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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of  October 17 - 23, 2001

  Opinion Column

The two worlds of snitches

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

They’re known variously as whistleblowers, snitches, canaries, finks or tattlers, and usually share a common fate: they’re treated as outcasts for squealing on wrongdoing.

That is, except when we really need them.

The FBI is now offering up to $5 million in reward for the capture of each of 22 terrorists now on the "most wanted" roster — meaning, the nation will lavish millions on snitches.

But the federal government isn’t so generous or appreciative with those who blow the whistle on errant behavior at home.

Time and again, whistleblowers who have exposed fraud and mismanagement in government either have lost their jobs, been unceremoniously demoted, brusquely forced into retirement or otherwise ostracized as social wretches.

Many, however, regained their reputations and some semblance of compensation after taking their bosses to court.

Comes now the case of 54-year-old Yellowstone National Park ranger Bob Jackson, who’s been ordered to shut up or else.

Jackson’s crime? He publicly criticized hunting guides for placing salt lick just south the park’s southern boundary line in Wyoming to lure elk outside where they can be legally shot.

Once again, a whistleblower is being treated like a leper, rather than praised.

Sworn as he is to protect wildlife inside Yellowstone Park, Jackson has revealed a scurrilous technique for shooting elk, one that true sportsmen should abhor.

But instead of condemning the subterfuge of baiting elk, Jackson’s bosses seem to prefer silence.

Jackson has been a seasonal backcountry ranger for 23 years, and now wonders whether he will even have a job next year.

The craziness of 21st century life:

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani angrily returned a $10 million donation to the city’s relief fund from a Saudi prince because he criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (which the State Department also criticizes). But the mayor hasn’t refused the $90 million in taxes the prince pays to New York on U.S. business interests (such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Four Seasons hotels).

If California is a trendsetter for the rest of the nation, note this new law:

Before developers of major projects get approval from cities or counties for construction, water resource agencies must certify that there’s adequate water available for at least 20 years for new residents in projects.

Legislators enacted the law after officials discovered no new water reservoirs had been built since the 1970s — yet California had added 10 million new residents.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.