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Posts published in “Frazier”

Attitudes on growth

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In a respectful “town hall” meeting at Boise Fire Station #4 on Ustick Road Wednesday night, speaker after speaker told the Boise Mayor and Council they were tired of the growth or the rapid pace of growth.

Describing idyllic scenes of the past being blotted out with high density apartments, about 90% of those speaking complained of speeders and traffic on State Street or Hill Road, begged for slower growth, bemoaned the loss of the “character” of Boise, “cringed” at the rank of fastest growing city, complained about the high cost of housing, sought to have some restrictions on developers who are flush with money from California, and the impact of high prices in the downtown area for everything from omelets to parking.

To no one’s surprise Bill Conners of the Chamber of Commerce praised the council for all they have done to stimulate growth and attracting businesses to Boise.

There were a handful of activists outside brandishing signs urging restraint of growth.
 

Almost April, uh . . .

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It looks like the local politicos have seen the light and are working quietly toward forging a strong bond with voters over local issues. The GUARDIAN is happy to report some of the developments.

Boise’s city councilors have sent a letter to the United States Air Force at Mountain Home, “Respectfully requesting,” that the city of trees not be used for war games by F-15 fighters practicing urban warfare with laser beams.

In Meridian, Mayor Tammy de Weerd was also busy at her letter writing desk. She informed the owner of the private-for-profit Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine she is withdrawing the annual $250,000 payment from the citizens of Meridian.

Ada Commissioners yielded to open space advocates around the Dry Creek area saying, “We realize the value of open space and the burden placed on the community resources such as highways, schools, and infrastructure when new homes are built far outside city limits.”

Over in Canyon County, Commish Tom Dale admitted the three-person board had been trying to figure a “work around” of voters who have repeatedly rejected funding for a new jail. The commishes are set to work with voters toward a jail expansion near the existing facility. Dale quipped, “if they were smart enough to elect us, we should be smart enough to listen to them.”

Idaho’s legislators have agreed to limit public retirement benefits for legislators based only on the stipend they get while serving. Lt. Gov. Brad Little said, “The practice of doling out political appointments for these sponges has to stop. They don’t deserve cushy $95,000 jobs for a few years just to pad their retirements.”

Even in Washington the senate and congress are working on a campaign finance law that will eliminate mega payments from special interests and limit TOTAL campaign spending to no more than $100,000 for Congressional races and $200,000 for the Senate. Sen. Mike Crapo confided to an insider, “Frankly I am ashamed to have accepted the millions of dollars in payments based on my position on the banking committee.” He is planning to donate his “war chest” to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”

The local TV media has also jumped aboard the Ethics Train. KBOI TV 2 news staff has vowed to ignore orders from Sinclair Broadcasting to air conservative slanted segments like the “Terrorist Desk.” Over at KTVB TV 7 they have agreed to scrap plans to put a church steeple and cross atop the studio.

Finally, the IDAHO STATESMAN announced they will no longer send the daily paper in installments from Twin Falls to those few remaining subscribers.

If you believe ANY of this, consider yourself just another APRIL FOOL. Apologies for the timing due to weekend.
 

Still valid

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We cannot stress it strongly enough. The citizens of in Idaho are empowered by the State Constitution to control the purse strings of public debt.

Boise City and Team Dave have once again launched a public relations blitz to create support for a $70 million edifice to replace the main Library on Capitol Blvd. near the river. The question before Boiseans is quite simply: “DO YOU WANT A BEAUTIFUL BUILDING OR GOOD LIBRARY SERVICE?”

Nearly a dozen years ago the GUARDIAN offered up a common sense plan to provide first class library service to ALL of Ada County and share the costs. We once again offer up our sound advice which includes a vote of the people for a consolidated Library to serve Boise, Meridian, Garden City, Eagle, Star, Kuna. There is an existing “consortium” of libraries which does a good job sharing assets and talent.

SEPT 2011 POST:

Before Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and his Team Dave go too far politicizing libraries, he better talk to the hardworking folks who make it all work.

The GUARDIAN has been working below the radar to come up with a plan for a county-wide system of libraries in Boise and we can assure you it involves ALL citizens who understand and value the services and rewards of a good library system.

People in Boise, Meridian, Garden City, Eagle, Star, and Kuna are all residents of Ada County. We should have just one library and Boise should NOT be the 900 pound gorilla.

Insiders at all levels–BPL staffers, Ada Community Library, and several 35 year library veterans–tell us the best thing we can do is have a COUNTY-WIDE LIBRARY. One former staffer tells us the State Library favors county libraries and they work toward such systems.

