Category: Mr. Newspaperman

Mr. Newspaperman: Reality Show Check

Kuna Melba News, May 20, 2015

“There sure have been a lot of Kunans showing up on tee-vee lately,” said Elmer on the phone.

“I mean, come on. Has Hollywood run out of actors?” he added incredulously.

I told him that I think that most likely it’s the casting directors who are reaching out across America to get a diversity of “real” people finally.

He was quiet for all of two seconds, about the same amount of time for him to take a puff of his cigarette. I could smell the smoke through the phone.

“First you had that fireman on that show hunting for the lost mine. Then just a few weeks ago we find out about that girl who was on that ninja obstacle course show.”

“Right,” I agreed with him. 

“Now you’ve got a bachelor from Kuna trying to woo some bimbos from   Canada,” he said, his voice gaining volume.

“Now we have to wait until next week to find out which harlot is going to be the one this pack of horndogs is going to pursue? It’s not right,” he finished with a sigh.

“So you watched it?” I asked.

“You’re darn tootin’ I did,” said Elmer with a hint of regret.

“One of ‘em dropped her drawers in the water!” he said, the spit hitting the phone. I could hear it splatter.

“I didn’t watch it,” I told him calmly. “But aren’t the two women contestants from last season’s Bachelor and that one of them did skinny dip? Are you sure it wasn’t a clip from last season?”

“Maybe it was,” he backed down. “But the men aren’t any better,” he went on. “One of them is a stripper, another a songwriter which I’m sure we’ll have to listen to some sappy song he wrote in some future show. Another is a superhero named Love Man. You’ve got a guy who kisses plants, a guy who’s a walking pity party, a guy who gave a hockey puck, a drunk with moonshine, an amateur sex coach–likely story–and then there’s Joshua, from Kuna.”

“What’s he like?” I asked.

“Seemed like a good kid,” Elmer surprisingly said. “He gave one of the girls a metal rose so I’m guessing he knows his way around a metal shop. He better. He’s representin’ Kuna.”

While Elmer was rambling on, I quickly searched the internet for details on Kuna’s newest reality television star. Joshua’s bio on the Bachelorette website says he’s a 31-year-old industrial welder with nine tattoos.

“So which gal did the men choose?” I asked Elmer.

“We won’t know until next week,” he said sadly. But if you ask me, I think that Kaitlyn girl should get it. She’s the one who dropped her drawers to go swimmin’,” he said with a hint of sugar in his voice. “But if I have to listen to her laugh once more, I’m going to lose it,” he said. “She sounds like a donkey.”

“Who do you think she’ll pick?” I asked.

“Don’t know,” he said. “If the men are lucky, nobody.” 

Mr. Newspaperman: In Response to the Response

Kuna Melba News, June 12, 2014

I relish the opportunity to educate people on what journalism is and what it isn’t. It seems that some folks have a really warped sense of the art of news. I enjoyed the response (above) by Mitch Coffman, a man hired to defend any inferred or implied insult upon a political organization such as the Idaho Freedom Foundation. But first, I want to address some of the rhetoric that comes straight out the right-wing playbook. Attack the messenger.

As I recall, this is exactly what my article was about, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger When You Aim for the Apple on my Head, May 14, 2014.” In his first sentence, he accuses me of an attack. I assure you, reporting the truth is never an attack. It is defense.

Let me set Mr. Coffman straight. I was simply connecting the dots. I did my research and while the IFF may have great support, both politically and financially from a great deal of Idahoans, they admittedly also receive support from the State Policy Network, a policy organization founded by billionaire Thomas Roe to foster in-state “mini Heritage Foundations” across the country. The SPN’s purpose, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, is to “produce reports, create statistics, draft talking points and ‘expert’ testimony in support of bills… to advance a right-wing legislative agenda in the states under the guise of being a nonpartisan, nonprofit charitable organization.” Coffman says that the IFF shares a common vision with the SPN. He also admits that the news organization,, does work for the IFF.

Coffman says that while is a “source of free market views, it is still journalism.” NO, it’s not. It cannot be. It resembles journalism as much as a turd resembles a teddy bear.

