Surcharges, silver and safety

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Three beefy topics, and three bite-sized thoughts.

SURCHARGE-A-LOT TO THE RESCUE: Satay restaurant owner Rob Elder, a longtime purveyor of good food in Kootenai County, could use a white knight about now.

Elder’s restaurant on Government Way, Satay, is under attack from patrons who are surprised when they get their bill to see a 3.5 percent surcharge if they’re not paying with cash. The explanation is that the business is simply passing along to customers a fee it must pay for the customers’ convenience of using credit cards.

The problem is probably exacerbated by today’s reality of hidden charges here, there and seemingly everywhere. Have you flown lately? Look at what you’re paying to take luggage with you and being able to sit next to your spouse. The list of charges beyond the stated price is endless, and consumers are losing patience.

Surcharge solution: If charging it makes the most sense, clearly post something on the table or on the menus briefly explaining the surcharge. It’s the unpleasant surprise that’s least appetizing.

LUCKY MONDAY: The Lucky Friday mine outside Mullan, Hecla Mining Company and all its employees, and the Silver Valley turned up winners Monday when union miners voted to accept a fair contract hammered out by Hecla and union leadership.

A lot of acrimony can build up over nearly three years of a strike, but working together toward a common goal can blow it away in a hurry.

That’s the hope: That as miners and company officials join arms to get the Lucky Friday back up to high production later this year, resentments of the past can be buried forever. Happy days are back in the Silver Valley.

BULL’S-EYE BRAD: He learned from one of the very best as Butch Otter’s lieutenant governor for a decade, but Gov. Brad Little takes a back seat to nobody in terms of clearly defined and crisply executed statewide leadership. His State of the State speech Monday was enough to get most Idahoans off their seats with applause.

To reject the governor’s agenda is to prefer illiterate Idaho children and the perpetuation of ridiculous regulations. But Gov. Little no doubt made some North Idaho fingers work on worry beads when he brought up the importance of community re-entry centers for prisoner reform.

Opposition to such a center in Kootenai County appears to dwarf support. But a center does need to find a home somewhere in the region — for economic reasons, if not compassionate ones.

“The cost of investing in proven interventions that help inmates turn their lives around before they reoffend is fractional to the cost of incarceration,” Little said Monday. “We have a choice. We can either invest in measures designed to reduce the demand for prison beds and promote safer communities, or we can do nothing and ensure the next check we write is larger than the last.”

Well said, governor.

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