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Posts published in “Day: February 19, 2014”

The importance of predictability

carlson CHRIS


If you have ever wondered why so many business leaders say they cannot trust units of government, whether local, state or federal, to keep their word and deliver the sine qua non of heavy investment - a safe, secure, predictable business environment, look no further than Bonner County in north Idaho.

The County is currently in court with a high-end developer of upscale hangar-homes, which contain living quarters and private planes or helicopters, on property adjacent to the Sandpoint Airport. Called SilverWing at Sandpoint, the project developers have a legitimate beef with the county that falls under the umbrella of government providing a predictable business development environment.

While SilverWing is a client of my daughter Serena’s strategic communications business, as one who started and built a small business of my own, and as a taxpayer, this being jerked around by a governmental entity is the kind of inconsistent behavior that also truly angers me.

Like any prudent developer, SilverWing did their due diligence and acquired all the required permits from both the city of Sandpoint and Bonner County before building a model home, laying out the streets and putting in the required infrastructure for water, electricity and sewage.

Altogether the owners spent over $5 million developing the site, which may very well be the last of its kind in the United States because the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to adopt a policy recommending against such developments at public airports. The FAA however, well aware of SilverWing, in effect grandfathered it in prior to the adoption of this policy.

So what’s the problem? For reasons hard to fathom, the Bonner County Commission reversed field and has effectively placed a cloud over further sales of these ever-increasingly valuable hangar home-sites by publicly speculating that they might not grant homeowners access to the main runway from the development.

Of course, if the County persists in this stance, it would also be blocking missionary and backcountry high-performance plane builder Quest its access to the main runway because Quest uses SilverWing’s taxi­way and runway access.

Thus far, Bonner County has spent in excess of $1 million taxpayer dollars trying to defend this indefensible mid-stream shift. SilverWing understandably is trying to protect their investment but has made it clear that they would welcome a negotiated settlement that allows them to remove the cloud the county has placed over their project and to proceed. Thus far, Bonner County, through its high priced California law firm, has rebuffed any overtures, despite having so far lost every motion they’ve made for summary judgment or any other legal maneuvering.

SilverWing, for its part, is utilizing the legal services of Boise-based Givens Pursley. When depositions are held, SilverWing sends one attorney, but Bonner County’s team can and often does consist of five or more attorneys and county employees. I’m sure the California attorneys are enjoying cutting the fat hog they think they see in their government contract with Bonner County.

Here’s a prediction though from a non-lawyer, though: The county is holding a losing hand and, when it comes time to pay the piper, the cash-strapped county may be facing bankruptcy if it has no insurance that will cover it in case it loses.

Someone, somewhere in that Bonner County courthouse better start reining in the county’s spendy ways and better start thinking through some “what-if” scenarios.

A little common sense should lead all parties to the conference table and a negotiated settlement fair to all. In the meantime, the next time you hear some businessman say one can’t trust any level of government to keep its word, recount to them this classic example being perpetrated in Bonner County.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Big story of the day in:
ID - State Senate votes for guns on campus
OR - Water levels
WA - Big snowfall in Cascades

Otter directs ISP to investigate CCA (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
Oregon minimum wage draws workers (Boise Statesman)
Hatcheries targeted by lawsuits (Boise Statesman)
ID Senate votes for college campus guns (TF Times News, Lewiston Tribune, Pocatello Journal)
Lewiston High upgrade considered (Lewiston Tribune)
Whitman County lost ballots (Moscow News)
Moscow won't write legislature on gay ordinance (Moscow News)
Nampa Development Corporation board dissolved (Nampa Press Tribune)
Growth in house sales high (Nampa Press Tribune)
Variance approved for Pocatello mosque (Pocatello Journal)
Fired coach keeps teaching certificate (Pocatello Journal)
Eric Anderson won't run for House again (Sandpoint Bee)
Crapo advises legislature on rules amendment (Sandpoint Bee)
Idaho high on Obamacare enrollment (TF Times News)
Protesters at Filer's city council (TF Times News)

Witham Oaks battle continues (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Cover Oregon site partly open (Corvallis Gazette Times)
OSU hosts bee-pesticide quarrel (Corvallis Gazette Times)
OR Senate would ban local pot bans (Salem Statesman Journal, Corvallis Gazette Times)
Rob Patridge runs for Klamath DA (KF Herald & News)
Still low water in Southern Oregon (KF Herald & News, Ashland Tidings)
Ashland enhanced water connection (Ashland Tidings)
Medford teachers strike, still (Medfor Tribune)
Some water levels rise (Medford Tribune)
St. Anthony Hospotal to be torn down (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Stanfield considers public safety fee (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Portland averts teacher strike (Portland Oregonian)
Bill on class action finances (Portland Oregonian)
Long-range Metro planning map released (Portland Oregonian)

Everett gets 777X wing project (Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald)
Employees at Denney juvenile center sue (Everett Herald)
Sea stars being wiped out (Everett Herald)
URS whistleblower dismissed (Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz, Weyerhaeuser made land deal (Longview News)
School superintendent at Kelso quits (Longview News)
New port exec director negotiations (Port Angeles News)
Wildlife concerns about dock plan (Port Angeles News)
Big snowfall in Cascades (Seattle Times, Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Adjunct professors may unionize (Seattle Times)
Help for immigrants at colleges, to gov (Spokane Spokesman, Vancouver Columbian)
ID Senate oks campus gun bill (Spokane Spokesman)
Lawmakers on medical, recreation pot markets (Tacoma News Tribune)