Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Frazier”

Timing is everything

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Once again, Cynthia Sewell at the DAILY PAPER has shown the “power of the press.”

Idaho Horse Racing Commission director Frank Lamb resigned his position following Sewell’s disclosure of his dual role as a regulator in Idaho while simultaneously acting as a paid lobbyist advocating the slot machines in Wyoming.

Lamb’s job fell under the Department of State Police.

At issue was the practice of gambling on casino-like slot machines and calling them “instant racing or historical racing.” The GUARDIAN has declared them to be slot machines for several years and at the beginning of this year’s legislative session many lawmakers agreed.

There is a bill, presented by Idaho Indian tribes, seeking to repeal the 2013 approval of electronic gaming on horse races on the machines. Some legislators say they were “duped or hoodwinked,” into approving the machines because the machines in place are not the same as those approved in 2013.

Pay-for state-ofs

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

President Obama is headed for Boise in the next few days. His speech — a follow up to the “state of the union” — will be free, even if it doesn’t include the infamous “rubber chicken” or snacks.

Imagine the uproar if the Governor or the President delivered a “state of the state” or “state of the union” address as a fund-raiser and charged for seating. That’s the plan for Treasure Valley mayors in coming weeks.

Seems the mayors of Treasure Valley have simply forgotten their roots–with the exception of Garret Nancolas of Caldwell. They are planning to address the citizens about public issues, talk about spending public money, and charge the citizens to hear them at an inconvenient time for the average worker. Nancolas’ speech is free.

Bob Henry of Nampa, Tammy de Weerd of Meridian, and Eagle’s Jim Reynolds all have scheduled “State of The City” speeches and they expect citizens to PAY to hear them expound on their goals and accomplishments. Sure, if you want to be a cheapskate or simply can’t afford lunch you can sit in the corner for free.

The GUARDIAN has bitched about the practice and the fund raiser nature for years, especially in Boise where 1,000 businessmen, contractors, and other beneficiaries gather for a breakfast where it costs $40 a plate–yielding a gross of $40,000 for the special interest business lobbying group called the Chamber of Commerce. (The only reason there is free seating at all is due to prior GUARDIAN posts). (more…)

Cause of a massive panic

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

When a second grade student at a Middleton elementary school noticed “a gun” in the backpack of a fellow 7 or 8-year-old second grader, he did the right thing and told his teacher.

The teacher did the right thing and notified school officials. From that point it got weird according to a report in the DAILY PAPER. For better or worse–remember, we are talking 7-year-old kid with a toy gun zipped away in his backpack–school officials called the Canyon County sheriff.

In a normal society untainted by school shootings, cops killing 12-year-old kids on video, big kids scaring cops so bad they blow away the kid resulting in riots, a copper would be sent to visit the classroom.

We are no longer a normal society. Canyon’s Sheriff responded with 18 coppers, several nearby schools were “locked down,” and the poor little 7-year-old was immediately suspended from school. We don’t know the words used by the teacher, the administration, or the dispatcher, but such an over reaction is bound to make future witnesses “gun shy” about reporting potential misbehavior.

A seasoned teacher would have simply picked up the child’s backpack and in a worse case scenario, called the boy’s mother. The sheriff says the kid did not display the toy gun (with red cap on the barrel), didn’t threaten, didn’t point it at anyone.

There is the usual “continuing investigation,” but we suspect somewhere after the well intended notification by the second grade student and confiscation of the toy, the report escalated to, “Gun in a classroom> call police> unknown weapon at school> send back up> lock down schools just in case> suspended for no tolerance.”

Everyone needs to calm down and COMMUNICATE. Everyday folks on cell phones race to call 911 to report car crashes. Police get so many calls with reports in the “east lane, west lane, just before and just after milepost 54,” that the dispatcher sends fire trucks, ambulance, and police fearing multiple crashes and injuries.

Today’s computer dispatching and truncated lingo can have tragic results when responding officers are sent to “man with a gun” calls instead of “caller thinks there is a boy with a fake gun.” A 12-year-old kid was killed by Cleveland coppers who made a hasty response, driving within 8 feet of the youth across the grass in a small park.

Ability and integrity both?

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

We often hear the lament, “I am not voting because it is always the lesser of two evils.”

A story in the Saturday DAILY PAPER by reporter Katy Moeller seems to enforce the evil issue. Seems that Ada Coroner Candidate Dotti Owens “forgot” about criminal charges for fraud and a bankruptcy when she completed a candidate form for the paper.

