Tracking code caldwell guardian

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

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.


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
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 –
Alan Newbill – Leland Earnest – Robert Greenfield ~ Pioneer Irrigation District Board of Directors