procession1

UI’s commencement by the numbers: Approximately 1,337 students graduated from the Moscow campus, and they are eligible for 1,392 degrees. Moscow graduates have applied for 1,074 baccalaureate degrees, 54 law degrees, 41 doctoral degrees, one specialist degree and 222 master’s degrees.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Copyright 2016 Idaho Public radio

Posted May 14, 2016

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Otter, Ybarra Criticize Transgender Directive

State officials in Idaho are criticizing a directive from the Obama Administration Friday to all public school districts around the country to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and lockers rooms that match their gender identity.

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(Idaho State Capitol, file photo)

“This vast overreach by the Obama administration once again shows the federal government’s disregard for states’ rights and local control of our schools,” Idaho Governor Butch Otter said in a press release.

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra agreed. “This is yet another example of an extreme top-down approach that won’t change day-to-day bathroom use,” Ybarra said in a prepared statement. “Schools in Idaho are already following bathroom procedures set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Idaho schools and communities know their students best, and know that each individual students’ needs are unique,” Ybarra said. “Our schools and communities will continue to meet those needs in a manner which is respectful and supportive to all, regardless of their situation.”

The directive came from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, and it it also discusses issues including pronouns and gender references on documents.

“This federal ‘guidance’ dictates solutions to very personal and sensitive matters that should be left to local school administrators, school boards, teachers, parents, students and communities,” Otter said. “This action creates needless concern and confusion for students, parents and educators.”

The directive does not carry the force of law, but it does suggest that districts that do not abide by it could face lawsuits or even the loss of federal funding aid.

“Threatening to withhold federal Title IX funding for failure to comply with this offensive attempt at social engineering only harms our children,” Otter said. “It is unwarranted, unprecedented, and unacceptable.”

“Shame on this administration for using our most vulnerable students and threatening the loss of Title I money in a time when funding for education is already a tense topic, especially for our over 70% rural school districts,” Ybarra said.

“We will explore every available option to ensure that the rights of all Idaho students are protected and that the citizens of Idaho maintain authority over our public education system,” Otter said. “I do not believe this Washington, D.C., power play will withstand the legal challenges that are sure to come.”

Posted May 13, 2016

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Reducing Human-Caused Fires in Idaho

With fire season upon us, BLM Idaho is asking for help in preventing human-caused fires. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley has more. (:50 )

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Historically, less than half of wildfires in Idaho are caused by people, but that wasn’t the case in 2015. BLM Idaho says that last year, almost 60% of BLM fires in Idaho were human-caused.  84 fires burned over 31,000 acres.

BLM Idaho State Director Tim Murphy has signed the 2016 Fire Prevention Order; the order prohibits specific fire-related activities on BLM public lands in Idaho from May 10th through October 20th.

The order specifically prohibits discharging, using, or possessing fireworks;  discharging a firearm using incendiary or tracer ammunition; and  burning, igniting, or causing to burn explosive materials, including exploding targets.

Murphy says the goal of the annual fire order is to reduce the number of unnecessary wildfires.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Online:

2016 BLM Fire Prevention Order

http://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/id/fire.Par.93019.File.dat/BLM_FirePreventionOrder_2016%20(1).pdf

BLM Idaho on Facebook

Posted May 12, 2016

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Is It Bourbon, or Rye? Can You Tell?

Bourbon is often described like smooth caramel, while rye is called dry and brash. But a new study from Washington State University says the average consumer cannot distinguish between the two. Idaho Public Radio’s Sarah Laurion has more. (:50)

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In both pop culture and whiskey educator circles, bourbon and rye are held to be distinctly different.

WSU assistant professor Tom Collins says that while there are differences between rye and bourbon, they aren’t nearly as different as we think they are. Collins says that in a blind test, it’s really hard to tell the difference.

Research done by Collins and other scientists has found that when asked to blindly sort American ryes and bourbons, participants were more likely to group together products by brand, rather than by type of whiskey.

The only legal difference between bourbon and rye products is their grain content. Bourbon must be fermented from a mash that is a majority of corn, and rye from a majority of rye. Otherwise, the legal and stylistic requirements for the two products are the same.

For Idaho Public Radio, I’m Sarah Laurion reporting.

Online:

Read the research-

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1750-3841.13301/full

Posted May 10, 2016

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Judicial Elections: “It’s a Real Conundrum”

On May 17th, Idaho voters are being asked to make a major choice between four candidates running for an open seat the Idaho Supreme Court. The very notion of casting votes for judicial candidates has long been debated, all around the country. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:01)

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It is a real conundrum, University of Idaho Professor of Law Elizabeth Brandt says, this idea of voting for judges:

Elizabeth Brandt: “You know, in the federal system, we have a system of appointing judges, with lifetime  tenure and guaranteed salary, and there’s just this huge, ongoing debate, about what’s a better system. In the state system, we want our judges to be non-partisan, we don’t want them out there campaigning, for obvious reasons– they’re going to have cases that come before them, and we don’t want judges who have pre-decided those cases, or who are beholden to interests that would affect those cases.”