Ada County lawmen, including Sheriff Gary Raney and local police chiefs endorsed Owens over former deputy sheriff Michael Chilton. Chilton spent most of his copper career as a jailer for Ada County. Owens has been a deputy coroner.

The STATESMAN has to be commended for its election coverage which earlier revealed that Mayor Dave Bieter had met individually with candidates for the Ada County Highway District, asking them to get rid of the director … all in the spirit of working together of course.

Then there is Sherri Ybarra the candidate for Supt. of Public Instruction who can’t remember a divorce, what degree she is working on, or other items from her past.

It isn’t just women either. The race for Guv is not without charges of cronyism and illicit campaign contributions to Butch Otter from the private group recently ousted from running the state prison. Former Canyon prosecutor John Bujak has dodged criminal charges for a couple of years now and his gubernatorial candidacy is considered that of “spoiler.”

Hold your nose when you vote and if you have a bottle of hand sanitizer, be sure to use it after you vote, but please vote.

NOTE: The GUARDIAN doesn’t endorse candidates and no conclusions should be implied by this post.

Arguing for a 2/3 threshold

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The DAILY PAPER had a page one story today about the effort to gain a 2/3 approval of voters for the City of Boise to go into debt for 10 years. The measure previously failed.

The STATESMAN story is fair, well balanced and accurate. It also dwells on the efforts of GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier to force local governments to play by the rules–something they didn’t do prior to 2004. We don’t know whether to take credit or blame, but Boise City has a record of extravagant requests. Frazier has a record of saving the city millions upon millions of dollars, forcing them to either pay cash or tone down their dream projects.
Modern suburban fire station in Boise, Idaho.
Through legal court victories we saved citizens about $15 on the police building (City Hall West), as much or more on the airport parking garage, and voters turned down a $38 million debt for a new library in favor of pay-as-you-go projects for three new branch libraries which are very successful.

Regardless of your thoughts on the $17 million bond sales pitch to move fire stations, build new ones, and construct a training facility, its a good thing the bond failed in the past.

Why? Because we minority of voters sent City officials back to the budgeting of OUR money and guess what? They have come up with a lower price tag and a shorter term bond debt. Thanks to a change of the former firemen retirement fund to be included in the state Public Retirement program, much of the revenue to repay the debt will come from within.

While we don’t oppose this bond, we have some concerns about financial issues directly relating to Boise’s fire department: (more…)

Squeeze job

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

At the risk of sounding too logical the GUARDIAN questions how Boise City Councilor Maryanne Jordan plans to squeeze a 10 foot 3 inch wide city bus into a 10 foot traffic lane. In a recent letter to the ACHD, she asserted 10 feet was plenty of room for traffic lanes.
tape
The question arose after the Ada County Highway District board signed off on a traffic lane plan for Capitol Blvd with Chairman John Franden getting the rest of the board to agree to 11 foot traffic lanes. Jordan wrote the board asking them to reconsider their 11 foot decision and shave off one foot of each lane and donate the space to bicycles.

We found a typical bus and measured the front from mirror to mirror to establish the 10 foot 3 inch width. Even with 11 foot lanes, bus drivers have only 4.5 inches of “wiggle room” on either side in the downtown area. Pitty the poor cyclist who gets too close to a mirror in one of those tiny traffic lanes.

This latest round of bickering between Jordan and the ACHD points up an even larger issue. Boise streets, sidewalks, and blocks are rather small. New buildings like the Zions Bank really belong on at least twice the space.

The 8th Street parking garage is too small for standard size vehicles to do anything less than play “bumper cars” trying to park. The Grove Hotel is so big it intrudes into the sidewalk and forces closure of a lane of traffic. Reality dictates we need some open space downtown and that includes between cars, buses and bikes on the streets.

Painting more stripes does not a wider street make.

On the state owning businesses

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The Guardian had a chance Tuesday to ask Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff about his thoughts on state ownership of businesses.
Balukoff
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.

On the dark side

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Just yesterday a group of political has-beens and news junkies were chatting over coffee bemoaning the state of local journalism.

“Popkey still has some pretty good sources. He is pretty much the go-to-guy at the Statesman if you want something printed,” said one of the old-time news guys. He added, “He has a list of stories to write, so he is never out of material.”

