Tracking code caldwell guardian

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Health Insurance Rises ...Again, The Great Divergence Continues to Gut Middle Class

We received our "new and improved" monthly health care insurance premium notice in the mail today. The increase came to a whopping 22% increase in one year!  This increase seems over the top given we have never filed a claim against the policy in more than sixteen years. 

We received notice the rates were going up with the billing notice from last month.  All of this makes us wonder what, if anything, is being done for cost containment.  The United States spends roughly 17% of our GDP on health care and even with that level of expense we are the only country on the face of the earth where people can lose everything they own (even with insurance) and become indigent due to medical costs. It is frightening to think a lifetime of saving and planning can be wiped out by one catastrophic illness.

Big Medicine, Pharmacy, and Insurance continue to lobby congress to protect their industries and the rights to charge citizens whatever they deem appropriate to sustain their profits and huge payrolls.

We do not have the free market working when it comes to health care in this country.  A number is written down on a bill and that is what we pay as consumers.  Medical tourism is the only weapon the consumer has at this juncture to fight rising costs and introduce some degree of competition in the quest to control medical costs.

There is another phenomenon going on in this country where the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer along with a gutting of the middle class in this country.  The name used by economists for it is THE GREAT DIVERGENCE. It is the moniker to describe what has been going on since 1979 in the United States.  It is nothing less than the systematic dismantling of the middle class in this country. Here's a link for more about THE GREAT DIVERGENCE TIM NOAH ON THE GREAT DIVERGENCE VIDEO

County Clerks Authorized to Open Ballots Early

We received this letter to all county clerks from a reader in North Idaho regarding opening ballots early.  Bill Hurst the Canyon County Clerk/Auditor has offered to THE GUARIDAN that there are ample safeguards to protect against any tampering of the election process.  We offer this letter as infomational should you hear about this and wonder how your ballots are protected before they are counted.  Bill Hurst also added that is is necessary to open and get these ballots ready to count in order to insure a timely result.  Idaho uses paper ballots to leave a paper trail and the paper ballots are considered the "gold standard" to protect elections and results.  Paper ballots give candidates a means for a recount if deemed necessary.

Here's a link to the IDAHO REPORTER.COM article on opening ballots early Ballots Opened Early

From: Tim Hurst []
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 3:20 PM

To: County Clerk-Ada-JoMeta Spencer; County Clerk-Bannock-Dale Hatch; County Clerk-Bannock-Jay Bingham; County Clerk-Bannock-Marla; County Clerk-Bingham-Marlene Jensen; County Clerk-Bingham-Sara Staub; County Clerk-Blaine-Jolynn Drage; County Clerk-Bonner-Diana Campbell; County Clerk-Bonner-Marie Scott; County Clerk-Canyon-Terry Warwick; County Clerk-Cassia-Dee Yeaman; County Clerk-Cassia-Theresa Woodbury; County Clerk-Elmore-Marsa Plummer; County Clerk-Elmore-Vivian Garcia; County Clerk-Fremont-Abbie Mace; County Clerk-Gem-Shelly Gannon; County Clerk-Gooding-Denise Gill; County Clerk-Gooding-Diane Houser; County Clerk-Jefferson-Christine Boulter; County Clerk-Jefferson-Shonna Allred; County Clerk-Jerome-Michelle Emerson; Carrie Phillips; Dan English; County Clerk-Latah-Susan Petersen; County Clerk-Madison-Marilyn Rasmussen; County Clerk-Madison-Sue Bagley; County Clerk-Nez Perce-Patty Weeks; County Clerk-NezPerce-Julie Latham; County Clerk-Payette-Luann Denney; County Clerk-Twin Falls-Larry Haycock; County Clerk-TwinFalls-Kristina Glascock; County Clerk-Valley-JoAnn Fly