But of course campaigning, Brandt says, can help us know what the candidates are about and helps us to be informed about who’s most qualified to be on the bench.

Many people, she says, believe the appointment is the solution to those concerns, but Brandt says we’ve all seen the politicizing of the appointment process in the federal system.

It’s a topic, she says, that can really be debated.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Online:

Idaho Supreme Court

http://www.isc.idaho.gov/

Idaho Secretary of State Elections Page

http://www.sos.idaho.gov/elect/

Copyright 2016 Idaho Public Radio

Posted May 9, 2016

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A New Direction for Vandal Football

by Wednesday Walton

Idaho Public Radio

Sports Desk

The University of Idaho announced on April 28th that the Vandal football team will accept an invitation to join the Big Sky Conference, pending State Board of Education approval, starting in the fall of 2018.
The announcement came at a press conference where UI President Chuck Staben, Athletic Director Rob Spear, and head football coach Paul Petrino all spoke.
President Staben said that he believe that this is best possible choice for the football program and the university’s student athletes.
“I understand the magnitude of this decision and the strong opinions that surround it, both for and against, but joining the Big Sky Conference is the best possible course for our athletics program and for our university,” Staben said. “We have carefully weighed our options and concluded that competing as an independent with an extremely uncertain future conference affiliation would be irresponsible when we have the alternative of joining one of the most stable FCS conferences. The Big Sky allows us to renew traditional rivalries and offers our athletes the opportunity to excel, just as they do in our other Big Sky sports programs.”
“The Big Sky Conference is excited about the University of Idaho joining the league in football,” outgoing Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton said. “We think that, given Idaho’s DNA of excellence, they will make our football programs better, and our football product better.”
Fullerton says adding Idaho into the Big Sky will add regional appeal. Many anticipate the Big Sky will divide into two-7 team leagues in football, but the new, incoming commissioner, Andrea Williams, hasn’t committed to any scenario publicly. She begins on the job July 1.
Earlier this spring, the Sun Belt Conference announced that it would move to become a 10 team conference starting in 2018, and would not renew the football memberships of Idaho and New Mexico State. The various possibilities for Idaho up until the April announcement were to wait for an invitation from another FBS conference or to go independent.
Staben said that Idaho has always been one of the lowest resourced FBS teams and therefore has struggled to achieve a winning record during its time in the FBS. He believes that in order to become successful enough to affiliate with any FBS conference would entail unjustifiable, unsustainable expenditures. He said that competing as an independent with an extremely uncertain conference affiliation would be irresponsible when Idaho has the alternative of joining one of the most stable FCS conferences.
The hope in Moscow is that the move to the Big Sky will bring back area rivalries, such as Montana and Eastern Washington.
”We are extremely motivated to compete in the Sun Belt for the next two years and then align with like institutions that make geographic sense in the Big Sky Conference that will provide our student-athletes with a quality experience,” Spear said.
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The move to the FCS will require the football program to reduce its scholarship count from 85 to 63. Asked by reporters about the possibility of Idaho needing to drop a women’s sports team to comply with Title IX rules, Rob Spear said at the press conference that “as of right now we will not be dropping any teams.”
There is currently a two year plan in place to prepare for the adjustment in scholarships going into the Big Sky in 2018. Although there was no definite description of this plan given to the press during the meeting, Petrino said that if the plan goes accordingly, the Vandals will have their scholarship situation squared away and they will be playoff eligible their first year in the conference.
As far as transfer rules for any players that want to leave as a result of decision, Staben said that the NCAA has contacted the U of I and stated that normal transfer rules still apply for current student athletes. This means that if a football player wishes to transfer, he will face the penalty of losing a year of eligibility.
Staben anticipates that those student athletes will stay here and will want to stay here to participate in the great football program that Coach Petrino runs and the academics they are engaged in.
Moving into the Big Sky also has its ramifications regarding money making games against Power 5 conference schools. Future games including Florida, LSU, Missouri, and Indiana may need to be reevaluated. According to Staben, Idaho has been very upfront when discussing this possibility when scheduling with these schools.
Head football coach Paul Petrino said that throughout this entire process his focus is on the upcoming fall season and graduating his student-athletes. He said that the football staff told the team about the decision the morning before the press conference and he said he plans to meet with every player throughout the rest of the week and into the next.
The reaction from the public, boosters, current athletes, and alumni has been mixed. Staben believes that eventually everyone will be on board with this move.
A ‘Welcome Letter’ from the University of Montana was printed as a ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
The last time Idaho was in the Big Sky Conference was in 1995. The following year the program moved up to FBS into the Mountain West conference.
The University of Idaho has posted additional information about the move on its web site. The link includes video from the press conference and the report prepared by the university’s consultant (link below).
President Staben discussed the move to the Big Sky in a column he wrote for InsideHigherEd.com (link below). “I think our situation has potential implications for dozens of universities that play big-time college football and says a lot about the state of college athletics,” Staben said in the April 29th column.
Online:
U-Idaho informational page-
President Staben’s column–
Copyright 2016 Idaho Public Radio
Posted May 8, 2016
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