Of, By and For the Legislature -- It's another first for Idaho: Last week, a vote by the Legislature made the state the first in the U.S. to repeal term limits.
Term limits aren't necessarily a good thing, but some North Idaho lawmakers' justifications for their votes bordered on the loopy. Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint) voted to overturn a 1994 citizen initiative that enacted term limits out of a "desire to keep the power of the ballot box with the people."
In other words, citizens who voted for term limits must be protected -- by having their vote thrown out.
The Mayor's Report Card -- After Mayor John Powers was given a C+ for his first year in office by our five community critics in the Jan. 24 issue, we wondered how he'd take it. After all, he seemed like the kind of guy who'd get grounded by his parents for a B-. He left us a voice mail the other day, letting us know how he intends to handle the situation:
"From high school to college to law school, I always started with a couple Cs. But I always managed to graduate with honors, and I intend to do the same thing in the mayor's office."
60/40 -- The city says it needs $50 million in bonds to begin tackling Spokane's broken roads. The 60/40 numbers are what the March 12 bond measure election needs to pass. Sixty percent of voters must approve the bonds. Forty percent of the number of voters from the previous election must cast ballots to validate the vote, according to elections officials.
In real numbers, city leaders must convince 17,302 people to vote on March 12, and 10,381 of them to say yes.
Picking Thieves' Pockets -- Total criminal fines will only contribute about $317,000 to Spokane city coffers this year, according to 2002 budget estimates -- and the vast majority of that amount is from traffic misdemeanors.
Violent felons, in other words, aren't coughing up as much as those of us making illegal left turns. And how much are honest citizens paying? More than $40 million for city police, courts, prosecutors and public defenders. Maybe it's time for judges to levy harsher fines against criminals. Bankruptcy for a violent felon doesn't seem an undue punishment.
Cheerleader-in-Chief -- We're at war, in recession, the business world seems to be a house of cards and we're rolling back civil liberties -- yet the state of the union is strong? Okay.
We're just wondering, how is it a State of the Union address if every president since Reagan just gets up there and says the state of the union is strong, no matter what? Why take the national pulse at all if we already know it's just going to wind up the same every time?