CWI Joins Long List of Faltering Ventures

The new College of Western Idaho, set to open January 20, joins a long list of ventures that glibly blame “the soft economy” for failing to meet predictions. It looks like the long awaited opening will fall two-thirds short of predicted enrollment.

We fear the bill of goods sold to voters was overly optimistic and a bit simplistic. When folks–including the GUARDIAN–pointed out there were plenty of educational opportunities already available, they were shouted down. We are particularly concerned with the scheme being put forth by the city of Caldwell to build facilities for the Oregon based Treasure Valley Community College, in direct competition with CWI.

Officials at TVCC, CWI, and BSU have all claimed “there is plenty of need” go go around. Apparently that is simply not the truth. Truth is, the institutions all compete with one another for student dollars and government funding. All too often educational institutions view students as sources of revenue instead of minds to educate.

There is really a lot more involved in most of these “risky businesses” than a soft housing market, banking crises, stock market crash, demise of the auto industry etc. GROWTHOPHOBES need to unite and demand that proponents of ANYTHING impacting society “Show us the money.”

Remember Tamarack was claiming all sorts of huge sales–which were really nothing more than EARNEST MONEY AGREEMENTS. Those agreements didn’t translate into cash and they blamed a crooked stock broker in Paris. Right!

Micron gets all sorts of tax breaks, will never pay corporate income tax and remains the largest non-profit corporation in Idaho. Meanwhile businessmen who run a tight ship, pay their staff and don’t run off to Asia have to pay nearly double their unemployment tax rate to care for unemployed workers.

Today’s Daily Paper reports that growthophile developers are scamming to bring in more California companies to populate the foothills near Eagle. Meanwhile Idaho Power is quietly aiming–if we understand the P.U.C. filings correctly–to increase rates for those of us already paying for power so they can service new customers.

Easy to blame “the economy,” but most of these projects are ill conceived and are a house of cards waiting to fall. Whether it is dishonest lenders and borrowers or developer/promoters lobbying governments to give them breaks, the solution is NOT putting more individuals and businesses into deeper debt to “stimulate the economy.”

SINGER TOP PAXTON SUMS IT ALL UP in this song. fannie_mae.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Guardian – there is a great underlying story here regarding the Idaho Power proposed rate hike. When significant infrastructure expansions to now failing projects (Avimor, Legacy, fill in the blank for Star) occur, they create incremental overhead costs to the providers – the ID Powers, United Waters, and Intermountain Gases of the world. Sure, in many/most cases the developers do indeed pay up front for the capital installation costs, but that doesn’t mean they are “paying their own way” once the utility is connected. Take Avimor for example – they paid for the Idaho Power substation and line expansion to that site to the tune of around $5M. But after a year of sales (or attempted sales) there are less then 5 residents living in Avimor. Who is paying the incremental cost to service and maintain all that infrastructure – you guessed it. Not those 5 residents and not SunCor (developer of Avimor)…you and I are. Idaho Power sure as heck isn’t absorbing it. Bend over…more rate hikes will be coming soon as more and more developments fail. The County needs to completely reassess the way it looks at large planned communities. The current approval process is based on studies and forecasts which is a logical method. Problem is there is zero accountability when those overblown forecasts fall way short, as they have in the case of Avimor, and as they will in the cases of Dry Creek and Cartwright Ranch if those developments come to fruition. Sorry for the rant but it is such a great injustice I can’t help myself.

  2. Mayor Moombeam in Caldwell is moving quickly to spend $8.5 million on a new building for TVCC with Caldwell and Canyon County property tax dollars. The smoke and mirrors “it won’t cost taxpayers a dime” is really getting hard to take these days.

    They want to go for revenue bonding to put the people of Caldwell in debt for this project. The real deal is they are going to “leverage” (borrow) 40% of their anticipated revenue from Urban Renewal to pull this scam on the taxpayers.

    Status Anxiety is getting tough to deal with in Caldwell…

  3. The “Economy” and it’s problems will be the excuse for a myriad of poor decisions for years to come!
    We will grow very tired of, “how could we have anticipated such a downturn?”, or ” we aren’t responsible for such an economic failure of global proportions?”, or how about ” none of our business models reflected such a downturn!”

    In reality, poor decisions are “spot lighted” by the downturn.
    They were poor decisions at the time and they remain poor decisions today! When anyone spoke against the new CWI, they were treated like they were simply too stupid to comprehend the need. When anyone spoke against these monster development projects, they were treated like, like, the Guardian! Totally dismissed as being old and cranky!

    And the solution according to the current leaders? CHARGE STRAIGHT AHEAD!!!
    When I was a child, I was taught that the word “charge” meant an all out effort to take an enemy’s position. Now I realize that it means “spend your’s and other people’s money until your so far in the hole, you can no longer see the sunlight!”

    When my doctor told me that I was taking 10 years off of my life by smoking, I told her that was OK because they were the last 10, and they sucked anyway! I didn’t realize they would also hurt so much in the pocketbook due to the incompetance of our elected officials and bureaucrats!
    So, a happy New Year to all, and realize that ’09 is going to really hurt!

  4. AMEN to you all!!! I hope the Ada County Commissioners and Boise City Council are listening for a change-

  5. CWI was faltering even before it’s inception. Why do you think BSU jumped when the idea of a new community college came up? It was because their BSU West never had the enrollment or the cash flow to make it work. It gave them a chance to sell of that sinking ship and the Selland College of Applied Technology (Truck driving school for you non-library types). The western campus and vo-tech program did not fit into BSU becoming a “metropolitan research university of distinction”.

