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Cheers and Jeers

Cheer

Cheers to the Jerome County commissioners, who continue to pursue plans for the Snake River Canyon Park, a vision for the land north of the canyon to the interstate.

The board has formed a seven-member steering committee that includes representatives from Twin Falls and Jerome counties. Commissioner Roger Morley and Southern Idaho Tourism liaison Kellee Traughber will assist.

The park has been in the works for more than a decade, but complicated land swaps with other government agencies slowed the vision. Now, with some of those obstacles sorted out, commissioners hope to move sooner than later.

It’s a good thing, too, because the site is getting increasingly dangerous. People already flock to the area to shoot guns, ride off-road vehicles and, well, make a complete mess of the space. Garbage is building up fast, and with no designated spaces for shooting and riding, commissioners are worried it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Establishing the park that accommodates everyone would be huge boon for the region. We’re confident the steering committee finally has the personalities who can work together to make it happen.

Jeer

Jeers to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, for the second week in a row. This time, the governor appears to have a total lack of understanding about a bill he just vetoed.

The issue is civil asset forfeiture, laws that allow police to seize personal property, including cars and cash, from people suspected in drug crimes. As the law stands now, police can seize property even if you’re not charged with a crime. A Times-News investigation into the practice last year revealed several cases where police seized property after finding only small amounts of marijuana on suspects.

A bill passed with bipartisan support this session would have kept civil asset forfeiture on the books in Idaho but established important safeguards to ensure the laws weren’t being abused by law enforcement. Otter vetoed the bill last week.

“Misdemeanors, especially in drug (crimes) is for personal use,” Otter said Tuesday on Nate Shelman Show on radio station 670 KBOI . “If you’re trafficking, it is a felony. It’s the felony that triggers the asset forfeiture.”

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Problem is, that’s simply not true.

Otter also said that, while law enforcement does seize property before a conviction, it returns the property if the crime turns out not to rise to the level justifying a seizure.

That’s also not true.

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“It’s very alarming that the governor is so woefully misinformed about how civil forfeiture really works in Idaho,” said Institute for Justice lawyer and Nampa native Dan Alban. “The fact that the governor vetoed a bill that would have shined a light on this abusive practice speaks volumes.”

Is it too much to ask that the governor understand the current laws and a bill’s implications before he issues a veto? In Idaho, maybe so.

Cheer

Cheers to the FBI, who this week confirmed to the Times-News that it is joining the investigation into one of Burley’s most notorious unsolved crimes.

In 1995, 14-year-old Regina Krieger’s body was found on the banks of the Snake River weeks after she disappeared. A blood trail led from the teen’s home, and her body was found with the throat slit and stab wounds to the heart.

Rumors swirled for years after the murder, but no one was ever arrested.

Now, the FBI says there’s new evidence in the case, although it’s not clear what the new leads are.

Nevertheless, we’re pleased law enforcement hasn’t given up hope solving this terrible crime. For the girl’s family and the community’s sake, we hope the renewed efforts can finally bring the perpetrator to justice.

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