Subject: Opening absentee ballot envelopes before election day

Some of you have again requested permission to begin opening the absentee ballots before election day because of the number of absentee ballots you are receiving and the need to allow the folded ballots to flatten out before being run through the tabulators. When opening absentee ballots our office has issued the following directive: · Calculate the number of absentee ballots you have received and figure out about how long it will take to open them. Then, count backwards from election day that amount of time. · After the signatures on the affidavit envelops have been verified against the scanned signature in the voter registration system and have been recorded as being received, the affidavit envelope and the ballot secrecy envelopes may be separated. Once separated, the ballot secrecy envelope may then be opened and the ballots removed to be laid out to flatten before running them through the tabulators. · In order to maintain the integrity and security of the ballots, after they are removed from the envelops, they are to be kept in a secure location with limited access. Any time those ballots are accessed, there is to be at least two individuals accessing them. Also, arrangements are to be made to have a guard (typically a deputy sheriff, police officer or private security firm) checking to be sure that the location is still secure on a regular and frequent basis during non-office hours. · Watchers, who have been certified by the parties or candidates, are to be informed of your intent to open ballot envelopes early and of your schedule, so they can be there if they choose. · The counting of absentee ballots is not to begin until election day.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call. Tim Hurst Tim HurstChief DeputyIdaho Secretary of State700 W. Jefferson, Room E205Boise, Idaho 83720phone:

Friday, October 29, 2010

David (Frazier) vs Goliath (politicians,media, money)

October 29, 2010 by David R. Frazier

As we hit the home stretch in the mid-term election campaign, the GUARDIAN position on preserving the right of citizens to vote as detailed by the constitution and the supreme court seems in jeopardy.

Local governments, hospitals, and politicians of all stripes have dumped tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours into their effort to pass the amendments. Why do they not want the voters to be heard?

Editor-activist-blogger Dave Frazier has been labeled a GADFLY, ROTUND, ANTI-TAX MAVEN by media and proponents of three amendments on the ballot, HJR4,5, and 7. A church leader in Pocatello claimed Frazier was funded by business interests aiming to take away revenue generating entities from local government. All the major daily papers in the state have endorsed the measures, often repeating statements from proponents that minimize and distort the truth.

One editor told us with regard to HJR7, the Public Utilities Commission watches over city-owned power companies. The companies are EXEMPT from PUC scrutiny. Uninformed opinion.

Hospital ads favoring HJR4 talk about Washington interference, property tax rates, and preserving your right to vote with a “yes” on HJR4. They are simply not true and none of the media will check it out or report the truth.

HJR5 makes claims of jobs, economic prosperity and the website raises the specter of a National Guard and BLM without bases to from which to operate without approval. Absurd.

We will all lose if the amendments pass

Thursday, October 21, 2010

City Now Owns TVCC Building But Is Selling To CEURA

Oppenheimer Development aka CP-1, LLC completed the TVCC project for Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency akd CEURA on schedule and wanted to get paid for their project. The selling price was $6 million.

It took several public records requests to get it all figured out and here is how it went down:

Financing terms available to CEURA were deemed less than favorable so CEURA asked the City of Caldwell to purchase the building in the amount of $6 million from Oppenheirmer's and the Urban Renewal agency would in turn buy it back from the city over a four year period with anticipated tax revenue.

The City of Caldwell used taxpayer reserve funds from "Enterprise Accounts" for various city entities such as the Cemetery, Streets, Water, Sewer etc they had on deposit with the Idaho State Treasurer in the LOCAL GOVT. INVESTMENT POOL, LGIP for short.  There are two accounts the City of Caldwell has with the State Treasurer's Office, a diversified bond investments with about $16.5 million and they had $8.5 million in the LGIP.  The TVCC purchase has reduced this reserve to $2.5 million as of yesterday.

The City pulled $6 million out of their reserve LGIP funds for the TVCC building and then resold the project to CEURA for $6 million plus interest.  CEURA will pay back the city over the next four years in annual payments of  about $1.65 million per year.  At the end of the life of CEURA in 2014 the building will get deeded back to the city.  The City of Caldwell will then be in the Landlord business with TVCC.

