Reader Quick Hits: May 13, 2020

COVID-19 update: The Idaho Department of Health and welfare added 31 confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus to the state’s total, which is now at 2,234 cases. There have been 69 deaths attributed to coronavirus statewide and 1,508 people have recovered from the disease. Gov. Brad Little said during a weekly COVID-19 update call that the state is working to expand its contact tracing capacity, using $7 million from the CARES Act to fund up to 255 contact tracers, up from 23 available two months ago. Little will hold a press conference Thursday, May 14 to discuss plans to enter stage two of the four-phase plan to reopen Idaho. Submit questions for the governor and his team at or #IdahoCOVID10.


It’s National Prevention Week, an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. Adolescents and full-time college students most often use substances for the first time during June or July, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, making the start of summer an important time for schools, communities, and prevention professionals to re-focus on prevention.

The Idaho Office of Drug Policy (ODP) invites communities across the state to take advantage of this opportunity to raise awareness on substance use and mental health topics, including the prevention of:

  • prescription and opioid drug misuse,
  • underage drinking and alcohol misuse,
  • illicit drug use and marijuana use,
  • youth tobacco use (including e-cigarettes and vaping),
  • and suicide. 


An Idaho group posted information about every Idahoan who has requested an absentee ballot for the May 19 primary – and it’s completely legal to do so as long as they don’t sell the information, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. Idaho Freedom Action – the politicking arm of Idaho Freedom Foundation – has posted more than 280,000 voters’ information on its website. The list includes each voter’s first, middle and last name, street address, mailing address, the date the voter received the ballot and the date the voter returned the ballot. Wayne Hoffman, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, is also president of Idaho Freedom Action, according to the IRS and secretary of state records. 


Idaho state school superintendent Sherry Ybarra is suing the Idaho State Board of Education and Idaho Legislature. The price tag could cost taxpayers upwards of $400,000. Ybarra retained David Leroy as council, whose price tag could be worth $400 an hour. Leroy is a former attorney general and lieutenant governor of Idaho. Ybarra retained Leroy as an attorney on March 31, after what Leroy said she had no choice since Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office declined to take on Ybarra’s case due to what Leroy referred to as “internal state agency conflicts.”

The lawsuit deals with a situation during the 2020 legislative session when lawmakers cut 18 full-time IT and data management jobs from Ybarra’s State Department of Education, voting to transfer them to the State Board. The legislature also shifted $2.7 million from the SDE to the State Board. Ybarra said she was blindsided by the move, and after failing to convince the State Board to override the Legislature’s actions and keep the positions and the money under her purview, filed a lawsuit through Leroy on April 24. In the filing, Leroy claimed the Legislature and the State Board usurped Ybarra’s constitutional authority, claiming that lawmakers were retaliating against her for failing to support a 2019 bill aiming to rewrite Idaho’s school funding formula.


The Sandpoint Lions Club announced May 13 that it would regretfully have to cancel its annual Fourth of July festivities in Sandpoint due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Sandpoint Lions Club annually sponsors a July 4th community celebration that draws a large crowd, beginning with a parade and ending with a raffle drawing and fireworks at City Beach,” the Lions wrote in a statement released May 13. “Unfortunately, after careful deliberation and consideration, the Sandpoint Lions Club Board of Directors voted to cancel our July 4th festivities this year. We are aware this decision is disappointing, however the health and safety of the community we serve is our primary concern. We look forward to celebrating the 4th of July with our community next year.”


While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.