Tracking code caldwell guardian

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Legislative Ethics Need Honor Code

Legislative Ethics Need Honor Code Like U.S. Military Academy

Idaho’s legislature has a crisis in confidence following numerous ethical lapses on the part of members–some have been convicted, some have lost leadership roles, and others have lost face.
Exterior dome of the Idaho State Capitol building located in Boise, Idaho, USA.
On the third day of the 2013 session they have devoted considerable time to “ethics training,” and they hired outside counsel.
The GUARDIAN has offered perhaps the easiest and most logical solution in the form of the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) HONOR CODE. The code says “a Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” The code in some form has served the Academy since 1802 with the final tweak adopted in 1970 to “not tolerate those who do.”
CARVED IN STONE...
CARVED IN STONE…

We have suggested the plan to a Senator and a Representative–both Dems–who scoffed at the suggestion and walked away.

It seems like a pretty simple ethics policy for the members of the Idaho House and Senate to adopt. Just change “cadet” to “member” and it’s ready to adopt.
Three rules of thumb:
1. Does this action attempt to deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?

2. Does this action gain or allow the gain of privilege or advantage to which I or someone else would not otherwise be entitled?

3. Would I be dissatisfied by the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?

We would suggest they use modified guidelines similar to West Point when it comes to adjudicating violations. They are tried by a jury of their peers (ethics committee). If they are found guilty, the case will go up to the (full House or Senate) who will give a recommendation to either impose sanctions (strip the member of committee assignments) or recommend impeachment.

Definitions of the tenets of the Honor Code:

LYING: Cadets violate the Honor Code by lying if they deliberately deceive another by stating an untruth or by any direct form of communication to include the telling of a partial truth and the vague or ambiguous use of information or language with the intent to deceive or mislead.

CHEATING: A violation of cheating would occur if a Cadet fraudulently acted out of self-interest or assisted another to do so with the intent to gain or to give an unfair advantage. Cheating includes such acts as plagiarism (presenting someone else’s ideas, words, data, or work as one’s own without documentation), misrepresentation (failing to document the assistance of another in the preparation, revision, or proofreading of an assignment), and using unauthorized notes.

STEALING: The wrongful taking, obtaining, or withholding by any means from the possession of the owner or any other person any money, personal property, article, or service of value of any kind, with intent to permanently deprive or defraud another person of the use and benefit of the property, or to appropriate it to either their own use or the use of any person other than the owner.

TOLERATION: Cadets violate the Honor Code by tolerating if they fail to report an unresolved incident with honor implications to proper authority within a reasonable length of time. “Proper authority” includes the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant, the Director of Military Training, the Athletic Director, a tactical officer, teacher or coach. A “reasonable length of time” is the time it takes to confront the Cadet candidate suspected of the honor violation and decide whether the incident was a misunderstanding or a possible violation of the Honor Code. A reasonable length of time is usually considered not to exceed 24 hours.

To have violated the honor code, a Cadet must have lied, cheated, stolen, or attempted to do so, or tolerated such action on the part of another Cadet. The procedural element of the Honor System examines the two elements that must be present for a Cadet to have committed an honor violation: the act and the intent to commit that act. The latter does not mean intent to violate the Honor Code, but rather the intent to commit the act itself.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mental Health Hospitals or Gun Control??

THE GUARDIAN has watched the media frenzy over the latest killing of all the beautiful little children and adults at the Sandy Hook School to the point I can't watch or listen to it anymore.  The media has latched onto this and is trying to make it a "tipping point" for more gun laws and that will do nothing to reduce the killing by mentally ill people.  They will simply figure out another way to carry out their well thought out plans to kill others.

The real issue in my mind is more and better control of people with serious mental issues.  Most people with mental problems are not violent.  However, there are a few that do and we need more and better protection from them and for them.

I am old enough to remember when President Reagan shut down the mental hospitals back in 1986 in an effort to control the federal budget.  Mental hospitals were painted as torture chambers and places not fit for human occupancy in order to sell this to the public.  The media bought it hook line and sinker as did the public. 

I can think of no instance where people were shot in wholesale manner by anyone who was not dealing with mental issues.  Additionally, shootings like what we all have seen in recent times were very rare before 1986 when mental hospitals were up and running to accomodate those with mental issues.

 President Reagan was shot by a citizen with mental issues.  Just think of all the instances recently involving people with mental issues and the consequences of not keeping them in a safe haven and controlled environment. 

In every instance shootings of people by people with mental issues were thought out in well planned detail.  Parents of the people who did these horrible acts were at the end of their rope on what to do and very few options to deal with their children who carried out these unthinkable acts.

I can remember when you could see advertisements for war surplus guns of all makes and kinds in comic books, Sports Afield, and other magazines for as little as $10 each.  President Kennedy was shot by a mentally unstable person with just such a gun.  The reaction was to shut down mail order gun sales of cheap guns and not deal with the mental health aspects of this terrible acts.

Today, we have the media in lock-step trying to get more and tougher gun control laws on the books as a result of the Sandy Hook School shootings.  I would offer we need more and better mental health laws and facilities in this country.  Right now the only place most cities and counties have are jails and prisons for these folks.  This is a very costly environment and it does nothing to address the problems of mental health confinement needs.  The mother of the young man who did the killings was at her wits end on how to deal with her son.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Caldwell Code Enforcement Dissolved!

THE GUARDIAN has long been a supporter of Code Enforcement in Caldwell.  There are a certain number of people and property owners who simply consider it a right to create BLIGHT.  Weeds, trash, junk cars, and you name it all over their property.  I learned yesterday the people doing this job will be gone as of the first of the new year.  Here's the reply I received from the City Finance Director, Eljay Waite:


"Code enforcement is being streamlined, overlapping responsibilities are being removed or consolidated, unnecessary duties are being removed and several city departments will share the responsibility of code enforcement. Government is downsizing and combining resources to become more efficient. Great idea. An official announcement will be coming soon. "

Back in the bad old days the junior officer on the Caldwell Police Department was the sole code enforcement officer for the city.  They knew it was a short time they would be in this position so, for a lack of a better description, they did a lousy job of it.  About 10 years ago the city of Caldwell looked like a dump site.  The Mayor and City Councilors decided to get some political will to clean up Caldwell and hired dedicated people to this effort.  It was an uphill battle for the first couple of years but today, Caldwell is anything but what it used to be.  This can only be attributed to the people working for Caldwell Code Enforcement.  Trash, weeds and junk cars all over town are gone for the most part.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Another Legislative Year To Repeal Urban Renewal

This year there are about 25 new members of the Idaho Legislature.  It presents another opportunity to get URA's reformed to allow voters to weigh in on bonding debt or continue down the road we have been on with all the tax and spend abuses and NO Voter Oversight. 

The latest abuse of URA law in Idaho is in Nampa where they want to create a one block UR District to accommodate a Caldwell developer.  The site is the old Mercy Hospital and is nothing more than an effort to cut taxpayers out of the funding decisions for this very questionable project.  Make no mistake the developer is not in this to restore a piece of Nampa's history.  He is there to make money on the backs of Nampa and Canyon County taxpayers and federal taxpayers. 

There was plenty of evidence of taxpayer abuse presented last year at the Idaho Legislature but the political will to actually do anything was severely lacking.  The pro URA people launched a statewide organization of URA's headed up by former CCDC head Phil Kushlan.  Mr. Kushlan is funded by annual dues from all state URA's via a $500.00 fee from each URA in Idaho.  Once again using taxpayer dollars to lobby state legislators to keep URA laws as they are and promote all the taxpayer abuse intact.

