City Government

Constitution Under Attack

After attending a meeting Tuesday with representatives of Idaho cities, counties, health districts, and banks we came away feeling there is a conspiracy afoot to deprive citizens of the right to vote on local debt (bonds).

In a nutshell these people want to remove voter approval for airports, parking facilities, sewer extensions and more through a constitutional amendment. Sounds innocuous on the face of it (not harmful or offensive for you non-library types), since those services are paid for with revenues from their operations.

However, in the case of the airport parking garage the lobbyist’s proposal would have meant rental car facilities furnished TAX EXEMPT. It would also eliminate the financial oversight of citizens when Boise comes forth with its plan to have huge airplanes flying over the city at all hours (24/7) and hundreds upon hundreds of trucks visiting an AIR FREIGHT HUB.

These groups have lobbyists who seek to “brief” or “educate” legislators on the need for a constitutional amendment of Article VIII, sec. 3. To their credit, the legislators told the lobbyists to chat with the GUARDIAN editor. Pretty heady stuff for us, but really disheartening when we read the language of the proposed amendment.

Just last Friday Canyon County CITIZENS PREVAILED in a case against the Commishes who refused to allow them to vote on debt.

Ever since the Idaho Supreme Court ruled in favor of the citizens and the constitution in the FRAZIER case, local governments have been scrambling to find ways to go into debt without permission from the citizens who pay that debt. In the FRAZIER case, the Supremes upheld the constitutional mandate to seek voter approval to finance a parking facility at the Boise airport.

The latest assault on the constitution by local government appears to be in Nampa where they apparently intend to filter their finance scheme for a police building through the urban renewal agency and get a judge to declare it “ordinary and necessary.”

Given the precedent set by the FRAZIER decision and the absolute declaration by the Supremes last Friday granting citizens authority to sue local government for constitutional violations, we fail to see how Nampa has a legal leg to stand on with their plan.

Public hearings are set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Nampa PD and 3 pm at City Hall to sell the plan. If you live in Nampa make your voice known.

The GUARDIAN seeks only to uphold the Idaho Constitution and allow citizens to approve issues which the Constitution says can be done ONLY with voter approval.
If you have any access to the legislature, urge them to keep their hands off Article VIII, Sec. 3 of the constitution.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. It is time for every voter to call or mail their state senators and reps and tell them to NOT support this or we will vote them out AND support anyone that runs against them.

    Also please call the Butch Otters office and tell them the same thing.

    This is why you CANNOT trust the local officials who simply want to tax and spend – and lie to us about wanting to lower taxes. This is how they intend to suck money out of us for their pet train projects or transit systems that suck tax money and drain our pocketbooks…..this has to stop NOW.

  2. It appears they are trying to do it the right way. Dave, you have always told me (when we have disagreed about certain things)”get the law changed.” I find it hard to begrudge people trying to affect change this way.

    EDITOR NOTE–I begrudge having these lobbyists funded by tax money (dues from cities and counties) inflict their will on the citizens. Without the Legislative leadership alerting me, citizens would have known of the effort only after the damage was done.

    Do you think citizens asked their local governments to lobby to reduce their right to vote on debt?

  3. “Without the Legislative leadership alerting me, citizens would have known of the effort only
    after the damage was done.”

    Actually, Fraz, I kinda think we would have heard about it when the proposed constitutional amendment went to a public vote (Or have they found a way to get around that kind of vote also?)

    Even so, it’s good that you got tipped now, so more people can start raising hell with our legislators and maybe keep it from ever reaching the point of having to go to the ballot box.

  4. Jon, I don’t know how long you have been here, but rest assured that if this thing gets any legs and there is an actual attempt by elected and appointed officials to circumvent the constitution in an attempt to eliminate citizen input, you will be the proud observer of an open revolt! This is going to be a real simple equation, so listen close. When OUR money is spent putting US in long term debt, WE will know, by whom, for how long and how much! And then, and ONLY THEN, WE will decide to approve or deny! I am not sure that you have ever seen what a bunch of “good ‘ol Idaho boys, and girls,” are capable of! It’s a truly beautiful thing!

  5. I don’t agree with the headline. The constitution allows for amendment and is therefore not under attack. That’s the beauty of it. Perhaps ‘Good Sense is Under Attack” would be more accurate.

