Our recent chat with Brandi Swindell was one of the toughest interviews of our career. It resulted in this Citizen Boise that appears in this week's BW.
First, BW broke the news that First District Rep. Bill Sali has both his congressional and campaign offices in the Second District, despite federal regulations requiring that congressional offices be in the district they represent. Now, the Idaho Republican Party is attempting to turn the tables on Sali’s opponent, Democrat Walt Minnick.
The party released a statement yesterday alleging that Minnick had claimed primary residence and paid 2008 property taxes on a home in the Second District. While the release admits that Minnick is currently living in a rented house in the First District, it states that Minnick had taken a homeowners exemption for his 2008 property taxes.
“It reminds me of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Where is Walter Minnick’s primary place of residence? Does he live at the location where he’s registered to vote? Or does he live at the location where he’s claiming a property tax exemption of $100,000? Where’s Walter’s house?,” Idaho Republican Party chairman Norm Semanko, said in the release. “If Minnick doesn’t owe Ada County for improperly taking the $100,000 exemption, he at least owes Idahoans an explanation.”
Well, turns out Minnick has a simple explanation: No one has paid property taxes for 2008 yet.
The property tax bill covering the first half of 2008 isn’t due until December, and the last property tax billing in June only included the last half of 2007, according the Ada County Assessor’s Office.
According to Minnick’s spokesperson, John Foster, Minnick did own and live in a home in the Second District until October 2007, before moving to the First District. Minnick took the homeowners’ exemption for 2007, and paid the taxes on his Second District home in June.
Since last October, Minnick has lived in a rented home in the First District while waiting for his other home to sell before building a new house on property he has owned in the First District for the last 25 years.
While Minnick still owns his house in the Second District, it is no longer his primary residence and he has not filed for a 2008 homeowners’ exemption.
“They implied a lot of things that are not true,” Foster said of the GOP allegations.
While Minnick does live in the district he is seeking to represent, he technically doesn’t have to. According to Idaho law, a candidate does not have to live in the district they want to represent—although it does help.
Multi-state tax auditor Stan Howland, in short e-mail to media, cast doubt on Gentry report alleging Gentry has more conflicts of his own:
"It has come to my attention that Mr. Gentry sits on the Federal & State Taxation Committee of the Idaho Society of Certified Public Accountants. Also on this committee are Commissioners Chigbrow and Grant, along with Tax Commission Policy Manager, Dan John. This, along with the fact that Mr. Gentry has represented many clients before the Tax Commission, removes any doubt as to his conflict of interest in conducting this latest 'review.'"While Gentry is on the committee, Chigbrow, Grant and John are listed as mere "liaisons" on the Society's Web site.
LaVern Gentry says the Idaho State Tax Commission is following its policies in giving regular and significant out-of-state corporate income tax breaks, but that some review and clarification is warranted.
We just got the report, via the Governor's Office. Read it here.
"My conclusion reached is that the Idaho State Tax Commission's above actions are not detrimental to sound tax policy and that the Commission did not misuse 'Doubt as to liability.'"Gentry says the comp and close agreements that veteran tax auditor Stan Howland revealed are "fair and reasonable," that there was a "doubt as to liability" in several cases he reviewed, allowing the tax commissioners to compromise the settlement and he has a list of suggestions that the governor and the Legislature might consider.
The College of Western Idaho is asking the public to chime in on what folks would like to see at a community college. On upcoming Thursdays: Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Nampa Civic Center and Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Boise Center on the Grove the nascent college will hold a pair of "community conversations."
Topics for discussion include:
Boise City workers who walk to work at least 60% of the time during the fair-weathered months can get $40 toward a pair of new shoes. Bike commuters get a free lock and $40 toward repairs. Also available are free bus passes and free parking for serious carpoolers.
All of these are part of a major effort to reduce fuel costs and pollution in Boise. At its Tuesday meeting, Boise City Council got a peek at a long list of alternative transportation measures that the city has undertaken. And a longer list is coming.
According to the memo from Michael Zuzel, a Climate Protection Program Advisory Committee is prioritizing a list of 87 additional recommendations that will be sent up to City Hall next month.
Many of the ideas are already in effect: the subsidies to city workers, a new anti-idling policy for which Guardian Frazier would like to take credit, although the coppers can still idle if it's a "police emergency," and flex schedules.
Boise also promotes bike commuting and carpooling and funds much of the valley's bus service. And the city will take suggestions on other good green ideas.
UPDATE: The City Council did not have time to discuss this effort at its meeting and will take it up again next Tuesday afternoon. The committee report, which took 18 months to complete, according to Zuzel, is available online as well.