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For the week of Nov. 10, 1999 through Nov. 16, 1999

Shooters, polluters, solicitors and Willis watchers

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Now that voters have rescued the Blackjack Ketchum Shootout Gang from the worst fate of amateur thespians—canceling their act—will the Ketchum City Council demand changes in the Wagon Days shootout they discussed weeks ago?

Organizers wanted the shootout cancelled because it’s painfully short on showmanship and long on grown men playing with guns as well as risky: some gunslingers brandish harmful weapons after guzzling booze to steady their nerves.

So, why not tap some of the best known gun handlers hereabouts who also know something about showmanship—actors Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood or Arnold Schwarzenegger—to teach the shootout gang how to perform?

Bringing a touch of Hollywood’s professional gunplay to the Wagon Days shootout by stars of Die Hard, Terminator or Dirty Harry would be an instant improvement.


One devoutly hopes that Ketchum councilman-elect Maurice Charlat is a man of his word.

Charlat upset Ketchum Councilwoman Sue Noel with his sloganeering about "change" in government, without specifying what "change" means.

One welcome "change" would be this—Charlat’s promise to never again plaster utility poles and fences with his last minute hand lettered campaign signs that amounted to visual pollution.

Charlat also should read the preamble to the city’s "dark sky" ordinance, which eloquently expresses the town’s opposition to light pollution. It could apply just as easily to visual pollution of political signs.


I’m not alone in the disgust with phone solicitors who interrupt dinner hour tranquility with spiels on behalf of organizations with law enforcement names.

After my Oct. 27 column about the Idaho State Fraternal Order of Police receiving as little as 36 cents on the dollar from a professional fund-raiser, I learned the Better Business Bureau of Boise is investigating so-called "badge" charities.

BBB executive director Nora Carpenter invites information about such solicitors, either by e-mail to the BBB’s website,; by phone, 800-218-1001; or letter, 4619 Emerald, Suite A-2, Boise 83706.

Also, an apology in connection with that column.

I clumsily wrote that the Idaho attorney general’s office "was of no help." Not true.

Deputy attorney general Michele Butts, who keeps an eye on charity solicitations, had no information about my specific inquiry, but otherwise was expansively helpful with background on law and explaining investigations of "badge fraud."


The nighttime caller was the female producer of BBC radio’s early morning news show in London. A radio friend in Phoenix suggested she talk to me about Dan Quayle’s withdrawal from the presidential race, since I’d watched Quayle for years from my perch as an Arizona newspaperman.

"You live in Ketchum, right?" she asked. "That’s near where Bruce Willis lives," she said without pause.

Which proves that London news people not only know their American geography but are just as fascinated with Bruce Willis as Dan Quayle.

Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.


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Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.