Meanwhile the lease payments from TVCC are annually renewable and the "suggested" lease payment this year is $200K.  This is less than a straight line depreciation schedule for the project.  No private entity can compete with this kind of a deal given to out of state TVCC at the expense of Caldwell property taxpayers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

State Goes Into Direct Competetion With Private Enterprise

State Owns Tax-Exempt Commercial Storage, Competes With Private Business

Tuesday, October 19th by David R. Frazier

Politicos are fond of attempting to “run government like a business” in these hard economic times, but how about government flat out running a business?

The State of Idaho recently created a front company which discreetly operates a tax-exempt commercial public self-storage facility hiding behind the assumed name of “Affordable Storage” at 450 South Maple Grove in Boise.

The GUARDIAN was tipped off about the tax-exempt facility owned by the state because of our concerns with cities entering the commercial real estate speculation business at airports if HJR5–the proposed constitutional amendment–were to pass.

According to our confidential informants, the private facility was up for sale for several months and was sold in September for $2.68 million dollars. That effectively took about $40,000 out of the coffers of Boise and Ada County governments and the Boise School District. In addition, there will be a loss to the state of an estimated $16,000 in income taxes.

Jake Smith of Republic Storage said his firm owns 13,000 units at 17 locations in the Valley. “It’s damn difficult to do business when your competitor doesn’t pay income or property taxes,” said Smith.

Records at the Ada County Assessor show the current value is a mere $400, but at the first of the year it was appraised at about $2,000,000. We visited the site and it is a very modern and well maintained storage business consisting of several parcels including an office and what was once a manager’s residence.

The “True Name” of the business entity is listed at the Secretary of State as “State Board of Land Commissioners as trustee for the Idaho Endowments.” The profits from the commercial venture are destined to the state school endowment fund. Since the transaction was a “quit claim deed” and not a warranty deed, our experts figure it was some sort of land swap.

While it may be good business to diversify investments, it sure as heck isn’t good government to compete with private businessmen who are at a disadvantage coming out of the gate since they have to pay taxes and compete with their tax-exempt state government. Ironic that state wide elected officers are eager to crate jobs during this election year, but quietly start their own LLC to compete with the private sector.

They may be well intentioned, but certainly ill advised. We were told this Limited Liability Corp. (LLC) is the first one attempted by the Land Board. It will probably be the last too.

At the risk of fanning the flames, we note that Communist China, Vietnam, Cuba, and some Mideast sheikdoms are known to operate state-owned businesses. Just can’t imagine such a thing in a place like Idaho.

Do Politicians Need More Authority To Create Debt?

We are slowly working our way out of a deep recession mess created by banks and politicians. "Wreckless spending and skyrocketing debt" are at the forefront of just about every candidate running for office this election.  All of it gets back to no voter oversight with respect to debt. On November 2nd we are all going to be asked to give up our right to vote on debts created by politicians and appointed officials here in Idaho. 

The question you have to ask yourself is do we need to grant these people more authority to go into debt without our permission or not. Mr. Allred has come out in favor of these amendments and Mr. Otter has remained mum and said it is a decision for voters. 

Idaho is a very conservative state and as such is not mired down in debt to the extent a lot of other states find themselves today.  The cold hard facts are most elected officials would not make it to the interview for the jobs they hold with the credentials they have going into office.  Not to say they aren't well meaning but the only criteria for most elected jobs is meet an age requirement, be an elector in good standing and last get yourself voted into office one way or another.

We are not in a constitutional crisis, Idaho Republican Platform is against the amendments, and last, the framers of the Idaho Constitution deliberately made debt a high bar for elected officials to cross.  Article 8 section 3 has been under attack by those who would like to remove citizens from oversight of debt creation just about every year with all manner of excuses and bluster.

 Advertisements for HJR4 are about as blatant as it gets for outright deception and lying.  Your YES vote will eliminate your rights to vote on debt.  Their ads say a yes vote will protect your rights to vote

The only amendment that makes sense is the U of Idaho deal to allow student fees to become tuition.  This will allow the fees to be used in any manner necessary to budget writers for the U of Idaho. 

