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Friday, July 30, 2010

Canyon County Fair Not Dealing From Top of Deck

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the Fair people may not be play fair with booth assignments.  Maurice Clements asked to see the dated application for the people who are supporting the Jail Bond (YES Voters) and the application for the people against the Jail Bond (NO Voters).  Mr. Clements request to see the applications was denied by Ms. Ellen Tingstrom of the Fair management staff and in charge of booth application approvals.

Ms. Tingstrom told Mr. Clements he would have to file a bonafide public records request with Ms. Angie Sillonis, Communications Officer for Canyon County.  All of this run around does not pass the smell test for such a reasonable request and surely it does nothing to promote transparency of government. 

Here is the letter Mr. Clements sent into Ms. Sillonis:


July 30, 2010


Angie Sillonis

Canyon County Commissioners Office

Dear Angie,

I requested a copy of the application I submitted for a booth at the Canyon County Fair from Ellen

Tingstrom at the Fair Board Office. I also requested a copy of the application submitted for a booth by

the people who are promoting "yes" on the Jail Bond Election. She informed me that I would have to

get these documents through you. I am hereby requesting you send me these two applications.

Maurice Clements
7326 Rim Road
Nampa, Idaho

It would seem in the public interest to have both sides represented at the Fair if booth space is granted to the pro-Jail Bond people, then why not the against-Jail Bond people in the interest of having people cast an informed vote. Secondly, why the runaround on such a simple request?  Who got there first and who was granted space seems  like a reasonable request.  Filing a Public Records request for this mundane inquiry adds a bad odor to what is going on and does not further the cause of open and honest government.

The county is allowed three business days to answer Mr. Clements in this matter.  Sadly, the fair as well as the election will be over.  All this makes the case that nepotism is not tolerated unless you are a friend or a relative.  Mr. Clements should have received the answer to this simple question immediately if not sooner.

Here's link to the story as reported by TV 6 News   Fair Booth Application Dates In Question

Final note:  THE GUARDIAN called Ms. Tingstrom to lobby for Mr. Clements to get his booth space at the fair one day after his request was submitted. Ms. Tingstrom said she had four applications and two spots left.  It appears the YES people got one and Mr. Clements did not.  You can make you own decision on just how fair the Fair was in this matter.

Wildfire Shows Why NOT to Allow Foothills Homes

Wildfire Shows Why NOT to Allow Foothills Homes


Wednesday, July 28th by David R. Frazier

BLM chopper battles fire north of Eagle on Wednesday

The terms are all too familiar…”structures are threatened…trying to get a handle on the fire…lightning caused…man caused…” tallies on the number of engines, tankers, retardant aircraft, helicopters, and hotshot crews from other locations.

The reason for the massive response is all too familiar as well–lives and property are endangered because people move into areas subject to wildfire and local politicos allow the development. GROWTHOPHOBES can complain forever, but it seems little changes and emergency crews are forced to respond as fire rages across the so-called “urban wilderness interface.”

At this writing it appears three homes are damaged or destroyed by a Wednesday fire believed to have been caused when lightning strikes dotted the landscape Wednesday morning north of Eagle. An estimated 2,500 acres which is currently targeted for residential development was scorched. One firefighter told the GUARDIAN, “It certainly wouldn’t be a pretty sight” if the area is developed as proposed.
At least 50 fire engines, 5 air tankers, and hundreds of firefighters from Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Star, BLM, etc. etc. are as the TV folks like to say, “On Scene!”
As a former editor at the trade journal “FIRE ENGINEERING,” the GUARDIAN is an old hand at covering fires and the fire service. Yellowstone’s Old Faithful firestorm was the worst. Over the years we find politicos put an unneeded burden on fire chiefs and firefighters alike when they increase the demands–and risks–all in the name of GROWTH. One issue which hampered emergency crews was also familiar: Police and Fire can’t communicate. The technology exists with the new radio communications system, but the players can’t seem to agree on who gets access to which frequencies.

On the bright side we saw one McMansion north of Beacon Light Rd. that survived a direct wildfire assault because the owners did the right things creating “defensible space.” From everything we observed and heard, the emergency responders did their jobs well battling the fire, traffic, and conducting evacuations.

