Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “Boise”

The Boise races

frazierlogo1

Looks like Boise Mayor Dave Bieter will have an interesting football season and it won’t be on the gridiron.

Judy Peavey-Derr, former Ada County Highway District commish, former Ada County commish, and current Greater Boise Auditorium District commish, ran onto the field just before time ran out at 5p.m. Friday to get her name on the ballot, hoping to win the quarterback position so she can call the plays at City Hall.

Peavey-Derr was critical of Bieter’s “urban sprawl” policies and said she is up to the task of running the city following the death of her long-time husband, Allen Derr. She told the GUARDIAN she was not in support of the latest Foothills levy proposal, but would bring some substitute plays to benefit all residents of the city.

The filing deadline for the November Boise City Council and Mayor elections ended with all but one seat being contested.

Former Ada County Sheriff Myron Gilbert was apparently willing to toss his helmet into the game when no one else would challenge Bieter (he filed prior to Peavey-Derr). Gilbert is 84, but still active in local community projects. His biggest problem will be name recognition since he has been out of office for nearly 50 years.

Seth Holden, a BSU student, has also filed to challenge Bieter, but we don’t have any further info on him.

Lauren Mclean, the incumbent at seat 1 is running unopposed. She was a moving force during the first $10,000,000 Foothills serial levy campaign. She bucked Team Dave and voted against the “panhandling ordinance” which was overturned in Federal Court and has gained interest by the U.S. Justice Department. Boise citizens will be forced to pay tens of thousands in attorney fees to the ACLU, thanks to the ordinance.

Scot Ludwig, a Bieter appointee with support of the development community, including the Gardner Company–the big downtown builder–is running for reelection as an incumbent for seat 3.

Ludwig is challenged by Adriel Martinez, a BSU student. Rather than pay the $40 filing fee, Martinez filed a nominating petition with 10 signatures. At least two of the signatures are invalid because the people live in Kuna and Garden City–outside Boise City limits. The Ada County election clerk certified only 3 signatures on the Martinez petition and 5 are needed to qualify as a candidate.

The seat 5 race looks like a re-match, in part, of the election from four years ago. Incumbent Elaine Clegg is being challenged by former Boise FD Capt. Paul Fortin. Newcomer to politics is Andy Hawes, a 45-year old attorney who is also running against Clegg. Based on coffee shop chatter, the Clegg-Hawes race could be a liberal vs conservative contest in a supposedly non-partisan election.

Circuses and zoos

frazierlogo1

In a Boise Weekly story, Boise City Councilor TJ Thomson and Meridian Councilor Genesis Milam were said to add their voices to the “loud call to end the public exhibition of exotic animals in Idaho.”

The politicos jumped on the anti-circus animal band wagon during the recent run of the Shrine Circus at the Century Link Arena in Boise.

Once again, like many things city councilors do, they are well intended, but not well thought out. Thomson is one of the “keepers” of ZOO BOISE – where big cats, bears, deer, elk, giraffes, and assorted exotic animals are on “public exhibition,” captive of the city and the councilors who run it. If Thomson is true to his position, he will have to either withdraw support of the captive zoo or finesse a response. (As always, the GUARDIAN offers a forum for response).

The GUARDIAN understands and acknowledges the role many zoos play in the preservation of species while providing children and adults a chance to see live animals they may otherwise never see. That said, we too find it unpleasant to see caged animals pacing on concrete floors while locked behind bars – be they at a circus or in a zoo.

Protester Lorraine Guptill said the circus exhibition of animals through strange environments, including the intense heat of the Intermountain West, is detrimental to the creatures’ health. (Sorta like a mobile zoo).

Thomson told the Weekly, “My goal is to start a public discussion. We need to determine if this is something we will continue to support as a community.”

Response by Councilor TJ Thomson:

I believe zoos and circuses are very different from one another.

The animals at a zoo live in an environment that is more spacious and designed to reflect their original habitat. While no amount of living space can compare to that which an animal is allotted in the wild, zoo animals have consistency in their life, with no expectation to travel show-to-show and “perform” before crowds.

Zoo animals rarely come from the wild, but are bred (between zoos) and would not survive if released into the wild. In many cases, animals that are extinct in the wild can still be found in zoos because of these protections. Zoo animals are provided top-of-the-line medical attention, nutritious meals and loving care and social attention. Zoo Boise and other zoos also provide a percentage of the money raised to conservation around the world.

Animals at zoos aren’t “trained” to do ridiculous acts while dressed up in silly outfits to please an audience. Circus “trainings” are well documented to include inhumane tactics, the use of sharp weapons and force the animals into unnatural, painful positions. There is no way to continuously monitor these circus trainings to assure the humane treatment of the animals.

Zoos are heavily regulated and held to mandated standards. Zoo animals don’t travel from city to city, through harsh climates – both hot and cold – confined to small cages for the majority of their life.

