Tracking code caldwell guardian

Sunday, February 28, 2010

We Are In the Midst of Economic Civil War

The Boise Daily Paper’s print edition has competing headlines on the front page today that offer a prophetic sign of the times.

“SOME EDUCATORS GET RAISES IN IDAHO” screams the bold type on the left. The message to the right is “FURLOUGHS COMING TO U of I” .

Bottom line in good stories by Statesman reporters Brian Murphy and Bill Roberts is $22 million in raises for public school teachers and layoffs for U of I educators.

Versions of this juxtaposition hit us daily:

  • Economy is improving, but unemployment rate rises.
  • If you run a good business and DON’T layoff staff, your unemployment insurance rate doubles.
  • Financial institutions are on verge of collapse, but employees get huge bonuses.
  • Taxes are cut, but billions in “stimulus funds” are doled out.
  • Give us F-35s in Boise, “screw ‘em in Texas.”
  • We battle Portland and Tucson for trolley money in Boise, while folks in Boise don’t even want the trolley.
  • Change the state constitution and urban renewal laws to “attract business” that will help the economy, but do it on the backs of people whose voting rights are eliminated.
  • Health care costs more, but folks have less money to pay for it.

The list goes on and it makes no sense. The point is, we Americans and Idahoans and are being pitted against each other. The uncommon enemy is US!

We fear the nation is as divided as it was at the end of the Vietnam War

By David R. Frazier Boise Guardian

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Consider This Quote and Today's Tea Party Movement

"A great civilization is not conquered from with-out until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people. her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade. her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars."

Will Durant and his wife Ariel wrote the eleven book STORY OF CIVILIZATION. He was born in 1885 and died in 1981.

There are a lot of hardworking people in the Idaho Legislature but for the life of me I can not understand why an attorney for Capitol City Development was allowed to write an overhaul us the Urban Renewal Laws in Idaho. This is like the fox guarding the chickens. It is no secret THE GUARDIAN has issues with current UR laws. This new round of changes to the UR laws will further remove voter oversight of how your property tax dollars get spent by UR agencies.

The UR agencies want further reductions in voter oversights and a wider range of ability to spend you money without a bond election for big ticket projects. The bill now being considered is HB 567. We have to say it is under scrutiny but the lobby guys are working hard to get this one past the voters. Cities and UR agencies call it a "refinement of a tool for their tool box". We think of it as striping away your right to vote on debt that will be repaid with property taxes.

What needs to happen? A BLUE RIBBON panel needs to investigate and put together a benchmark package of best practices and law that will still allow for Urban Renewal to exist but with an independent elected board and voter oversight of big dollar projects. Blight removal and community safety issues are beneficial aspects of urban renewal but the big dollar legacy building projects sans voter approval are in juxtaposition to the Idaho Constitution. HB 567 is nowhere near what we need or want to protect Idaho property taxpayers rights.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Attorney General Asked to Investigate Caldwell Urban Renewal

Attorney General Asked To Investigate Caldwell Urban Renewal
Wednesday, February 17th
Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak announced Today he will petition the office of Idaho Attorney General to investigate information revealed yesterday by the Boise and Caldwell GUARDIAN news blogs.

“Based on the information presented and the check register of the agency, the case certainly merits further investigation,” said Bujak.

Once the AG is on the case they will have the resources of state agencies as well as the FBI to determine if there are grounds for criminal prosecutions and whether or not certain agreements entered into by the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency are proper use of public money.

Urban Renewal agencies in Idaho operate without oversight of any elected body. They are not part of city, county, or other local or state government. Members are appointed by the city, but the agency is not an “alter ego” (another face) of the city. The report to no one.

The exclusive GUARDIAN story (see previous post) detailed a pattern of using public Urban Renewal money to fund private memberships at the Caldwell YMCA for the mayor and other officials. Also noted were a variety of “fishy sounding” fees paid to property owners over and above purchase prices for land acquired for urban renewal purposes.

GUARDIAN Editors Dave Frazier in Boise and Paul Alldredge in Caldwell said, “We are pleased with the rapid response of Mr. Bujak investigating this matter. On the face of it there are obvious incidents of inappropriate use of public funds. Whether or not those incidents rise to the level of criminality will be decided by the investigators.”

