Tracking code caldwell guardian

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Caldwell City Council Wisely Votes Down Property Offer


THE GUARDIAN attended the special city council meeting today regarding an offer on property for the "downtown catalyst project". The site is the old car dealership at 6th and Blaine in downtown Caldwell.

Mayor Nancolas called the meeting to order and immediately made a motion to go into Executive Session to discuss the terms of the offer with Caldwell City Attorney Mark Hilty. Everyone else, (that would be me and a student from Greenleaf Friends Academy) were excused from the meeting room. It appeared to be a simple straight forward real estate transaction and why the public was excused was explained by Mayor Nancolas as attorney client privilege.

Councilmen Rob Oates and Bob Sobba were not in attendance for this meeting. However, the ones who were there wisely did not approve this transaction. The purchase offer was $435,000 with an additional $129,000 due at closing. The total offer was $564,000 for the land,improvements and additional amount at closing as stated in the contract.

It would appear the Oppenheimer Group is negotiating purchase prices for property and the Mayor and City Council are the principals in the actual real estate purchase agreements. According to sources The Guardian knows and respects this is common practice all over the state.

If and when the land purchase deals are finally approved the block for the new city hall and retail complex will be well over $1 million just to acquire the land for this project unless falling real estate market prices take hold in downtown.

Something is clearly up with the downtown catalyst project, just exactly what remains a mystery to unfold with the passage of time. A city councilor I called gave me assurances that the Oppenheimer Group has not pulled out of the project for downtown Caldwell.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

CWI Joins Long List of Faltering Ventures



Written by David Frazier

The new College of Western Idaho, set to open January 20, joins a long list of ventures that glibly blame “the soft economy” for failing to meet predictions. It looks like the long awaited opening will fall two-thirds short of predicted enrollment.

We fear the bill of goods sold to voters was overly optimistic and a bit simplistic. When folks–including the GUARDIAN–pointed out there were plenty of educational opportunities already available, they were shouted down. We are particularly concerned with the scheme being put forth by the city of Caldwell to build facilities for the Oregon based Treasure Valley Community College, in direct competition with CWI.

Officials at TVCC, CWI, and BSU have all claimed “there is plenty of need” go go around. Apparently that is simply not the truth. Truth is, the institutions all compete with one another for student dollars and government funding. All too often educational institutions view students as sources of revenue instead of minds to educate.

There is really a lot more involved in most of these “risky businesses” than a soft housing market, banking crises, stock market crash, demise of the auto industry etc. GROWTHOPHOBES need to unite and demand that proponents of ANYTHING impacting society “Show us the money.”

Remember Tamarack was claiming all sorts of huge sales–which were really nothing more than EARNEST MONEY AGREEMENTS. Those agreements didn’t translate into cash and they blamed a crooked stock broker in Paris. Right!

Micron gets all sorts of tax breaks, will never pay corporate income tax and remains the largest non-profit corporation in Idaho. Meanwhile businessmen who run a tight ship, pay their staff and don’t run off to Asia have to pay nearly double their unemployment tax rate to care for unemployed workers.

Today’s Daily Paper reports that growthophile developers are scamming to bring in more California companies to populate the foothills near Eagle. Meanwhile Idaho Power is quietly aiming–if we understand the P.U.C. filings correctly–to increase rates for those of us already paying for power so they can service new customers.

Easy to blame “the economy,” but most of these projects are ill conceived and are a house of cards waiting to fall. Whether it is dishonest lenders and borrowers or developer/promoters lobbying governments to give them breaks, the solution is NOT putting more individuals and businesses into deeper debt to “stimulate the economy.”

Editor note:
If you don't think post High School education facilities aren't in competition, then you have failed to notice all the TV advertisements on the tube. We are seriously oversupplied for the population base with higher education options in this valley.
If we build there are no assurances they will come.

"The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague." by Bill Cosby

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Commissioner Ferdinand Takes the Deal On Gun Charge



Let's Make a Deal worked out well for our County Commissioner David Ferdinand. The first jury trial resulted in a "hung jury" and a new trial was scheduled. The below press release is from the Boise City Attorney's website.

"On August 28, 2008, Canyon County Commissioner David Ferdinand’s pending misdemeanor case went to jury trial. After two days of testimony, the six-person jury deliberated and was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Consequently, the matter was set for a new jury trial.
As a result of significant discussion between the Boise City Attorney’s Office and Commissioner Ferdinand’s legal counsel, David Leroy, a negotiated resolution has been reached in this case. The agreement was for the Commissioner to plead to an amended misdemeanor charge of “Obstructing a Public Way” under Boise City Code § 6-17-02.
Both parties carefully weighed and considered the resources required to re-try the matter. Based upon each party’s reflection and vigorous negotiation, this resolution has been reached to avoid a lengthy re-trial and to avoid the uncertainty which trials inevitably pose.
To accomplish this, the City of Boise has dismissed its appeal and amended the Complaint to allege a violation of Boise City Code § 6-17-02, “Obstructing a Public Way”; Commissioner Ferdinand has entered an Alford plea of guilty to this non-firearm related charge; and Magistrate Daniel Steckel, upon the recommendation and urging of the parties, imposed a fine of $50 and court costs of $72.50."

Commissioner Ferdinand also had to fork over $1500.00 to the Feds in this case so maybe this was taken into account.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Charges for Jail Meals


We have all heard of the many things Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona has applied to make jail a less inviting place. The latest in his "innovations" is to charge inmates for their meals.

A GUARDIAN reader sent clippings from the ARIZONA REPUBLIC newspaper with articles about the move to start charging inmates for their meals. Charging for meals will start in January of 2009 if all goes according to plan.

Inmates with money on their accounts will pay for meals before any commissary candy and extras are obtained. Inmates without funds will not be charged for meals if they can't pay but a "tab" of expenses for meals will be kept on each inmate. Should any money be put on their books meal costs will be deducted. Maricopa County bean counters contend meals run an average of $1.11 for each meal served to inmates. The Sheriff is going to charge inmates $1.25/day for meal costs.

The policy of charging inmates for food was authorized by Arizona Legislature in the late 1990's, but Arpaio said he stopped requiring them to pay when he started charging for visits to medical professionals. With the economy down there is a countywide edict to cut 20% from department budgets. Arpaio predicts this effort will trim about 5% from his office's annual meal expenditures. The savings is expected to amount to $900,000 per year off a meal budget of $16 million dollars.

Note: Idaho has a daily charge of $25/day for jail time up to a maximum of $400 for a 20 day sentence. The percentage actually collected is unknown. The amount noted is several years ago and may have changed with the passage of time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TVCC Bonding Question To Be Put Up For A Vote


THE GUARDIAN had a very productive meeting with Mayor Nancolas today along with the City Finance Director and Mayor's Assistant Maggie Colwell. A lot of issues were discussed but the main event is the TVCC revenue bonding will be put up for a vote of the people. I asked post meeting to be able to write the question posed for the ballot but was turned down on this offer by the City Finance Director.

As long as it is made clear the financial obligation to satisfy the bonding comes from property taxes THE GUARDIAN will abide by the pledge to remain neutral when this is put up for a vote of the people.

Urban Renewal has been a sore spot with your humble writer and I had the genuine feeling positive progress was made in a mutual understanding of the Mayor's as well as my sides of this issue. And in no small part I would like to think the Editorial Board of the local paper may have had a positive impact as well.

Final thought on this is why have a non-binding advisory vote when you could have a REAL VOTE for actual bonding. The Mayor and Finance Director said it would take a super majority to issue revenue bonds for the TVCC project.

THE GUARDIAN volunteered to write the question for the ballot but this offer was declined. Somehow my pledge to remain neutral is perceived as a conflict in this matter.

We anxiously await to see how this election effort moves forward for the good people of Calwell and the clarity of the question posed for the elction as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Team Garret and Caldwell Urban Renewal Are Raising Property Taxes Again


Team Garret and his merry men and women on the Caldwell Urban Renewal Board are going to ring in the new year with a plea to a judge to increase your property taxes next year to fund a $8.5 million building for TVCC. They are deeming this a "ordinary and necessary expense" for all of us to bear. The RAISE part comes from the easy pay part of their plan via tax anticipation bonding.

Property tax payers of Caldwell and all of Canyon County are going to get to fund two community colleges. There will be no voting on this so don't ask. Urban Renewal is once again abusing county property taxpayers without their permission.

All property taxpayers in Canyon County will fund this with their property taxes one way or another due to the funds siphoned off by urban renewal (increment taxes). It is a PONZI scheme most people do not understand. Urban renewal laws are quite simply a vehicle to circumvent the voters for big dollar spending projects. It's called THE PLAN.

