Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Frazier”

Humbling

frazier

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

frazier

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

frazier

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

frazier

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?

The Vista sidewalk

frazierlogo1

A new consultant within the office of Mayor Dave Bieter’s Team Dave has come up with a “PERFECT VISTA VISION” which he claims will stimulate business and reduce automobile traffic.

Conveyor sidewalk in O'Hare Airport in Chicago, similar to Vista proposal aviation, aircraft, travel, airplane, plane, flying, take off landing, jet, aerospace, airline, aeroplane, airport, transportation
Conveyor sidewalk in O’Hare Airport in Chicago, similar to Vista proposal
aviation, aircraft, travel, airplane, plane, flying, take off landing, jet, aerospace, airline, aeroplane, airport, transportation

Sloof Lirpa comes from Sweden and GUARDIAN sources say he is working on a low profile plan for Vista to coincide with the “Energize Vista” grant.

Lirpa told the GUARDIAN, “With this broad roadway connecting Boise’s two important transportation hubs–the Airport and the downtown multimodal transit center–we were asked to come up with a plan that would ENERGIZE Vista. And what better way to do that than get people out of their cars!”

He said, “our exhaustive research meshes well with the plans of the mayor and council to eventually eliminate automobile traffic in the downtown and Vista areas, creating greater business opportunities on the Vista Bench.”

In a nutshell here is the plan:
–Eliminate the two curbside lanes of auto travel and create a TRANSIT CORRIDOR down the middle of the street. Research both in Europe and South America shows that with more bikes and the new trolley (the Trolley is projected for the year 2020, hence PERFECT VISION), business will flourish.

–Create an automated walkway–like the ones in airports– which will run at 3 miles per hour. That means if someone is walking at a modest two miles per hour, they will actually be going 5 mph. With the moving sidewalk running down the middle of the transportation corridor with a buffer zone of curb and grass on the street side and a concrete safety barrier you will be able to walk the length of Vista in less than half an hour! There would be exits at each intersection.

–Under the transit corridor concept, a limited number of cars will have access to the Vista business area, but no left turns will be allowed. They are working with ACHD to create roundabouts at Overland and near the Depot. All streets entering Vista will have a mandatory right turn to eliminate the need for traffic signals and cross traffic. Motorists will be able to change directions of travel using the conveniently located roundabouts.

Lirpa said, “If we are able to facilitate this innovative concept using our vast experience, Boise could easily be not only the “most bike friendly” city in America, it could truly live up to Mayor Bieter’s goal of being the ‘most livable city in America’.”

Money is always a concern, but with a modest local improvement tax, a business occupancy tax for each tenant, a business improvement district tax, and other revenue sources such as Federal grants and a local option sales tax, Team Dave says the plan is viable. Estimates range from $96 million to $400 million, depending on how much public art is included in the form of statues and other design elements.

Interesting to note SLOOF LIRPA could spell his name backwards today for added effect.

Bets are off

frazierlogo1

After operating without a required live racing permit since January 1, Treasure Valley Racing is cutting the cord on the simulcast gambling at Les Bois Park.

Idaho Code says: “No license authorizing simulcasting and/or televised races shall be issued to or renewed for persons that are not also licensed to conduct live race meets in the state of Idaho.”

While the operators had a 2015 permit and conducted live racing, simulcasts, and slot machines disguised as “historic racing,” things got held up at the gate when the Idaho legislature repealed the law that previously allowed the slot machines. They did not have a 2016 live racing permit, hence the activities since January 1 appear to be outside the law. Slots are illegal under the Idaho Constitution and legislators said the machines they approved were not the same as the machines in use. They didn’t meet the “parimutuel” exemption.

Gov. Butch Otter sided up with the race horse crowd, but screwed up on his timing with a veto to override the legislative repeal. The Idaho Supreme Court ultimately ruled the repeal stands, thus outlawing the slots. Treasure Valley Racing claimed they couldn’t afford to do live racing without subsidy from the (illegal) slot machines. The issue of whether or not the slot machines qualified as permissible parimutuel betting, was never decided. The GUARDIAN visited Les Bois and determined the machines were indeed slots. Some legislators and opponents came to the same conclusion, prompting the repeal which was approved by two-thirds of that body.