The best solution for all this is to simply abolish Urban Renewal Districts statewide.  They are allowed to pick "winners and losers" in how cities get developed.  They do almost zero urban renewal and promote crony capitalism in the process.  The answer to all this is to level the playing field in Idaho Cities and get local levy rates low enough to give all potential developers and their projects and equal opportunity.  And in the process let capital investments go where the best opportunities lie in our communities.

What you can do is get on the Idaho Legislature web pages and let your local legislators know how you feel about URA's.  The total lack of voter oversight of URA's in Idaho is simply wrong and it won't change without your help.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Public Hearing on County Admin. Building Bonding



On Monday, November 26th there will be a hearing on the bonding for the county admin. building. The meeting will be held at noon in the Caldwell Police Station Community Room. Bonds will be bought by Banner Bank with an interest rate of  2.89% over the life of the bond debt. 

Preliminary construction estimates are the building will cost $6.8 MM. Bonds will be issued in the amount of $7.8 MM with any funds left over from the building to be used to remodel the existing courthouse into more courtroom space and other projects.

THE GUARDIAN hopes the new admin. building will result in closure of the Nampa Courthouse.  The costs of running that place do not justify the expense.  Closure of the Nampa Courthouse and selling off that property should result in enough money saved to put a serious dent in the cost of the new admin building by centralizing court needs in Caldwell.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Are the Plans to Fight Colorado and Washington on New Pot Laws

The states of Washington and Colorado have voted to legalize marijuana in their states for recreational use.  Now comes the question how the federal government intends to enforce their stance on this matter.  The reality is they can't and everyone knows it. 

Laws depend on the populace voluntarily complying with the law.  That isn't going to happen anymore in these two states.  The Federal Govt. hasn't got the jail and prison space to lock up offenders and both states know that.  Once you have more than about 3% of any given population ignoring a law it becomes impossible to enforce.  Don't believe it?  Do the math and see how much jail and prison space would have to be built to lock up all the violators.  Backing up before prisons become overrun with marijuana violators the courts would become clogged and brought to total gridlock.

It will be interesting to see how the Obama Justice Department deals with this turn of events in Washington and Colorado.  THE GUARDIAN has long advocated that marijuana be decriminalized, taxed and sold at the local 7-11's and other retail outlets.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Banner Bank To Underwrite $7.8 MM County Admin. Bldg. Project

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN, Banner Bank will be underwriting the new county administration building.  The project will be located on the north side of Albany Street between the 10th Avenue overpass and 11th Avenue. 

The building site is now a parking lot and to offset parking needs the county has acquired property next to the railroad tracks between 10th Avenue and Albany Street.

Funding will come from tax anticipation monies from Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency with $7.8 million towards this project.  The plan calls for the county to use $6.7 million for the new building and hold back $1.1 to cover cost overrides and rising material costs.  Should there be any funds left over from this project they will be dedicated to courtrooms and remodel costs in the existing courthouse.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A One Block Urban Renewal District?

THE GUARDIAN learned today the fair city of Nampa wants another URA.  The new district will be a one block affair to take in the old Mercy Hospital in order to give the "developer from Caldwell" a tax break.

The city of Nampa will do anything to keep voters from approving this project and have already got a preliminary read from city attorney, Mr. White that they can proceed without a vote of the people on this new URA.

This new URA is item number 6 on the city council agenda for tonight.  The vote will likely be an eve split with Mayor Dale breaking the tie in favor of forming the new URA.

More on this as things move forward to a public hearing required by state statutes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weeds On I-84, IDT Won't Mow

THE GUARDIAN contacted Mayor Nancolas regarding the visual blight as well as the safety issues posed by weeds in the center divider and along the sides of I-84 hoping he could have some sway with Idaho Transportation Department in this matter.  Here is what we got back from Mayor Nancolas:

"We have again contacted ITD and they stae that this will be all they do for now. They assert that even if they mow the weeds, the cut weeds present the same hazard.  They also assert this is the directive of the new Director!!"

Perhaps the financial settlement with the former ITD Director, Pam Lowe has cut into the state highway maintenance budget.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Election Stuff Dist. 10 House and Pioneer Irrigation Board

THE GUARDIAN does not endorse candidates but in this instance you might wish to read the Idaho Press Tribune article on candidates for the state legislature very informative. 
http://www.idahopress.com/members/candidate-brandon-hixon-i-ve-put-indiscretions-in-past/article_3cf55a44-175c-11e2-b157-0019bb2963f4.html

Next, is the issue of the Pioneer Irrigation Board of Directors election.  THE GUARDIAN is finding the ongoing and seemingly endless litigation between the city of Caldwell and PID a flagrant waste of taxpayer dollars. 

There is zero city representation on this board and now may be an opportunity to change this. City Finance Director, Eljay Waite, is running against a PID incumbent.  In order to vote in this election you will have to go out to the PID offices on Lake Avenue just south of Caldwell Nampa Blvd.  November 6th is the election date and now early voting in this election that we are aware of at this time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Un-Named Developer $450K Caldwell, $7MM Nampa

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the same developer who wants to do a senior citizen project in Caldwell with the help of $450k from Caldwell taxpayers is the very same developer who is grabbing for the brass ring in Nampa to the tune of $7 Million.

The number of $450K is common knowledge in Caldwell and the site of the project is rumored to be the old Sundowner Motel.
 In Nampa it is the old Mercy Hospital. One astute reader of the sparse financial information noted the units in the Nampa project would cost north of $130k each before the building and ground is purchased based upon the $7MM the "developer" wants up front.

THE GUARDIAN is openly wondering why this developer and his local projects are not more transparent and costs to taxpayers more open for discussion.  One reason is the involvement of Caldwell and Nampa Urban Renewal districts.  They answer to nobody for any of their actions or expenditures of public tax dollars.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Idaho Center Needs New Roof

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the Idaho Center needs a new roof.  The RFQ for this project was noted in the legal ads in the IPT this past week.

Not only is the Idaho Center a WHITE ELEPHANT and drain on taxpayers of Nampa the roof is leaking after a mere 16 years of service.  The Idaho Center was placed into service the Fall of 1996/Winter of 1997. 

update 10/16/2012:  We received word from a reliable source the cost to fix the Idaho Center roof is $200,000 and replacing the roof will cost $277,000. 

Nampa Urban Renwal Looking for Debt Underwriter

As promised, Nampa Development Corp. is looking to spend another $19 million for a new library. If they can find any takers on the debt it will be south of 4.0%.  Their Developer won't do much but talk until the money for the project is secured. 

What is not well understood with this project and all urban renewal projects is ALL COUNTY TAXPAYERS WILL PAY FOR THIS PROJECT.  URA's pay for their pork projects with property  taxes and call it "magic".  The only magic in all of this is how poorly informed taxpayers are on the mechanics of how urban renewal works. 

City officials are not willing to put these pork projects up for a vote of the people for fear the voting public will not approve their pork projects.  The Idaho Legislature created URA's to get around voters and bond elections.

 Now we have another $19MM for a library on top of the $14.5MM spent on a new police building.  All Canyon County property owners will be forced to repay this debt.  The tax shift created by removing properties from county tax rolls like the Nampa Marketplace and other property has to be made up for to keep the cash flowing to pay for city and county services.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Early Voting Starts October 9th

Short and sweet... Early Voting starts October 9. We got the following press release from Joe Decker today:

In person absentee voting will start on the 9th of October for the November 6th general election. Election office hours are 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM M-F.