                   Firewise planning saved this luxury home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why America Locks UP Too Many People

THE GUARDIAN  is a subscriber to the Economist Magazine.  This week's cover story is on jailing too many people for insignificant acts. In some instances they point out some of the things people are in jails and prisons for shouldn't even be classified as crimes or criminal acts.

This series of cover story articles could not be a more timely series of stories as the election for the jail bond election moves closer to Tuesday, August 3rd.

Stimulus savings of $5 million on interest payment by down will evaporate.  It was reported to THE GUARDIAN this morning if the county accepts the federal stimulus money they will be on the hook to pay Davis-Bacon wages for all workers and contractors on the project.

Davis-Bacon will require a prescriptively defined wage rate for all jobs performed  if the jail bond passes.  There will be no allowance for any contracts to reflect the labor market of supply and demand.  This requirement will wipe out any savings in labor costs for the jail project. Wages will be set by federal mandate because the Commishes took the federal stimulus money.

Another interesting point made at the forum in a comment below:  Urban renewal in Nampa and Caldwell has siphoned off over $200 million of our proeprty tax dollars.  Let Urban Renewal step up and pay for a new jail.

Potential Reduction For 2C Bus Service

Boise Guardian A different slant on the news. HomeAboutArchivesSubscribeContactSearch for: Go Canyon


Potential Reduction For 2C Bus Service

July 26, 2010

Our transportation expert paints a sad picture of mismanagement and missed opportunities in the following GUARDIAN EXCLUSIVE special report.

By Jimmy D. Bus,  Guardian Transportation Correspondent

Canyon County residents face the prospect of reduced bus service if Valley Regional Transit plans become reality. The service changes would begin in October 2010 and cover both the Caldwell-Nampa local service and the Caldwell├▒Nampa├▒Boise Intercounty service. Public hearings about the service changes have been scheduled for this week in both Canyon County and Meridian.

This situation is a direct result of Valley Regional failing to issue a bid for a new Caldwell-Nampa service contract in a timely manner. Although Valley Regional had known for 5 years that the current Caldwell-Nampa-Boise Intercounty service contract was going to expire early in 2010 they waited until the old contract had almost expired before putting a new bid for services out on the street.

Because the new bus service contract was not bid in a timely manner, Valley Regional found itself held over the proverbial barrel when the then current contractor demanded, and received, a 24% increase in their fee to extend the current contract until a new contractor could be found. A new contractor has been awarded the contract and the increase remains at about a 25% level causing an estimated $ 200,000 plus shortfall for the Fiscal Year 2011 budget year.

Canyon County politicos say they’re not willing to pony up more taxpayer dollars for the service, so either service reductions or fare increases need to be made. At this point fare increases appear to be off the table. Staff reductions at Valley Regional headquarters also appear off the table even though a part of that overhead cost is allocated to the Canyon County operations.

The favored option points to reduce Nampa-Caldwell local services so Intercounty services can be maintained. Why that option? Because Boise City is being asked to pony up about $ 48,000 to cover the lease of the buses used in Intercounty service and it would be hard to justify Boise City paying for those leases if those buses were sitting in a parking lot unused. Not unlike Eagle bailing out on its obligation earlier, calling upon BSU to carry the financial load.

The irony here is that Valley Regional has had stimulus money for about a year to purchase new buses for Intercounty service. However specifications for the new buses are just now in development and the bidding process is incomplete. Had specifications been developed and the buses bid right after the stimulus money was announced in August 2009, yes 2009, those buses would be much closer to delivery or maybe even on the road. New buses would have reduced or eliminated the lease payments, allowing those lease funds to be used for local Caldwell-Nampa service.

This is a last minute event as far as Valley Regional’s budget is concerned and one that could easily have been avoided. Had Valley Regional bid the new Caldwell-Nampa contract in a timely manner it would have known about the new contract increase in either late 2009 or early 2010, been able to have had a new contract in place as the old one expired, and planned any necessary budget or service adjustments in a rational timely manner. Had it bid the new Intercounty service buses in the timely manner the money saved by not leasing vehicles could have gone toward maintaining Caldwell-Nampa local service.

Some would call such a planned approach “Transit Management 101.” Apparently that’s a course Valley Regional Transit staff flunked.

