Friday, April 24, 2009

Ah Sweet Recognition ( I think)

What a surprise I had this morning upon reading the editorial in the Idaho Daily Statesman. There was my blog entry on the Capitol Commission's attempt to close 8th St to parking.

I don't know if the Statesman reading my blog is a good thing or not. Oh well. At least it's being read. Although it is ironic. After all, I was such an unimpressive candidate to them that I was deemed unworthy of even being considered for an endorsement.

They said there was a link to my blog at Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. Must be really hidden.

UPDATE: The Idaho Daily Statesman has changed their web lineup. My comment is now highlighted under Other Voices in Opinion and they've relegated their own editorial to the bottom listings. Interesting.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Capitol Follies

Last night, at ACHD's pre commission meeting, we had a briefing on the State's request to remove parking from State St in front of the Capitol Building. As you might have heard, St Michael's Episcopal Church is adamantly opposed to removing the handicapped parking spaces permanently from in front of their church. The City of Boise also wishes to keep parking on State St at the corners of Sixth and Eighth Streets. I have to say that I think the way the State Capitol Commission handled this was a little inappropriate in seeming to sneak this request in without any publicity. Well they got the publicity after all and they'll get a public hearing also.

But on another issue, Jefferson St on the front of the Capitol has been closed for years and is not slated to open until November 2009, and then only one lane.

Since I've been on the Commission, I've heard from a lot of merchants on Jefferson St wanting to know if the street can be opened. Their businesses are hurting, the economy is bad, and they feel, rightly or wrongly, that they need the traffic in front of their stores .

As an elected official, I believe one major tenet I should follow is do no harm. Obviously, closing Jefferson St caused harm and is still causing harm.

I asked the State Architect, who attended our meeting, if we couldn't open one lane of Jefferson earlier than November in a bid to help those retailers. I don't think the Architect has ever worked in the private sector or had to run a business because she was in no way amenable to or cognizant of those business's concerns.

That was too bad because these businesses are the taxpayers who are funding the Stateshouse renovation. We can all take pride in the Statehouse and how beautiful it will look when completely finished. I just wish our State government officials would take a little pride in the citizens who are helping to accomplish that renovation with their hard work and tax dollars derived from that hard work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


One thing I have not missed in being just a citizen the last seven years, was the jargon that is used in the political world.

My most horrible favorite is sustainability. Boy you add sustainability to anything and people just fall over themselves thinking how wonderful that thing is.

Take farming. One buzzword now is sustainable farming. Cripes - all farming is sustainable. If you have a farm, you're going to make that farm produce year after year or you're not going to have a farm.

Obviously, in business it's the same thing. If you don't continue to have customers - you won't have a business, sustainable or not.

Now government has taken up the buzzword of sustainable community. I asked the planner what the heck that meant. The answer given was:

"In my mind it means planning, implementing and providing for our grandchildren and their future the most liveable city that we can; to be all that we can be or want to be as a community."

Geez, ya think? It's like no one ever thought of the future before we had the word sustainable hooked to it.

Hopefully we can get a different new favorite buzzword soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kuna Mora Road Study

There has been a lot of concern by some property owners in the area of Kuna Mora Road regarding the alignment study ACHD has been doing for quite some time. At the last Public Info Meeting, most of the comments indicated that the alignment going through the BLM land was preferred.

That BLM alignment may or may not happen. But ACHD, along with the Nampa Highway District directly to the west, is going to explore this option for as long as it remains feasible. All other potential alignments are pretty much abandoned at this point.

The reason for the Kuna Mora Road study was a perceived influx of development and planned communities in this area. Any development is unlikely to occur in the near to mid-term future.

This study's demise (with the exception of the BLM exploration) was a combination of citizen opposition, budget constraints and lack of need. Just thought you'd like to know.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Communications? or Plain PR

I've only been a Commissioner for a little over 3 months now, and I am still learning something new everyday - not all of which is good.

In reading this week's Boise Weekly, I find that ACHD is twittering not only updates on traffic (good) but biopics of certain commissioners (? really?). Now I have discerned from the beginning that public relations is topmost on ACHD's mind (yes it's a collective mind - think Borg) but I never thought that taxpayer dollars would be spent on twittering biopics.

Nary a commission decision goes by that the public relations aspect is not commented upon. The "communications" staff manager is a member of the "executive" team which makes the important decisions for the agency prior to coming to the commission. The budget for "communications" is almost $700,000.00 with a staff of 7. The wages alone of the 7 member "communications" staff are $387,340.00, amounting to over $50,000.00 per person and you know that the receptionist does not get this amount.

Now let's be honest here. No "communicator" has ever filled a pothole, let and administered a construction bid, inspected a project for safety and strength, planned a new road or designed a bridge. But in today's ACHD, they are responsible for telling the public such good things about the commissioners, things quite frankly, that are unimportant or things the commissioners could tell about themselves.

We're in hard times in this Country, this State and this County. If anything good comes out of it, perhaps we can start putting taxdollars into areas that benefit the public in a concrete way and not just puff up public officials.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Signs of the Times

Today we read in the Statesman that the City of Nampa is laying 16 people off. (It also said "the cuts weren't based on the positions that could be pared with least impact on city operations and services to residents - either this is a gigantic typo or Nampa is ridiculous). We also read that the Eagle Library is cutting an unspecified number of employees.

This follows on the heels of layoffs in Ada County, Canyon County and other cities.

ACHD has so far done furloughs and cut the budget in operations and capital projects to the tune of $10 million or so. But that begs the question and it's one about which no one wants to talk.

Can ACHD really sustain a workforce built for a budget of $82 Million while only having real revenues of $72 million or less?

UPDATE: Looks like the Nampa story involved a gigantic typo after all, since the text on the Statesman website now reads "The cuts weren't based on people involved, but on the positions that could be pared with least impact on city operations and services to residents, officials said." Whew, good to know that Nampa isn't the ridiculous one in this story.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Budget Hero

Pat Heckman, ACHD Budget Analyst, was recently awarded the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award by the Government Finance Officers Association. Well actually ACHD was awarded the honor, but since Pat did all the work, I consider the honor hers.

This award is the highest form of recognition in government budgeting and its attainment is a significant achievement in that world.

Pat expended an enormous effort and she is to be applauded.