City Government

Defending The Idaho Constitution

The GUARDIAN editor appeared before the Senate State Affairs Committee Wednesday to testify against a proposed CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT aimed at limiting citizen oversight of long term debt by local government.

To call the experience frustrating is an understatement. In short, they ate our lunch, punched us in the face, yawned, walked out as we spoke and offered SJR 107 up to the entire senate with a unanimous vote of the committee.

Associated Press reporter John Miller wrote a great advance piece, interviewed both the GUARDIAN editor and Dan Chadwick–the Association of Counties mouthpiece.

Here is what Chadwick had to say of our patriotic effort to defend the constitution:
“Chadwick says Frazier’s zeal to make governments secure two-thirds support for long-term debt is tantamount to micromanagement and hamstrings their ability to make day-to-day decisions. Chadwick’s frustration with Frazier was clear in an interview with the AP.

“If he wants to affect these decisions, he should run for office and quit taking potshots from the outside,” Chadwick said. “He doesn’t have a clue what it takes to run local government.”

Chadwick’s remarks personify the attitude of far too many local politicos–if you are not elected, you are an “outsider” and any questioning of authority is termed a “pot shot.”

We are only advocating what Idaho’s founders demanded to prevent government from overstepping its authority and taking on debt without asking its citizens first.

You don’t need to mess with the constitution. The solution is to go to the voters as the constitution requires. That’s all they have to do if they can’t pay with a current year’s revenues.

Senator Bart Davis picked apart the language and punctuation of the amendment, declared it difficult to understand as written, and made the motion to send it to a vote of the senate with a “do pass” recommendation.

Before the constitution is actually amended, two-thirds of the House and Senate must pass it and then it goes to a statewide vote which requires a simple majority.

Read the AMENDMENT and then try to explain it.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Mike Murphy, Bull Moose Republican
    Mar 19, 2008, 10:58 pm

    Too bad more isn’t done by the Fourth Estate (in it’s entirety) in this town to encourage the citizenry to be more engaged in the political process and / or run for elected office.

    For that matter… I can find links to all sorts of crap on various media websites; but not a single one to those people, agencies, legislation, ordinances, etc that exert increasingly unjust control over our lives!

    You can Register to Vote through Boise City Taxi’s website.
    A Taxi Company website, for God’s sake!

    Ronald Reagan proved that an informed (or at least, electrified) electorate can, and will, trump intransigent political hacks every time.

    My own experience was that of local media that were far too retentive of my guerrilla use of emerging media (media, I might add, NOW utilized by many other political candidates, even office holders and many in the Fortune 500) to consider my platform of “Enthusiastic Plagiarism”.

    Not a very original platform (pun intended); but even if drunk, stoned and trying too – I don’t think I could’ve mucked things up much worse than they are!

    I didn’t (and don’t) take it personal, as I counted higher a snowballs chance in hell; but AM saddened that an opportunity to force many pressing issues to the fore was squandered.

    For that matter… What ever happened to the Forensic Audit of the CCDC that was ordered by the Honorable Mr. Bieter AFTER I made it a campaign issue?

    Please don’t misinterpret my words as mockery or condemnation; but a subtle-as-a-hand-grenade wake up call, and call to arms.


    And Dave-

    Don’t let those sons of unwed fathers getcha down!

    ; )

  2. Blazing Saddle
    Mar 20, 2008, 7:45 am

    I don’t know what all the rah rah rah for democracy is all about.

    But shucks, I’m an Idahoistan native. I got no experience with democracy. If democracy was good for me, I’ll bet the republican dictators would give me one. Yes sir.

  3. Sam the sham
    Mar 20, 2008, 10:21 am

    it does appear that the entire idea of Constitution is slipping by the wayside. So does this mean that the experiment known as the US democracy/republic is failing? It appears to me that the “power” is not in the hands of the people, but of big corporations and the minions they put up for election (or buy off as soon as they are elected).
    Doubt this? Take a look at HB 599 which is crafted by the industry lobby, The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry and co-sponsored by Representatives Moyle, Lake, Clark, Roberts and others.
    HB 599 will shift $120 million in business personal property taxes on to the sales and income tax over the course of five years.
    Most of the $120 million then will be paid by families and small businesses and ALMOST ALL the benefit (over $90 million in estimated tax cuts) will go to only 16% of Idaho’s largest businesses.
    Just who are Moyle, Lake, Clark, Roberts, ect. representing here… certainly not the people who voted for them!!

  4. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, Dave!

    A lobbyist for the bureaucrats suggesting only the elected “representatives” have a say. (Tell me he said it with an ironic wink.)

