Tracking code caldwell guardian

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Points to Ponder From Guardian Reader

THE GUARDIAN has no idea who wrote this comment that first appeared in a previous post but it certainly reflects a shared opinion of a lot of people living in Caldwell.  We are posting this comment in the hope city leaders will take note of some well thought out words of wisdom.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 11:44:00 AM 
     "I don't think anyone can deny the likability factor of Mayor Nancolas. He's a great front man and, it seems as a casual observer, that Garret's heart is really in the "Feel Good" aspect of the office of Mayor of Caldwell. It's always a Fresh baked cookies great day to live in Caldwell kinda vibe, and that’s fine. It's important to stay positive about the future of this Caldwell. Imagine how we'd all feel if Mayor Nancolas stood at the podium for his State of the City and told us all "WE'RE SCREWED."

That being said, the faults in Mayor Nancolas’s tenure come from 3 issues, in my opinion.

1. "The Plan", spearheaded by CEUR, seems so unfocused and desperate for results that it seems at times that endeavors are thought of, implemented, and backed up "from the hip." It's a grasp at straw for instant results to justify the spin, and it isn't working. Why not formulate a model that serves as a sounding board for projects or ideas that can be scrutinized by the big picture objective? It's all willy-nilly, short term feel good projects that give us an instant warm and fuzzy feeling, but in the end don't net any results. I challenge anyone to find a prettier sight in the Treasure Valley than the Christmas lights on Indian Creek in December, but in the end is there a net gain for Caldwell?

2. There seems to be an unspoken philosophy that no one can save Caldwell but Caldwell's administration and CEUR. Assessing a burdening tax on Caldwell's residents and businesses because they wouldn't know how to stimulate our local economy is misguided, at best. Critics claim that TVCC is a breath of fresh air for Caldwell because, well look around at all the rundown buildings. Ever stop to think that maybe if our property taxes weren't sometimes double the valley average they could spend a little money on their property? The city's response-tax us, take our money and invest in a city owned coffee shop. If I own a coffee shop and am taxed to the eyeballs and then have to compete against my own tax dollars, I’m probably not too happy. To quote Ronald Reagan-"Government is not a solution to our problem, Government IS our problem."

3. Somewhere over the past 13 years the Mayor has forgotten that a true leader must listen, understand, and respect his adversaries. Rather than listen to those who disagree with the actions of the current administration, those who disagree with the "Great day in Caldwell" mantra are quickly smeared or discredited as trouble makers, "lone wolf" fringe citizens, or citizens who simply are out to get the mayor for some personal reason. Perhaps Mayor Nancolas would have a clearer vision of the reality of Caldwell if he was counseled by a devil's advocate from time to time, as opposed to the current City Council, Finance Director, and dare I even say Chamber of Commerce.

The Mayor and his administration seem to be leaving no stone unturned looking for the one thing that will save Caldwell and don't even realize that it’s right in front of their noses. The people who choose to live here, run businesses here, and call themselves citizens of Caldwell."

We can only hope Mayor Nancolas and his "Team" read and ponder what this person has to say about Caldwell.  Nobody we know of wants anything but the best for our city.  The above comment is excellent food for thought for all of us.

Final note, the goldenrod and green areas of the Caldwell map are the designated areas of the Caldwell East Urban Renewal District.  Just about half of the city is in the UR agency with most of the property taxes collected going to CEURA.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SW District Health Dept. Leaves Downtown Caldwell

We were driving downtown to one of the few reasons to go there... the Post Office and could not help but notice the moving vans parked at the South West District Health Department offices.  It has been know for a while they were leaving downtown and Mayor Nancolas sees no problem with this for the fate of our downtown. 

THE GUARDIAN view is the move will take with it 75 jobs out of the downtown core of Caldwell and with it all the demand for goods and services these jobs and people leaving represent to other downtown merchants.  This will reduce the number of people eating lunch, going to the barber, beauty shoppes, drug store and grocery store runs. 

In the 14 years of Mayor Nancolas' administration of our city we have seen nothing but a steady decline in the viability of downtown Caldwell, even in a time of tremendous growth in Caldwell.  Certainly the economy has not helped in the past few years but we have had a huge increase in the population of Caldwell since the 2000 census.

   THE GUARDIAN often wonders what downtown would look like if the Job Service offices, the VA Clinic, the Vehicle and Drivers license offices, the Vineyard Suites apartments for seniors, and if he had managed to keep the SW District Health people in our downtown.  One reader made the comment about the Nancolas plan is "if we build it they will come".  We have to wonder what downtown would look like if Urban Renewal tax dollars were used to actually renew downtown?  One of the big issues with redevelopment is all of the code restrictions placed on old non-conforming buildings and the never ending list of "things" imposed on people interested in opening a business downtown.