Nowhere, not in Journalism 101, 201 or graduate courses have I ever heard of a legitimate, independent press being able to report impartially from underneath the guidance of policy organization. Nor does any other legitimate media in this state or country. Nor does anyone who has a degree in journalism; perhaps marketing, or public relations, but not journalism.

Coffman claims their reporting can be objective. I say it never can be because of the affiliation with the IFF. The news produced by IR and IFF reeks of political influence in the way that FOX news reeks of the far right agenda. No amount of rosewater is going to make that stink go away. To put articles out, thrown in among other journalism sources only muddies the truth water. Unfortunately, people generally aren’t smart enough or are unwilling to separate propaganda from real reporting. Even I have a hard time discerning between the two sometimes.

People need to know the truth and I will continue to strive to let people know who is behind points of view and why they might be pushing such agendas.

Looking through and IFF’s online blogs it seems they spend a great deal of time attacking other media. Is this the behavior of an impartial journalistic group? No. It’s the behavior of a group attacking the messengers of truth, blurring what is truth in the public’s eye. That only leads to misinformation and a distrust of the media making it easier for propaganda to be digested by the masses.


The following was written by Mitch Coffman, Communications Director, Idaho Freedom Foundation

Don’t let the facts get in the way of writing what you want to write

(In response to Response to Mr. Newspaperman commentary in Kuna Melba News on May 14, 2014)

In mid-May, Mark Barnes of the “Kuna-Melba News” attacked the work we do at Idaho Freedom Foundation, including the work at our news outlet, Additionally, he made false claims about us that deserve correction.

Since its founding in 2009, Idaho Freedom Foundation has received $2.2 million in donations, nearly all of which came from individuals in Idaho, not from wealthy out-of-state benefactors. In fact, we’re humbled by the reality that more than 1,200 generous Idahoans support Idaho Freedom Foundation’s resolve to promote free markets, eliminate government waste and corruption and promote government transparency and accountability. We’ve received more than 2,700 donations during the life of our organization, again mostly from throughout this beautiful state of ours.

Mr. Barnes also insinuates that because is a product of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, somehow our journalism isn’t objective, but rather, propaganda. He apparently doesn’t read our stories much, where we quote from not only people who support our viewpoints, but also politicians and pontificators who perhaps do not. While is a source for free market views, it is still journalism. That’s why weekly newspapers, dailies, radio stations and TV outlets have used stories.

Journalists used to ask tough questions. They used to investigate issues rather than taking an elected official’s word for it. chooses to ask tough questions and investigate issues. We challenge government to prove what it is doing is necessary, is cost effective, does not trample on individual rights, can’t be done by the private sector.

Mr. Barnes does correctly note that IFF is part of the State Policy Network (SPN). SPN members share a common vision of infusing our states with the values of limited government, individual rights, private property and economic freedom. It is no sin to affiliate with like-minded organizations, especially those that support the values on which our nation was founded.

Being attacked by the legacy media is not uncommon for us. Actually, we expect it because we are not part of the media club congratulating each other on what a good job we all are all doing. Meanwhile, Rome burns. Hate to use a cliché here, but … don’t kill the messenger.

We do not mind disagreements, but we are all better served if it is based on truthful reporting, something Mr. Barnes failed to do when writing about us.

Mr. Newspaperman: The Zany, The Kooky and the Wacky, Oh My!

Kuna Melba News, May 21, 2014

Mark Barnes

I love Idaho. I love the zany, the kooky and the just plain weird politics and politicians that bubble up like some fermented swamp gas every few years. Most recently we, and the rest of the country were entertained by the Idaho gubernatorial Republican primary debate. In a few years we’ll still be talking about Harley Brown’s “Proverbial turd in a punchbowl.” Lest not we forget the federal felony that Walt Bayes announced with his admission of shooting a wolf “While it was still on the endangered species list.”

Their closing statements, presented in full on Kuna Melba News’ website, are worthy of dramatic readings backed up by banjos at your next soiree.

But 2014 is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s look back. Shall we?