    I agree with you – the prevailing attitude is definitely “Don’t question our authority – you little people need to leave government business to us – your ‘representatives’ and our special interest groups. That’s the way we do things around here.”

    Unfortunately, they’ve also insulated themselves by making the election laws highly favorable to incumbents, and eliminating term limits (as desired by a majority of Idaho citizens).

    How about a term limits Constitutional Amendment? (Dream on! Yeah, I know – I’m as clueless as The Guardian about running local government.)

    I wish all my fellow citizens would join me in the VTBO (Vote The Bums Out) Party! (But on the bright side, adults can now get “likkered up” on Election Day, huh? So the session wasn’t entirely fruitless.)

  5. Mike Murphy, Bull Moose Republican
    Mar 20, 2008, 11:35 am

    Forgive me…

    Not to be confrontational; but we HAVE Term Limits.

    Always have.

    It’s called ELECTION DAY!

  6. I’m confused. Does this have anything to do with the local option tax? I support the local option tax and in my opinion, a super-majority is too onerous of a restriction.

    Hell, while we’re at it, let’s make all elections be super-majorities. Think about that for a bit. I don’t get it. A minority gave us our current President back in 2000. THE GOSH DARN PRESIDENT OF THE USA! So why can’t a simple majority decide much simpler matters of local taxation and long term indebtedness?

    The attitude (of our legislators) argument some of you are making can go both ways. What if us “little people” want to get rid of the onerous super-majority obstacle? Are you the “little people” calling us the “little people,” little people?

    EDITOR NOTE–No connection to local option tax. Strictly citizen oversight of debt in excess of one year worth of tax revenue.

  7. I think I’ve figured out why the deciders want to bomb Iran. Democracy there resembles the new democracy they are busy building here. Compare the feudal form of democracy in Pakistan to the degenerating Idaho Constitutional democracy here in Idahoistan, and you will see the similarity.

  8. Voters Don't Count
    Mar 20, 2008, 1:51 pm

    It is VERY clear that the city, county and highway districts have convinced the legislature to buy into rhe “tax the public at every turn” or we are st chicken to be accountable for a budget” mentality.

    This is really a demonstration that all we NO real conservatives at the state level. ZERO!

    If this bill passes and your taxes increase 100-200% over the next 10 years then you have only yourselves to blame – and every elected offical that supported it!! BUt then it will be TOO LATE.

    This bill should be called, “the tax’em to death and we don’t care” bill.

    Everyone better call the statehouse and get this stopped ASAP – or don’t complain when EVERY PUBLIC agency starts asking for taxing ability – -THE VERY THING THE FOUNDERS OF OUR CONTITUTION SPECIFICALLY WANTED TO AVOID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. As a government employee I have watched all levels of government slowly eroding the control of the people over the last 20 years. It is amazing that people (whether elected or someones appointed friend) in power continue to let themselves think that they are smarter or know more because of their position. If these seem people tried running a business this same way they would be fired and the business bankrupt. But the overwhelming attitude is that “they” must be smarter than “us”. Unfortunately I also blame the majority of the public who fails to be heard at the polls. It’s too bad more people don’t care what is being done to them like you do Guardian. I have been and will continue to be a proponent of citizen control of government spending. For example,if Boise needs a new police station (and they do) then take our case to the public. Don’t continue to devise schemes to avoid asking the taxpayer top spend money. The only way this will ever end in my opinion is if we get enough folks to turn out at the polls. Good reporting Dave and keep after it.

  10. Good article Dave and one that we would not see in the Idaho Daily Mistaken. They did, however, put an article in prior to the hearing written by Kathleen Kreller. I was struck by one thing Chadwick was quoted as saying and that was “What’s the point of going to the voters to ask for short-term debt to get some police cars or road graders?” Chadwick said. “It doesn’t make practical sense and those elections are very expensive.”

    I realize Chadwick is a paid propagandist but that has to be the most fatuous and idiotic statement in the history of propaganda. First, police cars are something that should be purchased out of the yearly revenues from things that used to be called property taxes. It would be a very lousy government indeed, and one that should be booted out in a recall, if they went into debt to purchase police cars or any other short term piece of equipment. We are not talking about an average person who finances his/her car. Government should NEVER finance short term debt. If they have to do that, the item cannot be afforded and should not be purchased.

    But if they absolutely need to go into short term debt, like the schools or Boise did with the foothills levy, that mechanism exists. An override can be passed with 50% +1 for two years. Maybe someone should tell Chadwick that’s what his county clients should do if they need more police cars. But, oh wait, it would still be up for a vote.

    I’m with you on this issue Dave.

  11. blazing Saddle
    Mar 20, 2008, 3:54 pm

    I would support this pup if they added a companion bill that provided for recall elections with the collection of as few as 100 petition signature.