There are also public safety concerns using wild animals in shows and accidents have happened that have injured and killed citizens within the public. A circus could put on a heck of a show without the exotic animals and many circuses are dropping the exotic animals, while still attracting the crowds they desire. Circuses serve as the “poster child” of this issue, but there are other traveling shows, such as those that use exotic cats, that I believe would fall into the same category.

Let’s view exotic animals in a zoo, sanctuary, or in the wild. I support an end to the use of exotic animals for entertainment purposes in the City of Boise and look forward to a public discussion on the issue.

First Take

That confederate battle flag debate now moves from South Carolina, where the battle seems to be mostly over (for now), to Mississippi, where the issue is not flying that old flag but the fact that its design is built into the state flag. The speaker of the House in Mississippi is calling for a redesign of the state flag, and it's not hard to understand why: Officials in states around the country are beginning to call for not flying that state's flag alongside the other 49 in official displays. California has already banned it. There's a display of state flags near the Oregon state capital, but the Mississippi flag may be taken down there. Same may happen at city hall in Boise, where Mayor David Bieter called for the change. This is significant why? Because it keeps the subject, and the reason for the debate, in news reports, and around the country, for some time to come.

Coffee wars

coffee

8th Street: Dawson & Taylor is at the green awning on the left/Randy Stapilus

This sounds minor and it is minor, probably, but there seems a need to weigh in on the Otter coffee battle. (As though Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter doesn't have enough battles to deal with at the moment.)

The story, which won't be recounted in full here (you can get a good rundown from Kevin Richert at the Idaho Statesman) essentially is that. Otter's current office, during Statehouse remodeling, is located in an old post office building at the corner of 8th and Bannock streets in downtown Boise. Periodically he slips out for a cup of coffee. Mostly, that has been at Dawson & Taylor, a Boise-owned coffee shop roughly catty-corner from his office. more recently, though, he has been frequenting its' across-the-street competitor, Thomas Hammer, which is based in Spokane. One day recently, Otter was accosted by Dawson's proprietor, who chewed him out, using some non-broadcastable language in the process, for not contributing to local business. (The proprietor later apologized.)

Putting aside the Miss Manners elements of this, there's something interesting about the two coffee shops. As it happens, I know them both fairly well, as a customer, and like them both. Both are friendly places that serve good coffee, and both have good free wi-fi (two key considerations). But as shops they're quite different.

Dawson's - which I've described as my Boise regional office when in town - is funky, informal, artsy, often noisy and seems to draw shifting groups of regulars. Hammer is quieter, simpler, more chrome-and-glass, more uptown, and draws a different clientele - though defining the difference is a subtle matter. There's some temptation to call Dawson's the Democratic coffee place and Hammer the Republican - especially after the Otter incident - but too many people I've seen in both break the types. I've had coffee with plenty of both kinds of party people (as well as non-party people) in both places, up to and including the last visit. But . . . there's a difference, somewhere, between Dawson's people and Hammer people. My guess is that people who have frequented both places can discern a difference, and there's a socio-political analysis here.

Maybe Otter can help. Maybe I need another couple cups of coffee.

ALSO There's this from the Boise Picayune, which extends the story a little further.

Another interest group blog, sort of

Writer Chad Dryden worked for the Idaho Statesman (or one of its subsidiaries) since moving to Boise in November 2005 until earlier this month, when he joined the crowd of the media laid-off. From that point, he has been generating a logical response to the situation: A journalist, he's writing about the new world he's entered.

This is in the blog Laid Off Loser, and there's some insightful and amusing material to be found there. From his description: "I started Laid Off Loser to fill the empty spaces, but also to pimp myself to prospective employers, keep my writing limber (it's like exercise yo), review some music, compile up-to-date unemployment/economy news and network with other Laid Off Losers in the hopes of helping one another find work during this awkward waltz known as the Great Recession."

Newly possibly-relevant question: "Are Costco stock boys allowed to wear iPods?"

Avimor on the block?

avimor

Entrance to Avimor, at Highway 55/Stapilus

We've been following the Avimor saga for a while now, for the reason that in the Boise area it's a big deal: It amounts to creating a whole city off the highway between Eagle (just west of Boise) and Horseshoe Bend. It is the biggest of the large planned developments in the Boise foothills, it has progressed substantially, and it could have a big effect (actually various big effects) on development in the area. Its plans contain, we should note, a number of attractive features; there are also a number of drawbacks.

It has not, however, been progressing very rapidly. In February 2006, Avimore's parent, SunCor Development of Arizona, projected that within five years the project would be completed with 684 housing units, a resident population of 1,952, some commercial development and various amenities. In January of this year, three years in, reports surfaced that just six properties apparently had been sold and two families were resident.