Well…so much for that! Dan Popkey has fled the sinking news ship fleet and like most of his fellow sailors, he will begin slurping at the public trough (of U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador) where the rations are much richer than the private sector. Popkey, 55, has spent most of his adult life at the Statesman, nearly 30 years.

We wish him well and offer a heartfelt “thanks” for exposing so many inside stories about Idaho politicos while covering Idaho politics. It saddens us to think he is now one of them. Not a real surprise since most of the AP staffers and former Statesman capitol writers have ended up sucking the government teat.

Since the first of the year we have seen the Associated Press lose Todd Dvorak to the Idaho Attorney General PR machine, fellow AP staffer John Miller left the country to do PR work in Switzerland, and now Popkey has joined the darling of TV’s Meet The PRess, Rep. Raul Labrador.

An old-line newsman

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The 150th anniversary of what we affectionately call the “Daily Paper” (IDAHO STATESMAN) prompted a former colleague to recall the day nearly 50 years ago when he came to work at the old 6th and Bannock office location. Ralph Nichols covered Canyon County news.

By Ralph Nichols

Sandor S. Klein Jr. – Sandy – was a newsman’s newsman, a legendary figure in the history of Idaho journalism. A five-foot seven-inch, cigar-chomping, violin-playing Hungarian Jew with a gravelly voice, whose crew cut was thinning by the time he became managing editor of The Idaho Statesman in Boise, he was a caricature from “The Front Page” come to life.

Sandy had covered boxing for a New York City newspaper, been a World War II correspondent aboard U.S. Navy ships, served as a United Press International bureau chief in Boise, and while covering the Idaho Legislature one session was granted unprecedented personal privilege to propose from the floor to Sen. Edith Miller, who said yes.

He expected his reporters to work hard and demanded initiative, accuracy and fairness. Boise still belonged to its only daily newspaper, and he reacted angrily on those few occasions when is reporters were scooped by the city’s growing television-news presence. Sandy also was a strong booster of Boise’s then-fledgling arts community.

But none of these things did I know about Sandy in the beginning, only that he published a personal take on local events in “Editor’s Notebook,” which appeared weekly on the Sunday editorial page – a feature I had read frequently since taking my first college journalism course for its vignettes that conveyed the image of reporters as the first to know the news.

Walking into the Idaho Statesman newsroom shortly before four o’clock that May 30, 47 years ago I would come to realize only a decade later, was my crossing of a great divide from which there would be no return. Although I had always been a news junkie, becoming a newspaper reporter was not part of the course charted for my future in the spring of 1967.

A Bergdahl controversy

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

Just about anyone has to feel good about the release of Hailey’s Bowe Bergdahl.

The young soldier was captive of the Taliban in Afghanistan for nearly five years and the subject of countless prayers, yellow ribbons, and pleas from his parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl.

However, his release and eventual return to what we assume will be civilian life will be the subject of strong debates among those who question the circumstances of his capture. “Hero or villain?” will be the question as the national media join the discussion.

The delicate issue for the military and Obama is ride the wave of euphoria about the release and deflect questions of HOW Bowe was captured — without his weapon. It will be an interesting story to follow.

U.S. Senator James Risch is on the senate intelligence committee and he indicated during an interview with the legacy media that President Obama and his administration had breached a deal with congress to give 30 days warning before any prisoners would be released from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Bergdahl was traded for five enemy combatants and administration officials say secrecy was needed to save the soldier.

Then there is the issue of negotiating for freedom — in essence paying a ransom. It has long been USA policy to stand tough and not negotiate for fear of encouraging other kidnappings.

Bob Bergdahl has talked about son Bowe’s quest to “help the people of Afghanistan,” but he carefully avoided using the term “fighting.” The articulate parent held a press conference at Gowen Field Sunday, but answered no questions. His massive beard is a concession to the Afghan culture and he revealed he had also learned the language as well.

While it would be nice for Bowe to return to the adoration of all Americans, we suspect the homecoming may be somewhat muted, despite the good photo-op for a big July Fourth Parade. We still have a month to go for the parade scenario to work out.

Former TWA pilot B. Christian Zimmerman of Cascade was held hostage in Lebanon by Muslim Terrorists aboard flight 847 in June 1985. His release was timed to get him home in time for a July Fourth parade down Cascade’s Main Street. He is now an ordained Lutheran minister preaching in Ontario.