In a discussion on Thursday (12-18) with the Mayor and the Finance Director, they want to keep the debt revenue ratio to 40% or less. This means they are comfortable borrwoing against 40% of anticipated property tax increment revenue for urban renewal projects. They are ready to leverage in the form of payments and carrying charges $2.4 million a year against the $6 million a year they already receive for Urban Renewal.

Urban renewal is funded with property taxes and not federal government money as most people would like to think. Urban renewal laws were set up by the state legislature to deal with urban blight. To date, very little of the urban renewal property taxes collected in Caldwell have gone to improve or renew blighted areas. Pork projects have dominated urban renewal spending. It is called "The Plan".

THE GUARDIAN learned today the City of Caldwell East Urban Renewal District is moving forward to issue $8.5 million in revenue bonds to fund TVCC in the Sky Ranch business park. This bonding will be in addition to $8 million in revenue bonds issued to subsidize water and sewer projects for developers. Bonds are like credit cards to these folks. Buy now and pay more later via the interst on the bonds.

The urban renewal board meeting will be this Thursday at 12:00 Noon at city hall to approve this next measure of property taxpayer abuse. The mayor and his finance director steadfastly have refused to put this up for a vote of the people.

The last meeting in early Dcember was attended by all the talking heads in favor of putting more debt on the already overburdened Caldwell and Canyon County property tax payers. It sparked a very enligtening editorial piece by the Idaho Press Tribune questioning why these matters are not put up for a vote of the people. This meeting will seal the deal and move it forward for a judge to approve their move without your approval. They are calling the TVCC project "ordinary and necessary". Most people paying their property taxes this week would disagree.

Urban renewal is the modern day equivalent of "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION". And the bad news is most people have acquiesced in their opposition and rights to object to this abuse of taxpayers. State legislators know the abuses of urban renewal but continue to allow the abuses and pork spending of property tax dollars to continue.

See Don't Worry Be Happy Posting for Mayor Comments.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Commishes Commission Jail Study (Again?)


Well it looks like "jail planning" may have entered the Commishes vocabulary as well as their wish list for 2009 now that money is tight. They are now ready to spend near$10k to get a fix on the cost of building a new and improved 650 bed jail. All the usual suspects and threats abound with this latest effort. The ACLU, Idaho Sheriff's Standards and there may be more we are not yet aware of in the offing. ICRMP says they will continue to insure the county so that threat is off the table. Maybe they could set up a few buckets where the roof may be leaking as well.

The people we hired as leaders of the county are prepared to abandon $1.5 million in engineering studies for the 2,000 bed jail city and the 250 bed warehouse jail. Let's also not forget the false start on the Jerome property 825 bed jail project. Then there is the study done by Rocky Mountain Corrections a few years back that cost us all money. It will be interesting to see how they intend to market the concept of increased property taxes in this economy. The recent editorial the Commishes wrote in the local paper has not helped their cause on this at all. You can check that tome out on the IPT editor blog page.

Their first toss out to the taxpayers was $72.5 million for the Jerrome project. The 2,000 bed jail city was around $80 million for a good start on their second effort. The warehouse jail was pegged at $3.5 million before property and utility costs making this one around $10-15 million was a low-ball effort number three. Now we are getting the soft sell for $35-40 million for this latest attempt at a new jail to house 650 inmates.

The one question not getting answered is how much it will cost to staff, maintain and operate this new facility. If Canyon County is like anywhere USA the annual cost will be around $20 Million, The bond amortization and underwriting will be in the neighborhood of $4 million a year. So we have to come up with around $25 million a year to keep this jail project afloat.

The citizens committee that worked on the Hwy. 20/26 jail site was not given the whole truth when they made their selection for that site. The old saw about the ACLU, ICRMP insurance, Sheriff's Jail Standards etc. was bandied about by the Commishes and the Chief Civil Prosecutor and a short time line to get this jail project started or face some ill defined lawsuit threats. They used deceit to move the committee to their thinking on a jail site. In short, the process was nothing short of a sham per comments from several of the committee members.

If you want to see how good intentions can really go sour, type in Wapato Jail in your search engine and see the mess Portland, Oregon has created. Almost $60 million spent so far on a 550 bed jail and they don't have the money to operate it. I haven't checked lately but to date it has cost the sheriff his job, several commissioners their jobs and the public is really ticked off. Nobody has occupied it except a group of Boy Scouts because the don't have the cash to staff maintain and operate their new jail completed in 2004. Here is the link http://www.co.multnomah.or.us/dcj/oregon_live_wapato-prisonerofpolitics030608.pdf

The good news here is they have finally figured out they will need to ask permission to spend our money. This is a welcome change in attitude by our County Deciders. They ask and we get to decide ... finally!

Again, I am offering space to anyone who feels I am factually incorrect on any of this space to express their thoughts on this issue.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughts on Politics as Usual



George Will writes The Last Word regularly for Newsweek. This week is a particularly good article and I wanted to share some of Mr. Will's insights with you.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) An American radical (yeah, they had them back in the day) said that if elections changed anything, they would be illegal.

John Mueller, an Ohio State political scientist in his book "Capitalism, Democracy & Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery" celebrates "the ascendancy, the curious and unexhilarating triumph, of the pretty good over the ideal. A pretty good institution "can function adequately when people are rarely, if ever, asked to rise above the ignorance and selfishness with which they have been so richly endowed by their creator".

"Democracy, is a from of government in which people are left (equally) free to become politically unequal." "Democracy functions not so much by rule by the majority as by minority rule with majority acquiescence."

James Madison wrote in Federalist paper 45 .."The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal government are few and defined." So, in 1887, President Grover Cleveland vetoed the Texas Seed Bill, which appropriated $10,000 to purchase seed grain for drought-stricken farmers. Cleveland said: "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution."

Calvin Coolidge wrote in the 1930's.. "We save our money and take no chances in its investment. Yet in our political actions we go in an opposite direction."

"As usual. people are saying we must end 'politics as usual.' And as usual, few wonder why such politics are usual."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Commissioner Steve Rule Puts Foot In Mouth via Email




Commissioner Steve Rule is receiving a lesson in manners and why he should not use the county computer against what the written policy is for the worker bees. The Guardian has a copy of the email sent around on the county computer by the Commish for your review. Moreover, instead of standing out front and taking the heat on this deal, Commissioner Rule went into hiding and had the County Talking Head speak for him. We did not elect a spokesperson to do your talking Mr. Rule. We expect you to look us in the eye and tell us the facts eyeball to eyeball.

Meanwhile, pistol packin Commish Ferdinand awaits trial on a concealed weapons charge. And we have Commissioner Beebe and his racist comments on the help used by his contractor to build his new digs out in Parma.

Our elected County Deciders are working overtime to give Canyon County a black eye.

Also,noteworthy two longtimem female Sheriff's employees were terminated for alleged use of the county cell phone for personal use. THE GUARDIAN knows these two people and has always held them and their work in very high esteem. They are known by most people at the department for their professionalism in how they carry out their assignments. The real issue is they got sideways of Gary Deulen,the Chief Deputy under Sheriff Smith. Smith was called in on more than once and forced to pay for cell phone time he abused under Sheriff Nourse.

The email forwarded by Mr. Rule reads: (emphasis, punctuation and capitalization reproduced exactly):

The Black Widow….
This spider, one of only a few poisonous spiders in the USA, can be found all over the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The spider release a neurotoxin into the victim that, if not treated, can cause death!

The Black widow hooks-up with the male then sucks the very life out of him after mating!

She’s very easy to spot…

The female has a very wide backside is Black, and has a red hour glass shaped marking on her belly…

You can find this spider in:
Closets
Wood piles
Under Beds
And soon…..
THE WHITE HOUSE!!!!!!

Note to Mr. Rule, you need to follow your own policy on the transmittal of emails that do not have anything to do with your job or running our county. You guys need to work on building consensus with your constituents and quit trying to circumvent voters on your big dollar jail project. This email does nothing to build a reputation as a community leader.

We now have one Commish with "foot in mouth disease" and one up on a concealed weapons charge. Just another "low water mark" for Canyon County politicos and how they carry out their elected duties.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Positive Note on Illiniois Politics



By David R. Frazier

While the world is pointing fingers at a “tradition of corruption” in Illinois politics, the GUARDIAN takes a different SLANT on the news and offers a positive view–at least Illinois politicos get prosecuted for their misdeeds.

The FBI arrested Illinois Guv. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday. We would like to see a division of either the Idaho State Police or the Attorney General’s office devoted to monitoring and investigating OFFICIAL CRIMES. The FBI has a history of going after high profile offenders, so Idaho wouldn’t likely get much attention, hence the need for a state agency.

