Tracking code caldwell guardian

Friday, May 30, 2008


THE GUARDIAN got his 2008 tax assessments today, the values on the several pieces of property I own went up between 30% to over 50%. Surely there had to be a mistake made on these valuations. No way can they be sold for the valuations on the notices in today's market.

A low carbon footprint trip on the trusty motorcycle to 1115 Albany Street was made to see just what exactly is going on with these valuations. Well, as it turns out, there were a number of people there equally mystified over the new and improved values of their properties. The Assessor's office was full of angry people and some just plain dumbfounded. I however, remained calm and asked the nice people to explain what happened.

It was explained the valuations on all properties for 2008 were determined based on sales data from January 1, 2007 until December 31,2007. The market was at an all time high for real estate valuations in this area. Now, the market has fallen and nothing is selling but we all get to enjoy the unrealistic 2007 values that translate to 2008 assessed valuations. It stinks, and the people working there know it stinks. They are following the law as written by our deciders at the state level.

We may see assessments fall next year based on this years downward sales data. However, by that time our politicos will have become addicted to all this new revenue and the values may go down a bit but the levy rates will stay high due to the budget driven nature of levy rates. All of our homes have big fat targets on the roof tops and all we can do is get used to all of this taxation and false valuations of our properties.

Bottom line is, they have us all over a barrel on property taxes and there is nothing we can do except complain and get no reasonable adjustments from the good people at the Assessor's Office due to our deciders at the state level. The only thing we can do is not voluntarily vote ourselves any kind of a tax increase (of any kind) for anything until this gets resolved. It is bad enough for people of working age but people on fixed incomes are going to be force out of their homes given all the increases in everything we have seen of late. And now this hideous and onerous burden that we pay or lose our homes to the highest bidder.

Somebody needs to explain a basic accounting principle to the people that make our laws: valuations are the lower of cost or market in the real accounting world. Too bad the state deciders can't figure this one out.

Another approach to assessments would be to use a rolling weighted 5 year average valuations. Each year 20% of the first year drops off and 20% of the 5th year is used in a rolling 5 year average. Nobody gets blindsided and the rolls stay up to par with market values. None of this sock it to the homeowner. What we have now just is not right and they all know it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Citizen Lawsuit Against Commises Has Court Date

THE GUARDIAN has learned that the first court date to hear what citizens have to say to Third Judicial District Judge Renae Hoff is scheduled for June 4th at 2:30 PM.

The people filing have alleged the Commishes are in violation of Judicial Confirmation Laws as well as the Idaho Constitution. All of this stems from the standing issue granted to everyone when another group filed suit against the Jerome property purchase. With the "standing" issue clarified by the Supreme's the Commishes are now open to legal challenges when they cross the line on how they spend taxpayer dollars.

The case is pretty simple. Did the Commishes willfully circumvent Judicial Confirmation law when the bought more jail property out on Hwy 20/26. And did they incur a liability that goes beyond one budget cycle, a violation of the Idaho Constitution Article 8 section 3.

Add to to the above another issue of the Job Service building bid that looks equally doubtful if it will get done this budget year.

It will be interesting to see if the people moving this lawsuit forward can gain traction with the court. It looks like the Baby Boomers more recently turning into Gray Panthers as they move to retirement are on the prod once again against the "establishment".

Court of Public Opinion Opens May 27th

The Court of Public Opinion will hold a session tomorrow called ELECTION DAY!

The voters of Canyon County have an opportunity to make some changes or maintain the status quo at 1115 Albany. It is predicted this will be a low voter turnout election. Only those with feelings and opinions about the issues and candidates will make the effort to show up and cast their vote.

Wednesday morning we will all know if we have made any changes to our Representative Republic form of county government here in Canyon County and if we get some fresh new faces and thinking on how to deal with all the problems and opportunities. THE GUARDIAN does not make endorsements of candidates but hopes that the public recognizes the dire need for some changes in management on the first floor of the courthouse.