The last day to vote in person will be Friday November 2, 2012.

If you have any questions you can call the elections office at 454-7562.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Franchise Fees to Increase to $1.5%, Caldwell Trash Fees up 2.42%

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN utility franchise fees will be increased from 1.25% to 1.5% with the pending approval of the IPUC.  This is a whopping 20% increase for Nampa and Boise residents.  Caldwell and the rest of the valley cities won't be far behind with this new round of stealth fees. 

Caldwell collects a whopping 18% of the total fees for trash pick up in our fair city.  The City Council agenda calls for another increase of 2.42% to be added to the total per the City Council Agenda for 10/1/2012.

There is another item that will be slid in under the radar for Caldwell Building code.  Any new building in excess of 5,000 sq/ft. will be required to have fire supression sprinklers. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Salvation Army Gets King's Building in Caldwell

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN the old King's building in downtown Caldwell has been donated to the Caldwell Salvation Army.  No defined use for the building has been defined by the Salvation Army.

The back story on this is the Caldwell East Urban Renewal agency made a verbal agreement with the King family, (aka Sun Valley Properties) to purchase and convert the property to a parking lot for TVCC.  The reality of parking needs for TVCC did not materialize into a need for more parking and the City/URA backed out of the deal with the King family. 

Meanwhile, the King family had started unwinding their business in Caldwell and out of frustration, high property taxes and profits not paying the bills the King family finally closed the doors.  Property taxes on this building amount to over $8,000/year.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There Is No Cure For Old Age, Medicare Mills Sell False Hope

There is no cure for old age and most of us are in denial about our looming demise.  Medicare costs are going to force decisions a lot of people will not agree with as more and more people move onto Medicare rolls. 

I watched with a lot of disdain for how my own father made really bad end of life decisions and vowed to not do the same as I move closer to the end my of life.  For example, my father called me when he was 91 years old about his scheduled surgery to have both knees replaced.  Mind you he was taking no pain meds for his knee issues.  I asked him why he had opted for surgery over taking a few pills to control his knee pain.  I was not ready for his answer:  He was worried about the "long term" consequences of taking pills to control pain!  I countered his objection to taking meds and asked what his view of "long term" meant in his mind.  I won't go into the details of this discussion but it is a very good example of why we need some serious oversight of Medicare.  (Note: My father died two weeks after he turned 92 from congestive heart failure.)

The Republican Congress wants to raise the age for Medicare eligibility and ditto for Social Security.  I would offer the real opportunity lies on the back end and all of the bad decisions that may extend life but at what cost and quality of life.  Medicare and his Part B coverage stood ready to pay the bills for my father for his knee surgery and never mind that he was suffering from Congestive Heart Failure and only had about 20% of he heart capacity. 

At age 66, I am well into what I call the last quarter of my life.  I want Social Security and Medicare to be there for younger people so they can retire and enjoy a few years of what life they have left to live.  However, we have to get a system in place to address the fact we all get old and we all get to die at some point in time.  The options offered to my father as well as others when they are near the end of their lives have to undergo some cost benefit analysis.  Many health care options made by people today make no sense and cost Medicare billions of dollars.

There is no cure for old age and we owe it to our survivors to make a graceful exit.  Good decisions about our health care and when to recognize our time is up will be necessary to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent for future generations.  Life is short no matter how long we live.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sen. Bernie Sanders May Have It Right We Need More Independents

Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont is one of those politicos most people can't recall ever hearing anything about. Turns out he delivered the last filibuster in the Senate lasting over eight hours over trying to get the Democrats and Republicans to agree to a deal on the budget.  He is also the sole Independent in the Senate.

Sen. Sanders gave an interesting analysis of party politics on Bill Moyers and Company this past weekend and it is worth listening to if you can muster up the 20 minutes or so that he spoke to Mr. Moyers.  The problem with politics today is the parties have become so extreme in their thinking and have devolved from center left or right along with all the litmus tests of parties nothing gets done. 

Sen. Mitch McConnell says his goal is not to get anything done in the Senate but to make President Obama a one term president.  He could care less about what is good for the country.  Pretty extreme stuff when poll after poll indicate most Americans are concerned about the economy, cost of health care, social security , medicare and ending the war in Afghanistan. Congress can't seem to do anything but argue and they get nothing done with respect to the business of the people.

Both Congress and the Senate are bought and controlled by PAC's, goofy pledges, six banking firms and a few rich families and individuals.  Sen. Sanders is an advocate of publicly financed elections in order to get people elected who actually represent the people of this country v. those will the money and PAC's and banks.  The system is fraught with waste and  fraud as it currently exists.  We are moving to an Oligarchy given the current state of election financing.

Maybe we need to scrap party politicos and elect more independents like Mr. Sanders. We need people in Congress who will address the pressing issues of this great nation ahead of party politics.

You have to ask yourself what NAFTA and the lopsided "Free Trade Agreements" done for the Middle and Working class people of this country.  Why haven't we seen legal prosecutions of the corrupt and fradulent actions of Bankers and Wall Street thugs who nearly put this country into a full blown economic depression.

Here's a link to the show if you missed it on PBS  http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-challenging-power-changing-politics/

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mayor Nancolas and Pioneer Irrigation District Eminent Domain Threat

The real issue here is about polluted run off, street waste water, along with all manner of pollutants flowing into irrigation ditches used for food crops.

The city is claiming past practice and the right to dump this waste water into Pioneer's canals.  The problem is this simple... once these canals received water from farms and adjacent fields.  Now, there are thousands of homes on what was once farmland.  The city mis-managed the storm water issue and is stretching the parameters of the Clean Water Act of 1972. 

Mayor Nancolas and city officials failed to follow the example of other cities that have been in compliance with controlling polluted runoff from residential and commercial property for years and years.  In their zeal to be more than accommodating they never bothered to concern themselves with the aspects of subdivision pollutants flowing into waterways used for irrigating food crops.

Now Mayor Nancolas is headed down the path of even more costs for litigation after spending $2million on all the current legal bills in this goofy battle with Pioneer Irrigation.  They screwed up and now citizens of Caldwell are looking at another battle via the eminent domain scheme proposed by our Mayor.

Keeping pollutants out of storm drains is the topic of public service spots on TV all the time.  Keeping pollutants out of irrigation waterways should be a no-brainer.  The problem is how does the city of Caldwell fix the poor decisions made in the past.  THE GUARDIAN does not see litigtion as the answer anymore than the pending threat of eminent domain takeover of PID's city of Caldwell  irrigation water users.

Here's a link to the sequence of actions and reactions posted on the Pioneer Irrigation website   http://pioneerirrigation.com/litigation.html

Here's another link in the IPT Sunday edition:  http://www.idahopress.com/members/time-to-end-caldwell-water-fight/article_869afcae-f3c5-11e1-a855-0019bb2963f4.html#user-comment-area

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reader Board Flap Explained by Maurice Clements

The following is  a Guest Opinion by Maurice Clements that first appeared in the IPT today.

The recent message on Ralph Smeed's Reader Board in Caldwell has sparked responses from all over the nation.  The committee that manages the messages thought it appropriate to respond.

Let me begin with a point of clarification.  The reader board is the sole property of the Smeed Estate (co-executors Dan Symms and Maurice Clements).  It is not part of the Ralph Smeed Private Memorial Foundation.

