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Posts published in “Frazier”

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.

Humbling

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Rick Harvey, owner of Artsmith Jewelry was just a bit emotional and bursting with pride as the official canonization of Mother Teresa was completed Sunday before 100,000 faithful at the Vatican by Pope Francis. Harvey is undoubtedly the only Boise jeweler (and goldsmith) to make a legitimate claim of “working for a real saint.”

Harvey is a devout Episcopalian–he is a clergyman at St. Michaels–and in 1994 he jumped at the chance to spend a couple of weeks in Calcutta India (Calcutta has become Kolkata), volunteering at Mother Teresa’s Catholic mission caring for the needy.

He wrote in his personal journal after a 35 minute meeting with Mother Teresa which ended with a prayer. “She walked away with determined steps that carry her toward sainthood.” He got that one right.

Harvey shared his 30 page journal with the GUARDIAN at our request. It is laced with self-contemplation and full of Christian faith. It is also a gritty account of misery, adventure, compassion, and insight.

After a final Eucharist presided over by Mother Teresa, Harvey summed up his visit saying, “She came by and as I kissed her hand, I was indeed blessed.”

It was 22 years ago that I got a lesson in humility thanks to the woman known today as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

It was about 11 p.m. when I bumped into Rick Harvey at the super market and he cheerily asked, “Been traveling anywhere interesting lately?”

At that time I was globetrotting with my camera making photos for textbooks and magazines. “Last month I was in the Philippines,” I noted rather proudly.

As an after thought and to be polite I asked, “What have you been up to?”

“I have been over in Calcutta working as a volunteer with Mother Teresa. I just got back and I need fresh milk and bread,” was his matter-of-fact reply.

I felt about two feet tall and realized how nice it is to have friends like Harvey who understand the meaning of life.

More turf

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With the Central District set to expire in 2017, Boise’s urban renewal is looking for new fields to plow, this time on the Boise Bench according to DON DAY who has a website with details of lots of growth–much of it gleaned from building permit applications and planning and zoning meetings–Good stuff!

While a group of citizens has worked diligently with the state legislature to limit the scope and authority of urban renewal agencies statewide, the folks at Boise’s Capital City Development Corp. (CCDC) have been working quietly to create a new district outside of the four downtown districts. If they succeed, that will mean property taxes on any new development and tax on appreciated value after a new district is created will be diverted from the city, county, schools, and ACHD. CCDC will be the beneficiary. The prime target of the CCDC expansion is all the commercial property along Vista, Overland, and Curtis.

According to Day, “CCDC officials have been quietly meeting since last year to study the feasibility of adding a fifth urban renewal district in Boise. The CCDC’s original district in the downtown core will formally sunset next year, and in recent years officials have sought to keep the organization alive by adding new responsibilities and expanding the impact of urban renewal to other portions of Boise.”

The art delegation

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The cryptic item on the June 7 Boise City Council read, “David H. Bieter, Mayor’s Office, to attend meetings with potential city benefactor in New York City, NY, on July 28-30, 2016.”

Following the shenanigans that led to the ultimate downfall and jailing of former Mayor Brent Coles, a GUARDIAN reader was properly concerned and sounded the alarm for a records request.

The GUARDIAN filed the appropriate request and the office of the City Attorney has provided us with the information sought. Turns out there will be no attendance of ANY Broadway plays, including HAMILTON. Hopefully, no limos like Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane rented will be on the expense account either.

The city (taxpayers) is paying for a party of four, including the mayor, to make the trip. Two other city staffers and a prominent arts-community member will make the trip with Bieter. A fifth private player will pay his own expenses. The group of artsy Idahoans will be visiting billionaire William Louis-Dreyfus of the “Dreyfus Fund” fame. Dreyfus is a world renowned art collector and owns much of the James Castle art archive. CASTLE was a self-taught local artist born in Garden Valley and his work has been a hot commodity in art circles following his death in 1977.

Bieter and his newly assembled “Team Dave,” will offer a personal “thank-you” for a 1955 trailer which was formerly occupied by Castle and has been given to the city. Boise City acquired his Northwest Boise home near Pierce Park and Castle Drive in 2014. They also want to eventually update the Boise homesite and open it to the public as a museum. No doubt the art delegation would gladly accept any sort of endowment or funds to help with the city museum project.

Castle’s simple works drawn with soot from wood stoves are on display throughout the world, including at the Smithsonian in washington, D.C.

Foothills gravity

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You don’t have to be Isaac Newton to predict that water runs downhill with the force of gravity, often taking loose soil along with it.

In recent history the Idaho Transportation Department learned the gravity/water/soil lesson on Horseshoe Bend Hill, forcing the relocation of Hwy 55 to its present location.

Same issue caused massive rockslides and road closures below Warm Springs Mesa near the golf course as saturated earth caused rockslides on Warm Springs Ave. when it was also Hwy 21. GROWTHOPHOBES will tell you foot hills development is a slippery slope at best.

Seems there isn’t much in the way of “institutional memory” when it comes to Boise foothills road and home construction. The “Boise Front” is essentially the same piece of land as HSB Hill and Warm Springs Mesa, yet Boise City officials seemed surprised that high-end real estate along Table Rock Road is now slip-sliding a way.

For perspective, think of the foot hills as a giant sponge and all the roads and rooftops as strips of plastic wrap. The sealed parts of the sponge repel the water, but soon there is more water than the sponge can absorb and it either pools or runs off like a flash flood.

It may be nice to look down on your neighbors, but those big roofs, paved driveways and roads all tend to concentrate water and saturate the subsoils. The local precip is about 13 inches annually, but all those green lawns and trees at luxury homes need much more water to survive. We know instances of hillside irrigation flooding downhill neighbor’s basements. The laws of gravity are enforced by Mother Nature.

A Boise City spokesman recently told the STATESMAN that policy “requires a licensed engineer to conduct surveys of geological characteristics for the ground beneath every Foothills development. The city requires the same geotechnical surveys for each lot in a development. The city then hires third-party engineers to review the survey reports for accuracy and potential problems.”

“Every Foothills development also requires a grading plan, the extent of which depends on the results of the surveys. The same step is required for each lot.”

A home previously worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and a roadway are now unusable, “baffling the experts.” Could it be the geologists have rocks in their heads and the hydrologists have water on the brain?