More Urban Renewal Abuse In Boise At Property Tax Payer Expense

Dave Frazier aka Boise Guardian put this together and we are sharing this with our readers. It is about as graphic as it gets to demonstrate the abuses of Urban Renewal in Boise and for that matter all of Idaho.  We have a huge loophole in our Idaho Code permitting wide authority and taxpayer abuse in Idaho Urban Renewal laws.  We desperately need a legislative fix to stop this abuse of property taxpayers.

Bench Taxpayers Fund Boise’s Valley Projects

July 25, 2010 by David R. Frazier, aka Boise Guardian
When the proposed 30th Street Urban Renewal District came up at the Boise City Council meeting last week (a vote to create the district was postponed) it was noted by some that a total of nearly two square miles of Boise would be “off the tax rolls.”

Hint: 640 acres to a square mile and the new district would put a total of more than 1,100 acres within urban renewal jurisdiction. That means taxes on all improvements and appreciated value would go to the CCDC (Capital City Development Corp) NOT the city, county, school or highway district.
We looked at a map of the city and a shocking fact became obvious: The MAJORITY of property below the Depot Rim provides NO TAX REVENUE to the city.

Consider these tax exempt properties in addition to the 2 square miles soon to be under control of CCDC:

–BSU Campus and newly purchased residential areas

–Ann Morrison, Julia Davis, Albertson, Veterans, Municipal parks and Warm Springs Golf Course

–Military Reserve in the hills

–St. Luke’s Hospital and Elk’s Rehab complex

–V.A. Hospital and Federal building campus

–Capitol Bldg. and State office complex

While we certainly don’t advocate doing away with our wonderful riverside parks, hospitals or educational institutions, it should be noted those of us who live on the Bench are getting soaked for a huge tax burden with little direct benefit. No wonder the politicos keep annexing more areas to provide revenue for their pet projects.

Boise PD has special patrol squads for the downtown booze crowd, the fire department needs expensive ladder trucks and extra manpower for high rise responses–mostly funded by residents and businesses on the Bench. Rather than expand the controversial CCDC sphere of domination, we feel it would be wiser to seek alternative funding methods and leave as much property on the tax rolls as possible.

THE AREA WITHIN THE RED IS OR SOON WILL BE PRETTY MUCH A “TAX FREE ZONE.”

Note:  "TAX FREE ZONE" means no property taxes will go to support local government functions like police, fire, schools, streets, and all other taxing agencies.  All the money will go to the UR board.

Caldwell and Nampa suffer from the same levels of abuse of property tax payers via Caldwell East Urban Renewal and Nampa Development Corp.  These entities are nothing more than a alter ego of the Mayors and City Councils where they exist.  They answer to no one for anything they do or how they spend your tax dollars.

We thank Mr. Frazier for sharing this with all of us.

Paul

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Los Angeles Has $74 MM Jail and Can't Afford to Open

It was reported to THE GUARDIAN today, Los Angeles has a brand new $74 MM state of the art "podular jail" and they can't afford 44 more staff positions to open  the place.  It sits idle while the old cell block jail in Parker Center remains open. It can be run with less staff for the same number of beds in the new digs. 

The old Parker Center jail is 60 years old and the new state of the art "podular jail" will take more staff to operate and they do not have the funds to hire people to open the place. 

How does Canyon County propose to run a new "podular jail" with fewer people when Los Angeles Police Department is on record saying it will take more staff to run a podular jail based on state and federal requirements?

The short answer is we taxpayers are being led down the primrose path on the costs of running a new "podular jail" by the Commishes and Sheriff.  Here is a link to the LA story of woe on their new jail costs, No Money To Open New LA Jail.

The photo in this post is of Parker Center and the new "podular jail" going up in the background.  The new jail is completed but no cash on hand to open the place for the foreseeable future.  This same thing can happen in Canyon County.

Hardin, MT Built Prison And Can't Afford TO Run It

Hardin, Montana built  $27 million Two Rivers Correctional Facility thinking they could cash in on a prison for hire.  Consultants from Texas sold the good people of Hardin, Montana on this scheme to become a prison for hire.  Jobs was the big selling point to voters.