We encourage you to make an informed decision about giving up your rights to vote on debts created by elected and appointed officials.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Amendments An Assault On Voter's Rights

October 7, 2010
By Tom Grote, Editor and Publisher
The Star-News

“Amendments an assault on voter’s rights”
Three proposed amendments to the Idaho Constitution to be placed before voters on Nov. 2 would deprive citizens of their basic right to tell government what it can do and cannot do. This is an attempt by bureaucrats to wrest away the decision-making process from the people who pay their salaries.
The proposed amendments, called HJR 4, HJR 5 and HJR 7 on the general election ballot, are an hysterical reaction by cities, counties and public hospitals to a reasonable ruling by the Idaho Supreme Court in 2006. That ruling confirmed that state laws said exactly what they seemed to say – which is that cities, counties and hospitals must receive voter approval before going into debt to expand airports, enlarge hospitals, build new sewer plants, construct police stations or otherwise expand their basic infrastructure.
The ruling has been widely misinterpreted and deliberately twisted to make it sound as if local governments cannot buy a ream of copy paper without holding an election. Dire warnings of government being “shut down” because of the ruling have been tossed about, but those warnings are groundless.

The supreme court ruling did not say large infrastructure projects could not be built, only that they must first pass muster by the people. Proponents of the amendments note that a vote would still be required if a government wanted to pay back a bond issue with property taxes, and the amendments would only apply to projects paid by fees. That is a bit of semantic sleight of hand that is an insult to anyone who pays a monthly sewer or water bill. Fees are just another name for a tax, in that they must be paid or else someone’s freedom or property will be sacrificed as a result.
Holding an election is a horrifying prospect for most government officials because they must then justify the need for a new airport parking garage, expanded water plant or new library wing. They must admit they do not have the ultimate wisdom to make decisions on behalf of the people and must accommodate the nuisance of public assent to their schemes. If a project is needed and the government agency does an adequate job of stating its case, then the projects will move forward. But if the taxpayers suspect a project is premature, too large or too fancy, they just might send the agency back to the drawing board to come up with a more responsible proposal.
That’s the way democratic government is supposed to work. But there will be a tragic disconnect between the people and their government if the constitutional amendments on the Nov. 2 ballot are approved.

Tom Grote, Editor and Publisher
The Star-News
1000 First St. McCall, ID 83638
(208) 634-2123

Patients Are Deserting Prescription Drugs At Counter

It now costs employers an average of $13,000 to provide health coverage to employees and their families with the latest round of price hikes from insurance companies.  Higher copays are now routinely moved down onto employees are having an impact on the ability of drug companies to simply name their price for brand name as well as generic drugs.  The phenomenon is called Deserted Drugs.

We all know drug companies have been milking the American drug market and consumers for all it is worth for years. Old people are regularly shook down at the Canadian border for drug buying out of the country.  Now we have working people paying higher co pays for their prescription drugs and they are paying attention to the costs.  We also have a lot of folks who have lost their jobs and having to cough up the money or forgo their meds.

The Wall Street Journal today has a very good article on this latest noteworthy trend.  MORE BALK AT COST OF PRESCRIPTIONS Deserted Drugs. Nearly 10% of prescriptions for branded drugs and 5% of generics are being left at the pharmacy counter due to the high costs for medications.  It appears the recession has finally hit drug manufacturers and their never ending price increases for both branded and generic drugs when folks have to actually dig into their limited funds to shell out for drugs prescribed by their medical providers.  The laws of supply and demand are now coming into play at the pharmacy county.

Patents are running out on a lot of branded drugs and BIG PHARMA is now rushing to buy up all the generic supply they can to keep prices high for consumers.  Next trip to Costco or Walmart take a look where the generic over the counter stuff is made.  India is a big supplier as are other countries in the generic business.  Yet if you go to Canada to buy drugs you have to get a Canadian Doc to prescribe the meds all courtesy of BIG PHARMA and the strangle hold they have on US consumers.  The "free market" is not permitted by law in the "land of the free and the home of the brave."