Spending huge sums of tax dollars in the manner they have been the past few years without any voting by the public has been very bad form on the part of the Commissioners. The Jail properties purchased and one not yet sold is very troubling. The jail fiasco two times around, the Supreme Court Lawsuit and they can't understand that we want to weigh in (reads vote up or down) on how our money is spent is a problem. The Job Service building purchase and yankng the rug out from under Vallivue School District was underhanded (even if deemed to be legal). Having to get our information from a "talking head" and not directly from the people we elected to stand up a speak for themselves is a problem, not to say an unnecessary expense of our tax dollars. The inablity of the Commissioners to make public records open to the public all the time is an issue. Too many Executive sessions some actually illegal and far too many in the room we never get to see or hear what actually happens behind the closed doors. The Marc Young year long administrative leave mess paid by the taxpayers and accural of vacation while he was on paid administrative leave are more than a little bit troubling. The current cash flow issues that are starting to surface and openly talked about by people working at the courthouse. The outside audit comments about spending monies from the general fund and justice funds that have to be reconciled. The list goes on and on.

All of the above is cause for voter concern and needs to be corrected or ratified in the election process tomorrow. Pick your candidates wisely or we put up with more of the same inept management of our tax dollars.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

County Cash Crunch, Job Service Building and No Sale on Jerome Property

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the cash flow issues at the county are compounding like interest on a bad debt by the day. The loan sharks may be circling the courthouse. The latest is that they do not have the money to close on the much vaunted purchase of the Job Service building nor is the Jerome property sale expected to close.

Reason number one is they can't seem to close the deal on the Jerome Property with their buyer for the $3.8 Million offered on this deal. The closing of the deal has been set back at least twice in less than a month. Seems the buyer is in foreclosure on a house he bought last year and took out a second and third deed of trust to get the money for the earnest money deposit for the Jerome Property (reads house of cards). It has also been reported to THE GUARDIAN that the unnamed buyer has Action Collection after him as well. Their buyer's credit rating has to be very circumspect at this juncture.

Add to all of this a Vallivue administrator is now telling people that the Vallivue School District had a written earnest money agreement with the State on the Job Service building. The 2C County Deciders started a verbal bidding war with Vallivue and the State people. The Vallivue admin crew still can't figure out exactly what happened when they had a earnest money contract. The State and County Deciders pulled off a fast one. The County Deciders had no written agreement with the state people for the job service building. However, they did have several appraisals that they could pick and choose from to make a legal bid on the property.

Currently, the County does not have the cash to buy the Job Service Building this year given the cash crunch they have created for all of us. Buying jail property, not selling the Jerome property and other things that have created a fiscal nightmare at 1115 Albany Street.

It almost sounds like Job Service property deal have created a liability this year that will have to be paid off next FY. (Could this be yet another violation of the Idaho Constitution Article 8 sec.3 and another citizen lawsuit in the wings.)

Sweet promises from the County Deciders talked too loud when the gavel fell on the sale of the Job Service property. Education efforts at redirecting salvageable teens gets a setback dealt to them by both the state and our 2C Deciders. We all have to be very proud of how our 2C Deciders "saved money" for us on this deal.

With all of the financial mistakes this year the mantra for the Commishes can be summed up: Buy high, sell low, collect late, and we pay when you catch us. They really do need to take some classes in Financial Managment at the CEO/Decider level at the county.

Maybe the State can call in a collection service to get their money from the county?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

County In Cash Flow Crunch

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the County Commishes have proven once again that you can't spend your way into prosperity. The latest info to hit my phone wires and email is that the County Deciders have adopted the "buy high and pay late" strategy to get through the most recent cash crunch.

They are holding up employee reimbursements for mileage and expense as long as they dare. They may have crossed the line with some of the employees who have waited several weeks for their reimbursments. The rumor on the street is that it amount to over $50,000.00 held up in payments to employees and accounts payable.

It will be interesting to hear what they have to say if pressed by the media for answers to this deal

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Are Commishes Abusing Executive Sessions?

THE GUARDIAN is getting a lot of phone traffic on the Commishes and abuse of Executive Sessions. In order to get the definitive version of when Executive Sessions are authorized I went to the Idaho Attorney Generals website and looked over Idaho Code 67-2345.

