Guardian Top Stories

Are Ability AND Integrity Impossible For Politicos?

We often hear the lament, “I am not voting because it is always the lesser of two evils.”

A story in the Saturday DAILY PAPER by reporter Katy Moeller seems to enforce the evil issue. Seems that Ada Coroner Candidate Dotti Owens “forgot” about criminal charges for fraud and a bankruptcy when she completed a candidate form for the paper.

Ada County lawmen, including Sheriff Gary Raney and local police chiefs endorsed Owens over former deputy sheriff Michael Chilton. Chilton spent most of his copper career as a jailer for Ada County. Owens has been a deputy coroner.

The STATESMAN has to be commended for its election coverage which earlier revealed that Mayor Dave Bieter had met individually with candidates for the Ada County Highway District, asking them to get rid of the director…all in the spirit of working together of course.

Then there is Sherri Ybarra the candidate for Supt. of Public Instruction who can’t remember a divorce, what degree she is working on, or other items from her past.

It isn’t just women either. The race for Guv is not without charges of cronyism and illicit campaign contributions to Butch Otter from the private group recently ousted from running the state prison. Former Canyon prosecutor John Bujak has dodged criminal charges for a couple of years now and his gubernatorial candidacy is considered that of “spoiler.”

Hold your nose when you vote and if you have a bottle of hand sanitizer, be sure to use it after you vote, but please vote.

NOTE: The GUARDIAN doesn’t endorse candidates and no conclusions should be implied by this post.

Bieter Said To Be After ACHD Director’s Hide

A recent IDAHO STATESMAN story by reporter Cynthia Sewell seems to confirm the trend of Boise Mayor Dave Bieter to be a behind-the-scenes power broker for local governments outside the purview of Boise City.

According to the report in the DAILY PAPER, Ada County Highway District commission candidate Bob Bruce told a public forum last week that Bieter sought to have the ACHD director and legal counsel fired.

Current ACHD commish Rebecca Arnold asked candidates, “Has Mayor Bieter asked you for a commitment that if elected you would fire ACHD Director Bruce Wong and General Counsel Steve Price, and if so, how did you respond to that request?”

Bob Bruce, Candidate for the Dist. 3 seat responded, “I have known Dave Bieter since we were small children. We went to the same school. My parents and his parents were very good friends. I did go to Mayor Bieter and he did make that request. I said ‘no.’ I am not anybody’s pawn. Nobody owns me. It was a difficult thing. I still consider Mayor Bieter my friend. I know I can work with him. I just couldn’t do what he asked if he were to support me.”

This is the first time the GUARDIAN has heard of publicly attributable comments such as this, but we have had others tell us of questionable “back room” comments of a similar nature to come from Team Dave and its leader.

Masseuse Offended By Otter Comparison

The GUARDIAN talked Monday with Nita Mussel who has “hands-on experience” when it comes to manipulating people and she said, “all of us in the massage community deeply resent being compared to the State of Idaho by Gov. Butch Otter’s lawyers.”

Ms. Mussel was referring to a legal brief filed in the ongoing anti-gay case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in San Francisco.

Here is the offensive passage from the legal brief filed by governor’s counsel Thomas Perry and lawyer Gene Schaerr who argued that granting the plaintiff’s motion to dump the stay and let marriages proceed strips the state of its sovereignty.

“Granting that motion would also improperly treat the sovereign State of Idaho as an ordinary litigant, entitled to no more respect than a fly-by-night payday loan business or massage parlor,” they wrote.

EDITOR NOTE–The post is a GUARDIAN satire. The legal brief quotes and legal issue are true.

Fire Dept. Bond & Why 2/3 Majority Is Good

The DAILY PAPER had a page one story today about the effort to gain a 2/3 approval of voters for the City of Boise to go into debt for 10 years. The measure previously failed.