Moving back in time we don’t have to go very far to remember Senator Larry “Wide Stance” Craig’s arrest for trying to score a little anonymous gay action in a Minneapolis airport restroom. For someone who was so publically anti-gay you wonder what kind of self-loathing he must have. That was zany.

Representative Mark Patterson resigned recently over some little problem he had while living down in Florida. He forgot to tell the Ada County Sheriff about it when he applied for a concealed weapon permit. It wasn’t that big of a deal anyway he said. What was it? Oh, just a little thing called rape. He doesn’t recall it though because of memory issues caused by chemotherapy. But he remembers that the woman recanted. Seriously kooky.

Then we have Bill Sali, who managed to squander an incumbent’s advantage losing after only serving two years in Congress to a Democrat, something unheard of in Idaho politics for 56 years. Perhaps it was Sali’s proposal to repeal the law of gravity which made the speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives say, “That idiot is just an absolute idiot.” Of course, that was more in response to Sali’s allegations that breast cancer was linked to abortion.

Congressman Helen Chenoweth served from 1995 through 2001. Her tenure as a congressman was highlighted by her opposition to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinski despite having carried on a six-year affair in the 1980s herself. She staunchly insisted that she be called Congressman and not Congresswoman, claimed federal agents were invading rancher’s property with  black helicopters and ridiculed endangered salmon by serving canned salmon during fundraisers. The queen of qwacky.

Senator Mike Crapo pled guilty to a DUI in Virginia after being arrested on December 23, 2012. He paid a $250 fine and had a 180-day sentenced waived. Try that if you don’t have friends within the prosecutor’s office.  Oh yeah, he relies on his Mormon base to keep him in office… the same Mormons that aren’t supposed to drink. Crapo want’s you to know that he’s given up drinking.

During the Reagan years, Congressman George Hansen was censured for failing to file disclosure forms and spent 15 months in prison. Apparently, his anti-IRS rhetoric finally caught up with him. He claimed he was tortured with “diesel therapy” where prisoners are transported for days or weeks in vehicles. Hansen ran for re-election from prison and was only narrowly defeated.

And we shouldn’t forget that Sarah Palin attended an Idaho college.

Many folks from both the left and right are embarrassed at Idaho’s inability to keep the kooks out of the news. Many accuse Governor Otter of making a mockery of Idaho by including Brown and Bayes in the recent debate. I disagree. Everyone deserves a voice, even the kooks. And I’m proud to live in a state that not only allows the kooks to have their say in a public forum, but occasionally puts them in to office.

As a newspaperman, it makes my job much more interesting.

Mr. Newspaperman: Winter Olympics

Kuna Melba News, February 13, 2014

I  ran in to Elmer at the local sandwich shop while picking up some grub the other day. While waiting in line before selecting our toppings I took the opportunity to chew on his ear a bit. I knew I could get our genius loci going with just one sentence.

“Are you watching the winter Olympics,” I asked?

I could see him start to bunch up like a snowstorm crossing the Owyhees.

“I ain’t gonna watch that crud,” he blurted. “First off, I ain’t gonna support a bunch of Ruskies by watching their games.”

“Don’t you want to root for our team,” I asked. “U.S.A. has quite a few great athletes and there are many from right here in Idaho.”

“Now don’t get me wrong,” he said softly trying not to let his anger begin the runaway cascade of an avalanche. “I really like the summer Olympics and I think our folks should try to beat them folks from other places. But when you look at it, there’s only one sport at the winter Olympics.”

I got confused. He could see it on my face.

“If you’re good at sliding on ice, then you can win,” he said, visibly proud of his observation.

He could see I was about to defend America’s best.

“Now I look like Don Knotts in a room full of banana peels when I encounter an ice patch, but them youngsters know how to slip ‘n slide around all fancy like,” he said. “You’ve got to practice a long time to get that good. But it’s still all just slidin’ on ice.”

I could see his point about ice skating, not one of my favorites. I think it’s the hours spent during prime time learning about froo-froo costumes and overcoming childhood obstacles on their way to the top that turns me off.

“But what about biathalon,” I said?

“Slidin’ and shootin’,” he responded.


“Slidin’ fast. Slidin’ pretty. Slidin’ curvy. Slidin’ ‘n jumpin’. Slidin’ back and forth. Slidin’ along ways.”


“Slidin’ with sticks.”

My argument with him began to weaken and I realized I wasn’t going to win.

I tried one more.


“Slidin’ rocks.”

I had forgotten my previous lessons learned with Elmer. He may sound a little rural but Elmer had a point under that John Deer hat.

Mr. Newspaperman: Insufficient Craziness Theory

I got my semi-regular call from Elmer on Friday.

“It’s going to get crazier,” he said.

“It already is pretty crazy,” I told him.

“No, them tea partiers are going to go off the deep end I think,” he retorted. “You’re a liberal, you must be because you work for a paper. Didn’t you read your daily bible, The New Yawk Times?” he asked.

I told him I’m far from being a liberal and that, no, I don’t read the New “Yawk” Times unless I happen to come across an article I’m interested in on the internet.

“Well,” he said in a way that I knew I was about to get an earful, “They said to expect the tea partiers to get even more crazy in congress now that their shutdown didn’t work.”

I bit. “Why?” I asked.

“Each time their plans don’t work, they seem to think they weren’t crazy enough. They’re calling it the ‘Insufficient Craziness Theory’ and I think they’re right. Even Dan Popkey over at the Ideeho Statesman thinks so.”

Sitting at my computer, I browsed over to Dan Popkey’s online blog. “Elmer, Dan doesn’t necessarily say he agrees with it, he was just reporting it.”

He snapped back at me. “You know as well as I do if you report it then you believe it. That’s what all you juurneelist do.”

I disagreed, but rather than try to explain to him how journalism works, I paused and waited for him to fill the empty space on the phone. I didn’t have to wait long.

“So what do you think?” he asked.

“I’m not supposed to think,” I replied matter-of-factly. “I’m supposed to present the facts as fairly as I can. That’s what a journalist does.”

Now it was his turn to pause. I could feel his next comments welling up inside him about to explode like Mt. Saint Helens through the phone. Eventually, after 30 seconds, it blew.

“I’m going to bring my front loader down to your office,” he said. “Because you must be clean full to the ceiling with B.S. and you might need a good cleanout.”

I told him that wasn’t necessary but that I generally agreed with him on the Insufficient Craziness Theory.

“It seems to me that all the logical, reasonable options have been tried,” I told Elmer. “The only thing left is for the extreme right to go full crazy. You might keep that front loader warmed up once the next set of debt ceiling deadlines comes up in February.”

“You know I will,” he said.

Ask Mr. Newspaperman: The Water Tower

Kuna Melba News, October 23, 2013

Elmer burst through the front door of the office.

“Have you seen the water tower?” he asked incredulously.

“I’ve been writing about it for months,” I replied. “Of course we’ve seen it.”

He pulled off his gimmie cap, brushed his hair to the side off his forehead and stared at me with concern. Slowly, he repeated himself, “Have you seen the water tower?”

Not knowing what he was getting at I simply asked, “What about it?”

“It has a ‘K’ on it,” he said with the ‘K’ sounding like he was coughing up something deep within his lungs.

I told him we knew that, it had been painted last week as part of the project started by Casey Cobb over at the high school.

“Well who do they think that ‘K’ is for?” he said as he put his hat down on the counter forcefully. “It can’t be so the high school kids can see it. They’d need binoculars from the top row of the stadium bleachers. I almost got in a wreck as I drove in down Meridian Road trying to make out the K on the freshly painted white tower. I thought it was a fly that had gotten in the cab of my truck stuck on the window.”

“What you getting at Elmer?” I said trying to stop him from going on one of his epic rants.

“Well, who’s that ‘K’ for?” he repeated. “When I make the turn on to Linder coming in to downtown I only see half of it. The only place I get a good look at it is when I spray the mud off my truck at the car wash.”

I explain to him that the ‘K’ was painted in that spot as a compromise to point somewhat towards the high school, but still be able to be seen a bit from main roads.