Guess what? TODAY, through a “consortium” of libraries that runs from Caldwell to Twin Falls and even to Hailey, you can use a Nampa library card to borrow a book in Boise and return it to Hailey when you are finished. Or any combination of transactions at those libraries.

If we consolidated just the Ada libraries we could have a greatly simplified system and EVERYONE would share in both the costs and the benefits.

As it is now, Boise residents are getting hit unfairly in the pocketbook and Team Dave wants to build more libraries–he just doesn’t know how to fund them. The library law provides for consolidation with–A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE! We need to get this rolling before Boise gets a debt load or committed to one program without exploring consolidation.

Because Boise annexes beyong its ability to provide services, they PAY other libraries toprovide services to Boise residents. HOWEVER, users (insiders call them “patrons”) from those districts can use their cards in Boise for free.

Without getting into a debate about what libraries should offer, we feel computer access is absolutely essential. The days of card files and 10-year-old encyclopedias are gone. Today’s libraries offer traditional printed books alongside videos and access to just about any information on earth through the internet.

While Team Dave was busy offering up an ill fated and outdated $38 million library bond, the worker bees in the library business continue their efforts at making services available to library types everywhere.

We already share the books, how about sharing the control, funding, and costs countywide and we would all pay just once?

Since the original post, Team Dave wisely opted for neighborhood libraries. Two are new stand alone buildings and two are store front remodels in shopping centers. Good effort, good results, and it was all done out of pocket change in the city budget with no bond debt or solicitation for donations.

The current $70 million plan has plenty of hoopla, a “world class architect,” the usual drawings and color photos in the Daily Paper, but no word on where the money will come from to pay for the dream.
 

Trump budget keeps A-10

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News reports coming out of Washington seem to have given new life to the A-10 “Warthog” close air support attack jet, rendering needless all the efforts of Boise City and Idaho State officials to attract the F-35 to replace the A-10.

Idaho Air National Guard spokesman Major Chris Borders told the GUARDIAN Wednesday, “We have seen the news reports, but so far there has been no official word received here.”

Back in Washington during a budget briefing Tuesday the Air Force confirmed that it plans to maintain the majority of its A-10 Warthogs in coming years despite past considerations of divesting the entire fleet.

The move could be a nice little windfall for the Idaho Dept. of Commerce. Gov. Butch Otter got a $100K appropriation from the legislature on behalf of Commerce to promote the F-35. If the money is not spent, it will go into the Department of Commerce coffers.

“If the A-10s remain it will be a blessing for the community,” said Dan Marler of the Citizens for a Livable Boise group which has opposed the F-35. He added, “it will also give the city and Air Guard time to prepare for the future of Gowen Field.

PR deferred

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Boise’s City Council deferred action on funding a PR campaign toy get the F-35 fighter jet based in Boise.

Prior to the 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting the GUARDIAN learned the proposed resolution to spend up to $100,000 with a Washington, D.C. firm to attract the F-35 fighter to Boise had been put off until April 4.

We talked to a City Councilor who told the GUARDIAN, “We needed to get more information.” Kudos to the council for deferring the request and seeking more details.

In the interest of citizen assistance, we offer the following information from the MANTA website:
“Kiley & Associates, LLC is a privately held company in Washington, DC and is a Single Location business. Categorized under Business Management Consultants. Our records show it was established in 2009 and incorporated in District of Columbia. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $260,000 and employs a staff of approximately 1.” The same info appears on multiple websites.

The councilor was evasive when we asked about spending $100K for an ad agency. The councilor said it was not an ad agency. We said, “OK, a PR firm.” The councilor said it wasn’t a PR firm (and they needed to get more information before approving the Mayor’s request to make a $100,000 payment to Gregory Kiley who appears –at least on internet sites– to be a one man band with no “associates”).

We applaud the council for NOT approving the expenditure of $100,000 to attract the F-35. It crossed our mind that there is a major problem in one or both of the following rhetorical questions:

–Would the United States Air Force actually decide to base the F-35 in Boise using information provided by a one man ad agent-PR guy-lobbyist-consult?

–If the answer is NO, then wouldn’t it be foolish or at least suspect for the City to spend $100,000 hoping to use public relations to influence the defense of our nation?

For sale …

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News to some and “old news” to others, the hometown paper without a printing press will be searching for a new home if the building at Curtis and Irving sells.

Don Day at BOISEDEV first broke the story several weeks ago. A reader offered us a “breaking news” tip today and it appears after reading BoiseDev it is about as breaking as the evening news reports on TV.

The facility was built in the early 1970’s on six acres of land. The building is being offered for $6.9 million by multiple realtors including John L. Scott Realtors at 3.5% interest over 30 years. A sign on the property lists Colliers as the agent. There is no mention of the Statesman and the image on the Scott website does not include the logo of the legacy newspaper.