Hoping for a political solution to their business problem, the operators bet on a bill to create a gaming commission that would have allowed both simulcasts and the electronic devices (slots). With the legislature in the home stretch odds this session are against political support–remember it is an election year–so the TV screens, the track, and slots are all without the sound of hoofbeats.

Now, here’s the big incestuous issue. The Idaho State Police would be a logical agency to investigate the apparently illegal gambling since Jan. 1. If there was no Racing Commission permit for live racing, then simulcasts from other tracks were illegal. However, the Racing Commission operates under the oversight of ISP. If the live race permit has expired, simulcasts are like driving on an expired driver’s license. The system is flawed when the regulator and proponent of horse racing falls under the supervision of the enforcer, ISP.

It gets worse. The Ada County Prosecutor is the legal enforcer of the Idaho Code in Ada County, hence the logical agency to file charges for illegal operation of simulcast without a live racing permit. But that same prosecutor’s office wrote the lease contract on behalf of the Ada County Commissioners. The commishes also endorsed the political efforts of Treasure Valley Racing, signing on to an ad in the Statesman and offering testimony before the legislature in an effort to NOT repeal the slot machine bill last session. After all, it means JOBS and REVENUE!

And that folks, explains at a local level why there is so much support for the likes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Short line

frazierlogo1

Short line railroads in Idaho will soon be blowing their horns over a proposed taxpayer funded subsidy that will amount to more than $2 million in federal tax credits which comes out to $14,090 per railroad employee. AND, that is just for Idaho rail companies.

Short lines are the the railroads that connect to the big mainline trains like Union Pacific and Burlington Northern. The Boise Valley RR between Nampa and Federal Way in Boise is a short line.
Senator Mike Crapo and Sen. Ron Wyden are behind the scheme to make permanent what has become a regular special break for the railroads. They call it “Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy–BRACE Act.

The GUARDIAN sees the special interest tax break as Organized Fleecing For Tax Refunds Abusing Citizen Kind–OFF TRACK.

Here is how Crapo spins his special interest tax break:

WASHINGTON – Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden today introduced the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy, or BRACE Act, which would make permanent a critical tax credit used to repair and upgrade short line railroads.

“Small business freight railroads connect Idaho’s farms to markets across the nation and around the globe. For too long, Congress has taken a short term view of these crucial economic corridors. This measure will allow short line railroads to make long-term plans for infrastructure repairs and upgrades,” said Crapo. “Short lines are a crucial economic link to thousands of railroad customers. This legislation will improve the link between our communities and the national freight railroad network.”

The short line railroad track maintenance credit provides short line and regional railroads a 50 percent tax credit for railroad track maintenance expenses, up to $3,500 per mile of track owned or leased by the railroad. The short line railroads ensure that small manufacturers’ products can get to markets in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Last December, Congress passed the Short line Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2015, which expanded and extended the credit through 2016.

Since 2006 Congress has acted periodically to extend the credit, often retroactively and often almost a year after expiration. This uncertainty causes private investment to decline, limits investments in safety and customer service, and provides uncertainty to businesses, farmers, and employers that cannot be globally competitive without freight rail.

Meeting farm to market demands, nine small freight railroads serve the Idaho economy operating 624 miles of privately owned freight track—40% of all railroad track in the state. These railroads directly employ 155 Idahoans and serve as the crucial link to the dozens of rail-dependent businesses that employ thousands more and would not be competitive without rail access. These railroads serve as the crucial link to the dozens of rail-dependent businesses that employ thousands, and would not be competitive without rail access.

Crapo and Wyden’s bill is also cosponsored by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Pat Roberts R-KS, Bob Casey, D-Penn., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Audit time

frazierlogo1

An internal audit of the Ada County Treasurer’s office concentrating on the “Public Administrator” duties has turned up assorted critical issues. The issues all revolve around the estates of people who have died with no will and no living relatives.

