Tracking code caldwell guardian

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Defining Photo Of Americans In War


I would assume most people with a computer have seen this photo before but for me it has to be one of the defining photos of the Afghan War. We all have it pretty warm and cozy back home while these guys are risking life and limb in a place a lot of people can't even find on a map if they had one in front of them.

As we enter the new year we need to stop and give a prayer and some kind thoughts to these men and women in our all volunteer armed forces. If you have not served in the armed forces you can't begin to understand what daily life is like for these folks.

Let's all hope and pray these young men and women stay as safe as possible in the coming year. The guy in the pink boxers and flip-flops and his buddies deserve the best we can give them to carry out their mission.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Do I Look Like A Criminal?


The weekend news about the Nigerian who tried to blow up a Delta/Northwest flight poses and interesting set of circumstances. The guy had no passport, bought a one way ticket with cash, and his own father reported him as a possible terrorist and he was on a "watch list" of possible suspects. In spite of all this he managed to get on an airplane bound for the USA. What happened here?

The short answer is most of us are very trusting of our fellow humans and want to be helpful. The most often heard question in security queues is ...DO I LOOK LIKE A CRIMINAL? Usually this question is proffered by annoyed and ignorant people who have no appreciation of what is going on around them. The people charged with security check points have a very difficult job of trying to get people through the check point quickly and efficiently. We need a reminder like what happened this weekend that there are people out there who wish us all harm. We need to facilitate TSA and other security people in their task to keep us all safe.

Back to the question. We don't know what bad people look like and living in a free society it is a difficult task to balance freedom, the Constitution and individual rights guaranteed to all residents. I am just happy I don't have to decide what is right and wrong with respect to balancing our rights.

Many thanks to the passengers and crew who reacted quickly to this guy as it sent a message to the people who dreamed this plot up. The message is we won't sit by and let stuff like this go down unchallenged. The story of the people who took quick and decisive action will be a good one once the details emerge. I hope this bad guy has more than a few bruises and burns for this efforts and that he provides some valuable intel when he gets run through the intellegence mill for some answers.

Next time you go through a security check point try to be as cooperative as you can and be thankful these people are there for all of us. This incident will likely cause us all more inconvenience as we travel and go through security check points. We got complacent with security checks and it almost ended in disaster. I'll take safety over inconvenice any day of the week.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Are You Ready To Fund Boise Streecar?


By Wayne Hoffman

Canyon taxpayers may have to help fund Boise streetcar.

Last Monday, the head of Boise's urban renewal agency told taxpayers to do a reverse Fleetwood Mac — stop thinking about tomorrow — when it comes to long-term capital obligations for Boise's streetcar proposal. Then he conjured up a scenario that would require Canyon County taxpayers to share in the burden of paying the operating costs of the capital city's streetcar system.

At a meeting to pitch the Boise streetcar project to property owners, Capital City Development Corporation Executive Director Phil Kushlan was asked how long the streetcar system could be expected to last once in operation and, critically important to the landowners who are expected to subsidize it, what happens when the system depreciates and needs to be replaced.

Kushlan said the system is expected to last 50 to 60 years, and that there are no plans for system replacement once equipment reaches the end of the life cycle.
If the City Council approves the streetcar project early next year, property owners will be told to provide the front money for the capital costs associated with the $60 million streetcar system. But in 60 years, the $60 million streetcar system would cost $353 million to replace, assuming inflation of 3 percent a year.
How will the city come up with the money? Will landowners again be asked to ante up? Answer: No clue.

Is it a good idea, one participant asked, to start a project not having any idea how to pay for the basic capital replacement costs down the road? Answered Kushlan: "We do it all the time."

"We do it all the time," obviously, is not a plan.

Business owners should reasonably conclude that they'll be on the hook forever to meet the needs of "their leg" of the streetcar project.

The concern about long-term funding, by the way, is more immediate than Kushlan might convey. According to the Federal Transit Administration, it is more likely that the streetcar assets will last up to 30 years, not 60. For a look at aged public transit systems in action, one need only visit Washington, D.C., where a June 22 crash on the 33-year-old metro system killed nine people and injured 80.

Answering a critic's charge that there are too many unknowns surrounding the streetcar and its funding, Kushlan said that locally-generated sales tax revenues might be used to pay the operating expenses associated with the streetcar — the so-called local option tax. Of course, that's impossible under current state law, and Kushlan knows that, but he's also imagining a day when the Legislature will change its historical stance in opposition to the local option sales tax.

"But won't people just cross the county line to avoid paying the higher sales tax?" one audience member asked Kushlan. "No," Kushlan answered, "Because the tax will be in two counties," which would be used to pay for mass transit throughout the valley.
So now Boise residents are being asked to put their support behind a project predicated on the notion that it will be funded in part by federal money that hasn't been secured, a sales tax funding source that doesn't exist and Canyon County taxpayers who have yet to weigh in at all.

Here we have a string of "ifs," unknowns and a public that remains unconvinced. Still, the Boise project that was once simply called "the streetcar" is now being referred to as "Phase One," with as many as two other phases to follow. The more we don't know, the bigger this project grows.

Why? Apparently, the answer is simple: We do it all the time.

• Wayne Hoffman is the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank. E-mail him at wayne@idahofreedom.net.

The above is presented in THE CALDWELL GUARDIAN with the permission of Mr. Hoffman.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where Does Urban Renewal Money Come From?


THE GUARDIAN continues to get comments on where does urban renewal money come from. The short answer is local property taxes. The Canyon County Assessor has an excellent piece on the county website http://www.canyonco.org/assessor.aspx?id=7769 if you want to read a good explanation of how it all works. It is worth your time to read this and ask questions of people spending this money you pay out but have no say in how it gets spent.

The short version is urban renewal districts are formed by the mayor and city council where they exist. These same people can then become the governing board. Urban renewal districts are formed with no vote of the people. Their source of revenue is property taxes in the district. They take areas that are likely to be developed into houses or commercial development and call them blighted areas. Once developed all the tax revenue from the increased assessed value goes into the UR pot. Not a penny goes to dilute property taxes all over the cities and counties where they exist.

In Caldwell, urban renewal takes in about $6 million a year right off the top to spend as they choose. This translates to a tax increase of about 22% to all Caldwell residents and you can add another 3.5% to your county tax bill as well. This is due to the increased incremental value of the "blighted property" that now has houses, businesses and other new tax generating activity and not a penny goes to dilute the city/county tax burden. This also means not a penny goes to any of the taxing agencies on your property tax bill. The Urban Renewal increment is given up by these entities for urban renewal projects and outright giveaways the UR boards deem appropriate.

Please take the time to visit the Canyon County Assessor website at http://www.canyonco.org/assessor.aspx?id=7769 and read this very good explanation of how urban renewal gets their money. It is not a handout from the state nor the federal government, it is your property tax dollars. No elected body has oversight of urban renewal agencies.

The following is from the County Assessor webiste..

"Urban Renewal
Urban renewal is an agency set up by a local governing body to create extra revenue. This revenue comes from property taxes.

The first step to understanding urban renewal is thoroughly understanding how property taxes are calculated in Idaho. Before proceeding on this page please read Determining Property Taxes Urban renewal is a complicated subject, if after reading this information you have any additional questions please feel free to ask at assessordept@canyonco.org.

History of Urban Renewal
Laws relating to urban renewal were originally created to make it easier to remedy problem areas of the community that are described in Idaho Code 50-2002. Today, urban renewal districts are typically set up in areas that are already forecasted to significantly increase in value. This is because the urban renewal district receives property taxes only on the Increment value. The more property value increases after the district is put in place, the greater the revenue that is generated by the urban renewal district. Areas that would be attractive to urban renewal districts would be farm ground that has been recently purchased for development."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

TVCC Building Permit Issued With Only 32 Parking Spaces


THE GUARDIAN is concerned about the number of parking spaces that will accompany the new TVCC project in downtown Caldwell. The "city deciders" have determined the project is not a school but rather a "educational services" building and will only need to have 32 parking spaces. Numbers of students anticipated to use this facility have been estimated at a high end of 1500.

We have heard our "city deciders" at all levels tell us this project will bring CRITICAL MASS to our dying downtown. When we inquired about the parking plan and heard only 32 additional parking spaces were part of the parking plan we decided to investigate this matter further. Here is what we got:

"Paul,
The previous figure was based upon “public or quasi-public use” which requires 1 parking space per 300 square feet of gross floor area. However, the building is actually classified as “educational services” since the entire building will be used for the community college and none of it will be used at all, whatsoever, for city offices. “Educational services” requires 1 parking space per classroom.