    That would go a long way towards bringing democracy back to eye-dee-ho

  12. Mike, the problem becomes one of:
    Pick a completely un-qualified jerk from column A
    Pick a more un-qualified jerk from column B!
    Some choice huh?

  13. Don’t the “leaders” understand that the people of this country had a revolution over a breakfast beverage? Even though we are rampant with apathy, I have to believe that the populace will reach a saturation point and then explode! When that does happen, woe be to those that hold office!

  14. Dave, you really have to understand that Mr. Dan Chadwick is the sort of lawyer that would (do anything) to win a case should that need ever arise.

    This is the very same individual that put together the infamous IDAHO COUNTIES CAPITAL FINANCE CORPORATION deal for Canyon County and the illegal purchase of the Jerome Farm property. A “straw man” deal for counties to circumvent the taxpayers and voters. This crooked deal went to the Idaho Supreme Court via some really ticked off Canyon County taxpayers. The county civil attorney was less than forthright to the supreme court about actual ownership of the property and did it with a stright face during oral arguments last December.

    Good news is that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of standing for citizens on Article 8 section 3. Bad news is that what we call “citizen legislators” at the state level are now about to take an entire section of the Idaho Constituion away from us.

    I particularly like the first sentence of this bill. It is over 500 words long. I have read this thing several times and simply do not understand what it says. How does this get past the very people we elected to represent the people? THE GOLDEN RULE.. those with the gold make the rules.

    The train has left the station on this deal at the state legislature. The only hope is that when it goes for the 50% plus one vote at the polls it won’t get past the voting public.

    Simply disgusting!

  15. Dave,
    This is a time warp and the Legislature is at Jonestown.

    They simply “drank the Kool Aid on this one!

    And all of us that aren’t in elected office get to clean up the mess they are creating via their inability to “just say no”.

  16. Alicia Ritter
    Mar 20, 2008, 7:55 pm

    A constitutional amendment……give me a break. If local people want to vote to tax themselves at the local level, have at it. It’s called State’s Rights.

  17. I come down somewhere in the middle.

    I do agree with Chadwick and support this amendment to the extent that it applies to removing the need for a 2/3 favorable public vote for capital expenditures for things like vehicles, road grading equipment, etc.

    At the same time I cheer the Guardian for his successful windmill tilting when he took down the parking garage and the police station. With the latter, the city actually found a pretty good alternative on the west end of town. And they did it within budget. The 2/3 vote requirement is a substantial impediment and too bad we did not have a similar requirement for state lawmakers because Gov. Kempthorne and Roy Eiguren convinced the Idaho legislature to plunge the U of I into debt on the University Place fiasco.

    The section as amended is absurd for its length.

  18. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 21, 2008, 1:53 am

    Just e-mailed my state senator to express my opposition to SJR106 and/or SJR107.

    Also expressed (again) my opposition to HJR004, local option sales taxes. You all may remember that this is proposed by the same folks who brought us empty taxpayer subsidized busses and now want to use a local option sales tax to bring us a billion dollars worth of empty light rail cars. You just have to admire the hutzpah of those who are trying to convince us that more people in this valley makes it a better place to live!

    EDITOR NOTE–Rod, the damage is done in the senate. We need to try for common sense in the HOUSE before they too pass the bad amendment.

  19. For starters, this amendment is dumb!

    However– “The solution is to go to the voters as the constitution requires.” Amending the constitution can’t be done without going to the voters, either. Admittedly, it’s only a simple majority after a 2/3 approval by each legislative body. However, that, too, could be changed by amendment. My point remains.. amending the constitution is not always a bad thing…even though it is in this case.

  20. “I agree with you – the prevailing attitude is definitely “Don’t question our authority – you little people need to leave government business to us – your ‘representatives’ and our special interest groups. That’s the way we do things around here.”

    I used to live in Maine, a state as infested with progressives as Idaho is Red. In that state there is not even lip service to anything repblican in state government. As a result Maine is the highest taxed state in relation to income in the country and the economy is in the tank.

    That said, I was once a member of the Portland Maine republican committee. When our fine Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe voted with the dems on one of the numerous issues the local media loved, I sponsored a motion to have the committee write a sense of the committee letter to the goodd seators reminding them that they worked for us and were republicans. When I took the idea to the county I found that they were ready for me and had packed the meeting with every elected official in a 50 mile area to insure we mere peasants didn’t dare remind our demi god elected folk of their duties…

  21. Please everyone just call our house members and tell them not to vote for this…then tell 10 friends to tell 10 friends to do the same. We should all tell every legislator that votes for this that we will be voting against them if they vote for this.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: