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New Try At Community Journalism

We started the BOISE GUARDIAN as a news blog back in May of 2005. One of the motivating factors was the decline of newspapers nationwide and the drastic increase in government flaks, spokespersons, spin doctors, or other titled “information specialists.” We wanted to give readers a forum to air their opinions and provide “the other side” of issues.

Bluntly put, some of the best reporters have gone over to the dark side and work for the government–the pay is significantly better than in the private sector. As a result we are inundated with press releases that are published with little or no editing or fact checking. The GUARDIAN is guilty, but we try to identify government-produced press releases for what they are.

While the internet can offer up questionable “facts” or as some have come to call them “alternative facts,” the net can also serve as a great communication device. As an ongoing feature we would like to encourage readers to send links to stories of interest to Boise and Idaho readers from recognized news sources, not special interest sites.

Here are a couple of examples that crossed our computer terminal today.

KADENA JAPAN— Local residents near the U.S. Air Force Base on Okinawa have been awarded $265 million in compensation for health-related issues caused by the noise from fighter jets. It is the third time residents have won court cases. Folks opposed to the F-35 being based in Boise have formed a group with a contact at LivableBoise@gmail.com to unite fellow opponents of the noise. The original story came from the well known STARS AND STRIPES. Since proponents of the F-35 cite huge economic benefits of basing the noisy jet at Gowen Field, perhaps that revenue can go to compensate residents like they pay in Japan.

ORLANDO FLORIDA–Just like Disney World, it appears the local version of a train is part of Fantasy Land. A report in the ORLANDO SENTINEL shows the “SUNRAIL” train not only costs more than the fare rate, the fare doesn’t even cover the cost of the ticket. That’s right the ticket –not the ride– cost more to produce than the entire fare. The local mayor is “disappointed.” Perhaps instead of more surveys and studies with predetermined results, Team Dave in Boise should check out the SunRail debacle in Florida where there are many more potential riders than in Idaho.

Early Voting Starts Monday For Bond Election

Here is a press release from Ada County Elections regarding upcoming elections for school elections in Boise, West Ada, and Kuna Districts.

Early voting for the March 14, 2017 election starts on Monday February 27th in Ada County. Voters from any part of Ada County may vote at any of the early voting locations Ada County Elections offers. Voters not registered in advance may do so when they vote and may vote at each of these locations by bringing a photo ID and proof of residence. Details regarding the locations and hours are below.

Ada County Early Voting Standard Locations:
Boise City Hall – 150 N Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702 (M – F, 8am-5pm)
Meridian City Hall – 33 E Broadway Ave, Meridian, ID 83642 (M – F, 8am-5pm)
Ada County Elections – 400 Benjamin Ln, Suite 100, Boise, ID 83704 (M – F, 7am – 5pm)
· Saturday March 4th voting: 10am-4pm

*Early voting ends March 10th at 5PM at all locations*

Plus our mobile voting trailer will be in different locations throughout the county February 27-March 10 (weather permitting):
February 27: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (Kuna)
February 28: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (Eagle Rd. & State St.)
March 2: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (Columbia Village)
March 3: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (Kuna)
March 6: 10 am to 4 pm, Lake Hazel Library
March 7: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (Eagle Rd. & State St.)
March 8: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (State St. & 36th)
March 9: 10 am to 4 pm, Star Library
March 10: 10 am to 4 pm, Albertsons (Kuna)

For more information regarding voter registration, early or absentee voting, visit www.AdaCountyElections.com or call (208) 287-6860.

Schools Suffer, Taxpayers Forced To Subsidize Developers

Recent events in Ada County serve to illustrate the plight of Idaho school districts and taxpayers who are forced to subsidize developers who suck money from the community, thanks to politicos who are blinded by promises of growth and jobs. PROGRESS!

Aerial view of Eagle High School file shot. Note the bare ground in top right where developer built structures. Cost of the construction was shared by all taxpayers, but developers paid no impact fees.


West Ada Schools, like all school districts, are prohibited by law from charging “impact fees” for growth–developments. So, when the Ada County Commishes approved 1,300 new residences in the Dry Creek area a new elementary school worth an estimated $14,000,000 to take care of about 600 kids will eventually have to be built.

The only way to finance school construction is through bond financing which will be paid by every property owner in the West Ada district. The developer may donate a parcel of farm land, but he won’t have to pay for the construction at all.

Then there is the City of Meridian crowing about “attracting” a new business which will supposedly hire 500 workers to staff a new five-story building to be constructed near the Ten-mile interchange of I-84. Sounds good on the surface until you learn the building will be in a “business park” which is part of a “urban renewal district” (read that as FARM LAND).