Newspapers in general have fallen on hard times and the STATESMAN has stumbled along in recent years with various owners, numerous redesigns, elimination of the printing press (the Idaho Press Tribune in Nampa prints the Statesman), amateurish attempts at video clips on the website, and a strong tendency to offer up “magazine-style” coverage.

Daily local news is often limited to press releases from government agencies, cops, and charitable organizations. The news staff produces some quality coverage, but only when there is no deadline and the stories are not timely.

More than 10 years ago we posted THIS. About the only real change has been the dominance of TV and the decline of the printed word. Of course, SMARTPHONES have been a major cultural and social change along with Tweets and Facebook. Just ask the President-elect who doesn’t have much use for newspaper reporters.

Sale of the building makes good sense from a business perspective. With no printing press and no need to store paper, there is no reason to have a plant and warehouse facility on six acres of prime industrial land.

We are awaiting word on what is included in the sale as well as where the Statesman plans to relocate.

F35s: Let’s see it and hear it

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The Idaho National Guard announced Wednesday that Boise’s Gowen Field is one of five locations the U.S. Air Force is considering as a base for about 18 F-35 fighter jets.

The announcement, featured in the STATESMAN is just another in a long line of moves which have never included direct citizen input to the Air Force, Dept. of Defense, or the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the F-35. Boise’s airport flew banners “supporting the F-35” in the terminal and the City Council has gone on record supporting basing the noisy fighter in the most densely populated area between Salt Lake City and Seattle–Boise.

The GUARDIAN offers a challenge to the Idaho Air Guard and the U.S. Air Force: before you do any more projections, surveys, studies, open houses, community meetings, or public hearings: LET US HEAR THE DAMNED AIRPLANE!

We are sick and tired of having the Secretary of the Air Force sneak into town and refuse to meet with citizens (or the media), the city council endorsing the F-35, assorted sound surveys based on computer models, and projections.

When the airport director held an open house Nov. 16, the room was overcapacity at 150 citizens who didn’t want to hear her sales pitch. They wanted the F-35 or F-15 to be based at Mountain Home AFB.

The F-35 program is so wrapped in politics, those of us who pay the bills will be forced to listen to the “found of freedom” make our homes uninhabitable. The GUARDIAN has attended several meetings of nearby residents and local government officials. Each time the locals claim they have no influence over the United States Department of Defense.

When citizens complained they are barred from serving on various airport committees the answer was, those positions are for “technical experts,” who understand aviation, construction, etc. We got the same line from an Air Guard spokesman–verbatim.

The easy answer to this issue is to give the citizens of the area equal time and access as the politicos meeting with the Air Force Brass. There are plenty of aircraft in the inventory including cargo aircraft like the C-130 or C-17 that are not as noisy as the fighters. Even the refueling KC-135 and KC-10 are similar to their commercial airliner relatives when it comes to noise.

Our early New Year’s resolution is to have a pair of F-35 fighters come into Boise and demonstrate their standard take-off and landing procedures, including afterburner operation, “fighter approaches” with the tight flyby and return to the runway. The event should be publicized and decibel meters should record the noise levels. It’s not rocket science!

Angry at the jets

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High performance fighter jets may sound like a whisper compared to the roar of angry citizens on the Boise Bench. Boise Airport manager Rebecca Hupp faced an angry crowd Wednesday evening as she attempted to present the latest “master plan” for the airport.

About 150 citizens packed the meeting room, expecting to have a talk about noisy fighter jets. Instead, they were shown Power Point slides more effective than Ambien sleep aid. She discussed planned meetings, outreach, studies, neighborhood meetings, and committees full of “users,” but no common homeowner-types like the entire audience.

The vast majority of the audience came to the meeting to protest any plans to base F-35, F-15 or other excessively noisy fighter jets at Gowen Field. A spokesman had told one citizen that airport officials had “no control” over the Air Force. Hupp herself avoided comment when it was noted the mayor and council have gone on record supporting the F-35.

huppManager Hupp clearly lost control of the meeting after telling the audience there was a lot of “disinformation out there” regarding condemnation of residential property. Their issue was only the basing of fighter jets, not the number of passengers carried or claimed figures about economic impact.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, all people want is a commitment from the politicos to join forces to prevent noisy fighter jets. Folks we talked to love the Air Guard, they want freedom, peace, motherhood, apple pie, and a flying mission. They DON’T want the noisy fighter planes racing around above the most densely populated area between Salt Lake and Seattle. These aircraft belong at Mountain Home.

