City Government

TJ Withdraws Support Of Street Car Vote

Basing his judgement on the unsuccessful petition drive efforts of the candidate he defeated in November, City Councilor TJ Thomson has withdrawn his support for a public vote on the funding for a street car in downtown Boise.

In a statement to the GUARDIAN, TJ said, “The fact that David Litster was not able to acquire the small number of signatures necessary to request a public vote on the streetcar, to me, sends a loud and clear message that the public will for such a vote does not exist.”

We are disappointed in TJ’s reasoning. Consider the following:
–There certainly is no “loud and clear” message opposing the right of citizens to vote on debt. That is simply not true! There was no support of Litster.

–TJ ignores the voice of citizens on TWO scientific public opinion polls (funded by the Idaho Statesman) and OVERWHELMING public opposition on the Mayor’s own HOTLINE on a weekly basis.

–TJ bases his judgement on the actions (or inactions of late) of the guy he defeated in the election.

–The only real message is that after losing the election for council to TJ, Litster lost a petition campaign.

TJ went on to say, “While I would have voted in favor of the public vote had this initiative acquired the number of signatures necessary to move forward, I believe that we have now heard a loud and clear message that Boise’s citizens want and expect the officials they elected to vote on the matter following public testimony.”

Had the petition drive attained enough signatures, TJ wouldn’t have had a choice about voting in favor or against. Yet another elected official has succumbed to the idea citizens don’t need authority of the debt they are obligated to pay…or at a minimum a binding voice in one of the most profound public works projects in the history of the city.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. And we are surprised why???? Bieter’s boys will continue to spin this until we are broke and the downtown core is a wasteland!

  2. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 14, 2010, 7:56 pm

    I’m not surprised either.

  3. serendipity
    Jan 14, 2010, 8:50 pm

    Ok–just what I expected. TJ is just another lame city councillor who thinks he’s going to make it bigtime sucking up to the Mayor and his allies, supporting a tax and spend policy like the rest of the loony tunes on the city council.
    Meanwhile, Idahoans are so busy watching Extra, American Idol, The Bachellor, etc. etc., that they can’t devote the necessary brain power (if they had it) to thinking over the consequences of this assinine cart-before- the horse trolley folly.
    As Dave remarked: there was no support for Litster, so why would any reasonable, intelligent person conclude that Litster’s voting constituency MEANS anything except a big, fat zero!!! Eh??????
    Wake up and smell the coffee grinds, Boise!

  4. Prediction: Boise will not win the $40 million TIGER fund award, thus taking Bieter’s boyz off the hook. Why? The feds can give it cities with at track (oops) record that is looking to expand.

    BUT then a new route — the N -S to BSU option — will be pushed.

  5. untamedshrew
    Jan 14, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Someone needs to devote some necessary brain power (if s/he has it) to learn how to spell.

    Wake up and buy a dictionary Serendipity!

  6. You get what you elect…another one of the same that thinks the same. Say one thing then do another. Same MO we have seen from all the others.

  7. The reason the electeds act this way is because they can. Less than 17% of the registered voters even bothered to show up. Do you think this council and mayor give two hoots about what the ‘voters’ think? Why should they? I do not beleive the federal dollars will come to Boise, but the mayor, city council and CCDC are having a grand time spending lots of local tax dollars to promote the failed idea. It is time to have a full accounting of the dollars being spent on this losing venture, but I guess less than 17% really care. If only we could have gotten the trolley running, maybe Macy’s would have stayed!

  8. sam the sham
    Jan 15, 2010, 12:22 am

    Money spent for a new streetcar shows us how important the citizens are… just as the money spent on the renovation of the Castle – er Capital Building.
    What the public wants the public will not get – unless they want what they are TOLD to want.

  9. The Boise Picayune
    Jan 15, 2010, 12:35 am

    Wow. Assimilation didn’t take long at all.

  10. The Boise Picayune
    Jan 15, 2010, 12:41 am

    To say that a vote is not what the people want because one gentleman was unable – for whatever reason – to garner enough signatures on a petition is like saying Girl Scout Cookies suck because you have a Girl Scout in your neighborhood with no salesmanship skills.

    And we all know that Thin Mints are da-bomb-diggity!

