Tracking code caldwell guardian

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Taking a break until city and county budgets ready

I'll be taking a break for a couple of weeks. The summer doldrums are here and when the budgets are ready we will be ready with review and comments. Until then enjoy the summer weather..


Monday, July 20, 2009

Transparency and Accountability Missing With Urban Renewal

Taxpayers in Caldwell have no legal way of getting Transparency and Accountability with Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency. Caldwell Urban Renewal has spent tens of millions of dollars with no voter oversight in the process.

Money is handed out and projects taken on with no voter oversight and accountability. Meetings for the urban renewal board are held the first Tuesday of each month at noon in the Mayor's Conference Room. No agenda is publicized nor are the minutes available online or on the city website. Even members can't seem to make the meetings. The July meeting was cancelled due to a lack of a quorum.

Thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent on "wellness programs" administered by the YMCA. Millions have been given to the YMCA. Hundreds of thousands given to developers to the point that Urban renewal money is considered "entitlement monies" by developers. Free water and sewer put in for developers at taxpayer expense with no intention of recouping the investment.

Who asked for a new city hall, a gazebo, TVCC downtown, and all the other switcho-chango directions we seem to be headed as a city. No plan and rudderless are the the major criticisms and folks are getting a little tired after twelve long years of promises from the Mayor.

We learn now the City has effectively caused a big box project to not happen in Caldwell. Too much red tape and they did not want to be the "RETAIL PIONEER" in Caldwell. The project will now locate in Nampa. No plan, no world view, no system approach to dealing with developers and no political will to stick with the parameters of the city comprehensive plan continue to be nagging issues for Caldwell.

Tens of Millions of dollars have been spent by this small board with no oversight or accountability to property taxpayers who get stuck paying the bills. The Mayor, City Finance Director, a city councilor, a county commissioner and two citizens sit on this board. How much blight removal and economic development have we seen for this massive investment? How much has gone for projects that will not generate s single dime of economic return to the community? Why haven't our elected and appointed city leaders followed the things listed in two very important studies that outline the way forward for our community.

Lastly, Mayor Nancolas the most of the current City Councilors have had twelve long years to get our city back on track. To be fair we do have a five block long addition to our city park systems with the day lighting of Indian Creek. However, we still have not developed a "PLAN" for revitalization of Caldwell despite the frameworks outlined in the RUDAT STUDY and the Leland report of 2006.

Urban Renewal money is handed out in so many different directions they have even lost sight of the original "workable plan" that was put together to support having a urban renewal in the first place.

Accountability and voter oversight have been missing from CEURA since day one of the Agency. Blight removal and economic developement have taken a backseat to boosterism and favoitism in spending urban renewal property tax dollars.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Caldwell Bungles Opprotunity for Big Box Retailer

THE GUARDIAN learned tonight a major big box retail store will not locate in Caldwell. The reason given was a sense of not wanting to be the "retail pioneer" in Caldwell nor could they seem to be able to get the current city administration to meet the needs of the retailer with respect to frontage access to the property in question. The City of Nampa signed the deal with the developer this past Friday and they will be locating in Nampa.

The store in question was not named but it is probably the Fred Meyer or Home Depot who will be locating a 175,000 square foot facility where they have found the city fathers easier to do business with in meeting their needs.

Caldwell has once again worked to maintain its reputation as a city that is very difficult to do business. As a personal observation, our fair city lacks a "systems approach" to doing business with the heavy hitters. Caldwell remains a city without a "PLAN". We have marketed our city for the last 30 years as a place with cheap dirt, cheap housing, and cheap labor. This "cheap" marketing plan has finally come home to roost. Caldwell will once again miss a huge opportunity for sales, property tax revenue along with about 200 jobs for the local economy.

Caldwell has the highest unemployement rate in this valley at over 11%. The real rate may be over 20% if you include those who have simply given up looking for work.

No system, no plan and a questionable future are very disturbing to THE GUARDIAN. Political will and citizen interest are also components missing from our city. How far do we have to sink before folks take an active interest in what is going on in Caldwell? Running a city of 40,000 people with an annual budget of $59 million requires more expertise and experience demonstrated by the currrent administration.

City Manageer government will not cure all that is not right with Caldwell but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Heath Insurance Industry Adopts Big Tobacco Tactics

Not very many people will deny the health care system in this country is broken and in need of a huge fix. The interesting part of all this is the big health insurance companies know they are going to lose this battle but they want to lose it as slow as they can. Their scare tactic ads on TV and other media have the same flavor as the big tobacco ads of the past.

