Monday, August 3, 2015


In 1970 Wallace's basketball team was known far and wide as being made up of great football players. We were playing the Coeur d'Alene High School Vikings on their home court. The Vikings had a great basketball team composed of great basketball players. Imagine that. They did have one great football player, Loren Schmidt, who was also a good basketball player. One Viking was 6' 6" tall. Bob Blum and I were a shade over 6 foot and we were the tallest on the Miner team. Bob and Hugh Marconi (Hugh may have actually been a little taller than either Bob or I now that I think about it) were both basketball players, but their abilities were far overshadowed by the rest of the Wallace players who were great, well fair to middling any way, football players.

The game was going about the way one would expect a basketball game between football players and basketball players would go. It certainly was going in the manner that the Vikings planned. They were up about 70 to 28 at the break between the third and fourth quarters. Coach Norm 'Punchy' Walker (his nickname, quietly used so as to not draw attention, is because he was a former national collegiate boxing champion) was discussing the situation with us in the 'huddle'. He was 'politely' explaining to us that we would have Hell to pay if they scored 100 points. (Norm before taking over the reigns of the Wallace High School athletic program had been the highly successful coach of the Mullen High School basketball team in the 60s...quite literally one of the very best, if not the best, high school basketball team I have ever seen) Thus we implemented the 'Patented Wallace Stall'. I say 'patented' because it was a planned stall, one that Coach Walker had taught us to use when we were far ahead (a rare occurrence), but which we modified extemporaneously that night. 'We' figured that it was a sure fire, can't miss, way to keep them from reaching the century mark.

The players on the court thought things were progressing quite well until, with about 30 seconds left in the game, Coach Walker called a time-out. That seemed to us out on the floor executing the Patented Wallace Stall as being more odd than the usual type of  'strategy'.  When we got over to the huddle, Coach Walker simply said look at the scoreboard. The Vikings had 98 points. Enough said.

Back out on the court we again commenced the Patented Wallace Stall. The ball whipped around the perimeter and ended up in Hugh's capable hands. When Hugh got the ball, he made several textbook pivots and he was double-teamed, maybe even triple-teamed. He was in the proverbial 'pickle'. At that moment a strange look of calm came across his face. It caused the rest of us on the floor, who had a 'front row seat' to begin to twitch and sweat profusely. We had seen that look before on Hugh and we had no idea what he had cooked up.

With 5 seconds left Hugh pivoted one last time, this time towards the Viking basket at the other end of the floor. None of us dared to breath. Somewhere a baby cried and a woman screamed. The Viking fans were going WILD; they wanted 100 points. Then as if in slow motion, Hugh leaned over and...rolled the basketball ever so tantalizing towards the Viking basket. None of the Wallace players moved, the twitches were by now violent shakes and puddles of sweat were accumulating around each of our feet, but all of the Viking players sprinted towards the basketball as it was rolling towards their basket.

The quickest of the Vikings reached the basketball with just two ticks left on the clock. I know because one of my eyes was firmly locked on the player and the basketball and my other eye was firmly locked on the game clock.  As he grabbed the ball the clock ticked again. He straightened, it seemed extraordinarily fast, to launch a shot from about the free throw line. Just as he prepared to shoot...the buzzer sounded! Game over!

The Wallace team collectively started to breath again and, ever quick thinking, without any sort of signal or gesture, we all simultaneously seized the moment and we proceeded to give each other 'high-fives'. We then marched, casually, off the floor...victorious. Each team member, heads held high and flashing huge smiles, basked in the cries of anguish and nashing of teeeth coming from the Viking fans and team! The scoreboard indicated that the Vikings had won the game but everyone, especially the Wallace players, knew who had really won. Hugh had turned potential agony of the wrath of Coach Walker into a celebration!

Monday, March 9, 2015

This is the preface to the real story!

March 8, 2015 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Business-friendly, worker-mean

 The Spokesman-Review
Would you sell a hand for a hundred grand if it were vital to your career?
Under workers’ compensation, which covers damage to your body and future lost wages, losing the use of a hand is valued at $37,400 in Alabama and $738,967 in Nevada. In Washington, it’s worth $106,440, and in Idaho, $102,317. The average for all states is $144,930, according to an investigative report by ProPublica and National Public Radio.
How about a leg? On average, one of those goes for $153,221, but just $118,226 in Washington, and a measly $75,790 in Idaho. How about an eye? Would you sell one for $42,576 (Washington) or $66,316 (Idaho)?
Lobbyists and interest groups visit legislatures every year to hold forth on reforms needed to make workers’ comp business-friendly. But, according to the ProPublica/NPR investigation, the real victims are workers and the American taxpayers.
“They call them reforms,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., adding, “That’s a real insult to workers.”
Like wages, pensions and health care benefits, workers’ comp has fallen victim to the labor market’s race to the bottom. The issue for businesses isn’t that the situation has improved for them over the past quarter century. It’s that they can cut a better deal elsewhere if states won’t give in to their demands.
“That was always the No. 1 issue,” said state Sen. Brian Bingman, Republican president pro tem of the Oklahoma Senate. “Your workers’ comp rates are way too high.”
Since 2003, 33 states have reduced benefits or made them harder to qualify for. Some states have cut off benefits before workers recover.
As a result, workers’ comp insurance rates for employers are at a 25-year low. In 1988, the national average was $3.42 per $100 of workers’ wages. Last year it was $1.85. In Washington, the burden has dropped from $3.81 to $2. In Idaho, from $3.42 to $1.85.
Employers disregard the big picture and hone in on the differences among states, and legislators go along. But this merely shifts costs from the private sector to the public sector. A leaky workers-comp basin causes more injured Americans to spill over to the Social Security disability system and government health care programs. Then conservatives in Congress complain of increased federal spending.
ProPublica/NPR also found fraud in workers’ comp, mostly on the employer side, such as misclassifying workers and undercounting payroll for lower insurance rates. Plus, insurers and employers have teamed up to take away more medical decisions from injured workers and doctors. Under a 2011 Montana reform, insurers can choose workers’ doctors and change them at any time. In 2013, Georgia ended lifetime benefits, cutting them off after eight years for most cases. So workers with artificial hips and joints have to pay the full cost of replacements.
The reach of workers’ comp is further diminished when you consider another development: the hiring of “self-employed” workers, who aren’t eligible for benefits. This has become commonplace in construction, a high-injury career. Many workers aren’t aware of the label’s significance until they’re seriously hurt. Then they face financial ruin.
Comparatively speaking, Washington has a humane workers’ comp system. But in the name of business-friendly, some states have become worker-mean. We should not, in good conscience, challenge them to a race to the bottom.
death spiral. Workers’ comp erosion is like the tax break issue. Relocating businesses play one state against another. One wins, one loses. Research shows there’s no net gain for the U.S. economy, but it does lower government revenue. In turn, the safety net for struggling Americans is shredded.
Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

If You Don't Want to Speak to People--You Don't Have to Speak to Them--

If You Don't Want to Speak to People--You Don't Have to Speak to Them--But don't Complain about having to speak to people when speaking with people is part of your contract of employment. 

Right or wrong, the NFL is an amazing financially successful business. Its financial largeness provides the means whereby various franchises are able to pay enormous sums of money to its players to entertain the public by playing football. Marshawn Lynch's contract is a reported annual salary of 7.5 million dollars. Richard Sherman's contract is a reported annual salary of 14 million dollars. Doug Baldwin's contract is a reported annual salary of 4.33 million dollars. Lynch was fined $50,000 for not speaking with the press as required by the NFL rules. This fine was held in abeyance (not collected) in anticipation of his future cooperation. However, Lynch did not cooperate, he refused to follow the NFL's rules again and, under the NFL's rules, e.g. his contract, he was fined another $50,000. Because he did not cooperate the first time, under the NFL rules and his contract, the NFL also collected the $50,000 fine it had not yet enforced. Sherman and Baldwin held a press conference yesterday ridiculing the NFL's rules and requirements for NFL players--the same rules and requirements that directly led to their being able to be paid such enormous sums to play football. My suggestion to Lynch, Sherman and Baldwin--If you don't want to follow the NFL's rules and regulations regarding speaking to the press--stop playing football--stop accepting millions of dollars to play football. That will solve your problem because when you take this simple action you will not be required to speak with anyone and--that will be real easy because--nobody will want to ask you any questions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lofty Goal?

The interview with the new Cda Chief of Police in the Cda Press on Sunday reported that his goal was to make the Cda police force the best in north Idaho. Holy that is going to be a real test of commitment!