The latest flurry of criticism on the County Deciders abusing executive sessions stems from two issues. First, it was deemed OK to keep all the stuff about Marc Young under wraps because it was a personnel matter. How then is it OK to talk on the record about Mr. Bill Hurst when he was a private employee of the county when he did the audit of the outgoing sheriff. Second issue, is on the front page of the IPT about ICRMP and the jail issues. The Comishes went into an Executive Session to discuss possible liability issues and a plan (decided to build a new jail with no voter authorization of inputs) to circumvent any issues ICRMP may have with the county lockup.

Idaho 67-2345(j) Executive Sessions-- When Authorized, reads as follows: "To engage in communications with a representative of the public agency's risk manager or insurance provider to discuss adjustment of a pending claim or prevention of a claim imminently likely to be filed. The mere presence of a representative of the public agency's risk manager or insurance provider at an executive session does not satisfy this requirement." (See editor note below)

The Commishes violated public meeting law 67-2345 both before the modification in 2007 and after that modification. How long are they going to get to spin this stuff with the press and the media. A verbal discussiion with someone does not constitute immenient legal action.

Why was an executive session required to discuss a plan of compliance (in the absence of a claim) in 2006 and now alright to openly discuss the executive session in the local paper today? Has anyone else fixated on this or even care about open and transparent government?

Our Commishes continue to get away with this behavior in Canyon County and the Ada County Commishes get cited virtually every time they cross the line on public meeting law violations? The Ada County Deciders are hauled up before the court of public opinion as well as the legal system and in front of the bright lights and cameras for all to see and review what went on. Canyon County remains silent and numb to these constant Executive sessions.

Short answer on all of this is the Election and the jail getting done with no voter input and Commishes in a defensive posture before this election.

Editor note 5-23-08: Section (j) of Idaho 67-245 was added July 1, 2007 via SB 1085. A thorough read of the provisions of 67-245 before the changes and after support that the commishes were in violation of the public meeting laws. 67-245(j) was added so that they could in fact have a discussion with their risk management provider subject to pending legal actions. It was added as clarification in 2007. The violation of personnel manual and privacy of Mr. Hurst by Mr. Ferdinand does remain troubling. Maybe a years paid leave of absence will make things right for Mr Hurst given the unrighteous outburst by Mr. Ferdinand in this weeks IPT guest opinion/letter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Downtown Redevelopment Land Prices

THE GUARDIAN attended the public meeting on the Library project for their downtown revitalization in Nampa. The City of Nampa has nailed down land for half a city block at $35/square foot or $1.6MM for roughly 45,000 square feet of land. The other half of the block where a church is the main occupant, the price may be as much as $65/square foot.

All of this points out one of the main reasons for urban blight. The cost of land, demolition and improvements. Price levels for property can be an obstacle when working with a finite amount of capital. The hurdle of obtaining land at a reasonable cost can put a project out of the scope of profitability. It also explains why government is the main developer of blighted properties in downtown locations. They have the means to extract money from the public via taxation to pay for property considered not worth the effort to most folks in the private sector development arena.

Dirt is still too cheap outside of most downtown core areas to make urban renewal a practical reality for most private developers. Hence, we move forward into the new century with urban sprawl and no substantial renewal of used up buildings and the thoughts of "sustainable communities" in most downtown's of America.

Finally, with all the apparent public support for a new library in downtown Nampa why are the City Deciders not allowing the people of Nampa to vote a bond election for their new library. It simply does not add up if the public support is already there, a bond election for this project would seem a fairly straight forward proposition. The Nampa LIbrary project could have been a done deal during next weeks primary election on the 27th of May.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

IPT Candidate Forums and Election Coverage

THE GUARDIAN may not agree with all of the endorsements made by the IPT for this election cycle but one thing for certain is they have done a great job of getting candidates to answer difficult questions.

The format of one question and 450 words to answer and state a position on a given question was super for those following the election process. THE GUARDIAN has heard that the candidates too liked the opportunity to express their positions on the questions posed by the local paper and having more than a few words to answer complex questions on issues.

Again, I would like to thank Vickie Holbrook and the IPT for hosting and moderating the candidate forums and keeping the questions and answers moving forward. You can go online and hear just about every question and answer put to the candidates on the Press Tribune website.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lack of Planning Continues to be A Festering Pimple for Citizens

The Expertology people in elected offices (and appointed positions) are running out of wriggle room. The growing dissatisfaction echoed on the radio talk shows and newspapers with all levels of government from the state to the local levels is the manifestation of past and present lack of Urban Planning and building sustainable communities. Models for good growth and 20/20 hindsight issues abound. However, elected officials and Deciders remain adamant about sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the problems as well as opportunities as we grow in this valley.