The window of opportunity in downtown Caldwell is rapidly closing along with the remaining businesses downtown.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Caldwell as Retirement Community

Back in the mid-1980's, Al McCluskey, the mayor of Caldwell had a vision of Caldwell as a great place for people to retire.  The general reaction to all that thought on the part of Al was not well received.  Here we are 25 years or so down the road and Caldwell still can't quite figure out what we want to be when we grow up or out as a community.  If current Mayor Nancolas has any vision or a plan for Caldwell, it is a very well kept secret.  We continue to drift as a city without a vision or plan for the future.  Things are happening but in the absence of any guiding plan.

THE GUARDIAN read with great interest in the Wall Street Journal the statistics on baby boomers as they enter the retirement years.  Two in every ten will be moving from where they currently reside to somewhere else.  The sheer numbers of this group moving will be around 20 million boomers.

 Here's where it gets interesting, Caldwell really does have a lot to offer the baby boomer demographic.  We have a small town atmosphere with just about everything a retired person might like to enjoy.  Golf courses, a huge lake with some great warm water fishing, close proximity to skiing and the Capitol City of Boise for outings and other activities. Let's not forget the cultural offerings via the College of Idaho. A decent sized airport in Boise that will get you anywhere on the globe is a mere 30 minutes away.

The Boise airport offers nonstop flights to a number of major cities as far away as Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.  Should folks wish to make a trip to where they used to live.  We have I-84 going east and west with Hwy. 95 and 93 going southbound.

The depressed real estate market makes property and home ownership a real bargain for people used to big city home values.  Even in this market people living in just about any high density west coast city could unload their property for a good price and relocate to a city like Caldwell and still have a bundle of cash left over.  Cities have to grow or face stagnation and death. Boomer retirements is a huge opportunity for a city like Caldwell.  The only problem is there is no serious efforts to exploit this market segment. 

Caldwell with all the recreation opportunities, lots of doctors and a major hospital along with a VA medical outpatient clinic are things we have to offer.  Mayor Nancolas wants jobs for our city, well rooftops bring jobs.  Retired people have a steady income and will create demand for goods and services.
Caldwell will no doubt miss this opportunity for clean growth.  No demands for more schools.  The soon to be retired segment of the USA will be looking for places that offer what is already here in Caldwell.  The issue is for city leaders to figure out how to market the area.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Highway 20/26 To Get Aviation to Smeed Pkwy Widening

THE GUARDIAN received an invite on city of Caldwell letterhead regarding a plan on the part of the city to widen highway 20/26 from exit 29 to Smeed Pkwy.  The project has been framed by Mayor Nancolas as follows:

"This project will be instrumental in helping to spur economic growth and create jobs within the City.  In addition, widening of the road in this area will add to the safety of motorists as it will to help ease traffic congestion.

The City recognizes that you are an important stakeholder in this project and that it may have a direct effect on you and your property or business.  For that reason, we would like to invite you to a community workshop to be held on April 11, 2011 at 6:00PM in the Community Room at the Caldwell Police Station to discuss the project and answer any questions that you may have.  We Value the opinions and suggestions of all those who could potentially be affected by the road widening project and look forward to receiving your comments.  If you have any questions about the workshop please feel free to contact City Hall at 455-3011.  Thank you and we hope to see you on April 11th.

Warm regards,
Garret Nancolas
Mayor, City of Caldwell

Friday, March 18, 2011

House Bill 282 will repeal vehcile emissons testing

Two Canyon County retired engineers who have questioned the need for vehicle emissions testing may have the final say after all.  Their tireless efforts at trying to get folks in the legislature to understand there is no need for vehicle emissions testing because the data used by DEQ was over 10 years old.  Add to that there is ample evidence to support CO2 and NOX pollutants are trending down in the Treasure Valley air shed.  Additionally, the Feds do not consider Ada and Canyon Counties one air shed but two separate entities.  Below is the statement of purpose for House Bill 282. The bill will be heard in committee on Tuesday at 1:30PM. The following is the statement of purpose of this bill: 
"This legislation repeals the vehicle inspection and maintenance program, adds provisions that prohibit regulation of air pollution and emissions from vehicles by DEQ or their Board, and repeals the Treasure Valley Air Quality Council and other regional air quality councils."

This bill has the support of leadership and has a very good chance of becoming law before the end of the session.

