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Thank You, Mayor Fuhriman

October 16th, 2007 by Halli

In a departure from the tone of previous posts, tonight I wish to publicly thank Mayor Fuhriman.

According to News Channel 8, last week the Mayor informed his former boss, Police Chief Kent Livsey, that he would not be reappointed to the position.

Today, Fuhriman and Livsey each spoke at separate press conferences.

Livsey announced his resignation, and will be on paid administrative leave until official resignation in January. Apparently he began clearing out his office last week. Said Livsey,

During my career, I’ve been shot at, I’ve been stabbed, and I’ve been beat unconscious and I just want to tell you this is much harder than any of that was.

After last week’s discussion with the Mayor, Livsey cited a difference in management styles as a reason for the parting of the ways.

And as a former police detective serving under Livsey, Mayor Fuhriman should know what he’s talking about.

At a separate news conference, Fuhriman announced the Chief’s resignation, claiming there was no wrong doing on the part of Livsey. Then he named Idaho Falls Police Captain Steve Roos as interim Chief of Police until Livsey’s resignation is final, at which time Roos will assume the full title and responsibilities.

First let me say that Livsey’s departure has long been coming. His “management style” has not set well with police officers or some city councilmen. There have been complaints that his decisions have not been sufficiently transparent, that in some cases he has disciplined officers too harshly, and in other cases not responded to accusations of police misconduct.

And let’s be honest – this action by Fuhriman is in agreement with the words and opinions of former city councilman Larry Lyon. You remember Larry – the controversial man with whom Fuhriman never wished to appear to agree. Lyon recently resigned his city council seat in order to run for a different council seat. Perhaps Fuhriman felt he could safely take action against Livsey at this time without appearing to align himself with Lyon. But that is a topic for another post.

And, of course, there was that embarrassing situation with the former city prosecutor, Kimball Mason, who stole a number of fire arms from the police evidence room on Livsey’s watch.

Personally, I have respect for Chief Livsey as a parent, knowing his children to be outstanding young men. However, I have found the Chief himself to be less than forthcoming, and somewhat arrogant. I have also found Livsey a little disrespectful of personal freedoms on some issues. For instance, just last week he announced he would attempt to outlaw using a cell phone while driving in the city. But that also is a topic for another post.

Second, I commend the Mayor for selecting a new chief from among the ranks of the Idaho Falls Police Department. I have always felt “national searches” for local positions are a slap in the face to hardworking employees who are essentially told there is no possibility of advancement in their hometown. Such hiring practices usually result in the selection of individuals who do not know our city or our state, and who often wish to remake their department over in the image of the organization they’ve just left – not always a good idea.

That is not to say that hiring locally is always a good idea. I could cite other city departments where that practice has been a mistake, but this is a topic for yet another post.

From all appearances, Captain Roos has conducted himself in an honorable manner, and earned the respect of his fellow police officers, including the Mayor.

Interim Chief Roos commented that he would be restructuring the police department organization to eliminate some of the upper management positions, calling the department “top heavy”. He also intends to improve the way officers patrol the city.

So, kudos to Mayor Fuhriman for having the intestinal fortitude to let Livsey go. As mentioned earlier, it’s been a long time coming. And kudos for appointing his replacement from within the Police Department itself.

These actions appear to be in keeping with one of the Mayor’s campaign promises, namely to carefully inspect city departments with the goal of increasing efficiency, maximizing the use of city tax dollars, and downsizing where necessary.

Good choices, Mayor. I hope you are just getting warmed up.

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Posted in Idaho Falls Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Idaho Falls’ “Sorry” Mayor

August 21st, 2007 by Halli

Yes, it’s true. Jared Fuhriman IS sorry. Today’s Idaho Falls newspaper headline reads: “Mayor Sorry for Storing Bong”.

To catch out-of-the-area readers up to date, Mayor Jared Fuhriman stored 2 boxes of marijuana pipes and other drug paraphernalia from the police evidence room in his home. When a member of the police department, Fuhriman used the items to “educate” parents in the D.A.R.E. program.

On August 12, Fuhriman’s 19-yr-old adopted son, Peyton, and 2 other men were cited for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to use. One of the men told police the “foot-long bong” came from the mayor’s house.

(However, it wasn’t actually the newspaper that broke this story – it was idahofallz.com. [Check out comment #26 dated Aug. 15, 5:04pm, on “Conversation with the Mayor”]. And, by the way, why DID it take the newspaper 9 days to report this story? Was the information intentionally buried at the police department? Was this special treatment for Police Chief Kent Livsey’s boss, who just happens to be a former police officer? Or is this just another example of the incompetence at the Idaho Falls newspaper?)

At any rate, now the mayor is “sorry”. And he should be.

