What Others Say About Amendments

As election day draws near, interest in the three constitutional amendments is drawing media attention throughout the state. All three aim to abolish the constitutional rights we currently hold to vote on debt by airports, public hospitals, and city electric utilities.

We will add links to this page as we learn of coverage and invite readers to share any links as well.

IDAHO STATESMAN 10/16/10 Airport real estate inventory

COEUR d’ALENE PRESS 10/15/10 Hospital

TWIN FALLS TIMES NEWS State Rep. Stephen Hartgen 10/13/10

IDAHO STATESMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS 10/4/10 Monday Page One “crusade.”


Idaho Statesman /Lewiston Tribune response to Tribune Editorial

Lewiston Tribune Editorial

Coeur d’Alene PRESS (scroll to comments)



Idaho Statesman
EDITORIAL: $60,000 PR mess

Spokesman Review (scroll to comments)

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Just a note about the debt on city owned electricity. That would not cover places that the majority of us use, like Idaho Power. That would however cover co-ops in smaller communities.

  2. Dave, Sen. Stegner kept going to the” need to act quickly”. Sen. Stegner and proponents of all the constitutional amendments need to review the Meridian School District purchase of the JABIL property. They did it quickly and in accordance with the current constitutional strictures.

    Meridian School Dist. negotiated a price for the property for $19 million and secured a letter of intent signed by the seller and the school district subject to voter approval via a bond election.

    Meridian school patrons recognized this as a very good deal and passed the bond to buy the JABIL property by a wide margin of approval. It was all consumated very quickly from my point of view.

    We do not need to fix the constitution by eliminating voter oversight of mercurial boards and bureaucrats who would sell their souls to feel important by making bad capital budgeting decisions that could bankrupts a public asset.

    A good deal can be secured by a letter of intent and the voters allowed to weigh in on this stuff.

  3. The Merchants of Debt are asking Idaho Citizens to give up their right to hold them accountable?

    We already have Urban Renewal agencies picking our pockets with that huge property tax shift and now they want MORE?

    Really, the temerity of this is over the top. We need to keep all the voter oversight we have. The masters of our universe seem to cook up more schemes every year to cut us out of holding their spendthirft feet to the fire.

  4. Seriously Awkward
    Sep 25, 2010, 2:51 pm

    Mr. Frazier, the people currently making these decisions were either elected, or appointed by the people we voted into office. In almost every case the projects will pass, because they are necessary, and financially sound. So why do we need to add the extra expense of an election (even consolidated elections will require large voter education campaigns), costing thousands of dollars, to projects being decided on by people I voted into office to make these decisions, or appointed by the people I voted for? Mr. Frazier, do you not like representative democracy, or are you just upset because the guy you voted for lost?

    EDITOR NOTE–Awkward, I guess it is a matter of perspective. You talk about the “the extra expense of an election.” Elections currently are REQUIRED by the constitution. You are seeking to abolish rights we already hold. Your elected officials knew the rules required them to seek permission of “we the people” for debt. That safeguard keeps an official–for example a mayor–from approving an airport hangar project at a small airport when he and his developer pal want a place to keep their toys out of the weather. Politicians and politics change over the years. Believe it or not they aren’t all honorable and leaving the power of the purse with the citizens is good business.

    Also, the language of HJR5 is so loose it literally allows unlimited debt for any project the current crop of politicos “deems public purpose.” The next crop are then stuck with the decision of the previous administration. If the People give permission, the debt on a future administration has public approval and didn’t come from folks voted out of office. By the way, that is one of the reasons we have a 2/3 supermajority for debt issues.

  5. Awkward, so I guess you would rather save $30-40 grand in exchange for totally trusting some of these jerks that are in office!
    REALLY! Personally, I wouldn’t trust them as far as I could pitch them! And neither should you!!!!!

  6. I suppose it is a matter of perspective. But elections in these matters have only really been required since your lawsuit against the city in 2006. My perspective is that the court got it wrong. I don’t deem “ordinary and necessary expenses” to mean an emergency. And I’d remind you that the mayor alone cannot make these decisions. The people investing in these projects are held responsible for the debt, the people using the services pay for them.

    And if controlling the power of the purse directly by “we the people” is truly your arguement, why aren’t you advocating for a vote on every single state budget? I’m not so naive to believe that all politicians are honorable, but I have a suspicion you’re not being forthright in your arguements either. But I can’t vote you out of office.

    EDITOR NOTE–Elections have ALWAYS been required. Local governments have been breaking the law for years and they finally got caught. The Supremes got it right. The founding fathers transcribed their meaning of “ordinary and necessary” at the constitutional convention and it did indeed revolve around EMERGENCY.