The left side of the sign showed a picture of James Holmes, with the words :Kills 12 in movie theater."  Caption below his picture reads "everyone freaks out".

The right side of the sing shows a picture of President Obama, with the caption "Kills thousands with his foreign policy."  Below Obama's picture is the caption "wins Nobel Peace Prize".

The aim of the message was to point out that the nation was outraged by the massacre in Aurora, Colorado and rightly so.  And yet there seems to be no equivalent outrage for the thousands of American Soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and the countless innocent civilians who have perished as collateral damage of these wars.  Our nation has tuned out to the massacre in the Middle East and seems to have become numb to the carnage occurring there.

When President Obama promised to bring the troops home during his campaign of 2008, someone should have asked him in which decade he intended to make good on that promise.

Our Nation has been led into illegal wars for years by presidents.  We are told what the given reasons are but the real reasons are not clear.

Our Consitutition says only Congress can declare war.  Yet presidents including Harry Truman (Korea), John Kennedy (Vietnam and Bay of Pigs), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam), Richard Nixon (Vietnam and Cambodia), Ronald Reagan (Lebanon and Grenada), George Bush (Panama, Iraq and Somalia), Bill Clinton Somalia, Kosovo and Hati), George W. Bush (Iraq and Afghanistan), and not Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner with the wars in Libya and Syria and the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan all have violated Article 1, section 8 of our Constitution.

We have become a nation with perpetual wars, a long list of dead and maimed American soldiers and millions of innocent civilians sacrificed as collateral damage.  And for what purpose?  Give me a break.

Our message on the reader board was designed to elevate the outrage for this worldwide slaughter. To that purpose, I think we have been somewhat successful.

I agree we migth have said it better. Hindsight is always 20/20.  To the extent our message to attention. I think it was a tremendous success.

We respect the loss and grief suffered by the families in Colorado.  Our intent was to encourage some critical thinking and create a discourse on how to put an end to the perpetual state of war  that our politicians, regardless of party, seem to perpetuate.

Maurice Clements, Nampa, Idaho

Monday, August 20, 2012

Idaho Center Another $300K In The Red

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN today the Idaho Center is another $300,000 in the red.  The folks running will be asking the Nampa City Council to approve the money ASAP as checks have already been written for the money they are asking approval.

Nampa has already funded the Idaho Center to the tune of $1.2MM this year and with the addition of this additional request for $300K makes the new total $1.5MM in the hole to keep the doors open.  We have another two months plus before the end of the fiscal year before the books are closed.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Caldwell Drone Waste and Spend Redux


THE GUARDIAN did an earlier post regarding the waste and spend "drone" deal  costing taxpayers a mere $35,000 for a drone vehicle with a 500 gram payload.  Also in the deal was the cost to send four people to Canada for "training" on this new toy.  All this foolishness was done with "HOMELAND SECURITY MONEY" and no thought given to alternatives to this expensive toy.

Today, THE GUARDIAN read with interest an article in the Wall Street Journal about a whole series of remote control fliers with a costs as low as $45-$300!  It begs the question:  What were the local HOME LAND SECURITY wonks thinking when they shelled out all that money on their toy drone.

The AR. DRONE 2.0 costs a mere $300 and is equipped with an on board  high-def camera that will beam video back to a smart phone.  The footage can be saved and put into video format if necessary.  All of this just goes to show the most costly option is not always in the best interests of the taxpayers. 

But the real question here is why would local officials buy something with taxpayer money they would never buy out of their own pocket.  It would be intersting to note just how many times the "drone" has actually been put into service and for what reason.

Here's a link for more cheap drone info:  http://ardrone2.parrot.com/
and here is a video of this cheap drone in action: http://ardrone.parrot.com/best-of-user-videos/2012/06/25/fire-coming/

All of this nonsense is just one more example that it takes no particular talent to spend other people's money by governmental agencies.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Caldwell City v. Pioneer Irrigation

It was interesting to see the summation of the agreement/disagreement between the City of Caldwell and Pioneer Irrigation in the Sunday edition of the IPT.  One side claims years and years of past practice and the other is claiming trespass on their canal without any authority to do so.

The reality is what worked when Caldwell was a small rural farm community does not work when we are now at 46,000 people living in houses that were once farms.  Rather than put the burden on developers to pay for the expenses of growth and respect for a precious commodity, (the water we all take for granted), the city proclaimed it OK to put citified runoff into canals used to irrigate farmland and crops.

At first all of the bickering seemed like petty arguing about trivial issues.  The reality is much different.  Would you go and water your home garden with water taken from gutter run-off water and drainage from streets and other city hard surfaces?  Probably not as they contain all manner of contaminants from gasoline, oil and other crud along with all manner of toxic byproducts from city residents.

We all need to figure out how to be better stewards of the land and water resources we  have in this valley.  It all boils down to a food safety issue and keeping pollutants and toxins out of our food supply.  Dumping hardscape waste-water into irrigation canals just isn't a very good plan.

Too bad it took millions in ligtigation to arrive a this conclusion.  Caldwell taxpayers and Pioneer Water users got stuck with the bills for this lack of agreement and understanding of what was probably not the cheapest solution but the most responsible course of action.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nanobrewery Wants to Locate at 10th and Grant in Caldwell


THE GUARDIAN received a very nice letter today inviting me to attend a meeting to review and discuss a proposed "nanobrewery" project at the corner of 10th Avenue and Grant Streets.  The meeting will be held at the Caldwell public library at 3:00 PM on Monday August 6th. 

Those familiar with brew pubs know they are not just another beer joint in a community, they are more restaurant with a limited high quality menu and they serve up equally high quality micro brews.  The few that I have been in are family friendly, have a relaxing atmosphere and generally the perfect mix of good food served in a clean environment at reasonable prices.  This could be a nice addition to the Fairview Golf Course, sort of a 19th hole environement.

THE GUARDIAN owns property in the vicinity of this proposed project and will attend the meeting in support of this project.  The letter we received was signed by Josh White of Tay's Inc. 

This meeting is part of the process in getting permits and approvals from the city of Caldwell P&Z and final approvals from the City Council.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Loud, Noisy, Disagreable and Mayor Dale Gets to Decide

There is a very good article on the workings of Nampa City Government and what the addition of Councilman Bob Henry has brought to Nampa's City Council in the Idaho Statesman today (Sunday).

The Nampa City Council is no longer a rubber stamp for the the Mayor and various departments of Nampa City.  Councilors Henry and Kren have demonstrated a parsimonious defense of their view of spending citizens tax dollars v. the opposite attitude  demonstrated with Councilors Pam White and Martin Thorne.  Mayor Dale is having to weigh in with tie breaking votes that generally affirm the votes of White and Thorne.

It is a very good read written by Kristen Rodine of the Idaho Statesman and you can get it all at: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/07/22/2197573/nampa-council-often-divided.html 



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How To Use an AED When Someone Has A Cardiac Arrest

In the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, what would you do?  You can stand around and be a spectator or get involved in saving someones life.  AED's are in most public places.  I have seen then and asked: What is the gizmo hanging on the wall.  Most employees know it is a defibrillator but they have no idea how to use it.

I had no idea how to use an AED until this link http://www.heartrescuenow.com/ was sent to me by a friend. It will take a few minutes of your time but well worth the investment.  You will know how to administer one of these life saving tools should the need arise.