Link to KBOI TV Story VIDEO

Link to KTRV TV Story UR Chairman Waite Video

The above links are made available for your review and comments. We will try to insert these links when possible.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Urban Renewal Check Register Has Issues

Taken from Boise Guardian

Audit Of Caldwell Urban Renewal Imparative
Tuesday, February 16th
Caldwell GUARDIAN editor Paul Alldredge has been working tirelessly to shed light on the excesses and deceptive activities of urban renewal agencies in Canyon County. In his latest effort he obtained the check register of the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency which reveals a pattern of abuse and deception. This report will draw attention of law enforcement authorities as well as lawmakers currently considering a “reform” of urban renewal law.


By any standard, we feel the personal use of public money by local officials is wrong, yet records show a repeated pattern of abuse of Caldwel urban renewal funds over the past five years. Some of the more egregious examples we found include:

–September 2005 payment to the YMCA for a family membership in the name of Mayor Garret Nancolas and his wife…$880.

–February 2007 payment to the YMCA for the membership of Leona Fouts, an urban renewal board member…$507

–January 2008 “half memberships” to the YMCA in the names of Mayor Nancolas, board chairman Eljay Waite (who is also Caldwell city finance director), and Fouts…$800

In addition to funding private personal memberships to the YMCA for the Urban Elite, the Caldwell agency has repeatedly paid for private memberships for J.R. Simplot employees, local government workers, and school district employees—all with tax money diverted from local governments. The total payments from the city to the YMCA is in the millions of dollars, including many tens of thousands of dollars in membership fees for select groups in the community.

Other examples of questionable use of funds include “relocation allowances” to businesses that never actually relocated. Our favorite example is payment of $20,000 to an “adult toy store” called SINSATIONS. The store never reopened or relocated. We have no word on the ultimate fate of the assorted dildos and “maritial aids,” but those things are apparently costly to move. A sheriff’s crime lab now sits on the land.

The owner of one downtown Caldwell property purchased by the Urban Renewal Agency was paid an additional $129,000 in add-on fees. The various checks were for “Business discontinuation, catalyst project site, liability release, relocation, and a site vacation fee”. It appears to the GUARDIANS these additional fees–used repeatedly under various guises–are nothing more than “bumps” to purchase prices over and above appraisals.

While educational funding is a question at the Idaho Legislature, it is apparently no problem in Caldwell. Urban Renewal in January 2008 ponied up $100,000 to Oregon’s Treasure Valley Community College in the form of an “expansion grant.”

A complete forensic audit is clearly in order, but there is NO ELECTED BODY to order it. Under current Idaho law, urban renewal agencies are “political orphans”…they are not part of the city, not part of the county, and not part of the state. In fact, urban renewal takes property taxes otherwise destined to local governments and schools with no appropriation of any elected officals and there is no oversight by any elected agency.

Based on what we have discovered, which is only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg,” we are calling on the Canyon County Prosecutor to investigate the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency expenditures (mostly to the YMCA). Some expenditures are outside the “public purpose doctrine” of common law. We also realize the statute of limitations will preclude some prosecutions. Nonetheless, an audit is needed.

Rather than consider passing legislation proposed by these out of control UR agencies, the Idaho Legislature needs to fold Urban Renewal Agencies into SOME level of elected government. Without such a move, citizens throughout the state are subject to TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION by agencies that consider themselves immune from Constitutional restraints otherwise placed on government.

Editor note: a pdf of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency check register is available at

Monday, February 15, 2010

Charter Schools What's the Deal

THE GUARDIAN would like to share this info with readers. Charter schools seem all the rage with parents and here is an authoritative research finding to debunk popular thinking on charter schools.

Center for Research on Education Outcomes

"The most authoritative study of charter schools was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in 2009. The report is the first detailed national assessment of charter schools. It analyzed 70% of the nation's students attending charter schools and compared the academic progress of those students with that of demographically matched students in nearby public schools. The report found that 17% of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools; 46% showed no difference from public schools; and 37% were significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts. The authors of the report considering this a "sobering" finding about the quality of charter schools in the U.S. Charter schools showed a significantly greater variation in quality as compared with the more standardized public schools with many falling below public school performances and a few exceeding them significantly. Results vary for various demographics with Black and Hispanic children not doing as well as they would in public schools, but with children from poverty backgrounds, students learning English, and brighter students doing better; average students do poorer. While the obvious solution to the widely varying quality of charter schools would be to close those who perform below the level of public schools, this is hard to accomplish in practice as even a poor school has its supporters."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Best Definition of A City Ever

THE GUARDIAN often struggles with the notion of community and place in the universe. However, I stumbled upon the one below and think it defines the word "City" about the best I have ever read:

"A city is a place where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again."