The Two Rivers prison was completed in 2007 and has been sitting empty since completed.  No money to operate the place is the problem and no customers to use it either.  In may of 2008, Hardin defaulted on the bonds citizens approved for the construction of the prison.  In October of 2009 they made a play to house inmates from Gitmo.  Their appeal went nowhere with the military brass and others looking for a place to house Gitmo's inmates.  People who had faith in their elected officials feel betrayed and bewildered.

This is another great example of elected officials leading citizens down the primrose path of prosperity if they only stepped up and built this prison.  After all the consultants from Texas said it was a sure thing. Bankruptcy and defaulting on the bonds was not on anyone's mind when they voted to approve this new prison.

Here is a link to the Hardin tale of woe and bankruptcy. Hardin Tale of Woe.  Think it can't happen here, think again.  Canyon County is about to have a bond election to build a jail project and the funds to operate the place are in question.  We can no longer afford to operate our dogie jail,  where will the funds come to run a new jail if it gets built.  $60/day is the average costs to keep someone in jail.  This figure comes to just over $14 million additional tax dollars to run this new jail project. 

Is this a case of "if we build it we'll find $14 million somewhere"?  Portland, Oregon's Multnomah county thought this would happen with the Wapato facility they build for $58 million and the place has sat empty since 2004.  Rocky Mountain Corrections out of Colorado told Commishes and the Sheriff they would never be able to build their way out of a jail space problem back in 2006.  They ignored the advice of their own consultants and have twice brought a bond election forward and twice it has been rejected by voters.

The economic health of our county is on the line with this jail project. The federal government is not giving Canyon County $10 million for this jail project.  If we float $46 million in bond debt that is what we will have to pay back to the lenders and underwriters.   We need a big dose of fiscal responsibility on August 3rd.  What is wanted and what we can actually afford to pay for in this economy are at odds with one another.

 It will cost taxpayers $47,000.00 per day over and above current jail costs if this bond passes muster with voters who actually take the time to vote on this issue.  $7k/day to pay for the bond and $39k/day to run the place.
We question the ability of taxpayers to absorb this tax shock.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sheriff Puts Inmates In Work Release Facility

THE GUARDIAN was astounded, speechless and happy to find the Sheriff and Commishes have wisely come to the realization they can use the Work Release Center and 160 empty beds for non-violent offenders.  The local paper ran this story in the paper today.

 We have been told for years this could not be done for any number of reasons.  Now just days before the election for a new jail, and not much cash left for out of county charges for inmates, our elected "deciders" are going to finally put inmates in the work release tent!  (photo courtesy Dave Frazier)

Question in our mind is why they didn't use this facility years ago instead of letting the main jail go down hill, over crowd the place and after repeated warnings finally got their wish of a lawsuit from the ACLU over mismanagement of our jail assets.  Cost to taxpayers for this blundering approach has been in the hundreds of thousands if not over a million dollars.  Ddenial the work release center could be used for incarceration of low level offenders has been the pat answer while 160 jail beds sat empty and unused.

THE GUARDIAN would offer this is a very good example of government waste, fraud, and abuse of our tax dollars.  If they can use the Tent today, then why did they not use it 5 years ago and save all the money spent on housing inmates out of county.  It will be interesting to hear why this decision took so long.

Credibility and faith in our elected leaders is once again called into question over this sudden change of heart about using the work release tent for inmates.  Bottom line is the Sheriff now has another 160 beds he denied having until today.  We do not need a new jail but we do need people with some respect for taxpayer funds and how best to spend those scarce dollars.

Deciding to use the WR tent just gave the Sheriff a 50% increase in jail beds for no cost to taxpayers.  We think this move is a good one and it should have happened five years ago.

 We would like to suggest better and more use of Pre-Trial release as a management tool to address overcrowding of the jail.  In this country we are considered innocent until proven guilty.  The catch phrase "catch and release" is getting a lot of play these days.  People with ties to the community and low flight risks should be considered for Pre-trial release in cases where it is appropriate.