Regards,  Paul

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Caldwell Water Report In And It is Liquid Gold In Quality

People in Caldwell take water  for granted.  Once again the water quality report was sent out to users in their monthly water bills this past week.  The  quality of water in Caldwell is something we have come to expect.  We have some of the best drinking water I have ever encountered in all of the places I have visited or lived.

Wells all over the valley serving small rural communities are fraught with all manner of chemical and/or bacterial problems.  It may look like water but chemical/biological tests tell another story.  The Federal Govt. sets primary drinking water standards for all states and they are required to comply with these standards, in additions some states have secondary standards that are over and above primary Federal Drinking Water Standards.

We are using water that is millions of years old in Caldwell and once used the aquifer is depleted by the amount drawn out.  Problems we are not addressing as a community is using potable water to keep lawns green.  We should be taking steps to use irrigation water 100%  for outdoor uses.  Most of the newer homes have this water available but where I live I have no option but to use city potable water to keep my trees and lawn watered.

It would seem reasonable to form LID's where potable water is used for irrigation and get this changed over just as a matter of saving drinking water for future generations.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Land Board Sweetheart Leases Unconstitutional

Supremes Say Cottage Lease Law Unconstitutional

In a ruling released Friday the Idaho Supreme Court eliminated the “home field advantage” for cottage leaseholders on state land at Payette and Priest Lakes.


We have to hand it to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden for suing his fellow land board members over the issue–a 1990 law giving current lessees priority for lease renewals. He contended the law was being used to circumvent the Idaho Constitution’s requirement to generate the maximum return for endowment beneficiaries. Wasden’s office said public schools will benefit because auctions will generate more income.

There was a huge outcry 20 plus years ago when all “those Californians” started bidding on cottage sites owned by the state. The out of staters had plenty of cash and were willing to outbid the old-time Idaho families who had build cottages on the state land they leased for very good rates.

Wasden uses the same basic argument–maximum return on investment–when it comes to the state going into business ventures normally conducted by the private sector. The BOISE GUARDIAN has opposed some real estate deals–notably the Affordable Storage venture in Boise and tenant improvements on a new brew pub downtown. Our research indicates these business deals don’t always increase the return on investment for the endowment funds (most go to education) and depending on how the books are cooked actually show a loss.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nampa Police Building Cracks Continue Main Floor

It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN more cracks are appearing in the floors of the NPD building.  This latest set of cracks are on the main floor in the grand entry part of the building and are reported to be up to 50 feet in length.

THE GUARDIAN previously reported cracking in the basement area and water seeping in was a threat to the integrity of evidence stored in this part of the building.  The local paper ran a story on this today along with assurances the cracks are not a problem and will be repaired under warranty from the builder.

The real question is why are there all these cracks in a new building in the first place. One Guardian reader has made the observation regarding very old buildings in Nampa that are crack free after many decades of use.  This is a good question and anyone with a good answer is welcome to give us the info regarding this failure in a brand new building.

Friday, June 22, 2012

STOP DYNAMIS MSWTE In Boise, Dioxin Is the Problem

Dynamis is a local outfit with an office in Eagle, Idaho and they are pushing Municipal Solid Waste to Energy in this valley.  Ada Commishes gave Dynamis $2MM and all they have for their cash is a set of plans and promises to convert waste to energy via a "proprietary" process. 

The process used by Dynamis has yet to produce a single kw of electrical power and yet they have Idaho Power over a barrel with federally mandated offset costs for power generated by this effort along with a permit from the Idaho PUC to move forward with the ADA landfill project.

Nampa didn't have the volumes of solid combustible waste to run one of these power plants.  Ada County similarly has a questionable amount of waste to fuel the project and Dynamis is going to  BURN TIRES to supplement the lack of solid waste flows the the plant.  Idaho Power gets stuck paying PURPA rates of $92.35 per Mwh of power they will generate for the next two plus decades. 

All the nasty stuff this facility generates from ash to "allowable limits" of toxins into our air shed will exacerbate already poor air quality in this valley beyond the inversions we all love to hate.  One of the more nasty constituents of that air fouling will be DIOXINS!  Dioxins have a half-life of two years and will take about 14 years for each days worth of this poison to hit insignificant status.  Meanwhile along with DIOXINS there are a host of other nasty things that will have to be dealt with in the sludge, ash and other waste components. 

The real question is why is this project moving forward?  We don't need the power generated by this facility, we don't need more gunk and poison in our air, and is DIOXIN something we want to add to our air quality in the valley.  And the ADA land fill is going to last at least another 100 years.

Dioxin is commonly used to refer to :
In chemistry, a dioxin is a heterocyclic 6-membered ring, where 2 carbon atoms have been substituted by oxygen atoms.

The short version is Dioxin is a known CARCINOGEN and has a highly toxic effect in humans.

The city of Nampa took a flight of fancy with taxpayer dollars and commissioned a very expensive study for a Dynamis Municipal Waste to Energy project, somewhere north of $100,000 was to the total cost of the study. Mayor Dale and his like minded city councilors Ms. White and Mr. Thorn voted to appropriate funds for the study. You can get a copy of the McKinstry Engineering Report by filing a public records request with Nampa City Hall. (I have an e-copy and can send it to those who email me and request a copy.)

Here's a link to a series of articles on the Boise Guardian re: Dynamis
http://boiseguardian.com/?s=dynamis

Statesman Editorial June 27/2012 http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/06/27/2169734/a-first-step-toward-taking-a-second.html

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Urban Renewal Repeal White Paper at Republican State Republican Convention

This post is a copy of a document to be presented at the Republican State Convention in Twin Falls. The CALDWELL GUARDIAN will gladly post similar items from the Dems.

By Rachel S. Gilbert

Do you wonder why your property taxes are so high and continue to rise year after year? Do you wonder why cities and counties are forced to raise your property taxes to pay for fire and police protection, schools, streets and roads, the courts, libraries, county sheriff operations, and a host of other essential services for cities and counties? Are you concerned about school levies year after year?
  
Here’s the problem, and it’s huge and complicated: URBAN RENEWAL AGENCIES are eviscerating our property tax base and getting away with it! How does that happen?
 
The Idaho Legislature passed the URBAN RENEWAL law in 1965 to rebuild BOISE’S infamous gutted downtown. At first it was funded by HUD, but when these federal funds dried up, urban renewal languished in Idaho for about 20 years. The problem was funding.
So in 1988 BOISE devised a new, cunning financing scheme called TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (TIF), which very few people understood. It allowed UR agencies to skim our property taxes to fund their questionable projects.
 
Then in 1997, UR took off like a rocket!! The LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT LAW was passed. I call this law FOOD STAMPS FOR BUSINESSES. City mayors loved it! Developers loved it! Beneficiaries loved it! Farmers hated it! Now Mayors don’t have to go to the people for a pesky general two-thirds obligation bond to build public buildings! They just build them in an UR district and skim future property taxes for up to 24 years. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE???

Is it not unfair and undemocratic to have UNELECTED, MAYOR-APPOINTED Commissioners spending our property taxes without a vote of the people? Are we going to allow UR to have TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION? LONG-TERM BONDING AUTHORITY without a vote of the people? UNELECTED UR COMMISSIONERS? AUTHORITY TO CONDEMN and take our properties? POLICE POWERS? AUTHORITY TO TAKE HUGE TRACTS OF LAND INTO UR DISTRICTS? What awesome power!!