As more and more baby boomers move into retirement they will surely have a profound impact on the delivery of medical services and the pharmaceutical industry.  Drug desertion at the pharmacy counter may be the first blush of this wave of discontent with drug pricing. 

Perhaps the next wave of note will be a decrease in the ads we see on television for drugs to treat all the ailments all those smiling people in the ads suggest we might have.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let The Finger Pointing Begin In The Bujak Debacle

Despite warnings about public money and the need to put it in a public treasury the Canyon County Commishes are now trying to download all the responsibility for the Bujak debacle onto Bill Hurst.

 The layers of this onion will start to get peeled back over the next few months. All the written documents will surface around the Bujak-County Prosecutorial contract with Nampa will slowly become public record.  We will get to find out who is responsible for this debacle.  We can only hope a Forensic Audit will take place.

Nampa City Councilors won't take any responsibility for their less than stellar actions.  Canyon County Commishes are pointing their collective fingers at Bill Hurst and they won't "MAN-UP" for their ineptitude.  They all need to resign and let taxpayers have a do-over with new people in these positions of responsiblity and trust.  How can they justify continuing in their jobs with the huge salaries they make at our expense? 

The Guardian is wondering out loud if any of our elected officials who approved this funny business with public money gave any thought to making Mr. Bujak pony up a Surety Bond for all this cash.  Probably not if my guess is correct.  This means taxpayers will be left holding the bag on this one.  The contract was outside Mr. Bujak's county fiduciary responsibility as a county employee when they ran the money through his private law firm.  This means the County will have no recourse to collect from a person who is obviously broke and has no money.  He will discharge all this in bankruptcy court if he isn't found guilty of any criminal activity.

The only thing that will set this straight with the public is for all the County Commishes to tender their resignations and same goes for the Nampa City Council except for Mr. Kren who was against this goofy arrangement.

A last point here is why Mr. Hurst would have any loyalty to the Canyon County Republican Party is beyond our ability understand.  Mr. Hurst has a  clear paper trail of his concerns, the outside auditors expressed concerns, Dan Chadwick of the Idaho Assoc. of Counties expressed concerns but all the people agreeing to this deal now want to hold Hurst responsible.  This is truly laughable. The meeting minutes and recordings of the Commishes will be a telling public record as all this gets taken apart a layer at a time starting with the June 14th minutes of this year.

 It really is time for people to start to consider a City/County Manager form of government given the ineptitude and irresponsibility of all this business.  None of the elected officials involved would make it to the interview process if they had to apply for the jobs they now hold. We have bought and paid for competent management of our cities and counties but we don't get what we've paid for with what we are getting.
We have a right to expect HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND FIDUCIDARY RESPONSIBLITY from our elected and appointed officials.

Valley Mayors Seek To Spend $738,000,000 With No Public Vote

Treasure Valley Mayors from Boise To Wilder signed a letter published in the IDAHO BUSINESS REVIEW Monday supporting passage of HJR5–the constitutional amendment seeking to abolish the constitutional rights of citizens to vote on public debt at airports.

In their letter, the seven mayors said, “Our airports need the tools to finance the estimated $738 million of infrastructure improvements they will require over the next 20 years – financed not by taxpayers, but by airport customers themselves. We need this tool just to catch up with our neighboring states, all of which already use bonds to build their airports and their economies.”

The GUARDIAN is opposed to allowing politicians the luxury of spending nearly three quarters of a BILLION dollars in public money with not a single vote from the citizens who own these airports. They can sell bonds, but need to ask permission.

A major risk factor in their attempt to abolish the vote of citizens lies in another area of the law. A current elected body does NOT have the authority to obligate a future elected body. Only the people have that right. Even though our property taxes may not be used to repay a debt, incurring that debt must be approved by 2/3 of the voters. Otherwise a city council or county commission could change their mind 10 years into a project.

Same holds true for laws of the state. While a legislature can pass a law, the next session can repeal it. HOWEVER, when it comes to the constitution, a 2/3 vote of the legislature AND approval of at least half (+1)of the voters in the entire state is required to change it.