There are few who would cast the first stone at Fuhriman and his wife for having a child who has most certainly behaved in a manner contrary to their teachings. This is a family tragedy in the making. It can happen to any parent, regardless of time and effort spent teaching children the difference between right and wrong. We can only hope the Fuhriman family is able to deal with this problem and move forward.

However, there are very serious questions which must be asked about Mayor Fuhriman’s judgment in storing items from the police evidence room in his home for 15 years.

Have we so quickly forgotten the Kimball Mason case? Mason was convicted of stealing guns from the police evidence room, as well as falsifying public documents. Mason was given a one- to five-year prison term in May, 2006, and a three- to 10-year prison term this March.

Can it really be true that Fuhriman never thought of the boxes of drug paraphernalia stored in his home as Mason’s case became a public scandal? Did it never occur to Fuhriman that it is dangerous to store such items in a home with children present? How could he “forget” items he borrowed from the evidence room?

Remember that an audit of the police evidence room was conducted in August, 2006, as a result of the Mason case. Police Chief Livsey never told his officers to “bring everything back”? As mayor and chief executive of the city, Fuhriman never thought of his own “evidence”?

And what other embarrassing items will be found missing from the Idaho Falls Police evidence room??? Whatever surfaces, don’t expect to read about it in the Idaho Falls newspaper.

In conclusion, Idahoans in general, and residents of Idaho Falls in particular, tend to be forgiving and allow elected officials (at least some of them) the benefit of the doubt when mis-steps are made. However, given the context (and results) of the Mayor’s “oversight”, perhaps a more firm approach is called for.

And how does this incident reflect on the city of Idaho Falls?

I am quite confident that to unbiased outsiders, Idaho Falls appears woefully behind the times.

The newspaper has egg on its face. Again.

Chief Kent Livsey looks incompetent.

And the Mayor looks, well, sorry.

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Posted in Family Matters, Idaho Falls Issues, Politics in General | 2 Comments »

Idaho Falls Newspaper Can’t Have It Both Ways

August 14th, 2007 by Halli

In a previous post, I pointed out that the Idaho Falls newspaper appears to be losing it’s grip. It failed for several days to report important local news about convicted former county and city prosecutor, Kimball Mason. And it placed the story about the Minneapolis bridge collapse on page 5 the morning after it occurred.

In response to complaints about their coverage, the newspaper’s acting executive editor, Monte LaOrange, states that:

While the Post Register strives to have a complete, daily balance of nation, world, regional and local news, we will almost always run local stories and stories of local interest in the most prominent positions.

Yes, remember that the above-the-fold story on August 2nd, the day after the bridge collapse, concerned an Idaho Falls High School graduate working to overcome bacterial antibiotic resistance. This is a story that, while well-written, had probably been completed and in the hopper for several days, if not weeks. Not really “new” news.

Yet today we find on the front page articles entitled “NASA conducts tests to assess shuttle gouge” and “Rove was good, bad and did it smugly”, both fresh national stories. (Granted, neither was “above the fold”.)

Come on, newspaper. You can’t have it both ways.

Why don’t you just admit that you hate to mess up the front page when you have it “put to bed” after deadline?

And admit that when there isn’t much local news, you grab some national headlines and stuff them on the front page. The make-up of your front page is driven to a large extent by what is already written, and what fits the available space.

Perhaps there’s a little laziness revealed here.

And your readers will admit that you are becoming much less relevant – and much more like the weekly “feature” newspaper that has very little to do with daily life in southeastern Idaho.

Local television stations are doing a much better job of keeping up on local news, though they are unable to deliver the depth that a newspaper can.

It’s tough for a newspaper to be shoved aside by more immediate news sources. At least you have company, as newspapers across the nation shrink in advertising revenue and readership.

But, then again, you could always offer another “75% off” sale on subscriptions to some of your readers, while the rest pay full price.

That’s sure to keep ‘em happy.

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Posted in General, Idaho Falls Issues, Politics in General | 9 Comments »

Idaho Falls Newspaper Losing Its Grip?

August 2nd, 2007 by Halli

It’s a paper – but is it “news”?

Idaho Falls newspaper readers used to expect to read actual news in their paper – you know, events happening locally, in the nation and around the world. Recently, discriminating readers who have access to other news sources must ask if the paper has abandoned it’s traditional role.

Two cases in point:

Recently the Idaho Falls paper neglected to report a request for leniency by former county and city prosecutor Kimball Mason, convicted of corruption, until several days after the fact. The Pocatello television station apparently broke the story at least one if not two days earlier. (Though KPVI has the story dated July 25, I read it on their site on July 24. The paper reported it on July 26.) See related post.

And today, when national news stations and internet news sites are crushed under burgeoning stories of the 6:10pm, MDT, Minneapolis bridge collapse, the Idaho Falls paper relegates the story to minimal space on page 5.