There are now 70 urban renewal districts in 24 Idaho counties, and last year UR diverted over $52 million from our property tax base. How much was skimmed from your county property tax base last year? Let’s look at a few counties: ADA ….$10.4 million; BANNOCK….$4.9 million; BONNEVILLE…$3.3 million; CANYON…$9.8 Million; CASSIA…$2.2 million; JEROME…$3.1 million; KOOTENAI…$11 million; TWIN FALLS…$2.3 million.

Clearly, this is not just an ADA County problem, and most of you have heard about abuses: Nampa’s Idaho Center still requires a $1.2 million bailout from property taxes to pay its bills.  Coeur d’Alene has a creative “shoestring” approach to take in properties from afar, and its mayor’s greed for more is without limit.  Pocatello’s URA gave $1 million to Costco to subsidize its relocation to the city!  Caldwell URA is subsidizing the YMCA for $9.7 million until 2014. Caldwell also handed out $30,000 for a beauty salon. The list goes on, and on and on. What’s happening to private enterprise?

These property tax dollars are desperately needed for our schools and city and county needs. We can no longer afford this costly diversion that is gutting our property tax base.
Legislators have tried year after year to tweak the UR law to protect our property tax base, but the tax-paid attorneys and lobbyists, and beneficiaries have been too powerful!
  
There is only one solution: REPEAL THE IDAHO URBAN RENEWAL LAW.
 
CALIFORNIA REPEALED ITS UR LAW ON February 1, 2012. It was the first state to have urban renewal in 1945 and the first to repeal under Governor Jerry Brown’s leadership. The city mayors and beneficiaries squawked mightily, but the California Supreme court ruled the repeal constitutional!! Now 425 UR districts will be eliminated, and eventually $5.5 billion will go to schools and other essential services.

Senator Bart Davis has expressed concern about repealing the Idaho Personal Property tax, which provides 11% of property tax revenue state-wide. UR REPEAL would eventually put over $52 million back to cities and counties for schools and essential services. Senator Davis would be a great sponsor for REPEAL OF URBAN RENEWAL.
      
YOU CAN HELP. Talk to your legislators about REPEAL. We can restore our property tax base! Farmers and county residents are especially getting smacked hard to support city urban renewal spending habits, so do talk to your legislators. They will do nothing without your clear support.

REPEAL IS THE ONLY WAY WE CAN STOP THIS WIDE-SPREAD CANCER FROM SPREADING ON OUR BODY POLITIC.

Rachel S. Gilbert 208-376-6300
Member Idaho Legislator 1980-1990
4200 Mountain View Drive
Boise, Id 83704

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nampa Budget Workshop Notes Reported to Guardian



It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN  some notes taken in Nampa Budgeting workshop via a confidential source in Nampa:

1.  A 5% increase in revenue from property taxes has been "penciled in" for next year.

2. A number of proposals to save $200K by going with State Insurance System v. the current mode of self insurance for City of Nampa (vetoed by coppers and firemen see #7 below).

3.  Nampa underwriting of their Wellness Progam will be eliminated along with cutting of medical benefits with the addition of a $200 deductible requirement. (vetoed by coppers and firemen see #7 below)

4. The IPT reported 4 new police cars v. the 17 new cars requested.

5.  Nampa Urban Renewal Agency has been asked to fund $800K for a new DNA testing facility for Nampa Police Dept. (No mention of staffing and opertional costs v. this getting done by outside lab)

6.  The new Nampa Public Safety Building has serious problems with water leaking into the basement and poses a threat to compromise evidence stored in the basement of this new $15 Million building.

7.  The new budget efforts are being held hostage by the Coppers and Firemen..especially the firemen's union.  There is a clause in their contract saying there could be no changes to the contract unless changes were mutually agreed to by the city as well as the firemen's union. This has effectively killed any changes in fringe benefits.


In summary, Nampa City Council was divided on the usual lines with White and Thorne arguing for more of everything and Henry and Kren proposing some serious cuts and reorganizations and Mayor Dale siding with White and Thorne and actually advocating even more of everything on top of what was pitched by White and Thorne.

More to come so stay tuned....

Paul

Friday, June 8, 2012

Caldwell and Nampa Mayors Quietly Sought Tax Hike


Caldwell and Nampa Mayors Suggest Higher Assessed Values on Property


It has been reported to THE GUARDIAN Mayors Nancolas and Dale have had discussions with the Canyon County Assessor to have property tax assessments reflect an average of 107% of full market value.   Idaho Code calls for all County Assessors to assess property at 100% of full market value. 


Idaho Tax Commission requires all county assessors to submit statistical data to support they are in compliance with this requirement.  There is a provision for some deviation from the 100% of market value requirement but it must be within 90% to 110% of FULL MARKET VALUE.  Sanctions for non-compliance are severe and involve the State Tax Commission taking over the assessment duties, loss of sales tax revenue as well as losing funding for circuit breaker funds for the elderly.


Currently, Canyon County is at 97% of full market value for all property in Canyon County.  Mayors Nancolas and Dale have quietly made requests to Canyon County Assessor Gene Kuehn and his staff to raise the assessments in Caldwell and Nampa by a full 10% to reflect an average of 107% of full market value for property within their cities. 


Right now, nearly all taxing districts are up against the limit for tax levies as a percent of property value, hence the attempt to raise the values.  The Canyon Assessor’s staff are well within the limits set by the Idaho Tax Commission.

Perhaps these two politicos need a class in “Belt Tightening 101.”  No word from either of the city councils about passing resolutions publicly asking the county to increase property assessments so they can increase tax revenue without increasing the levies.

Here's a link to the IPT Story in the Suday Edition of the paper  http://www.idahopress.com/news/local/nampa-officials-say-they-didn-t-ask-for-property-tax/article_36538cb6-b2b6-11e1-8360-001a4bcf887a.html

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Caldwell URA Projects Get Green Light: Downtown and County

THE GUARDIAN attended the monthly CEURA meeting today and was most pleased with the outcome.  We will see two new building projects move forward:  One in Downtown Caldwell and the other will be a new Canyon County Administrative Office building.  These two projects will breathe some new life into downtown and clean up the presentation as well as fill a need for more office space at the county courthouse.

The downtown project will encompass and renew the site from Summer's Office Supply Bldg withsome facade work and the purchaseand removal ofall the existing buildings on the south side of Arthur Street to the walking path along Indian Creek.  A motion was made to move this project forward via a $1MM incentive package to any developer willing to take on a project of mixed used to be defined by a group of downtown business development people. The project will be a mixed use of retail, condo and professional services.  Developer who takes on the project as well as final ownership of the project can expect up to $1MM in the form of a reimbursement for land acquisition and demolition costs.  Payback to Caldwell taxpayers will come in the form of property taxes levied on the project and individual owners of condos and other spaces in the project.

Canyon County Commissioner's got approval for a new 45,000 sf. County Administrative building to be constructed on the parking lot to the south of the County Coroner/Forensic Lab Offices.  The CEURA Board passed a motion for the Chairman to prepare a resolution for revenue bonds to be issued for this project.  Canyon County will be responsible for the construction and supervision of the construction and bonds will be repaid via the URA increment money the County is scheduled to receive from 2015 to 2022.  Funds to the county will be in the neighborhood of $1.3MM per year for eight years that remain on the life of CEURA.  The new building will be about $7MM depending on bids and specifications.

