Writings and observations

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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?

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Judy Peavey-Derr filed at the last minute in a bid to unseat incumbent Dave Bieter who is seeking a fourth term which could carry him to a 16 year reign as Boise’s top politico.

Peavey-Derr positioned herself as a champion of the Bench and southwest citizens. She didn’t count on Bieter standing in a new park on Federal Way announcing his dedication to residents of the Boise Bench with new playground equipment.

She advocates parks and open space, but not the proposed Foothills levy. Bieter stood before the TV cameras to break ground for a new three acre park along the Boise River.

He was joined by two incumbent councilors who are also running for re-election.

When Peavey-Derr called a press conference to perform a victory dance for the Greater Boise Auditorium District’s supreme court ruling over Dave Frazier (GUARDIAN editor), Bieter hijacked the moment and waltzed before the cameras and waved his arm with promises of “even more” construction projects, “like the one behind me.” She is a member of the GBAD board.

Wednesday, Peavey-Derr scheduled a media event to spotlight her plans to create “districts” (known as “wards” in big cities) so citizens would have councilors from throughout the city and not just north of the Boise River. Bieter and Team Dave put a big shadow over her spotlight as they broke ground across town for a 5th library at Bown Crossing in Southeast Boise.

We gotta hand it to Team Dave. They know how to play the game of politics. Amazing how all these projects just happened to come up a month before the election! Timing is everything.

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The Idaho Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling Thursday said language in a financing contract between the Greater Boise Auditorium District, Capital City Devbelopment (CCDC) Wells Fargo Bank and the Gardner Development Company complies with the constitution whether it is a lease or a purchase.

GUARDIAN editor David R. Frazier responded to the District’s petition for “judicial confirmation” in an effort to force GBAD to seek permission from voters to go into debt to expand the facility. The court said provisions for annual renewal of a lease agreement for more than 20 years with a “non-appropriation clause” was good enough to comply with Article 8, sec 3 of the Idaho Constitution which requires voter approval for debt in excess of a single year revenues.

“My big fear is that the right of citizens to weigh-in on public debt will forever be compromised by this ruling, opening the door to local governments to never seek voter approval for bonds, opting instead for “annual leases” .

THE COURT’S SUMMARY STATEMENT Greater Boise Auditorium District v. Frazier – Docket No. 43074
In a case arising out of Ada County, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying judicial confirmation of a lease the Greater Boise Auditorium District (the “District”) intended to enter into.

The District filed a petition for judicial confirmation, pursuant to Idaho Code section 7-1304, asking the district court for a determination that a lease the District intended to enter into did not violate the Constitution’s Article VIII, section 3 clause prohibiting a municipal body, without voter approval, from incurring indebtedness or liabilities greater than it has funds to pay for in the fiscal year. Respondent, David R. Frazier (Frazier), a Boise resident and property owner, objected to the requested judicial confirmation, and appeared in the case to contest it.

The lease was one part of a complex agreement by which the District intended to own a new facility being constructed. The District asserted that the lease in question does not subject it to any long-term liabilities. Frazier responded that both the lease and the overall agreement unconstitutionally subject the District to liabilities greater than it has funds to
pay for in the fiscal year.

The district court denied the Petition for Judicial Confirmation and the District appealed. The Supreme Court held that the district court erred in denying the District’s request for judicial confirmation because the agreements into which it entered satisfied Article VIII. section 3 of the Constitution.

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Neighbors from the Hillcrest Place Homeowners Association, Vista Neighborhood Association sounded off over a noise survey conducted by the Boise Airport, but with very little notification of homeowners.

It looks like the 75 property owners who attended the meeting at Whitney Community Center Thursday night were roused to action by social media posts on the internet. One owner told the GUARDIAN a “neighborhood” site was buzzing with folks who feared their homes would be purchased out from under them or severely devalued following a noise survey conducted by the airport.

In a nutshell it is a continuation of the quest by Boise’s City fathers and mothers to get the U.S. Air Force to base high powered fighter jets at Gowen Field when the A-10 is eventually phased out of service. The big fear is having the thundering roar of F-35 or F-15 fighters rattling windows and making life south of Overland nearly “unlivable.”

Henry Wiebe appeared to ramrod the meeting. He created a playground-type confrontation with area resident Elliot Werk (former state rep) at one point when he interrupted a presentation by BOI airport manager Rebecca Hupp with a noisy battery powered electric drill–a stunt to emphasize the annoyance of military fighter jets.

Werk demanded that Weibe stop the noise, jumped out of his seat and rushed Weibe. Weibe shouted, “Don’t touch me,” and they eventually parted. The incident was indicative of how upset the neighbors are over the city efforts to justify the noise through an expensive survey which they claim could qualify some residents for “mitigation” or even purchase of their homes. They claim the Federal Aviation Administration would provide financial grants following the noise study. It is all aimed at expansion of the airport and retaining a military presence.

The simple solution was voiced by many of the folks attending. They favored having quieter military aircraft or moving the Air Guard to Mountain Home.

City Councilor Elaine Clegg promised to call for more citizen comment for the noise survey in an attempt to calm the audience, but most were unconvinced.

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