    I would hope the Board of Directors sees a sinking ship and does not increase the tax levy to keep it a float.

  6. Elected officials in this valley have given very little thought to the concept of urban infill and sustainable growth and good urban planning.

    It has been a ugly land grab by cities to mark their corners (area of impact)for years with no eye to what this does to exisiting rate payers for all city services. Grab all the tax base you can while you can and we’ll deal with the consequences later. “Later” has arrived and it ain’t pretty.

    Urban Planning has been given lip service in this valley and shame on all of us for letting it get this far out of hand.

  7. Elected officials are too busy worrying about Trolley Service in the Valley!!

  8. The Boise Picayune
    Dec 29, 2008, 4:32 pm

    And you know what will come of it?

    Like what has become of the CCDC and every other sucker’s bet in this town?

    Ab-so-lutely nothing. Zilch. Nada.

    Once again…

    If even a small fraction of those who express displeasure with the dominant paradigm herein and elsewhere bothered to show up at City Council Meetings, etc., then changes would occur.

    But people don’t. So no positive change will be forthcoming.

    It’s a simple equation.

  9. Paul is absolutely correct! We really don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves. These are ELECTED offices! We either backed the wrong candidate or we didn’t work hard enough to get the right candidates in office!

  10. I’m just waiting for the house of cards to fall, and fall hard, all face down, with nothing left.

  11. I just did some research because I was curious about the Albertson Foundation’s gift of 2.5 M. So, this makes all of these comments irrelevant about CWI. It is not faltering. There is 7.5M more to come. It seems like people need to do their research. I also think people need to understand what it takes to start up a community college, especially at mid-year. I get tired of reading things on this blog that only criticize and also lacks research of the facts. People are losing their jobs here in the Valley. People need to be retrained. Maybe not today, but in the near future. We will need all of the affordable higher education we can get here in this Valley.

  12. Here is a great perspective at the Idaho Business Review. Sounds like they thought “If you build it, they will come”.

  13. Bill, Please consider the following.
    Enrollment at 25% of projection! Not “hoped for”, not “if we are lucky”, not “we believe”! THEIR PROJECTION! Maybe I missed it, was it plus or minus 75%?
    A skeleton faculty at best! No brick and mortar! Not enough classroom furniture! A completely demoralized staff! And the bottom line is that your position is EXACTLY what TVCC told the mayor of Caldwell to justify their expansion!
    People need to be re-trained? In what field? Just how many LPN’s, Radiation techs or Dental techs do we really need? Just wondering….

  14. Cyclops,
    I took my daughter out there two weeks ago to sign up. There is a giant, beautiful building out on Can-ada road next to the Idaho Center. They have more than enough classrooms. Go look for yourself. Let me know if you need directions or get them off the website. I signed my daughter up for classes this coming semester. I got perky, smiley staff members helping me. No demorilized staff anywhere. I have heard that MPC and Micron people are signing up to be retrained. And, there is a shortage of healthcare workers in this state (not doc’s, though)and it is only going to get worse. Do you have your head in the sand? There are plenty of trade positions that have a shortage of trained workers. Welding is one. Check it out. Also, what is wrong with kids like my daughter wanting to save a few dollars and get her general ed out of the way for less than half of a university? She will then transfer and get her 4 year degree. Why don’t YOU find out how many LPN’, Rad techs and dental techs we need? You will be surprised. My daughter would not be able to afford to go to school this semester if it were not for CWI. It’s just a fact. And, I’m signing up my younger high school daughter for a class so she can get a (cheaper) headstart on her college education. People just don’t get it. We need CWI. Not to compare it to Wal-mart, but it is sort of the same deal. You can get the same things there, same quality at the a much lower price than Target.

  15. You can add the monster (literally Morrison Center size) CRESCENT RIM CONDO PROJECT project to the list of failed developents – not a single unit is sold and the project is being MOTHBALLED.

    The downtown has the “PIT” and now there are the “slabs” – completely unfinished slabs – that will be lucky to be done 2-4 years from now. So much for a “2-3 year project” as the developer told the City Council. It will end up being 5-8 years.

    The nieghborhood should get cudos for predicing this all along. The developer also had to commit to paying $100,000 for street improvements and a traffic plan – and refuses to pay up.

    The developer keeps saying that having enough money to finish the project is not a concern – so if that is the case then he should make good on the terms of the conditional use permit now or the city should revoke the permit for failure to perform.

    We’ll see if money is not a concern…..having the money is a concern and most bet he doesn’t have it.

  16. Chris, I’d have to say you are right on this one. I hope someone can come in and finish it. It’s such a beautiful place in our city.

  17. If you had actually read the article on Crescent Rim you would see that they are finishing the exterior and are holding on the project. The 12 people that read this site should take note.

  18. I have an idea that would solve all these problems, as well as air pollution, traffic, health care, Mideast peace, illegal immigration, etc.
    All the city, county, state and federal governments need to do is give me a few million dollars, and then sit back and wait while I complete my projects.
    Please let them know they can start sending the money any time (It would make as much sense as most of what they’re doing, so why not?).

  19. I hate to say it, but I told you so (original GUARDIAN submission on this 2 years ago warning of the empending disaster).

    According to CWI public documents (, the school has a 2009 budget of $12.2 million. With 516 students currently registered, that means that current students would be responsible for coming up with $23,649 EACH this year to make CWI break EVEN. With the average student paying somewhere south of $3,000 per year for CWI tuition (I am being VERY nice with that number), that means the college is going to be $10.7 million in the red.

    Of course, colleges aren’t supposed to be profitable ventures, so its okay for a governemnt organization to be $10.7 million in the hole, right?

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