Monday, March 14, 2011

We The People Just Don't Understand Urban Renewal

The following is taken from a Idaho Statesman Article that appeared in the Sunday edition.  What the proponents forget is the Idaho Constitutional Requirement of 2/3rds majority vote when creating debts for taxpayers to repay.  If they want new stuff, then ask and we will decide.


..."Urban renewal supporters say that all these criticisms miss the mark. Cities, counties and the state ultimately benefit from the new development — and urban renewal spending — through increased sales and income taxes. (urban renewal districts are deliberately created in areas that would naturally grow without urban renewal agency help.  urban renewal becomes a handout to developers who are already reaping huge profit margins on their projects,)

“Urban renewal has been one of the cornerstones of economic development in this state and a proven jobs generator. Look at Twin Falls last year, where an urban renewal project created 700-plus jobs in the depths of the recession,” said Mark Rivers, who developed the BoDo project in Downtown Boise and is working with the Twin Falls urban renewal agency.  (again, the projects would have happened with or without urban renewal. the jobs creation numbers came from where? support this with documentation please. Mr. Rivers is passionate about every city from Eugene to Niagra Falls with UR boards and Mayors who can't wait to hand over taxpayer money to him. See letter from Niagar Falls paper on Boise Guardian story.)

Proponents also note that the property tax diversion is temporary. Urban renewal districts use that “incremental” property tax for the 24-year life of the district (although legislators want to change that to 20 years). When the district expires, the gains in value are added to the tax rolls.(a 24 year property tax diversion and putting taxing agencies on a 24 year fixed income that forces higher and higher levy rates on property tax payers who had no say in the formation of the district, the projects and debts is simply wrong)

“Many of Boise’s best projects were made possible through urban renewal, including The Grove Plaza, the Wells Fargo and One Capital Center buildings, BoDo, the 8th Street market, the Basque Block, the Convention Center, and a long list of others,” said CCDC’s Kushlan. (developers bought the property at bargain basement prices, sold it back to CCDC at much inflated prices on the backs of existing property taxpayers who then get to pay for all the pork projects created by CCDC)

Proponents note that mayors and city councils are the elected officials who oversee urban renewal agencies — and do answer to voters. Agency board members often are selected for their business, legal or financial expertise.(agency board members are the "YES" people hand picked by the Mayor and City Councils, It is largely a love-in to think up ways to spend money on projects that would never pass muster with taxpayers via a bond election)

“You don’t want local folks that don’t know much about these transactions on that board,” said Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, who sits on his urban renewal agency board."(what, Mr. don't think people who have to pay the bills should serve on a UR board?  I guess they just don't understand PORK PROJECTS when they see them.)

THE GUARDIAN finds Mr. Smith's comment particularly galling.  We, the people just don't need any sway over the actions of Urban Renewal Boards, they know what is best for all of us stuck with paying off millions and millions in revenue bonding debts created by these agencies.  Voting on this by taxpayers is simply wrong in the eyes of Mr. Smith and his ilk.

What started out as seven bills to fix Urban Renewal, put together by citizens who are concerned about the abuses of UR all over Idaho got whittled down to four bills sent to the Idaho Senate.  Now we are down to two bills left for consideration and neither give any citizen oversight to debts created by UR agencies.  The forces of waste, fraud and abuse are alive and well in the Statehouse.  Abuses of our constitutional rights to taxation with representation will continue. 

Even Gov. Jerry Brown in California is working to dismantle these abusive agencies.  It will take more people understanding just how much taxpayer abuse of property taxes is going on before the Idaho Legislature is prepared to return the right of taxation with representation to cities in Idaho.  The legislature will probably be leaving town come the 25th of March.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 2001 Caldwell Urban Renewal Minutes

THE GUARDIAN is on the distribution list for CEURA minutes when they are published each month.  The following may be of interest to Caldwell residents and County Commissioners who may be looking for courthouse expansion space in the future:

"Miguel Sanchez presented a request for start-up funding for the Caldwell Housing Corporation (CHC), a subsidiary of the Caldwell Housing Authority (CHA). whose purpose is to develop housing in the downtown area of Caldwell.  Formation of a separate corporation is necessary to apply for federal funding under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, as Caldwell Housing Authority's funds are restricted to the Farmway Village Project.  The CHC has developed a strategic plan that includes a planned development of 60 units of low income housing, community center, laundry and exercise facility on the 4.4 acre parcel at 1201 Elgin Street.  Chairman Waite noted that review by URA'a attorney to ensure qualification of project cost reimbursement would be advisable.  Motion to approve the $25,000 funding request pending attorney review and approval: Hopper/Hardin M/S/P"

The above is interesting as it has been heard on the street our County Commishes are now looking at property around the existing Courthouse for jail expansion purposes.  A call to Caldwell Planning and Zoning offices today by a concerned citizen caught the P&Z staff by surprise.  They knew nothing of this project. 