These parking requirements are taken from Table 10-12-2 “Minimum Parking Standards” from Section 10-12-04(16) of City Code. Counting the classrooms, the science labs, the computer labs, and the work space rooms, there are 32 classrooms which equates, then, to 32 required parking spaces. The 32 required parking spaces can be obtained from on site or off site parking, street parking or shared parking with another use.

In this case, all parking required from the ordinance (which, again, the ordinance requires 32 spaces) will be obtained from street parking within 400 feet of the site, as per the ordinance. If you’d like to come in, I can pull the building permit application and review with you the 32 required spaces.

Please feel free to call me at 455-4662 should you have any questions regarding this matter.
Thank you,
Anne Marie Skinner
Senior Planner"


We did receive a call from Caldwell City Finance Director and Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency Chairman, Eljay Waite that a parking plan with additional parking spaces would be put forth around mid-January 2010. The number was around 400 spaces in and around the area. City deciders have described this project as the critical mass that will bring economic revival to our downtown. If adequate parking is not resolved to meet the needs of existing business owners we may see a further decline in business activity.

Right now I can think of two reasons to go downtown Caldwell. My barber who is located at 7th and Arthur and the Post Office. There are two hour parking limit signs up all over downtown that are routinely ignored. We can only hope the parking problems get taken care of to the satisfaction of business owners downtown.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy Holidays From Your Local Urban Renewal Agency



While most of us are planning for the holidays and trying to finance toys for the kids, urban renewal agencies from around the state are plotting legislation that will give them unbridled control of spending public funds for projects that belong under city voter control--like sewers, transportation, and public buildings.

Their plan to get the state law revised comes at a time when citizen challenges to the authority of these agencies--which are without oversight of any elected body-- or voters are being tried in the courts at bothersome and increasingly meddlesome rates. It is just a matter of time before their unchecked spending and tax collection gets stopped by the courts. Their latest effort and possible answer is to launch a legislative solution called the IDAHO URBAN REINVESTMENT ACT.

The CALDWELL GUARDIAN obtained an "Executive Summary Bullet Point" document of a closed door meeting held recently by the powerful Capitol City Development Corporation of Boise and other interested Idaho urban renewal agency representatives. THE CALDWELL GUARDIAN formally asked to attend the meeting, but CCDC officials politely claimed the meeting was not an "official board meeting" and therefore the public was not welcome to see and hear their strategy session.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How To Figure Jail Bed Costs



There have been several comments on THE CALDWELL GUARDIAN citing Commissioner Alder's comments on Canyon County jail bed costs at $84/day per bed. Here is how they are figured...as straight forward as I can make it for everyone.

Here is how you figure the cost/day for a jail bed (for those who don't already know). You take the labor budget for the year known as the "A" budget and add it to the maintenance and operations budget (all the stuff besides direct labor like water, sewer, electricity, gas, repairs etc) known at the "B" budget and it comes to $9,075,360 for the year for the Canyon County Jail. Divide that by the number of beds (296) equals $30,660 per bed per year. Divide $30,660 per bed per year by 365 days in a year and it equals $84.00 per day per bed.

The above does not begin cover the depreciation of the Jail building nor the original cost of the building, the bond underwriting costs and the interest on the bonds. If you take the $6 million the jail cost when it opened in 1993 and straight line the depreciation for 20 years you can add another $2.77 or more per day to the $84/bed per day costs.

So it might really be closer $90/day per bed with all the hidden costs figured into the equation. This amount of money to keep someone behind bars should not be taken lightly by those of us paying the bills for incarceration.

This is how Commissioner Alder arrived at the cost per jail bed per day for those of you interested in the true costs of jail ops. It costs over $100/day per bed for the IDOC.

People need to be aware of the true costs of keeping people behind bars because it is not necessarily the cheapest solution to a given problem. The recently failed jail bond interest and principle would have ran right at $10,000.00/day or $3.65 million a year for twenty years. This is why "lock them up and throw the key away" makes no sense for taxpayers who are struggling to keep the wolves away from the front door in this economy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

$7MM TVCC Cat Comes Out of Bag One Leg At A Time



THE GUARDIAN received his November 2009 copy of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency minutes yesterday and TVCC downtown building will cost Caldwell taxpayers $7 million in non-voter approved spending. Also, Mayor Nancolas just back from a junket to the National League of Cites has provided insight into what we need to have to please developers in the second paragraph. He seems to have forgotten about rooftops in the community as number 4 in his list to attract developers. We would also remind Mayor Nancolas about the voter approved CWI community college we all got to vote on but no vote on TVCC.

Below are a copy of the CEURA minutes for your reveiw:

"OLD BUSINESS
C/CEDC Activity Report was not available.

Chris Yamamoto, Downtown Redevelopment Director, provided an update on the downtown catalyst project. The project is on schedule; concrete will be poured this week, the steel is on order, and visible structure will be in place by the first of the year or sooner. Preliminary plans indicate the potential for a Gold LEEDS Certification. Chris raised the subject of a parking permit process to protect parking for downtown businesses. Ample parking will be available within three blocks of the TVCC building. Street patrols, downtown signage and student parking permits are several options being discussed.

Mayor Nancolas informed the board that during his recent national conference, the message heard repeatedly from big developers is that they are looking for three things when considering communities for development projects: 1) a community college, 2) an Urban Renewal Agency and 3) an active downtown revitalization plan. Caldwell is on the right track for downtown success.

NEW BUSINESS
Chairman Waite presented the Oppenheimer project letter prepared by Mark Hilty, Attorney, for review and approval. The letter establishes CEURA’s acceptance of the TVCC project and acknowledges CEURA’s involvement and project costs to date. The project budget is estimated at $7,000,000. Attorneys for Oppenheimer and urban renewal are working on the building lease agreement. Motion to accept the letter of agreement between Oppenheimer and CEURA: Hopper/Fouts M/S/P"

The "game plan" as we understand it from previous disucssion with Mr. Eljay Waite is the City/UR will own the property, the UR agency will lease the property from Oppenheimer and will then sublease the building to TVCC at a much reduced cost. The $325k/year they send back to Oregon apparently is not enough to extract from Caldwell. The real question here is how are they going to figure out who gets to pay and how much for the property taxes required by Idaho Law. City/UR may own the land but Oppenheimer will own the building and will have to pay property taxes.

Caldwell propety taxes are 25.5% higher all over the area due to the amounts Urban Renewal skims right off the top. You will be getting your property tax bills this week so you can figure out how much Caldwell East Urban Renewal is costing you each year. The short math is $255.00/$1k of your tax bill.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Does State Revenue Come From?


The following is a summary of where the revenue comes from to finance the Idaho State Government. It was lifted from the Efficiency.Idaho.gov website for your review.

State Totals $2,377,190,000

Individual Income Tax $1,137,130,000
Corporate Income Tax $132,110,000
Sales Tax $963,300,000
Products & Misc. $144,650,000

No wonder Idaho is such a business friendly state,the bulk of state revenue comes from Individual Income Taxes and Sales Taxes. Nearly 90% (89.86%) of the state revenue comes from the working people of Idaho. Corporate Income Tax is a paltry 5.5%. How much more business friendly must we be to attract more and better jobs for Idaho citizens? Add to the corporate income tax structure the right to work law and Idaho is over the top business friendly.

It will be no fun for state legislators this year, given the cutbacks and shortage of cash while the banker induced recession drags on and on. We all need to be thankful the framers of the Idaho Constitution required a balanced budget or we would be whipping out the "GOLD CARDS" to finance budget shortfall. You take in a dollar you can spend a dollar is how it has worked since day one. We view that as a good thing for the citizens of Idaho. It is the one check and balance on people who would spend money we don't have.

It will be interesting to see what gets cut and gored out of the system this year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jail Woes Put Jail Bed Costs on Sale! Hurry Before Sale Ends



What a deal! It must be Christmas and Black Friday for Jail Beds. Canyon County just got to rent jail beds for $40/day. It now costs Canyon County $84/day to run our jail per comments made by Commissioner Kathy Alder to a public service group last week.

Jail bond costs were going to be $10,000/day ($3.6 Million a year) just to pay back the interest and principle on the loan. THE GUARDIAN would submit to the Commishes they need to consider renting all the jail beds they can for $40/day. This is a 52% mark down from what it now costs us per bed to run our own jail.

It currently costs $9.1 million a year to operate the Canyon County Jail. That comes to $24,931.50 per day, 365 days a year. $40/day for jail beds is a bargain no matter how you look at it. The bond repayment costs of $10k/day will fund the county buying 250 additional beds per day. Until we reach that point contract beds make sense. Especially when you read in the paper they are leaving 58 beds empty out of the 296 available. Jails are big expensive facilities that will bleed taxpayers dry if not managed properly. You can't ignore maintenance and cleanliness and not expect to get a lawsuit from the ACLU.