Idaho laws provide no easy mechanism to investigate OFFICIAL crimes. In fact, we have trouble defining an “official.” Authority to chase official crime in Idaho rests with the local county prosecutor. They habitually “conflict out” cases to the Idaho Attorney General, who has a meager investigator staff and is forced to ignore minor offenses.

For government at any level to claim they don’t have political corruption is the ultimate in naivety and denial. It’s like saying, “our citizens are all law abiding, so we don’t need coppers.”

We have coppers sitting along the road and in school zones watching for “potential and possible” speed violators. We have bank auditors and accountants looking for fraud. There are “security cameras” in every retail outlet to catch shoplifters. Yet, we have no oversight of government officials.

With priests and scout leaders preying on young boys, teachers engaging in sex with students, it certainly is not inappropriate to be ever vigilant when it comes to elected officials in cities, counties, and states everywhere–including the Gem state

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Don't Worry Be Happy!




THE GUARDIAN received the cartoon in this post from a friend and wanted to share it with you. People are starting to question what is going on with their money. The IPT had an excellent Our View editorial piece on Urban Renewal and no voting on big dollar projects in their Sunday Edition. The following are my humble observations and opinions on Caldwell City Government. Thirty-one years of living here gives me license to make these comments and observations. Opposing views are welcomed.

We all know there are many aspects and problems in the daily operations of a city like Caldwell and for that matter any city or county. The point of this cartoon is no matter how dark it may appear to you or your personal finances right now city leaders are looking to the future and how they can spend all the cash they get without much thought or worry about paying future bills.

Caldwell has 21 subdivisions at a total stand still with give or take 12,000 empty lots or ground to accomodate this many lots for sale and no takers at any price. Three of them are in foreclosure and three of them are in bankruptcy. Mayor Nancolas and Team Garret spin this as an excellent position for our fair city when the economy turns around at some undefined point in the future. Cheap dirt will be the catalyst for the next gold rush in land and home values in the valley.

Meanwhile, Caldwell East Urban Renewal crew(Team Garret in disguise) don't get enough money to spend via our property taxes and other revenue streams and now want to sign us up for the EASY PAY PLAN. Urban Renewal is moving at warp speed to issue $8.5 million in revenue bonds for TVCC. Urban Renewal now rakes in $6 million a year in property tax money from Caldwell citizens. This is not nearly enough to fund all the big dollar goodies they want. (Six million a year will only go so far and their list is bloated with pork.) The list can be changed modified or anything they want under urban renewal laws.

It looks like a city hall project may have taken a back seat to TVCC given all the maneuvering by the Mayor and City Finance Director. City hall price tag is anyones guess depending on the meeting you attend. Figures from a high of $30 million (Oppenheimer Group number this past spring) down to $8 million (Caldwell budget hearings in August) and everything in between have been thrown out for public consumption.

Add to the city hall laundry list, (word is) they (Oppenheimer Group and the city) do not yet own all the property to start construction of a new city hall project as described at town hall meetings.

Mayor Garret has stated repeatedly in public meetings FEMA is the hold up for a new city hall project. The obvious question not getting answered is how can the good people doing the new D. L. Evans Bank project move forward at Blaine and 10th sans approvals from FEMA and City Hall is at all stop at Blaine and 7th? Team Garret and his merry men need to resolve this mystery for those of us who are more than a little confused.

Meanwhile, DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY as we move forward to our bright future and city deciders attempt spend our way into prosperity with your tax dollars.

The word on the street is NO MONEY for a new city hall at this point in time. THE GUARDIAN has attended almost every meeting on downtown and FEMA flood mapping has been the mantra of city politicos on this deal. Maps, PowerPoint presentations and words continue to flow from the downtown TEAM. Meanwhile downtown Caldwell has a very nice five block addition to the park system along Indian Creek and not much else to bring any economic activity to our city center area.

In the no money category, we must add both a new Caldwell Airport terminal building and police/fire substations that have been promised for over four years. This set of value added infrastructure projects have taken a back seat to funding TVCC and other goodies with urban renewal property tax dollars.

Another bit of bad news for downtown Caldwell has surfaced. The South West District Health Dept. offices will be moving out of town and taking 75 jobs with them when they leave. The previous director found it difficult to deal with Team Garret and he facilitated the purchased seven acres for new digs at Karcher Rd. and Florida Ave. (The mayor calls this moving from Caldwell to Caldwell.) The jobs leaving town will exacerbate the erosion of what little economic base that remains in downtown Caldwell. It may take a while to make the official move in this economy but there isn't any amount damage control that can be done to keep SWDH downtown Caldwell.

Mayor Namcolas rather pointedly said to a person close to THE GUARDIAN that "downtown Caldwell will never be a top priority". With all the stuff leaving downtown, will the last person out please turn out the lights. It looks like it will be the Sky Ranch area for the nerve center of "New Caldwell" envisioned by Team Garret and the Urban Renewal crew.

A tally of urban renewal money spent on downtown and blight removal in Caldwell has been a very minor amount of total urban renewal dollars spent to date. The bulk of urban renewl funds have been spent in areas that could hardly be considered blighted or in need of "renewal".

Last rants in this post are:

The matching streetscape money promised Mayor Garret at the Indian Creek dedication in April of this year is a rant with downtown property owners. While Mayor Garret verbally fantasized about the smell of fresh baked bread wafting along the banks of Indian Creek, downtown property owners have tried to cash in on his offer of matching money. Guess what? There is no money, nor does anyone on Team Garret know any thing about the mayors offer of matching funds to upgrade streetscapes and store fronts.

Finally, there is the long talked about bike trail from downtown to the YMCA. The bike trail seems to be in financial limbo as well.

DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY.

THE GUARDIAN is offering space to anyone on Team Garret who cares to explain anything not perceived as factual in this posting.

Dear City of Caldwell Citizens:

I am taking the Guardian author, Paul Alldredge, up on his offer to respond to many inaccurate and erroneous claims made by him in a recent blog entry. The City of Caldwell is dedicated to providing the truth to the citizens of Caldwell and we appreciate any opportunity to clarify falsehoods and educate the public on our many projects and priorities. I strongly encourage anyone interested in learning more about city issues to contact us at City Hall or view our website at www.cityofcaldwell.org. I will make myself or the appropriate city official available to speak with you. We are never too busy to provide information to those we serve. As we see it, the “Caldwell Guardian” blog represents the view of one private citizen with an obvious axe to grind and therefore, this will be the last time we waste taxpayer dollars and employee resources to respond to personal attacks and claims made without any basis in reality. We will outline on our website, paragraph for paragraph, the truth behind the allegations made by Mr. Alldredge and hope that his readers will take the time to research fact versus fiction. Please contact me at 455-3011 if I can be of assistance to you. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and yours!

Thank you,

Mayor Garret Nancolas

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Caldwell and Nampa Aren't Alone in Abuse of Urban Renewal Property Taxes



by David Frazier

At a time when the economy is tanking and wasteful spending needs to be curbed, Team Dave at the office of Mayor Dave Bieter and the folks at the urban renewal agency are ready to spend $25,000 in public money for a Street Car Salesman!

In an effort to build public support, the CCDC (Capital City Development Corp.) and the City of Boise are joining forces to hire a public relations firm to get their one sided message out. Here is an excerpt from their request:

“The City of Boise and CCDC are collaborating to study the financial feasibility and to design and build the first phase of a streetcar in downtown Boise. CCDC is working closely with the office of Mayor Bieter in this effort, along with other agencies, elected officials, streetcar task force and others. CCDC is the primary client and principal to the contract.”

There must be something in the air at City Hall causing mayors to fall in love with trains and street cars. Brent Coles flitted around the globe and even acted as the point man for a German company wishing to sell Boise a “Regio Sprinter.” Ironically, Bieter recently signed a letter protesting Spanish/German firm even bidding on locomotives for Boston. For more details, revisit the GUARDIAN TRAIN STORY.

Street cars and trolleys are nothing more than novelty items for places like Boise. We don’t have the masses of people needed for MASS TRANSIT. The most recent proposal is for a “circulator” in the downtown area.

Team Dave wants to plant steel rails in the ACHD streets to ”encourage development.” All that will do is cost taxpayers millions of dollars for a downtown novelty ride. It will NOT decrease auto traffic or move people.

The GUARDIAN has offered up a simple bus route GRID MAP which has been ignored by officialdom at all levels. Even if we had a train from Caldwell to Boise, how do you get people to their destination? A decent bus system needs to be implemented before any rails are planted in our streets.

Editor note: Just when we all thought Caldwell and Nampa had cornered the market on urban renewal abuse. This one takes the grand prize.