What we have going on right now is called the "CHARM OFFENSIVE". Big health care is using all the scare tactics they can muster against single payer health care as the end of the line for health care in this country. They are painting the picture of the road to health care ruin. Seventy-five percent of people in this country are fed up with the status quo if you belive the polls. Big Insurance wants to turn the tide on this thinking by us little people. They have promised to clean up their collective act if we will simply back off on our demands for affordable health care.

Right now health insurance companies look for ways to deny coverage, limit payments to doctors and hospitals and raise the amounts we all pay for health care. Today "BIG HEALTH CARE" spends about 20-22% on administrative overhead out of every dollar we spend on insurance. Translation is this is profit to wall street stock holders. Health insurance stock is widely held by hedge funds and they want nothing to happen to big fat profits in this segment of the health care delivery system.

Millions of dollars are being spent to weaken the resolve of congress to fix the health care system in this country. We do not have the best health care in the world but we pay more than any other developed country for our health care. BIG HEALTH is looking at the 50 million or so people without insurance as a new flow of cash from the federal government to bolster their coffers. More of our taxes will go directly to "free enterprise" to provide subsidized health care to the poor who can't afford health insurance. They do not want to have a single payer system and scream socialized medicine at every opportunity.

We have more uninsured people in this country than the total population of Canada! The movie SICKO shook the BIG HEALTH insurance guys to their core. Now we have the "charm offensive" coming at us from all directions and at congress. It will be interesting to see how all this goes thorough the rinse cycle known as the Congress and Senate of the United States.

One in every six dollars of our GDP are spent on health care in this country and that simply can't continue or we will be bankrupt. A spokesman from one of the BIG HEALTH companies spoke at a local service club about a year ago complaining about health care costs rising at the rate of 12% a year.

Medical problems caused 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, according to a study by Harvard researchers. And in a finding that surprised even the researchers, 78% of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illnesses, including 60.3% who had private coverage, not Medicare or Medicaid.

The system is broken and BIG HEALTH is part of the problem. Another part of the problem is we are all now living too long. The notion we can make it better no matter what age we are has got to have some kind of review. At some point in life hospice care makes more sense than medical heroics.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No Numbers Discussed At Caldwell Budget Workshop

GOING NOWHERE FAST.. sums up the one hour we spent at the Caldwell Budget Workshop held at the Caldwell Police Station 7-8-2009. THE GUARDIAN stayed for about an hour and not a single number, handout or budget item was discussed in numerical terms. We are not sure how long the meeting lasted but the purpose of the "workshop" seemed ...well pointless for lack of a better description.

These meetings must be some part of a nice statute tucked away somewhere in the Idaho Code. Mayor Nancolas was asked if we were going to get to the numbers at this meeting or not and the short answer was NO. The "NUMBERS" will be served up for public consumption on August 11th, 2009 at the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce lunch.

One interesting point that did come out was that 99% of the fire alarm responses the Caldwell Fire Department respond to are false alarms. The discussion by Chief Wendelsdorf was to eliminate CODE 3 responses to these alarms. The Chief wisely pointed out that running code responses (lights and sirens blasting all hours of the day and night) put citizens, fire personnel and equipment at substantial risk. A decision to respond but sans sirens and lights will certainly be appreciated by people trying to get some sleep at night along response corridors.

Let's hope the next meeting is agenized and a point to the time a trouble of holding a budget workshop. Caldwell is a $59 million dollar corporation and as citizens deserve to know ahead of time the Agenda. This would require some advance thought to what is going to be presented and the agenda adhered to during the meeting. Hand outs for the members of the public would also be appreciated.

Tom Luna Seeks to Reduce Taxpayer Protection

By David R. Frazier
Those sneaky politicos are at it again!

Idaho Superintendent of Education Tom Luna is packaging an attempt to dilute the power of the people as a boon to education. His proposal would create additional taxes on businesses that don’t have a vote and it would open the door to easier passage of ALL long term debt.

The truth is, ALL proposed long term debt (usually bonds) would have the same lowered threshhold…be they for ill conceived police buildings, parking garages, swimming pools, or golf course irrigation systems. If the amendment passed, school bond elections would also have the lower requirement.

Luna seeks to amend the Idaho Constitutional requirement that two thirds of voters approve long term debt. He sells it as a hurdle being too high to pass badly needed school bonds. It would also open the door to REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION.