    EDITOR NOTE–No argument from me. My problem as I have said previously is I doubt there is a ground swell of demand or concern from citizens wishing to give up their right to vote on the items listed in Article VIII, Sec. 3.

  6. Cyclops, I’ve lived in Idaho for 35 years, so I’m well aware of the socio-political environment here. As for your statement about Idaho “good ‘ol boys” I’ll leave most of that alone except to note that in practice it seems that the “good ‘ol boys” have a very hard time distinguishing between fiscal responsibility and fiscal paralysis.

    Dave, I hear what you are saying, but I just don’t understand where you are going. A constitutional amendment is an incredibly high bar to pass over. So high, that most efforts die in their infancy. The path that these groups are going down is the proper one and forces nothing on the people, since the people have the final say.

    EDITOR NOTE–You are correct on the bar. The move for amendment simply widens the gulf between citizens and government. See today’s STATESMAN on Nampa’s plan to go around the voters.

  7. Jon, I don’t disagree with your point. My position is simply that once you tell the “good ‘ol boys” that those flat-landers are messing with the constitution and trying to go around the citizens, all hell breaks loose.(And Dave sues them and wins)

  8. shealyisnottheantichrist
    Jan 30, 2008, 1:12 pm

    Once again, thanks for keeping your ear to the ground and giving us advance warning.

    You should sell Boise Guardian t-shirts on your site. If they move well, you could add capes for the complete Super Guardian look.

  9. Oh Dave, there won’ t be hundreds of trucks servicing the Airport freight hub because the city will have it’s freight line out to the main tracks to handle it.(kidding-hopefully)

    After reading this and the article regard the Nampa Urban renewal district, it kind of makes you sick. They are trying to find any loophole to spend our money.

  10. My gut reaction Dave is the bill will be DOA. But I’ll keep my eye on it.

  11. Guardian, you should start a cult of personality.

    Is anyone surprised? The pols know the know- nothing voters are an easy end run. They can just ignore the constitution. Look what they plan on doing with the constitutional water rights. They figure if Idahoans are the last big supporters of Bush, they will tolerate almost any kind of official corruption. Thats why they like to keep em stupid down on the farm.

    I want a guardian bobblehead figure for my dashboard.

  12. I personally want to commend you on this cause you have taken up. You are 100% correct, and these local entities are suckers, being manipulated by Rasputin-like lobbyists and others from which elected officials often seek approval and friendship.

    I have long been very troubled by this issue, but I have always felt that the courts would do the right thing, which has been the case for the most part. Yet, the growing evidence seems to be that the local officials and their lobbyists are undeterred and will still seek ways around clear law. It’s pretty maddening. It may be time again for a Ron Rankin-like crusader to take up this cause and ratchet up the heat even more by using the Initiative process in a way that actually might make it even more clear to these yahoos.

    At some point, any lawyers they have that are helping them in these efforts should face bar sanction, and the bigger issue is using taxpayer money for private gain, which is a crime in many instances and should be in all instances.

  13. Dave,
    I went to the Nampa Urban renewal board meeting today 1-29-2008 and guess what? The board consisted of 4 city council members, one county commissioner and a couple of other guys from the community at large. They say they are not subject to the Idhao Consititution and are therefore exempt from Art.8 sec 3 that requires a 2/3rds majority.

    I used the Frazier decisions of 2002 and the 2006 to let them know that a new police station and a new parking garage are not “ordinary and necessary” on those case law examples and the latest decision handed down last Friday by the Supreme Court, Koch etal vs. Canyon County Commissioners granting citizens access to the courts on Art.8 sec 3. They were also put on notice that I wanted to know when they were headed to court for their judicial confirmaiton hearing as I intend to file a brief citing your cases as well as the requirements of Art.8 sec. 3.

    These guys are hiding behind urban renewal law to get around the taxpayers. Shame on these guys for not letting the voters weigh in on spending this kind of money!

  14. Holy Great Gatsby Batman! It sounds like there is an attorney that wants to do something positive for the community! All this time I felt like attorneys were bottom feeders, and now I have to deal with the possibility that there may actually be one that is an actual concerned citizen! I am not sure my little mind can absorb such information, but thanks Paul.

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