Nampa Urban Renewal Bonding Decision Will Get Challenged



A recent court decision handed down in district court green lighting Nampa Urban Renewal to issue revenue bonds without a vote of the people is headed for appeal.

First step in the process will be a "motion for reconsideration". The motion for reconsideration will be filed in Third District Court no later than Thursday of this week.

If the motion for reconsideration is denied by Justice Trout it will clear the path for appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court.

The estimated time for the appeal process is 1-2 years to wind all of this through the legal process.

Urban renewal law allows cites to issue revenue bonds without a vote of the people and is in direct conflict with the Idaho State Constitution Article 8 sec 3. Most people do not understand where the money comes from to fund urban renewal. It comes directly from all county citizens property taxes by taxing districts handing over their tax increment to urban renewal.

Urban renewal districts are essentially "taxation without representation" when you clear away all the clutter surrounding the debate for or against.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Caldwell Urban Renewal To Bail Out TVCC Project Developer




THE GUARDIAN learned today Caldwell Urban Renewal board will be meeting to issue $8.5 million in revenue bonds to fund TVCC. (These bonds will not require a vote of taxpayers.)

TVCC Caldwell developer, Norfleet Development Company, may be having difficulty finding financing in today's credit market. Caldwell East Urban Renewal District will likely issue revenue bonds for the project.

Caldwell Urban Renewal is funded by $6 million dollars of property taxes (tax increment dollars) diverted to urban renewal. It represents one third of all property taxes collected each year in Caldwell. Your property tax bills went out this week from the County Treasurer.

Wednesday afternoon a message was sent to Caldwell City Finance Director, Eljay Waite for comment. We have not received a reply, probably due to the timing of the request late today and the Thanksgiving Holidays.

Nampa Urban Renewal court decision last week has opened the flood gates for revenue bonding all over the State of Idaho. Voters will be prevented from any approvals of the revenue bonding in their communities.

A meeting was held today to discuss funding an appeal of the Nampa Urban Renewal court decsion handed down late last week. Appeal organizers are getting their financial ducks in a row. A meeting with the attorney spearheading a Rexburg, Idaho urban renewal appeal is scheduled for next week.

If you are feeling abused by high property taxes and urban renewal laws in Idaho contact me at 208-459-9482 your help to end this abuse of taxpayer's will be welcomed by appeal organizers.


City Finance Director Eljay Waite sent a comment and the project will move forward with the move to issue revenue bonds at the Caldwell Urban Renewal Board meeting. Meeting will be held noon Tuesday 12-2-2008 at the Caldwell police station meeting room.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

County Auditor Questions Sheirff's and DSD Employee Credit Card Use



12-2-2008
The IPT today carried a piece on a informal investigation by the AG's Office and the Canyon County Prosecutors office and have determined the Sheriff has not commited a crime with his use of a county credit card. No mention of the DSD employee use of the credit card for personal use was mentioned.

PA

If you read the Idaho Press Tribune today you know Top Copper for the county, Sheriff Chirs Smith and a DSD employee apparently used county credit cards for personal purchases. Clerk Auditor, Bill Hurst is calling for the County Prosecutor to look into this matter as is required by law. Mr. Hurst has turned his data and information over to Prosecutors Office for follow-up.

THE GUARDIAN did some further research, the following is taken directly from the Idaho Association of Counties Policy Manual on Managing Finances and Ethics..., page 8 of the manual reads....

"State Law:
Effective July 1, 2006, Idaho Code Section 18-5701 was amended to include use of a financial transaction card, financial transaction card account number or credit account for personal purposes or purposes other than a public purpose as a felony misuse of public money by officers. The definitions of these types of cards and accounts are found at Idaho Code Section 18-5703 and include credit cards, debit cards and telephone cards. The penalty for a conviction includes a possible prison sentence of not less than one year or more than ten years and the person is disqualified from holding public office in the future."


A read of the Idaho Code sections pertaining to this all hail back to misuse of credit cards by a former Mayor of Boise and other public officials and employees. Having one of these credit cards is a burden many officials don't want to put up with and simply don't have one.

THE GUARDIAN is calling for an outside audit of all Canyon County public credit card usage and expenses charged to these cards. If personal expenses charged to these cards is a problem, it will surface via an outside audit.

A public records request shows Canyon County has also been paying LATE CHARGES on county credit cards held by county employees. This is very troubling to find out taxpayers get stuck with credit card late payment fees.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned for more.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Commishes Worked Hard to Circumvent Voters With Jail Project



You may want to read the previous posting below taken from the county website as well as the Sunday Idaho Press Tribune before you dive into this tome..

County Commishes have turned a deaf ear to voters for years with a "we are the Decider's attitude" on their new county jail project. It started with the constitutionally illegal lease-purchase of the Jerome property and failed bond election. No plan, no input and no approval has been the net result of their efforts to date from the public. They also have a citizen inspired lawsuit over their latest jail efforts.

Commishes have yet to figure out their job is to build consensus on big dollar capital projects and let the voters give their approval via a bond election. Their efforts have been met with opposition at every turn due in part to their heavy handed tactics and unchecked spending on just about everything.

Consensus building amongst the electorate has vanished with our County Deciders. For years they have been riding a wave of cash on new construction property taxes and have more or less thumbed their noses at voters. The economy is now at a stand still and their cash flow has dried up. The future looks bleak for all of us and tax funded major projects will have to reflect well thought out plans and voter approvals.

The Commishes look very much like the auto executives showing up in their private jets to beg Congress for a bridge loan and no business plan for success. THE GUARDIAN would like to offer the following as a guide (that has not been followed as yet) on seeking voter approvals for a new jail:

1. Define the problem
2. Define all possible solutions to the problem
3. Pick the best solutions that will satisfy price, value and quality limitations.
4. Implement the best solution by building consensus with those you are asking to pay for the project.


What has happened is a closed door approach to just about everything at 1115 Albany Street. "We are the DECIDER'S" and public input and opinion is not wanted or needed. This attitude was demonstrated in the IPT editorial piece in the post below.

To date taxpayers have paid for land, engineering services, plans for a 2,000 bed jail city and a "temporary holding facility", all at a cost of $3.5 million of your tax dollars. Taxpayers know nothing about projected total costs, how much it will take to staff, maintain, operate and transport inmates to the current project site, costs for additional vehicles and manpower to shuttle inmates from the courthouse and new jail site. We all deserve a whole lot more transparency than we have been getting out of the Bunker on Albany Street.

Additionally, Commishes took the fiscally brilliant step of raising work release fees to $25/day this past spring. This move resulted in the vacancy rate going up to around 150 empty beds. Fees have recently been reduced to $12.50/day in an effort to make it more affordable for sentenced people to exercise work release as a alternative to full time incarceration for minor offenses. They discovered rather quickly the laws of price/demand economics really do apply to this irresponsible move.

Empty beds in the Work Release facility should be used for short term non-violent inmates. How does this happen: by simply applying for a modification of the special use permit issued by the City of Caldwell. City officials have indicated they have no objection to this plan if asked to do so.

County Commissioners will quickly embrace the ACLU when it fits their agenda. The ACLU may declare the jail full and are concerned with Article 8 of the United States Constitution relating to cruel and unusual punishment. The fix is up to the commissioners whereby they need to embrace Article 8 of the Idaho Constitution when incurring long term debts and obligations. In short, they get to ask and we get to decide how our tax money is spent.

The public has every right to be informed and participate in everything the Commishes are doing when spending our tax dollars. Nobody elected them KINGS.

Kudos to the IPT for getting involved and sharing information with their readers.

County Commishes and Sheriff Editorial In Sunday Paper On Jail Needs




The following is the county's response to the Idaho Press Tribune's Editorial Board, after their editorial ran in the Sunday, Nov. 16 edition.

Your editorial on Sunday, Nov. 16, states that local authorities “need to bring all the parties involved to the table” on a solution to the jail overcrowding problem that has plagued Canyon County for the past 12 years. In fact, all the parties have been working together for quite some time to cut down on the number of inmates incarcerated, and to design a plan for a new jail facility. Perhaps the Idaho Press Tribune’s idea and our idea of who makes up “all the parties,” differ, but the sheriff, commissioners, police chiefs, judges, jail officials, prosecutors and many others have been involved in planning and preparation, brainstorming alternate sentencing, etc., for years.

You suggest working with the group of people currently suing the county to find a solution that is acceptable to them. It’s time someone pointed out that two of those people were on the Board of Commissioners which built the current jail, and that those commissioners were sued by the then-sheriff for building a jail that did not meet any of the standards of jails being built at that time. All of the things Sheriff Putman alleged came true, and now when the county officials are working together to find a solution that will last more than the three years the Dale Haile Detention Center was good for, those former commissioners are holding themselves up as beacons of wisdom for the new board to follow. Forgive us if we look elsewhere for advice.