That’s right. Better than half of the assessed valuation in Ada County is commercial real estate. No matter the value, those owners have no voice at the polls. In Valley County a huge chunk of the valuation (recreation property) is owned by nonresidents of the county who cannot vote.

Bottom line: a tiny fraction of the electors can impose their will on the vast majority of the property taxpayers. Hence, the rationale behind the two-thirds super majority requirement. Also, well reasoned and needed school bonds have a pretty fair passage rate in Idaho when honestly presented.

The Idaho Statesman jumped aboard with an editorial endorsing Luna’s proposal to lower the bar to a mere 60% of voters. Their property and that of all their advertisers would be subject to increased taxes without representation. The 2/3 requirement is a safeguard and serves to level the playing field.

The GUARDIAN has a counter offer. We will support Luna’s proposal if he will support ours:

Change to the Idaho RECALL PETITION requirement to allow the same number of signatures that were required on the nominating petition. OR 20% of the number of votes cast in the last election for that office.

Here is the current law for recall petitions which makes removing a politico nearly impossible:
“(recall petition) must be signed by registered electors equal in number to twenty percent (20%) of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general election held to elect a governor.”

We seek only to change the language to 20% of “those who voted.” The current law could easily require more petition signatures than votes originally cast.

To those who seek a more reasonable law, here is your chance to jump aboard—and it takes only a simple majority of the legislature to pass it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Caldwell and Nampa City Elections..Who Cares!

The following has been taken from the Boise Guardian Blog. The Comment was submitted by a reader and we would like to share it with you. If the past is any indicator of the future this guy has it right.

“City Council Election? Who Cares?”
Not me. Aside from the fact that I no longer live in Boise, my nearly 40 years there taught me that it doesn't much matter who wins — the outcome is always the same.

A few good folks get into office now and then, but they get out-voted, out-shouted, stomped on and/or whatever by the chanters of: Growth is good, growth will solve all our problems, grow,grow,grow,grow,grow,grow,grow,grow.

Developers get their way, comprehensive plans are created and ignored, zoning is imposed and ignored, taxes on residents go up, up, up, while certain business get tax breaks, incentives and whatever rule changes they want.
Oops! Am I sounding disenchanted, cynical, maybe even bitter? Does anyone wonder why?

Caldwell and Nampa have time an opportunity to get a regime change and get some new ideas and thoughts on how to run our cities but apathy has to be overcome with involvement. The biggest opportunity we have is to correct the growth at all costs to the communities we call our home. It will be interesting to see how this election cycle goes.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Balanced Budgets Required by Idaho Constitution

THE GUARDIAN loves to sit down the the Sunday paper and ruminate through page by page with a few cups of coffee in my recliner, feet up, shoes off, and no interruptions.

Today the OUR VIEW editorial deserves some comments regarding the balanced budget the State Legislature hammered out this year. The session was not pretty but all the participants knew they had to come away with a balanced budget and going into hock or a payday loan for pet projects was not an option.

Our State Constitution requires a balanced budget... NO EXCEPTIONS! The politicos addicted to the easy pay plan have been trying to dismantle this requirement since it was put into the Idaho State Constitution. Framers of the Idaho Constitution meant for it to be difficult to go into debt. They used a good deal of 20/20 hindsight as they watched cities and counties all over the western United States go bankrupt spending money they did not have (easy credit) to build infrastructure hoping to lure economic development of their cities and counties. Bond defaults were very common back in the day.

We are fortunate to have Article VIII sec. 3 that forbids any government entity to go out beyond one budget cycle for any debt liability or obligation without 2/3rds assent of the voters. The "Easy Credit" bunch has made numerous assaults on the "non-appropriation clause over the years. Their one success story at circumventing voters is Urban Renewal law. Urban renewal agencies are the dirty little secret most people don't know much about and the "easy credit" politicos want to keep it that way.

Urban Renewal taxation, borrowing and projects bypasses all of the Idaho Constitutional provisions of seeking voter approvals before going into long term debt. Urban Renewal agencies all over the state can issue revenue bonds for millions of dollars on projects having nothing to do with removing blight. The Mayors of Caldwell and Nampa and their urban renewal agencies are shining examples of how to spend millions in the name of "boosterism and favoritism" without your vote. Urban renewal money comes from property taxes. Urban renewal districts pay nothing for schools, police, fire, parks, streets. libraries, ambulance or any thing property taxpayers are forced to support.