Okay...Watch out Spirit Lake et. al.  You will no longer be #1 in north Idaho!

One other tidbit reported was that the C-O-P believed that the city and citizens were ready to move on from Arfee.

Well good luck with your goal and your prognostication.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Brief Explanation of How The Patriot Act Protects Each and Every One of Us!

So I received a message that my credit card company wanted to speak with me. It was investigating “suspicious activity” on my credit card and I needed to call them back. I did. I grew suspicious when the person answering the call was barely able to speak any English. She wanted specific information but, since it has been a long day, I told her I wanted to speak to her supervisor. I was transferred to someone who had even less ability to speak English. I asked this person where she was located and I was informed that she was in Costa Rica. Hmm, I said to myself, someone is calling about “suspicious activity” on my credit card and I get someone who can at best barely speak English? I told the person I wanted to speak to someone in the United States. I was put on hold and after a while the person came back on and said she was going to transfer me to “Alena”. I asked where is “Alena” located. I was told “Eurasa”. When “Alena” got on the phone, always interested in geography, I asked her; "Where is “Eurasa” located? She told me that “Alena” had said “United States”. I laughed... and said….”No.” She said that she was in Richmond Virginia. Then “Alena” asked me for the same information and I repeated the history I have set forth above, and told her “No”. I asked her to explain why it was that they called me, they left the last for digits of my account number, they asked me to call them back, and now, that I have called them back just like they asked, they tell me that I have to give them information to identify who I am. She said that under the “Patriot Act” they had to follow this procedure. I really laughed with this new tidbit of information. I was so impressed that the Patriot Act was concerned about my credit card account, that I told her to give me the precise citation to where in the Patriot Act they are required to demand and I am required to give someone from Costa Rica specific information for me to get information about my account. She responded by saying, well we did call you, and you called us back, sooo if you will give us a working telephone number to call you back on, we can do it that way. I gave her my office number and she did call back and, you guessed it, there was nothing she identified that would fall under the category of “suspicious activity”. I guess, perhaps, that the moral of this story is that it is not a good idea to call me on a Monday afternoon from Costa Rica?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

There is a Difference

Most attorneys who represent injured persons are attempting to build life rafts for the injured persons and his/her family.

Most attorneys who represent defendants against claims brought on behalf of injured persons are attempting to blow up the life raft.

It is important to recognize that the term "most" applies because these statements are only true  99.9% of the time.

It is also important to recognize that in 99.9% of the personal injury cases the reality is that-- defendants = insurance companies.  The 'named' defendant, the negligent person and/or corporation who caused the injury, is nothing more than a bystander whose interests are literally of no concern to the insurance companies. The insurance companies only, literally only, interest is money...saving money. For example, some insurance companies actually pay the persons who determine how much money to pay an injured person a bonus. These persons are called 'claims adjusters'.  A bonus could make sense until it is recognized  where the bonus comes from. The bonus comes from a percentage of the amount of money that the claims adjuster doesn't pay the injured person. For example:
1. Claims adjuster evaluates the person's injuries and determines a 'value' to place on the claim. For our purposes, lets say $100,000 is the value of the claim. The accountant then moves this amount from the general fund and, on paper, puts it in what is called a 'reserve account'.
2. Claim adjuster 'negotiates' with the injured person and gets him/her to agree that the claim is really only worth $50,000 and the claim settles.
3. There is $50,000 left in the 'reserve account'.
4. The insurance company has a set bonus percentage. For our purposes lets say it is 10%.
5. The accountant moves $45,000 from the 'reserve account' back to the general fund and then moves $5,000 into the claims adjuster's bonus account. The bonus is disbursed to the specific claims adjuster at regularly scheduled intervals or as a 'Christmas Bonus'.  To me, naming the disbursement of the bonus as the 'Christmas Bonus' is, well lets just say, inappropriate.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


As the 4th approaches we are confronted with a constant barrage of articles in the papers and stories on TV telling everyone that fireworks, except in some cases 'safe and sane' fireworks, are illegal. Sure.
1. These articles/stories influence people to not buy and 'set-off' fireworks. Check.

It is against the law for persons to text while driving. Sure. Everyday when I drive around town and to and from work, I always see at least one and usually two or three persons who are sending texts while driving.
1. The law making it illegal to text while driving is effective. Check.