You also state “county officials need to meet with the American Civil Liberties Union” to discuss how to avoid a lawsuit. Way ahead of you. Sheriff Chris Smith has been working very closely with the ACLU, and mentioned that to your reporter. So, here sits the IPT editorial board, coming up with all sorts of helpful suggestions to better govern the county, when the county has been implementing those steps for years. It seems to be a blatant attempt to make the elected officials look bad, and we can only hope your readers are too smart to fall for it.

To insinuate that the sheriff, judges, jail administrators, commissioners, prosecutors, police chiefs, etc., are each working in an individual bubble, with no cooperation or communication, is asinine. All of these people work very closely together to do what’s best for the people of Canyon County, and those people include jail staff, who come to work every day to deplorable conditions in which your editorial board, and most county taxpayers, would never consider working.

After the jail bond failed in 2006, we went out to the communities to gather input on a potential new jail, and jail site. We put together a citizens group from a cross-section of county residents, who worked with county officials to investigate every site suggested at those town hall meetings, and that committee recommended the current Notus site, which the county subsequently purchased. Now you are suggesting we meet with a different group of people to discuss a new group of sites. Please realize that after the last bond, the process has taken us two years to get to a point where we’re considering another bond election. If the voters were to pass a jail bond, it would be three more years before we could move inmates into the new facility. If we followed your suggestion, we’d be at least five years from moving into a new jail.

We always appreciate citizen input with positive solutions to county issues. However, going back to a plan that didn’t work is not in the county’s best interest. All of the ideas you suggest we explore have been explored. All this bantering back and forth has been and continues to be counterproductive toward the goal of public safety and justice in our community.

A group of very intelligent people, knowledgeable in sentencing, housing and caring for inmates have been working on this for years. Now, let’s make a deal: since we know about as much about running a newspaper as you know about operating a jail, how about the Press Tribune Editorial Board stops telling us how to run our business, we won’t tell you how to run yours.



Commissioners David Ferdinand, Matt Beebe and Steve Rule and Sheriff Chris Smith

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cops and Compact Cars


Cops in Canyon County, Caldwell, Nampa and all the other cities in Canyon County continue to cling to their beloved gas guzzling Ford Crown Vics. Word on the street is Boise Chief of Police is about to bust a move to smaller rides for his cops. They will come in at $6,000 less per vehicle and save and enormous amount on fuel over the life of these cars. Hats off to Chief Masterson on this decision! He is about to break the entrenched thinking about cars and cops and how best to serve public safety and interest and money.

THE GUARDIAN made an appeal to Caldwell City Deciders at budget hearings this past summer when gas was near the $4/gallon mark to not buy anymore of these obsolete dinosaurs. The effort fell on deaf ears and Chief Allgood got the cash to continue to buy Crown Vics. Chevy Impalas while not the compact car in the above picture get at least 1/3rd more gas mileage and are cheaper to operate.

Meanwhile, taxpayers continue to condone the use of these huge vehicles and the upfront expense of buying them in the first place. You simply can't keep doing the same old thing and expect a different result.

Chief Mike Masterson adds the following clarification:

Just one point of clarification. The smaller more fuel efficient vehicles we are considering will replace the unmarked midsized cars we have in our fleet. Our driving behaviors and needs in these areas demonstrate we can make immediate cost saving and efficiency improvements. For example, approximately 95% of my driving is alone with no other passengers and I don’t have the need to carry safety equipment in my car. The change will be easy for me. I would like to clarify one point in your article. There are no plans at this time to replace the Ford Crown Victoria’s the mainstay of marked police patrol car needs for Boise Police and our profession now for over a decade. Their uni-body construction and safety platform is critical to the needs of officers working in those high risk positions. The time may come where we are forced to reconsider these specialized vehicles (word is that Ford plans on discontinuing production of the Crown Vic model in the near future) but for now we are satisfied with their overall performance

County Uses All Cards In Political Deck For Jail Project


County Commishes continue to play all cards in the deck to try and get a new jail approved. They are now down to using the ACLU and the City of Caldwell as their last set of trump cards to sway public opinion toward a new jail. They have spent around $3.5 million of your tax money on a jail project that is now in court over violations of constitutional issues.

A tour of the jail facility was made last week by members of the ACLU and Commissioner Elect Kathy Alder and others in the media. A Statesman article by Kristin Rodine yesterday quoted one of the ACLU people saying that it appeared the staffing of the jail was too thin for the numbers of inmates. Decider feedback on this was the budget is too tight to allow for more help. If that's the case, where will they get money to staff maintain and operate a new jail facility? People and vehicles to transport inmates from a remote jail into town will also be a budgetary issue.

Sunday, IPT had several excellent articles written by Mike Butts and Bryan Dooley on jail issues. THE GUARDIAN focused on an issue raised by the county deciders that they are prohibited from using 125 empty beds for inmates in the work release center by Caldwell City officials. A check into this by THE GUARDIAN revealed indeed the occupancy permit does not permit regular inmates to be housed in the work release tent. However, a chat with Mayor Nancolas and the City Finance Director as well as the Planning and Zoning Director for Caldwell revealed the county got all they asked for when the special permit was issued by city officials.

If the County wants to use the work release tent to house low level misdemeanor inmates, all they have to do is file for an amendment to the occupancy permit. There was no indication City Officals would deny their request.

Aces and Eights, (the dead man's hand), have the Commishes and the Sheriff backed into a corner. They are quickly running out of reasons they can't utilize those 125 empty beds in the work release center. Not many trump cards left to play on the jail project.

To their credit, the Commishes have lowered daily work release rates from $25 to $12.50 in an effort to get more offenders to utilize work release. Why the raised them to $25 in the first place is anyone's guess. We have to accept they now understand the error of thier ways and the rules of cost and demand do actually apply to this situation.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Idaho Ranks Sixth Worst In The Nation for Govt. Integrity Issues


By Dave Frazier (Boise Guardian)

Idaho made it on another National List recently, placing near the top of the “Lack of Integrity In Government” survey. Probably won’t see any press releases from Team Dave, the Commishes, or Guv. Butch’s spinmeisters on that one.

THE SURVEY by the Chicago-based Better Government Association examined open records laws, open meeting laws, whistle-blower laws, campaign finance requirements and conflict-of-interest laws. It then created a government “integrity index” that put Idaho near the bottom of the list–or the top when it comes to LACK of integrity in government.

Here at the GUARDIAN we see it all the time. Boise City nearly doubles the appraised value on desert land they took in trade, and claimed a 4 year old public hearing was legal authority to trade citizen owned property.

Twin Falls urban renewal agency does a land deal contingent on purchase of property from an urban renewal board member closing 2 weeks after he leaves the board to make it “legal.”

Cities violate the constitutional mandate to seek voter approval for debt and when they get caught they just try to change the constitution rather than comply. Boise and Canyon County try to claim they are “saving up for pay as you go” long term projects rather than allowing citizens the vote.

The citizen who asked for e-mails on a county zoning issue over a sign was charged tens of thousands of dollars for documents until a 4th District Judge stepped in with common sense and ordered the insanity stopped.

The rank of 44th best (or 6th worst) on the integrity list sure makes sense.

Editor note: We are certain you won't have to think very hard to come up with more than a few instances and examples of poor government integrity in Canyon County. The jail fiascos, the job service building purchase, poor responses to freedom of information requests are a few that come to my mind.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Commishes Tool Us Up for Jail Bond Election With Media Blitz



Canyon County Commishes have figured out they need voter approvals to spend big bucks.

It also appears they will not be moving forward against the citizens lawsuit on their piecemeal expense approach on the "temporary, warehouse, permanent, holding facility jail project". They are out of your cash and need bond money.

They still have the cart out in front of the horse. No dollar amount has been mentioned as yet for this project nor are they offering up what it will cost to staff maintain and operate a new jail in the out of town location.

Jail property on Hwy 20/26 site was purchased in 2007 for around $2 million and another $1.5 million in engineering costs have been racked up. A well funded group of ticked off voters have the Commishes in court right now over the piecemeal approach to get around voters on the current jail project.

Commishes have used the last three years in a vain effort to exclude voters from the process and now they want to have a ceremony to convey rights of passage on their financial blunders. County Deciders have managed to evade the voters until the economy tanked. They had an unlimited supply of new growth property taxes to spend. Now they are trying to move the project forward with hat in hand with a bond election after the first of the year.

We are in a different economy, with virtually no new growth taxes to finance irresponsible behavior. They are using the local media to demonstrate the "dire need" for a new jail.