A former Public Administrator and a state building security chief have been charged with assorted felonies over theft including a $31,000 check which was misappropriated. The internal audit obtained Tuesday by the GUARDIAN was performed in addition to the forensic audit.

We poked fun at the Ada Treasurer website where they sold personal items, including bras. Readers noted the web auction site probably cost more than it brought in. The auditors not only agreed with the GUARDIAN readers, they revealed that 25% of the sales were to Treasurer employees and 46% of the sales were to other county employees.

There was even an example of an employee putting a sticky note on a box of ammo to “reserve” it. Treasurer Vicky McIntyre told the GUARDIAN that all guns and ammo were sold to a registered firearms dealer, hence the note. She added, “They want the public to believe what they want to fabricate.”

Here’s an excerpt from the report: “Within the Treasurer’s Office, one of the seven Treasurer’s Office employees who purchased estate property consistently paid less than the minimum bid. This employee purchased four items for a total of $15 less than minimum bid. The same employee purchased a large display case of hunting knives that had been listed on e-Bay for $75, but was sold to the employee for $35.”

Much of the auditor’s committee report duplicated what the forensic auditor report noted previously.

The committee of five, a mix of county elected officials and department heads, noted the work load for the public administrator role had nearly doubled in the past few years and recommended that accounting practices and personnel assignments be initiated to create fiscal safeguards to prevent future problems.

The entire REPORT: Combined final report PDF (2)

Arrivals

frazierlogo1

If our flat screen TV didn’t cost so much we would have tossed a shoe at it Tuesday.

KTVB Channel 7 had a “live” reporter with news from the airport. The attractive reporter breathlessly told viewers she had been at the airport most of the day awaiting the return of Boise’s famous preacher/prisoner, Saeed Abedini, who “may be arriving any minute.” Don’t forget KTVB had been sucking up to Mrs. Abedini for years awaiting a joyful tear-filled reunion.

Turns out Channel 2 KBOI had already reported the pastor’s return to Boise a half hour earlier, showing the private jet outside the Jackson Aviation facility.

Meanwhile, KIVI Channel 6 had a reporter staking out the arrival hall at the commercial terminal, but he reported no sign of the preacher/prisoner.

In case you have lived under a rock for the past few years, Abedini was one of the five prisoners held in Iran and released January 16 as part of a USA-Iranian prisoner exchange.

The Statesman wisely reported on their competition with this lead:
“Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned for nearly four years in an Iranian prison, returned to Boise late Tuesday afternoon in a private jet, KBOI-TV, Channel 2, reports.”

Next story to hit the airwaves was an urgent message from Boise coppers asking for help recovering a couple stolen vehicles taken nearly half a day earlier while left warming up in owner’s driveways. No description of the vehicles, no color, no license number! Just a plea to call Crimestoppers if anyone has told you they stole a vehicle.

Of course all the stations followed with twenty minutes of weather maps and promises to tell us more later in the broadcast.

The shortfall

frazierlogo1

We heard an ad on the radio recently from the Community Planning Association, COMPASS, which claimed Treasure Valley comes up short $150 million each year when it comes to transportation funding.

The private agency which is funded by assorted taxpayer funded local governments explains details here. They say the big issue is growth and predict 440,000 new residents by 2040.

The COMPASS website states, “COMPASS estimates that the region will need an investment of approximately $359 million per year between now and 2040 to meet maintenance needs and the demands of growth.”

Well, the always logical growthophobes at the GUARDIAN have an answer: Quit creating and encouraging GROWTH! When you give tax breaks to outside businesses to “attract them to relocate in the valley,” that means more people and apparently $150 million in un-met transportation needs each year. It also hurts local businesses already here.

When we read of a really bad “vision” called Idaho 2020, headed up by wealthy developers who benefit from public money diverted to urban redevelopment agencies, we were disheartened to say the least. Joke of the day: they say they are not lobbyists! They claim their goal is to offer legislators information on which to base economic decisions.

Wanna bet how many of those ideas will include doing away with business tax breaks, enabling unions rather than “right to work,” and not allowing tax money to be diverted to urban renewal agencies for public works projects intended to be approved by voters at a bond election?