County services to be located in the new admin. building will be Development Services, Commissioners, Clerk Auditor and other county offices.  The existing courthouse will be made over into courtrooms, office spaces for the County Prosecutor and Public Defender and other judicial functions.  The plan also calls for an 80 bed expansion for a women's section of the County Jail and conversion of the Elections building into an alternative sentencing facility akin to 24/7 programs used in other counties.

MRSA, E. coli Not Something to Ignore

Today we all learned of a 6 year old boy from Milbray, Mass. who died from yet another from of E. coli bacterial infection called H.U.S. or Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.  I have a brother who nearly lost one if his arms to flesh eating bacteria. The only thing that saved him and his arm was an Emergency Room doctor who recognized the symptoms as well as my brother not waiting to go to a doctor.  The primary vector for E. coli bacteria is under cooked food. In particular meat products that have been ground up mixing surface bacteria into the meat like hamburgers and hot dogs.  Food manufacturers make every effort to make our food safe but 100% is not there. Consumers need to cook meat products like hot dogs and hamburgers to at least 155 degrees.  Here's a link to the story on the child who died:  http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/04/12053986-mystery-e-coli-infection-claims-6-year-old-mass-boy?lite

MRSA is another bug we need to be on the alert for and to take prevention steps lest we fall victim. A person with a MRSA infection is in the photo in this post. Primay vectors for this are hospitals and gyms but they are not the only haunts of this bug.  MRSA is methcylin resistant Stap. Aureus.  Hand washing and keeping things we touch clean helps.  Disinfecting gym equipment BEFORE YOUR USE IT rather than after use makes more sense that what you see in gyms.  Cleaning the equipment after you are done using it makes no sense.  Again, handwashing and use of hand sanitizers by you and those who you come into contact with will help keep your exposure to these bugs minimized.

Another area is that gym locker.  You should clean it before stashing your clothes in one of these germ filled cubicles.  Better yet just don't use the locker and locker room. Wear your gym clothes to the facility and shower at home. A degree in Biology has given THE GUARDIAN a heightened level of awareness for the potent consequences of ignoreing these little bugs.  Cleanliness may be next to Godliness and in addition it may save your life.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caldwell Property Values Continue Downward Spiral

Annual property assessments went out the end of last week and it is clear values continue to tank in Caldwell.  The county has seen lower values but not on the scale seen in Caldwell.  Overall, values have decreased by an average of 12% this past year.  My home went down more than the average stated by the County Assessor.

The Assessor is charged with determining full market value for all taxable property and has done what he is charged to carry out.  Now Canyon Cities and the County budget writers will have to figure out how to live with the new reality of no increases in property taxes due to the TAX CAP on levy rates.  Heretofore, all the assessed value meant was the portion of the budget assigned to your property.  And they were allowed to take a 3% increase but not now due to the CAP. 

With the CAP in place Caldwell is staring down the barrel of around $1.3 MM in less property tax revenue for City operations and the URA is looking to have about $700,000 in decreased "INCREMENT" to fund URA projects.
Canyon County will have its share of budgetary pain as well, 56% of the county budget comes from property taxes. Canyon County is looking at about a $3.5MM decrease in proeprty taxes this year. 

Police and Fire have often been mentioned by Mayor Nancolas as getting nearly all of the property tax revenue to fund these two public services and amounts to about 25% of the city budget.  PUBLIC SAFETY accounts for 51%+ of the Canyon County Budget.  It will be interesting to see how all this works out over the Summer until budgets are set come August 30th.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fairview Golf Course Survivies Another Encroachment Effort

 We learned today from the IPT our beloved Fairview Golf Course has survived another takeover attempt by West Valley Medical Center.  Here's a link on the current state of affairs at the golf course:  http://www.idahopress.com/news/local/fairview-golf-course-to-keep-current-design/article_29c52370-a6f3-11e1-a5c1-001a4bcf887a.html

Back in February of this year THE GUARDIAN posted a story about the takeover attempt with Caldwell City Officials pretty much willing accomplices in the effort.  A group of doctors wanted the four acres that comprise the 3rd hole and they wanted to buy it on the cheap.  City officials tried to sell it as a "safety improvement" along with some really poorly designed realignments of the course to accommodate the docs and West Valley.

THE GUARDIAN would like to thank everyone who made their collective voices heard on this poorly thought out plan.  It didn't fly with golfers nor did it fly with people concerned about the aesthetics Fariview Golf Course brings to our fair city.  It is good to know when the chips are down people are willing to step up and do something to stop what would have been a really bad outcome had this project moved forward.

Hats off to folks on this effort!  It may be time to consider this property as a historical feature of Caldwell.  It was a WPA Great Depression Project and has a lot of historical significance to Caldwell.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CA Has New and Improved Primary This Year

We learned today California has a new and improved primary as well as November vote for elected officials.  Here's the way it will go down:

First the primary is an open primary and the privacy of voters is maintained no matter what they select as their party in the primary.

Second, no matter how many votes the top vote getter's end up with in the primary, they will face an opponent in the November election by the person who got the next largest number of votes regardless of party.  Could be two people from the same or opposing parties but no more having elections decided in the primary.

To my knowledge this is the first state to adopt this approach in deciding elected officials.  It will make it a horse race all the way to November and it will give people a choice in both the primary and general elections.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Closed Primary Simply Bad Idea

Turn out in the primary election was way too low and the reason can probably be traced to the Republican closed primary.  The idea of a closed primary and part purity was just plain silly.  It was a complete turnoff for most voters.  Low turnout for the Repub. primary will be problematic over time as more and more people get turned off and will not put up with this.

Mechanics of the primary required all manner of information most people do not wish to be public information.  The declaration document asked for email addresses, and several other items that would become public record. There are a number of people including THE GUARDIAN who think the voting box is private.  Add to this any number of people in the public spotlight who may not wish to have their political affiliation known. 

Excluding people from voting for their County Commissioners over party affiliation is another issue that is simply wrong.  Who knows the outcome of the election had everyone been allowed to vote and make the decision of party affiliation a private matter.  The closed primary does not further the notion of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

THE GUARDIAN hopes all of this will be worked out at the party meeting in June.  The current voting restrictions in the primary does not get more people involved in the process nor is their voice heard.  Dominance of the Republican party in Idaho should be enough for party purists.

(Ivory Soap is only 99.44% pure)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jail Bluster in Canyon County

"In 1998 the USA surpassed the former Soviet Union and won the crown as the globe’s foremost jailer with an incarceration rate of approximately 690 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. By comparison, that is almost 6 times Canada’s incarceration rate (115), over 12 times Greece’s rate (55), 19 times Japan’s rate (37) and 29 times India’s rate of 24 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.

Most Americans have turned a blind eye to the growth of what economists now refer to as "the Prison Industrial Complex." We know prisons are being built, but politicians and news anchors assure us that prisons are being build for prisoners, for bad people, for scumbags, not for us. It’s not our concern. At these epidemic levels of incarceration, however, we need to picture ourselves in prison, because the industry’s drive to build and fill cells is insatiable. We need to picture ourselves toiling to pay taxes to support these prisons at the expense of cuts in education and most social programs we hold dear."  (by Prof. Michael I. Niman. Prof. of Journalism at Buffalo State College)

Citizens of Canyon County have had a constant barrage of all the dire consequences of not building a new jail since the first bond election for $72.5 Million failed along with subsequent efforts and millions requested.  All this despite the fact crime rates in Canyon County as well as the entire country continue to drop.