The County Deciders have managed to box themselves into a corner with the jail, licensing offices, courtroom space, rural development and transportation corridor issues. They have managed to ignore all of the aforementioned items for years and years. The current crop of Canyon County Deciders want all of us to join the "reactive management bandwagon". The question is and remains .... Where's The Plan?

At the City of Caldwell level we are all going to get to view the latest set of "pretty pictures" put together by the Oppenheimer Group on the 29th of this month. City Deciders shelled out another $50,000.00 on top of the $140,000.00 paid out for the dust collecting Leland Report on top of yet another report put together by Sheri Mckibben and Diane Kushlan before that. We are going to get more blather that a new city hall will be a catalyst for economic development in downtown Caldwell. What is the real solution..take a good hard look at what happened with the city of Boise. The CCDC went in and bought up the properties and leveled the sites in preparation for "economic development". Their Comp Plan demanded that government offices be located in downtown. Economic growth stemmed from the need for other services once the government office deal took off.

What needs to be done? We need a set of folks in elected offices that really understand the ramifications of not having a well thought out plan for growth and the concept of SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES. Urban Planning and a high degree of cooperation and "future vision" at all levels of elected government (especially with Canyon County, Caldwell and Nampa). Another subdivision with culdesacs and a commute to Boise for a job is not "sustainable" now or into the future. You can't build nor can we afford this approach as we move forward in this century.

Think about the transportation mess this valley has right now. We have a transportation corridor called I-84 that was designed to handle the needs local population of around 60,000 people built 50 years ago. Not much has happened with this vital link since it was originally built. Now, after all of the neglect and not paying attention to growth or having a plan, we are going to audit IDT for waste and duplication of effort. Probably a good idea but it won't generate the cash to solve the problems that we should have been addressing early on in this mess. Those in elected offices have failed in thier fiduciary obligations to taxpayers to make certain all growth pays for itself. Impact fee laws are very poorly written to actually be of any help to local government unless they jump through the hoops and strictures put there by developers who helped in writing these laws.

Next, we have Canyon County government. These folks have consistently granted conditional use permits that are in juxtaposition to our County Comprehensive Plan goals and objectives. We have small developments out in the middle of rural farm ground used for seed crop production creating a nightmare for the seed production people. No thought given to the possibility that a backyard vegetable plot may ruin hundreds of acres of seed crops. Pollen follows the wind currents and will pollenate at will seed crops of a like gene pool. Add to that, fragile and inadequate farm to market roads that are now under vehicle pressures they were never designed to handle and we have another mess. Again, No Plan and No Political will to make growth pay for itself from the deciders at the county level. The current crop of Commishes continue overturning staff and Planning and Zoning Commission decisions on a regular basis. Developers consider the appeal process as a cost of doing business and that they will prevail at the Commish and city council levels, if not they simply lodge a huge civil lawsuit in order to get thier way.

Developers continue to dodge impact fees at city levels. Now we are all get to reap the results of NO PLAN for sustainable growth and no political will. We are all going to have to clean up the wreckage left behind for want of some clear Urban Planning via more property taxes.

Elected deciders at all levels have failed to develop plans for growth and have not taken full advantage of the Idaho Land Use Planning Act. Add to that city ordinances that are outdated and weak or not understood by anyone. Most of them probably have no idea of the contents of their land use laws. Accommodating developers at any cost to the people of the community is how we have operated.

To be sure, the State Legislature made enactment of impact fees a real challenge for local government but they also have the power to change these poorly written laws before the next round of growth hits this valley.

We have an election on the 27th of this month and an opportunity to reverse the myopic history of planning, building sustainable communities and general lack of forward thinking that has been condoned for far too long. We should all make the effort to nail down where candidates stand on vital planning issues. Otherwise, we simply get more of the same.

