City Government

Power To The People Prevails

Wow! What an intense week of positive events for the rights of citizens to vote on long term debt by local government.

Just a week ago the Idaho Senate pushed a proposed constitutional amendment through in an attempt to get around the Supreme Court FRAZIER decision which reconfirmed the fact local governments must get approval of 2/3 of voters to go into long term debt. The Senate voted unanimously to approve it.

It went to the House where the GUARDIAN editor, David R. Frazier, led the debate Tuesday against passing the amendment. There was adamant vocal opposition of the bill (in support of Frazier’s position) from Rep. Raul Labrador, an Eagle attorney, but the proposal went to the floor of the House and within just over an hour it was defeated by a 36-33 vote. It required a 2/3 majority to pass.

Immediately the House passed a “compromise bill” that watered down the original proposal, calling for approval of a simple majority of citizens on some debt and eliminating the worst of the original proposal. OK, but not good.

Here’s where it got interesting. In the final minutes of the session the Senate KILLED the proposed new amendment passed the previous day by the House. While the Senators last week voted 100% in favor of the original poorly worded sweeping amendment, they ended up killing it by a –23-11 vote which was just a single vote shy of the 2/3 majority required to pass.

Bottom line–the cities and counties have to abide by the constitution and allow voters to approve long term debt PERIOD!


–It looks like the politicos in Eagle have seen the light and now plan a bond election to fund purchase of the water company. Citizens in that Ada County town were contemplating a law suit using the FRAZIER decision of the supremes and the 2002 JUDGE COPSEY decision declaring Boise City must take a proposed police station project to the voters as ammunition.

–Over in Rexburg the city is attempting to circumvent the voters by getting a judge to declare a proposed $6 million swimming pool as “ordinary and necessary” expense for the urban renewal district. A hearing was held Monday and a judge has it under advisement.

–Nampa voters were left out of the picture when the city attempted to claim a proposed $69 million police and library project were “ordinary and necessary” urban renewal projects. The CALDWELL GUARDIAN and the BOISE GUARDIAN have both filed legal responses to that petition. A court hearing is set for April 30 before former Supreme Court Justice Linda Copple Trout at the Canyon County Courthouse. The 3rd District judges recused themselves on that case.

–Twin Falls City Councilors are treading on thin ice with a scheme to lease a parcel of city land to a finance group for 40 years, make lease payments to the lender for 20 years and own a $4 million Public Works facility when they are finished–without a vote of the citizens. That one is ripe for a legal challenge. One lawyer told them he couldn’t advise them to go ahead, so the found another one to give them the OK. Bad advice.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Bob Blurton
    Apr 3, 2008, 1:10 pm

    Hooray for justice, and a HUGE thanks Dave.

    Going into debt right now for anything would be about the most stupid thing we could do. Learning to pay as we go, AND learning to ask the people if that is the way to go are vital.

    If thousands of experts around the globe studying ‘Peak Oil Theory’ are correct, we are about to become one of the poorest nations on the planet, since we are the most dependant on oil.

  2. Glad I wrote a letter to my State Senator and Rep.
    My Senator, wrote me back with a simply inane letter saying he thought it needed to be decided by the voters on the fall ballot.

    He also included some voodoo economics supporting the measure, which I called him on and he neglected to reply. My feeling is the Senate pols are a big lazy bunch who only care about the food chain for them.
    Go Guardian! Idahoans owe you big time. I think we all need to throw a big party for the Guardian at the Boise Train Depot. Any of you sympaticos in?

  3. Yes, we get to vote on the water company purchase – does anyone think the Mayor and council will actively try to convince the residents of Eagle that the purchase is a good thing and the price is fair, or will it go like the city hall, the bond for which kept failing, so the city built it anyway and are paying rent.

  4. Dave-

    Thank You for your efforts on everyones behalf.

    You should consider becoming a “Lobbyist for the People”.


  5. John Mitchell
    Apr 3, 2008, 3:43 pm


  6. Thanks, Dave, and anyone who contributed to this getting killed.

  7. 2 out 3 Ain't Bad
    Apr 3, 2008, 4:17 pm

    Those are certainly items of good news.

    Unfortunately, in the waning minutes of the session the legislature passed the Suncor Bill (HB 680). Under certain circumstances, a property tax district can be set by as few as three people, the developer and two county commissioners. The bill allows a portion of the risk of failure of the subdivision to be assessed on the people that buy lots in a subdivision. Caveat Emptor, indeed.

  8. Wow–good job Dave, testifying against that idiotic constitutional amendment to hamper local options.
    The Eaglers should be aware that any muni-owned water company is better than any privately owned one, especially if it’s owned as United Water is by a foreign global frog outfit, named Suez!

  9. And yet, NO ONE has indicated that United Water is even officially interested in purchasing the Eagle Water Company EXCEPT for the City of Eagle. A member of the trust for the Eagle Water Company testified at the last public hearing that most of the trustees don’t even want to sell the water company and if they did, they have other local buyers from Star and Middleton who have expressed interest.

  10. I would like to ask a question about this overall article – power people. (Please don’t everyone get totally angry) What is wrong with city governments trying to improve and bring new services to communities that have grown significantly over the past decade?

    For example, Nampa has grown a lot… maybe it needs a new police building and a new Libary. Also, what is wrong with Rexburg putting in a swimming pool that can benefit the whole community, esp. the kids. I just get the feeling that most people here just don’t want to put anything back into the community because their taxes go up. For those of us that have young families (we pay taxes too) we like it when communities have good, well stocked, clean libaries or swimming pools that the entire family/community can enjoy.

    Also, to be safe if the police force is growing due to an increase in population. I am unsure why so many of you are against these things. Is it simply you don’t wany to pay for any updated community services because you don’t use them and don’t think they are needed for anyone? Unsure..?

    EDITOR NOTE–There is nothing wrong with cities building facilities. Cities often need new and better facilities and citizens want them. The constitution (and common sense) dictates they seek approval of those voters. Regardless of the “sense” you get, the cities have not asked voters for permission to go into debt.

    Imagine your mother deciding YOU need a new car and getting a loan in your name without your permission, not allowing you to decide the brand, model, or price…you just pay. We think you should at least get to say, “Here is $20,000. I trust you to get me the best car for the price.”

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