Like it or not, we are entering a phase of NO to Very Slow Growth and with that there will be less tax dollars to fund the never ending thirst for more and more money from taxpayers.  Government at all levels will be forced to be smarter and smarter about where precious tax dollars are spent.  Keeping low level, non-violent people in jails and prisons is not very smart.

On a national average basis Canyon County has more jail beds than the national average. The proponents of more jail space point to the numbers of citizens in alternative sentencing programs other than jail or prison.  As citizens and taxpayers we should all be applauding this move.  Putting the right people in jails and prisons needs to be a priority. Nobody wants dangerous people on the street but past practice incarceration efforts and associated costs are not sustainable.

The United States now has about 760 people in jails and prisons per 100,000 of population.  The closest country behind the USA is Great Britain with about 150 people per 100,000 of population.  And get this the coppers over there are unarmed. (Incarceration Nation by Fareed Zakaria)

Idaho is going to have to build a new prison at a cost of over $220 Million and another $37 Million a year to operate the place. A private prison contractor has offered to build the prison with a guarantee the State of Idaho will guarantee to keep the place 90% full for the next 20 years.  All of this at taxpayer expense.  Prison reform needs to happen in a hurry to avoid this unnecessary cost to all of us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Voting Not Complicated as Media Hype Says

THE GUARDIAN went to the elections office today to vote early and it was no big deal.  You will have to fill out a piece of paper indicting party affiliation for the primary.  A note of caution:  Your phone number and email address is requested but not mandatory.  I left those blank.  After filling out the form and presenting my ID it was onward to the ballot.  This phase was just like any other election ballot.  Use a black pen and black out the little oval on the ballot.

You can vote early until 5:00 PM this Friday at the County Elections office at the corner of Chicago and 11th Avenue.  The elections office will be closed on Monday the 14th of May to get ready for the election of Tuesday the 15th of May.  Those happy with the status quo can stay home or vote for the incumbents.  Not happy...then you need to participate in the process.

Unsure where to vote then go to this link and fill in your address:
http://www.idahovotes.gov/YourPollingPlace/WhereDoIVote.aspx
It is the Idaho Secretary of State Website and it should give you your polling place no matter where you live in Idaho.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Assessor Values Property 9-12% Less This Year

THE GUARDIAN made an inquiry to the Canyon County Assessor on home values and got the following back:

"The numbers as of last night Caldwell down 11% Nampa down 9% and Middleton down 9%. And that does not include the impact from Commercial or Mobile homes because we have not run final numbers yet. By tomorrow we should know small towns and the county residential values. Remember these are gross City numbers one year compared to last year and not every home in Caldwell will enjoy a 12% decline some homes actually went up depending on the reappraisal cycle. Call me if you have more questions."

All of this means less revenue for cities and county government in Canyon County.  The CAP on property taxes will mean digging into reserves or making cuts to overall spending. 

Additionally, several articles in the Wall Street Journal indicate another round of foreclosures and repo houses will start in the next 45days.  Owning property is a gloomy proposition for those who have any expectation of appreciation in their homes and property.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Property Assessments Down 8-10% This Year

Shortly after the primary election property owners will start receiving their new assessed valuations.   Your property value is used as a multiplier with levy rates to determine your share of property taxes each year.

In years past property values didn't mean much because budgets were what drove the levy rates and taxing districts could simply raise levy rates as their part of the equation to get the dollars they budgeted.  This year just about all taxing districts are having to face the consequences of a BUDGET CAP. 

Short version of all this is property values are going to be down by 8-10% as overheard in the meeting Commishes and Caldwell officials had regarding Sheriff Dispatch fees.  In the audio tape that can be heard on the IPT website the percentages for property value decreases were not in dispute.  This means about a $2 MM drop in property tax collections by the county.  Cities will be facing the same 8-10% drop in property tax receipts. Property tax makes up about 1/3rd (give or take) of revenue to cities and counties.

They can't raise taxes due to THE CAP.  This will be the year local governments are going to have to do what most citizens face on a daily basis; they will have to start living with less cash to fund local government operations.  They are all going to be running on empty with respect to property taxation this year.  Cuts, furloughs and all other options will be on the table to balance the budget.

Canyon County Sheriff budget is the biggest slice of the pie at over 50% of the total county budget. Just north of $34 MM based on the current budget. Here's a link to the County Clerk/Auditor's web page where you can check out all the departmental budgets and where your money goes:
http://www.canyonco.org/Clerk/

Paul

Thursday, May 3, 2012

United States Peace Index

THE GUARDIAN ran across a website that has developed a peace index for all 50 states.  It is sort of amazing to see the differences in coppers, crime and incarceration laid out state by state.  Idaho currently has some interesting numbers v. other states.  Here's a link:

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/uspeaceindex/

The numbers speak for themselves when you compare Idaho with other states. Have some fun and poke around on this site. Take note of the national averages v. Idaho.

Peace out,
paul

Friday, April 27, 2012

Candidate Position Statements Welcome to Post On Guardian

Candidates for all State and local offices are welcome to post their position statements on the Caldwell Guardian.  I would ask you to keep your statementsto less than 500 words.  Most elected offices are decided in the primary in Idaho given the RED v. BLUE state of the State.  We hope voters will take the time and effort to learn about candidates and participate in the election process.
Early voting started on Monday, April 23 and will continue to May 11th, 2012.Primary Election is on May 15th......You can vote early at County Elections Office at 1102 Chicago St.

 Sometimes it is unclear where you should actually vote given changes in districts and polling places.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

California to Vote on Death Penalty

The people of California are looking under rocks for ways to save taxpayer cash.  A group in California has figured out the high costs of enforcing the death penalty.  They gathered 800,000 signatures and the measure to remove the death penalty will go to voters in November of this year. 

The death penalty was put back on the books in California in 1978 and since then 13 people have been executed.  The LA Times has reported it has cost the State of California $4 Billion to carry out these executions at a cost of about $308 Million per execution. 

The ballot measure would replace the death penalty with life in prison w/o the possibility of parole.  And inmates currently on death row would live out life in prison instead of execution. 

The United States is one of the few countries with the death penalty and very few people understand the costs involved with administering this penalty.  Most people in the criminal justice system would agree life in prison w/o possibility of parole is a far cheaper alterantive.  This would include judges, prison administrators, lawyers and others who know what is involved in death penalty cases.
  Here's a link  http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/23/11360216-california-voters-to-consider-ending-capital-punishment?lite

Monday, April 23, 2012

Time to Check Tires All Around

Nice weather makes me want to go for a ride on my old Schwinn Sierra.  (I bought it new in 1985 at Cafferety's in Nampa.)  I have replaced just about every part on in over the years but the frame is 4130 Chrom moly steel and will last a lifetime.  First order of business was to inflate the tires and check all the nuts and blots for tightness.
The bike tires were almost flat and while checking the bike I decided to check the car tires as well.  The cars looked fine but they were in fact well below the recommended inflation pressure.  I was angry with myself for not staying on top of this given the price of gasoline and the negative impact of low tire pressure in gas mileage.  Low bike tires make a bike hard to pedal and ditto for cars and trucks, the engine has to work harder and uses more fuel.  Add to this the expense of a good set of tires for a pickup can hit the $1k mark with ease. They will wear out in short order if you don't stay on top of tire air pressure.

I knew my gas mileage had fallen off a bit but chalked it up to colder weather and ethanol added to the gas.  Duh... tire pressure is critical and can take several MPG off in a hurry.  Air is free at most tire dealers and can save you $0.40/gallon or more if you are rolling around on low tire pressure.