The STATESMAN story is fair, well balanced and accurate. It also dwells on the efforts of GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier to force local governments to play by the rules–something they didn’t do prior to 2004. We don’t know whether to take credit or blame, but Boise City has a record of extravagant requests. Frazier has a record of saving the city millions upon millions of dollars, forcing them to either pay cash or tone down their dream projects.
Modern suburban fire station in Boise, Idaho.
Through legal court victories we saved citizens about $15 on the police building (City Hall West), as much or more on the airport parking garage, and voters turned down a $38 million debt for a new library in favor of pay-as-you-go projects for three new branch libraries which are very successful.

Regardless of your thoughts on the $17 million bond sales pitch to move fire stations, build new ones, and construct a training facility, its a good thing the bond failed in the past.

Why? Because we minority of voters sent City officials back to the budgeting of OUR money and guess what? They have come up with a lower price tag and a shorter term bond debt. Thanks to a change of the former firemen retirement fund to be included in the state Public Retirement program, much of the revenue to repay the debt will come from within.

While we don’t oppose this bond, we have some concerns about financial issues directly relating to Boise’s fire department:

–Why do we give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in free fire protection to Boise State while charging around $1 million for Boise police at the same institution? BSU and other state agencies have a huge exposure and every taxpayer in the state should pay a tiny bit to protect those assets and people. It shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of Boise taxpayers alone.

–The fire budget has been used for new construction to facilitate growth in South and East suburbs.

–All the departments in the area work together on “mutual aid” agreements (memorandums of understanding). That’s good, but they should also pony up some cash for mutual training facilities. Boise’s claim of allowing the other departments to use the proposed new training facility in exchange for use of their stuff simply falls short.

–Instead of buying new fire equipment, the department is planning to lease trucks. If the leases are true leases, that COULD be OK. However, if they try to disguise long term debt purchases as a “lease,” they could ignite a legal tinderbox.

In summary, they probably need the bond but there never should have been a need for it. Because the council has continued to acquire more area through annexation and city-generated urban sprawl there is increased demand for firefighters, stations, and equipment. We growthophobes feel growth should pay for itself. If they need to go into debt, the City of Boise is living beyond its means.

Fear of Legislature Power Is Prudent

Our favorite saying with regard to political power is, “POWER CORRUPTS. ABSOLUTE POWER IS REALLY GREAT IF YOU HAVE IT.” Constitutional amendment HJR 2 is an attempt by the legislature to acquire absolute power. It needs a “NO” vote.
Exterior dome of the Idaho State Capitol building located in Boise, Idaho, USA.
We don’t endorse candidates, but when it comes to constitutional amendments and bond issues, we feel an obligation to let folks know a bad deal when its offered. Here is the the deal:
on the face, it sounds like a minor housekeeping measure–allow the legislature to review department rules. In reality the potential for abuse is tremendous.

The Idaho Legislature’s power to review agency rules is already said to by the strongest in the USA. To carve that power in the stone of the Idaho Constitution is dangerous because there is no mechanism in the Idaho Constitution for citizens to repeal ANY article. Only the legislature holds that power. Amendments require a 2/3 approval by both houses, followed by a simple majority of state wide voters. We can initiate NOTHING.

Not that anyone can understand the convoluted language, here is the ballot proposal:

“Shall Article III, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a new section 29, to confirm that the legislature may authorize executive rulemaking; however, the legislature shall not relinquish oversight, which such oversight is done by approval or rejection, in whole or in part, of an executive rule; and to provide that the legislature’s approval or rejection of such a rule shall not require the approval of the governor?”

If, down the road, we citizens see abuse of power by legislative rule makers, we are helpless, since only the legislature can bring amendments. THAT’S absolute power and really great if you’re a legislator.

An example of a bad amendment is the “Constitutional mandate” for the Idaho Land Board to get the best return on investment off state lands. Sounds reasonable. However the board sees that as reason to sell existing land and acquiring speculative real estate holdings.

The board owns a storage business and more than 20 commercial rental properties–including 10 Barrel Brewing–in Boise. Citizens of Boise, Ada County, ACHD, and Boise Schools get absolutely no tax revenue from those commercial properties because they are owned by the State of Idaho.

The Boise Guardian

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