“Well you can’t see it from nowhere,” he argued. “Maybe we ought to put a giant lazy Susan up there and let it rotate around.”

I told him that would cost too much.

“Well don’t be surprised if it moves in the middle of the night. I might just get up there and repaint it myself,” he said.

I told him I didn’t know how he’d do that. Elmer is a bit long in the tooth and I said I didn’t think he could make the climb.

“Well, someone screwed up,” he said in exasperation.

“You can’t please everyone,” I told him suggesting that he needed to file a complaint with the city if he felt that strongly about it.

“Well, just like in Warshington, when you try to compromise it all goes to heck,” he said as he walked out the door.

Mr. Newspaperman: Arbor Day

Kuna Melba News, April 25, 2013

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,

When is Arbor Day?

–A. Tree

Dear A. Tree,

Arbor Day, a day to celebrate trees and nature, is celebrated on different days across the United States. Idaho shares it’s celebration with 26 other states and holds it on the last Friday in April, the most common Arbor Day. This year that date is Friday, April 26.

Forty percent of the state of Idaho is covered in trees so it is an important holiday. This year, the Forest Products Commission is giving away 28,000 tree seedlings at Arbor Day events, Home Depot and at FedEx Office locations. While you don’t have to go hug a tree on Arbor Day, tradition says you should at least plant one.

Did you know that while Kuna is not necessarily known for it’s abundance of trees, it is a designated Tree City USA Community and it has been for 22 years. Of the 67 Idaho cities designated Tree City USA Communities, only three other cities in Idaho have held the distinction longer. They include Boise, Coeur D’Alene and Lewiston.

A Tree City USA is a special designation awarded for a town or city that has met four standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. The city must have a Tree Board or department. It must also have a Tree Care Ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita (that would be about $30,000 for Kuna) and have an Arbor Day observance with a proclamation.

This year, the City of Kuna will be planting trees at Sago Prarie Pond with the sixth grade class from Ross Elementary. Mayor Nelson will also be issuing a proclamation. So plant a tree. Try to plant one that will grow in this area.

Mr. Newspaperman: A Couple of Questions

Kuna Melba News, April 10, 2013

The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
– Paul McCartney

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,
I recently heard that the Kuna Living Center was going to start treating and housing sex offenders. Could you look in to this?
–S.R., Kuna
Dear S.R.,
We did look in to this and the answer is NOT TRUE. After speaking with Scott Burpee, the CEO of Safe Haven Health Care, which took over ownership of the Kuna Living Center at the beginning of this year, he explained that it was only misinformation spread by an alleged disgruntled employee.
In a press release issued by Safe Haven Health Care on Tuesday, April 9, Scott Burpee said, “Kuna Living Center has been, and continues to be, home to elderly and disabled residents in the Kuna area. We have no intention of changing the mission of the Kuna Living Center. Rather, we look forward to offering exceptional services and are excited for all that lies ahead.”
“We believe it is important to point out that Safe Haven Health Care has a variety of facilities throughout the state of Idaho. Our continuum of care model is unique and allows us to serve a wide variety of residents. In addition to assisted living facilities, Safe Haven owns and operates behavioral and psychiatric facilities. But, these facilities should not be confused for each other.”
“We believe that every person deserves to live in a safe and secure environment,” said Burpee. “We are proud of the high staff to resident ratio in all of our facilities and always aim to provide expert care with great compassion.”

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,
I heard that El Gallo Giro owns El Tesoro. Is this true?
–A Kuna Teacher
Dear Kuna Teacher,
The long answer is, “NO.”
We spoke with the owner of El Gallo Giro and there is no connection between the two restaurants. There are no family relations, nor business connections between the two. This year El Gallo Giro will be celebrating their 15-year anniversary. We’ll be doing some stories about them later in the year. To learn about El Tesoro, see the article in last week’s Kuna Melba News. Copies are available in our office at 326 Avenue D in downtown Kuna.


In recent news, both Idaho Senators have signed their names to a letter that threatens filibustering of any gun control legislation. We want to know your thoughts. Go to our website and answer the following poll.

What do you think Congress should
do about gun control?

1. Congress should bring up the vote and enact stricter legislation managing firearms in America.

2. Congress should bring up the vote, but not pass stricter legislation managing firearms in America.

3. Congressmen should use any means necessary to avoid bringing up a vote on firearms control.

4. Congress should leave it up to the states.

5. Congress should avoid it altogether.

Visit to give your answer

Mr. Newspaperman: Name Confusion

Melba Kuna News, April 3, 2013

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,
I saw on your website ( that you are changing your name to Melba Kuna News?

Confused, Melba
Dear Name Confusion,
Last Monday, April 1, a writer named Fraut Stub we had recently hired went rouge. Tapping in to a complex network of underground Russian hackers, he managed to steal the administrator passwords to our website and post an article that was not authorized by the current and in-charge editor Mark Barnes
(Mr. Newspaperman).
This article appeared as breaking news only on our website in which full versions of every article that appears in the newspaper is available to subscribers.
Mr. Stub, claiming to be the new editor, announced in the post that the Kuna Melba News will be renamed the Melba Kuna News. This is incorrect. This newspaper will remain the Kuna Melba News.
There are several other items that Mr. Stub posted that are incorrect.
Our Chief Operating Officer is not April Furst. It is Cliff Wright.
Second, this company has no plans at the moment to expand to the Meridian or Eagle markets preferring to focus on the Kuna and Melba areas for the time being.
Mr. Stub has been temporarily suspended pending investigations in to his actions and will be reprimanded appropriately. Such punishments usually include a one-year hiatus from writing in the newspaper from the date of infraction.
We sincerely apologize for those that were duped by this rouge writer.

Mr. Newspaperman: Why do 24 hour stores have locks?

Kuna Melba News, March 27, 2013

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,

I’m expecting and my husband and I are having a very difficult time coming up with a name for our child. We decided to not learn the gender of our baby and have been trying to come up with gender-neutral names. We were hoping you could help us out.
Anonymous, Kuna

Dear Anonymous,
Having been raised in the more southerly portions of the U.S. I have always been fond of two-name names. Many are used for either boys or girls such as Bobby Jo or Billy Lou but often these names result in teasing. Teasing can make a child tougher though. I tried to name my own son “Sue” after the Johnny Cash song written by Shel Silverstein but my wife put her foot down.
A quick search on the Internet can reveal quite a few great sites for names. Within five minutes I found a site for you. At they have a blog post that addresses the gender neutral question. Using baby name statistics from 2011, they suggest names like Dakota, Justice, Jessie, Phoenix, Finley, Quinn and Sage.
I recommend looking out your window at plants and birds to inspire your choices. Take a look in your spice cabinet. I’ve always thought Curry would be a great name for a kid. A few weeks before my daughter was born I was gazing out my window at my beautiful patch of Zinnias that were growing like weeds. That’s how my own
spawn got her name.

Dear Mr. Newspaperman,
If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day then why are there locks on the doors?
Scott S., Kuna

Dear Scott,
There are locks to keep out the zombies. But, seriously, this question is one of those brain buster type puzzles that motivates one to think of a really stupid answer to give.
You know this is a common question because as one types it into Google search, Google tries to guess what you
are going to ask. The first suggestion after you type
“Why does 7-11…” is
“Why does 7-11 have locks?”
So, you expended more effort to write me a question than it would have taken you to look it up yourself. Here’s the top list of six answers I like.
1.    The name 7-11 originally refers to the hours of operation, 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Therefore, a business would need to lock the doors while it was closed.
2. Convenience store doors are built with locks in them, not custom made without locks.
3. Sometimes the store does close, especially on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving although this is happening less and less.
4. If an employee is by
himself and needs to “go”
then they might need to lock a door.
5. They need to close on occasion to do inventory. They do this in the middle of the night.
6. In the event of a robbery, natural disaster or some other freakish emergency like a zombie apocalypse then the store might need to close for a short while… at least until they restock the gum.

Remember, there are no dumb questions, just dumb answers. Send your dumb question to