Margaret Mead

We hope you like this as much as we do. Margaret Mead, for those who don't know her was a famous Anthropologist back in the day. We have some work to do in our cities to meet this criteria.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caldwell Downtown Master Framework Committee Report

Rem Fox and Rob Pilote gave an outstanding presentation of the Caldwell Downtown Master Framework Committee Report to the citizens of Caldwell at a noon meeting held at the Police Station meeting room.

The committee is a sub-function of the Downtown Steering Committee and their task was to come up with a plan to get downtown Caldwell back on track and refocus how our urban renewal property tax dollars get spent on this effort.

It came to light in the meeting, Caldwell East Urban Renewal Agency has about $4 million in funds they expect to receive between now and the sunset of the agency not already dedicated to a project or purpose. It was suggested that a portion of the undedicated funds of the agency be directed to funding a RED CARPET effort for stimulus of downtown in the form of rent subsidy, permit refunds, and one not heard before.... RELOCATION FUNDS TO LOCATE BUSINESSES DOWNTOWN CALDWELL. CEURA (urban renewal) has funded businesses leaving our downtown and this idea is brilliant. Incentives to locate downtown may create a tipping point for desirable operations to locate in Caldwell Downtown core.

Mayor Nancolas gave Fox and Pilote the directions to petition the Urban Renewal agency in March for funding of this effort. Their focus is to get out of the gates and they have the spring months of this year to move forward with their program. It was a "green light moment" when Mayor Nancolas gave Mr. Fox the instructions to put a formal request forward for urban renewal money to create downtown incentives for people to locate in Caldwell.

We hope this effort bears some economic fruit for downtown. We have all witnessed a net loss of economic activity downtown over the last ten years. We have witnessed the life and near death of our downtown and perhaps this will be just what is needed to turn the corner. Mayor Nancolas appeared to understand the essence of time needed to move this effort forward.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Idaho Public TV Debate

THE GUARDIAN and Mrs. GUARDIAN sent the following note to our District 10 Legislators:

We are writing to let you know that both Karen and I are supporters of IPTV and take issue with the assault on Idaho Public TV this year, as well as the Governor's proposed phase out of funding to this wonderful asset.

Public TV is first of all a "service" in our view and is not in competition with commercial TV. Most of the programming on public TV would never make it on commercially supported TV. It exposes its viewers to things they would never see unless offered on public television. We are happy to send our annual membership to IPTV and think they deserve a modicum of support from our state tax dollars as well. Our kids, as well as ourselves, got and continue to get a true world view, national vies thanks to the programs offered on IPTV.

There are many things on public TV that create demand for goods and services locally when you think about programs like "THIS OLD HOUSE" and programs that spark people to try and do things here in Idaho they would perhaps not tried but for public TV programs. On a personal level we have taken trips around Idaho as tourists based on programs about our state we viewed on IPTV.

We also get an informed electorate from IPTV we would never get from commercial TV programing. We therefore call IPTV a taxpayer service and worthy of taxpayer funding as we move forward in legislative efforts to balance the Idaho budget this year.

Paul and Karen Alldredge
Caldwell, Idaho

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why Is Idaho Still In Retail Liquor Business?

The only answer to why the State of Idaho remains in the Liquor business is "temperance" and an obscure part of the constitution requiring "temperance". Many states have figured out it is a cost savings to download all the issues involved with retail sales of hard spirits to retailers willing to take on the task and make a profit in the process. Sell the distributors the tax stamps and let them deal with it.

If the State of Idaho got out of the business they could eliminate the warehousing, storage and distribution along with the labor involved it attaching tax stamps to each bottle. They could get rid of all the store real estate leases, labor, transportation and internal loss issues if this went to the liquor distribution people directly. They do all this in other states, why not Idaho?

Legislators this year are looking to save some money, here is a very easy one to consider and implement. Most of us know we can go to Costco, Albertson's, and other retail stores in other states and buy bottled spirits while we do our grocery shopping etc. Idaho and some of the more conservative thinking states continue to try and believe if they control the sales points for booze they control consumption. They want to force the mores and beliefs in temperance on all of us who enjoy the stuff once in a while. We don't think Idaho's per capita of alcoholic problems is any different than most places in the United States. Liquor Dispensaries are not having any impact on "temperance".

Time to rethink the notion of a State Liquor Dispensary. The name doesn't even sound right. They are Liquor Stores and the State does not need to be in the retail business. Set a minimum price for the stuff and close up shop on this blue law enterprise.