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Posts published in “Frazier”

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.

Avoiding voter approval?

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The Greater Boise Auditorium District (G-BAD) is tiptoeing around the law once again. This time they are aiming to deprive voters of their constitutional right to approve long term debt for a $38 million dollar kitchen and ballroom.

Article VIII, Sec 3 of the Idaho Constitution requires a vote of the people to approve debt. G-BAD lawyers have formulated a convoluted plan to have CCDC go into debt (which it can legally do), but not use CCDC funds–all on behalf of the auditorium district.

The plan as it stands now is to launder a loan through the Capital City Development Corp (CCDC). The terms of the so-called lease agreement call for CCDC to sell 24 year bonds in the amount of $22 million using the G-BAD credit and ability to repay.
G-BAD figures they can somehow convince a judge through a “judicial confirmation” petition they will merely be leasing the “project” on an annual basis. The project is actually a condominium portion of the new building proposed by the Gardner development group of Zion Bank fame.

The lease agreement blatantly uses an interest and principal component and even bases the rental payments on the cost of the bonds. Those close to the project refer to the CCDC role as a “pass through” which will not use tax money diverted from schools, city, county, and ACHD to fund urban renewal.

In layman terms the deal is like renting a house with the intent of owning it after making payments for 24 years, but using someone else’s credit rating and including a “non-appropriation” clause which says you don’t have to pay the rent.

Even though the intent is to OWN the project after 24 years, G-BAD is asking a judge to find they are not really going to PURCHASE the project, just LEASE it and magically get title at the end.

Ada County Treasurer Vicky McIntyre testified at a G-BAD public hearing last Wednesday and told the board she is a frequent purchaser of bonds on behalf of Ada County, but would never invest in bonds which have a “non-appropriation” clause and call for a third party to ultimately own the project.

GUARDIAN editor David R. Frazier also testified before the board urging them to hold an election as mandated by the constitution. He said the project at $38,000,000 was “so profound it deserves the vote of citizens, not just a single judge.”

A tale of two projects

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The announcement by the J. R. Simplot Company to build a nine story headquarters at 11th and Front while Gardner plans a new project at 8th and Main brings to mind the differences in funding.
Simplot’s project won’t depend on public money like the Gardner project which depends of lots of public money–just for the foundation.

Simplot may very well create a demand for parking structures and bicycles, but by the time the new building is a reality, the CCDC Central District will nearly be expired (2017) … then there is Team Dave’s desire named street car.

Taxpayers–under the current Gardner scheme–will fund a good portion of the basement foundation in the form of a “transit center.” Citizens will have no voice in the project which depends upon money from half a dozen agencies. Don’t forget this location is at least the fourth “perfect location” for a transit center.

One of the troubling aspects includes a “ballroom” in the Gardner structure planned for the Center on the Grove which depends upon future public tax money from the Greater Boise Auditorium District.

Idaho’s constitution mandates agencies must seek voter approval to spend future tax money. GBAD has a hearing set for May 21 as the first move to circumvent the public and get a single judge to “confirm” the ballroom is “ordinary and necessary.”

If the project is viable, we suggest Gardner put its hands in its own pocket to secure financing and charge rent for its real estate.

NOTE– The GUARDIAN is in Vietnam where the government doesn’t worry about public’s thoughts on spending, so we may be a bit slow posting comments.

Downtown Boise, fate unknown

frazier DAVID
FRAZIER

 
Boise
Guardian

The GUARDIAN has been doing some preliminary inquiries regarding the fate of downtown Boise after the Central District urban renewal project expires in 2017.

As it sits currently, no one can offer us a definitive answer to questions of ownership, management, and responsibility for certain Capital City Development Corp. properties.

For instance, CCDC owns 8th Street. It was vacated by the Ada County Highway District and is no longer a public street. It is privately owned from store front to store front between Bannock and Main. Despite that “parking lot” status, Boise parking Nazis continue to issue tickets at meters and enforce the private parking hours as though they were passed by the city council.

No one seems to know exactly who will own the Grove Plaza and the fountain area after CCDC’s district expires. Under current law it appears they are not allowed to expend funds outside a district and if a district no longer exists, who will own the real estate?

We have heard talk of splitting the Grove Plaza ownership among the Auditorium District, the Grove Hotel, and the Gardner Company in order to control access for protest groups that could offend guests at any of the venues. We strongly oppose that move because the area was purchased and improved with public funds and should remain public.

While some folks are enthralled with “private/public partnerships,” we urge caution with the deals. Developers like Gardner sound like great visionary planners when they include public transit centers and open spaces in their plans, but another view would see the taxpayers providing structure foundations and restricted access to public areas.