You can vote early on the Jail Bond Election at 1102 Chicago in the Elections and Passport County Offices 8-5 weekdays.  We encourage you to cast an informed vote as well as your wallet on this bond.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Citizens Against Jail Bond Say This

VOTE NO ON JAIL BOND!   TUESDAY AUGUST 3, 2010

Voters have said NO on two previous bond requests to fund a new jail prior to the current economy. They are now willing to spend $35,000 of scarce tax dollars for a special election for a new jail.


Do they not understand we are paying all we can afford in property and business tax?


$46MM for the bond equals $58+MM on the easy pay plan they want us to underwrite. They are not telling us how much it will cost to staff and maintain a new jail. Average costs for a jail of this size run in the neighborhood of $15-20MM a year. This cost will come from higher taxes on all property and businesses in Canyon County.

There is a serious disconnect between the Sheriff, the Prosecutor, the judges and taxpayers ability to pay more property taxes. The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the face of planet Earth. It currently costs $84/day to keep someone in our jail.

Commissioners have twice violated public trust with illegal purchases of property for jail sites and twice citizens have filed lawsuits over their illegal behavior. What they tried to accomplish on the sly they now want to do with a bond election and are asking you to sanction their bad choices.

The average jail sentence is 18-20 days. In the mid 1990’s the average was 9 days. They could double the jail space by reigning in jail sentences and court efficiency by getting indigent jail inmates through the system in a timely manner.

More use of alternative sentencing along with the use of cite and release for misdemeanor violations rather than immediate incarceration.

If current jail conditions are atrocious it is due to poor management of a public asset. ACLU lawsuit cost taxpayers $190k for our elected and appointed officials not taking care of the place.

Now is not the time to put more tax burden on our citizens, businesses and property owners. We are asking you to vote NO on the jail bond Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010.

It will cost taxpayers $8,000/day to pay back the bond debt for the next 20 years. It will also cost taxpayers $39,600/day to operate a new jail of the size Commissioners want to build. $47,600 a day to keep people in jail at our expense.

Call the County Elections Office @ 454-7562 to find your polling place. Or you can vote early at the county elections office in Caldwell at the corner of 11th Avenue and Chicago. There are only 12 polling places open for this special election for the entire county.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Dubious Way To Start Up An Urban Renewal District

This guest opinion first appeared the local paper.  Mr. Hoffman has garciously agreed to let us share it with those of you who may have missed it or do not take the local paper. This is how most UR agencies get their start and never stop fleecing property taxpayers. 




A DUBIOUS WAY TO START UP AN URBAN RENEWAL DISTRICT

By Wayne Hoffman,  Monday, July 19, 2010



The way the urban planners describe it, you’d think portions of Boise resemble the tribal enclaves of Afghanistan. You know, dilapidated buildings, barely functional infrastructure, chaos, black cats, broken mirrors and unpermitted, non-conforming uses.

Some of that I made up. But then again, most of the conclusions in a 40-page report to Boise’s urban renewal agency and City Council are also made up.

The report, by Keyser Marston Associates, Inc., is designed to elicit anxiety about the fate of an area known as the 30th Street Urban Renewal Area. City leaders want to turn the area into a new urban renewal zone which siphons taxpayer money into a big slush fund to pay for projects without a vote of the people. In order to do that, the city must conclude that the area meets the definitions of a deteriorating area under Idaho law.

The proposed urban renewal area runs from just west of the downtown area to west of the Idaho Transportation Department headquarters on State Street. I’ve been writing about public policy for more than 20 years, and I can’t remember ever using an exclamation point in an article or a commentary. But I’m having trouble sufficiently conveying the blight, deterioration and urban horrors found in the 30th street area without them. So here goes:

The area has vacant buildings! Yards are not well-maintained! In 3 1/2 years, there have been 67 code violations! The parcels are not big enough for a big box store! And my favorite: There are 83 homes and two businesses in the 100-year flood plain!

In short, if you apply the Keyser Marston standard of “deteriorating” to almost any town or city in Idaho, the whole state could be declared an urban renewal area.

While there are some exceptions, by and large urban renewal has been used to hoodwink taxpayers into believing they’re getting something for nothing.

In most cases, when a government agency wants to debt finance a project, they’re required to get voters’ permission. Not so with urban renewal. Instead, here’s what happens: Say you have a piece of property valued at $10,000. Put a new building worth $1 million on top of that land. All the taxes from that increased value go to the urban renewal district, not to the city or the county or any other taxing district.

