Crime, punishment and paydays

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It’s Chat Day, where we talk about everything and nothing.

Notes and quotes, a little of this and a little of that.

Normally this one is a lot of fun, but I’m a little upset as we start today’s conversation.

You probably saw Matthew Gwin’s story in the Monday paper about former Marine Stan Spain, his frightening time in Vietnam — and now his unhappiness with the government over lack of care for victims of PTSD.

Spain is right on target, but I have another gripe that involved his deployment to Southeast Asia.

Remember, he was one of the Marines who replaced the 72 killed when their transport plane en route to Vietnam crashed after takeoff from El Toro Marine Air Station in Southern California.

It turns out those Marines who died in the crash are not honored with their names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Why not?

They were trained for combat and headed for combat. They weren’t off for a beach holiday.

If that plane had crashed while landing outside Saigon, certainly their names would be on the wall.

Those men died as casualties of the war.

Did the Department of Defense decide the plane had to be in a certain airspace to justify calling them victims of the conflict?

The decision was wrong, pure and simple.

ITEM: A few readers have written to ask why the bench warrant for fugitive Lori Isenberg was set at $500,000.

Just like me, they assumed that the amount attached to the warrant would match Isenberg’s bail, which was tagged at $75,000 and covered by Quick Release Bail Bonds.

Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy getting your mail — but if you have a question for The Press about law enforcement or the court system, the man to ask is reporter Ralph Bartholdt.

So that’s what I did.

Here’s Ralph’s explanation of the $500,000 bench warrant handed down by First District Judge Scott Wayman …

“(Isenberg) lost the $75,000 according to a legal agreement between herself and the bonding agency.

“When she’s brought back, her new bond amount will be $500,000.

“It matters to bail bondsmen because the higher the bond, the more money they make — and to the court, because a high bail is somewhat of an assurance the person will either show up, or not be released from jail.”

On behalf of anyone else who was puzzled, a deep bow to Ralph.

ITEM: Applause to everyone involved with contract negotiations that will keep our school districts up and running.

These things are not a cinch, as teacher strikes in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky and Arizona have proven.

It’s worth noting that West Virginia teachers got a 5 percent raise as a result of their walkout — a more substantial pay hike than any Kootenai County district gave up in settlements.

Two things jump out here …

First, the process called interest-based bargaining (IBB) seemed to keep all sides on a proper track toward results that worked for both boards and staff.

Each side begins by sharing its interests rather than setting down proposals, the traditional bargaining method.

It worked, so bravo all around.

But second, let’s not take anything for granted.

We still rank near rock bottom in teacher pay, and neither the Legislature nor the Idaho State Board of Education seems wildly enthused about finding enough cash to change the status quo.

With more growth — and demand for an educated workforce — filling the horizon, we simply can’t afford to see good teachers heading to Washington or elsewhere for fatter paychecks.

Something to remember.


Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press. A Brand New Day appears Wednesday through Saturday each week.


Twitter: @BrandNewDayCDA

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