  7. Chris Mitchell
    Sep 25, 2010, 10:26 pm

    I would just like to add that 9 of the 11 western states (California being the exception) do not require votes regarding airport projects. Somebody please tell me how this DOES NOT limit our capacity to attract new business.

    EDITOR NOTE–The issue is with the constitutional right of Idaho Citizens to approve debt, not a race to see if Idaho can give away more than other states to business. We gave away to Micron and Albertson’s which has done nothing more than promote new factories in China and job loss in Idaho. The last thing we need is to alter our constitution to allow politicos “easy credit” without citizen oversight. Look at the economy today–the result of relaxed lending rules and laws.

    We also could attract more refugees and homeless folks if we gave THEM better housing and benefits than 9 other western states.

  8. Mr. Mitchell. According to your arguement, as I understand it, without the elected officials of this state having the ability to enter any type of “sweetheart deal” without voter approval, we would not be able to attract new business to this state. If that means that no potential business activity is willing to re-locate, start, or grow a business unless we “bribe” them with tax breaks etc.,then, personally, I wouldn’t want the greedy #@* here in the first place!

  9. Without voter oversight on large capital projects the “FIELD OF DREAMS” syndrome starts to make thinking fuzzy against the reality of the real world.

    Banks view municipal debt as the greatest thing since sliced bread and can’t wait to give bad projects money we all will end up paying back. Yes, I said “we” even though these are non-recourse bonds a public asset it put up for collateral and we end up with higher fees if the project goes belly up.

    Idaho is in reasonably good financial shape during this recession because they can’t go into debt without voter approval, let’s keep it that way. California’s debts and bandrupt communities are not a model we need to follow.

  10. This Lewiston Tribune article explains accurately what the amendments will do:

    As the article notes, fees from that project would go toward paying off the bonds. If the project fails, it’s the bondholders who are liable, not the taxpayer and not the good faith and credit of the city, county or district.

    EDITOR NOTE–The “REST OF THE STORY” was published in the TRIB Sunday and should soon appear in the Statesman. Here is an advance copy:

    The issue before voters Nov. 2 on three proposed constitutional amendments is NOT the two-thirds super majority needed to approve long term debt.

    The issue is an attempt by cities to ABOLISH the constitutional rights of citizens to approve–or deny– debt by airports, public hospitals, and publicly owned utilities–regardless the source of revenues for repayment. Voters are being asked to go to the polls and vote to eliminate their right to vote on these specific issues.

    Because they don’t like the “power of the purse” deliberately provided to Idaho citizens by the founding fathers, proponents seek to simply remove the voice of the people from the equation. It was politicians, not citizens who pushed for passage in the 2010 legislature.

    The big issue will be HJR5 and its effect on airports. The measure is written so broadly that it allows cities to incur debt for any structure or project “deemed in the public purpose” at any cost as long as property taxes are not used for repayment.

    The danger in this amendment is two fold:

    –Public assets financed with a vote of a city council or county commission will require the structure itself to serve as security on the loan since there is no “full faith and credit” of the taxpayers. We could see parking garages, airport terminals, and hangars foreclosed upon and repossessed by lenders.

    –Most hangars, garages, and freight sorting facilities at Idaho airports are privately financed and owned. They are also taxed and provide revenues for schools, cities, counties, and tax to the state if they are income property. If financed and built by the airport authority, those buildings would all be tax-exempt PUBLIC PROPERTY.

    With regard to the hospitals and HJR4, there is no reason for a hospital to retain tax levy authority if it is not funded with public money. Bannock County sold its public hospital following the Frazier Decision and now has a state-of-the art medical facility that PAYS the county $1.6 million in taxes.

    Grangeville went to the voters for permission to expand the county hospital and received overwhelming community support. Meanwhile Kootenai Medical Center is so big it spends public fees building commercial office space, competing with the private sector. That institution would be able to go without public oversight of its finances if the amendment passed. The facility is owned by the people and they have the right to determine its financial direction on projects so “profound” as to require debt.

    In summary, it is a dangerous move to alter the constitution to conform to the current political winds. Politicians and politics changes with time. The constitution should be our guiding force and a constant. It has served us well since statehood.

  11. BG, Last editor note “Rest of the Story” to Awkward is a perfect explanation against the hospital and airport amendments. I however do not see much problem to the proposed amendment related to public owned utilities as most often the rate payers are also the tax payers and voters.

    EDITOR NOTE–Clancy, at one time I too was ambivalent on the power issue. The Supremes turned down a request of Idaho Falls in July because it was a 17 YEAR deal…that would obligate future elected officials for at least 5 administrations without a vote of the people. Lots of new power sources like wind and solar could emerge in that period. I am not as adamant on that one, but still don’t like the idea of abolishing the voting right.