We present this for people to consider as we move into the next phase of trying to sell the voting public a new jail. The costs of $84/day per bed are for real and are a costly reminder of how much justice can we afford. THE GUARDIAN has also taken note we now have five times more people in this country than we did 30 years ago. The reason is President Nixon's WAR ON DRUGS. We have far too many non-violent people in jails and prisons and are bumping up against what taxpayers are willing to shell out for incarceration costs. There is a disconnect between the taxpayers, sheirff, prosecutor and the judges. Jail is not always the best option and it is time Canyon County got serious about other options to jail for low level offenders.

We now have 13 states that have decriminalized marijuana sales and possession. They have instituted medical marijuana laws. Oregon has proposal to legalize drugs will be out next week for legislative debate. California wants to tax cannabis at the rate of $50/oz and the proponents say it will raise $1.3 billion to the State Treasury. The President has instructed the Feds to leave medical marijuana sales locations alone if they are in compliance with their respective state laws. Point is, the WAR ON DRUGS is a complete failure. The political will to keep people locked up for drug use is getting called into question all over the country as the recession deepens and money for running prisons and jails dries up.

Mandatory sentencing is also getting called out for review by the Federal Government. California and their Three Strikes Laws are under scrutiny. The Economist magazine this week has an extensive article on the subject of people getting little to no punishment for the use of drugs in Europe. It is handled for the most part with fines and citations that go to support drug rehab and deterrence programs. On the average 0.2% of people charged with drug violations end up in prisons or jails and the sentences run from a few days to a average maximum of 20 months. Contrast that with the State of Texas where they have people in prison for 99years on marijuana charges.

It may be time to rethink the drug problems in Idaho. Billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on the Drug War since the Nixon years. Sentencing laws aimed at drug kingpins are routinely used against low level offenders and have filled prisons and jails.

One last comment on jails. They are also used as repositories for mentally ill people. In the 1980's President Reagan emptied out the mental hospitals and "mainstreamed" mentally ill people. The reality is these people had no safety net and ended up in jails and prisons. It is far cheaper to keep them in mental custodial care than in jails and prisons. We have got to figure out a better way to deal with this segment of society.

Final note, the Commishes get to fork over $190,000 of our tax dollars to the ACLU for their mismanagement of the Canyon County Jail. This is the final negotiated legal costs of ignoring their responsibility to provide a humane, clean, safe environment for inmates. Think of it as a $520/day surcharge on jail operations for the next year. The price paid for the lesson learned in jail costs and management by the Commishes.

Team Tom Stalled on Police Building In Downtown Nampa


Mayor Dale and the Urban Renewal crew are, for the moment, stalled out on building a new police station and library for the city of Nampa without voter approvals. Team Tom is content to not have voters weigh in on the projects and wants to cloak the project and stop all voter involvement via the Nampa Development Corporation (aka Urban Renewal).

THE GUARDIAN reported earlier this Summer Mayor Dale and his Chief of Police paid a visit to the Commishes trying to get them to agree to a long term lease of "Class A" office space for lease costs of $20/square foot. Now it is getting reported in the local paper they wanted to sell the county the entire second floor of the building for $2.65 Million. In any event the Commissioners wisely backed away from the offer from Team Tom as it would have been a violation of the Idaho Constitution to enter into a long term contract without a vote of the people.

Article 8 Sec. 3 of the Idaho Constitution forbids going into debt beyond one budget cycle for any debt, liability or obligation. Commissioner Ferdinand pointed this out to Team Tom when they paid their visit to 115 Albany this past Summer.

The deal would have entailed handing over the newly remodeled Canyon County Annex to the city of Nampa so they could tear it down for a parking lot. They would have received a $900,000 "credit" good for the first years rent on the new digs. Again, the Commishes wisely backed off this deal.

In the interim, the Supreme Court has now decided the cities must reimburse the counties for their costs of holding court in the cities where they operate separate courtrooms from the courthouse locations. We don't know if the Commishes have made a move on handing the city of Nampa a bill for the costs of running the Nampa Annex to Team Tom or not.

THE GUARDIAN has Team Tom bottled up in the Supreme Court for the moment with his Urban Renewal scheme to get around Nampa voters. There is another case in Rexburg that is similar and if Mr. Ken Hart wins his case against Rexburg's Urban Renewal Agency the Nampa case will also go down for the count against Nampa.

Meanwhile, we all wait and hope citizens and voters are put back into the capital budgeting process of our cities via bond elections. Mayor Tom has no faith in the people of Nampa supporting the police station and library projects and simply will not allow citizens to vote on the projects.

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the Mac's Toys and Hobbies building with 43,000 square feet of space is on the market for $943,000. It is high time our elected Politcos figure out we need to start recycling buildings. Boise Police and Fire figured this one out and have some really nice new digs and a very low cost to the taxpayers. The Mac's building could be purchased and recycled with a serial levy that would raise Nampa property taxes for just two years and the coppers and fire guys would have all the space they need close to the new freeway interchange.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Freedom of Information Not So Free In Caldwell


THE GUARDIAN is finding freedom of information is not so free in the City of Caldwell. We have filed several public records requests asking to see the due diligence records with the TVCC project and the relationship with Oppenheimer Development.

The city clerk has send us several resolutions passed by the Caldwell City Council but nothing on what we asked to review. Idaho Code 9-338 says all public records are , well public. So far it has been a cat and mouse game with the city clerk, the city finance director and the mayor's office. They keep suggesting we ask for the information in a more specific way. All of this cat and mouse stuff is reminds us of the weave and dodge responses people used to encounter at the Canyon County Courthouse prior to Mr. Bujack taking office as County Prosecutor.

We have asked to review all the letters, emails and documents related to the downtown catalyst project, aka TVCC and the financial arrangements with the City, Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency and Oppenheimer Development. We have been met with no such records exist other than the four resolutions passed by the City Council per the city clerk. Now we all know a project with $10 million of taxpayer money on the line has a lot of files and paperwork involved. Question is..why won't they give it up? We have asked twice in the last week to review these documents in a room at city hall. We aren't even asking for copies to be made. The good people at city hall have retreated to the "cone of silence".

The city is also denying the recent termination of Assistant Caldwell Fire Chief Douglas Brown when a reporter for the Idaho Press Tribune asked about this. We have not been able to determine what the alledged reasons are for Mr. Brown's termination. THE GUARDIAN learned this weekend Brown has been placed on adminsitrative leave until the termination papers are finalized. The Idaho Press Tribune reporter filed a public records request regarding the departure of Mr. Brown. We can only hope the good people at city hall decide to give the IPT the information the have requested.

The public has a right to know what is going on at Caldwell City Hall and legal requests are getting denied by the city clerk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coupon Clippers, A Lesson In Economics


THE GUARDIAN had the pleasure of meeting with Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation today. Mr. Hoffman is a very interesting guy with lots of insights into the workings of pork and waste in our government at all levels.

The following was taken from his website and we think it sums up what is going on in Nampa with their urban renewal projects for a new Police Station and Library, Caldwell with their TVCC urban renewal project, Boise with the Trolly Folly and Canyon County with their failed Jail Bond Election.

"A lesson in economics: If you don't buy Fruit Loops, clipping a coupon for a dollar off of Fruit Loops doesn’t actually save money. Sure, the coupon lets you buy cereal for some amount less than you would have, but you’re still spending money you may not have to spend.

State legislators, county commissioners, school board members and city councilmen are coupon clippers, and the federal government is the Sunday newspaper, famous for offering all sorts of great deals to the policymaker in search of a bargain."

Our elected Politcos at all levels are spending us into oblivion. The Federal Debt is now increasing at the rate of $5 Billion a day. The local politicos want to exacerbate the plight of taxpayers without a vote in any manner they can get away with. And when we tell them NO, when we vote they don't think we really mean it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Regional Jails Could Solve Overcrowding Woes



Regional Jail Could Solve Crowding Woes
November 9, 2009 by David R. Frazier

Instead of asking Canyon voters to pony up for a new jail, we would suggest that Sheriff Chris Smith follow his own advice and go for a regional jail somewhere near the Ada-Canyon county line.

Smith is an advocate of regional jails and wrote an article for the Idaho Sheriff’s Association Magazine on the subject. You can chek out Smith's article on the Idaho Sheriff's website as well.

Done right, Ada, Canyon, and the Idaho Dept. of Corrections could join forces and save everyone a lot of money and provide a secure facility to house longer term offenders who have been sentenced or await trial unable to post bond. The idea is to build a facility that won’t require daily traffic back and forth to court. It would take a joint powers agreement and probably operate on a “per bed” basis for operating costs.