Huh?

I can hear the newspaper editorial staff now: a bridge collapse in Minneapolis is hardly news in Idaho Falls.

I beg to differ, for a variety of reasons.

First, every motorist in the nation drives over bridges every day, with nary a thought to their structural integrity. We trust our government engineers implicitly. Failures like this are only supposed to happen in third world nations. Perhaps we are not safe on our roads and bridges.

Second, every American must admit to at least the fleeting thought that this disaster may have been caused by terrorists. We are currently being assured that this is not the case, but certainly in-depth investigations will take months, if not years.

It is possible, indeed, likely, that some Idaho Falls residents have lived in Minneapolis, and/or have friends or family there. They, of course, are very anxious for news on the tragedy.

And finally, there is the basic human interest element when cars, pedestrians and cyclists are unexpectedly plummeted into a large river, and the resulting rescue operation commences.

In defense of the newspaper, today’s front page stories are of some local interest: a graduate of an Idaho Falls high school works to conquer bacterial antibiotic resistance; the police department takes bids on firearms in the evidence room (since Kimball Mason is no longer helping himself to them), and – SURPRISE! – the Boy Scouts are 100 years old. (The newspaper has a long-standing history of hatred of the Boy Scouts of America.) But nothing with the urgency of a bridge collapse. These stories were written and submitted hours or days before last evening’s disaster.

Still, many Idaho Falls residents must be scratching their heads this morning. Is it laziness on the part of newspaper workers, who must “put the paper to bed” before they themselves can go home? Is it misjudgment? In the case of the Kimball Mason story, is it failure to adequately gather the news? Is it simply an acceptable liability of printing an early morning newspaper? Or are newspaper employees so insulated from the outside world that they failed to gauge the enormity of the Minneapolis catastrophe?

Whatever the cause, more and more local residents will be turning to other sources for their news. And perhaps that is a good thing.

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Posted in General, Idaho Falls Issues, Politics in General | 2 Comments »

Consequences Tough to Take for Kimball Mason, “Poster Boy for Corruption”

July 24th, 2007 by Halli

Interestingly enough, Mason gave himself this descriptor. Having been convicted of 6 felony counts of grand theft and forgery in March of this year, Mason was sentenced to a minimum of 3 years and up to 10 years in prison, in addition to a sentence for earlier charges. Mason was accused of altering judges’ orders, forging judges’ names, and stealing evidence from the Idaho Falls police evidence room.

Mason has served as Bonneville County prosecutor as well as Idaho Falls City prosecutor, during which time there were numerous complaints about his arrogance and seemingly unethical behavior. But few expected his crimes to be quite this serious. Apparently, appearances were not deceiving in this case.

Personally, I’ve been gleefully singing “He’s in the jailhouse now…” around the house for months.

But now that his prison term has commenced, Mason instructed his attorney, Ron Swafford, to petition Judge Woodland to let him out of jail. No surprise here – apparently this is common in such cases. However, it is particularly revealing to examine the reasons Mason feels he should be let out after serving only a fraction of his minimum sentence, as reported by Newschannel 6, KPVI.

Of course, Mason only has the best interests of others at heart. His absence from the crowded Idaho Corrections system would free up space for more deserving criminals (that would be all other criminals). Mason would be happy to perform community service (I, for one, don’t even want to see him picking up trash along the highway). And finally, it is clear that his absence from home is causing “severe mental and emotional damage to his minor children.”

The last reason is certainly the most compelling, as no one likes to see innocent children suffer for the crimes of their parents.

But the bottom line is this: actions have consequences. True, for years Mason acted with impunity, but his “luck” finally ran out. He even confessed to some of the crimes, once cornered. And now he is trying to dodge the consequences of his actions.

What a difficult lesson for every human to learn! An individual may choose his actions, but he cannot choose the consequences. Whether you choose to defy the laws of physics, the laws of the land or the laws of God, there will be consequences. Short of extraordinary circumstances (which some would call luck), you will suffer (or enjoy) the results of your choices now, or in the future.

Besides irate Idaho Falls taxpayers, Mason’s children and other family members are the real victims of his crimes. Too bad Mason didn’t consider them while he was pilfering from the evidence room, or stamping a judge’s name on a document. Over the years Mason was committing his crimes, I wonder if he gave any thought whatsoever to the impact his actions would have on his family. If he truly cared for them, he would have kept his nose clean.

Sadly, it is also true that the innocent often suffer the consequences for the actions of others. But if Mason is kept in jail to serve his rightful sentence, perhaps his children, at least, will learn the relationship between actions and consequences, even if he never does.

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Posted in Family Matters, Idaho Falls Issues, Politics in General, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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