So while the urban renewal district benefits and it can fund its projects, there is no new money to pay for new firefighters or police officers or other government operations. The pressure increases to raise taxes elsewhere to replace the money that was put into urban renewal.

But there’s more to the story. Boise’s plans will impact people who have lived and worked in the area for decades. I had the pleasure of speaking with one shop owner who has been in the same building and the same business for more than 40 years carrying on a family tradition. This hardworking businessman was dismayed to learn that a photo of his company is included in the Keyser Marston report as an exhibit of the “urban blight” and deterioration. It’s a slap in his face and another example of Government Nannyism.

City leaders think they’re curing a problem. All they’re really doing is substituting their judgment for that of the area’s property owners.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Twelve Polling Places for Jail Bond

$35,000 is what the special jail bond election will cost. Here are the twelve polling places for the jail bond election.  The info is courtesy of the County Elections Office.

Three places in Nampa and three in Caldwell with one each in all the other communities in the county.

JAIL BOND BOND ELECTIONPOLLING PLACES
TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2010
CANYON COUNTY, IDAHO

Precincts Polling Place

01-52-57    KIRKPATRICK - ANDERSON HALL
305½ BATES AVE, PARMA

11-12-23-54   CHURCH OF CHRIST
CORNER OF 10TH AND USTICK 4012 So. 10TH, CALDWELL

5-6-10-13  SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTCOMMUNITY SERVICECENTER 2216 E LINDEN, CALDWELL

4-7-8-9-15-27 CALDWELL POLICE DEPARTMENT FRONT ENTRANCE - COMMUNITY ROOMDOUBLE DOORS TO THE RIGHT
110 SO 5TH, CALDWELL

18-29-56 MIDDLETON TROLLEY STATION
310 E MAIN ST, MIDDLETON

21-22-55 GREENLEAF CITY HALL 20523 NO WHITTIER (WHITTIER & HWY 19)

3-28-59 MELBA SENIOR CENTER115 BASE LINE RD, MELBA

20-31-33 EDMARK GM SUPERSTORE38-40 SHOWROOM
15700 IDAHO CENTER BLVD,  Nampa

25-32-35-36-37- BETHEL CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE
39-41-50-59-60 3001 12TH AVE RD, NAMPA

34-42-43-44-45-46 NAMPA CIVIC CENTER
7-48-49 BANQUET ROOMS – WEST ENTRANCE
311 3RD ST SO NAMPA ID

51 NOTUS COMMUNITY CENTER
389 1ST ST, NOTUS

19-57-62 CROSSROADS ASSEMBLY CHURCH
CORNER HWYS 95 AND 19, WILDER

ALL PRECINCTS LISTED TO THE LEFT OF THE POLLING PLACE
WILL VOTE AT THE POLLING PLACE LISTED

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Army Corps of Engineers Wants to Dam Boise River

Another case of why GROTHOPHOBES have a good argument.
By David R. Frazier (aka Boise Guardian)

Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers and Idaho Water Resource Board presented preliminary findings from the “Lower Boise River Interim Feasibility Study” of potential dam sites on the Boise River system

They claim a new dam is needed for water supply and flood risk management, not hydropower. Targeted rivers include the North and Middle Fork Boise Rivers which were protected from new dams by the state in 1992.

Here’s what the greenies at Idaho Rivers United have to say about the proposals along with some common sense observations about the future:

A dam on the North Fork or Middle Fork would have devastating environmental and social effects. A dam at Twin Springs on the Middle Fork would destroy campgrounds, Class IV whitewater, and endangered Bull Trout habitat, as well as wildlife habitat along Middle Fork and North Fork Boise River.

A new dam is unnecessary and extremely expensive. The consequences of a dam could not be mitigated, and the costs to our state and the nation far outweigh the potential benefits. Less drastic alternatives can be used to meet our water needs and reduce flood risk even as we experience growth.

Public funding should go toward the study of these more feasible and less costly options, which include:

- -efficiency and conservation


–water rental pools and water marketing to provide water to new users


–a floodplain levy to limit building in the floodplain

The Boise River is a vital consideration in economic, environmental, and quality of life issues in Idaho. It provides water for household use and irrigation and nearby recreational opportunities. Its beauty is also a great draw for new businesses and potential residents.