Against that background, consider this report from yesterday's Arizona Republic newspaper:

"Pinnacle West Capital Corp.'s real-estate subsidiary, SunCor Development Co., will attempt to sell $400 million in housing developments and golf courses - most of them in Arizona - to reduce debt and focus on commercial building, the company announced Thursday. Arizona Public Service Co. is Pinnacle's main subsidiary, but the smaller SunCor business has been a drag on earnings recently. In the fourth quarter of 2008, SunCor impairment charges of $32.5 million helped push the parent company to a quarterly loss, so the SunCor board of directors voted to sell nearly all of its assets, spokesman Alan Bunnell said."

There's no reference yet to the selloff on the SunCor web site on on Pinnacle's. Possible Avimor isn't on the block. But it looks likely.

And what will happen to it then?

Micron’s shift out

micron

Micron

It was going to happen sooner or later; the foreshadowing has been here and elsewhere for a long time. But the cuts announced today at Micron Technology at Boise - about 2,000 Boise-area jobs to be gone by August or so - are still a stunner in the community. A lot of area businesses, real estate sales people and legislators as well may b gasping for air this morning.

"Micron Technology Responds to Continued Decreases in Demand," runs the press release, which may be true, but also is reflective of a long-term shift for not only Micron but aso most others in high tech; among other things, a shift overseas. Core sentence for local purposes: "This action will reduce employment at Micron’s Idaho sites by approximately 500 employees in the near term and as many as 2,000 positions by the end of the company’s fiscal year."

The outward swirl from the change will hit at least a couple of thousand other jobs, depress real estate prices and maye shutter a few businesses. Not a happy prospect at the moment.

The Idaho Statesman calculates that the move will take Micron job levels back to the early 90s, when it was in aggressive expansion mode, and make it not the first but second largest employer in the state. A major, major development; one of the top Idaho stories of the year.

Obama candidate fallout

The call in today's inaugural speech by the new president for getting involved may cause a whole large new crop of candidates, some of them recent graduates of the successful Obama campaign, to jump in. Here's one in the Northwest who just did.

Thomson logo

logo for TJ Thomson campaign

From a just-received press release (oddly, no web site yet): "At the Obama Inaugural Celebration in Boise tonight, TJ Thomson declared his intent to run for the Boise City Council in 2009. Earlier today, TJ filed an Appointment and Certification of Political Treasurer for Candidacy with the City of Boise, naming former Idaho State Senator, Gail Bray, as his Political Treasurer. TJ is well known throughout Idaho as an engaged citizen and respected policy analyst, program evaluator, and community organizer. More recently, TJ lead the grassroots organizing efforts for President Barack Obama in the State of Idaho, served as the State Chair of Idaho Veterans for Obama, and addressed a crowd of over 14,000 at Taco Bell Arena, during Barack Obama visit to Boise prior to Idaho’s Super Tuesday election."

No particular predictions, other than this: He's likely to run a strong campaign. The basis for thinking he will, at least, is pretty solid.

Avimor’s timeline

We've been wondering about how the string of mega-developments around Boise, all launched a year or two to mere months before the real estate/finance crash last year, are getting along. The key case would be Avimor.

Avimor is a big development, located in the Boise foothills partway between Eagle and Horseshoe Bend off Highway 55. The developers' web site offers a by-the-numbers rundown: "684: The number of housing units. The majority would be single-family homes, with about 60 multifamily units such as lofts. 75,000: Square footage of commercial and community space. 1,952: Projected population of Avimor. 830: Total acres in Avimor. 498: Acres of open space and parks in Avimor. 9.5: Miles of public trails in Avimor. 5: Years to build Avimor."

Note that last: Five years to build, according to the web statement in February 2006. We're now nearly three years into that.

Their odds of hitting target don't look great. From a post a few days ago in the Boise Guardian:

We got the following from an obvious insider and frankly what they apparently see as a positive sign is pretty weak.

“Avimor has had residents since October. There are three homes closed, two with families living therein. One home is under construction for a family. Another pre-sold home is about to start for yet another family.

“All four families are from the valley and have lived in Idaho for several years. The MLS only has a few spec homes listed which none have sold. Two spec homes have contracts pending, contingent on financing which is almost impossible to get.”

Even if we give them the benefit of SIX homes sold in the past year, it will take 500 years for them to sell 3,000 homes.

Circuit City closes

A big story nationally - there being 567 big-box stores involved - but notable in the Northwest: Circuit City said today it is shuttering all its stores in the United States (though, for some reason, not in Canada). Jobs lost: About 30,000. The company has been in bankruptcy proceedings since November.

CC is a big retailer in the Pacific Northwest. It has nine stores in the Seattle-Tacoma area, one at Bellingham, two around Spokane, one at Richland, five at Portland, two at Salem, one at Springfield, one at Medford, two at Boise, one at Idaho Falls (Ammon) - 25 big stores in the region, employing a whole lot of people. Or, did employ.

On the consumer level, this has a notable impact in some of the smaller metros; Boise, Bellingham, the Tri-Cities and Idaho Falls will have relatively limited choices at this point for consumer electronics.