When people complained about recent noisy F-18 fighters, Hupp said they had no control over transient military aircraft. She could easily have defused the situation by offering to speak with the military about noise abatement protocol. The Air Guard had already promised to alert visiting pilots about being quieter when flying into Boise.

Creating a master plan, noise study, and all the rest aimed at expansion and accommodation of fighter jets is diametrically opposite the mood of the people. That type of arrogance allowed Donald Trump to became president-elect…the entrenched elite failed to listen!

To ponder

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ADA COUNTY–We have been informed that two former “operations managers” at Ada County (mostly the landfill duties) have retired, but are back at work as consultants or contractors. One has reportedly been hired by a temp agency which charges the county more than $100 an hour. Seems like it would be cheaper to eliminate the middle man on an insider trade.

ST. LUKE’S PURCHASE–If Saint Luke’s is able to dodge the taxes on their purchase of the old M-K Plaza 23 plus acres it will cost taxpayers well over $600,000 in lost revenue. Seems to us that it is time to eliminate the tax-exempt non-profit status of an outfit that is able to milk the government and insurance companies out of so many millions of dollars and pay such high wages to the medical people they buy.

DOWNTOWN–With the completion of the publicly funded foundation of the Gardner project (underground bus station) there has been an avalanche of publicity, but no mention about the apparent lack of a simple escalator. Bike lockers and we assume an elevator, but no moving stairs. Even the mall has an escalator!

The Greater Boise Auditorium District is reveling in the new addition which will cost about $23 million with no public vote on the debt.

Nice place, but with the new building, Aspen Apartments, Simplot’s JUMP and Hq, we noticed a distinct lack of trees. In fact, from the new area all you can see looking south and west is glass, metal, and brick. Stand in the treeless “Grove” and you could easily be in L.A. San Diego, or Atlanta.

TRAFFIC–Seems like everyone has a traffic horror story over coffee these days. Rude, inattentive texting, aggressive driving.

SINGLE CAR ACCIDENTS–We get the reports from ISP on all the fatals and major mishaps statewide. There is an inordinate number of single vehicle accidents and the report is often the same: “The driver left the right side of the road, overcorrected and a) rolled over, b) crossed the median, c) entered the oncoming lane and crashed head-on. Seems like a no brainer: playing with an electronic device or TEXTING!!

Educating school officials

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No one (other than growthophobes) wants to stand in the way of growth–often erroneously termed “progress.” However like cancer, the Treasure Valley is on the verge of growing itself to death.

Meridian beams with pride at being the second largest city in the state. Meanwhile they also have the busiest intersection at Fairview and Eagle Road along with a school system chronically in need of more money through property tax bonds.

We often hear folks claim, “you can’t stop growth.” Maybe, maybe not.

What we can stop is encouraging growth. Every city, county, and the state all have versions of “economic development” agencies. In one form or another these agencies, while perhaps well intended, tend to PAY businesses or individuals to populate our valley which puts a tremendous financial burden on schools.
Elementary school teacher helping a student in her classroom. MR boy, student, elementary, classroom, education, study, school, curriculum, learning, teaching, teacher
The most glaring example is the overwhelming need to replace Whittier elementary school where more kids attend classes in house trailers than in the main building. School officials blame it in part on progressive teaching in multiple languages. Many parents want their kids to experience the cultural benefits and language skills offered there.

Sounds good. An admirable effort. The problem arises when Boise and Ada housing officials vow to build “affordable housing” on bare ground in the vicinity. Since it is within an urban renewal district, NONE of the taxes on the improvements or appreciated value will go to Boise City or the Boise School District–it all goes to the urban renewal agency which is dedicated to attracting more business, which attracts more people, which attracts more kids, more cars, more bikes, more demand on water, etc. The contractors, bankers, developers all love it. The rest of the community pays the bill.

Former BSU football coach Dan Hawkins had it right when he said, “Bigger isn’t better. Better is better.”

The financing scheme at Harris Ranch in Boise’s east end has created a demand for a junior high school, fire station, and now a new elementary school. In fact, Boise school super Don Coberly revealed plans for a potential BOND REQUEST from voters for $172 million. College of Western Idaho is seeking another $180 million for new facilities, including tax-exempt facilities in the urban renewal district near Whittier along the Boise River at Main St.

We calculated that Boise schools, the city, county, ACHD and others lose a combined total of about $378,000 in property taxes on the SkyWest hanger the city built for the airline. That annual loss in tax revenue is FOREVER because there is no tax on city-owned buildings. The airport charges rent to pay off the bonds, but citizens were not allowed to weigh-in on the decision to build the $20 million plus structure.

If school officials would publicly oppose some of the unwarranted growth, or perhaps have veto authority over development plans, perhaps things would be more in balance.