This week we had 17 inmates released from jail. Inmates were given the opportunity to plead guilty and had actually served more time than would have imposed for a sentence should they have been found guilty at a trial.

The little secret few of you know is lawyers, prosecutors and judges have a thing called "the local rule". It is used by both the defense and prosecution to resolve low level misdemeanor and felony charges. Local Rule works like this...the defendant is offered a deal (reads plea bargain) at their pretrial conference for a guilty plea. The defendant enters the plea and the judge sentences them to credit for time served, probation, court costs and a fine. Frequent flyer's at the jail know this and will not plead guilty at their arraignments. Meanwhile, you and I get to pay for their waiting days in our jail. They are in jail way longer than the amount of time someone who can bond out would ever get as a jail sentence.

Average jail sentences run about 18 days. We are dealing with societal screw-ups and mentally unstable people for the most part in county jails. They pose very little "criminal threat" to any of us.

To be clear, the coppers, prosecutors and courts do a great job of keeping dangerous people off the streets and know who these sociopathic threats are in our cities and counties. They work overtime to protect us from these creeps.

Solutions need zero in on treatment for addicts who are good candidates for recovery centers (think Ada County here) and group housing for those with manageable mental issues. Jails are expensive places to house these folks.

Finally, lets not forget about 100 or so empty work release center beds and more use of alternative sentencing. Work release was presented as a desperate need at the time it was built. We spent around $3 million on this facility and it was supposed to be full the day it opened several years ago. Let's not get oversold again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shingles May Be In Your Future


THE GUARDIAN was alerted about folks over 60 years of age and the need to get a SHINGLES VACCINE.

If you had chicken pox as a child you very well have shingles in your future as you get older. Your immune system will get run down and the Herpes Chicken Pox virus is still lurking in your system waiting to come roaring back. That's the bad news. The good news is there is a vaccine available. If you make the effort to get one you reduce your chances of this dreaded old age malady.

Shots are available at the South West District Health Department for $189.00. Sounds like a lot of money for a simple shot. Take a good look at the chap in this photo and think again. Shingles has made itself appear in just about 100% of the elderly folks I know by the time they reach their late 70's or 80's. The shot is no good if you have shingles right now. You must get it before they erupt.

The number at the SWHD is 208-455-5345 to make your appointment. The shot is not 100% effective but it does stack the odds in your favor. The poor guy in this photo is probably and extreme case but everyone I know has testified to the painful nature of SHINGLES. The vaccine is for people 60 years of age or older.

I got my vaccine today and it is painless. And last, you don't get to pick where the virus will erupt on your body. I can think of other areas probably more painful than the one pictured.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Caldwell Sky Ranch Skate Park Open!



A brand new skate park at Sky Ranch opened about a week ago. The place is a rousing success with the local and out of area skateboarders, well over 100 people were using the new park. THE GUARDIAN has been more than a little skeptical about how much usage this new amenity would see given the remote location. It is clearly a case of "if you build it they will come".

A quick chat with people using the new facility revealed the word is out. This particular group came from Boise to test their skills. Comments from the boarders gave the place a resounding thumbs up! They commented the place "blows everything else in the valley out of the water".

Also, located at this site is a state of the art BMX course for bicyclists. It was constructed by a professional in the field of BMX. The BMX course was not getting nearly the workout the skate park was enjoying.

The skate park is almost completed and only needs landscaping and lighting. Financing was done at a cost of $318,000 to the locals via several revenue sources from parks and rec impact fees, property taxes, and outright donations from various sources. It will be money well spent. Signage for safety equipment and the usual "USE AT YOUR OWN RISK" stuff needs to be put up to keep the city liability to a minimum.

Mayor Nancolas indicated at a city council meeting there are two more skate parks in the Caldwell Parks Master Plan. One near the YMCA and one for the Downtown areas of Caldwell.

Sky Ranch skate park can be accessed off Hwy. 20/26 or East Linden Street and Smeed Parkway just east of the interstate and north of the airport. There were a number of adults just watching what these kids can do on a skateboard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Citizen Jail Lawsuit Gets Green Light From Judge


Judge Linda Copple-Trout has given the Citizen Lawsuit against Canyon County Commishes the green light. She denied the Commishes request for a dismissal and the Citizens request for an injunction and summary judgement in this case.

The move by Judge Trout clears the way for citizens to assert their Idaho Constitutional rights against elected county officials incurring long term debt, liability or obligation without a vote of the people.

In a hearing held on September 25th the Judge was trying to determine the point at which the Canyon County Commishes will have created a "point of no return" and will have committed Canyon County taxpayers to a long term debt situation that would be in violation of Article VIII sec. 3 of the Idaho Constitution.

It has also been learned lawyers for the Idaho Association of Counties and Cities in Idaho are flummoxed by citizens all over the state pursuing legal actions against elected officials on the issue of non-voter approved long term debt.

Additionally, Bond Counselors all over the State of Idaho will not issue "unqualified opinions" clearing the way for cities and counties to issue Revenue Bonds without voter approvals. Association of Cities and Counties lawyers will be authoring a constitutional amendment for the legislative session this year to kill the super majority requirement of the Idaho Constitution. Stay tuned for more....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pioneer Irrigation District Letter to Patrons

An Open Letter To Pioneer Irrigation District Patrons
It is with regret that the Pioneer Irrigation District Board of Directors must inform you of a substantial
increase in the 2008 irrigation tax assessment. The 2008 operation and maintenance assessments will be $66 per
acre, a 65 percent increase over 2007. The cost of the assessment expense has doubled from $10 per account to
$20 per account.
To illustrate the impact, the increase raises the cost for a residential lot (1-acre or smaller) by $36; the cost for
an 80-acre parcel of land by $2,090; and the assessment for a 40-acre parcel by $1,050.
We understand the economic impact of the increase and feel it is critical that you know the reasons why an
increase was needed:
• Most significantly, Pioneer must budget to accommodate a large financial burden to pay for water quality
testing and legal fees resulting from its lawsuit against the City of Caldwell. Pioneer filed the suit in January
to protect its private property rights, and to shield Pioneer and its patrons from being exposed to potentially
financially devastating lawsuits growing out of flood and public health risks due to the illegal dumping of
urban storm water runoff into Pioneer’s canals and drains.
Pioneer tried for more than a year to reach some type of agreement with the City of Caldwell which could
resolve the urban storm water sewer issue, but has been unsuccessful. Idaho law expressly prohibits
encroachment into private property of irrigation entities. The City of Caldwell has ignored the law and created
a policy requiring construction of municipal storm water sewers dumping polluted urban runoff into our
canals and drains. We have no other recourse than to stand up to this clear abuse of municipal power.
• Operational and maintenance costs have risen by approximately 40 percent over 2007. This is attributable
primarily to spiraling costs of fuel and chemicals.
• The number of patrons not paying their 2007 assessments has increased significantly, which reduces our
revenues. The level of delinquency is expected to increase even higher in 2008.
• The District’s portion of the costs for maintenance of the dams where our water is stored increased by 45
percent.
We hope this information helps answer your questions as to why this increase was necessary. Please contact us
at (208) 459-3617 if you have any other questions. You may also visit Pioneer’s website for additional
information and updates – www.pioneerirrigation.com.
Alan Newbill – Leland Earnest – Robert Greenfield ~ Pioneer Irrigation District Board of Directors

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pioneer Irrgation Election /Lawsuit May Get People to Vote Water Costs to Increase 65%



Pioneer Irrigation via their attorney Scott Campbell is girding for a massive lawsuit with the city of Caldwell. One of the board members is up for election this year but the deck is stacked against the average citizen. One man, one vote is not the way it works at PID. One acre equals one vote at PID and may be a questionable legal practice based on prior law in Idaho.

The pending lawsuit is something you may not have paid attention to but it will be costly if it is allowed to move forward and Mr. Scott Campbell is not brought into control by his board and patrons. He has cost ACHD and Settler's Irrigation District $2.5 million so far in a similar lawsuit in Ada County.

A friend of THE GUARDIAN got her new water assessment and it went from $5,000 to $16,000 for this next year. Most folks will likely see a 65% increase in their assessments as well. If you live in Caldwell you get to pay for the lawsuit twice, once for the city of Caldwell to defend this and once to PID as the plaintiff in this deal.

If you are concerned about this needless lawsuit you need to get yourself out to Pioneer Irrigation District and vote you land/acreage and kick out the incumbent in the precinct up for election.

You have to get yourself out to Pioneer Irrigation Offices on Lake Avenue between the boulevard and Ustick Road on November 4th, you can't vote at your regular polling place.POLLING HOURS ARE 1:00PM to 7:00pm.

County Assessors Have a Nightmare Number of Bad Valuations to Correct


Monday, October 27th
By Dave Frazier of the Boise Guardian

As the financial meltdown continues it is becoming obvious that dishonest real estate people from developers to bankers contributed to a financial mess that is just beginning to become known.

People who couldn't’t afford to purchase a home were granted loans in excess of the value of the property they wished to acquire. Here is how it worked:

–At the low end of the food chain, appraisers were told come up with a value that would cover the mortgage rate…there is a case in U.S. District Court of Idaho making that allegation at present.

–Mortgages often included various “concessions” as part of the purchase price. Say a house was worth $100,000 and needed $20,000 worth of repairs or upgrades, the mortgage was for $100,000, but the real purchase price was only $80,000.

–Buyers dishonestly claimed income levels high enough to get loans.

–Brokers often rolled second loans for down payments into the purchase price as well.

–Realtors dishonestly reported the $100,000 purchase price to the county and these “sales” became the value, even though the TRUE value was only $80,000. Sometimes the price was even higher if the 2nd loan was included.

–The mortgage brokers and bankers were dishonestly “covered” with inflated appraisals and sold the loans to the likes of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The bubble was getting bigger, but still intact.

When reality reared its ugly head, the bubble burst and we now have a financial crises. Some dishonestly blamed dishonest stock brokers and bankers in Paris.

Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade told the GUARDIAN a whole new method of determining MARKET VALUE–the legal assessment standard in Idaho–needs to be determined. He said it may take legislation to get the changes made, but he admitted the current system is dependent upon factors which may or may not be honest.

Meanwhile we all await the new property valuations that come out in May based on market value as of December

Friday, October 24, 2008

Commishes and Contributions, Saints or Sinners and Money Changers in the Temple


THE GUARDIAN has been following the latest brohaha over developer contributions to Commishes election campaigns just before a land use case is heard on appeal. We would offer the following for your consideration:

We did not elect these folks because they are saints. On the other hand we would like to think they are looking out for what is best for the folks who put them in office and are taking a long view of what is best in any given situation.

Everyone knows (or should know) we aren't going to be pleased with what our elected officials do 100%of the time. It would simply be an unrealistic expectation for all concerned if you disagree with the previous statement.

The first ammendment to the constitution allows freedom of speech and campaign contributions are a part of that free speech. That said, our elected officials owe it to the people who put them into office to not have even the slightest hint of the "APPEARANCE OF EVIL" on or off the job. When a developer and the realtor of a project contribute money to a Commishes campaign who will hear the appeal, it is more than a little suspect. The money is rightfuly viewed as influence buying of the worst sort by more than a few of the folks these guys work for (that would be the voters).

THE GUARDIAN finds himself agreeing with Mr. Bujack's thinking that no laws were probably broken here due to the free speech issue. However, an exchange of money in circumstances like this is a breach of community trust and calls the ethics of this into question. You can't put Humpty Dumpty back together on this deal. It is hoped the Commishes have learned a valuable lesson in the art of Public Trust with this dreadful episode with the money changers in the public temple.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New City Hall Project Will Put Caldwell In Landlord Business


THE GUARDIAN attended the update on the city hall project for Caldwell last night.

The new city hall project has been scaled back to a three story building and will be used by the city, retail and a financial/bank portion of the building. The project cost is now $14 Million down from the first blush of $31 Million and four stories in height. City portion will cost $12 Million when completed.

The City Hall portion will have 39,000 square feet of space in the building but initially occupy 27,000 square feet. The City intends rent out 12,000 square feet of unused city hall spaces. The City will be in the landlord business. This move puts the city in direct competition with folks already trying to lease empty space in town at a competitive disadvantage.

The problem is, the city will pay no property taxes on the "condominium" portion of the building they will own and have put out for lease. Private property owners will be at a competitive disadvantage on lease terms. Somehow this does not seem quite right, owners of downtown property will have to pay property taxes and other assessments and try to remain competetive in the marketplace.

The next issue is that voters have been cut out of any approval of this project. Urban renewal will spend $12 Million of your property taxes without a bond election. It was suggested a voter approved bond election be held to ratify this project but was dismissed as too costly by Mayor Nancolas. The fact that urban renewal usurps 50% of property tax revenue in Caldwell was also brought up and it was suggested urban renewal be disbanded. The city levy rate would then go down by a substantial number.

The notion taxpayers/voters should get the opportunity to vote on a project of this size and cost was dismissed by the Mayor as too costly. A bond election would spread the cost over 20 years. Again, no mention of the levy rate impacts if urban renewal went away in this process. Nor any acknowldegement that voters have been cut out of the capital budgeting process approvals.

FEMA has the project stalled until they can work out the 100 year flood plain issues with the new FEMA maps. There are no alternative sites under consideration for a new city hall at this time. All the eggs are in the 7th and Blaine location.

There will be another meeting of the Downtown Steering Committee on November 19th at noon in the Police Building meeting room.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

County Offers All Residents a Prescription Drug Discount Card


THE GUARDIAN saw this piece of good news for county residents and wanted to share it with you.

Canyon County will soon introduce a discount card program to help consumers cope with the high price of prescription drugs. The county has signed a contract to make free prescription drug cards available under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties that offers average savings of 22 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs.

The cards, which will be available in the next few weeks, may be used by all county residents, regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. Several of the pharmacies in the county will accept the NACo card, and more than 59,000 participating retail pharmacies nationwide will honor it.

“The NACo prescription discount card will offer significant savings for the uninsured and underinsured residents of our county, and even those fortunate to have prescription coverage may use the card to save money on drugs that are not covered by their health plan,” said Board of County Commission Chair David Ferdinand. “Residents do not have to be Medicare beneficiaries to be eligible for this program.”

There will be no cost to county taxpayers for NACo and Canyon County to make these money-saving cards available to residents. Once Canyon County receives the cards, an announcement will be made regarding how and when residents may obtain them.

“Using the NACo prescription drug card is easy,” Ferdinand said. “A cardholder will simply present it at a participating pharmacy. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee and no restrictions or limits on frequency of use. Cardholders and their family members may use the card any time their prescriptions are not covered by insurance.”

The discount card program is administered by CVS Caremark.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Eighty-five Percent of People Think We Are Headed In Wrong Direction In This Country


Polls in one of the news weekly magazines The Guardian reads referenced that 85% of people polled think we are headed in the wrong direction in this country. That is an astounding number of people who are dissatisfied but it is not what bothers me. What scares me is that there are 10% of the people polled think everything is just dandy.

The Guardian would like some of the stuff this 10% group is taking. Property values have gone up in smoke, retirement accounts evaporating like cheap bacon in a hot frying pan, the government bailing out banks and financial institutions right and left and the ten-percenter's are just fine with all of this.

Even the rich folks have to be feeling a little more poor than they did a few weeks ago. Let's not forget the 5% who just aren't ready to say one way or another about the direction we are headed in this country.

We have a lame duck President, a lame duck congress, and most of them on both sides of the isle are worried more about losing their jobs than they are about doing what is right for the citizens of this country.

Big spenders locally still want to unload mega bucks on pet projects. A new police station and library in Nampa to the tune of $68 Million. Caldwell has the "good news" meeting on a new city hall this Wednesday night 6:00-7:30PM at the Caldwell Fine Arts Center. This project will cost taxpayers about $10 million if all goes well and according to plan. Nampa and Caldwell Policticos must be part of the 10% group! I still want some of the "happy stuff" they are taking to justify all this fast and loose spending with the economy in the tank.

You may or may not be shocked to know that there are 570 homes in the Caldwell area either in foreclosure of preforclosure. Inside the city limits of Caldwell there are 123 home in foreclosure and 370 in preforclosure. The attitude of the politicos is that someone will get title sooner or later and the property taxes will still keep flowing their way. This will keep the Urban Renewal sandbox full of cash not matter the economic weather. It is refreshing to know that taxes and death are still the two definites in this life.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nampa and Team Tom Folding Their Tent on Police Station Revenue Bonds But Voters Still Locked Out of Process




It looks like Team Tom and the boys and girls of the Nampa Urban Renewal District have found a new ploy to keep voters out of the loop on a new $27 Million public safety building. Not willing to wait for a "reasoned decision" by Third District Court Judge Trout, they have become keenly aware of Bonner County and Rexburg and citizen intitiated court battles with abuse of urban renewal laws.

Now they want to move forward with a leasing scheme to avoid any voter apporval. If it is a year to year lease with no equity/ownership in the property or buildings and they can walk away with no ownership rights, they can legally do this with your tax dollars. Nampa citizens should be outraged over this move to exclude voters on this deal.