  12. There has to be some comprise on that one. I would imagine rates would be higher and/or fluctuate on shorter year to year contracts. Longterm contracts would provide stability for low/fixed income and better prices to all. I assume there can be some middle ground between 1 and 17 years.

    EDITOR NOTE–They can go up to 24 years with assent of the voters.

  13. SA is a good example of what is seriously wrong with this country. Even the commie china bunch thinks our government spending is all messed up.

    The best part is, they are on the way out… ba-bye… having spent themselves into oblivion, we are within a few years of not enough tax base and no one to by bonds that will default without tax base to pay them. I can’t wait until the day comes again that the government job is not the best job on the block.

  14. Excellent argument presented in the Statesmen this morning. Kudos to the Guardian! Very concise, logical, and informative. Now if the $60,000.00 website (that’s correct folks) would add it to the effort to get these passed, we could actually believe that the money Boise spent to “educate the public” was “fair and balanced”!

  15. Seriously Awkward,

    “”(even consolidated elections will require large voter education campaigns)””

    Do you even pay attention to the comments you make? Can you honestly believe it is OK to spend MY tax money on these “voter education campaigns” to try to “educate” me to vote in support of YOUR pet project? HOLY FREAKIN COW MANURE!!!

    People like you (obviously a shady lawyer/politician type) are what is wrong with this country right now. You find it perfectly ok to spend other people’s money to get what YOU decide is best for the rest of us…. when more often than not the truth is someone’s pocket is getting well lined and their retirement income getting better and better at the tax payer’s expense. GET A REAL JOB!!!!!

  16. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!! is it NOVEMBER YET!!!

  17. Ya Right, state law requires voter education on these issues, and that uses taxpayer dollars. I would prefer the people I elected make these decisions, and not waste my money. Your ad hominem attack doesn’t change this.

  18. Awkward, you don’t really believe that it is mandated by state law that Boise spend $60,000.00 on a website to sway voters on these issues,do you?

  19. Idaho is in a fairly decent finaincial position because of the strictures on debt. I say if it is a good deal voters will approve it and if not the project will not fly.

    Take a good look at the states where the elected officials are allowed to go into debt. Wall Street Journal has a very nice front page article on California now facing $19 billion is budget shortfalls due to no control by the people to approve debt.

    I think I will be voting no on all three amendments. I like the idea of “pay as you go” or get voter permission to go into debt.

  20. Chris Mitchell
    Sep 29, 2010, 8:40 am

    Cyclops, my point is that 9 other western states trust their elected officials to make important fiscal decisions. I’d prefer Idaho be as different from California as possible. As for, the website you say is designed to “sway voters on these issues”, I would challenge you to find one thing there that is not factual.

    The system in place worked fine until 2006, I’d like to go back to the way it was.

    EDITOR NOTE–The “system” prior to 2006 was illegal, unconstitutional, and outside the law. The simple truth is the bad guys got caught. Chief Justice Eiseman told a legal seminar, “Nothing changed with the decision. The constitution has always mandated voter approval of debt.”

  21. Yea! What he said! Trusting politicians is probably what has gotten the “9 other western states” into their current situation. Sorry, but I still don’t trust ANY politician (with the current exception of Minnick) as far as I could throw them.

  22. awkward,

    “Ya Right, state law requires voter education on these issues, and that uses taxpayer dollars. I would prefer the people I elected make these decisions, and not waste my money. Your ad hominem attack doesn’t change this”

    So what your saying is: I should just suck it up and take it because you or some shady lawyer types LIKE YOU decided to pass a law in the past supporting the criminal tricky behavior? Gimme a break will you! next you will proudly proclaim you authored the fine print at the bottom of all those shady “ambulance chaser” laywer ads on TV and try to convince me that THOSE are all for my own good too right?

    It is shady crap like this and the shady lawyers/politicians that have flushed this country down the toilet year after year, about time for some serious FLUSHING of lawyers/politicians!

    We need a new constitutional ammendment BANNING lawyers from political office! this putting the perverbial fox in charge of the hen house has got to stop.

  23. I will be voting NO on these amendments that would eliminate voter oversight. I’ve read all the opinions and arguments, and find that the only way to stop public officials from misuse of public dollars is to restrict their access without voter approval. I am taking this stand for two reasons:

    1. SUPPORT OF the FRAZIER LAW based on the constitution.

    2. PUNITIVE measure as a voter against rampant corruption in public offices and agencies in general.

    Stop the madness; VOTE NO!


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