Voters from each county would need to approve the long term debt (bonds), but with two counties sharing the burden, it should be very affordable and appeal to voters…not unlike the College of Western Idaho vote as we see it.

Ada Sheriff Gary Raney is onboard Smith’s idea in principal and notes he will soon need additional space in his jail. Both lawmen are eagerly awaiting one of those infamous “feasibility studies” on the topic of “Regional Offender Management Centers”–JAILS to crooks and non-coppers. The study, being conducted by a BSU professor will undoubtedly endorse the concept. The trick will be in the politics of getting two counties and the state to buy in.

We like the idea and can’t understand why Smith didn’t push for it instead of trying to build his own jail. What with illegal land purchases, expenditure of funds for a new jail BEFORE the bond was voted upon, a lawsuit by the ACLU which is billing Canyon about $193,000 for legal expenses, and coppers campaigning on government time, the stand alone Canyon jail as proposed was doomed to fail.

It was sold as a scare tactic to keep bad guys from being turned lose on society, but we doubt they opened the jailhouse doors to many dangerous crooks. Based on booking records we saw, there were a lot of driver’s license and insurance offenders who got jailed.

Smith’s plan for a regional jail for Ada and Canyon County deserves to be considered BEFORE another bond election or the idea will never get voter approval.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

35 Square Miles of Canyon County As Enterprise Zone?


THE GUARDIAN could not help but notice the full page ad in the IPT this Sunday about 35 square miles of prime agricultural land about to be put on the block as an ENTERPRISE ZONE. The Coalition for Agriculture's Future paid for the advertisement and and did a really good job of defining the magnitude and boundaries of this effort.

Commissioner David Ferdinand states in a October 27, 2009 Idaho Statesman article he has been working on this for the past several years. THE GUARDIAN is always more than skeptical of things like this and is starting to openly question the jail project that would have run water and sewer line across the river to the "enterprise zone". The City of Caldwell was going to oversize the water and sewer lines at city taxpayer expense to the jail site. Now comes this huge enterprise zone project in the Sunday paper. Additionally, there was some talk of locating a huge sewer farm in the middle of the Enterprise Zone to service the cities of Notus, Parma, Wilder and Greenleaf.

Enterprise Zones typically operate with tons of tax credits, tax reductions, and outright gifts of land and infrastructure to businesses willing to locate in the ZONE. We have to ask ourselves if this is the new and improved way to get around voters in Idaho. Urban Renewal is under attack all over the state and the cracks are starting to get larger in their methods of bypassing voters for capital projects and incurring long term debt via revenue bonds.

The Coalition for Agriculture's Future is more than a little bit worried about the impact of this particular enterprise zone effort. They wisely and accurately point out that each acre of ag land in Canyon County taken out of production will cost our economy $9,000.00 per year. We have allowed a lot of unbridled development to happen in this valley and the thought of 35 more square miles ruined for ag production is difficult for most people to imagine.

The following is a critique of Enterprise Zones taken from Wikipedia:

"The general critique of Enterprise Zones is whether the system of tax-breaks and easing of planning regulations (as has occurred in Asia, notably in free trade zones of Singapore and Hong Kong where Hall was looking for inspiration in the 1970s) can transition successfully into sustainable economic growth as the Zone is wound down, or whether by special pleading or inertia, breaks and incentives remain in place to stop 'capital flight'. A persistence of low-wage jobs, rapid turnover of firms, little inward investment, or persistent subsidy to enterprise, would not indicate a successful transition.

In the UK, a Government-commissioned evaluation in 1987 found that from 1981 to 1986 the enterprise zones had cost nearly £300 million, but 2,800 firms were established in them, employing over 63,000 people. Taking local transfers into account, only 13,000 net jobs had been created; a possible reason why the Government began to prefer urban development corporations as its main vehicle for urban renewal.[2] However, a notable success has been the London Docklands, now a financial and media powerhouse but largely derelict and with unsatisfactory transport infrastructure thirty years ago when a Zone was first established."

Canyon County has for years marketed itself to the world as the land of cheap dirt, cheap labor, and cheap housing. Are we now ready for a new influx of cheap high turnover industries with more low paying jobs for our citizens? More importantly, who will pay for the infrastrutcture costs for police, fire protection, schools, water, sewer, streets and sewer capacity in an area where none exists today.

We invite Canyon County Commisioner David Ferdinand or anyone else close to this to explain it to us taxpayers of Canyon County and how costs and benefits to our economy will actually happen.

We all know we need more and better jobs for people of this valley but is this Enterprise Zone the right approach and what are the details.

Editor note: We got a response from Commissioner Alder on Enterprise Zones stating that all of this is in the preliminary talking stages and to try and stay positive and this concept moves forward. We would like to thank Comm. Alder for her quick response to our inquiry about Enterprise Zones and the 35 squre miles currently under discussion with the Federal Govt.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How Much Does Caldwell Urban Renewal Cost All Of Us?


THE GUARDIAN asked Caldwell's Finance Director how much the impact of Urban Renewal has on all property taxes in Caldwell and got the following answer in December of 2008.

Caldwell property taxes are 22% higher in Caldwell and everyone in Canyon County pays 3.5% more due Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency. The total amount all Caldwell citizens pay to subsidize Urban Renewal is 25.5%.

All county taxpayer's taxes are 3.5% higher due to Caldwell's Urban Renewal Agency. It is unknown how much more we all pay due to Nampa's Urban Renewal Agency. (Think taxation without representation here.)

When you get your property tax bills this month look at it as a 25.5% involuntary contribution to the urban renewal board to spend as they please with no voter oversight. Proponents would argue it gives the UR boards money to spend on capital projects for the community that would not otherwise get built.

To be sure, there are some worthwhile projects done by CEURA but there are projects that clearly should have voter oversight. Indian Creek got $8 million the YMCA got over $10 Million and continues to get $1 Million every year. Now TVCC, an Oregon base school for profit (they send $$325k/year back to Oregon from Caldwell Ops.)will be the benefactors of nearly $10 Million of Caldwell property tax dollars.

Caldwell currently has unemployment numbers well into double digits. The last numbers posted by the Department of Labor put us at 13% and climbing along with home foreclosures up well over 50% from last years numbers. The Politicos just can't understand why we don't want to pay more taxes for big dollar projects. Especially when we don't get vote on the project in question.

Meanwhile, the tax and spend crew continue to spend money like there is no tomorrow or day of accounting to the public for all the money they have spent with no voter oversight.

Team Garret was more than happy to let job producing big box stores skip over to Nampa and bypass Caldwell. One has to ask just how many jobs have been created with the money they have spent on the YMCA, Indian Creek and now TVCC. $30 Million for these three projects is not chump change for a community the size of Caldwell.

Stationary things have been taxed to the limits of most people's ability to pay. Is it any wonder people won't authorize a bond election for a new jail? The fluff projects have sucked us dry.

When you get your property tax bills this month please take note of how much lower they would be without Urban Renewal. $25.5% lower property taxes is not an insignificant amount of money to most folks who live in Caldwell. We doubt we will see lower property taxes when Urban Renewal expires in 2013.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Post Election Analysis

The low voter turnout in Caldwell screams NOBODY CARES (Or maybe only 34% care)! Given the clear choices between the incumbents and the challengers along with the unbelievable minority who took the time and effort to actually vote. We don't hold much hope out for Caldwell ever pulling out of the doldrums it has been stuck in for the past 30 years or so.

Team Garret remains in tact and it looks like we will be getting a community college in our downtown nobody really asked for like it or not. If they hold to the previously published schedule ground will begin to be broken for this $10 Million boondoggle around mid-December. Meanwhile, Caldwell remains a city where nobody wants to be the retail pioneer and large retail concerns will continue to bypass Caldwell. People seem to be happy with the status of bedroom community to Nampa and Ada County. The Urban Renewal people have to be very happy with the election results.

Meanwhile, Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency inflates the property tax levy by 25.5%and they will continue to spend millions and millions with no voter oversight. Right now that sandbox of cash amounts to about $6 Million each year right off the top of all property taxes collected in Caldwell.

The Jail bond failed by about the same margin it failed in 2006. The question here is if the Commishes have the ability to figure out the people of Canyon County are not willing or able to finance a $46 Million facility with a potential payback of interest and principle of $72Million. They did not buy into the notion that you can operate two jails as cheaply as one. They might stand a chance if they pull this thing back into the area around the courthouse and make the price more affordable. Right now the chances of another vote passing in six months is probably nil.

Nampa likes Tom Dale and the incumbents as well. It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the Supreme Court arguments will be held on the Rexburg swimming park case on November 5th in Twin Falls. If the Supremes decide in favor of the Rexburg project it will mean Mr. Dale will will have an uphill battle to prevail in the Nampa Urban Renewal case. Mr. Dale wants to spend $68 Million on a new police station and library with no vote of the people of Nampa.

In Boise the $60 Million Trolley Folly will continue to roll down the tracks, spend money on a project nobody wants. Nor will the trolly project actually go anwhere as a valid transit vehicle. Streets will be torn up and tracks laid down with no vote of the people of Boise.

The majority who stayed home have once again handed over the election to those who were willing to make the effort to get up and get themselves to their polling place and actually cast a vote. The turnout was pretty absymal for this valley when you look at the actual turn out for the elections.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pre-Election Analysis



Today is the day we all get to decide on the incumbents up for election as well as the jail bond. It will be interesting to see how much interest there is in this election. Typically, only people who are adamantly for or against take the time to show up at the polls to actually cast a vote. Those who don't care tend to stay home and really don't care one way or the other.

The jail bond may increase the turnout and who that will favor as far as city elections go is any ones guess. In the absence of scientific polling we will all get to wait it out until around 10:00PM for the actual results to be posted by the county clerk.

Every incumbent has an opponent in the elections this year in Caldwell and Nampa. The jail bond my actually draw a few more people to the polls. Early voting has been on the light side indicating not much interest in the election by the voters.

We would like to encourage people to exercise a hard won right for all and get out and make an informed vote on the issues and candidates. Polls close at 8:00PM today.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

When Brute Force Fails: How To Have Less Crime And Punishment


The title of this post is also the title of a book by Mark Kleiman. More threats and less force may be the answer. A study done in High Point, North Carolina points out you can reduce crime by making credible threats, without having to lock up so many people.

To deter, a punishment must be swift,certain and severe. Of these. severity matters the least, according to Mr. Kleiman. There is a trade off when you apply severity, there are more legal safeguards that are required when severity is imposed. The costs of severity skyrocket and can cost into the millions as in the case of capital punishment for example.

Turns out that milder sanctions can be swifter and more certain with a lot less legal effort. In Hawaii, until recently, felons ignored the terms of their probation because the only punishment available was getting sent back to prison typically for five to ten years. Courts and probation officers were swamped to handle the necessary paperwork along with all the legal challenges to such harsh penalties. Violators typically got off free. Probationers thought they could misbehave with impunity. This all ended when a Judge started handing out instant sentences of a week or so behind bars. This action made most of the probationers behave.

The numbers of people in jail in the United States has quadrupled since 1980 to 2.3 million people! Many of these people make the streets safer by their absence and exposure to the general public. However, there are some 500,000 people behind bars who are non-violent drug offenders.

Prisons and jails are expensive places to keep people locked away. It costs $85/day to keep people in the Canyon County Jail. A more non-macho way of dealing with these people would be to raise alcohol taxes, start school later in the day to deter after school crime. Force probationers to wear GPS tags making probation a tough (and cheaper) alternative to prison and jail. Along with the Sheriff's inmate labor detail, community service, work release and all manner of methods that do not involve locking people up.

Voters want vengeance and Politicians are more that willing to oblige. The real objective should be to cut crimes not to make criminals suffer. You can't do the same old thing in the same old way and expect a different result. It would seem reasonably simple to cut sentence times in half to thereby doubling our current jail space and make sentences swift, certain and shorter.

The current average sentence in Canyon County is 19 days. In 1996 the average was 9 days. Jails are not rehabilitation facilities their purpose is deterence and socital retribution. The notion we are locking people up and throwing the key at our county jail is nonsense as well.

Is it worth $72million to you to build a new jail to lock up more people for an average of 19 days? Vote on Tuesday and let your voice be heard.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reader Poses Question About Jail Land And Engineering Reimbursement


THE GUARDIAN fielded a call from a reader that has some interesting implications. This reader has posed the question to the Commishes but no answer yet. The question asked was do the Canyon County Commissioners intend to reimburse the county general fund for all the money they have spent on jail land and engineering from the proceeds of the Jail Bond Election?

Put another way..are we taxpayers goning to get the opportunity to buy back land and engineering drawings we already own?

We have not heard from the Commishes on this issue regarding the jail bond election. Also inherent in this question is not only the land purchases at over $2 million there are engineering costs already paid for out of the county general fund for over $1 million. Is it the intent of the Commissioners to reimburse the county general fund all of the monies they have already spent. Or is it their intent to pillage the jail bond money to put cash back into the general fund with this bond election.

Commissioners have heretofore kept the voters out of jail expenses trying to do the project piecemeal until the economy hit the skids. Now they are asking us to retroactively approve their unauthorized expenditures with this bond election. No mea culpas on their part just write is a blank check for $46 million and we'll get'er done for ya.

We will post the answer should we get any information out of 1115 Albany on this question.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

After Dubious Pullover Ticked Off Motorist Gets Jail Booking Numbers



THE GUARDIAN got the below Canyon County Jail Booking numbers from a ticked off motorist in Nampa who had just been recently pulled over. Copper said he was "weaving and didn't signal long enough when he changed lanes". This creates probable cause to pull over someone that will stand up in court. He was not cited by the patrol officer. (Perhaps a refresher in Driver's Ed. may be the answer for this guy.)

As curious citizen he filed an FOI records request and came up with some not so surprising facts--MOST people who are in jail are bad drivers and irresponsible, but NOT criminals.

He wanted you to share with you the top ten booking numbers when people get arrested in Canyon County. The numbers came directly from the Canyon County Sheriff's Office Annual Report.

Calendar 2007 Top 10 Booking Offenses

1. Driving Without Privileges 2819
2. Probation Violation (Misdemeanor) 2698
3. Ada County Hold 2016
4. Failure to Purchase Drivers Lic. 1913
5. DUI 1693
6. Poss. Controlled Substance 1330
7. Failure to Provide Insurance 1255
8. Poss. of Paraphernalia 1246
9. Failure to Appear (In Court) 1209
10. Immigration Hold 1137

Calendar 2008 Top 10 Booking Offenses

1. Driving Without Privileges 1975
2. Probation Violation (Misdemeanor) 1580
3. Failure to Purchase Drivers Lic. 1297
4. Failure to Provide Insurance 1016
5. Poss. Controlled Substance 903
6. Ada County Hold 798
7. Failure to Appear (In Court) 798
8. Probation Violation (Felony) 626
9. Petit Theft 589

We provide the above numbers without further comment as we head to the vote on the Jail Bond November 3rd.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Swirling Around The Drain


THE GUARDIAN is a full fledged member of the Baby Boomer Generation. Here we are in our 60's, the beginning of our time swirling around the drain of life and the one conclusion I have come to is most Boomers are going to probably outlive their money. No matter how much we saved and planned for this period in our lives Baby Boomers are going to have a rough go to the finish line with respect to financial matters.

401K's are in a state of disarray, the dollar is getting sicker by the day and everything costs more with each passing day. Boomers are entering the fixed income part of their collective lives. Add to this Politicos who have no regard or respect for where tax dollars come nor how to spend them wisely. Their collective waste and spend attitude toward not just older people but everyone in general is particularly irritating in the current down economy.

Hardly a day goes by we don't see another project perpetrated by elected officials of all stripes to further fleece the public of cash. Their "TEAM OF EXPERTS" are all front and center to tell us how good this new widget will be for all of us. The latest in boondoggles have to be the Boise Trolley Folly that won't go anywhere for a mere $50 million, the Nampa Urban Renewal Library and Police Station projects at $68 Million and finally Caldwell wanting to support an Oregon based community college project in downtown Caldwell at around $10 Million. The TVCC project in downtown will be land locked with no ability to expand the day it is built.

All of this stuff with no vote of the people!

I remember my Economics classes from college and the limits to growth are land, labor, capital (taxes for the Politicos) and natural resources. We're not just getting used, we're getting abused by our elected officials in this valley with no end in sight. Election day is next Tuesday, November 3, 2009. Let's try and make this a day our elected officials will remember. The Beast is out of control and we need to put it back in the cage with our votes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Early Voting Places


THE GUARDIAN spoke with County Recorder William Hurst this past week about where to vote early in Caldwell and Nampa and here is the deal.

If you want to vote early in either Caldwell or Nampa you can vote at City Hall or at the County Elections Office at 11th Avenue and Chicago. Mr. Hurst said they will not turn away Caldwell and Nampa people if they want to vote early at the courthouse.

City residents in all the other cities in the county will have to use their local city clerk and city hall for early voting.