If anyone actually thinks more subdivisions with culdesacs and a commute to Boise is sustainable, they too live in a fantasy world. We can't tax ourselves enough nor can be build roads wide enough or fast enough to accommodate this line of thinking as we move forward.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Commishes Are Defendants in Citizen Lawsuit on Jail Project

THE GUARDIAN was notified late this afternoon a civil complaint has been filed in Third Judicial District Court against the Canyon County Commissioners for violations of Article 8 Section 3 of the Idaho Constitution and Idaho Judicial Confirmation Laws. The filing was made by attorney Dick Harris who is representing the plaintiffs in this matter. The following is a summary of that filing:

1. The Plaintiff's are asking the court to determine if the payments and expenditures to purchase the jail property, engineering, and architectural and other expenses to design/bid/build a jail facility on Hwy 20/26 are violations of the Idaho Constitution and county budget procedures. County has incurred debts and liabilities beyond one budget cycle and have essentially obligated taxpayers without their consent. (Reads no bond election in this matter.)

2. If the purchases, contracts for service and other matters should be declared void.

3. Whether the Commishes should have to seek Judicial Confirmation of any further expenditures related to the jail project.

4. Plaintiffs are also seeking reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in this action.

5. They are also asking for other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper in the premises stated above.

The assigned judge in this matter is Honorable Raneae J. Hoff Third Judicial District Judge. Mr. Harris has also gone before the judge asking for an injunction to stop all further expenditures and activity on the jail project.

THE GUARDIAN believes there was an Order to Show Cause Motion Hearing with Judge Hoff late this afternoon. Not sure of all the legalities here but the ROA report shows a Motion to "Show Cause Why Preliminary Injunction Should Not Issue Directed to Canyon County". In the ROA (record of action) file there is a memorandum in Support of Temporary Preliminary Injunction.

IPT "Pillow Fight" Candidate Forum Report

THE GUARDIAN attended the candidate forum at the Nampa City Council Chambers last night. It was very well moderated by Vickie Holbrook and everyone was for the most part very polite to one another.

Key question was asked by MS. Holbrook. Going forward should there be a bond election on any further money spent on the jail project. Every candidate except for Steve Rule and Dave Young agreed, there should be a vote of the public before any further money is spent on this project.

The next issue that THE GUARDIAN keyed on was the 287(g) training opportunity not taken by Sheriff Smith. George Nourse wants the training for all field and jail deputy staff so they can detain and turn illegals over to the ICE people when they are stopped in the field. This can't happen now when a car load of illegals are pulled over in the field. If they pull up a foreign ID or voter registration card nothing can happen due to the lack of training.

Sheriff Smith is content to have ICE agents in his jail Monday-Friday during regular daylight hours (and not there on holidays and weekends). The opportunity missed here is to hold and deport those that are brought into the jail after normal working hours or who are pulled over in the daily rountine of a field stop after hours. If these people bond out they are effectively out of the reach of the ICE people. Training under the 287(g) program would allow holding and deporting of these people. This is a huge difference in thinking between the two sheriff candidates.

It was pretty much a polite "pillow fight" and well moderated by Vickie Holbrook who asked the question about bonding any further expenses on the jail project.

THE GUARDIAN would suggest that the candidates running for Prosecutor take the time for a quick read of Article 8 sec. 3 of the Idaho Constitution and rethink if the county is in violation of that as well as Idaho Judicial Confirmation laws.

This question will be put to a judge when the citizen lawsuit is filed. Have they created a long term debt or obligation beyond one budget cycle on the jail project. History of expenditures to date and what they are headed for by not completing the project this year suggest that they are in violation of these laws.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Manpower for jail to cost $1,721,653.00

THE GUARDIAN has obtained a copy of the manpower request turned in by Sheriff Smith. The request is for thirty-seven new positions if the jail opens. The positions requested are as follows:
(6) Customer Service Specialists

(25) Deputy Sheriff's

(5 Deputy Sheriff's

(1) Registered Nurse


Seems odd that they do not have any positions for Kitchen help, Laundry/Supply people, LPN's to cover two shifts/day seven days a week. The information obtained that has the heading "BUDGET"NEW POSITION REQUEST AND UPGRADES for the FISCAL YEAR 2008 is the county document where this information came from. Bottom line is that the manpower requests look low in actual numbers that will be needed to operate this new jail once it comes on line.

It will be interesting to hear what Sheriff Smith has to say at the candidate forums about this.