This is another ploy to circumvent voter constitutional rights on the capital budgeting process in Nampa. It is quite simply, abuse of all property tax payers in Canyon County . Team Tom and his band of blind followers want to spend $68 Million before interest and bonding costs when all is said and done. A new library to the tune of $40 Millon is next on their agenda. The good people of Nampa are getting no say in any of these projects. It appears there is no end to what they are willing to do to avoid a proper bond election by the people of Nampa. Whatever happened to "CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED" and consitituional requirements to fund these projects?

Likewise, Caldwell and all the happy smiling people on city council, the mayor and urban renewal board members are about to hitch their wagon to a $30 Million public private partnership in their quest for a new city hall.

Again, there will be meetings with lots of pretty pictures and flowery hyperbole about how good a new city hall will be for our fair city. You citizens can keep your distance and please don't ask about voting a bond election for this project.

The Caldwell Politcos have couched this in terms of a 'CATALYST PROJECT" for downtown Caldwell. Fact is it will do nothing to create a single new permanent job in Caldwell or any new economic activity in downtown. The City of Caldwell's share of this project will be around $10 Million by the time they take occupancy. Again, no vote of the people on any of this stuff. "CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED" is once again trampled upon by the elected and appointed Politicos of Caldwell.

Caldwell will take in $18 Million in property taxes this year with $6 Million right off the top going to the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Board and $12 million going into the general fund. Caldwell Urban Renewal receives a $6 Million annual slush fund that a handful of people decide on how it gets spent. No voter involvement in the capital budgeting process for either city. Voters have virtually no say in how urban renewal monies get spent.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

County Citizens Pay for Urban Renewal Too! This Just in From Moscow (Idaho)


THE GUARDIAN received the following opinion on Urban Renewal from a Moscow, Idaho reader and we are sharing the insights of the reader with you.

Paul,
Thank you very much for your time, effort, and intelligence in exposing URAs as city departments along with the corruption that thereby occurs.

In addition to the arguments already made, here is another consideration:

For those who live in counties where a city has an URA where incremental tax dollars go to the URAs, the out-of-city taxpayers are being taxed without representation.

When a city places participating properties in a URA district on an incremental tax plan, the general tax collected from those properties is frozen based at the initial value of the properties, even for purposes of collecting the county's share of property taxes. Hence, all taxpayers of the county must make up the difference for this lost of revenue that would occur with the incremental value of the subject propertires.

However, the taxpayers who live outside the city with a URA have no control over the city who appoints all the members of the URA board. Thus, out-of-city taxpayers have no recourse what's-so-ever at the polls if they are unhappy with the URA who is in effect taxing them. They cannot vote against the elected city officials who appoint the offending URA board members.

This is taxation without representation.

Thank you again for your efforts. I hope very much that you will be successful.

Wayne A. Fox
Moscow, Idaho

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meeting On Caldwell City Hall Equals No Bond Election Vote



The elected Politicos of Caldwell are holding yet another meeting on the new city hall project for downtown. The Guardian spotted the notice in the Legal Ads in the IPT today. The meeting is scheduled for the 22nd of this month at the Caldwell Fine Arts Center (the old Catholic Church property)6:00 to 7:30 PM. Team Garret and the Oppenheimer Group will give us yet another presentation of what will be a $30 Million project that will be both a new city hall and retail space at 7th and Blaine Streets.

Has anyone given any thought to why we are not getting to vote this project up or down. The short answer is Caldwell East Urban Renewal rakes in $6 Million right off the top of property tax dollars every year and you get zero say on how this property tax money is spent. The new city hall "meeting" is purely a perfunctory effort to say the public has endorsed spending all this money without voter approval and it will be full speed ahead after the meeting.

If the financials on this project go out beyond one budget cycle for any reason then the city will be in violation of Article VIII sec.3 of the Idaho Constitution. Team Garret and the merry men may find themselves in front of a Judge trying to explain what is going on here. Public private partnership is another way of saying we just signed everyone up for a long term debt. Courts in Idaho have already ruled on this shell game played by cities and urban renewal boards.

Next, there is the issue of $470,000 worth of studies and reports on downtown Caldwell done by various experts in revitalization. All of these studies and for the most part, none of what they had to say is being incorporated in this project.

What Caldwell needs is "economic catalyst" not a new city hall. There is not a single function that will take place in new digs that isn't already happening in current city hall office spaces. The only issue is that city functions occupy two locations about two blocks apart.

Team Garret and his merry men think if they build a new city hall it will somehow spark new economic growth in downtown Caldwell. A better use of urban renewal money would be to buy old buildings and tear them down selling the bare ground to private enterprise in a manner that will put the dirt on a par with virgin dirt outside the city core. Call it a subsidy to economic growth. A new city hall will simply take property tax generating property off the tax rolls in downtown.

More troubling in all of this is that the city will be on the hook for close to $10 million for their share of this new city hall project. You don't get a say on this deal but you do get a nice meeting with some pretty pictures. You have been removed from the CAPITAL BUDGETING PROCESS! Urban Renewal is robbing you of any say in how your tax dollars are getting spent in Caldwell.

Lastly, where is the citizen committee report certifying the need for a new Caldwell city hall?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Largest Voter Turnout in Idaho History Predicted


If the November 4 election turnout isn't the biggest turnout in history, you can’t blame the local election officials who have done everything possible to make it easy to vote.

The response to their mail-in absentee ballot campaign resulted in thousands of ballots being mailed to registered voters. In addition, early voting for those who missed the deadline is open Tuesday at the County Elections Center at 1102 Chicago Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until November 3.

Election day is November 4, but Canyon County election officials hope to keep the lines short through their early vote efforts. The panic is caused by a new optical scanner ballot system that neither voters nor election workers have previously used. The old “hanging chad” punch card equipment is no longer manufactured or repaired.

A “paper trail” is created with the fill in the dot system, thus avoiding computer problems and providing for easy recount and auditing.

We voted at our kitchen table and hand delivered the ballots to the Elections Office. The crowd of people in the office voting early was astounding with all the office staff at the front desk helping people to register, vote or receive marked ballots. The fax machine in the Elections Office is humming constantly with faxed in absentee ballot request forms. The turn around time has been running about a week to get requested early voting ballots back to voters via USPS.

The following link will get you more info on an absenttee ballot:
http://www.canyonco.org/uploadedFiles/Departments/Clerk-Auditor-Recorder/Elections_-_Passports/Elections/absentee.pdf. You can also go to the county website to get your ballot request forms.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Urban Renewal Laws Are New Hot Topic



THE GUARDIAN has fielded calls from Coeur d Alene and Moscow, Idaho on Idaho Urban Renewal abuses going on around the state.

People are finally figuring out Urban Renewal money comes directly from property taxes (right off the top) and is then funneled into a "CITY IN DISGUISE" Board known as urban renewal. Voters are figuring out they have been effectively removed from all capital improvement budget decisions in their cities. Property tax money is thrown around at all manner of pork projects and subsidies for developers all over the state.

Nampa Urban Renewal is waiting for decision that will allow them to issue $68 Million in revenue bonds for a new library and police station via the urban renewal. No Vote of the People is going to take place on this deal if approved by the Judge. The Judge in this matter is wisely taking her time about rendering an opinion. The petition in this case was heard in June of this year. Manwhile, Nampa is buying the old Sundowner Motel site for the new police station for $1.5 Million with urban renewal property tax money. Government fat cats continue to belive they can spend their way into prosperity with your property tax dollars.

Rexburg's multi-million dollar swimming pool complex is in the Idaho Supreme Court over bypassing voters on this project. Again, a blatant case of elected and appointed Politicos wanting to spend huge sums of money without voter approval.

Moscow, Boise and Coeur d Alene are spending tens of thousands of property taxpayer dollars submitting "friend of the court" briefs on the Rexburg case. All of this legal manuevering to get around a proper bond election approved by voters.


You might want to ask candidates for elected office how they stand on the issue of Urban Renewal along with past and present abuses of voters rights to vote up or down big ticket spending. Urban Renewal law in Idaho has degenerated to a dictatorial method to remove you from the capital budgeting process.

Think about it! When was the last time you got to vote a bond election up or down for anything other than a new school? Urban renewal has removed this from you the taxpayer.

The State Legislature will surely have some Idaho Association of Cities lobby people there "helping" our legislators to protect cities in their quest to spend money "at will" without voter confirmations on the process. Last year it was HJR 106 and it got defeated in the waning minutes and hours of the session.

If urban renewal districts in Caldwell and Nampa were to fold up shop tomorrow your property taxes would probably go down by about 50% in Caldwell. Nampa the number would be in the range of about 20% or more. Urban renewal is a sleight of hand process to rob you of any property tax relief and remove you from any say on city capital projects.