ACHD

COMPASS Action Politically Linked To Otter

THE GUARDIAN HAS OBTAINED THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC DOCUMENTS WHICH DEPICT A SAD BIT OF PARTISAN POLITICKING ON THE PART OF AN AGENCY SUPPOSEDLY DEVOTED TO PLANNING.

If you are the veto-wielding governor of Idaho, you take friends wherever you can find them.

Such was the case Wednesday when the Community Planning Association of southwest Idaho lobbyist and former Larry Craig staffer sent the following memo soliciting letters of support from COMPASS board members to Gov. Butch Otter in an effort to manipulate public opinion.

“COMPASS Board Members:
Attached is a message from Governor Otter’s Chief of Staff Jason Kreizenbeck.

As we discussed at Monday’s COMPASS Board meeting, I think Governor Otter would appreciate individual notes of support from Board members thanking him for his leadership on the transportation issue. Those notes can be sent to him at: cnally@gov.idaho.gov

I remind the Board that the #1 Legislative policy position adopted in November is to support enhanced funding for transportation.
Thanks,
Ken Burgess”

HERE IS WHAT THE GUV’S CHIEF OF STAFF HAD TOLD THE COMPASS BOARD IN A LETTER:

Friends –
Let me start by thanking you all for your hard work and dedication this legislative session to helping the Governor find a solution to Idaho’s transportation funding backlog. This has not been an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, but the Governor remains committed to solving this issue and is using all means at his disposal to get the point across.

After vetoing 35 bills in two days, including 33 appropriations bills, the media is caught up in the “method” or the “politics” of trying to get what he wants, and seems to have forgotten about the “issue” and why we find ourselves in this place. This is not about a legacy or saving face; it is about doing what people elected the Governor to do – lead and solve problems.

We will be working hard the remainder of this week to drive this discussion back to the core issue at hand, and we need your help to make this happen. I do not need to convince any of you of the need as you all have been tireless supporters. But the focus on politics has made legislators and the public tone deaf to the issue. So I am asking all of you, once again, to remind your clients, legislators, employees, your local media, members, and friends about why this is an important issue that must be resolved now. We need to make every effort possible to get the public focused back on the issue at hand and what it means to each of your groups. And we need to have some public showing of support NOW and over the weekend for the Governor’s effort.

The Governor’s focus is on fulfilling his responsibility to see the right thing accomplished for the people we all serve. This is a difficult process, but he is committed to achieving our goal of beginning to legitimately address our enormous backlog of transportation maintenance needs. That will require more than efficiency; it will require a significant additional source of revenue.

To that end, here are some important points to remember:
–This is a problem that has been building up for more than a decade and is not going away. We have been working on it, building consensus with the people and making the case for two years now. Putting it off even longer only makes the problem worse and far more expensive to fix while slowing and weakening our economic recovery. Doing nothing can no longer be an option.

–We cannot and must not shirk our legitimate state government responsibilities and put the burden of enormous costs and inefficient, unsafe roads and bridges on our children and grandchildren. Governor Otter has been against more government spending and higher taxes his whole career in public service. But this must not be about the next election. It must be about doing right by the next generation.

–Fuel tax and registration is a user fee. To put it simply—almost everyone who buys gas drives on the road. The cost of gas has gone up more in the past two weeks than the user fee increases we are proposing. And those individuals, communities and businesses who use and count on our highways and bridges most are those who are most supportive of these efforts to provide a consistent, stable source of continuing revenue to meet our ongoing responsibilities on this $16 billion investment.

Thanks again for your help and if you have any questions, please let me know.

Jason
Jason B. Kreizenbeck
Chief of Staff
Office of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter
208.334.2100

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Arm twisiting by the GUV and his minions!
    I am shocked, simply shocked, at this display of how stuff gets done in the rooms we never get to visit!

  2. “This is a problem that has been building up for more than a decade ”

    It’s amazing how they will admit it’s been going on for so long, and then say that now — with the worst economy in memory, with more Idahoans losing their jobs and homes than ever before, while others are having their hours and their pay cut — is the time to take more money from the citizens.