There is the Jail Bond Issue for all county residents and cities will have their local elections for mayor and city councilors in addition to the jail bond issue.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Canyon Prosecutor Says Cop Jail Rally Wrong



Saturday, October 24th by David R. Frazier(aka Boise Guardian)
"Canyon Prosecuting Attorney John Bujak reacted quickly and properly Friday when he learned local on-duty coppers in uniform attended a rally advocating a “yes” vote for a jail bond issue on the November 3 election ballot.

Officers and chiefs from Nampa Caldwell, and the Canyon County sheriff appeared for a rally Thursday carrying signs saying “vote yes.” The BOISE GUARDIAN saw the news story and reported on the legal aspects of the action, calling attention to an Idaho Supreme Court ruling that public funds cannot be used to campaign for an issue or candidate.

Bujak told the IDAHO PRESS TRIBUNE, “You can’t use any public funds to support a side. You can’t use public funds to influence voters. If they’re (police) not taking personal leave or vacation time, they’re being paid an hourly wage on the county coffers, which is our tax dollars. It wouldn’t be any different than sending them out canvassing neighborhoods with brochures saying, ‘Remember to vote yes on the jail bond.’”

“I think they just thought they had a great idea and now people have raised some legitimate issues,” Bujak said.

We agree with the prosecutor’s statement. It is actually refreshing to see a public official not only respond quickly, but broker a deal where there is an instant remedy. According to a story in the Saturday Press Tribune, the coppers will donate some leave time to compensate the cities and county for the improper use of their time. We doubt you will see a uniformed platoon picking up trash along the freeway and the time will probably never actually be subtracted from the books (it wouldn’t be fair to punish coppers for doing what their commanders wanted them to do). The important part is the lesson.

We hope the event sends a message to other local governments throughout the state that it is improper to campaign on the taxpayer dollar. The BOISE GUARDIAN has no position on the issue of of funding a new jail. Our interest was only to insure compliance with the law."

We would like to note the BOISE GUARDIAN headline conflicts drastically with the IPT.
The IPT headline sounds like a charity action by the coppers when the truth is the got caught doing wrong and are getting spanked by Mr. Bujack.

Here is a quote from the IPT article by Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood:

"Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood said he didn't consider his department's participation in the rally unethical or a misuse of resources."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mayor Nancolas Raises Kohler's Work History As Campaign Issue




Mayor Garret Nancolas asked Mr. Kohler to tell folks at the IPT candidate forum about his work history. Mr. Kohler was more than accommodating with the name and times of his employment for a million dollar company in Southern California prior to moving to Caldwell. (His father's age and illness brought Mr. Kohler to Caldwell so he could be near his parents at this stage of thier lives.)

THE GUARDIAN likes to check things out as well. Mr.Kohler checked out to be who he claimed to be with respect to his work history that was suspect in the manner Mr. Nancolas questioned his work history. Mr. Kohler was a professional motorcycle racer as well. The above photos are taken from a sponsor website. The local paper ran a bio of Mr. Kohler's work history in a fair amount of detail and we think the article should dispel any thoughts about him not being who he says he is.

THE GUARDIAN would like to see the local paper delve into the work history and background of our incumbent Mayor, Garret Nancolas for their readers to review. It was Mr. Nancolas who raised the issue of work histories at the election forum.

THE GUARDIAN does not endorse candidates but in this instance there is a rumor circulating in Caldwell that Mr. Kohler does not have the experience he stated he has. The IPT article has clearly indicated that Mr. Kohler indeed has the work history he stated in the public forum.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Local Paper Would Not Print ACLU Article Comment


The following GUARDIAN comment was rejected by the local paper REGARDING the ACLU article in today's paper. We are offering it as submitted for your review and comments.

Please note for clarification: There is an A budget and a B budget for the Sheriff's Department. The A budget is wages and fringes, the B budget is for maintenance and repair items in his department.

Vickie Holbrook from the local paper writes:

"Paul,

I’m told the commissioner oversee the maintenance budget. You need to provide proof that chris put the money into salaries. I’m OK with the rest. You’ll have to resubmit" (we did not resubmit and stand by what was originally submitted to the local paper as originally submitted)

Here is the comment as submitted to the local paper:

"The ACLU bill is the result of the Sheriff not maintaining the jail. He took his maintenance budget and gave all his people substantial pay raises and created a number of new administrative positions. The situation was further exacerbated by the lack of cooperation between the prosecutor, Dave Young and the courts to recognize the need to impose alternative sentencing, work release, community service and cite and release for low level misdemeanors. It all added up to a seriously overcrowded and poorly maintained jail.

Sheriff Smith was looking for the ACLU to tell them they needed a new jail. It didn't happen, the lawsuit told them to clean up what they had and get the numbers down where they belonged in the first place. The ACLU forced the Sheriff, Prosecutor and the Judges to figure out who really needs to be in jail and to use alternative
sentencing for all others. Now they want their legal costs and we taxpayers will have to pay for the gross mismanagment of our jail to the ACLU."

THE GUARDIAN learned today the actual amount of the billing from the ACLU is for $193,000.00! Commissioners will try to negotiate a lower settlement from the ACLU.

The Commissioner's oversee the Maintenance Department Budget for all the ancillary operations of the courthouse functions. They do not oversee the Jail Maintenance Budget, it is the responsiblity of the Sheriff.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is Jail to be Regional or Local Facility?



It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the immediate and long range prospects of the jail will be to become a REGIONAL JAIL funded at Canyon County taxpayer expense. This explains the build out design of 2,000 beds. It has also been reported to THE GUARDIAN Owyhee and Canyon Sheriff's have been engaged in talks to shut down the Owyhee County Jail when and if the new Canyon County Jail gets built. Sheriff Smith even has a opinion piece on the Idhao Sheriff's Association website stating 'now is the time to act" on the issue of regional jails.

If Canyon County voters approve the bond will other small counties be lobbied to use this facility and shutter their jails as well. Expense of operation is the main motivation moving this concept forward. Commissioner Alder weighs in at the bottom of this post offering a regional jail is not what is planned.

Payback on the jail bond will be between $3-3,600,000 a year (or around $300,00/month for those of you who like monthly payment plans) depending on the final interest rate attached to the bond. The below information is taken directly off the ballot question for voters to decide on November 3rd.

The following information is provided in accordance with Section 34-439,

QUESTION: Shall Canyon County, State of Idaho, issue and sell its general obligation bonds in an amount of up to $46,000,000 payable over a term not to exceed twenty (20) years from ad valorem taxes, for the purpose of providing for the acquisition, construction and improvement of jail and associated law enforcement facilities, and other related improvements, equipment, items and costs incidental thereto, as more fully provided for in Resolution No. 09-183 of the County adopted September 1, 2009?

YES OR NO ARE YOUR VOTING OPTIONS

The total existing general obligation indebtedness, including interest accrued as of November 3, 2009, of Canyon County, State of Idaho, is $-0-. The average coupon interest rate anticipated on the proposed general obligation bonds is five and 11/100ths percent (5.11%). The range of anticipated rates is from one and 70/100ths percent (1.70%) to five and 95/100ths percent (5.95%). The total amount to be repaid over the life of the proposed general obligation bonds, based on the above anticipated interest rate, is (a) $72,913,135.00, if issued without any federal subsidy, or (b) $60,802,224.42, if issued with anticipated federal subsidy. Commissioners remain tight lipped on this subject.

THE GUARDIAN is happy to see Canyon County voters get the opportunity to vote on the jail bonding question and hope you will exercise your opportunity to weigh in on this issue on November 3rd.

The following is from the Idaho Sheriffs Association website:

"The Idaho Association of Counties (IAC) and Idaho Sheriffs' Association (ISA) along with the Department of Correction (IDOC) were recently awarded a $137,000 grant to study Regional Offender Management Centers. This new concept will explore the regionalization of prisons/jails with shared financial and governance responsibilities. The study will include misdemeanor/felony incarceration, treatment programs, probation and parole and other offender services all located at a single regional center. A bid will be let in the near future to select a consultant. The IAC, ISA and IDOC are excited about the prospects of this ground breaking research and look forward to working together to see the reality of its implementation."

THE GUARDIAN received the following comment from Commissioner Kathy Alder today, 10-22-09:

"Paul,
Because jails are so expensive to run the idea of Regional jails was talked about at the IAC meetings. There is no intention of making this a regional jail. The idea of putting it out on 20/26, (Notus) is because we do need to look to the future. there is no desire to make this a 2000 bed jail until it is needed which I think is a long time away, perhaps not in my lifetime."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Did Mayor Nancolas Decline Radio Interview Opportunities


THE GUARDIAN, in a previous post put forth a schedule of local Mayoral candidates to be interviewed on the KIDO AM 63 radio show, NORTHWEST LIVE. We cited the dates and times for Mayor Tom Dale and Helmut Kohler. Also we noted incumbent Mayor Garret Nancolas declined multiple opportunites to be interviewed.

Mayor Nancolas sent following email to me:

"Paul,

Your statement regarding KIDO radio is absolutely false. I have never refused an interview with anyone at KIDO, and if fact did an interview with Mike Sharp last Thursday at 10:00 am. Please remove your false statement from your blog.

Garret L. Nancolas, Mayor
City of Caldwell"


We were listening to KIDO this morning to NORTHWEST LIVE in an effort to become informed voters while Mr. Helmut Kohler was getting run through the mill by the hosts of the radio show Dr. Ralph Smith and Eugene Smith (not related to one another). The hosts pointed out at the end of the interview with Mr. Kohler at 10:45 AM, Mayor Nancolas was indeed offered six different dates to appear on their radio show. All offers and dates were turned down "by his appointment secretary". True as cited by Mayor Nancolas, he did not personally decline the interviews but his "appointment secretary" did decline all offers to appear on this valuable public service forum in behalf of Mayor Nancolas.

THE GUARDIAN will acknowldge Mayor Nancolas did not personally decline the offers to appear on the radio show. We would suggest Mayor Nancolas listen to the tape of the radio show and check with his "appointment secretary" and why she declined the appearance offers for the Mayor.

You get to be the judge if Mayor Nancolas declined, refused or may have had a six way scheduling confilct for his no-show on this radio forum.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Caldwell IPT Candidate Debate


The last public candidate forum was held last night at the Caldwell Police Station public meeting room and was sponsored by the Idaho Press Tribune. We will try to summarize what we got out of these forums.

1. The City of Caldwell has reneged on a promise with Caldwell Firemen to build a new fire station east of the freeway. Results of this will be insurance company ISO Fire Ratings for Caldwell will translate to a higher risk for all insurance companies. This will more than likely mean higher fire insurance premium costs in Caldwell. Too bad the Mayor and Urban Renewal board didn't figure this out and spend urban renewal funds on a new fire station. Title 50 chapter 20 of the Idaho Code under the urban renewal laws would have allowed this as it is a health and safety issue. It now takes more than 8 minutes to respond to a 911 fire call vs. 4 minutes in the past in East Caldwell. The Fire Station has been pushed back from an original completion date of 2006 to a date of 2013, if at all, with this economy.

2. There is a clear difference between the incumbents and the challengers with respect to TVCC getting built downtown. The challengers all want voter/citizen input on what will be a $10 million project funded by taxpayers and will forever change the dynamics of downtown Caldwell. Incumbents support the move sans voter/citizen input for TVCC downtown. They have referenced the ballot box as the manner in which elected officials are held accountable.

3. Incumbents defended their records and challengers raised issues about city governance and how it could be better. TVCC sends over $300,000 each year back to the State of Oregon from their Caldwell operations. Do we really need Oregon based TVCC at Caldwell taxpayer expense? Private developers have offered to build the building and lease it to TVCC on three different sites in town at no cost to taxpayers. Their offers have been rebuffed by TVCC in favor of the freebies offered by Urban Renewal.

4. Housing foreclosures from investment based purchases are going to impact property tax revenue in Caldwell. Houses that previously were purchased and rented had no tax exemptions are now getting resold to homeowners who do have exemptions, the net tax flow to the city will be cut in half when this happens. Incumbents did not have a good answer on this issue. (THE GUARDIAN would offer the levy rate will go up. City budgets are what drive the levy rate and the county assessor sets property valuations. The levy rates are then multiplied with net taxable valuations to arrive at your individual property taxes.)

5. Caldwell has the second highest levy rate in the State of Idaho, despite 15 years of unprecedented growth in tax base.

6. Two city council challengers pointed out Caldwell lost three big box stores for East Caldwell due to the cumbersome, expensive and time consuming permitting process. They contrasted it with the warp speed at which the TVCC project is getting through the permitting process. The speed of the TVCC permit process has all the trappings of political pressure related to the election and lack of economic development downtown on the parts of the incumbents.

7. A review of the questions submitted but not asked was also made available to those who attended the debate. One question in particular we noted asked why anyone should believe anything the incumbents had to say. We were promised a 300,000 sq/ft city hall complex with shops and residential condominiums. It then got shifted to a smaller city hall project and then a yet smaller city hall project with further review and finally no city hall at all. TVCC ground breaking out at Sky Ranch, TVCC downtown, TVCC built at no cost to taxpayers, TVCC at huge cost to taxpayers. Why should we believe anything based on actual performance of the incumbents.

8. The issue of critical mass downtown (people actually needing to go there) was brought out. Challengers want market driven projects that will create a need for city resident to have a reason to go downtown. Incumbents seem to think TVCC is the silver bullet for all that ails and will bring 1500 students to our downtown. Students with no money and cars to take all the available parking as rebutted by the challengers.

9. Incumbents say the only money to be spent on TVCC by Urban Renewal/City is for infrastructure. Minutes from the November Urban Renewal Agency show Oppenheimer Development wanting a letter acknowledging their part in downtown development along with acknowledgement of the costs and to be reimbursed for their costs. City Attorney, Mark Hilty, to prepare a letter of understanding per UR minutes of the October CEURA meeting.

Summary, this election will hinge on the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the status quo and the records of the incumbents. Clearly, taking on a sitting incumbent is a daunting task for the challengers. The two public forums put on by the Chamber of Commerce and the Idaho Press Tribune were very well attended and show a great deal of interest on the part of the voters this time around. We hope this will translate to an informed electorate making the effort to show up a actually vote November 3.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

City Sends Guardian Intimidating Letter Re: THE TRUTH IS..


THE GUARDIAN received a rather intimidating letter via CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED (postage was $5.54) from the City Clerk of Caldwell today (Saturday 10-10).

In what can only be described as an attempt to limit free speech, the Caldwell city clerk has sent the CALDWELL GUARDIAN a lengthy letter apparently alleging some sort of illegal activity for sharing information about the upcoming city election. It is no secret the GUARDIAN and others are not happy with the current crop of incumbents up for reelection. While we don't advocate FOR any particular candidate, we don't advocate AGAINST any specific candidate either--we are against ALL the incumbents up for reelection. Here is the document at issue:

"THE TRUTH IS…

Current incumbents up for reelection in Caldwell have worked harder at getting along with one another than performing the due diligence for their elected responsibilities

Current incumbents have presided over MILLIONS of our dollars spent or lost on projects that offer no productive value to taxpayers:

At least three downtown studies costing nearly $400,000.00
Paid Oppenheimer Group $50,000.00
Homeland Security cell towers that don’t work $750,000.00
Construction plans for TVCC at Sky Ranch Business Park $150,000.00
Over spent on downtown property purchases to the tune of millions
Doubled county assessments for Caldwell commercial and retail property owners
$300,000.00 to the Mercado building for Oregon based TVCC
Failed to keep the Canyon County Fair in Caldwell
Caldwell has the second highest PROPERTY TAX LEVY rate in Idaho

Incumbents have actually contributed to the further demise of downtown Caldwell. We now have a net loss to downtown economic base.

One third of all property taxes collected, $6 million, is getting spent by elected officials via the Urban Renewal Agency with no voter oversight. (UR board is ELJAY WAITE, GARRET NANCOLAS, ROB HOPPER, STEVE RULE, LEONA FOUTS AND TWO ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS)

We are being governed and our money spent by “MAYORAL PROCLAMATION” instead of a defined plan and voter oversight for millions of our property tax dollars.

THE TRUTH IS… YOU NEED TO GET INVOLVED IN CALDWELL AND VOTE NOVEMBER 3RD"


The City Clerk states "Earlier this week, it came to my attention that a particular flyer has been widely circulated with respect to the upcoming election. I contacted two individuals who were known to be reproducing and/or distributing the flyer. Since that time I have been advised that the flyer had been created by you. In reliance on that information , I am writing you to inform you of the same information provided to them." The City Clerk goes on to cite all manner of Idaho Codes.

Perhaps citing a bunch of Idaho codes can be construed by some as "educational and informative." We think it improper for the clerk to be involved in judging what is and what is NOT free speech. The city attorney or county prosecutor would be the ones to decide if laws are being broken and they would have to convince a jury that exercising rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America is somehow contrary to the sensibilities of the Caldwell City Clerk.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Caldwell Voters Have A Clear Difference In Challengers v Incumbents



The Chamber of Commerce candidate forum held at the College of Idaho last night demonstrated there are differences and choices for Caldwell voters this election cycle. The issues before the voters are TVCC downtown, Urban Renewal accountability and transparency, sprawl and growth management, economic development, and the collective records of the incumbents.

