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Is Our System Of Government Broken?

Whenever I see or hear comments from citizens saying, “They are going to do whatever they want no matter what we say,” I cringe.

Throughout my years in school and while serving in the military the mantra was, “we have a government of the people, for the people, by the people.”

Well, sort of, sometimes, maybe.

I have spent more than a decade trying to force the politicos to obey the Idaho Constitution and seek permission from “we the people” to go into debt in excess of a single year’s revenue.

NUMEROUS courts have upheld my arguments, including the highest court in Idaho. The net effect has been to enrich the lawyers in excess of $1 million. The local governments have also created ways to get around those pesky voters with thinly disguised “lease” deals.

Despite major questions about a new library, Boise City is forging ahead hiring consultants, lobbyists, and others while hiding these deals deep on 1,000 page agendas.

Now, citizens are up in arms and got the Idaho House to pass a bill requiring a citizen vote for urban renewal projects to build public structures. The Idaho Senate looks like it will fight the will of the people and even the House of Representatives which has passed the bill.

These are the same folks who refuse to allow Ada County Highway District to tax trucks over 8,000 lbs. They fight a citizen vote to expand medicaid coverage, they work to thwart efforts to petition for initiatives.

Move on up the food chain to Washington and it is no better.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in trouble being led by people who dislike us, see us as an adversary, and continue to spend our money in a shameful manner.

I would like to say “your vote counts. Contact your representative.”

But I have come to believe they will do whatever they want anyway. Makes me cringe.

Urban Renewal Battle Continues…

Guardian reader “Chicago Sam” offers this news bulletin on the progress of House Bill 217, the measure to force urban renewal agencies to gain citizen permission to go into debt for construction of public buildings.

HB 217 just forwarded to House of Representatives with a DO PASS. I believe the vote was 14-2.

A packed hearing room with proponents outnumbering opponents at least 3-1.

Opposition seemed to be centered on whether outhouses or park benches would require a public vote. (This demeaning argument is used by those opposed to seeking a vote on expenditures in excess of a single year’s revenues as mandated by the Idaho Constitution)

Proponents were steadfast and bi-partisan that on large projects the taxpaying public should have a say.

Truckers Buy Dinner, Get Free Ride In Ada

In case you wondered why legislators failed to even debate a bill to charge fees to trucks over 8,000 lbs. in Ada County, an excerpt from the Trucking Association newsletter gives a hint.

Trucks like this heavyweight pay NO ACHD fees.

“Last week, the Idaho Truck PAC hosted its annual legislative dinner with House and Senate leadership and legislators that serve on the Transportation Committees. Governor Brad Little also stopped by to express his support for the trucking industry. Idaho Trucking Association members talked with legislators…”

The newsletter went on to say,
“Registration Fee for ACHD–
After sharing our concerns with members of the House Transportation Committee regarding the proposed Ada County Highway District’s $ 75 registration fee on all vehicles over 8,000 lbs., we are pleased to report that the Committee decided not to advance this legislation.”

Sooo, trucks that cause the most wear on roads get a free ride at the expense of lightweight motorists.

Urban Renewal Under Attack By Legislators

UPDATE–Nampa city council endorsed the bill during Monday night’s meeting.
Two bills before the Idaho Legislature, clearly aimed to restrain Boise City councilors and the mayor, are worthy of support from voters.

In a nutshell they seek to require citizen approval before urban renewal funds can be used for construction of either a library or sports stadium.

Urban renewal has been abused state wide with cities and the Greater Boise Auditorium District leading the way in a scheme to launder property tax money through local urban renewal agencies to avoid a citizen vote on “profound debt projects.”

Idaho’s constitution (article VIII, sec 3) mandates that local governments seek permission from voters to go into debt. Typically this would be a bond for a school, city hall, auditorium, library, sports stadium, etc. By laundering tax funds diverted to urban renewal agencies, the politicos avoid a public vote.

Here’s how it works. Once an urban renewal district is formed (a designated area within a jurisdiction), the tax on any improvements or appreciated value is diverted to the UR agency–the CCDC in Bois’s case. The original idea was to improve an area, increase the property value along with taxes, and everyone was a winner.

Somewhere along the line the crafty politicos changed the rules to allow urban renewal agencies to finance projects for 20 years without citizen approval, thus diverting the taxes while requiring cities to provide services like police, fire and schools for free. Money laundering, euphemistically termed “tax increment financing” is the method used.

Even more egregious is the practice of local governments getting the urban renewal agencies to use their bonding authority to build major structures such as auditoriums, libraries, and police stations making an end run around the constitutional mandate of citizen approval. The scheme has the urban renewal folks owning the building–even a city hall–and rending it back to the local government. The Ada Courthouse was owned for years by CCDC to avoid citizen approval of the project.

The two proposed laws deserve public support and approval to rein-in the overzealous local governments.

For details see STATESMAN.

Mayor Muffs Election Dates


Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane spent much of Thursday researching the Idaho Code and consulting with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. His conclusion is, “There just isn’t any clear authority for cities to conduct advisory votes, despite what the Association of Cities guide says.”

McGrane said it is possible cities simply “did it” regarding the policy guide book.

Once again, Boise City folks can’t seem to get their facts straight. Mayor Dave Bieter told the council Tuesday that advisory votes for cities would not be allowed except in even numbered years by Idaho code.

According to an election guide for cities published by the Association of Idaho Cities, it looks like city advisory elections can be held in ANY year. (NOTE TOP OF PAGE 8 IN LINK). The proposed referendum vote can be held in odd year elections.

The question arose at the Tuesday council meeting where councilors were set to seek an advisory vote on the proposed library project and a sports stadium. That discussion was prompted by a petition drive seeking a vote to approve the projects. The acting city attorney erroneously called the proposed referendum ballot measure “unconstitutional.”

All the maneuvering is clearly an attempt to avoid a bond election for public debt as mandated by the Idaho constitution. The politicos are attempting to launder tax money through the CCDC urban renewal agency instead of having a simple vote on these profound projects which will change the city in perpetuity.

We urge the council to trust the voters who elected THEM. It isn’t the concept of a new library that has citizens up in arms, it is the scale, scope, and financing that is of concern. There has been way too much “quiet corruption” going on in the form of first class travel, one-sided agreements, and city officials leaving to profit from their public actions in the private sector.

In short, the only binding voice we have is that of the purse strings.

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