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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We The People or is it "We The Cities and Counties"

Boise city government attempts to manipulate the state constitution
July 28, 2010  by Wayne Hoffman

The state constitution, like the federal Constitution, begins with the words, "We the people." The constitution doesn't begin with the words "we the governments" or "we the cities" or "we the bureaucrats."

I point this out only because certain city government officials believe it is their responsibility to "educate" us on the constitutional amendments that are on the ballot this November.

That's not their job.

The Boise City Council voted Tuesday to spend $60,000 to educate the public on House Joint Resolution 5, which would allow cities to incur debt for airports without a vote of the public. Councilman Alan Shealy said it is the city's responsibility to make sure voters get "an unvarnished view" of the amendment.

"Some public agency must step forward to make sure accurate information is disseminated to the public," added Councilman David Eberle.

Of course, that assumes that the city can be the official arbiter of what's true and what's not. The city is incapable of this role. Boise officials lobbied the Legislature to pass HJR 5. Should we now expect that the city will provide impartial and "unvarnished" information about what HJR 5 does?

Public records obtained from the city suggest otherwise. Among the documents are notes from a March 22 meeting of city officials including Mayor Dave Bieter and top aides. According to the meeting agenda and handwritten notes from the meeting, the mayor and his staff discussed the formation of a pro-HJR 5 political action committee, fundraising for the organization and who would serve on its board.

Other documents reveal that Bieter's administration understands that the amendment takes away the right of voters to approve debt-financed airport projects. But in April, when prompted by the Legislature to develop pro and con statements regarding the constitutional amendment for the secretary of state's voters' guide, city leaders discarded statements against the amendment and claimed they couldn't think of any reason why a voter might want to cast a "no" vote.

A June 11 e-mail from Bieter to mayors and airport managers throughout Idaho clearly shows the city's interest is the passage of the amendment. In the e-mail, Bieter asks for a meeting of city leaders "so we can discuss ways to work together to pass this important amendment."

In short, the city has already invested taxpayer resources in the passage and approval of the constitutional amendment. And now we're supposed to believe that the city will tell "the unvarnished truth" about why HJR 5 should become law?

City governments have one function and one function only. They are to administer the city government. Provide resources to catch the bad guys when a crime is committed. Put out fires.

The use of government resources to manipulate a document like the constitution is extraordinarily alarming and establishes a horrifying precedent. What happens if Idaho's 115 school districts decide that it is their job to help "educate" Idahoans on the two-thirds majority needed to pass a school bond? What if the state's local governments decide that the rights enshrined in the constitution are too inconvenient for these modern times?

If government agencies across Idaho start to follow Boise's lead, taxpayers - and freedom - don't stand a chance


  1. In Nampa we have a mayor and city council that apparently feel the citizens only function is to pay the taxes. I spoke to Tom Dale just before the election in Nov. , I asked him directly what the status of the Puplic safety building was and was told it was a dead issue and would not be built. I also asked him how much money was spent to deny a vote on the bond issue and was told it was far less than the $20,000 spent by Paul Alldredge's group. It turns out that they spent over $108,000 to prevent a vote that would have cost $25,000-$30-000. His reasoning was that it wasn't necassary and they didn't have to. I think this clearly shows whos intrest they are looking out for.

  2. Urban renewal agencies in this valley are suffocating property taxpayers. It is a massive tax shift and is nothing less than taxation without representation. These agancies abuse all property owners and they get away with it because most people do not understand how this scam works to the detriment of good government.

  3. "Some public agency must step forward to make sure accurate information is disseminated to the public," added Councilman David Eberle."

    It seems clear from Eberle's comment that the Boise City Council is most certainly not the agency to be charged with that duty.

    Eberle ought to know that it is not enough for information to be accurate. To be useful, it must be both timely and complete.

    Propaganda and disinformation are often almost totally accurate, with the critical embedded deception being only a small percentage of the total content. Factual information can be outdated (not timely) and therefore useless. Information provided by a government body can be accurate as provided, but a critical component is missing (incomplete). The result is that the government body can say the information it provided was accurate. What the government body won't say is that while the information was accurate, it was untimely or incomplete and therefore intended to deceive.


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