The candidate forum pretty much boiled down to if are satisfied with the status quo then vote for the incumbents. If you think Caldwell needs to move in a new direction with increased transparency and accountability with our tax dollars then vote for the challengers. We won't go into the questions asked at the forum as they are covered in the local paper.

On another note, yesterday, the Canyon County Commishes got off the hook on the citizen's jail lawsuit. Prior to the decision Judge Linda Kopple-Trout was trying to determine at which point the Commishes created a point of no return on the jail project for the taxpayers. The bond election for the new jail project made the lawsuit moot per the decision handed down by Justice Trout. The case is appealable to the Supreme Court and will probably hang on the success or failure of the jail bond election. If the bond fails there will likely be an appeal to the supreme court because of the millions spent with no voter approvals and the project will have created a debt, liability or obligation extending beyond one budget cycle for taxpayers.

THE GUARDIAN hopes readers will take the time to be informed on the issues and vote on November 3rd. There are certainly clear choices and differences on the issues this election cycle.

KIDO AM 630 will have Mayor Tom Dale on from 10:00 to 11:00 AM on Saturday 10-10-09 and Helmut Kohler on the next Saturday on the 17th at the same time. Mayor Garret Nancolas has declined all offers and dates to be interviewed on the radio.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Members Support Members At Chamber of Commerce



THE GUARDIAN read with interest today the article by Mike Butts of the local paper "COUNCIL WILL INVESTIGATE CLAIM AGAINST CHAMBER". The brouhaha stems from the allegation by Scott Wallace of Copy Cats and Shipit businesses in downtown that he was put on notice by a customer that they would not be able to do business with him in the future because he was no longer a Caldwell Chamber of Commerce member. Mr. Wallace took this as a strong arm tactic by the Chamber management to force him into the fold and pay membership dues.

Here is the deal with the Chamber of Commerce. Members support members is at the core of what the chamber is all about. Their functions are for networking of members and support of their local businesses. They also set a lobby agenda for each legislative session every year. This is not NEWS! It is simply part of their mission statement and agenda where they exist.

On the local level, the fair city of Caldwell pays for memberships for the Mayor and city councilors so they can keep in touch with what is on the collective minds of chamber members. City and County elected officals attend the Chamber Governemental Affairs meetings and participate in various chamber functions. Memberships to the Chamber are paid for by taxpayers via a check from the City of Caldwell and County.

The front page headline COUNCIL WILL INVESTIGATE CLAIM AGAINST CHAMBER sounds just plain silly. The Chamber of Commerce is a 501 C-6 non-profit entity and their stuff is not public nor should it be public. Their agenda again is to support members and grow businesses in Caldwell and lobby government entities to the benefit of their membership.

The letter from Mr. Wallace to the city councilors is just plain silly when you think about it. And for the Caldwell City Council to say they are going to investigate this is even more silly. This is nothing more than crybaby posturing on the part of Mr. Wallace. It is not front page news for the local paper. And forgive me here, but who is the mystery person delivering the arm twisting from the Chamber? The local paper usually prides itself on being able to produce witnesses and statements "on the record".

Wikipedia on the Chamber of Commerce..

"A chamber of commerce (also referred to in some circles as a board of trade) is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for the chamber. The board or council then hires a President, CEO or Executive Director, plus staffing appropriate to size, to run the organization"

Monday, October 5, 2009

Citizen Jail Law Suit To Get Summary Judgement October 8



Citizens who brought a law suit against the Commishes for spending tax dollars on a new jail project will be decided at the District Court level this Thursday at 1:30 PM. Commishes have been pumping your tax dollars into this for a couple of years sans any voter approvals.

The law suit is all about incurring a debt, liability or obligation without a vote of the people. The Commishes maintained they could do as they pleased as long as they did not go out beyond one budget cycle for what they were doing on the new jail project.

District Court Judge Linda Kopple Trout is struggling with determining when the County Commishes will have crossed the line and created a point of not return on the new jail project. It would be at this point they would have run afoul of the Idaho Constitution and will have incurred long term debt without a vote of the people.

Here we are in the Fall of 2009 and the Commishes are now attempting to pass a $46 million bond election to complete the jail at a site where they have sunk millions of taxpayer dollars. They now need the money from the bond election to complete the project. No more money has been falling from the sky in the form on unbridled growth and development.

Is this the point of no return the judge was looking for or not?
We will all get to find out this Thursday when Judge Linda Kopple-Trout renders her summary judgement. It is any ones guess how the judge will rule.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Opinion Poll Of Downtown Business Says No To TVCC



THE GUARDIAN received the poll conducted of downtown business owners on the issue of TVCC in Downtown Caldwell. The Results came out 82.4% against locating TVCC downtown and 17.6% in favor of locating TVCC downtown
. This serves to remind us all that "in God we trust" but all others must bring data to the table. Sample size was 17 businesses with only three approving of the below question. The poll done by a couple of concernened citizens is much more than has been brought to the fore by the Mayor and Team Garret.

The poll sheets were hand carried by downtown business people and read as follows:

"Considering that at the downtown location of the TVCC college it will be necessary to buld a muli-level parking structure at the price of $15-$18,000 per parking space with no room for expansion for the school in the future, and it will be necessary to acquire land to build the parking structure where as at the skyranch (sic) site. which is also city owned land and already paid for, plenty of room for expansion and parking for up to 900 vehicles that can be developed at approx 1/15 the cost per vehicle, do you as a downtown business person support the location of TVCC College in downtown." APPROVE DISAPPROVE Signature and name of business

Mayor Nancolas and TEAM GARRET, site all the non-data support for putting TVCC in downtown. It is fairly easy to hit the speed dialer and get people pro-mayor to show up and speak to this project. A data supported position is hard to refute.

THE GUARDIAN has seen three different options offered up by private developers at no cost to the taxpayers for TVCC. The Urban Renewal option downtown for a building that is admittedly too small and has been acknowledges as too small by both the mayor and chairman of the urban renewal board.

You could not run a private business in this manner and expect to survive. Caldwell taxpayers should be outraged at what is going on here and demand voter oversite of this boondoggle project.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TVCC How Much Pork Do They Need From Caldwell


THE GUARDIAN has received several calls from the private developers in the Caldwell area about TVCC and it appears TVCC is a bride with many suitors.

First, we had the photo-op groundbreaking out at Sky Ranch Business Park for the TVCC project in August of 2008. Urban Renewal land at 4.13 acres and developer to build the building. The deal caved in on itself when bankers learned the tenant (TVCC) was not the entity who was going to pay the rent. It looked shaky to the bankers structured this way. The developer lost his financing as TVCC was going to occupy a 60,000 square foot building virtually rent free. Urban Renewal was going to pay the rent for five years for the TVCC Bride in waiting via a subsidy by Caldwell taxpayers.

Second, this past week, THE GUARDIAN learned of yet another fantastic offer to the deciders at TVCC. This site was 21st and Chicago in Caldwell. The developers this time around were going to build a 30,000 plus square foot structure for TVCC. The deal was at no cost to Caldwell taxpayers or TVCC and the building would be on the tax rolls. The deal did stipulate a lease payment of $12/square foot. TVCC declined this offer for new digs.

Third offering is Plan B from Urban Renewal and the City of Caldwell after the false start at Sky Ranch. The deal is to build downtown at taxpayer expense for the deciders of TVCC in the hopes it will be an economic engine for downtown.

How can private enterprise compete with free stuff from Team Garret and Caldwell taxpayers? Free land, free rent can be a strong incentive to take a building they know is inadequate.

More stuff is floating to the surface regarding TVCC and Caldwell operations. There are some people floating the notion TVCC returns $1MM a year back to the Oregon operation. A freedom of information request yielded that $325,000 a year goes back to the Oregon Campus. The amount gets divided into 225K to the general fund for distance education and $100K for a building fund are what went back to Oregon this year.

Mayor Nancolas and the Chairman of Caldwell East Urban Renewal admit the facility that will go downtown is too small for the needs of TVCC before the place even gets built but it is full speed ahead with Team Garret on a fairy tale exercise for TVCC at Caldwell taxpayer expense. The answer to this is ..."We'll just build yet another building for them when the need arises."

Millions are about to be spent on TVCC for a downtown project for TVCC, and Oregon based community college at Caldwell taxpayer expense. We have to ask why no advisory vote to Mayor Nancolas and Chairman Waite of the Urban Renewal agency. Their answer is they are not seeking bonding for the project so a vote is not necessary. We already are taxed at the maximum allowed for College of Western Idaho and this redundancy seems wantonly wasteful of Caldwell taxpayer money without voter approval. Mayor Nancolas and Mr. Waite of the Urban Renewal agency have done everything in their power to circumvent a vote of the citizens of Caldwell on this project.