If we destroy our natural resources by building a new dam, we jeopardize the future growth, health, and livability of our community.

The Corps is accepting written public comment through July 31st. Please visit www.idahorivers.org for more information or call 343-7481

Saturday, July 10, 2010

County Commishes Get It Wrong Again On Jail Bond

This is a guest opinion written by Richard L. Harris Atty and former Canyon County Prosecutor and was published in the local paper June 9th. (We have received his permission to publish his letter on the Caldwell Guardian Blog.) 

The Canyon County Commissioners have done it to us again.  They have scheduled another vote on the jail bond August 3.

They will not take no for an answer. They just want to ram it down our throats, like it or not. 

And their timing is a bit curious. Instead of waiting until November when there is a bona fide election in which this issue could be included, they schedule the expense of a special election, hoping that most people will pay no attention to a single-issue vote, and only those with an interest in a favorable outcome will be inclined to vote.

The Commissioners espouse a conservative philosophy.  At least one commissioner ran on a platform of fiscal conservatism.  That means no new taxes!

They desire the citizens to pass the largest bond in the history of the county.  In that respect they are like Obama: spend, spend, spend.

Understand that the bond is only one part of the total expense. The real expense is staffing and operating the jail, which is not funded by a bond spread over years but is paid out of annual tax revenue.

The commissioners apparently don't understand the challenge of the current economic climate.  We are in a recession, and  some of Obama's own economists are predicting a depression.  And it is in this environment these commissioners desire to increase our burden.

In this newspaper (Idaho Press Tribune) dated June 29, under a headline "Budget issues plague county," the paper reported that county officials have begun efforts to meet rising expenses with reduced tax revenues, pointing "to continued revenue shortfalls as property and sales tax revenue have plunged."

Do they not pay attention? Vote NO again on the jail bond.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Commishes Vote to Hold August 3rd Election for Jail

Canyon County Commishes met as planned today to agree to go for another run at a jail bond.  The vote was unanimous to put the question to a vote on August 3rd.  This time around we will only have about 12 precincts to vote on this debt question v. the usual 48 or so precincts. 

Cost of the election will run between $30,000 and $40,000 and will take place on August 3rd, 2010.  The amount of the bond will be for the original $46 million with interest costs undefined at this point in time.  The payback could run as much as the previous bond measure.  Payback of the interest, principle and bond underwriting costs to banks could be as high as $72 million or as low as the low $59 million. (Depending on Obama stimulus taxpayer funds offset interest costs.)

The annual cost will go something like this:  $8,000/day or a little under $3 million a year to pay it all off in 20 years.  The biggest number will be the operational costs for the facility which will be in the neighborhood of an additional $15-$20 million a year. This money will come from additional property taxes needed to run the place  Current costs per inmate at the Dale Hale Detention facility run $84/day per inmate.  This figure comes from taking the current $9.3 million/year jail budget and dividing it by the number of inmate beds listed on the county website for the Dale Haile Detention facility.

THE GUARDIAN is worried about the ability of the people's ability to pay for this if it is approved.  Current property tax collections are down by 10% of what they normally run for this time of year based on information from the Clerk Auditors Office.  Add that to a sour economy and people's ability to pay for this is in question. Currently there is no extra money in city or county general funds and we wonder if this is a prescription for default on the part of the county.

The following was taken from the resolution passed by commissioners:

"WHEREAS, the County does not have sufficient funds available to pay the cost of the foregoing Project and has determined it advisable to finance such cost through the issuance of the bonds of the County pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 19, Title 31, Idaho Code, as amended, and Chapter 2, Title 57, Idaho Code, as amended, and in order to do so, the County desires to provide for the holding of the special bond election required by said provisions;..."

The "coupon clippers" at 1115 Albany are broke, we are all taxed to the max and they want to spend yet more money neither they nor us have at the moment.  Commishes  are saying we can do this for a lot less money if we act now.  They are in denial about the ability of people to pay more property taxes.

Supporters of the jail bond have verbally indicated they have in the neighborhood of $30,000 to spend on getting this bond approved from people in the community who are in support of this latest jail bonding effort.