  11. Unlike some of you, I am surprised that TJ withdrew his support. He knows that people can be apathetic, or that petition drives wane for whatever reason. Perhaps Mr. Litster just got busy with work and life. The resounding message has been for a public vote. A streetcar now at the projected cost in taxpayer dollars is frivolity and nothing more. Idaho ELOFS should be more concerned with unemployment, holding the line on taxes, and finding ways to stimulate the economy without burdening already severely strapped taxpayers. Think outside the box for what’s best for the city, the state and the nation. Things are NOT getting better. Listen to the people–a petition is just a piece of paper.

    Untamed Shrew: speling erors are easy to make online, everybody makes them, even pros. Personal attacks don’t solve problems.

    Thank you.

  12. Upon reading this post, I immediately wrote and email to Councilman Thomson. Here was his response:
    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for your email. I appreciate your comments and take
    them to heart.

    My position has been misstated on The Guardian’s website. Keep in mind that I signed the initiative for a vote in October and advocated for its passage. I did my part to contribute to its success.
    If someone starts a new petition, I will sign it again. And if it
    obtains the small number of signatures necessary to request a public vote on the Streetcar, I will support such a vote in Council, as well.
    Again, that would show the public will exists for a vote. Without this initiative, I do not believe it would pass in Council as I am only one of six votes.

    I remain undecided on the streetcar until I see the results of federal funding, the recommendations from the task force, and we go through a
    process of broad public input.

    Thanks so very much for your email.
    TJ Thomson


    Reminder “allowing lawyers to become politicians and create laws and regualtions to benifit themselves is no different than having the fox guard the hen house”

  14. WOW! Angry Woman! A Thesaurus AND a Dictionary for Christmas! Santa was very good to you!
    Don’t forget Samoas and that new “Leche” one!!!

  15. Dr Spiegelvogel
    Jan 16, 2010, 9:08 am

    To Dave of the Guardian, not Dave of Team Dave

    Do you have a feel for the chance of the Feds awarding Boise the $40 million grant? Is is 20% or 80%. If is is low, all this caterwauling might well have been for naught.

    But I am betting if the award is not gotten, the City will start planning/selling the N-South route with longer term funding.

    EDITOR NOTE–Can’t imagine the Feds putting Boise ahead of NYC, Boston, Philly, D.C., Chicago, St. Louis, L.A., etc. when it comes to mass transit investment. However, as long as Team Dave keeps pushing for the project w/o voter approval, we all need to remain vigilant. They seem to view silence as approval for anything.

  16. I called this one before he was even in office. TJ never made anything secret about the fact that he a pro-rail enthusiast.

    TJ’s vote is irrelevant anyway. Beiter already has the necessary votes to pass the streetcar, TJ knows that, so he can appear to ride the fence and pander.

    The city is not listening to any input at all from the public because their minds are already made up. The ONLY chance of putting the brakes on this is to complain to Congressman Mike Simpson. He at least has demonstrated a willingness to listen to input, and he can make recommendations as to the federal grant award.

    More info at

  17. I see they expanded the rules for getting federal funding to include economic development. That major hurdle is now out of the way. Now all we gotta beat are the eighty other cities vying for this money.

    Announced on Jan. 13 by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the federal government will now evaluate transit funding based on factors such as livability and economic development, rather than strict economics. At the same time, he also recommended an expansion of the Transportation Investment Generating Recovery (TIGER) program, which provides $1.5 billion in funding for projects including streetcars.

    “Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it,” LaHood told attendees at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live.”

    I heard that the Orchard overpass is gonna cost $165 million. I doubt we’ll realize much revenue from that. But even if we get half of what Portland realized, a billion dollars over ten years, it would make the project worthwhile and help pull our economy out of the doldrums. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    I’m a thinking that TJ IS listening to the voters. His opponent ran hard against the trolley and he was trounced.

  18. Bus-rail

  19. TJ, the elder
    Jan 21, 2010, 2:35 am

    Pave that square block at 15th and Idaho (I guess it is still a dirt lot) for parking and put a merry-go-round in the middle. That way we will have a non-transportation option that will be fun and not get in the way of traffic.

  20. Alva Couden
    Feb 1, 2010, 4:54 pm


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