  3. Sing a Song of Sixpence…

    Ahhh the irony, grothaphobes want the road less traveled, grothiphiles want the road more traveled… Otter gets stuck cleaning up the mess with a stubborn CONG.

    Why not try a paltry garage tax or other user fee or just keep transportation funding as it is, and keep the transportation funding WHERE it is! This solution effectively bridges the urban/rural divide in Idaho in the spirit of fiscal equity.

    ~”Sing a song of sixpence,
    A pocket full of rye.
    Four and twenty blackbirds,
    Baked in a pie.
    When the pie was opened,
    The birds began to sing;
    Wasn’t that a dainty dish,
    To set before the king?”

  4. Mike Murphy for Mayor
    Apr 23, 2009, 9:48 am

    I am shocked, simply shocked, that anyone is shocked by this!

    All B.S. aside…

    Keep subscribing to the same broken paradigm, you get the same predictable results.

    Apparently City Hall isn’t the only place in need of an Office of the Citizens Advocate (found in good government everywhere).

    Increasingly, all the talk I hear here in the West about “Smaller Government” appears to be nothing more than slight-of-hand to grant Carte Blanche to those in power to engage in shenanigans they’d prefer never see the light of day.

    The City?!? The State?!? No, no, no… That wasn’t US, that was done by an “independent” (yet wholly owned and controlled by said government) agency.

    Of course, in a state that remains so conservative they’d elect Dracula so long as he was on the Republican Ticket (or was anointed by Rush Limbaugh), all a local Vampire has to do is invoke “States Rights”, “Less Government”, or any number of “Sovereignty” and / or “Conservative” issues, and the electorate will be blinded to the blood running down his chin.

  5. I see nothing here untoward or unusual. COMPASS is involved in transportation and planning in the state’s largest metro area. The governor has some important transportation initiative he needs help passing. He is asking for individual letters of support from board members. Otter would be remiss in his leadership if he DIDN’T ask these people for their help!

    I suspect your main beef is that we are spending money on roads (or sewers, police, fire or anything else that makes up civilization). That is a different issue from Otter legitimately and through public documents asking people for the help he needs.

  6. Give Otter some credit. So he compromised on this one. Big deal throw a bone to the North End. At least in his veto frenzy he didn’t cut the important stuff like the Chinese flag manufacturing bill and the bill that says the government can’t take your guns under martial law. Does anybody know if we have constitutional rights under martial law?

  7. Where does COMPASS get its funding?

    EDITOR NOTE– Each city, county, highway district, etc. in Ada and Canyon Counties pays “dues”–with tax money. There are also some federal grants. ACHD recently told COMPASS the dues would be reduced due to budget crunch. We simply can’t see how this planning group can justify paying a lobbyist out of taxes. Governments should never have to lobby each other!

  8. If you call 332-8814 and ask the Idaho State Controller Office for a 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report you will see that there is NO SHORTAGE of funds. In fact, Donna Jones even tells us on page 4 that there is over $9 BILLION in surplus reserves of YOUR tax dollars and that $1.3 BILLION is available for citizen obligations.

    Also, if you go to the Idaho State Controller website and look up CAFR reports, you can follow the steadily increasing reserves in the Transportation Dept. over the last 5 years of the most LIQUID assets and investments. My analysis shows a reserve of over $200 Million while a comparison of appropritions and expenditures over the last 5 years has decreased by the same amount!!!!
    Anyone want to take a guess as to where all those extra funds are going? And why the Guv is asking us to foot the short while there is BILLIONS in reserves waiting for a “rainy day”?

  9. As the stomach churns!!!!

  10. So, an organization funded entirely by tax dollars is using those tax dollars via the salaries and expenses it incurs, to lobby our state government to increase taxes! Wow. Genius!

  11. Same Commute as Butch
    May 5, 2009, 2:10 pm

    I like the idea of TOLL ROADS. Make the ones who actually use the roads pay for them. And truckers pay more; they are the ones who tear them up.

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