Deciders post cost at $7.8MM for "temporary jail" on county website

THE GUARDIAN has noted a new informational posting on the Canyon County website. Word is that the Chief Civil Deputy Chuck Sari got this information posted as a move to head off the citizen lawsuit against the county that will be filed today.

You too can view the elevations, site plan and floor plan on the county website. I have included the floor plan for your information. Please take note that virtually every function that is carried out at the current jail will be duplicated at this temproray jail project. Laundry, kitchen, medical exam room, admin offices etc.

Mini-Jail you complete us, for only $7.8 million bucks! The county website indicates this will be the total cost but we are unsure of the accounting used here. The numbers have been all over the place and no agreement between Mr. Beebe, the Sheriff and Commissioner Rule on if this is a permenent jail or temproary given what has been stated on the record at candidate forums and the state of the county address last month.

Sheriff Smith has stated publicly that it will only take four people to run this facility! It would seem prudent that we get a clear fix on the operational costs as well as the manpower/manning table to help us all understand the true costs of running this facility. Again, we get the "CONE OF SILENCE" on figures relating to these costs.

The lawsuit gets filed today if all goes according to plan and at the very latest sometime this week. You have to ask youself if this is an "ordinary and necessary" expense for the taxpayers of Canyon County or should this have been put to a vote of the folks that get to pay the bills. Forget all the blather about a citizens committe...they left out the all important step of taxpayer confirmation for this expense. It is called a BOND ELECTION something the Commishes seem to forget about on a regular basis on just about everything they have purchased or built over the past several years.

The County Deciders are shoving this down our throats without any ballot box confirmation on the project. A clean sweep of the first floor elected officials needs to happen this election cycle.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Caldwell Schools Will Meet LEEDS Silver Certificaton

THE GUARDIAN is pleased to report that the new Vanburen and Washington schools that will be built will meet LEEDS Silver Certification requirements. What does this mean? Quite simply that the notion of "sustainable" in the application of building construction will be applied when these new schools are designed and built. The operational costs will not be a low ball deal. Heating, cooling and ventilation issues as well as other factors will be built into these facilities with a quantifiable net savings over the usual "quick and dirty" on operational costs over the life of the buildings.

The Caldwell School District has really done their homework on this effort and are to be commended. The schools will be located on the east end of Marble Front Road for the Vanburen project and the Washington School replacement will be at the intersection of Alder and Montana.

Now all we have to do is get the same level of planning and commitment from the City of Caldwell and the Canyon County Deciders in their efforts for new construction projects in the city and county. LEEDS certification has and continues to enjoy a very low priority with city and county deciders based on performance to date.

Jail or Warehouse? Beebe and Rule Can't Agree ..Where's the Plan?

THE GUARDIAN has been following the pablum getting spoon fed to the public on the Hwy. 20/26 jail/warehouse project. On the 29th of April at the state of the county program Commissioner Matt Beebe called it a temporary jail and will be a warehouse just as soon as they can muster the votes to pass a bond for $80,000,000.00 to build a mega jail facility. Also no mention of the operational costs and manpower costs for this facility has been made by any of the deciders that get to spend our money.

Now comes the County Commissioner Forums and Commissioner Steve Rule who is running for another term of office against Jim Rice and he says it will be a permanent jail.

Costs for this project in defined terms that the taxpayers can understand have never been consistent. The numbers are all over the place from a low of $3 million dollars to a high of $15 million depending on who is speaking at the podium or chairing the meeting.

It is time for the County Deciders to level with the public set a budget and stick to the numbers they budget. An answer to the costs for this project have not been defined and where the money to date has been spent a mystery. Canyon County has no line item for capital projects in their budget. They pull money out of the mattress after they decide how much to spend while in EXECUTIVE SESSION. No minutes, no record and no input or oversight from the taxpayers.

An audit of this project and the defined/budgeted costs are owed to the public. Transparency is sorely lacking on this project.

Word on the street is that the Citizen Lawsuit over incurring long term debt with this project with no vote of the taxpayers will hit the courthouse on Monday May 12th. It will be interesting to see how this moves through the Canyon County Courts and if the local judges disqualify themselves.