 We would like to see sentencing alternatives used to avert the need for more jail space.  Passage of school bonds earlier this year will place an already undefined additional tax burden on property taxpayers all over Canyon County. Declining property assessments will be nullified by higher levy rates to keep the cash flowing to all taxing entities.

In any event, you will get the opportunity to vote this question up or down come August 3, 2010.  Good luck trying to find one of the 12 places that will be open for you to cast a vote. It will require a super majority of 2/3rds of the people who take the time to vote for this to pass.

Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon built a $58MM jail that was completed in 2004 and has been sitting since then because they can't afford to operate the Wapato Jail.  Here is a link for more on the Wapato fiasco.   (Wapato Jail Info Link)  Former Clerk Auditor Noel Hales is on record questioning the ability of Canyon County to fund the operation of a new jail of this size when the first bond election was held in 2006.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Correction City Council, Sunday Liquor Sales

We noted in the official civic agenda, Sunday liquor by the drink sales issue will be discussed by Caldwell City Council at their regular city council meeting starting at:

 7:00 PM Tuesday, July 6th, 2010.

It will be part of the NEW BUSINESS agenda Tuesday evening.( Caldwell City Council Agenda 7-6-2010)

See "H2O Nancolas" story below in another post for details.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chip Sealing This Year-Streets Look Great!

Chip sealing this year in Caldwell was not nearly the dreaded event it has been in the past.  Caldwell Street Department did a super job of keeping the excess gravel to a minimum.  The clean up after the fact was out of the ordinary as well. 


The general level of care about how this was done this year has been duly noted.  The streets were cleaned prior to the oil and rock applications and the amount of gravel was kept to a minimum.  Excess gravel was cleaned up within a few short days.  And as a added step a water truck pushed what the street sweepers missed to the side of the streets and another trip through with the street sweeper.

In years past we have not seen this level of attention to making the dreaded chip sealing pretty much a non-event this year.  Hats off to the Caldwell City Street people.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

H2O Nancolas or Let'em Drink Beer a Mai Tai or a Martini

It has been more than a decade since discussions started about liquor by the drink sales on Sundays in Caldwell.  It looks like Caldwell is about to enter the new century with ordinance 1916, 11-4-91.

"AN ORDINANCE RELATING TO THE SALE OF DISTILLED BEVERAGE SPIRITS BY THE DRINK AT RETAIL RESTAURANTS AND DINING FACILITIES LOCATED WITHIN THE CITY OF CALDWELL, IDAHO".


Temperance attitudes have given way to economic opportunity and tax revenue reality.  THE GUARDIAN remembers when this first came forward as a source of tax revenue for our fair city, Mike Gable was on the Caldwell City Council and he was excited to see this happen and the prospects for upscale fine dining that might locate in Caldwell along with the tax revenue he hoped to see for Caldwell.  That was over a decade back and we are finally going to give progress some leeway and temperance will take a back seat to this new juggernaut of boozing it on Sunday in Caldwell from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

 Is Caldwell about to cross the Rubicon with this stroke of progressive legislation? We think not.  Thirteen long years of deliberation on this matter by the Nancolas administration is long enough to decide this issue. It is time to get up to speed with other cities with this economic opportunity for our city. Sunday is a big business day for people dining out and to prevent a food establishment the right to serve customers in the best possible way does nothing but inhibit economic growth by big name operators of restaurants in Caldwell.

Heretofore, Sunday bans on liquor sales have stifled investment in Caldwell. We applaud those who are moving this ordinance forward and hope it passes muster with temperance minded city councilors.  We hope they can put personal and religious objections aside on this issue.




We all know and appreciate R.C. Wiley is closed on Sundays and seem to be doing fine with that policy. This secular reference was used by one City Council member in the past to deny distilled spirit sales on Sundays.  Temperance and ones personal beliefs need to be moderated here and not be used to dictate to those who would like to exercise the option of when and where to imbibe in a beverage of choice when dining at eateries in town.

Food service businesses operate on thin profit margins and need every option on the table to keep their doors open and tax revenue flowing to those who spend our tax dollars.  We welcome this enlightened ordinance to the Caldwell taxation toolbox and the potential it offers to investors in our community.