Meanwhile, CEURA is not opposed to handing out significant amounts of cash for projects that may fly in the face of good urban planning for Caldwell.

Also noted in the CEURA minutes was payment of property taxes on 215 and 217 S. Kimball to Canyon County.  This property is no longer used for a public purpose and by Idaho Code property taxes are now due and payable.  Most of it will go around in a circle and back to the Urban Renewal Agency but some will get to taxing districts that could use the money in this recession.

Activity report of the C/CEDC Executive Director Steve Fultz can be summarized as "continued, working, potential, plan, meeting, airport, potential, tenant, possible, participants, leads, call center, etc,".  Hope springs eternal with the efforts of C/CEDC.  We will report any confirmed business activity with this agency when it actually happens.

Additional, requests for $5,000 to fund a TVCC viticulture program to fund retail space and money for their own label.  Mr. Fultz also asked for another $5k to hire a consulting firm with expertise in FTZ's (Foreign Trade Zones).
This $10k request went down as: Motion to authorize expenditure of $5,000 start-up for Chukar Celers (sic) and $5,000 to begin developement of a Foreign Trade Zoooone: Hopper/Fouts  M/S/P 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When Will We Reach "PEAK OIL"?

THE GUARDIAN and the Mrs. watched with great interest A CRUDE AWAKENING video via Netflix last night.  The information in this award wining 2006 documentary was more than a little bit disturbing to say the least. 

We all know and live with the whim and fancy of the leaders of countries with questionable leadership that we support for the simple reason they control the life blood of our economy....OIL.  This documentary is one of the best explanations of where we are worldwide with the prospect of reaching "peak oil".  Most of the experts in the field think it will come around the year 2020.  Worldwide demand for oil is on the rise and alternatives to oil are few in number and the output is not as energy dense as Oil. 

What is even more disturbing is our elected leaders are not being up front with us about the finite supplies of Oil.  I spent a fair amount of my youth in Kern County, California, home of the Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve.  Or at least what we thought was a reserve.  It is now gone and the once bustling city of Taft near the reserve looks like a ghost town for the most part.

The energy density of Oil is amazing and I am quoting from memory here but one 42 gallon barrel of Oil can do the work of 12 men for a year!  The economies of China and India are putting demand pressures on Oil as their middle class size increases every year.  The demand curve on Oil supplies against known reserves is alarming to say the least.  

Peak Oil is a concept not many people care about but the reality is looming in the next 10 years.  Urban sprawl has put the United States at a very vulnerable position when you contrast the layout of our cities and towns with that of Europe.  We are not set up for mass transit, nor are we willing to accept the notion of live, work and play in our communities.  The reality of $5/gallon or higher for gasoline may not be that far off moving forward.

Some analysts say the world has the capability of sustaining a population of about 1.5 to 3 billion people. We are now headed toward 7 Billion and by 2050 we will have about 9 billion people. Give all this some thought when you make a decision about energy consuming appliances.  The costs for energy are certain to increase dramatically within the next decade and no elected politician can do anything about it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

House Bill 208 The Begining of Frankenauthority

FRANKENAUTHORITY Is Upon Idaho Property Tax Payers This Year
House bill 208 is just the beginning. And in possibly setting a precedent, this bill might just be the most dangerous to free enterprise in this session. There seems to be a land rush for all special interest groups to have each their own local “Authority” established to have access to public assets. By this calculation there would soon so many commissions and commissioners in local government all vying for local assets the result would be a total traffic jam or constipation – take your choice. Of course, the drafters of H208 foresaw this criticism and addressed the proliferation issue in Section 70-2304, which grants the counties the power to form a “combined intermodal and renewable energy authority.”

What this evolution really means is that, to avoid the proliferation of “Authorities,” the counties can in effect establish combined super authorities. With further such bills from various interest groups, “combined” county “Authority” will be granted more and more power to serve the interests of all special interest groups that want access to public assets. This super or monster authority (“Frankenauthority”) is different than an Urban Renewal Agency in that it does not need to make a finding of “blight” in order to proceed. In other words, in order to proceed there is no “excuse” or “finding” required that private enterprise cannot do it.

This authority approach is simply the granting of authority to government to direct economic development and to utilize public assets for chosen private favorites. This reminds me of the old railroad days, when private interests made no pretense of getting all the government help they could. Lobbying replaced innovation as the true path to economic success.

Note: This bill was hastily drafted. It is a take off of the port authority law and the local intermodal authority - in fact in Section 70-2307 (6) the drafters left in the text reference to the “port authority.”

Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Caldwell, Idaho Business Incentive Program

Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Caldwell, Idaho
Business Incentive Program
General Information

Application Process

The Caldwell Economic Development Council (“CEDC”) will serve as the review agency for the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency.  Applications may be dropped off or mailed to CEDC, 117 S. 9th Ave., Ste. 6, P.O. Box 668, Caldwell, Idaho 83606.  This is a rolling grant with applications being reviewed quarterly.  Applications must be submitted on or before the last business day of each quarter to be considered for that quarter.  Applicants may be requested to attend the review process or provide additional information,

You can read more about this "incentive" program at:

Funding is $200,000.00 for all or none of the applications received for review on a quarterly basis. The first review will be done by CCEDC with final approval remaining the purvue of CEURA.

This application process version looks nothing like the original program turned in by the the Downtown Master Framework Committee Report prepared and submitted to Mayor Nancolas in February of 2010.  It almost looks like the application for the application that isn't an application.

We wonder just how much "incentive" this will be for any investors given all the effort and time line in the approval process it will take to determine if a project is worthy of any "incentive" money. Based on the amount of money paid for property downtown by CEURA, $200K will buy about 4500 sq/ft of land. In any event the link is above for anyone interested in pursuing a "incentive" grant from CEURA for their project.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Can't We Buy New Cars Powered by Natural Gas?

Exxon Mobil is worried about the future of oil.  In a WSJ article last week they stated they have only found 95 barrels of oil for every 100 extracted.  In the same article Exxon Mobil people pointed out they are finding 158 cubic feet of Natural Gas for every 100 actually used.  Natural gas is in abundant supply and is a clean burning fuel.

Why can't automobile makers figure out how to make Natural Gas an option for people buying new cars and trucks?  We see a few vehicles sporting natural gas stickers on them but it is converted in an after-market effort by the owners.

It was apparent that Hybrid vehicles have taken over in SFO.  Even taxi cabs were hybrids for the most part.  The big question is just how economical are hybrid vehicles when it comes time to replace the batteries and what do we do with the expended batteries?  T. Boone Pickens got it right a couple of years back with the Pickens Plan. The only part that is problematic is the wind generation part of the plan.  The GRID is often times too far from the sources of wind.  Natural gas prices have gone down dramatically with the use of "fraking" to release the gas from solid rock formations.

There are a lot of homes currently heated with Natural Gas and the issue is to figure out how to take it from low home pressures up to the pressures needed to fill a fuel tank on a car or truck in a cheap and safe manner.  For the present time Natural Gas looks to be one of the best sources of energy for the USA.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Students To Be Exploited For Revenue

(8) The state board of education shall promulgate rules authorizing local boards of trustees to sell advertising space on school buses. Such rules shall provide for the safe placement of such advertising and shall provide for reasonable restrictions on advertising content.
Idaho’s Senate passed a bill (S1111) Tuesday that will allow advertising on school buses. Like many laws passed in Idaho, this one raises more questions than it provides answers. For instance, nothing in the language of the bill addresses the issue of private school bus companies posting ads on their buses and keeping the revenue.


We find it sad that in the zeal to find revenue, schools are indirectly using their students to raise money. Far from selling candy bard door-to-door, students need to ride buses will create mobile billboards worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Meridian School District’s claims are accurate. The district owns the buses and they say as much as $750,000 could be raised from advertisers–although the legislation provides no guidelines as to where the money would go.
In fact, absent any rules to the contrary, the ad money could go to teacher salaries, sports, or field trips. Which begs the even bigger question: What about First Student, the private firm contracting with Boise School District or any other private carrier? A manager at First Student declined to talk with the GUARDIAN about the issue, saying they would follow the wishes of the Boise School District.
A spokesperson at the State Board refused comment as well saying, “We have not established a position on the bill.” If it passes, there won’t be any choice. The law will mandate that rules will come from the top down. Here are some items for the Board to consider if the bill makes it through the House:
–Will school districts need to hire “account execs to sell ads?”
–Will buses be billboards for condom ads (they teach sex ed in classes)?
–Do private carriers need permission of the district to sell ads?
–Will routes be set to get maximum exposure for ads?
–Will lighted signs like those of pizza delivery rigs be allowed?
–Will there be ratings periods for bus ads like TV “sweeps”?
–Will the State Board hire auditors to monitor ad content and direct the cash flow?
We can see the “naming rights” coming up next, based upon the success of high school athletic teams. Also, it won’t be long before the sharp ad sales execs come up with the idea of selling ad space on the INSIDE of the bus aimed at the kids