We continue with NO PLAN, no information, no oversight, and no agreement on just what the end product will really be in the final analysis. The only thing for sure is we are all going to get stuck paying the bills for the decisions that are made in the room we never get to see.

Friday, May 9, 2008

More Pretty Pictures Scheduled for Caldwell Downtown Meeting

THE GUARDIAN has learned the city deciders have paid out yet another $50,000.00 to the Oppenheimer Development Group to put a "Plan" together for downtown Caldwell. Given all the constraints Mr. Oppenheimer has encountered like no political will ( andvery little cash), no vision, coupled with recalcitrant property owners, downtown Caldwell and the creek project may end up as a nice five block addition to the city park system. And the very nice people from Oppenheimer etal pack up because they can't get anything started in Caldwell.

The $50K given to the Oppenheimer Group will be simply a pretty picture presentation of the possibilities of what could potentially happen and nothing to do with reality. THE GUARDIAN has distilled it down to the City Deciders having one and only one location for the new city hall project with no other sites really in consideration. Add to the mix the fact actual willing sellers of downtown grid property are pretty much ignored by the city for development projects. Let's not forget about those people really interested in downtown virtually marginalized by city deciders for their "out of the box" thinking.

Add to all of the aforementioned the use of imminent domain off the table for property acquisition. And a healthy mix of property owners wanting to retire to the Bahamas or Florida on the sale of derelict buildings. We have the "perfect storm" for nothing ever going to happen in terms of economic development in downtown Caldwell.

What do we have? Quite simply, we will get another pretty set of photos and a report that we can add to the Leland report that cost $140,000 and this one that cost $50,000.00 and a five block extension of the city park system.

THE GUARDIAN has arrived at the conclusion the city decider folks are more or less like stopped clocks, they do absolutely nothing and can be right at least twice a day. There is currently budgeted $3MM in urban renewal monies for downtown Caldwell over the next two years. (Supported in the budget of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency, obtained via a public records request.) It would seem reasonable that if you want to start down the "yellow brick road" blight has to be removed first. To that end it would seem prudent, as property comes up for sale, the urban renewal monies go to buy this property and it get flattened and cleared, no matter where the location in the downtown grid. Then, if someone comes in, a clean palette exists in a lot of different areas of the downtown grid. The possibilities dramatically open up for economic development in a wide variety of locations. All the eggs are not in one basket.

Additionally, people wanting to sell can take advantage of the City bids for their property (or not) but removal and clearance of blight marches forward clearing the way for progress and a revitalized downtown Caldwell. However, this does not mitigate the need for a "plan" and developers held to the parameters of the "plan".

A meeting is scheduled for the 29th of May at the Caldwell Center for the Arts (the old Catholic Church for most of us). The Oppenheimer Group will give us the update on their progress or lack thereof along with some more pretty pictures of the possibilities.

Mr. Oppenheimer and his people have to be very frustrated with what is going on and the lack of progress along with those of us that would like to see an actual plan that sets the agenda for downtown Caldwell. Not many cities get the opportunity to reinvent themselves and the City Deciders have simply not seized this opportunity to redefine Caldwell as a unique city in the Northwest as a model of what can happen with a New Urbanist Planning and LEEDS standards for redevelopment.

The city deciders appear to be content to let things unfold as they may in the absence of a much needed plan.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What this election cycle is all about at the county level

THE GUARDIAN along with some other folks has come to appreciate that this election for people that will hold positions on the first floor of the Canyon County Courthouse is all about two issues for the most part.

1. A vote for Steve Rule and Chris Smith is an endorsement of the new jail project three miles out of town and the consolidation of the car and drivers license offices in the old Job Service building. Reads...we like the direction these folks are taking things and want more of it. This side offers the most expensive option for more jail space.

2. The other side of the issues is Former Sheriff George Nourse and Jim Rice as well as those that oppose the jail project and license office consolidation that are running to fill the open seat created by the departure of Matt Beebe. These people feel this is wrongheaded and want to build a jail project next to the exisiting jail, and have license offices in downtown Caldwell and Nampa. This side offers a less expensive option for more jail space.

The Hwy. 20/26 jail project is about to hit the courts as a violation of Judicial Confirmation Law. The short version is that the county deciders went beyond one years budget cycle on this deal and have created a long term debt or obligation without a bond election or a judges approval.

