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Posts published in “Day: August 19, 2014”

On the state owning businesses

frazier DAVID


The Guardian had a chance Tuesday to ask Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff about his thoughts on state ownership of businesses.
The State of Idaho owns and operates “Affordable Storage” at 450 South Maple Grove, competing with local businesses in a tax-exempt facility.

The businessman and Boise school board member was direct with his answer when he declared, “The state should not own and operate businesses.”

He also proposed that businesses operating in state-owned properties should either pay property tax or a fee in lieu of taxes to local governments.

“Businesses should not get a free ride on the state’s tax exemption,” said Balukoff.

The issue is of particular importance since the Governor sits on the Land Board which administers state land and endowment funds. Those funds are dedicated to education and the current board claims it is “a better investment” to sell off timber and grazing land and invest in rental property and own businesses in urban areas.

The Guardian has written often about the burden placed on local governments and business when the Idaho Land Board purchases rental property–such as 10 Barrel Brewing and more than 20 other parcels in downtown Boise. Those buildings are exempt from local property taxes previously destined to the city, county, schools, and highway districts.

Finishing the debate

malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

Gov. Butch Otter, the longtime “Happy Warrior” of Idaho politics, who prides himself on running “positive campaigns,” has taken on a far different approach against his Democratic challenger, A.J. Balukoff. And Otter is going against political scripture in the process.

Republicans are supposed to cater to the rich while Democrats promote class warfare. What we’re seeing here is a wealthy Republican governor attacking his challenger, a successful businessman, for having too much money and spending large sums to finance his campaign.

“Help us beat our multi-million dollar Democratic opponent,” Otter says in a fund-raising appeal. “(Balukoff) has already started radio and television ads spending roughly $625,000 in the month of August. We need to stop him from buying this election with his self-funding campaign.”

Otter raises much of his campaign funds the old fashioned way – through lobbyists. Otter’s head cheerleader is the powerful Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, which bills itself as non-partisan and usually caters to rich businessmen like Balukoff. But in this campaign, IACI has opened a website ( that lashes Balukoff for standing with President Obama and liberal Democrats.

There’s one big flaw with the premise. Balukoff says he supported Mitt Romney in the last presidential election and contributed generously to his campaign. That hardly makes sense for Idaho’s leading Democratic torch carrier at the moment, but as Balukoff says, he doesn’t care much for partisan politics.

A few things brought up by the Otter campaign are true. Balukoff is a multi-millionaire who plans to spend “what it takes” to get his name and message out statewide. If it takes more than $1 million out of pocket, then so be it.

“I am in this campaign to win,” he said.

Balukoff is taking the right path in this political environment in which money means everything. He cannot rely on the “free media” to run his press releases or cover town hall meetings – as Sen. Russ Fulcher found out in his unsuccessful challenge to Otter in the GOP primary. Balukoff is making many of the same points as Fulcher did regarding the economy and lack of leadership. The difference is Fulcher didn’t have the money to flood the airwaves with his message; Balukoff does.

It’s odd that IACI is putting so much effort into this race, because Balukoff is on the organization’s side on several issues – even more than Otter in some cases. Balukoff says he supports IACI’s positions on a constitutional amendment to reduce the two-thirds voter approval for passage of school board levies, Medicaid expansion and the state health exchange. He stands with IACI in support of Congressman Mike Simpson’s proposal for the Boulder White Clouds wilderness. Otter, by contrast, firmly stands with IACI on only one of those issues – the state health exchange. (more…)

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)

Debate over Boise school district teacher endorsees (Boise Statesman)
A look at Steve Yates, new GOP chair (Boise Statesman)
New Asotin sheriff will be Clarkston cop (Lewiston Tribune)
Major tax increase at Moscow (Lewiston Tribune, Moscow News)
Airport expansion may force move for WSU piece (Moscow News)
Blocks razed in downtown Caldwell, to redevelop (Nampa Press Tribune)
Report says Yellowston notably prone to quakes (Pocatello Journal)
Times News sets governor, superintendent debates (TF Times News)
FAA descusses flaws in Burley airport (TF Times News)

Full stop on center at Glenwood (Eugene Register Guard)
Big TV ad buy for legal pot initiative (Eugene Register Guard, KF Herald & News)
Summer has been unusually hot (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath schools send bond to ballot (KF Herald & News)
State kills coal export at Boardman (Portland Oregonian, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Fund for water projects gets organized (Pendleton E Oregonian)

Navy's Hood Canal easement may be illegal (Bremerton Sun)
OR turns down coal terminal at Boardman (Kennewick Herald, Longview News)
Cantwell definding import-export bank (Kennewick Herald)
Criticism over new PUD executive contracts (Longview News)
Wildlife return to damless Elwha (Port Angeles News)
Former Seattle police chief to King deputy (Seattle Times)
Downtown Spokane skywalk approved (Spokane Spokesman)
Will federal rules result in more tribes? (Tacoma News Tribune)
Drug paraphernalia must go under counter (Vancouver Columbian)
How do Democrats vote in all-R 4th CD? (Yakima Herald Republic)
Fires still burn around Kittitas county (Yakima Herald Republic)