All the taxes on the new building will go to the urban renewal agency and NONE will go the schools. Of course those 500 workers will generate kids who will have to go to a school which will be overcrowded or built anew. Taxpayers once again subsidize the developer.

But wait, there’s more! The State of Idaho Department of Commerce and Development will tender $5.9 million to the new company as a thank-you gesture for bringing the workers and their kids, there cars, and other pollutants to the area.

Growthophobes and doctors both understand that growth for the sake of growth is called CANCER and it can sometimes be deadly.

As one school official confided, “There’s no end in sight.”

“Dope Reporter” Warning During High Water

The long standing tradition of awarding the coveted GUARDIAN “Dope Reporter” status is about to re-emerge during the high water season along area rivers and streams.

The rules are simple. Any TV newsy caught needlessly standing in water will get the award. True rescues, wading to get a good camera angle, and other legitimate moves are exempt from the award. The award is intended to eliminate, well, DOPE REPORTER moves.

GUARDIAN readers are trained at spotting DOPE REPORTERS and can send nominations to through the CONTACT button. Local nominations only please, we have seen many on national news of late.

School Bond Would Add $3400 Debt To Median Value Home

DISCLAIMER: The GUARDIAN does not endorse or oppose candidates or ballot measures. We try to stimulate discussion of issues and present facts often ignored by proponents or opponents.

AMITY SCHOOL was billed as the most energy-efficient school in the country when it was built. GUARDIAN editor, Dave Frazier, wrote the story and made the photo for a TIME MAGAZINE feature. The underground structure has been a costly white elephant for years, despite the promises offered. Plans call for replacing the structure.


The March 14 bond election in the Boise School District is an important event. Entering into $171,000,000 of public debt is not to be taken lightly and all aspects of the investment should be considered.

The District sent out a brochure of “facts” to teachers, former teachers, parents, etc. The “facts” were accompanied by an application for an absentee ballot. A District spokesman told the GUARDIAN the list was comprised of “addresses readily available.” No doubt that list didn’t include any known opponents, conservative leaders, Tea Party members, or other known tight-fisted voters. We feel that mailing should have gone to all voters or not at all since it was on District letterhead and paid –apparently– with public money.

A flashier mailer also with an absent voter ballot application was sent by “Friends of Boise Public Schools.” (Great name as it implies a NO vote would be the “Enemy”) It says the $171 million will reduce overcrowding, make critical repairs, and upgrade classrooms. Neither mailer has specifics. They both sound like a Donald Trump plan to “Make America Great.”

The idea of getting to the voters before there is a lot of discussion on issues has become more common lately. The days of researching an issue or candidate and voting on election day seems a thing of the past.

Here are some facts which are gleaned from public records and official sources:

Median home value in the District is $245,000. In Ada County, there is $25.5 billion in taxable residential property value. Commercial taxable property is valued at $11.8 Billion.
That means the tax at current levy rates is $70 per $100,000 in value which amounts to about $171 per year for the median home of $245,000.

Commercial property owners have no voice at the polls. If they live in the District, they get to vote, but only once–essentially on behalf of their residence. That’s one reason for the so-called “super majority” which requires 2/3 approval. The intent is to sort of level the playing field so folks with no real estate holdings can’t impose a tax on the commercial owners who have no vote. It’s a constitutional mandate.

Given the life of the bond is 20 years, that means the average home will have a debt of $3,400 wrapped into the mortgage payment if the bond passes. If the bond FAILS, it logically should have a DECREASE in taxes of $171 per year and no $3,400 added debt.

While there is no such thing as a free lunch, proponents are claiming there will be “no increase in taxes.” That’s because a 20 year bond that was due to expire will, in essence,
be extended for another two decades. If the bond fails, the District is free to come back for repeated attempts to secure voter approval. Once it is passed, there is no second try to repeal.

To claim there is “no increase in tax rates” is like a car dealer claiming he can put you in a new car “at no additional cost” the day you make your final payment on the model you are driving. It will mean you never get out of debt and the car payments are extended. When the 1997 bond was passed, no one ever told us it was really for 40 years, not 20.

This may sound negative toward the bond, but the facts are all correct. If the bond fails it won’t be the end of the world. The District can come back with a modified proposal for voters to consider. That’s exactly what CWI is doing after their recent bond proposal failed.

We would like to see both bonds (CWI and Boise Schools) on the ballot at the same time. That way voters would have a clear picture of the cost of education and decide if they want to pony up the cash.

Click CONTINUE to see the proposed shopping list. Continue reading here…

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