The jail project was shot down by voters once in 2006. So the commishes pulled an end run around the voters with this "temporary jail" project. Nice try but the financing could not be done in one years budget cycle. So here we go off to the courts to get this resolved.

You can vote early at the elections and passports office at 11th and Chicago Street near the courthouse. Waiting until the 27th of May is not a requirement if you want to vote early.

Marc Young Prosecution to Cost County $$$

THE GUARDIAN has found out via public records the prosecution of Marc Young in the Kiddie Porn matter will cost Canyon County taxpayers a lot of money. We find out now the money paid to Mr. Young for staying home on administrative leave and collecting vacation pay while not working may be the tip of the iceberg before all of this is over.

Canyon County Prosecutor, Dave Young,conflicted out of the case against his son Marc to the Idaho Attorney Generals Office. The AG is charging Canyon County for all expenses and costs related to the prosecution. This past week a Canyon County check in the amount of $13,156.00 was sent to the AG's office for expenses to date. They have not yet even gone to trial and we are down this amount of money! The amount that will eventually be paid to prosecute Mr. Young will make the administrative leave costs look like chump change before all of this is said and done.

The Attorney General prosecutorial efforts will really get expensive if the change of venue to Lewiston is granted by the judge. Hotels, meals, travel, and other assorted expenses will be added to the costs that are already mounting in this case each day it drags toward the final verdict.

The County Info person Angie Sollonis has put the spin on this cost as pretty much a push. If the AG didn't do it, then the county would have incurred the same resource costs. You can be the judge of this logic. Bottom line is that the costs for this will be added to the county expenses, the in house prosecution would have been a null event.

There was not a lot of choice regarding conflicting the case out of the county prosecutors office due to the relationship of the defendant to his father, the Canyon County Prosecutor.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Canyon County "Expertology"

THE GUARDIAN has followed the reasoning why the city of Caldwell wants a new city hall and why Canyon County wants to decentralize and consolidate offices. It all pretty much boils down to NO PLAN.

Caldwell wants a new city hall as a catalyst project for downtown to kick start economic development. Nobody has explained how a new city hall will actually do anything but cost $15 million in urban renewal money. City functions are now in three buildings about a block apart. Administrative, Community development/Engineering, and Police in three separate structures. Seems like a pretty decent set of offices to THE GUARDIAN for a town the size of Caldwell. The city wants everything under one roof to "save money and create efficiency".

Next, we have the County and their efforts to decentralize offices and use tele-conferencing to "save money and create efficiency". The Deciders bought the Job Service building and a lot of other real estate to scatter their efforts "too keep costs down" for the taxpayers. In the case of the county they need more court space and have applied yet another band aid to the problem.

In both instances THE GUARDIAN has to ask ...WHERE'S THE PLAN? (reads where's the beef?). The "experts" at the city and county departments of "EXPERTOLOGY" really do need to do some good old urban planning or we are all in for some very expensive lessons that will be paid for by the taxpayers. Does anyone really belive a new city hall will create economic development in downtown Caldwell. Or does anyone really belive that moving county functions out of the courthouse area will save the taxpayers any money when Developmental Services and the Licensing offices are moved yet again. (reads NO PLAN)

The real opportunities to save the taxpayers some money were eliminated when the county turned down the $11MM offer from the Caldwell Urban Renewal Board, the offer of the Vanburen School property for county office expansion, bought the job service building and the Vallivue School District now has to build a school building.

Jail Project May be in Violation of Idaho Constitution

THE GUARDIAN learned yesterday that the Commishes may be in violation of Article 8 section 3 of the Idaho Constitution with regard to the financing of the TEMPORARY WAREHOUSE JAIL.

In the budgeting process they failed to budget and pay for the jail project in one budget year. The information received indicates the Commishes budgeted $8 million this year and $4million next year. This is not permitted under the Idaho Consitution. They simply can't go out beyond one budget cycle for projects without a super majority voter approval of the project in question.

A citizens group has already put together a warchest of funding to take the project on in court. This new information will surely strengthen the case against the Commishes. Dick Harris, attorney for the citizens group, will be handling the case for this group of folks who want to put a stop to the jail project which has no voter approval for the millions the Commishes are about to be spend on the project.